Category Archives: Crochet

Paying attention to the details…

For the past few months, I’ve been searching for the perfect scarf pattern to make. All this time, I thought it would be something knitted, but I was lured in by one of Sarah’s lovely designs. Oh, I’m thrilled, just discovered that Sarah now has a blog!

This is not how the double double treble group (ddtg) should look.

 

I’ve been working on this pattern test for a little while, squeezing in stitches when I had the chance. Early this morning, while I was crocheting I realized that something was odd with Row 1, it looked nothing like Sarah’s pretty design. I was in Row 8, there are about 13 rows total. Yeah, not fun!  I looked at her design, and other pictures left by pattern testers, and realized that I’d left out a crucial step… I wasn’t working the new stitch in the same stitch as the last group double double treble group (ddtg). Well, that would explain the wonky look!

You can see a lot of my frogged work wrapped around the variegated yarn.

 

Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise? I wasn’t thrilled with the multicolored yarn for this project, and so I think I’ll swap that yarn and replace it with another color. I have a lot of yarn, and added more to my yarn stash yesterday. Oh well, I’ll have time today. My daughter and I are planning to have a day of crafts,  after her soccer game this morning.

Crochet is my newest craft, it’s almost been a year. I’ve really enjoyed my crochet journey. I’ve moved past turning practice crocheted swatches into doll clothing (which thrilled my daughter) and have moved on to making actual crocheted items.

This pattern has challenged me (in a good way) to expand my crochet stitches, and it has given me ideas of things I can make using the stitch.

You know something? Frogging the majority of my work, could have been avoided if only I’d paid more attention to the pattern.

 

Tutorial: How to soften acrylic yarn skeins; yes they can be washed in your washing machine!

This past December, when I learned to crochet, I purchased cheap Red Heart Super Saver yarn from a few big box stores; Wal Mart and Michaels. The only downside to working with this fiber was that some of the skeins were scratchy. The scratchy factor isn’t reserved to acrylics, since I’ve encountered some animal fibers (mainly wool) that were super scratchy too.

Skeins of acrylic yarn, ready to be washed. Don’t forget to remove the yarn labels!

 

I don’t like working with scratchy yarn… I knew that many finished objects made with acrylic yarn, soften after they’ve been washed, but I decided to experiment and wash the entire skein before using them.

Red Heart yarn skeins, zipped in the mesh laundry bag and ready to go through the wash cycle!

What you need

  1. Mesh laundry bag aka lingerie bag for washing hosiery or delicate clothing
  2. Optional; Cover skeins of yarn with nylon stockings that have been cut into skein sized tubes.  Think of it as a jacket for your yarn skeins. I find when I do this the loose yarn ends don’t wander…which could unravel the yarn a tiny bit. I don’t always use nylon tubes.

Yarn skeins in nylon tubes, reduce tangles. You can cut up nylon stockings to make these tubes.

Directions on washing your acrylic yarn skeins

If you’re unsure about the results, just test one acrylic yarn skein.

  1. Remove the yarn label, you don’t want that going into the washing machine! If you want to identify the yarn color later, hold onto the label to place on after it’s been washed and dried, or make your own cute labels.
  2. Place yarn in mesh wash bag. I usually loop scrap yarn through the zipper hole and one of the mesh holes and tie. Since occasionally my lingerie bag will open during the wash cycle.
  3. Place yarn filled bag into the washing machine.
  4. Add detergent, instead of fabric softener I use vinegar
  5. Wash on warm setting, since washing acrylics at hot temperatures can damage the yarn.
  6. Once the cycle is complete, place the skeins (still in the mesh bag) into the dryer.
  7. Dry on warm setting. Too much heat can damage acrylic.
  8. Enjoy your softer yarn.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don’t overload your washing machine. You don’t want it to become unbalanced, or potentially burn the motor. When I first started washing my acrylic yarn skeins, I sat near the machine to make sure everything was fine.
  • You might need to secure the zipper on your mesh laundry bag. I found my bag would come open during the wash cycle. I found looping yarn through the zipper hole and through the mesh and then tying it closed solved this issue. Some machine wash bags don’t have large mesh holes, in this case you could thread a needle with regular sewing thread or embroidery floss and do the same thing.
  • Make sure the yarn skeins are dry before putting it in bag or storage containers, you don’t want your yarn to get mildew.

Washed and dried acrylic yarn. The texture of this Red Heart super saver yarn has changed tremendously, it’s now squishy soft!

 

Over the past several months I’ve been gifted with acrylic yarns for the various ministries where I crochet and knit things; The Mother Bear Project,  and making chemo and preemie hats for a local hospital. The organizations where I donate items request that crocheters and knitters use acrylic yarn. I’ll also use acrylics or washable yarn for people that don’t want to be bothered with hand-washing.

I must say now that I soften the skeins before working on a project, I don’t mind working with acrylic yarn!

I love the color of this yarn, and since the acrylic skein has been softened by washing, I can now make some lovely preemie hats!

 

Sometimes I wash my acrylic yarn skeins more than once, I just make sure I use a warm setting if I’m washing with like colors. The beauty of the acrylic yarns that I use, is the yarn tends to get softer with each wash.

I mainly use non-acrylic yarn, but  if I must use acrylic, Red Heart super saver is usually my “Go To” yarn. RHSS have a variety of colors that I adore, so I make sure that I soften the skeins first before working with it. If you have acrylic yarns that you aren’t using, because they’re too scratchy, try it out.

 

 

Just can’t get enough; hats and lots of them

If I kept all the crafts I made, you might eventually find me on a show where they help people reclaim their homes, by eliminating their accumulated items.

I create a lot of items with my hands, fortunately I also love to share with others. Shocking I know since I’m a selfish crafter, but as I tell my friends I’m only selfish in that I make what I want, when I want. I do have a fiber worthy list, for people I know, but when it comes to donating to charities… I’m all over that.

I mainly donate to local charities, but I do send items to people in other countries. I crochet bears for The Mother Bear Project. Donated crocheted and knitted bears are distributed to children, with HIV, in third world countries. I’m also a member of my Lutheran churches quilting group the machine sewn quilts we make are sent to the Lutheran World Relief. These lovely quilts are distributed to those in need here in the United States, and also in other countries too.

Hats are my favorite small project to crochet or knit… they tend to work up quickly (unless the pattern is extremely intricate). Recently I started knitting hats for a local hospital. It turns out preemie hats are much appreciated by the families who receive them. I must say, that it felt great reading the responses on my knitted preemie hat posts, and the additional emails from folks who somehow stumbled upon that post. It’s not why I do it though, I don’t need recognition to help those in need.

A few weeks ago, I joined the Chemo Cap Pattern Library on Ravelry, two of my family members lost their battle with cancer within the past five years. I’ll be whipping up stylish hats (for a local hospital) for those cancer patients that have experienced hair loss.

I also joined the For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation a charity group that donates crocheted and knitted items to Indian children within Oglala, SD. My daughter and I both have Indian heritage, Black, Blackfoot Indian, and Irish from my father’s side, and from my daughte’rs father German, Lumbee Indian, and Irish.

With the amount of patterns I’ve discovered from the Chemo Cap Pattern Library, and the crocheted and knitted books I have, my hooks and needles will be occupied for quite some time.

Teaching crochet: Crochet & knitted amigurumi dolls. Knitted robe and shawl

This week, my biggest work in progress is teaching my daughter to crochet. I mainly knit, but I relearned crochet this past December, and I love it too.

My daughter crocheting

My daughter crocheting a square

Earlier this year, my daughter expressed interest in learning crochet. She didn’t stick with it after learning the simple chain and single crochet, and I didn’t push. She wasn’t ready and immediately went back to her comfort zone, sewing. She’s been sewing for three years; she’s nine-years old.

This time is different, she’s determined to learn crochet, and I believe her. I know my daughter well enough to know when she’s ready to master something, and so I’ll be there to gently coax her along if she gets frustrated. She told me that after she masters crochet, she wants to learn knitting.

My daughter crocheting

My daughter’s busy hands…

The crochet and knitted amigurumi dolls that I’ve made are the main reason she wants to learn. She’s seen how much fun I have turning my sketches into a lovely fiber art, and she wants design her own. She designs most of the clothing for her Monster High dolls. Occasionally, she’ll ask me to design outfits for them.

Last evening, I had her working on a simple crocheted square, and she did well. I told her initially, her crochet might not look as she’d like, and that was fine. If she persevered, crochet would become much easier, and eventually she’d be able to make whatever she likes.

Another crocheted amigurumi doll

Crochet: amigurumi doll

I need some clothes!

This past Friday, I started crocheting this amigurumi doll. I didn’t use a pattern. This doll is for my daughter’s best friend, and while we gave her some lovely presents at her Girlee Gurlz birthday party, in the back of my mind, I wanted to give her more.. so this will be an extra gift.

 

Knitted amigurumi doll

It’s time to sew everything together, embroider the face, and root the hair.

Knitted amigurumi doll

Yesterday, I finished knitting the legs for this knitted amigurumi doll, and last evening I sewed the seams. There are a few firsts going on here…. You see, it’s my first time knitting an amigurumi doll, and it’s also my first time making a non-fabric doll with seams. With crochet I’ve always made dolls in the round. With the next doll I knit, I’ll knit in the round too, with my circular needles.

Knitted robe for amigurumi doll

Knitted robe for amigurumi doll

This picture didn’t do a great job of showing that the collar is a different color, it’s dusky rose.

This is the robe I’m knitting for the knitted amigurumi doll. I’m using a seed stitch. Once this is complete I’ll add embroidery, and most likely line the robe. The book you see in the background, The Very Easy Guide to Lace Knitting has some lovely lace trim pattern and I’ll be using some of those as a gift to a friend. I know she’ll adore the hand-knitted lace trim.

Knitting: Diamonds and Pearls Shawl

Knitting; Diamonds and Pearls Shawl

I only managed a few rows of this shawl, hopefully I can complete this shawl soon.

I’m linking too…

  1. Tami Amis WIP
  2. Yarn Along
  3. Frontier Dreams

Crocheted amigurumi doll; almost complete

This past December, I relearned crochet…

It seems as if it was harder for me to relearn crochet, than it was to learn to knit when I was eight-years old… It took me a while to manage to have even crochet stitches, but I didn’t give up, I kept moving. During the process of relearning crochet, I refused to touch knitting for about five months. I found it helpful to do this, since I wasn’t automatically running back to my (knitting) comfort zone when I encountered a new technique. I kept practicing until I got it right. I follow that motto with everything…

Crochet: amigurumi doll

This crocheted amigurumi doll needs some clothes!

Using my own amigurumi pattern

If you look at my crocheted amigurumi Coraline post, you might notice that these crocheted dolls are similar, but not the same. With this crocheted amigurumi doll, I didn’t follow another designers pattern. This doll isn’t as slender as Coraline. Also, the head, torso, and limbs were created differently… I modeled this amigurumi doll after a plastic doll I had when I was a child. If I dig around, I might find it in my daughter’s doll collection.

Since I’ve always enjoyed creating my own designs, so I had fun playing with this crocheted amigurumi doll project. I still have a lot to improve, but I’m pleased with the direction of my crocheted amigurumi dolls. Eventually I’ll write a pattern, and perhaps put out a call for pattern testers, before I present the crocheted doll pattern as a downloadable file. I definitely won’t be calling it a Coraline doll pattern.

Fun with Hair rooting

I’m really having fun crocheting this doll for my daughter’s best friend. Her friend, birthday girl from yesterday, was really drawn to my daughter’s crocheted Coraline doll. The last time she was over for a play date, my daughter said she held her Coraline almost the entire time of the play date. My daughter went on to say, that she politely asked her if she could have Coraline. Just as politely my daughter said, No! Her friend really loved the rooted hair, it’s a technique I’ve used for over twenty years.

With my daughter’s doll, it took over two hours to complete the hair rooting. I did a lot, and tried to make it as natural as possible. Hair rooting is nothing new, people have been using it on cloth dolls for years. It looks similar to the hair rooting you see on dolls not made from cloth.

I must say, it felt great that she liked something I made enough to have one of her own, and so I knew I’d eventually make her a doll. After all, she’s fiber worthy! I’ve made her items before, and she has taken care of them.

Ideas abound while playing with fiber…

I started crocheting this amigurumi doll on Friday, the day before the party. And you know what? She would have been ready in time to wrap her up and sent with the other gifts… But, as with any of my projects, I had additional ideas, so this wasn’t included with those gifts. I’ll be knitting her a pair of boots, a raincoat, and the pants will be knitted too… I have an idea for a different type of messenger bag, and so I’ll be sketching out a few designs, after I return from  our Lutheran church today.

And this is why I rarely make items for anyone at the last minute! Because while making an item, I do get inspired. Regardless of what fiber art I’m working with, I always want to add a “little something else”.

Crochet amigurumi doll

Crocheted amigurumi doll; it’s time to add the facial features and navel.

Breaking into my Caron Simply soft stash

You can see in the above picture, that I broke into my Caron Simply Soft stash to make this crocheted amigurumi. Almost three months ago, I found peach and oatmeal colored Caron Simply soft yarn on sale for $2.00 apiece, and while initially I was conservative with my purchase, I went back and bought them out. I’m so glad I did, these have come in handy for my amigurumi projects. When I make items for kids, those that are sensitive to animal fibers, or people that I know don’t want to be bothered with special care instructions, I always chose yarn that you can simply toss into the washer/dryer.

My daughter’s friend will receive this gift from us sometime this week. We’ll include a nice note to accompany her, wrap her up nicely, and mail her off… even though she lives about twenty minutes away from us. My daughter loves receiving items in the mail, and I assume her best friend might like it also.

Crochet and knitting: Tying up loose ends; knitting in rounds with circular knitting needles

Sometime this weekend, I’ll be washing the crocheted and knitted bag that I’m making for my daughter’s teacher…

 

Crochet half double crochet

The bulk of the crocheted bag is complete, I know it doesn’t look like it from the above picture. In total, this bag is three foot long, of course it won’t be that length when it’s pieced and sewn together. I am positive that my daughter’s teacher will love this gift.

I truly love what she has done with my daughter’s third grade class, and I want her to know it. Well, I know she does, I’ve sent her notes and gifts throughout the year. And yesterday, I received a really nice card, with a long message from her. It felt great.

I’m still undecided if I’ll hand-sew or machine-sew the ends together, but I have a few days to make my decision.

Since the end is near with this bag, last evening I kept my hands occupied with knitting…

 

Knitting stockinette stitch circular needles 2 06 09 12

It felt great playing around with my circular needles. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was on television, and so my daughter, and I curled up in our family room, and watched the movie on our 53″ flat screen television.

I don’t need to look at my hands when I’m knitting. My hands automatically “know” where to go.

Regarding the circular needles, I’ve been using them for a few weeks. I haven’t made anything yet, but I have knitted a lot to get getting comfortable knitting with a cable attached to the ends. I’m finally over that awkward stage, and can now knit as smoothly as I do with my regular knitting needles/double pointed needles. 

I figured last evening was a good time as any to start knitting in the round with my circular knitting needles. It’s the main reason I bought them after all, I’d much prefer to knit socks, and a variety of other projects with circulars knitting needles instead of DPNs (double pointed knitting needles). I’ve knitted in the round with those many times, but never with circular knitting needles.

I’m pleased to say I didn’t find this “new process” difficult. No mistakes were made, and since I’d been practicing with the circular needles (daily) for over a week, knitting with circulars no longer feels awkward. 

When attempting something new, you need to allow yourself time to get used to the basics. I always do that before moving onto something more advanced.

Knitting stockinette stitch circular needles 1 06 09 12

If you look at the above picture, you’ll see a “jewel” hanging from my knitting. That’s my row marker. Last evening, I created it, along with others.

Since I’m pleased with how knitting on circular needles is going, I’ll be frogging this project (ripping out the stitches) and casting on something new. 

And yes, I already have ideas in mind…

While knitting with my circular knitting needles, a few  creative thoughts invaded my brain, and it was all about a gorgeous hand knit sweater… for me! The ideas were so delightful that I hurriedly sketched them on paper before they vanished. That’s happened to me when I was in my teens…I’d have an idea, sometimes they would awaken me sleep, but in all instances, I’d forgotten to write it down, and it vanished. I quickly learned to write immediately, so I wouldn’t lose the inspiration. Now, I stop and draw when I’m inspired. I’m sure I’ll be knitting that inspiration within a few months. Knitting will play the major role in that project, but crochet will be stopping by to join in on the creative fun.

Finding my happy place: End in sight; crochet & knitted bag

I’m very pleased with how the crocheted and knitted bag is turning out for my daughter’s teacher.

And while I could easily give it to her tomorrow. I’ve decided to hold off giving it to her until next week. My daughter last day of school is tomorrow, the teachers have another week.  I told Mrs. M; we’d be stopping by next week to bring her garden produce. I didn’t mention the gift. Why ruin the surprise?

Of course, this means I can add additional extras to the bag, I’m really excited. And… I’ll be posting pictures, of the bag, at some point. I’m thrilled that I’ll be able to share a few of the crafts I enjoy within one project.

You know…

I really tried to hold off on doing anything knitting related for a while. I wanted to devote most of my crafting time to crochet, and it worked for about five months. But, I didn’t hold off as long as I’d originally planned. Way too many knitting projects are calling my name, and I’m over the moon about circular knitting needles! Who knew, I’d love them so much!

Since I’m over that crochet learning hump, and have practiced and made numerous crocheted items. I think it’s ok to bring knitting back into the mix, don’t you?

I feel the quality of my crochet is at the level where it can be included with some of my knitting projects. Well… in this case it’s the other way around, since the bag is mainly crochet.

Knitting has decided to make a guest appearance on the crochet bag, and since they are now on the same level, knitting won’t be embarrassed being featured on the same project as crochet.

As I mentioned before, I’m a process crafter. I enjoy the process, more than completing the project, and so in my mind, I’m already lining up other projects for my queue.

 

With the crochet and knitted bag turning out as I envisioned, I’m definitely in my happy place!