Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Very Quick Scarf for James

My daughter mentioned she wanted a scarf for her boyfriend, James, for Christmas.  It occurred to me that I had some leftover washable wool yarn in what I recalled was two colors of brown/beige, so I offered to work up a scarf for him.  When I found the yarn I had in mind, I had too little of the one color (the medium color in the photo) but plenty of the two other browns, so I just went to it with those three colors.

I used all half double crochets, varying only the occasional row of BLO or FLO to create some visual interest more than just the stripes and colors.  The medium color is also sport weight while the other two colors are worsted weight.

I made this scarf, from beginning to having all the ends woven in, in about four hours.  That's remarkable for me as I'm not a fast crocheter.  My husband kindly modeled it for me as he is about the same height as James.  Naturally - n.a.t.u.r.a.l.l.y. my daughter thinks the scarf is too short.  James has never had a scarf before so he thinks it's fine.  I told him that if he wanted a longer scarf, he could just say the word and I'd make him one.

So, the moral of the story might be:
1. check the dimensions first;
2. just make the scarf you want;
3. don't offer your services (or yarn) in future.

Fortunately, I'm quite fond of James, so I'd happily make him another scarf with or without my daughter's approval.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Stunning Fall Leaves

Designer Jessie Rayot designed this stunning wrap and it won her First Place in the 2014 CGOA Accessories Design Category!  I think it is just a standout.  And, I love the way she has created the unique design in other colorways to show the impact of her wrap.  Fall Leaves is a great name for it too.

The design is labeled 'intermediate' skill level and can be downloaded for $6 from anniescraftstore.com and from ravelry.com. This is one design that I believe has truly earned its place as leader of the pack. 

Jessie's website is a delight to investigate.  She has plenty more patterns for sale - both crochet and knit - and oodles of crochet patterns for free!  I've bookmarked her site so I can keep up to date with her creative offerings.

Crochet Spirals

I totally love spiral designs and they totally frustrate me when I try to crochet them.  Something about all that counting.....

This, one is certainly a beauty.  I can think of a variety of ways to use the pretty pieces.  Pot holder, coaster, applique, doily......

What will you use it for?  Get the free pattern here.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Just In Time For New Year's Eve

Kim Guzman has been one of my favorite crochet designers for a long time.  She has a genuine sense of what people seem to want in wearables.  When I saw this fresh, new, free pattern on her site, my mind went immediately to a pretty piece for a special occasion.  New Year's Eve is always very cold in these parts.  There's still time to work up one of these beauties for yourself or a dear one for party time.

Should you so choose, this would be a really nice piece to make to match various outfits.  Imagine a belt, earrings, and this necklace setting off a nice business suit.  Dressy without being too much, you know?  Since I love beads, I like the idea of dangling a couple of special beads or crystals in that central position.  However, if you are not into beads, just leave that circle plain.  It would still be stunning.

For New Year's Eve or another special evening event, this would be smashing crocheted in a metallic yarn like Kreinik or something similar.  I would love to see what others come up with, so if you crochet one, will you please leave a link here for me to follow to see your work?  Hook on!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Crochet A Handle

This is not technically a crocheted handle.  It's actually a braided necklace which you can see more about here.

But, I'm always looking for a way to recycle, repurpose, and reuse in my crocheting and crafting.  And, I totally dislike those purchased plastic, wood, or chain handles for purses.  They hurt my arm and are uncomfortable to hold for very long IMO.

This braided idea would work really well for a crochet purse or tote.  The crafter who created the necklace above used t-shirt fabric to make the braid.  I could see the same look obtained with chunky yarn, multiple strands of smaller yarn, strips of polar fleece, or strips of fabric - whatever would match the look of your purse/tote and would potentially make use of materials you already own.

I usually save my husband's worn out t-shirts as cloths for cleaning and dusting.  As you may already know, I don't do much of either of those chores.  No fun - and I have pretty low standards around my house.  Housework is simply not my forte.  But, that really soft, cotton fabric that's been worn, washed, and dried for many years is very soft on the skin and gets me to thinking of more enjoyable ways to use it.

So, I'll try to make a tote from some yarn and braid comfy handles for it.  Like the idea?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

An Inspiring Crochet Blog - no, not this one!

I troll the internet all the time in search of crochet inspiration.  Mostly, I find plenty of free patterns that I would not spend my time to make, either because they are items for which I have no interest or they are of poor quality.  Also, while I'm a fan of vintage look crochet work, I am not a fan of 'vintage' crochet instructions, or the lack thereof.  I leave it to people far smarter than I to translate those vintage patterns into a crochet language I can understand.

Once in a while, I run across a blog that is full of inspiration, coupled with free patterns and a clear enthusiasm for crochet.  Those blogs I bookmark and often sign up to follow so I don't miss any chances for further inspiration.

This blog is one of the good ones.  It's just full of cute, original crochet projects many of which are small and easy.  So many crocheters are looking for things to work up for craft shows, gifting, and their own enjoyment.  When I come across a blog full of such inspiration, I want to share with all of my readers.

Please take the time to scroll through all of Donna's many pages of crochet.  You'll see her unique 'take' on fairly simple projects that add a fresh twist to make them timely and appealing.  If you want American Doll patterns, this is a good place to look.  Same for links to vintage patterns, craft show quickies, and wonderful gifts.

These mittens are part of a set of scarf, cap, and purse.  Nothing special about mittens - except the color block technique which adds a fun twist.  Get the free pattern here.

Donna has a number of designs that incorporate pop tops in them.  I think this lion is so cute!  See it here.

I love this afghan which has unique top stitched stars on it.  You can get the pattern for yourself here. 

These adorable little lady bugs are also Donna's design, using a couple of pop tops each.  How cute!  She offers her free pattern here.

There's so much more at Donna's site.  American Girl and Barbie size clothing, many baby garments, lots of flowers, and all kinds of things you might not have realized that you need right now!  So, do yourself a favor and get on over to the blog and plan to spend some time surfing and dreaming and drooling.  Such fun!

Feel free to share your favorite pattern here.  I'd love to see which of Donna's projects appeal to the most readers. 

Get the free Gingerbread House pattern here.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Crochet For Aly

I told you it would take just 4 skeins - see above - and 2 nights - last night and the one before - to make a babyghan. As one of my now grown nephews used to say when he wanted my attention - See! See! See!

This yarn is wonderful stuff.  The colors are a bit brighter than they are in person as they have a nice subtle range of colors, more pastel than they appear here.  This is the classic Diagonal Crazy Stitch that works up super quick, especially with this chunky yarn.

This particular piece will work better as a play mat than it will as an afghan because of its thickness.  The crazy stitch (or slanted shell) creates a nice, textured fabric.  Aly can spend some floor time on this and she'll enjoy the textures and colors while she explores the toys and people around her.  I think her two 4 legged furry 'brothers' will like it too.

I'll pop it in the mail soon so that Aly will be able to enjoy it before she learns to walk!  If you run into a situation where you need a very quick babyghan or lapghan, buy 4 skeins of chunky yarn and use this pattern.  Before you know it, you'll have the project done and off to its recipient.

Friday, December 12, 2014

4 Skeins, 2 Evenings, 1 Baby Afghan

I have not worked much with chunky yarns before.  But, since today was Small Business Saturday, I decided to support my LYS and maybe use the coupon Georgia sent for 15% off some of the higher end skeins of yarn she sells.  Instead, I found some pretty yarn in the baby and sock yarn section that turned out to be just the right material to make a babyghan for a very special little girl who was recently born to friends in Raleigh/Durham area. 

This yarn is a nice blend of pastels that includes a denim blue but also some pink and two pretty yellows that create a cheerful color pallet.  I tried to find some other colors in this yarn to add to my stash but this was the only one that really appealed to me except for one that was an orphan skein.

When I arrived back home, I grabbed my K hook (Etimo Tulip) and began to create my 'go to' babyghan pattern, the diagonal crazy stitch.  Before long - I mean in about an hour - I was through that skein.  I'm now working on the second skein.  i'll have half this babyghan completed tonight.  That means that with 4 skeins of chunky yarn and 2 evenings of crocheting, I'll have a completed babyghan worthy of gifting to little Aly.  I'll post a picture of the completed afghan soon. 

This is not the softest yarn I've ever worked with so I will throw it in the dryer with a damp towel to which I've added a half capful of liquid fabric softener.  That seems to work wonders with all kinds of yarns.

I have become a big fan of Plymouth Yarns.  I'm angry because they discontinued their Patchwork yarn before I had time to work every colorway in it.  It seems perfectly designed for the diagonal crazy stitch as the self striping nature of the yarn truly complements the stitch pattern.  Since this babyghan is worked on the diagonal with a corner start, you can literally make it any size you want, increasing with half the yarn you have then decreasing with the remainder of your yarn.  Further, it does not require any additional edging although you can add an edging if you want easily enough.

The thickness of this babyghan will make it perfect as a covering to put on  the floor and put baby on top of it to nap or play.  I always carried some sort of blanket for that purpose since one never knows the condition of a floor or even a friend's crib or bassinet.  I preferred to have my baby exploring and goo-ing all over something I could take home and pop in the washer and dryer.  The fiber content of this yarn is 75% acrylic and 25% wool but it is machine wash and dry.  I wouldn't give most new mom's any blanket that required any sort of special care.  I also prefer to make the babyghan in a size for dragging rather than 'show'.  I want it to be used!  If a mom expresses a desire for an heirloom type afghan, I am quite willing to work up another one for the baby so it can be saved for the use of future generations.  Wonder how many of them actually do get used later?  I don't care.  If mom wants one, I'm happy to comply.  But, blanket number 1 is for baby to make a mess with .

My ulterior motive in buying this yarn was also to keep the last batch of Plymouth Patchwork yarn I have on hand for my own babyghan stash in hopes that one day I'll have my own grandchildren to crochet for.  I'll have plenty of blankets and sweaters ready when the time comes.

BTW, on Black Friday, our favorite thrift store had half price on the entire contents of the store.  I found 5 packets of cute themed buttons for baby garments at their regular price of 75 cents.  So, for half that, I bought them all - except the cows which I left for cow lovers - and will begin working on sweaters to use those sweet sets of buttons.  Each packet had 3 buttons on it which is just about right for a baby sweater.

Small Business Saturday was Novermber29, 2014 and Hearthstone Knits is the LYS I support.  Hope you supported yours too!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Free Crochet Hat Pattern Bonanza

 These remind me of scarecrows standing in the field - only they're much cuter.  I love the patch-y look.  You can find these and lots of other free hat/cap patterns and other free patterns too at pattern paradise where Maria holds reign and designs lots of goodies for us.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Crochet Angels

You can find the pattern for this cute little angel here. There are a couple other tiny Christmas treats at that sight too.

 These angels that appear to be in flight are what got me looking for angel patterns.  You can get the pattern for them here.

And, who said angels had to be white?  These sweeties are from a free pattern on ravelry.com.

These wee treats would be perfect as ornaments, package toppers, or just about any where you decided to place them.  Quick, sweet, scrappy projects are some of my favorites!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Crochet Christmas Cuteness

Enjoying the pictures?  I think these are exceptional.  I wouldn't really need a pattern to make them.  But, if you want more information about these and other cuties, you can see them at this site where I found all these and way more!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Thrifty Package Toppers

I LOVE the idea of using some of your leftover yarn to create stunning package toppers like the ones pictured here.  You can see this and other thrifty ideas for Christmas gifting here.

These look like they are made with scraps of LB Homespun yarn or something similar.  I think you wouldn't have to save this idea just for Christmas.  This would work perfectly for any holiday, making use of the appropriate yarn scraps you have on hand.

I could even see the one on the left used as a brooch for the lapel of your winter coat.  Wouldn't that be smashing?  Put on your creative thinking hat and share what other good ideas you can come up with.  We'll all enjoy reading about them and seeing them if you have a picture.  Thanks in advance for the inspiration!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Crochet Kim's Bling-y Cowl

Kim Guzman has created this stunning cowl that uses only single crochets (not my faves) that result in a luxurious moebius that will make a wonderful gift for a dear friend (or for yourself).  The yarn Kim uses is a pricey, delicious yarn called LaBoheme from Fiesta Yarns.  The colors are delicious too, don't you think?

A similar but much more affordable yarn choice for this one might be Lion Brand's Moonlight Mohair or Amazing yarn. I've purchased both of those at local big box stores and they both come in a nice array of colors.

So, here's what you might consider..  Buy the pricey yarn for yourself then buy some of the less expensive stuff to make gifts for others.  They'll never know and you'll enjoy luxuriating in the knowledge that you have saved money on gifts but splurged on yourself. 

Here's the link to Kim's free pattern:  http://www.crochetkim.com/patterns/sea-bling-cowl.html

Gets me in the spirit of giving!

La Boheme" from Fiesta Yarns
La Boheme" from Fiesta Yarns