Saturday, January 28, 2012

a double wrapped simple cowl

This is a super simple cowl to crochet.  I bought this yarn last month thinking I would make a hat.  But I've been making a lot of hats lately (although I guess none were for me), so I decided to make something else.  This is super bulky acrylic yarn that I got at JoAnn's.  It was one of the bulk packs and it has slubs of yarn for added interest.

I found the tutorial at Crochet In Color.  Liz has several great (free) tutorials.  She calls this the Effortless Cowl and it really lives up to its name.  I was tempted to change it up a little because it's so simple, but I thought that with the added texture of this yarn that any extra details would get lost.

I have the cowl double wrapped around my head in the photos above.  I usually find things that have to be wrapped a little to finicky for my taste, but I decided to give this a try because Liz made hers look amazing!  There is still plenty of room to move my head around and the combination of extra thick yarn and a double layer keeps me nice and warm.  I'm not sure I would wear it to play in the snow with the boys, but it works well for just walking around.

This is how long the cowl is without being wrapped.  It reaches my waist.  Please excuse my weird expression in the photo below.  I was in charge of my own photo shoot here and it looks like I was more concerned that I was pushing the right button.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

a boxy yarn pouch

I wanted something that I could use to carry my small crochet projects.  I found this really great tutorial, but I wanted something a little bigger.  This tutorial is good, too, and closer to the size I wanted.  I decided to add this larger strap across the side seams so I could carry the pouch around. 

After a few ripped seams, I figured it out and I'm crazy about the result.  The pouch is a perfect size to fit a skein of yarn and a small project.  All the seams are hidden and the large strap is fun to carry around!

Note: It appears that these pouches were popular back in 2009, that's 3 years ago, because that's when all the tutorials were posted. I'm always several years behind the trend, so if you are looking for the newest trend, you don't want to follow me around.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

another brimmed hat {crochet}

Do I really even have to put crochet in the title anymore?  I suppose you can pretty much figure that when I make a hat, it's been crocheted.

This hat was made using Vickie Howell's new Sheep(ish) yarn available at JoAnn's.  I really, really like the look of this yarn.  As with the first brimmed hat I made, I wanted to look for a softer looking yarn, but I needed a manly color.  This yarn is like a gunmetal sort of color, mostly black with a grey/silverish sheen.  The hub agrees that this color is perfect.  The yarn is really soft, too, and it comes in lots of fun colors. 

I started this hat using the same Cheri Hat pattern that I used for this hat, but part way through I abondoned this pattern for my own.  This hat is for the hub (although he declined my invitation for a photo shoot).  When he saw the first brimmed hat that I made, he asked if I could make one for him.  The pattern doesn't give adjustments for adult sizes so I had to improvise.  I originally increased for 7 rounds in double crochet, but that proved to be too big to I pulled out a round.  Even 6 increase rounds was too big, but I got too far before I realized it.  I corrected the hat a little in the back by decreasing a few stitches and it's not noticable, but I should have done a few more decreases.  Next time, I will increase only 5 rounds in double crochet because don't forget that hats are supposed to stretch a little.

I also couldn't get the brim to look right using the pattern I had.  I tried 5 different ways of adding the brim, but I ultimately settled on this youtube demonstration by bobwilson.  I really like her videos.  They are modern designs and she does a really great job of explaining all the steps in all of her demonstrations.  I'm still not convinced the brim looks exactly as it should, but it's much better than what I started with.  I even had to try this one 3 different times to get it to look like this.  I'm not sure if blocking it will give it just the right look or not, but it's worth a try.  I will just have to keep working the idea until I find something that makes it look just right.

ps.  I just picked up the Holiday 2011 issue of KnitSimple at the library and Vickie Howell is on the cover.  In her interview, she explains how her mother tried to teach her to knit when she was younger but she hated it.  She says she favored crochet and it wasn't until she was in her twenties that she learned to appreciate knitting.  If I just learned to crochet a month ago and favor crochet over knitting now, I should learn to appreciate knitting by the time I'm 50.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

a baby hat with a mod brim {crochet}

My sister's friend, whom I also know from school, just had a baby in July and my sister wanted something to give to the baby for her first Christmas.  Because it's rare that I can make something for a little girl, I jumped at the chance.  I decided to splurge on some 80% baby alpaca wool and 20% silk from Debbie Bliss because the pattern I had in mind was just a plain brimmed hat.  I thought some really good yarn in a really fun color would make it less plain.  I used almost the entire 50g skein of color 25010 for this 6 month sized hat.

This yarn is so soft!  I just kept feeling the hat after I crocheted it.  And I really do think this wool helped give the hat a really feminine look.  I used a free pattern that I found on Ravelry; it's called the Cheri Hat.  I really like the pattern exactly how it is and I will definitely use it again for a baby hat, but sample hats in the pattern used cotton yarn.  Although very practical for kids, cotton yarn just doesn't have the same look as wool.  Luckily, I think my slurge paid off because my hat turned out looking softer than the sample.

Sorry, no baby to use in the photo shoot.

Also, it's amazing how colors can look different in different types of light.  I don't think the hat was quite this pink

Other Notes:  I read somewhere once that acrylic yarn is easier to learn with than any other type of yarn.  I don't usually buy into this stuff, especially if as a beginner you knew that you wanted to use merino wool all the time then why wouldn't you teach yourself using merino wool.  But when I crocheted with this stuff, particularly when I made a mistake and had to correct it, I really realized the difference they were talking about.  Acrylic yarn is easy to pull out; this alpaca and silk yarn is not.  It sticks together better and is difficult to tear, which I guess is a good thing if you are not trying to fix your mistakes.  If I would have used this as my first yarn, I would have been completely frustrated and probably never moved past my first hat.  But now that I know, I will first be more careful with my stitches and second be more patient with my corrections.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

a cross quilt for the neighbors

After all that crocheting, I have a new quilt to show.  This one I made for my wonderful neighbors who are always so sweet to the boys.  We spent a little time getting to know them and they are by far the best and most welcoming neighbors we've ever had (and we've had a lot of neighbors).  I hope to spend more time getting to know them in the coming years.

Because quilts take so much time, I looked for something new to try that didn't involve me calculating a lot of math.  I'm not typically opposed to that (math is my all time favorite subject) but I knew it would take much longer if I had to do that part too.  So I basically just did exactly what Sew Katie Did quilted here in her cross quilt.  I even decided to use the same type of quilting she used in her quilt because that is another part of the process that takes me a while.  I used light blue thread to quilt this, so it's a little hard to see.

I cut the pieces a little differently, too.  In addition to all those squares, I used some rectangles so I wouldn't divide up the larger prints.  Katie had a link to this tutorial here by her friend Meaghan, so I used Meaghan's tutorial to cut my pieces.

I found all of these prints at JoAnn's, and many of them are of them are by DS Quilts including this backing.  I used just this print for the back.

I chose to bind the quilt in red to pull out the red from the backing as well as a few of the prints on the front.  I really like how the red pops, especially against this green.

This was my second attempt at machine binding.  I usually enjoy hand binding, but in the interest of time, I utilized my machine.  It took about a quarter of the time.  With this second attempt, I researched how to do it first and it really worked out well.  I used the method described by Red Pepper Quilts, but I think Crazy Mom Quilts has a good one, too, that's just slightly different.