Saturday, November 17, 2012

Let the Gift Crafting Begin

I feel so behind schedule already!  I always mean to start the Holiday making waaaay back in August, and I always manage to procrastinate until November.  But, at least I managed to get my lazy butt up and get started.

I made these mitts using the Basic Fingerless Gloves for Guys pattern by Jen Spears.  I made a lot of mods to make this fit a hand my size.  You can read my notes on my Ravelry page.

This hat was actually a custom for a trade.  I used the Floral Cloche pattern from Crochet Today.  I don't think I've ever made anything quite so pink before, but it's really cute, and I especially like the three tier flower.

This little hat was made from Linda Permann's Little Sister Hat, for my cousin's (almost here!) new baby.  Speaking of Linda Permann, everyone should check out her patterns, because Wowza! she designs some beautiful stuff.

And lastly, I've got my fabric for gift bags washed, and some of it cut.  I'm not super experienced with the sewing a matter of fact I haven't used it since last year's bag making!  But I trust that I'll manage to figure it out again!

What are you crafting for the Holiday season?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Autumn Table

I love the Autumn.  No other season brings me such a feeling of comfort, rest, and home as does the Autumn.  I try to take the time to pay attention, to notice all of the slow changes around me.  It's much different than the Springtime, with the awe of new growth and the animals and insects waking up and venturing further each day.  In the Autumn, it is a little harder to see all of the little changes that happen.  Slowly, we realize that the woodchucks aren't darting here and there, the spiders have stopped their frenzy of web construction and destruction, plants let go of their leaves and concentrate their energy on keeping roots strong for the upcoming winter.

I try to encourage my children to bring a little of the outdoors in...colorful leaves, acorns, rocks with interesting shapes, and so on.  Because while the outside is getting ready for winter so are we, nesting in the home and thinking of the season ahead, and we could use the reminder of the beauty of this season.

Benjamin, my four (almost five!) year old put together the decoration for our Autumn Table, using bits and bobs from the outside and leftovers from last Autumn's nature table.  In the glass container and Mason jar, he put pine cones from the park, buckeyes from the community garden, and acorns from a neighbors tree.  Around that, he put small squash from a local pumpkin patch, and a pie pumpkin from a friends garden.  Moving outward, there are small wooden candle holders that we thrifted a couple of years ago, with beeswax candles that the kids rolled themselves.  And of course, my favorite salt and pepper shakers in the shape of snails that came from a garage sale two summers ago.

I expect this display to change as the season progresses.  The pumpkin will soon be used for something delicious, the decorative squash will eventually make their way to compost, and new outside treasures will be brought in as they are found.  And throughout, we'll sit down at our family table and be reminded to notice the changes of the world outside.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Crocheting Garments

I love using crochet to make structural items…toys, baskets, bags, and so on.  But I’ve had a hard time trying to find the love for using crocheted fabric for clothing.  I feel a little bit like a traitor for mostly *knitting* the wearables that I make, since crochet was my first love.  There is a little part of me that wonders if I may be turning into a knit snob…you know those people who look at crocheting as a granny-square craft, only good for creating afghans or lumpy, ill fitting, and out of date garments.  I know that I won’t ever really be one of those people, but I felt compelled to spend some time thinking about why I am so hesitant to pick up the hook to make the same garments that I would knit without hesitation.

I identified several “sticking points”, but the one that I think was the biggest deal for me was that many of the patterns that are out there for crocheted clothing really don’t pay much attention to the drape of the fabric.  There have been many times that I have started to make a cardigan or a sweater for one of my kids and discovered that the fabric was as stiff as a piece of cardboard.  I discovered that to suit my taste, the standard hook recommendations on yarn labels are too small.  And in general, the lighter weight (fingering, sport) yarns look better for garment construction.

What I decided to do was go through my yarn stash and choose a yarn, and go from there in building my own garment.

The yarn I chose was Welcomme Le Tweed Angora, which is now discontinued.  It is listed as an aran weight, but is really more of a light DK yarn.  I fiddled around with it until I found a hook size and stitch that I liked…those happened to be an H hook and the Extended Single Crochet stitch.  I didn’t want a stitch as firm as the SC, but I don’t care for the DC used in wearables.

I had decided to make a sweater vest with buttons on one shoulder for my youngest daughter, but not in the size she was at the time.  I used the Craft Yarn Council’s sizing guidelines as a guide for sizing.  I made myself a gauge swatch, and did the math.  I started in the round and worked from the bottom to the armpits, then split for the front and back.  Since the stitching would look difference once I was working back and forth rather than in the round, I decided to add some Back Post Extended Single Crochet rows as accents, similar to the way garter ridges are used as accents in knitting.  In the end, I’m very pleased with the vest, and the only thing I would have done differently is the width of the shoulder straps…I would have made the back and the front a little narrower by about three stitches.  I want to try this again in a fingering weight yarn and compare the results.  My guess is that I would like the lighter weight garment even better.

In the end, I think that crochet can make beautifully draped clothing and elegant garments with a solid fabric, but the yarn needs to be finer and the hooks a little bigger.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Knitting For Baby

I did a lot of yarncrafting while I was expecting my youngest baby.  You could say that the 2010/2011 winter was a blur of yarn…as a matter of fact, I don’t really remember much else of the midpoint of that pregnancy other than being very cold and having aching fingers from the amount of yarn that I tamed.
I did a touch of crochet, but mostly I was focused on knitting for this little one.  I knit many wool soakers, sweaters, and longies for the little girl who was growing away in my belly.  Silly me, I decided to do several of the soaker in a true newborn size, and my dear daughter was born at 8lbs 6 oz.  Beyond that, we spent a week in the NICU (where she put on weight and grew longer) so by the time we got home she had already outgrown some of the cloth diapering woolies.  Luckily I had made many, many things for me sweet girl to wear.

 We brought her home in a pair of wool longies knit from the Wooly Wonderpants pattern in a three ply yarn made by PureWool in the Diante colorway.  The side snap shirt, incidentally, was low-water immersion dyed.

This top was knit using Sandy’s Palette Merino Sox and a vintage baby vest pattern by Sirdar.  I also knit another from the same pattern using a beautiful reddish pink shade of vintage S.R. Kertzer baby camel hair yarn.

Another favorite was the Emma Tunic by Jennifer Alexander using some leftover Hobby Lobby I Love This Cotton! Complete with a button picked out by the baby’s big sister.

I made plenty of other items for when she was older, but there really is something special about the newborn knits, isn’t there?  They are just so tiny and sweet, and a reminder of the anticipation of a new family member.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Down at Fraggle Rock

My middle daughter  fell in love with the old series “Fraggle Rock” when she saw the very first episode.  Of course, I loved the show when I was a kid, so I thought her enthusiasm was pretty cute.  She quickly found a favorite character…Boober Fraggle. 

For those who aren’t lucky enough to be familiar with the legendary Fraggles, Boober  is a worrywart to the extreme.  He prefers activities such as washing all of his fellow Fraggles’ socks or cooking up a big batch of radish stew more than anything else.  He always has a reason why the capers of his compatriots are just too dangerous for him.
I think my dear daughter likes him so very much because she identifies with him.  She loves to take care of other people, and she is quite the little worrier herself.  Much like her Mama, she wants to be sure that she knows she is getting into before she even dips in a little toe.  Like Boober, she can become rather anxious if she is treading on uncertain ground.

So I knew that I had to crochet Boober Fraggle for her.  I used mercerized cotton for his face and limbs, Lion Brand Homespun for the body, Fun Fur for his hair, and I used some random wool to knit his hat and scarf.  By far the most complicated part was shaping his face correctly, and I’m still not satisfied with it, but my daughter loves it so that will have to be good enough for me!

And now my middle daughter, (in fact, she is the middle of all five of my children) who dreams of radish gardens, can bring Boober along on her adventures.  As long as they are planned carefully beforehand.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

It has been just over two years since my last blog post, and like the last one, this post involves the end of the vacation.

There have been many changes in the days since my previous post.  There has been a job lost, and another gained.  School started, grades passed, gifts given.  A baby was born, a sweet little girl named Joni who keeps life from getting too boring.

Wool festivals have been attended.  Thousands of yards of yarn have passed through my hands over the past two years.  Many things crocheted and knit.  I don’t have quite the time for yarncrafting that I did two years ago, but I do miss sharing the fun with everyone.  As the baby gets a little older and time just a smidge easier to come by, I hope to get back to sharing my passion with anyone willing to listen and look.