Hat FOs: almost-instant-gratification

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Hat FOs: almost-instant-gratification

Hats are relatively quick projects that are enjoyable and allow a lot of opportunity for creativity. Yes, you do have to make them to fit somebody, but there’s a lot of leeway there if you’re not attached to having them fit a particular person!

I finished two more hats, one crocheted, one knitted. The first is a free pattern from Yarnspirations called Cable Twist Hat. I haven’t done many crocheted cables, but they are pretty straightforward. However I can’t help feeling that the cable crossings would have been a lot simpler done right over left, rather than left over right. Also, I thought that the stitch count for the first round seemed way too big, so I took out a 12-stitch pattern repeat and worked on 60 stitches instead of 72. Bit of a mistake, really, as I failed to account for the “sucking-in effect” of the cable pattern, so ended up with a hat that would probably fit a ten year old rather than an adult woman.

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It fits Sally the Styrofoam Head perfectly. Shaun the Sheep is rolling his eyes at my thoughtless pattern adaptation!

The tension on this was quite tight with the Red Heart Super Saver and 5mm hook. I think if I were to make this again, I would keep the same stitch count but perhaps use a 6mm hook.

My other hat wasn’t made from a pattern. I wanted to use a new colourway of Bernat Pop that I found at Walmart. It’s called Candy Cane and has two shades of red, aqua, grey and a pinkish-white. I had two cakes, so started knitting the hat, pulling the yarn from the outside of one cake, and when I got to the Fair Isle pattern (which is in Alice Starmore’s Charts for Color Knitting) I used the second cake, pulling from the inside.

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The hat is definitely slouchy, and with the big pompom on top Sally didn’t want to stay upright. I had to use a yoga block to stop her falling over.

Once I had completed the first full pattern repeat, I decided to cut out a bit of the white so that the aqua would come into play for the second repeat. And then did the same again with the grey. I used all the colours in the pompom, which is the best one ever because I made it the old-fashioned way, the way we learned at school back in the 60s.

You need two circles of cardboard, cut about 3″ in diameter, with a centre hole cut about 1″ in diameter. (I didn’t measure, I just drew around a couple of things in my sewing room that looked about right. I don’t know what the perfect cardboard proportions are to come out with a perfectly spherical pompom –  mine is a little elongated – but it’s easy to trim it down if necessary.) One wraps the yarn around and around the cardboard, holding the two pieces together, until one can’t get any more yarn through the middle (a darning needle is an essential piece of kit here), then one cuts the yarn by inserting scissors between the two pieces of cardboard around the outside edge. Tie a piece of yarn tightly around the middle, then remove the cardboard, and hey presto! One has a fabulous pompom, full and squishy and awesome, not limp and scraggly like some I’ve seen.

It was a very busy weekend at work. I worked Friday, Saturday and Sunday and I guess the sale got the people out, despite the huge (for us) amount of rain that’s fallen in the past week. Saturday was the busiest I’ve seen it in a long time. After three solid days of pounding the touch screen till at work, cutting fabric, and tidying up the store, my wrist is hurting, so today I decided to buy a basic support for it. I should probably have graduated to this after quitting my full wrist brace months ago, but have been managing without. However even eight months after the break/surgery I am not quite back to full, pain-free, use of my wrist. And I need to be careful not to overdo things and set myself back.

Today was errand day and I stopped in at a few places including Costco and a couple of bulk food stores. I was excited to find a Moo Free vegan chocolate advent calendar (made in Britain no  less) for December! I think that this year I will resurrect a tradition that has fallen by the wayside for a couple of years – that of making mincemeat ready for mince pies at Christmas. The recipe I have is vegan, and has no added fat, and you make it and put it into jars and let it sit in the fridge for six weeks. I love mince pies!

It looks like we will be having a low-budget Christmas this year. The boys are all young men now and are quite happy for us not to buy them stuff for the sake of it. Tai Chi Man and I buy what we want, when we want, throughout the year, so aren’t bothered about gifts under the tree. We will have to plan some great meals and some good fun entertainment. Maybe go to the movies, see a Christmas show, things like that.

I have ear surgery coming up in a couple of weeks time. I had the left ear “fixed” in 2015 due to a hereditary gradual deafness issue called otosclerosis. My mum had the surgery on one ear back in the 80s but never did have the other ear done. It involves a general anaesthetic; the eardrum is opened up, the calcification drilled away, and the stapes bone (one of the three teeny tiny bones in the ear that are supposed to vibrate together) is replaced with a titanium prosthesis. This surgery will be on my right ear, and my third piece of titanium (left ear, wrist and now right ear)! I am turning into the bionic woman. Just as well it doesn’t set off airport security scanners!

I have two weeks booked off work, which was an adequate amount of time in 2015 for me to feel sufficiently recovered to get back into the usual routine. I know what to expect (a mixed blessing: the vertigo is horrendous at first) and I am confident of a good result. I will be able to say goodbye to the remaining hearing aid, which will be wonderful. I will need to keep that ear dry for months afterwards, not to mention being very careful not to topple over at first, so Tai Chi Man will be back to helping me shower until I am steady again.

Hope you have a happy crafty week. Back soon!

Wonderful weekend

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Wonderful weekend

Weekends off are so much more precious when you have to work some Saturdays and/or Sundays. This weekend, I have been off both days. Yesterday we enjoyed some of the simple pleasures of a typical weekend, like going to the library, picking up groceries, going to the gym, and making and eating simple vegetable soup for dinner while gazing out at the lovely carpet of fallen leaves in our backyard.

Today Tai Chi Man and I went to the gym again, followed by a long leisurely cup of tea at our favourite tea shop, which has such a warm, welcoming vibe. Some more downtime at home this afternoon, during which I have put the finishing touches on the latest crochet hat project, and then we’ll be taking the family out to dinner.

So, to the crochet projects. The scarf and hat each use a skein of Loops & Threads Barcelona, colour Sky. The scarf is just your basic C2C stitch pattern, which I find very soothing and addictive. The hat is from a pattern by Make & Do Crew. It is called a 1.5 hour beanie, though I know it took me longer than that to make it! The pompom is huge and floppy, and I made sure to tie it on in such a way that it can be removed for washing or if the owner just doesn’t like it. I put a large button inside the top of the beanie for stability.

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This yarn has been in my stash for over a year. I know that because I made a C2C scarf and coordinating hat with a different colourway last September. And I still have two skeins of a pink colourway yet to use. I think I may have to make another C2C scarf with that, and a different style of hat, just for fun.

I did knit a little on the sock at the tea shop today, but at 9 stitches to the inch and infrequent activity the first one won’t be done any time soon.

I have also made progress on the Fair Isle hat and will show you that next time. Maybe finished!

Hope you are having a great weekend. TTYL

Fun Friday

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A little diversion from the current WIPs….two pairs of earrings. The first pair are mini peacock feathers from a pattern I found on Ravelry (project page link) and the second pair are mini pumpkins that I just made up as I went along (though they are very similar to these).

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Crocheted with a  2.5mm hook and some sport weight cotton that I bought at a dollar store (cute 10gram balls). I wore the peacock ones to work today and tomorrow I will wear the pumpkin ones. Fun!

WIP Wednesday

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Well, I do have some WIPs to show you, but first I have a TA DA!

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The Granny blanket is done! This is made with rather a lot of Loops & Threads Impeccable in various colours (from stash), plus some vintage acrylic, plus some new kelly green Impeccable. The kelly green is there because this blanket is for my friend and she and her husband support the Saskatchewan Roughriders football team.

I gave it to her today and I think she is pleased! She put it over her legs while we were visiting.

Another smaller FO is this hat…

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Rather ugly, I think, in brown and gold, but it used up a lot of vintage acrylic! And I was happy to practise on some yarn without using the “good stuff!” This hat was made on my Bond knitting machine. It was just a long rectangle, half brown, half gold, which was seamed into a tube and cinched at each end, then you push one half of the hat inside the other and TA DA, a reversible hat that has a quadruple thick layer over the ears.

Now onto the prettier stuff.

I found this Christmas-inspired Bernat Pop! at Walmart recently and was itching to knit with it. So I started a fair isle hat using a chart out of my Alice Starmore Charts for Color Knitting book. I’m using two cakes, pulling one strand from the outside of one cake, and the second strand from the inside of the other.

I don’t claim to be particularly good at stranded knitting, though I have the technique down. One yarn in each hand, plus the catching of the floats, no problem. My tension, well, that remains to be seen.

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I just love the colours. So much more appealing to me than the standard red, green and white. The colourway is called Candy Cane. One pattern repeat done. The background will be changing to aqua in the next repeat.

I started another project today too. I am not usually such a prolific starter (I still have two other WIPs which have been neglected and I don’t like having too many on the go) but I wanted to take something out with me to work on that was restful and didn’t need much attention while I visited with my friends. So I started this…

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I made a scarf just like this last year so I looked up my Ravelry project page to see what hook size I used. One skein and a 6.5mm hook gave me a scarf 9 squares wide by about 60″ long.  This bulky yarn (Loops & Threads Barcelona) is pretty and soft and makes a lovely texture in the C2C stitch pattern. I think I may make a coordinating hat like I did with the other colourway last year. And perhaps pompoms at each end…?

Gotta run – dinner is nearly ready. Happy crafting, y’all!

 

 

 

FO update

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The granny blanket that I showed you last time has grown quite a lot but I don’t have an up to date photo. It’s just more of the same! The rounds get longer and looooonger and one starts to crave some immediate gratification from a smaller project – or three.

Also, a blanket project gets more unwieldy as it  gets bigger, which means it’s less portable.

The yarn I used for the fingerless mitts in the picture above is Red Heart Unforgettable Waves. I picked some up on clearance a long time ago and it’s been sitting patiently in the stash ever since. The colourway is Bazaar. It’s thick and thin (very much so in some places) but even though the really thick bits can present a challenge I was a little disappointed that the second mitt didn’t have as many of the bumpy bits as the first.

I didn’t use a pattern. I just chained 28, double crocheted 13 rows, joined leaving a hole for the thumb, then single crocheted around the thumbhole, adding some decreases where I felt they were needed.

I used another skein of the same yarn to make these gift card holders too.

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These buttons were perfect for the little cosies, and I’ve had them in the stash since I picked them up on clearance at work.

The final Finished Object for this week is this slouchy beanie, which on Ravelry I have called the Blah hat! That link will take you to my Ravelry project page for more info on how I made it.

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It’s Blah because of the colour, which is a bland beige vintage acrylic that I didn’t mind wasting in case my experiment didn’t work out. This is knitted on my Bond knitting machine, which I’ve had packed away in my craft room for a long time. I decided to set it up and have a play. The one thing the Bond does well is acres of stockinette. The ribbing is slow going as you have to latch up the purl stitches by hand. And decreasing for the crown of a hat is not the same as hand knitting one, unless you want to spend ages manually moving stitches over to different needles, so I followed a tip on a You Tube video to decrease across one row and cinch it up. It actually worked out well! The ribbing is stretchy, the top closed up nicely, it fits me (I had no idea what size it would turn out) though it is not a colour I would wear.

I also used the Bond to knit up a small cast-on hem, just to try it out, and next I need to make a longer one. The weighted hem that comes with the machine is as long as the needle bed, which is fine if you’re using a lot of stitches but if you just want to make something small then a shorter cast-on hem and smaller weights are helpful.

I have the next couple of days off and hopefully will see the granny blanket grow from its current size (about 48″ square) to 60″ though if I have enough yarn to go bigger I’d really like it to be 72″. Can you imagine how long it could take to crochet one round that’s 24 feet long? No, I can’t either.

FO: Dennis the Menace slouchy beanie

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FO: Dennis the Menace slouchy beanie

 

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This red and black striped slouchy beanie reminds me of Dennis the Menace in the Beano. When my sister and I were kids, we used to read the Beano and Dandy comics and when my co-worker asked if I’d make her a hat like this I was instantly reminded of Dennis’s sweater! She sent me a photo of what she wanted and I was able to recreate it easily as it’s just a basic hat, worked top down, in double crochet, alternating two rounds of each colour. There are a few rounds of sc at the brim, where I decreased and snugged it in so it would stay on.

The photo above was taken while the beanie was in progress. I was sitting in my favourite tea shop, on my own, with a Cowboy Fog (a latte made with a lovely tea blend which includes black tea, espresso beans and coconut flakes), my crochet project and my iPad. Pretty much my personal heaven!

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The rainbow slouchy hat in my previous post was the precursor to this hat. The second iteration is wider and longer and my friend at work is very pleased with it. We made a deal that she would buy the yarn, I’d keep the leftovers, and then she’d “pay” me with more yarn. Win Win!

I don’t often take commissions, and there are many many discussions online about how much one should charge for handmade stuff. I take each case on its merits. It depends on who’s asking (friend or random stranger), how they are asking (demandy-pants or not), whether I really want to make the item (a simple hat, sure, a blanket that’ll take up 100 hours of my time, no way) and whether we agree on what’s a reasonable deal.

So with that out of the way, I had an idea for another project, so I pulled out a bunch of worsted weight yarn and laid it out on the living room floor. I go through phases of yarn acquisition and stashbusting, and I am feeling the need for a stashbusting period. I tend to attract yarn donations from random people and it’s usually vintage acrylic. Time to use some up.

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The self-striping cakes at bottom right are two Caron Big Cakes, which I thought might be good to throw in to the mix. (Changed my mind on that.) My first idea was to quadruple-strand with a massive hook, and do a granite stitch (1sc, 1ch, sk1) but I didn’t like it. So now I am working up a simple giant granny square.

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I am using the kelly green every fourth round as I have quite a bit of that, with a dark green, brown, orange, rust, yellow, purple, blue and red. Of course my centre is skewing somewhat, which is typical of large grannies crocheted around and around, but I don’t mind. However I may try turning the work every other round on my next granny, because that’s supposed to maintain a perfect square. Of course it also make it reversible, though I’m not sure if my end-weaving is perfect enough to be invisible on both sides.

I have so much black and grey that my brain is working on the next blanket already. I’d like to make one in white, grey and black with small pops of colour. I will need to browse Ravelry for some pattern inspiration.

I just came off four days of work in a row. I worked  Friday to Monday, which was rather sad because it was Thanksgiving weekend and my husband was off work for three of those days and I barely saw him. Whilst I like my job at the fabric store and my co-workers, and now that I’ve been there four years I (finally) feel confident in my abilities there, I sometimes wonder whether it would be worth looking around for something I could do that didn’t involve evenings and weekends. Or is the grass just looking greener from the other side?

Talking of grass, my lawn has greened up beautifully with the fall weather. The cooler temperatures and rain have been very welcome. The squirrels have been busy collecting up my walnuts, though Tai Chi Man found three paint buckets-worth on the ground when he was doing yardwork over the weekend and brought them inside. For the first time in a few years we will actually get to eat some of our own walnuts! He dug the last of the potatoes and also rented this awesome gadget from the sprinkler store which meant that for the first time since we bought this house in 1995 we actually know where ALL the solenoid boxes are for the irrigation system. Some of them have been buried for a very long time, which makes it hard to fix problems.

My massive maple in the front yard is showing red this year for the first time. Previously it’s always turned yellow. Weird! And normally I like to see how long we can hold out on turning up the thermostat. I like to aim for the end of October. Well, forget that! This year we had the heat on at the beginning of October, just to get a bit more comfy in the evenings. I am really appreciating having a blanket project to crochet to keep my legs warm – it makes a big difference when you’re enjoying couch and Netflix time!

Guess I should get off this computer now. I have a little housework to do and a couple of errands, so I’ll wish you happy crafting and a wonderful week.

 

FOs: Rainbow slouch and marvellously fluffy cowl

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A common habit of mine is, after finishing a large project, to complete a few small projects for instant gratification. This hat is a typical example, though I had a reason for making it. One of my co-workers asked me if I’d make her a red and black stripey slouchy hat, and I wanted to give one a trial run.

I used this pattern (Ravelry link) and it was a quick and easy project. It’s somewhat snugger than my friend wants, though – she tried this one on so now I know to add some more width and slouch to make hers just right.

I used some of the leftover yarn from making the Groovyghan so I now have a hat that coordinates with my blanket. Perhaps I should keep it in my bedroom, next to the bed, for those nights when I just can’t get warm!!!

Another project that’s hot off my needles is this one:

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This cowl is made with one ball of Spindle Yarns Buttersoft, a faux fur yarn that’s new in at the store where I work. It’s our own brand and, OH MY, when my boss showed me the cowl she had knitted up I was motivated to make one myself. This yarn is so soft and the best of its type I have ever felt.

This cowl is just 42 stitches in the round on 10mm needles, stockinette (not that you can tell) and I turned it inside out when I finished it because I think the reverse side is even fluffier than the knit side. Cast it on yesterday, bound it off after work tonight. Gorgeous!

Next, the red and black slouchy beanie.

 

 

Ze Groovyghan! Eet eez done!!

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Ze Groovyghan! Eet eez done!!

I am so excited to announce that the Groovyghan, she is finished. Happy dance!

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I absolutely love it. Even though I was following a pattern I, like many others who have crocheted this beauty, made many customisations and ended up with a unique Finished Object.

The plain dot squares had appliques added, the 3D flowers were switched out for daisies, the vertical shell strip was replaced with a diagonal C2C strip, and the border! Oh, the border! I found a You Tube tutorial for a popcorn stitch border which I extended to include all 12 colours and I think it is my favourite part of the whole blanket.

That final popcorn round took two hours and twenty minutes! And the whole caboodle took me exactly a month from start to finish, with a lot of manic crocheting in between all my regular life commitments and a huge amount of weaving in of ends.

It was all worth it and now my bed is adorned with this colourful blanket. This is 1600 grams of yarn, approximately, and one day maybe I will make an even bigger version that covers my bed even better.

These are the best pics I could get because my hopes of taking it outside and getting some full daylight shots were scuppered by the rain.

Here’s a close-up of the border…

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Check out my previous post for a link to the pattern and my Ravelry project page for all relevant notes and links to the extra patterns I used and the You Tube tutorial for the border.

Groovyghan: finally looking like a blanket

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I’m a little disappointed that the above photo doesn’t seem very in focus – it looked a lot better on my iPad! I have more below which were taken outside on my deck which hopefully will be sharper.

Anyway, my wrist (that I broke in February) is feeling a little sore after a few days of manic end-weaving and seaming. I was just so excited to see it come together. Of course I still have to add a border, which I have been mulling over in my head every night as I go to sleep. And then it will get a wash and dry cycle to relax the yarn and smooth the bumps.

I made quite a few adaptations to the original Groovyghan pattern, including changing out the 3D flowers for daisies, adding appliques to the dot squares and doing a C2C strip instead of a shell strip.

I used turquoise to join all the parts together, using a crochet hook to slipstitch back and forth to make a kind of zigzaggy flat join that I really like. There was a bit of fudging here and there, but it wouldn’t be crochet without some fudging, eh!

Later on today I plan to use my yarn winder to cake up the messy yarn skeins, and then I will think about the border. My plan so far is to start with a round of single crochet in turquoise and after that, well, I’m not sure.

I have to say that for weaving in hundreds of ends you really need a good podcast to listen to, and for that I have to thank Rachel (who is EllieBeth, a “planner who hooks” and designs stickers for planners) for distracting me and making the whole task more pleasant!

My Ravelry project page is here.

The Ravelry pattern page is here, where you can buy this pattern.

I’m using a 6.5mm hook and 12 colours of Red Heart with Love.

 

Groovyghan: looking groovy!

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What a difference a few weeks make! I started this CAL on September 1st with all these lovely skeins of yarn. I had extra of three of the colours from a previous purchase. Now look at them, so depleted! Still a fair amount of pink and turquoise but the rest are starting to look skinny. 

This is what they have been turned into. A daisy strip, a granny square strip, a dot/applique strip, a stripe strip and a C2C (corner to corner) strip. The latter is not quite done. I have to make sure it is the right length before making the last corner. I worked both days this weekend so the evenings were perfect for watching podcasts and weaving in ends. Hundreds of the darned things! (No pun intended.) I still have about 150 left on the stripe section. 

Tomorrow I should be able to finish the C2C section and start crocheting the strips together. And then…the border!