Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Variation On a Theme: Lucy's Jolly Chunky Bag

I have decided to make various different bags for the teachers who have helped my children learn and grow all school year.  I finished the first one today.

The basic pattern comes from The Jolly Chunky Bag by Lucy of Attic24 (if you haven't checked her blog out, you really should, it is simply divine).  However, I made a few changes.

The first big difference is the way that I work my joined rounds compared to most people I know (which is how Lucy does it, too).  I'll try my best to describe it for you.  I don't like the big, glaring seam that chaining up and joining with a slip stitch leaves. So what I do is I chain up, not counting the chain as a stitch, skip the first stitch, crochet the round as per the instructions, and when it is time for the last stitch, I work it OVER the chain and into the skipped stitch, then I slip stitch into the back loop only of the next stitch.  Then the process starts all over again.  There is still somewhat of a seam, and it travels.  You really have to look to notice it though and (I think) it blends in with your work much better.  I have no idea how to make a video to show you how I do this, but I found this video by Cre8ion Crochet that does it almost the same way as I do. The only difference in what she shows you and what I do is that for a double crochet, I chain 2 where she chains up 1.

I like to start my projects using a magic circle instead of chaining 4 and then making a loop and working my stitches into it.  Either method will get you where you want to go, it is just a personal preference.  There are other differences that you will notice. Instead of working in stripes, I used a variegated yarn (Red Heart Super Saver's Grape Fizz), but the concept is the same- joined rounds.  Also, I decided to do just one flower per handle attachment instead of two, and I used the same color buttons on all four flowers.  I chose to make all of the leaves and flowers the same color. I also changed the coloring of the handles. It was a quick and easy pattern!  I'm also going to line the bags when I have them all done.  I'm going to make each one in a different style, or at least that is my current plan.  Time to get started on the next one!  I can't believe school will be over soon!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Feelin' Froggy

I'm afraid I don't have much in the way of finished projects to share today.  This is mostly because I 
have spent most of the week making and then frogging things.  I've been wanting to make a blanket and a couple of cushions for my couch, but... I'm having trouble thinking of exactly what pattern and such that I want.  I think I finally decided on one cushion.  I'm not a big fan of making blocked items.  I can do it, but I find steam blocking to be highly annoying, and so I usually just avoid a big joined project altogether.  I finally decided that if I did sixteen 4.5 inch squares for one side of an 18 inch cushion, it wouldn't be too bad.  I decided to go with a simple circle in a square design to compliment the circles on my living room rug.  I've got about 8 squares made so far, but... I'm just not feeling it.

I have a ton of projects in my head that I'd like to do, but nothing really feels right at the moment.  I have a lot of ideas, but not ideas for the things I need to make.  I want to make something for my kids' teachers for the end of the year (school ends here in late June).  One of the teachers is retiring this year and since both my son and daughter had her for Kindergarten, and because she is wonderful, I want to make something a little extra special for her.  I'm feeling a little frustrated trying to find just the right thing, and I think that's affecting my other projects.   So I think I'll take the afternoon before the kids are home from school and  flip through the issue of Simply Crochet I was finally able to find at the store last night (yay!), find a little project to do to rejuvenate the creative juices and watch a little Doctor Who.  Lets see what the afternoon brings, shall we? After all, what problem can't a little Doctor Who and crochet solve?

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Pancakes, Bacon 'N Eggs Purse!

So I was feeling crafty the other day and wanted to design something all my own.  I've been making so much stuff for others lately that I wanted to do something that I could keep, but I wanted to use up some of my stash yarn, too.  And so I thought for a bit, fiddled around with some yarn awhile, and then it came to me! The Pancakes, Bacon 'N Eggs Purse!

Design-wise, it is not a hard concept.  I didn't write a pattern for it as I made it, but if there is enough interest (leave me a message so I know!), I'll write one up and post it here.  I love how simple, but unexpected it is.  I am currently trying to decide if I want to line it or not.   It is fine without a liner, really, because I used really chunky yarn for the pancake, and steamed it before I joined it together.  It makes me so happy to see his bacony smile!  It reminds me of that scene from Mulan!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Voilà! Mermaid Tears Purse

Just a quick post this evening to share with you a handbag that I made for my wonderful Mother in Law for Mother's Day.  I made this bag with Red Heart With Love (I simply ADORE this yarn!) the main color being Peacock, and the flower in White.  The trim is done in Loops & Threads Impeccable yarn in the color Chocolate.  The white is VERY bright and so I had trouble getting a good picture of the flower, but I got one a little closer up.  The pattern can be found here.  If the Crocodile Stitch is new to you or if you struggle reading patterns, I highly suggest you check out the video tutorial done by Mikey from The Crochet Crowd.  The video will walk you through the purse from start to finish. I made the handles as per the pattern, but both my husband and I thought they looked messy in comparison with the rest of the project, so I scrapped them and used plastic instead.

Friday, 9 May 2014

A Hooker Has To Hook

What would a hooker be without their hook?  Whoever heard of a hookless hooker?  I've been playing around with a lot of different hooks lately, and since I'm currently mid-project and needed a break, I thought I'd share some of my adventures in Hookerland with you.

You may remember a couple of weeks ago I tried to make my own Polymer clay hooks.  I see such beautiful hooks all over the web, and I was feeling like my plain old hooks needed a pick me up.  So I decided to look at a few different YouTube videos, and as usual, the people doing it make it look so easy!  I could totally do those myself right?!  WRONG!  I am not a sculptor for many reasons.  My hooks didn't turn out too bad (okay, the first one didn't go well, but it was the first, so I don't count that), but not how I envisioned them at all.  Three of them I was fairly pleased with and use on a regular basis. Of the ones I made, the hook below is my favorite.  I am a sucker for the polka dots.
They are just so simple and happy.  This is my favorite hook to use when working with cotton yarns such as Lily Sugar 'N Cream.  The brand is called Unique, and I have only found them at a little local craft store called Crafts n' More I've visited a few times in Steveston, BC (where Once Upon A Time was filmed!).  I tried finding them online, but Googling "unique crochet hook" didn't exactly get me where I was looking to go.

 So while I am not all that adept at making clay hooks, I did "meet" someone who is.  We met in a crochet group on Facebook.  Her store is called Panda Crafts, and you should really check out her beautiful (and reasonably priced) hooks.  She has hooks with mermaids, and flower vines, and hooks that look like magic wands.  But my favorite?  This little guy over here to the right!  How Cute is he?!  And he's far enough down the hook that I would still be able to use the hook.  She also has a give away going on on her Facebook page, so you should check it out and possibly win a free hook!

I also picked up some plastic handled hooks on ebay a few months ago for a ridiculously low amount.  They shipped from China (but arrived pretty quickly), and for the price, I really wasn't expecting much.  However, I have been amazed at how much I find myself using them!  I really enjoy the plastic handle, and I notice my elbow doesn't hurt as quickly when I'm on a long stretch of crocheting when I use these (which makes me REALLY want to try the Addi Swing Hooks but I haven't taken that leap yet).

The other hook I've recently tried is The Crochet Lite.  It really is nice in the car at night.... but it squeaks.  Maybe it is just mine, maybe it was the yarn I was using, but it sounded like I was butchering mice when I was working with it.  So when I do use it, I pop my earbuds on and listen to my iPod.  I've also found it helpful when working in poor lighting or with dark colored yarn.  It certainly has pros and cons.  I got a new hook for Mother's Day, and I'm itching to get to use it, but I'll save that for another post.  Happy hooking!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Voilà! Afghan Complete!

It feels like it took forever to finish this afghan, but in reality it was only slightly more than two weeks.  Not too bad considering I had lost a few days due to being sick, as well as a pretty busy schedule. 

 Here it is while I'm working away on it.  I'm glad I decided to change the colors.  The colors I had before were just too distracting, and it really took away from the beauty of the stitches.  The colors I decided to use Red Heart Soft in Light Gray Heather, Lilac, Berry, and Grape.  I know the grape is kind of hard to see in some of the pictures.  My apologies.  All of our furniture is dark, so it made photographing a bit tricksy.  The stitch pattern isn't as hard as you might think after you get the hang of it.  It's getting the basic concept at the beginning that is the biggest struggle.  After I saw how it works out in the first few rounds, it wasn't hard at all.  Time (and yarn) consuming, but not hard.  I've heard these blankets referred to as "Wool Eaters" before.  That's a pretty accurate name.
Here it is all finished!  I would make another one of these.  Several people who saw me working on this project said they had tried to make this or something similar but just couldn't get the concept from the written pattern, got frustrated and gave up.  I'd be willing to make a photo tutorial if there was some interest in it and post here.  So if you'd like to see that, drop me a line and I'll make one.

The pattern (which is a free pattern, and can be found here) called for the edge to be finished with a crab stitch.  I started working it that way, and I found it to be very distracting to the eye.  In the end I decided a simple border would be best so as not to distract from the rest of the blanket.  All in all I'm very happy with how it turned out.  I'm hoping my friend also likes it, and that it fetches a good price for his silent auction.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Local Crafty Goodness

Well, I had been hoping to be able to present the afghan that I have been hooking away on for a silent auction for a friend by now.  I'm nearly done, but I'll hold off sharing pictures until I am, which should be sometime tomorrow since I just started on the first round of the border about ten minutes ago.  In the meantime, I wanted to share a few things that I am really excited about!

There are a couple of things happening locally that I have found out about, and I'm very anxious to take part in them!  The first is happening June 7 at the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) in Vancouver.  At the Vancouver mini Maker Faire, there will be an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most people simultaneously crocheting.  How cool is that?!  I never would have thought I'd get the opportunity to break a world record of anything, let alone doing something I love with my hook and yarn!  If you are interested in participating, there is information here.

The other event is Knit City, and it is Vancouver's biggest fibre festival.  I've never been to one, and I'm so excited to see it.  Just as exciting, Knit City has been asked to do a yarn installation at the PNE fairgrounds!  They are looking for several things.  They want bunting flags, but the pattern they have requested people to use is for knitters.  My knitting is still in its early infancy stages.  My fabulous Mother in Law is teaching me, but I have so many crochet projects going on right now that I haven't been able to get over for a knitting lesson since this last Autumn.  So what I have been working on from their requested list are stripes that are 5' long for some large trees, crocheted rocks, and flower garlands.  I'll have more posts on those as I get further into them.  If you are interested in donating items for the yarn installation, you can find information on that here

I'm really looking forward to being able to get out and be around other people who share in my love of craftiness!

***EDIT May 29, 2014***
I received an email this morning saying that the Guinness World Record attempt at the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire has been cancelled :(.  I had already registered and bought a ticket, so I guess I will go Saturday and see what the faire is all about.