Tag Archive | yarn

Konik’s gray sweater

After my last sweater attempt for Konik that turned out too small, I told him I would make him another sweater. I didn’t have the funds to go buy the fancy yarn I had used for the too-small sweater, but I was able to get some soft gray yarn for a different pattern that I thought might be easier to keep true to size. I made the smallest size written and… poor little Konik could swim in it.

It's going to be a few years before he can wear this

It’s going to be a few years before he can wear this

Looks pretty good flat

Looks pretty good flat

At the neckline there will eventually be large metal snaps. I haven't bought those yet and obviously there's no rush

At the neckline there will eventually be large metal snaps. I haven’t bought those yet and obviously there’s no rush

He's a good sport and still cute, even swimming in yarn.

He’s a good sport and still cute, even swimming in yarn.

December 14: Handmade

Now here’s something you probably thought I had forgotten about. Never fear, I’ve been slowly working on it.

IMG_6429This crocheted gingerbread house was one of my many UFOs. Now it’s a mostly-finished object. It still needs additional “candies” on it, but I haven’t made those. Again, Baby Sprinkaan has affected my ability to craft. Track with me: The little house stands about 7.5″ tall, so the candies are quite small. Little items like that are easy to misplace. Baby Sprinkaan is an expert at finding tiny things that the big people have lost. And then he eats them. So the embellishment part of the project is on hold. Maybe I’ll add a few new bits every year?

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.

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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.

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I feel it coming together

Warning: The following post may result in the theme song from “Fame” playing endlessly in your head for the rest of the day.

We had a dilemma here in the Gren household. Rana and Granota enjoy wearing skirts and dresses. They do not, however, enjoy wearing tights. Once the cooler days start kicking in, there is a lot of wailing about the atrocities of tights and the unfairness of having cold legs whilst wearing skirts. This happens every year. But this year, I made the decision not to entertain the inane Cold Legs vs. Evil Tights debate. Usually, the main complaint is that the girls don’t like how the waistband of the tights compress their bellies (I haven’t told them about control top panty hose yet; they can make that discovery on their own). Rana also gets upset about the toe line that makes funny little squares on the sides of her feet which then bother her in her shoes. So they want to wear skirts and have warm legs, but nothing touching their bellies or feet. It’s almost a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too situation. But there was one solution.

Enter: The legwarmer. And 1982. Hey, we’re gonna live forever.

I chose to use a knitting loom rather than crochet for good stretchiness in the finished product. The yarn I chose was some kind of soft, bulky wool from Michael’s; it’s almost like roving, but it’s washable.

Once you know the circumference of the leg you’re warming, choose the loom that most closely matches that measurement. My girls’ legs are about 10 inches around, so I chose the blue loom. From there, you’re basically making a tube, so there’s not a lot of “pattern” needed (unless you want to get fancy, which I didn’t this time around). I found these instructions which were great for getting me started, especially since I use the round looms so rarely, I couldn’t remember how to cast on.

Enter the Vortex

Enter the Vortex

There’s not a lot to say about the actual process. It’s repetitive and somewhat therapeutic. One thing I did learn the hard way is that finished length does not correspond well to measured length on the loom. Each girl ended up with one legwarmer longer than the other; good thing they’re stretchy (the legwarmers that is — not the girls). So my advice is to count rows, as tedious as that is, rather than to rely on a measuring tape.

A little strategic stretching and ta dah! They're the same!

A little strategic stretching and ta dah! They’re the same!

The other thing I learned is that the bind off video that is recommended in the above instructions results in a tight, unstretchable cuff. I did a little looking and found this Super Stretchy Bind Off video that worked much better for this project.

Ribbed cuff

Ribbed cuff

I kept waiting for the girls to both wear their legwarmers on the same day to get a good picture, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen any time soon. Rana was happy to pose for me, though.

You ain't seen the best of me yet

You ain’t seen the best of me yet

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Baby, remember my name.

 

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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

Falilla gets a makeover

Well, hi howdy hey, look who’s back. It’s only been {cough, cough} a month. But, uh, nevermind that, let’s look at nice pictures!

Many of you may remember Falilla, the fairy doll I made for Granota’s 4th birthday. I gave Falilla lovely recycled Barbie hair which creeped Granota out to such an extent that she threw the doll across the room. They warmed up to each other, though, and became good friends. Falilla got carted all over the place and slowly, ever so slowly, began losing hair. It finally reached the point this spring where poor Falilla was actually hideous to look at.

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After having made yarn hair for the Axl Rose dolls, I thought we might have better luck going that route. So Granota and I went to Michael’s and I let her choose new hair for Falilla and she settled on Patons Grace in a light lavender (I’d have to look to find the exact color name). It took one evening with a seam ripper to remove the wads of hair still on Falilla’s head. Then we had a hideous bald fairy doll. It took another couple of days to get all the hair wefts sewn together and then sewn on to her head. Granota was rather patient, considering.

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Falilla is looking much better these days with her magical purple hair. All ready for new adventures with Granota and Axl. Oh, didn’t you know? They’re friends, too.

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Toasty toesies

All the hard work paid off! Finally, a success story! Last Friday I finished Konik’s second little sock.

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Matching socks!

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Ribbed cuff!

I used Patons Kroy Socks in “blue striped ragg;” it is a 75% wool/25% nylon blend and feels so nice. It was easy to work with and I didn’t have nearly the problems with splitting like I did when I made my first sock (different yarn). And because the socks are little, it really didn’t take that long to finish them! The best part about using self-striping yarn was that I didn’t have to measure anything on the second sock — I just matched the stripes. Three cheers for laziness!

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Nice thing with the loom — I don’t have to worry about tension. All the stitches come out nice and even!

They weren’t without their issues, though. Inexplicably, I twice made a little row of purl stitches on the first sock. And very nearly ruined the whole thing when I lost a stitch while making the heel. My repair wasn’t kosher, but I did manage to stop the unraveling and then sewed up the hole. Phew! I had a similar near-miss with the second sock. Knitting is scary.

Floating purl rows

Floating purl rows

Konik was thrilled out his little 3 year old mind to have his new socks. As soon as I finished, he peeled off the socks he had been wearing and put on the new ones. And then wore them for 36 hours straight. ha! I was a little surprised to see how they pilled up already after one (very long) wearing. Hopefully they don’t get any worse!

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It was so much fun, I’ve started one of my own.

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Off the hook!

Ever since I completed my Axl Rose afghan (or, well before I finished it, actually), the girls have been reminding me that they want one of their own. I thought that would be a good “big” Christmas present for them. We give them only three gifts (we like to keep things simple and not get too hung up on the “stuff”), one of which is something big and special, left unwrapped under the tree with a giant nametag on it. They love to run downstairs and see what it is. So, in a perfect world, the afghans would have made great “big” presents. Now that my French tutoring has started up again, I’ve come back into crafting funds (hurray!), but I’m realizing that it was too late for afghans.

Oh sure, I was optimistic and bought a little yarn (not all of it, thank goodness) and began Rana’s blanket. At that point in time, I calculated that if I finished five rows everyday, I could have it done in three weeks, leaving enough time to weave in ends and four more weeks to do the whole thing over again for Granota’s.

But then I missed a couple of days. Five rows had to be bumped to seven. And then nudged up to ten. And eleven. At which point I admitted to myself that this wasn’t going to happen. I was attempting to get my crocheting done in secret which meant only during naptime and after the kids were in bed. It sounds good in theory. Usually I am much more pessimistic realistic about things, but I guess crafting clouds my judgment or something. What was I thinking?! My kids don’t go to bed! Psh! My kids are the life-size version of Whack-a-Mole at Chuck E. Cheese. Three kids each finding some lame excuse to get up times three equals me getting up nine times to put them back in bed. Rana is notorious for lying quietly in her bed for half an hour, then, just when we think she’s asleep and it’s ok to turn on a grown-up TV show or get out secret craft projects, all of a sudden she materializes in the living room declaring in her most lonesome puppy dog voice, “I can’t sleep,” while her eyes scan for snacks that Mr. Gren may have gotten out or the last swallow of tea in my cup (Yes, Mom & Dad, I know where she gets that from).

Obviously that’s a problem. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do until Granota gave me an out.

We were cleaning house (cabin) on Saturday and Granota forlornly showed me her paper Axl doll. He’s a little crumpled; we’ve had to tape each of his legs back on; he’s looking a little worse for wear. But considering the life he’s had — created 6 months ago, getting slept on in a preschooler’s bed, buried and resurrected from the clothes drawer numerous times, and eventually hung from the curtain rod — he has survived surprisingly well.

But even a 5 yr old knows that a paper doll’s lifespan isn’t forever. So, as she cradled her little paper doll, she said wistfully, “I wish I had a real life Axl doll.” I knew what she meant, but I prodded her a little. “A real life doll?” “Yes, like Falilla [the fairy doll]. A soft one!” Rana was listening to this conversation and immediately piped up, “Me, too! I want one, too!” Just to verify, I asked her, “Want one of what?” “An Axl doll! I want an Axl doll, too!” To which Granota stated, “But they have to look different!”

Your wish is my command! I can do dolls in the time I have left before Christmas! No sweat! And that saves me from the ridiculous pace and long nights it was going to take to complete those afghans. I was considering just working on them at a leisurely pace throughout this next year, but I know myself too well. If I take things too slowly, I get bored and will never finish. Besides, Axl dolls and Axl afghans? Even for 1991 that might be a little… excessive (although as I was writing this, Granota was up in her room with “November Rain” on repeat, so that may be a moot point).

Soon to be replaced by a “real life” doll. But this one is so cute, I’m going to save it.

Now I’ve got to decide what to do with that yarn.