Be Thrifty!

Image001.png@01D024ED

Stitch Craft Create has a new blog hop going, and I am in it! Their January magazine is FREE to you, dear readers. All you have to do is add the magazine to your basket and use the discount code SCCFREE at checkout!

This is a great magazine, and the theme for January is being thrifty. It includes directions for knitting a rug out of recycled old sheets, making your own clothes (dress making for beginners!), ideas for making an old sweater into something new and exciting, making an old dress into a stylish bag, or liven up your dry winter skin and outlook with a refreshing DIY body scrub! There is so much more in this issue. You could spend all winter doing things over, and before you know it, Spring will be here and you'll have lots of new stuff without spending a dime!

So. My yarn stash has been weighing heavily on my mind lately, and I have accumulated a lot of odds and ends of worsted weight yarn -- not enough to use for anything, but too much to just throw away. This magazine came along just at the right time: there was a crocheted pillow that I could make out of yarn scraps! 

As I read through the directions, I could envision making it into a whole afghan project. I'd planned to do some kind of afghan with my scraps, but hadn't decided how to go about it, and now I had a place to start.

SCCcushion

This cushion top is made with nine squares of star stitch and sewn together, with three rows of double crochet done around it. I had to look up how to do the star stitch. I love learning new things!

FullSizeRender

I made nine squares and sewed them together and started to crochet around the edge.

IMG_1636    IMG_1647    IMG_1654

 FullSizeRender (2)    FullSizeRender (1)

 

Now I just have to dig out ALL my scraps from where I have squirreled them away and continue to add them til it is afghan sized. This has been a fun, colorful project and I am so happy to see the piles of misery being eaten up by this wonderful afghan project! I love seeing the bottom of my knitting bag!

Bonus: If you would like to get more FREE thrifty crafting techniques from Stitch Craft Create, they have a free e-book that they are giving out to my blog readers for the price of an email address! Click here to get it!

 


Flake

Sorry I haven't been blogging much; I have been a flake of late. I have been knitting, but it is for Christmas presents. And, it snowed.

More snow

Recently I was invited by Stitch Craft Create to do a blog hop focused on Christmas, covering all sorts of different crafts. They have a slew of Handmade Christmas crafts that you can get from their website. They even have .pdf books, patterns and courses to take! 

I chose crochet as my craft; I don't really crochet much, but every now and then I do a little. They had a book that was Crochet Your Christmas Baubles: 25 Christmas Decorations to Make. It's a marvelous book, and has baubles divided into several categories: Sant's Grotto, Frozen Winter Wonderland, Fairy Tale, Scandinavian Christmas, and White Christmas. There are five patterns in each category. I thought about making a Rudolph the Reindeer...

Rudolf

... or a Cute Snowman...

Snowman

.... but ended up making a snowflake from the White Christmas category. This was my inspiration:

Snowflake bunting

I got some 3/2 pearl cotton and a B/2.25mm hook from Halcyon Yarn in Bath. They were out of the unbleached white yarn that I wanted, but they had a pretty, icy-looking light blue, "King Blue", that would be perfect. 

I started the snowflake and realized right away that my snowflake didn't resemble the picture in the book, and then it hit me. Of course it doesn't resemble the picture; the book is printed in the UK! They are using British crochet terms! So when they say to "dc 12 times in the ring", I would single crochet, not double crochet. This page has a list of US to UK conversions for crochet. Once I figured that out, it was smooth sailing.

Flake in process

This is my flake in progress, with my "right hand" crochet hook holder. As there are only 8 rounds in the snowflake, I was done fairly quickly!

Flake done

It's so pretty! That's the picture straight off the crochet hook. After a little starch and a press with the iron, this was the result (Nicky provided the background):

Starched flake

In the book, you make a bunch of these and then string them together to make a bunting or garland, which I might do, after Christmas. It actually makes a good winter decoration, done with light blue, silver and white snowflakes. I also thought of this:

Flake coaster

It makes a perfect coaster!

Go check out StitchCraft Create, and check out the blog hop -- crafty people everywhere take part in this! 


My Knitting & Crochet

Mice 51 and 52 are done:

Mice 51 & 52
Lynne is coming over to stuff the last eight mice this weekend, and I will take a picture of all of them before giving any away.

My Child's Mendocino cardigan was frogged, sorry to say. There was a mix up with the yardages given for the put-up. Ravelry said they were 98 yards per skein, and I had 5 skeins, so I was fine. Then I noticed that my yarn was running out faster than it should be. I was only one and a half inches up the back and my third ball of yarn was half gone, and I knew that at that rate I was going to run out of yarn. So I read the ball band, and it said Organik was actually 89 yards. That meant that I actually had 25 yards less than I needed for the sweater, not 40 yards more than I needed, as I had thought. Oh well, it is a learning opportunity. Should have read the ball band and not depended on Ravelry! Organik probably is 98 yards per ball now; the company has changed hands and I imagine the put up is different. Or someone may have dyslexia over on Ravelry. Sorry, Georgia, you won't be getting your sweater this Christmas! I am sure you will like what we gave you, probably more than a sweater :)

I've been crocheting a lot this week. Sorry I don't have pictures. I have one block done and one block to go in the In A Spin crochet-along, with another week's square coming out today. I've also been working at finishing my Scrap Yarn Afghan thingy. I just have a little more scraps to finish up, put an edging around it -- with other scrap yarn, of course -- and call it done. Then I can start a worsted weight scrap yarn afghan :) I think I'll use a ripple stitch for it though ... I'm getting tired of the granny square.


My Knitting and Crochet

It's a big day! Mouse 50 is rolled out:

Mouse 50
Woohoo! He's a darling boy, isn't he? 

I got my 6" square done for the In A Spin crochet-along. Gem Star is pretty, and although it looks slightly askew in this picture, rest assured it is not:

Gem Star

Actually, it took me longer to do this little six-incher than to make all the previous squares, even though two of them were twice as big. I just couldn't seem to get my brain wrapped around it or something. Then there was the size issue; Gem Star was only about four inches across when I did it the first time and I had to fiddle with two border rows to get it exactly at six inches.

I worked a little on the blue cardigan too:

Other Front

It's pretty :) 


Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Crochet Hooks!

Yesterday I began my first Crochet-along, or CAL as it is known. I am so excited! I don't really crochet much, although I used to back in the 70's and 80's, but you can believe I've forgotten how to do most of it long since. I know that, because I was trying to make this crocheted scarf about four years ago, and I couldn't even figure out the pattern, so I quit.  I've still got the poor half made thing upstairs somewhere; if any super-duper crocheter wants to come by and save it, or teach me what to do, I'm ready.

Anyway. I'm using Knit one, Crochet Too's Paintbox and a size I/5.50mm hook:

Paintbox

The In A Spin CAL starts off, very sensibly  I might add, with two simple blocks to use as a guide, to measure the other blocks, to know how many single crochets should be at each edge so when it comes time to join everything together I don't go nuts. This is the smaller square:

Square 1
It's 6 3/4" square, which is a little bit bigger than it should be, but I'm using worsted weight instead of DK/8-ply weight yarn, and a 5.50mm hook instead of a 5.00mm hook, because I like the fabric it makes better. I think it'll be ok. It's only an afghan; I'm not trying to fit a sweater or anything. I could have used a hook a size smaller to get gauge, but I like how my square looked and felt at this gauge, and I like how easily the hook flowed with the stitches, too.

There's actually two squares this week; a 6-inch square and another 12-inch square just like it, but twice as big. The rest of the weeks will have only one square, I think. The best part: if I get wicked confused and can't figure out how to do something, there's a Ravelry group that I can go to for help! 

 


In A Spin

I started a new Crochet-Along, because Start-itis is my middle name. You might think my middle name is Louisa, but you'd be wrong. It's Start-itis.

It all started with The Creative Crochet Crew over on Facebook. They had a link to a square that I liked, it's from SpinCushions over at Spinatomy,  and it turns out that there's a crochet-along starting November 16th! In A Spin has a ravelry group and a Photobucket group. It's gonna be really fun. 

We're going to make a block a week, not sure how many blocks all together. SpinCushions is still figuring stuff out. She's using 7  200-gram balls of DK cotton; I am using stashed yarn, 1800 yards or so of a worsted weight. She recommends a 5.00mm hook, and I'll start with that, but I may go up a size or two.

The blocks range from beginner level to more ambitious levels; the idea is, you will learn new things as you go. You just need to know basic crochet to start out. I am all about learning new things! It helps my brain. 


Book Review: New and Up-Coming Crochet Books

There are some really great books coming out that are for the crocheters in the crowd. Here's a few that I've picked out:

1) Tunisian Cables to Crochet by Kim Guzman. If you're interested in this book, you better jump on it, because there are only 5 left in stock at Amazon. This book takes Tunisian crochet a bit further; I didn't even know there was such a thing as cables in Tunisian crochet, but now I want to try them! This little booklet is a good way to learn. Apparently, you can order now, though the product details say it's comimg out October 1.

2) Connect the Shapes Crochet Motifs: Creative Techniques for Joining Motifs of All Shapes by Edie Eckman. This book is a must-have for all crocheters! Love making the pieces for an afghan or outfit, but hate joining them? Edie Eckman will show you how to turn that all around. Also available in a Kindle edition. It's coming out October 23, 2012.

3) The Finer Edge: Crocheted Trims, Motifs & Borders by Kristin Omdahl. I remember my Aunt Phoebe used to crochet miles and miles of lace edgings for pillow cases, towels, even sheets, and I thought they were so pretty. This book reminds me of them. Who wouldn't want sheets or towels with handmade lace edging on it for a wedding gift? Or a Christmas gift? In this book, Kristin Omdahl shows you how you can create fabrics, use trimming ingeniously in garments, use your creativity. She even has patterns. This book will be available January 8, 2013.

4) The New Tunisian Crochet: Contemporary Designs for Time-Honored Traditions by Dora Ohrenstein. What can I say, I'm a sucker for Tunisian Crochet. Featuring patterns from several designers, and having 20+ stitch patterns, this book promises to be a hit. It will be out February 26, 2012.

5) Blueprint Crochet Sweaters: Techniques for Custom Construction by Robyn Chachula. Finally, someone has written a book for crochet that I have been waiting for! It's a book on sweater design, written for crocheters, the first of its kind. I have it on my wishlist. This book could revolutionize crochet designs, putting the tools into the hands of crocheters everywhere, making it possible to get a set of patterns like Yankee Knitter patterns or Pure and Simple patterns in yarn shops, but for the crocheter, not the knitter. I always thought that somebody should do a collection of patterns like that, basic designs for the beginning crocheter, and now maybe someone will, now that the design basics are published. This wonderful book comes out March 5, 2013, and I can't wait!


My Knitting and Crochet

Mouse 32 is done:

Mouse 32
Doesn't she look pretty?

I crocheted around my Afghan of Doom with the navy blue yarn left over from my navy socks:

Afghan

I still have the left over yarn from my Summer Solstice shawl to crochet around it. Speaking of which, I blocked my shawl:

Shawl done

I love this shawl! It's even prettier in person. My hand is a little too shaky to take a good picture. Must be because of all the crocheting I've been doing on my Holey Sweater, which is finally done, the sewing up done, and the ends woven in:

Holey sweater done

I just have to soak it to block the stiff little seams out. And buy buttons. It is done! Yay! It looks really good, too. 

I just have to rest up for the opening ceremonies at 4 p.m. when I can start on this:

October Frost Beginning

So exciting!

 


Will This Buttonhole Band Never End?

I've been doing single crochet for a few days now, and it's all I can do to pick it up to do some more. It's taking me forever. It took me as long to do the collar and both button bands as it took to crochet the body of the sweater! Well, almost. Sheesh. Here's a picture:

Holey sweater

I've only got half the buttonhole band to go, and then I have to crochet it together and weave in the ends, and it will be ready to block. Yay!

Actually, it's going slowly because I changed the way I'm doing the collar and button bands. The pattern said to crochet them separately and sew them on as you go, stretching them slightly. Yeah right ... what does that mean, exactly? I envisioned trying to do that and I evisioned the crying and the throwing it in a heap and having another un-done sweater on my hands, never to be finished, and then I started to crochet the collar and button bands on as I went. It seems to be working just fine. I wonder why they didn't just write it that way.

So I have about 5 more inches to go. I can do this.


Frantically Crocheting

I haven't been spinning this week because I'm trying to finish up my Holey Sweater, which will leave me just one project waiting during the Ravellenic games -- my Don't Blink! socks. So, I have been frantically crocheting my sleeves; I have one done and just the top of another one to do:

Sleeve

Today I'll finish the sleeve and work on the collar and buttonbands, and finish them either today or tomorrow. I'll finish sewing it together tomorrow and it wil be done except for the buttons; buttons require a shopping trip and I will do that after the Ravellenic Games. 

That leaves Thursday and most of Friday to get set on my October Frost, which is my WIP Wrestling event. I don't think I'll finish it by the end of the games, but I'll make a big dent in it. I have to get it set in my mind just where in the pattern I left it off, pull out the bag with the knitting in it, make a schedule to knit, and then when the Olympic Opening Ceremonies begin, start knitting! 

I'm so excited!


My Darling Crochet

I was thinking the other day that it is a strange thing that some knitters find crochet so scary.

Why is it scary?

It hasn't got pointed sticks, like knitting does. It doesn't have hundreds of stitches to drop, it only has one little loop that doesn't drop, and can easily brought back where it ought to be if anything happens to it. 

I think it's scary because crochet stitches are deemed to be harder to make out. Exactly where do you put that hook, anyway? It can be very confusing ... knitting was like that too I bet, when it was first learned. We forget that part, forget about knitting ever bringing a sense of fear with it. 

Crochet has more stitches to learn than knitting does. All there is to knitting is knit and purl, a binary system that's easily learned, with occasional yarn overs. Crochet has a chain stitch, slip stitch, single crochet, double crochet, treble crochet, cluster stitch ... well, the list goes on. The thing is, you don't have to know it all at once. I made granny squares for ages knowing only how to chain and double crochet.

Crochet is faster than knitting. We all like that. In between my shawl and a pair of socks, I finished the back of my Holey Sweater yesterday.

Back

It's got this weird zig-zag happening, but I like it. The thing that's weird is that it is uninterrupted by my starting a new ball of yarn.


My Knitting and Crochet

Mouse 27 is ready to rock and roll:

Mouse27

I used The Culprit that unintentionally dyed my lovely skein of yarn pink. There is some satisfaction that will come of that when a cat rips it to shreds.

I blocked my Cardioid Shawl, which came out lovely, and I am very happy with it. Here it is pre-blocked:

Unblocked shawl2

Here it is blocked . The magic of lace!

Cardioid shawl blocked2
Cardioid Shawl 3

I was going to start my Summer Solstice Mstery Shawl KAL on June 20th, but I had to have something to knit until then, so I started a pair of plain socks with a skein of Comfort Sock in navy blue:

Comfort socks

They're good to work on when I am visiting someone.

Navy socks

I also started some crochet because ... well, because. Because I can and it's really fun. Here's my Holey Jacket so far:

Crochet

I love this pattern. It's quick and easy, and it has a little shaping, but it's not hard. I also love the Wool in the Woods Cherub I'm using, too. The color is called "Majestic Ridge". The pattern calls for Paton's Grace; if I still like this pattern when it's done, I'll order some for either another Holey Sweater or for something else.

So then it was time to start thinking about the Summer Solstice Mystery Shawl. I chose a skein of Sockaholic in color "Speakeasy" that has been sitting in my stash for a few years.

SkeinSockaholic      Label

I knit my gauge swatch, and tried out some nupps:

Swatch

The nupps on the top row are 3-stitch nupps; the nupps on the bottom row are 5-stitch nupps. Wendy gives the option of doing either one, or using beads, or doing nothing. I chose 3-stitch nupps. 

When the 20th finally rolled around, I downloaded the pattern and started out. I like Wendy's patterns, because you start out with the most number of stitches, and it only gets easier from there. I cast on my 277 stitches -- twice, because I ran out of yarn for my long tail cast on 30 stitches from the end. I used a cable cast on the second time, because I was bright enough to read the pattern and saw that the first row was a right-side row. About three repeats of the pattern into the first pattern row, I regretted choosing 3-stitch nupps. Those babies are harder than they look! Doing them a couple times is fine, but doing them 30 times in a row, with yarn overs and double decreases on either side of them, is torture. Probably, I will think they're really pretty when they're done, and they better be, dammit.

Ssmskal begun

That is the result of like, four hours of work, and the unending counting. I've got four more rows to do by next Tuesday ... if I live that long. Wish me luck!

 



 


Crochet, and a Knit Along

Yesterday I succumbed to the crochet bug. Last week, I got an email from Patons (because I registered on their web site for free patterns) with two lovely patterns. I thought, that is a lovely little cardigan, and went to look at it. It is crochet. 

Scallop Mesh Jacket


Sigh. It calls for sport weight yarn .... hmmm, I think I have some sport weight yarn in my recently-inventoried stash ... yes, there it is. Will it be enough?

Yes, it was exactly enough. 

Double sigh. And I already had two hanks wound into balls, too. So I started my Scallop Mesh Jacket, known to me as the Holey Sweater:

Cherub yarn

That's the beginning of the ribbing. I'm about to start the body now -- well, after I do some web site work. It is a lovely reward. 

In other (knitting) news, Wendy Johnson is having a KAL (Knit Along) in Ravelry and on her web site. It's the Summer Solstice Mystery Shawl KAL of her own design. It starts June 20, so you have time to sign up! The pattern is only $2, but it will go up to $5 on July 17. You can join her group on Ravelry if you like; I did.

I'm going to use a skein of Sock-aholic in a color called "Speakeasy", which I won years ago in a drawing on the Knitters Brewing Company's Ravelry group:

SkeinSockaholic

It's gonna be fun!


Crochet

I remember learning to crochet. My Aunt Phoebe taught me how to make a granny square, and I made little red granny shapes all over the place. I wouldn't call them squares, exactly; I only turned a corner when I felt like it. I think I was 7 or 8 at the time. But, she taught me crocheting very well, and it has stood me in good stead over the years.

I never considered crochet to be difficult, no more than knitting, and I was mystified when a knitter came into the shop and was put off knitting a cardigan because it had a crochet crab stitch as a finish. "I'll teach you," I said. "I'll find another pattern," she said. That was my first eye-opening experience, and it led to me teaching a class, Crochet for Knitters, all about adding edgings and stuff to your knitted garments. It was popular, as I recall.

The only crocheting I've done in years has been my Scrap Sock Yarn Afghan project. I started out crocheting a little granny square just to see if I could, and then I thought, I can use up my leftover sock yarn this way, and it grew and grew.

Afghan_medium
It will be done when I can't lift it anymore, I suppose. My scraps don't go as far as they used to!! They only make it about halfway around the square now. It's been a good project to hang onto, though. I can look over the various yarns that I used and remember the finished projects I made. It's kind of nice.

It's been a long time since I followed a pattern. I used to crochet Aran sweaters, believe it or not. Blasphemy, I hear some of you whispering, but it was really fun, like figuring out a puzzle, and the resulting sweaters were nice. I gave them all away, or I would prove to you that I did that. 

Lately the crocheting bug has me by the throat. There are some wonderful patterns  for free on Ravelry, and I have been poring over them (instead of knitting my Cardioid Shawl as I should), but so far none have quite gotten the crochet hook out. Almost, though, almost ... I love the Venus Shawl by Aoibhe Ni:

IMG_6996_medium2

She has an e-book of patterns that I like. Here's another one:

IMG_6228_medium2
That's Argo. Pretty, isn't it?

Not all my favorites are shawls, though. I like sweaters, too! The one thing that is appealing is that I can create seamless pieces in crochet, which I no longer can in knitting. I'd like to make this hoodie:

Image_4091_medium

And this cardigan is nice:

Spring_green_cardigan_medium2

And then of course there are these books on my shelf:

Crocheted sweaters    MoreCrochetedSweaters
Crocheted Sweaters          More Crocheted Sweaters

Is it time to make a move to crochet? We'll see :)