Saturday, 23 November 2013

An Ode To The Poncho

The scarf is the classic go-to project for people who feel like crocheting (or knitting) something, but don’t really feel like paying attention. However, I think there is a lot to be said for the poncho in this role.

The poncho, which dates back to 500 B.C and the pre-Incan Andes, is basically just a big rectangle with a hole in it. I made the poncho pictured above (Pattern by Patti Gonsalves, available for free here) as one long rectangle and then simply folded in half and sewed it together part way.

I made this poncho (Pattern by Denise Black, available for free here) by crocheting 2 rectangles and then sewing them together. This was due to the nature of the stitches; had I just crocheted one long piece, they wouldn’t have lined up correctly.

Both were extremely easy to make and, like a simple scarf, just involved crocheting rectangles in the same stitch over and over. What I prefer about the poncho however is that when you are finished you have a piece of clothing rather than just an accessory. Because it is so simple, it is also really easy to design your own; switch up the stitches used, change the length, or add decorative buttons, fringe, or even a hood!

So for your next lazy TV watching project, consider the humble poncho instead of your usual scarf; you won’t regret it!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Trip Report: Mint Chip Hat

While procrastinating about working on my knitted socks (I decided 5 inches of ankle ribbing is enough, and am working on the heel now!) I decided to start working on another hat. I didn’t really know what kind of hat I wanted to make, so I just looked around for a simple pattern I could play with and try out my new yarns.

The Pattern: 
For the basic shape of the hat I followed the Anarchy Irony Hat by Tera Avila, which I found in Stitch 'N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker. I omitted the anarchy symbol, and added the stripes and a pom-pom. The pattern is really basic and simple, and ultimately I probably didn't need to use it at all. The top for this hat is crocheted open, and then sewed closed afterwards; I think I would have preferred just crocheting it in the round the whole way. 

The Yarn: 
For this I used Knit Picks' Wool of the Andes Superwash in Fjord Heather and Bittersweet Heather. The colours are amazing, especially the fjord, and I am thrilled that it is a superwash. It is however a touch scratchier than I was hoping, so hopefully it doesn't make my head itchy after wearing it a while. I did find it very easy and pleasant to work with though.

The Experience:
I enjoyed making the hat, and it took me no time at all to complete. This was the first time I make a pom-pom and I am totally in love with this one. It is hard to keep from squeezing it!

The Product:
I LOVE this hat. This is something I am definitely going to keep for myself, and I expect to get a lot of wear out of it this coming winter. It is already 0 degrees Celsius here this morning!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Trip Report: Cupcake Hat

I finally got a usable picture of my cupcake hat taken, so at long last, I present to you, the Cupcake Hat Trip Report

 The Pattern: Chocolate Cupcake Hat with Blue Frosting from Twinkie Chan's Crochet Goodies for Fashion Foodies: 20 Yummy Treats to Wear 
 This pattern was a lot of fun and very easy to read. Very beginner friendly.

The Yarn: I used Phentex Merit Solid in Burgundy and Pale Plum, and some random red yarn for the cherry. The yarn was very cheap (Dollarama!) and I got what I paid for. It was very squeaky to work with, and looks cheap, ultimately. However, I just wanted to mess around with a fun pattern, and it did the trick. In the future though, I would only use this yarn for amigurumi bits.

The Experience: I really liked doing all the ribbing, which while still very simple, added variety to the project. It did however involve a lot of attaching things together, which I hate. I prefer to do work in the round and avoid piecing things together when I can. That may not have been possible with the ribbing and the swirling on the cupcake top, but if I were to do this pattern again, I would at least attempt to do the “cake” portion in the round. I think I was done all the crocheting for this hat in like a day, but it took me weeks to get around to doing all the finishing, which really wasn’t all that excessive but like I said, I hate this part. Initially I was waiting to go get some little pom poms to make the sprinkles, but then remembered I had beads and used those instead.

The Product: Meh. It is a fun looking hat, but it isn’t something I would wear. 1. Because the pattern in general isn’t my style 2. Because I chose really cheap materials, and 3. I could have measured it better, but I was fed up and just wanted it over, given that I had no plans to wear it anyway. 

So basically, what I am saying is that if I don't like the product, it is my own fault and not the pattern's. I do think that if I used nicer wool it could be a super adorable gift for someone who is a touch more whimsical than I. Definitely something I would recommend to someone starting out with crochet who is bored of scarves and other standard beginner projects.

Monday, 14 October 2013

General Update and Yarn Haul

You may have assumed that I haven’t posted recently because I had nothing to report, but it is quite the opposite. I have been crafting like a fiend, and simply haven’t had the time to write about it. I have also been to waiting to get some good photos of my finished items and the new yarn I got in. In any case, I will break up my news into multiple posts for easier digestion :) 

I am still hard at work on the sock (4 inches now!) but was distracted by a couple of hats, and am now working on a poncho for a friend. I have since received another order of yarn from Knit Picks though, and I thought I would share that here. 

 Read on for a bunch of yarn pictures!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Sock Continues (Slowly) and Book Buying

 From the simple, single-hook brisk pace of crocheting to...

So it turns out that knitting a pair of socks takes roughly 4oo years. I know this because after hours and hours, I have about 3 inches of sock cuff under my belt. I am having fun doing it, but it is largely for the challenge at this point.

What I like about crochet is that if I screw up, I can just quickly undo it and easily fix my mistakes and I don't lose all that much time. Hell, I crocheted an entire poncho, realized it was too big, undid it completely and redid it in like 3 days. This means that
a) I'm not super stressed about making mistakes;
b) It goes faster, as I am not being crazy cautious;
c) Since fixing thins is not such a big deal, I am more willing to experiment and go outside the box, because I know I haven't ruined anything.

However with the knitting mistakes are such a slow thing to fix that I am terrified of making any, and when I DO make some, fixing them is too big an undertaking, so I just have to deal with them (Other than dropped stitches; those give me a heart attack every time it happens even for a Milli-second). For example with this sock:

While doing the K2 P2 ribbing, I got confused and switched their order around, causing all the ribbing to shift over. Were this crocheting I would never let such a mistake stand, especially one so early in the project, but I am not prepared to spend hours undoing the work, and more hours re-doing it.
I think maybe this just means that the lessons I take away from crocheting and knitting are different from one another: from crocheting I learn to focus and aim for perfection, whereas from knitting I learn that it is OK to make mistakes..

When I bought the sock yarn I had visions of me making everyone cozy handmade socks for Christmas. HA! HA! HA! I think deciding whether or not to make socks for someone is probably a commitment to be considered as seriously as a marriage proposal.

Anyway, I thought I would go check out some sock knitting books for the next time around (which will be on circular needles, that's for sure.) I saw one about doing 2 at a time with circular needles regular style, and another by the same author about doing 2 at a time with circular needles toe-up. I was totally paralyzed with indecision, so I bought a crochet book instead. It'll be months before I am ready for another pair of socks, right? I picked up Fashion Crochet: 30 crochet projects inspired by the catwalk by Claire Montgomerie which looks like it has a lot of really cool patterns in it. I also grabbed the Fall issue of Interweave Crochet which seems beautiful as well.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Trip Report: Sweet Pea Shawl

The shawl is all dry!

I am very pleased with how it looks post-blocking, it really does make all the difference in the world.

Final Sweet Pea Shawl Verdict:

I had a lot of fun doing this pattern. it was simple enough to memorize quickly, but varied enough to keep it from getting routine. Despite not really being a shawl person, I really want to make another one now, as I love how the rows keep getting shorter, which is really encouraging. I do feel like I would prefer something with a little more variety next time.

I think my stitching was even and it looks consistent. I think I would have liked it better in a different yarn, though.  Something thinner, and maybe in a lighter colour. I think for my next one, I will do something in a light grey/silver tone and in fingering weight or lighter.

I am also very thankful that no cats went to sleep on it while it was drying.

 Sage stayed on the couch

And Oreo slept in progressively smaller boxes.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Sock, Block, and Roll

Busy day in the world of knitting and crocheting over here!

I finally began the socks! Let me tell you, going from 1 hook to 4 needles is not a smooth transition. However, after a few hours of fussing and swearing (and adding a bunch of crochet sock patterns to my Ravelry queue as if to threaten the Gods of Knitting into bending to my will, lest I be forever lost to the accursed hook) I have Begun To Knit A Sock. Exciting! I am also trying out my new needle tip protectors, yay! The yarn is really great too.  I'm using the Knit Picks Stroll Tweed in Indigo Heather and it is really gorgeous and soft. I am following this pattern which is really more of a tutorial, and exactly what I wanted. No left handedness issues, just knit purl whatever.

As for the shawl,  I added the fringe and blocked it earlier today.  I used a very fancy and glamorous method to do this.

I rolled it in a beach towel, threw it in the tub and stomped all over it. it is currently laid out on the dining room table. All that's left now it to wait for it to dry, and pray a cat doesn't go sleep on it.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Mission Accomplished!

I finished crocheting the shawl! I still need to weave in all the ends, and attach tassels, and block it... but still, finished crocheting it!

This was a fun project, but I am really excited to move on to trying socks. I have decided to try this tutorial, with the 4 DPNs. Hopefully it doesn't go too slowly, or I will be discouraged. I haven't mentioned it before, but I am extremely left-handed. For crocheting, this isn't really an issue, as I just mirror the moves, but knitting is another story. You see, I knit continental style, AND left-handed. So, to many people, backwards backwards. This means that whenever I learn a new knitting style or technique, I need to spend a long time just figuring out how to interpret the instructions in such a way that they are consistent with my method.Anyway, I am looking forward to the challenge, but I want to finish this shawl and the cupcake hat soon as well.

Aside from that, I also harvested and transplanted some bromeliad pups from the plant Erin gave me last Spring for feeding her cats. They are the two plants on right in the photo below. I am not sure my grow shelf will be the ideal lighting conditions for them, but I have them parked there for now. In the foreground of the photo are some cacti I grew from seed that are going through a growth spurt.


Monday, 30 September 2013

The Forest for the Trees

Progress is coming along well on my shawl. It is a lot of fun to crochet and  the pattern is memorized easily.  I will admit I am having a hard time seeing the overall image sometimes though, so lost am I in the individual stitches. It is getting easier to see now that there are more rows, but I still think some of my earlier Dtr stitches could have used some tightening up. I will definitely be blocking this piece once it is done.

Here are a few quick pictures just for the sake of illustration, but the colour looks way off.

I can't wait to see it totally done and blocked, only then will I know for sure how I feel about it!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Birthday Happenings: Knitted Cats and Frogging Cowls

Yesterday was my birthday (I am now 33, or l'âge du Christ, as we call it) and I decided to keep it low-key this year. I received a number of great gifts, including this lovely fig plant given to me by a friend at work:

And the book Knit Your Own Cat: Easy-to-Follow Patterns for 16 Frisky Felines given to me by my boyfriend, which looks totally adorable, and I can't wait to knit little mini Oreo and Sages.

In crochet news, I already scrapped the Ginny Cowl. I finished 3 rows before I decided that I was in no mood to do 86 rows of slip stitches, in BLO no less. Given the yarn's mottled look, it was not fun at all to be poking around trying to find stitches, so if I try it again, I will use a more solid printed yarn, I think. I am really enjoying the knit picks yarn when I am using it, but it was a pain in the ass to frog.

In any case, I have decided to go back to the project this yarn was originally slated for, namely the Sweet Pea Shawl, that I saw in Stitch 'N Bitch: The Happy Hooker. This is a lot more fun so far. It is all a bunch of shells, so it moves quite quickly, and Dtr stitches are something I don't do often, so it's fun.

I haven't begun any socks yet, as I am still not sure about what pattern to use. Do I need a special pattern for circular needles? No I just adapt a 4 needle pattern? If so, how? I think it might be easier for me to talk to someone about this instead of researching it on my own, so I may hit up a knitting store, or see if any of my friends know anything about circular needles.

Finally, I have been using  stitch markers I got in my Knit Picks order the other day, and I LOVE them. I can't believe I have gone on this long without using any; how many headaches and restarted chains would this have saved me?? I really wonder what other tools I'm not using that I should be...

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Knit Picks Delivery + Cupcake Continues

I am now on day 3 of my cupcake hat, and am almost done. Both the frosting section and the cake portion are complete, I just need to crochet the cherry, get some mini pom poms for the sprinkles (or felt maybe?) and then assemble it all. This was (and still is) a really fun project. It is almost entirely done in BLO, which creates a really nice ribbed effect.

Of course,  there is nothing to slow my progress like the arrival of new yarn! I had all my projects decided when I bought the yarn, but since then I have become a little overwhelmed I think.

The new yarn:

This is Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Superwash in Noble Heather. It is a really beautiful green that I had originally planned to use for a shawl, but I have decided instead to make this cowl. As fun as it would be to try out a cool shell stitch on a shawl, I would really prefer to make something I can wear for now.

Up next is more Wool of the Andes, this time in Bittersweet Heather and Fjord Heather, respectively. Both of these colours are beautiful, but the fjord in particular makes me melt. I want to use these colours for hats, though which pattern I will use is as of yet undecided.

Finally, we have Knit Picks Stroll Tweed in Indigo Heather, and Stroll Fingering in Constellation. These are reserved for socks. I am DYING to try socks, but while I crochet in the round all the time, knitting in the round is still mysterious to me. I would also really like to try circular needles, but all I have are a pair of US 6 4mm ones, so I can either use those or wait to go buy a different pair. Anyway, if you have a beginner sock pattern that would be suitable, please don't be shy! I would love to hear it.

All around, a good day in crafting! :)

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Stash Raider: Cupcake Hat

I figured it was time I got back in the habit of writing regularly, and so why not journal my adventures in compulsive crafting?

I have a bunch of project ideas planned for some nice yarn I ordered online, but I needed something to keep me busy until it gets here.

Last night I began work on the Chocolate Cupcake Hat with Blue Frosting from Twinkie Chan's Crochet Goodies for Fashion Foodies as a way to quick way to use up some of the cheap yarn I have left in my stash.  I'm using some dollar store acrylic yarn that I bought over 10 years ago in a dusty plum colour for the frosting part instead of blue.

So far this is a really fun pattern. It is easy and goes quickly, but has enough variety to keep it interesting. I am about 75% through the frosting portion and am not 100% sure which yarn I will use for the "cake" part of the hat.  If it turns out cute (and I suspect it will) I will probably make another in nicer yarn anyway