Knitted Cocoon Shrug

Have you ever completed a craft project and felt a bit disappointed with the outcome? I’m sure we have all been there… I know I have quite a few times. You kind of feel like you wasted your time and possibly money on the supplies.

For the longest (a few years to be sort of exact) I finished knitting a rectangle that would ultimately become a shrug – all that was left to do was seam it together. I folded it and placed stitch markers on the sides so I knew exactly where I needed to seam, but then I folded it up and placed it in a corner and kept reminding myself that I had to finish it. I would put it on my desk and in other places so that it would be in my line of vision, but, it just wasn’t working. Not really sure why I was procrastinating. I was possibly thinking that it was going to be more difficult than it really was. Truth be told, I enjoy crocheting and knitting, but I am just not fond of those projects that require seaming at the end to complete them.

But then I finished up another project that requires seaming (hexagons for a Christmas Tree Skirt) and I thought to myself that there was no way I could start seaming this project if I still hadn’t finished the one from years ago. So, I took the rectangle out of the corner and procrastinated for a few more days and then finally sat down and got to work. And guess what, I realized that all that procrastinating was for nothing. I seamed up the sides of the shrug in about an hour. I did one side while watching television and the other side laying in bed before going to sleep. Finishing it prompted me to get out of bed and try it on and that’s when the feeling of disappointment came over me. I tried it and my first thought was “Eh.” The pattern was one size fits all, but, I think if I was a little taller I would like the way it fit in the back better. And while the picture accompanying the pattern had the sleeves coming down about 3/4 of the way on the model’s arm, on me the sleeves end before my elbows. Maybe trying it on over my pj’s didn’t help give me the best impression of the shrug, but, considering that I was fussing with it so much to get it to look just right I don’t know if my thoughts will change. Ultimately, I ended up folding it back up and placing it in another spot. At least it’s done, so, I can to get to work on seaming the hexagons that I am determined to get done before my Christmas Tree goes up this year. I have some time so fingers crossed I will get it done.

 

 

Crocheted Keyhole Scarf

Earlier this year I got a request to make a keyhole scarf (it can also be referred to as an Ascot scarf). It’s a short scarf that sits at the upper chest. As opposed to other scarves this style stays put because one end is inserted into the keyhole of the other. Since I truly had no clue how to make one I started looking for patterns online similar to the picture of the one requested. Once I found a pattern I set it aside figuring I would have time to make it by the deadline of September. Eventually I picked up the pattern to give it a good read over and instantly got worried. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to actually make it. The words leaf, keyhole and neck in the pattern through me for a bit of a loop. I decided though that I would practice on some extra yarn that I have stored away – I have a bin of yarn in my basement with remnants from past projects. I clean it out every now and then because I realized you don’t really need a few yards of random shades of yarn.

So, I picked a yarn that was similar in weight to the yarn I planned on using for the actual scarf. And I must say actually working on something with your hands as opposed to reading and imagining how to do it are so opposite. Once I had the yarn and crochet needle in my hand the pattern made sense and the scarf was a cinch to crochet. I decided to work thru the pattern from the first leaf, to making the keyhole and then a bit of the neck (all those words that through me for a loop at the beginning.) Once I got to a decent point I showed the sample to the recipient of the final product and they were happy with it. I then went and purchased the actual yarn.

And started working on it…

It took me less than a week (probably the quickest I’ve ever gotten a yarn project done – well, except for some ruffle scarves I made a few years ago. I was cranking out two a day after someone requested like 10 of them) and the scarf was done. This is a pic of the scarf just completed but before washing and blocking it.

After washing and blocking the scarf it laid flat.

Here’s a pic of the keyhole…

What the scarf looks like without one end being inserted into the other…

And a not so great shot of me wearing the scarf, but, it gives you an idea of how the scarf fits.

Most importantly, the intended recipient was delighted with it and is planning on wearing it on her upcoming Alaskan cruise!

Unfortunately I cannot share the pattern I used to make the scarf, but, if you would like to make it yourself the pattern I used was the Rita Ascot Scarf by Emily Johannes.

 

Crocheted Tote Bag

You may recall a little over a month ago I posted about having trouble mastering (really just figuring out) the Magic Ring in Crochet. I was making a bunch of hexagons – which by the way has been put on hold as I haven’t been able to get 4 skeins of the shade of green I want from any of my local craft stores, seems like I will have to order it online – and the starting point was to make a magic ring and it just wasn’t working out for me. So, I ended up bypassing this step and in lieu of it made a short chain and joined it with a slip stitch to get my hexagons going. Well, fast forward a week or two and once again I was faced with a pattern that required a magic ring as the starting point. The thing is though, I couldn’t crochet a chain and join it with a slip stitch as this project was for a tote bag and a small hole in the bottom of a tote bag could prove disastrous for any small items in the bag. So, I had to bite the bullet and figure this out once and for all. It’s really not as serious as it sounds to be honest, but, the thing is with crocheting (and knitting) the more stitches and techniques you learn the more items you are able to make and the easier it is.

So, I attempted the magic ring once again and guess what… I actually got it. And, I figured out why I was having issues with it before, the yarn I was using was too thin. Not for the project, but for me to figure out how to make the magic circle. Maybe I wasn’t holding the yarn with enough tension or something, but, I just couldn’t get it before. The yarn I used this time was Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick Yarn. A super bulky yarn that comes in an array of colors and one that I have used quite a few times before to make scarves and blankets.

After all this set-up, you may be wondering what exactly it is that I made. Well, I did mention it was a tote and below is a picture of said tote. The pattern is from Two of Wands and is called The Red Hook Afternoon Shoulder Bag. You can purchase the pattern on her blog or purchase a kit on Lion Brand’s website. Initially I was thinking of using a more muted color but, when I went to buy the yarn I was drawn to this raisin color. While I haven’t actually used my tote yet, I am thinking it might be perfect for carrying around yarn projects as I am working on them. Or, for carrying around the plethora of magazines I get every month (and week) that I never seem to have time to fully read. I’ll admit while I was working on this I was unsure at times if I was getting it right… Especially in the beginning when I was increasing each round (and may have missed or added a stitch or two), but, once I got about midway through the project I knew that it was turning out okay. And it sounds silly, but, once I completed the opening for the handle I was quite pleased (and excited). I think it’s the idea of learning new steps, it opens your mind to creating other projects and seeing things differently. All of sudden I understood how to make a button-hole if a pattern called for it.

It’s the perfect size for me to carry around yarn projects, a book, magazines, etc…

Now I just need to stitch together the rectangle I finished three years ago so it can resemble a cardigan that I can actually wear. Oh yeah, and get those final 4 skeins of green yarn so I can finish my new Christmas Tree Skirt before Christmas this year!

 

 

The Elusive Magic Ring in Crochet

I have been crocheting for quite a few years now and I still get stumped when it comes to certain stitches and I’ll admit that I will avoid certain patterns if it includes an unfamiliar stitch. Like those FPDC that I see sometimes, which simply stands for Front Post Double Crochet. HUH? I just pass those over. Eventually I will break down and try it, but, for now, I will stick to simple stitches that still create beautiful pieces. I am more apt to try these different stitches when it comes to knitting. Which is kind of a little backwards since with knitting if you mess up it is a bit more complicated to remove all the loops from the needles to rip out the yarn from the “bad” part of the pattern and then reinserting the needles once again. With crocheting you simply remove the one loop from your hook, pull the yarn and then reinsert the one loop back on to your crochet hook. Maybe I just like to do things the hard way. Although, some will argue that knitting is the easier of the two because it involves only two stitches, knit and purl, whereas crochet has more. For example that FPDC I mentioned before, as well, SC (single crochet), dc (double crochet), hdc (half-double crochet) and so forth.

I recently came across a pattern that I wanted to make that I am a bit off season for now. Well, a season late you can say. It’s a Christmas Tree Skirt. I have been wanting to make one for a while, but, I just didn’t care for the patterns I saw. And then, right before the holidays I found one that I thought would be perfect. It was a bunch of hexagons stitched together to form the skirt. I figured hexagons I could handle, although the stitching them together not so much. It’s not that I can’t handle it, but, if you read my A New Year post you will know that I still have a shrug I made over three years ago that I haven’t stitched together. I’m a procraftinator who doesn’t like stitching things together. But, I figured if I start now I have a solid 9-10 months to get it done. And then I started and instantly ran into problems. I’ve crocheted shapes before so I was fine with that, but, the starting point was to create a Magic Ring and that’s where I hit a major hiccup. I watched tutorials online and finally thought I had gotten it, but, it just didn’t seem right. I felt like I had too much yarn in the ring and then that the ring wasn’t “thick” enough for me to stitch my other stitches around. The advantages of the magic ring is that you are able to pull the yarn so you end up with a closed circle in the center, as opposed to the open one you get if you crochet a short chain (about 6 chains) and then join it with a slip stitch. Which is perfect if you are crocheting in the round and/or making amigurumi – the Japanese art of making small yarn creatures. I thought, is a small hole in my hexagon worth this headache. No it’s not. So, I decided to ditch the magic ring and went the chain and slip stitch route instead and found a better pattern for the hexagons and am about a third of the way done crocheting them. I still have to get the yarn for the other two colors. I want a certain shade of red and green to go along with the silvery gray I got and of course since its right after the holidays the colors are out of stock at my local craft stores. Well, they did have some but, they all weren’t the same lot numbers and I already learned my lesson about lot numbers! Quick story, I knitted a blanket for a friend’s baby and one of the yarns wasn’t the same lot number as the other ones. So, when I finished the blanket that one section of the blanket stood out from the rest. That’s when I went and checked the labels and saw that one of the labels had a different number from the rest although was the same color, hence, me learning the hard way about lot numbers. Thankfully she loved the blanket and didn’t notice the difference until I pointed it out to her. That was my first big knitting project actually!

So, maybe I will master the Magic Ring one day, just like those FDPC’s, but, for now, I am happy with my simple method of a chain and a slip stitch to start my crocheting in the round. Besides, I don’t think my hexagons are looking all that bad with the small hole in the middle.

Christmas Wrap-Up

How was your Christmas? Mine was good… Filled with great times, great food and great cookies! As I’ve done in years past I had a Christmas baking marathon and baked various cookies to give as gifts. I took my last sheet of cookies out of the oven early in the day Christmas Eve. This year along with the usual rugelach and malted chocolate chip cookies, I made another batch of these vanilla spritz cookies along with peanut butter cookies and oatmeal cookies. YUM! And, there was also a batch of Gingerbread Men, one of who was a bit angry after losing part of his leg.

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And luckily this year I got my handmade Christmas gifts done in plenty of time, okay, with about a week to spare. This for me is good, since it gave me enough time to wrap them with pretty ribbon bows. I made two Afghans and an earring and bracelet set.

The first afghan was made with Lion Brand’s Thick & Quick Yarn following their Cromwell Court Afghan Pattern. Here’s a pic of the start…

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And the finish product…

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The second afghan was made with Lion Brand’s Vanna’s Choice Yarn following their 5 1/2 Hour Throw Pattern… Truthfully it took me longer than the 5 1/2 hours and since it involved crocheting three colors together I opted to wind the three colors into a ball to make crocheting a lot simpler.

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And the finish product…

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And finally the earring and bracelet set that I made using tila beads, superduo beads, seed beads and crystals just using basic beadweaving techniques.

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I also squeezed in some time to make my Christmas cards once again this year.

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I hope you are all enjoying the holidays and that you all have a wonderful New Year!

 

 

Knitting Update – Entrelac Scarf is Done!

You may recall that about two months ago I posted about an Entrelac scarf I was working on. Well, I am happy to say that I have finally finished it and am very happy with the final outcome. I really love how the colors change throughout the scarf and the overall diamond pattern that Entrelac produces. While I would love to make something larger using the pattern I think I am cool with a scarf for now. While I finally did get the hang of working Entrelac it did take quite a few tries to get the scarf going and there were a few hiccups along the way that I was fortunately able to correct before I got too far along. Besides, I have a few other projects I want to work on before adding anything else to my knitting/crocheting to-do list. Here’s a link to where you can find the pattern as well as a YouTube Video link that will help you get started: Freckles and Purls
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Which leads me to what is currently on my knitting needles… A shrug. Granted right now it doesn’t look like much but once I get all 40 plus inches knitted and do some stitching I am completely sure it will look like a shrug. Hopefully!
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I did sneak in a quick project between the scarf and shrug… These cute coffee mug coasters that I was able to crochet in less than two hours with yarn that I already had in my yarn stash. I found the pattern on a fellow blogger’s website, Repeat Crafter Me.
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Stay tuned to find out if my shrug ends up looking like a shrug!

A little DIYing and Knitting

How has your summer been going? Have you knocked off many things on your never-ending to-do list or DIY list? I’ve been able to do a little crafting for items that have been on my list or jumped to the top of my never ending list overnight.

As a blogger I sometimes have a hard time taking photographs… Meaning, the background is never what I want. I always find myself moving things around my counter or on my kitchen table to get the right shot. During these warmer months I am fortunate that I can head out into my backyard and take pictures on my picnic table without too much worry of obstructions in the background… Grass isn’t bad as background I think. It’s especially difficult when I take pictures of some of my jewelry pieces or yarn projects… I have to wait until the light is just right (which is still usually in my kitchen) and set up a snack table with a white foam board as a backdrop to get the “right” shot. But, sometimes you want a little more color and personality than just a plain white board and I personally think that the white background isn’t always complementary. So, I did a little DIYing and created some backdrops myself. Now I know that you can purchase more sophisticated and professional looking one’s online, but, I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted and I am one who believes that if I can do something myself instead of paying someone else to do it then I might as well do it. Also, I just love creating things. It’s one of the ways I learn new things and get ideas for other things.

So, one day while I was at my local Jo-Ann’s I picked up project paper in two different patterns – quatrefoil and chrysanthemum – and decided to give this DIY project a go. I began by cutting a piece of the decorative paper bigger than my foam board. After covering my work surface with newspaper I sprayed the foam board with adhesive spray and carefully placed the paper on top of it, smoothing out any bumps. After letting the glue dry overnight, the following day I folded the excess paper around the edges and taped them to the back. To ensure that I would get smooth corners I cut the paper on an angle there before folding it over.

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And now I have two colorful and decorative backdrops than I can use for an array of things!

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Next up… Flower Crowns. Last year I went to the Renaissance Faire in upstate New York – I had wanted to go for years. I truthfully had no idea what to expect, all I knew was that the description made it sound like fun, and it was. So much so that I went again this year. While there last year I was tempted to buy a flower crown, not sure what stopped me. Oh yeah, I know, the fact that I would never wear it. I won’t even put a hat on my head when it’s freezing cold outside! This year my friends daughters were coming along for the fun; although only the eldest one ended up going. So I decided to make them flower crowns to wear!

Supplies needed are silk flowers, floral wire and tape, wire shears and a hot glue gun.

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After measuring the girls’ heads with the floral wire I wrapped the ends with the tape and began gluing flowers to it.

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And it wasn’t long before I had completed both flower crowns.

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And finally, my knitting project, which at the moment is a WIP – a work in progress. I finally taught myself Entrelac and I am quite excited about it (Hmmm… maybe I need to get out more!) Anyhoo… It’s been on my to-do list for years and I just never got around to it, but, I made it a point to hunker down this summer and learn. And thanks to YouTube the pattern didn’t seem as confusing as I initially thought. Oh, and I am sure you may be wondering… Entrelac is an interlace knitting pattern that creates a textured diamond pattern.

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Here’s a close-up shot of it… While it may look as though it’s different strips of yarn woven together it’s the complete opposite, the entire scarf is knitted in one piece with a series of triangles and squares. It sort of reminds me of a basketweave pattern, but, on an angle. Using yarn such as this one – Lion Brand’s Amazing – really helps one to appreciate the pattern because of the color variations.

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And that’s been my summer thus far on a crafting perspective!