February 29, 2016

Bluestone Sweater

I have had six skeins of Plymouth Encore tweed yarn in blue sitting in a bag for what felt like forever. These were originally for a tunisian vest, but you might remember after working on it and getting discouraged, I frogged the project and set the yarn aside.

I've been looking for something to do with it and when I saw AllAboutAmi's Granite Cape, I thought it might just be perfect. The only problem is that I had 6 skeins, and her pattern called for 7 skeins. Since I was unsure from her instructions of the exact total yardage, and was unable to get any more tweed in the same dye lot, I went to Joann's and found three more skeins of Patons Classic Wool yarn in New Denim, which I thought complimented the blue tweed nicely. My plan then is to use the tweed for the body of the cape and the darker yarn for the sleeves, collar and bottom ribbing. So, since my sweater is in shades of blue, I am calling mine the Bluestone Sweater, since her's is the Granite Cape... granite is the stitch, but ya know, also a rock, like bluestone!

As suggested I did work up a small test square to make sure I understood the granite stitch and make sure I wasn't loosing or adding any.

I decided to make my cape a bit wider than hers, as I generally buy XL sweaters, but as I am also around 5'5", so I left the length were it was, but increased the width by starting with more chains... except that I hate starting projects on chains, so I instead worked up a row of foundation single crochet to start from, which also made working the granite stitch a little easier on the first row. I just needed to remember to work the last row on the front panels in sc so it matched.
foundation sc starting row at the bottom
I started with 131 fsc but after working up several rows, I bothered to measure it and realized it was way too wide. Turns out 131 fsc with my 6.5mm hook was almost 34 inches wide. Hers was only 27.5 inches wide... and I'm not that fat. I frogged it down to the fsc row and measured again, this time keeping it around 29 inches wide, which was about 107 fsc.

I also needed to make sure that I could work the whole body piece with the 6 skeins I had, which meant 3 for the back and 3 for the front. The crochet itself was a breeze to work through. With the white flecks and the subtle stitch texture I really love how this was turning out. Final size of the back piece, after using up three skeins, was 29 inches wide by 28 inches tall, which is a bit shorter than hers, but was still a nice length when held up to me. I was worried this was wider rather than longer, but knew that I was going to be adding a border on the bottom, so felt ok about it. Total height in rows was 95 rows.
After that you start onto the front panels. Personally it totally annoys me that when you work the panels on like this and then fold them down over the front, the stitches on the front are then upside down as compared to the back. Oh well, it isn't too noticeable with a stitch like this, but if it was shells or something it would be super obvious. I was also sure to remember to work my last row in sc only so as to match my starting foundation sc row. If you are following along with me, I did 5 rows of decreasing, 88 rows of 47 stitches across, and one row of sc at the end to match the 95 row total from the back panel.
Once both panels are down you work the collar; for me 197 sc around. My collar was the first bit made in the new, darker blue wool. It is a bit thinner than the tweed so it did not create quite as plush of a fabric, but still showed the ribbing detail and really looked nice together.
Lost the game of yarn chicken at the sleeves...
After the collar I moved on to the sleeves. I didn't realize at first that there is an extension of a sleeve and then a ribbing on that as well. Unfortunately after the body I had very little yarn left of the tweed. I lost the game of yarn chicken and did not have enough tweed leftover for even one sleeve, which I do think would have looked nicer. So instead I remade the sleeve in all dark blue since I had plenty of that still on hand. In the end it still looked nice in the dark blue.

Instead of sewing the end of the sleeve closed, I worked slip stitches along the join and then worked the edging directly onto the sleeve. I added one extra row of blsc since I wanted the sleeve to have three ridges, like the collar edging. Working the pieces together saved me some time in sewing, which I also suck at. (74 sc around sleeve)

At this point I sewed up the sides and then added the sleeves. I also did this all on the wrong side and used a whipstitch. My seam always ends up curved a bit in rather than laying flat and I think that is because of how I hold the pieces together to sew them up rather than laying them flat and sewing them. My novice at sewing affects how the assembled sweater drapes, but I still think it is ok looking. (Note: I did frog the tweed sleeve I started since I needed that yarn to sew up the sides.)
I really love the texture and color combo!
As for the bottom ribbing, I decided to do something different. I liked the vertical ribbing she made, but didn't want to have to try to sew a strip on to the bottom, so taking inspiration from a hat I made in the past, I worked the bottom ribbing directly onto the assembled sweater. I attached my yarn to the outside of the right collar edging when looking at it right side out, then chained 15, and worked the 14 sc back up the chain just as she had, but then slip stitched it in place at the end of the row. I repeated two rows, one of front loop single crochet and a second of single crochet only, anchoring each row to the base of the sweater with sl sts. This made it so that the ribbing around the neck seemed to flow right into the bottom ribbing. Once I got past the collar and into the body, my sc foundation row made continuing the ribbing on the bottom so easy.

Here I started skipping a stitch when working the base because a sc is a bit taller than it is wide and I wanted the bottom ribbing to be taught to the sweater. So two rows of ribbing spans over three sc stitches from the initial chain. Basically if you are looking at the front side of your work you should be working sc towards the seam, if you are looking at the back of your work you will be working front loop single crochets away from the body of your sweater.

Working the bottom onto the sweater this way was certainly not faster, but I like the way it hugs in a bit and looks seamless. I love how the dark blue seems to anchor the sweater down. I was worried that making it in two colors would make it less pretty, but I really love it.
Unlike the other few sweaters I have made (and disliked: Crocodile Cardigan, Open Air Shrug, Shell Tunic), I knew from the first second I put it on that this would be a my new favorite comfy sweater. It has a great length and goes past my butt to mid thigh just where I want it. It is both light and warm and fits over anything I'm wearing.

I can't believe that I managed to get such a large garment out of the same amount of yarn that would have made a tunisian vest... that vest would have been unbearably thick and hot. So happy with the finished item and glad that I finally made a sweater that I will wear.

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time to complete: 65 hours
Final size:
   Width of body 29"
   Width with sleeves: 37"
   Full Length: 30.5"

February 22, 2016

Socktopus 2.0

Happy Birthday to me! This year marks about 6 consecutive years that I have been posting odd stuff on this blog. So for my own pleasure, and since I said I wanted one, I decided to revisit the very first crochet project I ever made up in my head: The Socktopus!

Looking back on that post in 2010, I have to hope that my writing has improved, as well as my crochet and photography skills. Says there that the original took me a month? Wow. That seems like a long time for something seemingly so simple. I never wrote out the pattern for original Socktopus, so this time around I gave it a little more thought and planning. Socktopus will also get a nice pdf workup and be available for purchase on my patterns page.

Firstly, I changed up the colors based on my own favorites and what I had lying around. Of course I knew the main body needed to be blue, as it's my favorite color, duh. I've got this lovely Bernat Handicrafter Cotton in Sky Blue, which I used a little bit of in The Creature. I also happen to have a lot of small amounts of other cotton yarns, mostly Sugar n' Cream brand, so I pulled them all out. An all cotton yarn toy, although perhaps a little less soft, is really easy to care for, and should look great.

Each leg is the same pattern, worked from the foot up. The foot is made in your desired sock yarn and works up to the ankle area. After that it is simply 30 rows up to the body, so you can just kind of decide how high you want your sock to go, then stop and switch to the main body color. Just as an fyi, each leg takes about 2 hours to work up and finish.

Once you have all the legs done, we join them together along the outside, so that the feet/socks face out, and then add a row to widen up to attach to the bulb head. To make this easier I took some scrap yarn and tacked the insides together and then tied up the legs to make it easier to work around.

The Head is made from the crown down to the base to meet the legs, which I then sewed to the leg join rows. Last you close off the body on the underside by joining all the open loops of the legs together. I then made a little disk and sewed it into place to keep all the stuffing in.

Once the body and legs are all stuffed and closed, it was time to add the eyes. I was a bit unsure of what to do for them, but decided to stay true to the original look. I kept the eyes closed and the happy mouth but made them much more anime/amigurumi like. I also painted on some blushies with a little pink paint, just to make it super cute.
Done and so much cuter!!
It really is amazing to see your skills grow. I hope you are inspired in the same way when you look back on your first creations, whatever they may be.

Difficulty: Easy
Time to complete: 25 hours
Finished Size: 19" tall, about 6 inches wide in the head
Socktopus, like my latest patterns, has a full pdf download. Email me if you would like to purchase a copy. Unlike the other patterns I have for free, this is the first that is not based off a copyrighted character.

February 15, 2016

The Creature

Back in 2008, I put up a short post about an Illustrator drawing I did of the Creature (from Samurai Jack, season 3, episode 33, a cartoon by Genndy Tartakovsky). With the recent news that the show is to return this year, I thought it might be fun to revisit this character. Also, if you have not watched this show, GET ON IT. It's seriously great and has some excellent stories. If you need further proof know that it is the only instance in which the font Papyrus does not drive me up a wall. Yeah.

The Creature, as it is called, is the most obvious of references in this episode to the works of Hayao Miyazaki, which is chock full of them. Itself being a parody of the noble Totoro, of which I have great fondness. The episode itself is sometimes called the Crystal of Cagliostro, a reference to the film, the Castle of Cagliostro, which was Miyazaki's feature length directorial debut film.

So, for this post, I decided to try to make a crochet plush of the Creature. The picture above is very similar to the scene where one of the characters meets Totoro in the forest for the first time. The creature does seem to get a bit smaller as the episode progresses.

First things first was to find all the colors I would need. A teal for the main body, a light teal for the belly, light blue for the belly details, darker blue for the arms and ears, yellow for eyes, dark pint for mouth, pink for tongue, white for teeth, a little green for his head leaf things, and black for embroidery. I decided to also pull a little light yellow to maybe make a pair of those butterflies that fly around his head.

Most colors I just had bits of on hand but I bought a new skein of With Love by Red Heart in Blue Hawaii (a teal color) for the body to make sure I had enough for all the parts. I also use Bernat Handicrafter Cotton in Sky Blue (in the Nautical color series that was discontinued) for the lightest bits, and Red Heart Soft in Teal for the darkest bits.

For a simple looking creature, he actually had a lot of parts and I wanted to get some of the larger details right. I first set about making a body shape that I think felt right as I was making this up as I went along. Of course, once I had him mostly finished at the end of this process I realized I could have made his belly and lower body a bit larger. The face is made up of eight parts, which then get some embroidery to really pull it all together.

The ears were a bit of a challenge, since I wanted to keep the shape and colors correct. So they are made from two parts that snug together and then get sewn down. It was also important to me to get them to face the right way once sewn on.

The arms are a fairly simple shape and I kept the increases to the edges to give it a flatter shape in the upper arm. A few lines to get the fingers and they were complete.

I had originally thought to do the arms and legs from the same pattern but the arms are a solid color where as the legs have two colors. So these are made from two shapes that get sewn together and stuffed. I then added the foot pad and a little embroidery for the toes and toe pads.

I also went back and watched the episode to make sure he had a tail, which I remembered him having, but he does not in fact have. It is instead a light peach bare butt. This thing is pretty funny looking. So I made nice peach oval and sewed it in place.

As I started stuffing and sewing the pieces down he really started to come together. The little bits of embroidery really help and I'm so happy with how all the colors look together.

Finally I decided to make him the three head leaves and two flies, which are seen fluttering about his head. Since the leaves stand up on his head, I stiffened them with a mixture of water and glue.

While letting the leaves dry I was able to put all the rest of the parts on and get a good look at my Creature. He's really spot on I think, except being a bit short, but really cute.

With the leaves added, he is complete. I kept thinking about ordering another voice box for him, as he makes some truly great sounds in the episode, but for now I have other items to be moving on to.
Difficulty: Intermediate
Time to Complete: 35 hours
Finished Size: about 13" tall and 10" wide
As with Lion and Blathers, the Creature has a full pdf pattern and if you would like it feel free to email me a request.

February 8, 2016

Link's Hat

After working forever on those Triforce gloves, it was nice to get them done, however, I still had at least half the skein of Cascade Heritage in dark green. I also had just a little of the Madtosh Dandelion gold color as well. I was trying to think of what else to do with it, but all I kept coming back to was Link's hat to go with the Triforce gloves, so I decided to see if I had enough yarn to pull off a hat.

This yarn is really thin, super fine yarn, with a weight category of 1. I'm using an F hook, 3.75mm on it. This type of yarn is usually best for socks, hence why I liked it for gloves. That is a bit of a problem though, since there are very few hat patterns calling for such a thin yarn. So of course I would have to make it up and write it out myself. Luckily, it really isn't too tough of a shape, and I have already made that striped nightcap, which was a similar weight and shape, this one just needed to be a bit shorter.

To start, and to make it match the gloves, I did a foundation double crochet row of 108 stitches. Then for the next 5 rows, I did alternating front post and back post double crochet to get the same sort of ribbing as the wrists of the gloves.

After that I did a row of 108 sc as a transition between the ribbing and the body of the hat, which I used double crochet for, again like the gloves.

I sort of worked it by eye and trial on my own head to see how quickly the hat should taper off to the point. Once it was done, I simply added a little embellishment to the sides with a few X's, which seem to be on a lot of hats people have made. I guess it is fake stitching? On the other side I added a triforce outline, which tied nicely back into the gloves. These really take the hat from boring to interesting. These details are done in the leftovers of the gold skein from the gloves as well.

This hat should fit just about any adult, as it fits me with plenty of stretch.

Time to complete: 7 hours
Difficulty: Easy

Link's Hat Pattern
F3.5mm hook, about 250 yards Superfine 1 Yarn (Cascade Heritage)
R1. Foundation double crochet chain 100 stitches, join to first to make a loop.
R2-9. Do eight rows around of double crochet, front post back post alternating to make ribbing, join to first with slip stitch and chain two up to next rows at end of each row.
R10. Ch 1, Single crochet around (100)
R11-15. Half double crochet around (100)
R16. Hdc 9, dec* around, 10hdc to end (90)
R17-19. Hdc 90 around
R20. Hdc 8, dec* around, 10hdc to end (82)
R22-25. 82 hdc around
R26. Hdc 7, dec* around, 10 hdc to end (74)
R27-29. 74 hdc around
R30. Hdc6,dec* around, 10hdc to end (66)
R31-33. 66 hdc around
R34. Hdc5, dec* around, 10 hdc to end (58)
R35-36. 58 hdc around
R37. Hdc4, dec* around, 10hdc to end (50)
R38-39. 50 hdc around
R40. Hdc3,dec* around (41)
R41-42. 41 hdc around
R43. Hdc2, dec* (30)
R44-45. 30 hdc around
R46. Hdc1, dec* (20)
R47-48. 20 hdc around
R49. Hdc, Dec*, 2hdc to end (14)
R50-51. 14 hdc around
R52. Hdc, Dec*, 2hdc around (10)
R53-54. 10 hdc around
R55. Dec around (5) and close.

February 1, 2016

Red Snapper Hat

I was starting on a new idea for another dragon hat, when I used up a full skein of red and realized it wouldn't work.
not long enough to be a dragon...

This is mainly because I started the pattern assuming I had more yarn of the same color red, when I did not. So instead I made it into a fish hat, as that is the base pattern I use. Since it was red I decided it should be a red snapper, as it is a common fish in Animal Crossing.
a red snapper
reworked into a fish
To that end, I decided to make different pectoral (side) fins than the pattern calls for to try and get it more on model to the actual fish. These I modified from a leaf pattern, but instead of doing them evenly I would make one side longer and the other shorter to get the tapered fin shape.

I then also embellished the tail fin to have a bit more a pointed shape on the top. Making those little picots on the tops of the shell shape really helped tie it in to the fins.

I also made the dorsal (back) fin to match the same sort of shape of the actual fish with a rounded end and spiky front. I do think this might have been larger, but I was running out of time and dark red at this point.

I also decided to give him eyes with pupils, but I made them look off center so it could look alive or dead depending on your outlook.

With yet another of these hats done I am reminded of how easy and fun they are, though somehow I always feel that my husband's fish hat is the best one I made.

Difficulty: Easy
Time to Complete: 5 hours