Archives

Boy sweater

That’s a boring title, isn’t it? But there won’t be any confusion as to what I’m writing about today. Boy sweater. A sweater for the boy. A yarny garment for a male child.

If you sew/crochet/knit, you probably already know that there are a dearth of patterns out there for the little boys in the world. And, considering that around 51% of the world’s population is male, you’d think there’d be more of a demand for this type of thing. Well, I should rephrase — there is demand, but the supply is seriously lacking. So, when I saw that there were THREE boy sweater patterns in the Winter 2014 (that would be this past January) issue of Interweave Crochet, I jumped all over that. And these weren’t embarrassing granny square 70s throwback sweaters; these looked like sweaters that boys of today would actually wear and {gasp} enjoy wearing.

I chose the “Jonas” sweater and Konik and I took a trip to the yarn store. Not a craft store — an honest-to-goodness yarn store. I often can’t afford all the fancy yarns, but I wanted this to be a nice, durable sweater for my boy. The original pattern was worked with Brown Sheep Company Cotton Fleece, which the yarn store carried, but I didn’t like any of the colors. Instead, we went with Cascade Yarns Cascade 220 Heathers; it’s a 100% Peruvian Wool. That should keep him warm! I let Konik choose the colors and he ended up choosing two that were quite similar to the picture in the magazine — a rusty brown and gray-blue.

This pattern was worked in Tunisian crochet. The last time I tried to make a garment for one of my children in Tunisian, I was a novice at it and very            very            slow. Working the Axl afghan changed all that and now I can go almost as fast as I can in regular crochet. I started right away and whipped out the front and back of the sweater in a week or so. And then I made the fatal mistake: I put it away. I can’t remember why now. But I did. And the little sweater languished in my yarn drum for months and months until I finally picked it up again earlier this month to do the sleeves. Aside from a little counting issue I had, the sleeves worked up just as quickly as the body of the sweater and sewing it together was no sweat (see what I did there?). Hurray! The boy sweater was finished! Well, apart from inserting the zipper in the collar, but I didn’t want to wait on that to try it on Konik.

IMG_5944 - Copy

Still awaiting the zipper.

Still awaiting the zipper.

Close-up of the stitches. Ribbing along the bottom edge, cuffs, and collar of the sweater.

Close-up of the stitches. Ribbing along the bottom edge, cuffs, and collar of the sweater.

Konik was just as excited; he had been looking forward to this sweater for a long time. I helped him put it on and… he looked like a little wool-encased sausage. And the sleeves were at that awkward length in between “long” and “3/4.” Yeah, I should have expected it: in ten months, my son grew. It made me claustrophobic just looking at him and the poor kid couldn’t even get out of it by himself. We extracted him from the sweater and sadly admitted that it was going to have to be put away for a couple years until Sprinkaan grows into it. Hopefully I won’t miss that window! It looks like Konik and I are going to have to make another trip to the yarn store and this time, I’ll make it a size bigger. Maybe two.

Advertisements

Keep warm and well-fed

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” James 2:15-16

Our neighbor has hit a bit of a rough patch. Actually, his rough “patch” has lasted a couple of years and so far there’s no real end in sight. Man, we know how that goes. Do we ever. With the memory of our own rough patch in the not-so-distant past, we’ve been doing what we can to help out Mr. S. He has some specific dietary needs and not a lot of extra cash, so I try to make him a good, warm dinner at least once a week, knowing that most of the time he just kind of snacks on stuff or eats whatever he can find on sale. As the weather started turning this month, I became concerned that he might not be all that warm. Let’s just say that his accommodations leave something to be desired. And you know what? It stinks to wake up in the morning and be so frozen that you can’t bear to leave your bed and start the day.

These thoughts happened to coincide with the nearby grocery/department store having a small bin of yarn marked at 50% off clearance prices. Oh boy, you know I can’t resist that! I got three balls of Lion Brand “Amazing.” It’s a 53% wool/47% acrylic blend and for a “cheap” yarn, it really does feel amazing. I got it in the manly colorway of “Rainforest” — a mix of greens and browns.

First, I crocheted Mr. S a hat. There are a billion and one hat patterns out there, which should make it easy to find a suitable one, but sometimes it’s just overwhelming. I searched for a little while and then landed on this one: Carmel by Drops Design. It is single crocheted in the back loops all the way around to give it some texture.

IMG_5836

Close-up of the texture. The color isn't coming through right in the photo, though.

Close-up of the texture. The color isn’t coming through right in the photo, though.

For the gloves, I knew I wanted to make them fingerless so that Mr. S could enjoy the warmth, but still use his computer or phone, write, whatever. All those things that it’s nice to have fingertips for. There aren’t as many patterns for these as there are for hats, but there are still plenty to choose from. A lot of them, however, are awfully girly looking. Which is great if the future wearer is a girl. But my intended recipient is a man. Who works in construction. I wanted to be careful that there was no apparent sissiness. This pattern — Fingerless or Not — worked out great. The instructions were easy to follow and working the individual fingers was not as tricky as it seemed it would be. Mr. Gren was kind enough to model for us.

Backs

Backs

Palms

Palms

Creepy crawly hands

Creepy crawly hands

I put the hat and gloves in a paper sack, tied it with a ribbon and wrote “Happy Autumn” on it and left it where I knew Mr. S would find it when he got home. The next day, Mr. Gren received an email from him giving us an update on how he was doing — he was feeling pretty beaten up after some painful interactions with a loved one in his life, on top of the current financial stresses. Finding my little gift was a welcome pick-me-up. He said, “No one has ever knitted anything for me before. I will cherish them.” We’ll forgive him for confusing knitting and crochet and get to the heart of the sentiment: more than just warming his head and hands, my hat and gloves reminded him that not all is despair, he is worthy of care and love and someone recognized that.

So why am I telling you all this? Not to toot my own horn. Open your eyes to needs around you, especially as the weather is getting colder heading into winter. Make a warm meal for someone; volunteer at a homeless shelter; use your talents and abilities to bring a bright spot to someone’s otherwise dismal day. Go on, I challenge you.

More beaded jar covers

I need to offer my apologies to German-speaking Jewish people of the world.

One of my most-clicked posts as a result of one of the most-frequent search terms that lead people to my blog has probably turned out to be pretty disappointing. See, when Mr. Gren and I thought that my beaded jar covers looked like tricked-out yarmulkes, I thought I was being all clever combining the words “jar” and “yarmulke” to get “jarmulke.” Turns out, that’s just the German spelling for the same thing. I suppose it’s still a sort of fun play-on-words, but it undoubtedly made no sense at all to all the people who landed on my blog shopping for actual Jewish head-coverings. Sorry ’bout that. Goyim gonna goy.

So this time, no funny stuff. I made jar covers with crocheted edgings and beads. White crochet thread, an assortment of pretty beads of various substances, and white flour sack towels from Pakistan which are actually somewhere in between cheesecloth and an actual flour sack towel in terms of the weave. For my purposes of fermenting, that actually works better because it allows more air in, while still keeping dust and bugs out.

 

IMG_5261

The tap is open and the kombucha is flowin’

IMG_5263

These made nice portable projects for our trip to Idaho this summer. I only finished two while I was there; I’ve got a couple more circles of cloth left still.

Sourdough starter

Sourdough starter

IMG_5268

These are fairly simple to do, but I love how pretty they turn out. Classing up my kitchen! I did learn a few things from last time which made this go ’round easier. I machine-stitched a line 1/4″ from the edge of the cloth, then poked my crochet hook inside that stitching line when I started the crochet edging. The machine stitching gives it a little more stability so close to the edge of the cloth. Also, I didn’t bother with beads that didn’t easily fit on my crochet thread. Life’s too short. I tried to do a different edging on each cover, for my own amusement. And that’s all there really is to say about that.

Since that was short and only marginally interesting, I’m going to tack on a bit more here at the end.

Remember this thing?

IMG_5765

This is the UFO jar that is, perhaps, partially responsible for my long hiatus. How can that be? Well, the last project that I pulled from the jar was the Rainbow Afghan. My goal was to finish one project per month. I didn’t finish it the first month. Nor the second month. I ran out of yarn. And then I ran out of gumption. This afghan was supposed to have been a stash-buster. You don’t buy new yarn for stash busters! So I was caught in this crafter’s quandary: Do I buy yarn and finish the project (and then have new leftover yarn)? Or do I accept that the afghan will be smaller than originally planned? I chose Option C, which was “Do nothing.”

While the afghan continues to simmer on the back burner, I thought it was high time to pull a new project. After all, my goal was to empty this thing out by the end of the year!

IMG_5764

{sigh} Oh boy. You don’t know how badly I wanted to put this right back in the jar and pull something else. “They’ll never know! They’re just internet people!” But integrity won out in the end and now I’ve published it for all the world to see. “Mai” is Rana’s favorite stuffed bunny rabbit. Originally, this project was conceived as a little mother-daughter teaching time, but, well, let’s just say that Rana and I didn’t have the best summer together and the thought of any more “quality time” together right now makes me want to run screaming for the hills. So here’s the deal: I’m just going to bust this out on my own. Leave it on her bed for her to find after school one day and then she and Mai can have a lovely time playing dress-up and I’ll move on to a new UFO.  Fair enough?

Still plugging away

I’m not going to finish the rainbow afghan this month. There, I said it. Things conspired, as they do. We went away for a couple of days, then there was the week leading up to Easter… I got behind on a few things, granny squares included. I have 78 more squares to go and, even though I tend to be overly ambitious and get myself in over my head, even I can admit that I am not going to finish all those squares in two days. Not to mention weave in ends and then sew all the stupid things together (why did I start this project again?). So this UFO is going to have to bleed over into May.

50 squares

50 squares accomplished thus far

Mental cleansing

Often, after doing something fiddly or mentally taxing, I need a break. Not inactivity, mind you, but something that will help wash all the fidgets away, something that will let my mind relax and will still be productive in the end. After finishing up Sprinkaan’s baby sweater, I was desperate for a quick project that didn’t require a lot of thought. Crochet, I never really left you.

Scarves and hats are great little projects to whip out just for fun, but would you believe I only own one scarf? And it was store-bought, given to me by a friend for my birthday 8 years ago. How does a thing like this happen? By very virtue of being a crafter with an emphasis in yarn arts, I should be surrounded by more scarves than I could wear in one winter. [hangs head] Please don’t revoke my hooker license.

I’ve liked the idea of an infinity scarf for awhile and found this pattern called Chic Shells Infinity Scarf. I don’t know if it was the power of suggestion or what, but I ended up using a gray yarn, too. It was a Red Heart Soft no it wasn’t, I made that up. It was “Loops & Threads” Glitter, which I believe is from Michael’s. I had bought it to make Axl’s bandana on my Axl afghan, which used only a miniscule amount. I didn’t have any other real plan for one mostly full skein of yarn. I don’t think it would have been enough for a traditional scarf, but it was just right for this project.

The pattern itself was a pretty straightforward shell stitch. But can I just say? A foundation row of 170 stitches sux. It took willpower and stamina, but I powered through it. Another plus to this pattern is that it calls for an M hook. I don’t have an M, so I used my N. Big hook = fast. Fast = instant gratification. More or less.

IMG_3883

I wore the scarf for the first time on Sunday and I liked it so much, I kept it on all day. I might need to make another one. Or two.

IMG_3880

IMG_3888

All I’ve got to show for myself

Don’t you hate those weeks when you know you’ve been doing stuff and you were pretty sure that you were accomplishing said stuff, but then you look back to assess your progress and…

IMG_2786

Yeah. That’s two full skeins of yarn. I’ve been working on it every evening and it still only measures about 6 inches high. I’ve got four skeins of yarn left, doing a little math… this may not turn out. Well now, that’s depressing. Especially because this yarn has a distinct aversion to being frogged (for the record, spell check does not approve of the use of “frog” as a verb). Wanna know how I know? Huh? Huh? Well, I did read it on Ravelry under the reviews for this yarn — Red Heart Boutique Treasure in “Spectrum.” Also, I have firsthand experience. Because that up there, which is supposed to be this:

From AntiqueCrochetPatterns.com (click pic for linky)

From AntiqueCrochetPatterns.com (click pic for linky)

Originally started out as this:

Basketweave Capelet (Crochet Today Sept/Oct 2009)

Basketweave Capelet (Crochet Today Sept/Oct 2009)

And that wasn’t turning out right, either. I think I keep choosing patterns with too-ornate stitches that just eat up the yarn. The original project used a basketweave stitch, which is really pretty, but that time, two skeins of yarn only achieved about four inches in height. Basketweave is not the way to go if you want to build height quickly. So I scoured CrochetPatternCentral and Ravelry to find a shawl or poncho with a dense enough stitch to keep me warm this fall. ‘Cause let’s face it: with this basketball I’m sporting under my shirt, my regular winter coat is not gonna fit. The current shawl pattern uses a crossed treble stitch to make it nice and thick. And it is! And I think it would be warm!

Up close and personal with some crossed treble action

Up close and personal with some crossed treble action

But I also cleaned out Michael’s for all of the same color lot, so I’m kinda married to these six skeins that I have. One would think that I could produce something suitable out of that. Apparently one would have to do that by making a big, uninteresting rectangle of single crochet. We’ll see.

In the meanwhile, I’ll be ripping out two weeks’ worth of work.

Just enough warmth

Sometimes I get cold, even in the summer. The first summer that my family moved back to the Pacific Northwest after my body had acclimated to 90+ days all summer for the previous twelve years was a major shock to my system. These fir trees block out a lot of sunlight. When there is sunlight. I’ve since become re-accustomed to the less-than-summery temperatures we often experience up here. And part of my survival is sweatshirts and jackets. What can I say? I’m a wimp when it comes to cold.

While functional, hoodies aren’t particularly chic. Since I’ve been making all these lightweight summery-type clothes (Take that, clouds!), I needed a way to keep warm without instantly demoting my outfit to “college student” (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. heh But my college career was many years ago and I milked the sweatshirt/flannel pajama bottoms ensemble for all it’s worth back then).

My first thought was a shrug — something to cover my shoulders and a little bit up top, just to add a tiny bit of warmth. I had found a pattern that I liked in one of my crochet magazines and bought yarn for it. First, the yarn.

You got my money once, punks.

You got my money once, punks.

It’s a Martha Stewart (Lion Brand) acrylic/wool blend (65%/35%). I liked the aqua color (called “igloo”), which is similar to the yarn pictured in the pattern. I’m easily swayed by suggestion, apparently. I also liked that it is a smooth yarn and, while the weight is listed as a 4, it’s not too thick or bulky. As far as working with it goes… eh, I’d be hard-pressed to buy this again. It tends to be splitty; I found knotted lengths within the skeins and one skein even started with several inches of dirty yarn — like it had been walked on! I was too far along at that point to want to abandon the project or deal with the hassle of returning and finding another skein in the right color lot. Besides, who’s to say the next one wouldn’t have some kind of weird issue, too? Obviously, I cut off the dirty part and forged ahead.

The pattern. Well, the pattern ended up consisting of block motifs joined together. If you know anything about me, you know I hate weaving in loose ends. Look, it’s one thing on a blanket, but on a garment? I’m pretty good at hiding those suckers, but there’s always a couple that will work loose eventually. I didn’t like the idea of sporting little fuzzy ends sticking out. Plus, there was the weaving to start with. So I nixed that pattern and went to my fallback — Crochet Pattern Central.  I looked at all the shrugs, shawls, ponchos and capes. Some of them I looked at twice. I finally landed on Anke Spilker’s “Knock Knock Knock Penny.” I have no idea what the name is about, but I liked the look of the little poncho. It had enough coverage to offer warmth, but enough open stitching to keep things airy.

IMG_2487

Fans and summer go together!

As you can see in the pictures, it is basically a series of fans, which really aren’t that difficult to execute, but look fancy. And, while the pattern isn’t difficult, I did find it a bit of slow going because the first 15 rounds are all slightly different, so I couldn’t get into that yarnworker’s zen-like rhythm (full disclosure: I can never spell “rhythm” correctly on the first try). Rounds 16-26 repeat previous rounds, but I only went to about Round 22 or 23 because I was running out of yarn and time (this was one of the projects I wanted to get done before my trip back East). I like the finished length, so it doesn’t bother me that it is a little shorter than how the pattern was written. If I fold my arms across my chest, the poncho is long enough to cover them for a quick warm-up. And, just like I had hoped, it’s warm without being too warm for a cool summer day.

IMG_2486

IMG_2493

I'm not the only one who likes it! She has commissioned me to make one for her, too.

I’m not the only one who likes it! She has commissioned me to make one for her, too.