Monday, May 10, 2010

Coffee with Brett

Brainstorming at Natas Cafe in downtown Peterborough with Brett. I love summer.

Friday, May 8, 2009

My First Pattern: Coin Cuff

A few days ago, I found myself itching to crochet something. My mind has been elsewhere, so I hadn't really picked up the hook in a few weeks. Unfortunately, this also meant that, while my fingers were itching, I had no pre-planned projects.

There I sat, sifting through projects on Ravelry looking for something relaxing to crochet that could be done from stash, and I was having no luck.

Eventually, I decided upon something that was going to require some extra effort on my part. In my favorites bin sat a knitted cuff with a pocket to hold a few coins, perhaps subway tokens or bus money. I had intended to keep it so that when I teach myself to knit, I would be able to make it. I had found the finished object, and really liked the look of it. Check it out from dyedinthewool!

I also love how environmentally-friendly it is, especially if crocheted with organic, sustainable yarns.

I decided to recreate it through crochet, which meant creating a pattern from scratch.

I have to say that the process was quite interesting, and I strongly feel that I learned so much, and hopefully will be able to improve on the pattern, and make new ones in the future. Here are the things that I took into consideration before I started:
  • Colouration: I liked the rugged backpacking feel of the inspiration piece, and so I chose a grey. In the end, I couldn't help but crochet in some turquoise, which completely changed the feel of the piece. I think I need help!
  • Look: I wanted a ribbed, matte look, rather than the shiny, bulky look seen in the example given by the pattern author, Mazz. I have small hands, and I didn't want to overpower them.
  • Clasping: There had to be a way to close the pocket, and I debated between taking the opportunity to learn how to crochet a proper button hole, attaching snaps, or sewing on a button and crocheting a tie to go around it. I chose the tie method.
Crochet Pattern #1: Coin Cuff

Hook: 4mm
Yarn: Sport weight.

FO Measurements: 5.40cm tall x ~17cm around inside, post-stretch x 5mm thick. Pocket, 5.40cm across, 5cm down from top. Flap, 5.40cm across, 3cm down, measuring from point of origin.

Terms (US):

ch = chain
st = stitch
hdc = half double crochet
sc = single crochet
sl st = slip stitch
** = indicates a section to be repeated.

ch 33.
hdc in second ch from hook. hdc across, 32 st.
ch 1. turn. sc across, 32 st.

Repeat the following 3 times:
*ch 1, turn. hdc across, 32 st.
ch 1, turn. sc across, 32 st.*

At this point, decide if you would like a taller cuff. If so, repeat ** until satisfied. If not, continue:

ch 1, turn. sc in first 12 st.
sl st across 8 st.
sc across remaining 12 st. Finish off.

Looking at your 8-stitch-wide gap (top), locate the dashes ( - - - - ) that make up the ribbing effect, that correspond to these 8 stitches. They should be in the bottom rib.

Attach yarn, 2 if you are using a second colour, to the first or the 8th bottom rib stitch (either is fine). Make a knot, and leave a tail. You can either sew it in after, or sweep it into the pocket and cut the tail short.

sc across in 8 rib stitches.
ch 1, turn.

Repeat the following, 7 times, or until you reach the top rib, not edge:
*sc across in 8 rib stitches. ch 1, turn.* Finish off, leave a tail.

Attach yarn (2) from one side of the 8 sts at the top.

sc across 8 sts, a few rows, to preference. I chose 5. Remember that some of the length is shortened as it folds over.

turn. ch 7, sl st into 8th stitch across. Note: the length of chain depends on your button size. Fasten off.

Sew your pocket on by going up each side. Determine button placement, and sew it on using the same yarn (thread will not be strong enough). I chose the type of button that has a big hoop on the back, rather than holes from front to back, as this leaves more room for the chain.

Sew the two ends of the cuff together, or run a quick row of sc across each, fasten off and sew in those ends, and then attach snaps. Of course, your cuff will need to be much longer than desired size if you choose this option.

Sew in all ends discretely.

Adjustments for different measurements:
Depending on your gauge, hook size, yarn, and wearer, you may want a tighter or looser fit. To do this, simply crochet more than 33 st in the beginning, or less. To adjust the pocket to fit in the centre, simply perform this simple calculation.

Determine a width based on the widest object it should hold. In my case, the diametre of a Canadian toonie. Use your stitches as the width.

Mine, to comfortably fit a toonie or three, is 8 stitches. Given the 32-stitch band, I expect to have 12 stitches on either side of the pocket. 8 + 12 + 12 = 32.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Second-Chance Afghan

The Second-Chance Afghan will be my first-ever blanket, and has a cute back story.

The yarn, which I eventually determined to be named "Country Print," was given to me by my mother, who originally purchased it with the intention to crochet an afghan as a wedding present for a good friend of mine. Unfortunately, a few rows in, she determined that it was intolerably ugly, and had to gift plan B.

Well, I went crying to her near the beginning of March, because I've been zipping through crochet projects so quickly that I had nothing to sink my hook into. This is how I inherited a very heavy bag of yarn and a Q-hook.

I vowed to try out different patterns until I found one that brought out the beauty of the yarn, and assumed that if I could not, there were charities that would appreciate it regardless.

Fortunately, it is actually working up rather nicely! I chose a pattern from a booklet, Leisure Arts #75029, Quick and Easy Q-Hook Afghans. The pattern is called Comforting, by Mary Ann Sipes, although I have modified it a bit, adding symmetrical rows of single crochet into the pattern.

This was for two reasons; 1) the pattern ideally calls for two colours of yarn and not one variegated, which meant that I was doing a lot of work for a heavily diminished effect, and 2) it lessons the time-spent and allows the pattern to pop.

The pattern is worked double-stranded, which I've never done before, and with a hook much larger than I've ever used, so it has been a wonderful learning experience and confidence booster.

Because of the colouring, which isn't looking too shabby, I may gift it to my Grandmother when I'm done, as it reminds me of her.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Turquoise Market Bag

According to my Ravelry project logs, which are so handy, I began this eco-friendly bag on February 19th and finished it February 23rd. This is a standard turn-around time for me, although I took a bit of a break in March. Time to catch up on the blogging!

This bag is made from one skein of Designer Sport in "Pool" or turquoise. It is an amazing busywork pattern, because the mesh portion requires only that you know how to chain and single crochet.

This is a pattern posted by Patons, and although I love the bag, I wouldn't use this pattern again. The handles were the biggest pain I could possibly devise, and so I cheated when I made mine. The top rim was also not entirely to my liking. However, it does expand extremely well; unstretched, it is actually quite tiny!

This bag would easily fit in pockets, purses, and the like, and should carry yarn, produce, books, and anything else you'd like to stick in it, provided it isn't too small!

It is also fully washable, and only cost me $2 to make. I have a list of other, similar patterns in my Ravelry faves, and I'll let you know how they go when I've gotten around to them. Maybe when I've experimented enough using cheap yarn, I'll be able to justify making some out of organic cotton!

Monday, March 30, 2009

April Goals

Hello folks! March has been extremely busy for me, but I hope to make more time for crocheting come April. Here are my goals:
  1. Work on the afghan I've started. Getting it halfway done would be marvelous.
  2. Finish the mystery gift I started - see my Pay it Forward post!
  3. Do all of the March goals that I didn't complete, which include finishing the Hippo, accessorizing the Heart, and catching up on my photography.
  4. Convert one of my failed fingerless gloves into a pouch.
While I didn't complete much in March, I did learn a lot. I spent all week planning and then baking a traditional Black Forest Cake for my father's birthday, and I spent some time working with my mother so that I will be able to finish the Hippo. I'd been having trouble with the snout, as the directions seemed unclear to me.

Friday, March 6, 2009

March Goals

  1. Finish my Hungry, Hungry Hippo!
  2. Add the accessories to my amigurumi heart.
  3. Photograph the Market Bag and my first bag, the Teal Project Bag.
  4. Learn something new.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Openwork Fingerless Gloves in Taupe

I've been working through crochet patterns like an addict, and trying to keep up with the documentation!

One of the first patterns that I ever set my sights on was written by Creativeyarn, Crochet Openwork Handwarmers.

After another raid of my Mother's stash, I found two skeins of Vanna's Choice yarn in the correct weight in the colour, Taupe. I immediately snapped it up and went to work.

The first glove turned out rather well. I used a 4.00mm hook as suggested, but ran into a couple of problems. First of all, it felt a little snug, but I would have lived with it, assuming that it would stretch out, if not for the thumb hole. The hook size with my tension simply didn't leave a large enough opening, so the material was sitting off of my hand and pinching.

The other snag was the scalloped edging. The directions simply state:

Ch1, *5hdc in second dc of next dc group, sc in next space*. This gets repeated all the way around.

Having recently perused a pattern for yet another fingerless glove (I'm tireless, I know) recently, and had my Mother show me the beginning step, a double crochet foundation chain, I interpreted the directions in a similar manner.

I completed the hdc in the second dc, and then the next hdc in that one, and so on. While this "worked," it was difficult and inconsistent. I couldn't figure out how to insert the hook each time, so I just kind of forced it into wherever.

For the next two, I sat down with a book that I've borrowed from my local library and flipped through to the Shell or Fan stitch, wondering if this could be applied. Once I read it over, I knew it would do the trick. You make each stitch in the same stitch (in this case, the "second dc of the next dc group"), and then commonly pin it down on the other side with a single crochet. It ends up resembling the type of silk printed fan that I used to play with at my Granny's house as a child.

It worked beautifully! I also went up one full hook size, because I don't own a 4.50mm hook. They are quite roomy, and would fit someone more snugly with a larger hand size than I. Still, this will allow me to slip it over my watch and Medic Alert bracelet with ease. I could also slip it over a long-sleeved t-shirt and have the colour show through, rather than pushing up the sleeves.

I also have a keen idea of how to change the size of the glove to suit the wearer. For a pre-teen, I would use a 4.00mm hook. For an average sized, not overweight person, I'd use a 4.50mm, and for anyone larger, the 5.00mm hook.

As for the misfit glove, I plan on sewing the bottom end and lacing some ribbon around the top underneath the scalloped edging. If I need to add handles, I will. I haven't worked out all of the design details yet, but it will be a pouch or purse of some kind.