Monthly Archives: July 2007

New Blog Added to Sidebar

Ae’s Page.

Very nice stuff there. I’ve added her after seeing her completed work in a couple of threads on Crochetville. She’s quite creative, & has a great sense of color.

Little Leaf Afghan w/Mini Pattern

I made this baby afghan for my cousin Becky, who is due in December.

Generally speaking, I don’t like making large items like blankets at all, even baby blankets. My round baby blanket, for example, I started while pregnant with my second daughter, & finished two years later when pregnant with my third daughter.

But one of the things you can never have enough of, in my experience, is blankets. Especially for winter babies. So, the task was to make a blanket. And, since I am easily distracted, it had to be a simple blanket and a quick blanket. Thus, the Little Leaf Afghan was born. (I call it this because I believe the particular DC cluster stitch I use is called the leafhopper stitch, but I could be totally wrong about that.)

The blanket is green and white to make it seem to move faster–it’s easy to gauge progress in terms of “OK, only four more stripes to go!” I have a nice picot edging on it because I wanted some sort of edging, but it needed to be a gender neutral edging as Becky isn’t sure yet what she’s having. (She’ll find out ahead of time, the party pooper.) For some reason, a ruffle just doesn’t strike me as gender neutral. Fringe does, but what baby wants to deal with fringe?

Anyhow, here’s the pattern. Note that I am calling this a mini-pattern, as it’s more of a schematic than an actual long crochet pattern like you typically see. (Another reason I don’t make too many blankets is because the patterns tend to be asininely long.) With no further ado:

Little Leaf Afghan

Materials:
L (8 mm) hook
9 oz green worsted weight yarn
8 oz white worsted weight yarn
(These are guesses, as I used Caron yarn in pound skeins, & I estimate I used slightly less than half of each; better to have too much than not enough)

Leafhopper Stitch: This is a 2-dc cluster stitch, worked as follows–Yarn over, draw up a loop in first stitch. Draw up a loop in next stitch. Yarn over & draw through two loops on hook twice. For the next stitch, you’ll draw up your first loop in the same stitch as you drew up the second loop in the last stitch. So, if you have stitches 1, 2, & 3, the first Leafhopper stitch will start in 1 and end end 2, and the second will start in 2 & end in 3. And so on. When you get to the end of the row, you’ll work a normal double crochet in it after finishing the leafhopper stitch you were just working on. To wit: the last leafhopper stitch will be worked with the first leg in st 69 and the last leg in st 70. So you’re going to put a DC in stitch 70. You must do this, or you’ll lose a stitch every leafhopper row, and your blanket will come out looking like an idiot made it.

Picot: This is for the edging. The picot is worked like this: Single crochet in the proper stitch. Chain 3. Slip stitch into the back of the third chain.

Base chain is 71 stitches. The first row is 70 single crochet. (Be sure you don’t deviate from the stripe pattern; you don’t want an extra row of single crochet.)
Stripe: Work 1 row of single crochet, then 1 row of leafhopper stitch, then 1 row of single crochet, then 1 row of leafhopper stitch. Change colors (stop & cut your yarn with 2 loops left on the hook, line up the next color & draw it through the last 2 loops to finish the stitch) at the end of the fourth row. So: each stripe is 4 rows: Single crochet. Leafhopper. Single crochet. Leafhopper (with color change).

Work 15 stripes. The first & last stripes will be white. Do not finish off at the end, just switch to the green so you can do the border with a lot less trouble.

Border: In green: Single crochet evenly down the sides. I put 2 single crochets in the side of each leafhopper row & one in the side of each single crochet row. Single crochet two or three times in each corner stitch; you’ll be able to tell where this is. Single crochet in the free bumps of the starting chain, back up the other side, and in each stitch in your final (leafhopper) row. In the next round of the border, you’ll single crochet in two stitches & then put a Picot in every third stitch. Be sure to put one or two extra stitches in your corner stitches again this round, to keep everything flat.

***

Note that you can mess with a lot with this pattern. Obviously, you can use different yarn. You can use a different size hook (changing the number of stitches as necessary to get the desired width) and any number of stitches. You can even do this in all one color.

However, there is one thing you do not want to change about this pattern. Don’t mess around with where you start & end the stripes too much. You want to always change colors at the end of a leafhopper row. This pattern has a very obvious front & back. Change colors at the proper place, and you can easily crochet over the yarn ends & hide them nicely at the back underneath single crochets. Otherwise you’ll have a metric butt ton of ends to weave in, & who the hell wants to do that?

More pix:
This is a close-up of the stitch. This is the front of the leafhopper stitch. The back just looks like a long line of yarn going straight up; there’s absolutely no interest to it. By contrast, the front looks a lot more complicated than it really is. This stitch goes fast, please believe me. There’s no way I’d have stuck with it if it was slow. It’s a bit open because of the large hook used, but judging by having it on my lap as I worked, it’s still quite warm.

This is a handy stitch for a lot of things. I’m going to be making a sweater & hat using the same stitch to go along with it.

This is a somewhat close-up of the edging on the blanket. I frequently have problems with wanting to put my picots too close together; this is definitely one stitch you don’t want to stack up on top of itself.

Overall, this is a good “wow” factor afghan–it looks like it was a lot more complicated than it really is to make.

You could probably make this in two or three days. It took me a while, but that’s because I’m lazy as hell & day before yesterday I only made one stripe. Yesterday, this sucker was only half done (7 stripes), so I know it can be made quickly.

Crocheted Bunny from a Knitting Pattern

Jo has this tutorial for making a bunny out of a knitted square up on her blog artsy fartsy mama.

I had been planning to make a crocheted version of this for a while but I never got around to it and eventually forgot I had the tut bookmarked. I came across it again last night after arranging the links in my Crochet & Crafts bookmark folder alphabetically and decided I’d have to take the time to make it today.

I used an I hook and some spare DK weight yarn of uncertain origin. I did it in Tunisian crochet because I never do anything in that technique, but I have no doubt it can be used with any stitch. One of the commenters at the author’s site suggests it’s a great use for gauge swatches, and I’m certain that’s true for the folks who don’t frog theirs like I do. (Every little bit of yarn should be used, right?)

I’m a little unclear on parts of the shaping, so I winged it some, but overall it’s an excellent tutorial. Plenty of pictures, easily understood text, etc. The big difference, aside of course from using crochet, was that I didn’t do a felted tail like she did; mine is several chain stitch loops. I didn’t want something Esther could pull off easily. Of course, she was trying to take it from my hands before I was even done with it, but she managed to carry it off and leave it somewhere unknown during the short time I was moving the pictures from my camera onto my computer, so I think this is the record for the least amount of time it’s taken her to lose something.

Baby Blankets: An Average

So I’m working on designing a blankie for my cousin Becky’s baby, and as usual I am stumped by the fact that I’m not sure what size to make it. Nothing I’m crocheting looks quite right, and I don’t have any receiving blankets on hand to base it off of, like I usually do.

Brilliant me decided to go to Crochet Pattern Central’s baby afghans page and see what was there. This somehow morphed into the idea of getting the measurements off of all the blankets with measurements and then averaging them.

I left off patterns that required registration, and anything that was obviously not a “normal” size (there were a couple that purported to be for car seats). After I assembled my list, I knocked the highest & lowest values off both measurements. This left me with 63 numbers, ranging from 25″ on the width side on up to 50″ on the height side. (Yeah, that’d be an interesting-looking afghan!)

Anyway, a little time with the calculator later, & this is what I came up with for an average baby blanket: 33″ wide by 38″ long (both rounded off).

I am publishing this because I know that the question of what size to make baby blankets has popped up many a time on Crochetville. My number, of course, is as arbitrary as any other, but it does seem like a handy size just by looking at it.

I’m not a bitch.

I think I stepped through the looking glass, and somehow wound up in a world where it’s an insult to be called a lady but it’s great to be called a bitch.

I kind of rolled my eyes at Stitch & Bitch when it came out, as the name just reeks of trying too hard to be cutting edge; nonetheless I own that book as well as Stitch & Bitch Nation and the design journal (which I’ve never actually used, sadly enough; when I go to designing stuff I grab a spiral notebook by reflex).

I know there’s a neofeminist magazine called Bitch, but I’m no more a neofeminist than a neoconservative. Rather, I am distinctly old-school in both respects. (And in regards to feminism, I mean old old school. Susan B Anthony rather than Gloria Steinem.)

Being that my best friend is gay, I’m well-conversant with the concept of conscripting insulting words in an effort to remove their sting. Be that as it may, I have to draw the line somewhere; I’d no more use the word bitch in reference to myself than I’d use the word nigger in reference to my black friends and acquaintances, or fagot in reference to Mark.

I have nothing to prove when it comes to hipness and craftiness. I’ve been crafting since before it once again became au courant, and I will continue to do so long after it leaves popular culture. I feel no need to declare myself hip and edgy by using a curse word to describe myself any more than I feel the need to declare myself hip and edgy by knitting a Hogwarts scarf.

I’d like to join a crafting group, but I’m not going to hook up with anyone obviously trying to declare themselves to be Really Really Different (and face it, these days a craft circle with the word bitch in it is about as counterculture as your average mall Goth). I like my tea cozies without irony, thank you very much, and although I have the deepest respect for folks who reconstruct clothing (witness the Wardrobe Reconstruction button in my sidebar), craft from found objects et cetera, I am forced to note that it really isn’t anything new, although this drive towards proud self-deprecation certainly seems to be.

Here we go again…

However, i think knitting is more versatile – there is so much more you can do with shaping, the type of fabric you’re creating, designs in the knitting fabric, etc. Each stitch just seems to afford more detail than crochet to me, and crochet is often a very thick fabric, whereas knitting is thinner and therefore more versatile.

Grr. It’s a good thing you cannot use the magic of the internet to bitchslap people, or my hands would hurt.

I’ve seen this argument put forth in many different forms lately, and it doesn’t get any more accurate with the repetition.

I recall another thread on the same site (MotheringDotCommune) wherein a lady said she wanted to crochet some socks but her mother (in law?) told her you can’t crochet socks, only knit them. My response to her is my response to the “you can do more with knitting” theory in general–Just because you can’t do it, doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

Actually, the “you can’t crochet socks” thing is the most laughable knitting vs crochet argument in existence, considering I can think of two books devoted to it off the top of my head, & could probably provide you with 20 links for crocheted socks with about 30 seconds worth of searching. Hell, I myself have created two different patterns for crocheted socks! (Only wrote down one, sadly.)

You know, I couldn’t knit a doily if my life depended on it. Does that mean it’s impossible? Er, no.

If your stitches have no definition, it means you’re using crappy yarn, or a bad hook/yarn combo. (I knitted a skirt for Esther, & the eyelets I put in the bottom had shitty definition, probably because I was using a fairly thick yarn for the size needles I had.)

I think one of the best illustrations of “I can do anything you can do” is over at Bev’s Country Cottage. (Bev, have I mentioned lately how much I love you? I haven’t? Shame on me. I love you. Er, in a platonic, crocheting sort of way.) You can see her original Very Easy Booties here, and there is a knitted version here. Some day I’ll make both to illustrate how much alike they are, but trust me there’s very little difference.

I’ve personally crocheted a version of the baby hat from Stitch & Bitch. (Umbilical baby hat? Is that it?) I have a whole book that is dedicated to crocheted versions of common knit stitches.

I defy anyone to come up with something knitted that I couldn’t do in crochet. Oh, and to come up with a decent-looking knitted granny square.

New dolls for a customer.

This redhead was made first. I made her with the plan of selling her, and was lucky enough to find a lady who wanted not only her but also a cousin for her.

So I made the blonde, finished her up last night in fact. I had a lot of fun with that dress, I wanted a princessy sort of look.

Both of these were made with a 4mm hook and yarn I already had on hand. The orange dress the redhead has on is Microspun; I can’t remember the brand of. It’s my usual soft baby yarn, anyway.

I make the bodies and hair of these dolls from worsted weight yarn, & then go down to sport weight for their clothes, which seems to work out the best.

I am also nearly finished with the mermaid; she awaits only her arms. Of course, I put her aside for the customer.

Sometimes, it’s too Easy

You wouldn’t guess it by looking at me, but my favorite thing to do at the gym is lift weights. I’m talking freeweights, baby–serious iron. (OK, by looking at me you wouldn’t think I exercise at all, but that’s beside the point.) I did upper-body work Tuesday, about half barbell & half dumbbell.

I used the 50lb barbell for most of what I did. I’m the only woman I’ve ever seen hoisting that sucker, or even the 40lb’er. I did some biceps curls with an EZ curl barbell, but it was only a 30lb’er. By then it was late enough in my workout that I couldn’t use the 50lb anymore. And yet the 30lb felt too easy, as if I was wimping out.

The first time I had the cojones to do freeweights at this gym, I didn’t know what weight to use, so I grabbed the lightest one–2olbs. I did a couple of curls with it and then re-racked it in disgust, because it was so easy it made me feel like an idiot. (Side note: this is the barbell I see other women with. I’ve never seen a gal with a heavier barbell at that gym. I’m sure they could handle it if they had any faith in themselves, but even the personal trainers–who should really know better–give women only the 20lb one.)

Anyway, I will now masterfully connect pumping iron to crocheting, because I rock like that.

My cousin Becky dropped by my cousin Maggie’s (her sister) when I was over there tonight. She is pregnant again and due in December. This only enables me, y’know.

I promised her a baby blanket, amongst assorted other goodies. (Boy, the look she gave me when I waxed enthusiastic over getting to make sweaters!) I have a mostly-unused Pound of Love from Lion Brand in pale yellow, & I’m using this.

So, the question comes, what stitch pattern do I use? I know I don’t have the patience to follow anyone else’s pattern (though, of course, props to y’all who write ’em). So I’d have to come up with my own. And I opened up Notepad to write it down so I can post it to my free patterns site.

I intended to begin with to do horizontal stripes of a sort–plain DC interspersed with a lacier stitch. But this is a December baby, and it gets cold here in January/February time frame. So I wanted something not holey. Then I remembered a hat I’d made during Lent. Specifically, this one:
Alternating several double crochets with several single crochets, all on the same row, gives a sort of rippled look, without the pain in the rear that actual ripple patterns always give me. (I don’t know why they do, but they do.)

So, I came up with a “pattern.” And I WILL post it to my patterns site when I am done with the blanket, and I will call it the Lazy Ripple Baby Blanket. What I’m tempted to call it, on the other hand, is “The Dumbass Ripple Blankie”, because that’s what I feel like when I sit down to write this down as a pattern.

There are so many possible variations on this it’s silly. If I remember right–I didn’t write anything down at the time–the hat is 2 sc followed by 3 dc. The blanket is 3 sc followed by 3 dc. There are two ways to do this–either a multiple of 3 or a multiple of 6 (depending on whether you want it to end with sc or dc–a multiple of 3 but not 6 is necessary to end with the same stitch you start with), plus 1. You just sc in the scs and dc in the dcs. It’s really that simple. I’m working with a starting chain of 121, which means I’m ending with 3 dcs. But you could do a starting chain with a multiple of four, five, or seven or more plus 1 (you always need 1 extra st when you start with a single crochet), and then do 5 sc followed by 5 dc, or you could have a multiple of 5 with an uneven breakdown, as with the hat.

It’s so simple a pattern, just 3 rows, two of which are the pattern repeat (only different because of the starting stitch, which means a different number of turning chains). It’s the crochet equivalent of the 20lb barbell. I can do it, but I feel silly doing it because it requires so little effort.

I’ll post a picture of the blanket when I’m done; truthfully that’s going to be the hardest part. Finishing the blanket. I tend to lose interest partway through blankets of any sort, but hopefully there’s enough variation in this one to keep me entertained.

It’s a head!

I was semi-participating in a virtual sewing/crocheting circle last night, so I took this picture of the mermaid I’m working on. The hair on this thing is a pain. It’s a nice wool yarn that’s two different-colored strands entwined, with some thicker slubs here & there of almost raw wool. So what I’ve been doing after sewing it in place is to unwind the strands and attack them with a hair brush to rough it up some. You can see that to the left in the picture; on the right is the way it starts out. Very cool-looking. I’m taking a break from that til I’m finished with the rest of it, as it’s very tedious work.

I didn’t post too much to the circle last night; I figured out early on that the problem with such virtual klatching is that I’d have to stop working to post. Not gonna happen. I should look into joining the local Craft Mafia, or see about scaring up a crochet/sewing/embroider circle locally. There might be such a thing; I just really don’t want to join in on something knitting-dominated.

Anyway, I’m about to go back to working on my mermaid. Fair warning, it’s going to be made to Shooter Jennings, Los Lonely Boys and maybe even some Steve Earle.

Dolls

My temp job has ended, but not before I developed the perfect doll. Well, perfect for me anyway; I like the size, the proportions, & the hands & feet. I still need to tweak some details, like the hair, and I haven’t had much luck in writing a pattern, but those are minor details.

This is the first one I made; I gave it to Esther. I haven’t changed the doll much from that way of making it. The major change is the way of attaching the arms; I finally figured out how to do it so they’re attached in a more natural manner; on this doll one is sticking straight out because I sewed it on in the round & the other has some forward/backward motion because I pinched the starting end together & sewed it shut & then sewed it on the doll. I’ve since changed the method to have them ‘hinged’ up & down, with the free end sewn shut. (There was a very brief interlude where I crocheted the start end shut, but it make the arms too long.)
This is a bit of a close-up of the face. I actually haven’t changed the way I do the face since this one. The eyes are simple rectangles, the lips a double-thickness line and then a little rectangle or triangle for the bottom lip. The nose is done in matching yarn, I also used it to trace around the eyes and add a little bit more detail.
One last picture of this doll, a close-up of the hair. I laid two long strands over the top of the head & backstitched them down. This isn’t as sturdy as I’d like, so I took backstitches on the sides as much as there was room for, & I have refined this with each subsequent doll until the most recent one has almost all the hair sewn down on the sides as well.

This doll took all day to make, but I did finish the doll itself at work; I had to make the dress at home. The next day I made another doll for a neighbor child, which unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of. That doll I used a 4.25 mm hook for instead of the 4.0 mm used on this one. It is actually a significantly larger doll. I used a different hook size because of how much my hand hurt by the end of that first day, but it was worse the second day. The Clover Softouch hooks make all the difference. All subsequent dolls will be made with the 4.0 mm hook, as it gives a much nicer appearance overall.

I actually sold the third doll I made. As I was finishing up the second one, the gentleman who sits behind me asked if I could make a personalized one for his daughter. I quoted a price of $25, but browsing Etsy suggests any more should be priced higher. It’s OK, though, I still think I got a good price. His daughter is of mixed-race, & he wanted one that looked a bit more like her, so I used tan yarn from Red Heart for the “skin” & Light & Lofty yarn in a sort of caramel color for the hair. I really love that yarn for hair, it should fray into something quite lovely. The final product was finished in just under half a day of work, & had a very nice tonal look going for it.

I don’t have a photo of the finished project because I wasn’t certain Tracey would be OK with it, but this is the doll without any clothes. I made a sundress for her all in single crochet so I could embroider on it. Not something I plan on doing in the future. Tracey loved it & I’m certain his daughter will as well.

I have a fourth doll almost finished, lacking merely an arm. I’ll edit this post later today to post pix once I’m totally done. While working on this one I fell in love with the tan yarn & so the one I’m currently on uses the same color, & I’ve got a sort of brick colored yarn I’m using for the hair.

Most of these use Red Heart Super Saver yarn. Economical, & holds up well. Stash yarn, mostly. I bought some yarn from Michael’s Friday evening, all wool, that I will use to make a mermaid. That and the doll I am working on currently will soon be up for sale at Etsy; I’ll post here when they’re listed.

Oh, & I’ll have the pattern from the previous post up as soon as I locate the paper I wrote it on.