Sunday, May 31, 2009

Trekkin' right on along...

Well, I made some pretty decent progress on stuff this week for once. I got a whole lot done around the house, had lunch with a friend, upped my exercise routine by three days a week...and oh yeah, I also crocheted quite a bit.

First off, I did make myself a little bottle carrier for when I go on my walks. It has come in quite handily and I am very proud of it. Here's a quick peek:

Of course, in my fears that I would make the shoulder strap too short I ended up making it far too long. When I first tried it on it hung past my knees! But a quick knot in the top of the loop has corrected that issue and now it is the perfect length. Huzzah!

Buoyed by my success with that, I went ahead and started on my next apparel project--the Blooming Bolero. The pattern appeared in the May/June 2008 issue of Crochet Today magazine.

For the most part this is a pretty easy pattern. It is really just a bunch of granny squares with extra shaping rows added and a few partial squares. The pattern itself calls for you to change color pretty much every row, but I wasn't really down with that and ended up going with all one color. Though I think after I get the main body finished I am going to do the edging in a pretty contrasting color maybe.

Here's a glimpse at some of the pieces. These are the partial squares used to make the front panels:

And here are the two squares joined up to make the back of the sweater:

I didn't get any pictures of the arm pieces unfortunately. Those kind of were a challenge for me for two reasons. First, after I (thought I had) finished them, I couldn't figure out how on Earth they were supposed to connect to the rest of the body or to themselves. So I went online and did a quick search and found out there was an error in the pattern when it was printed. Nothing huge, it just made me leave out a corner on each piece. So I ended up frogging back to the main granny square for each one and redoing the shaping correctly. Then, while I was doing that, a closer look at the pattern revealed I had only done the last row of shaping along one side of each square and it needed to be done on two. D'oh. So, got that all fixed up and all of a sudden the sleeves made sense to me! Amazing, huh?

Anyhoo, I've gotten everything all attached and now I am extending the length of the sweater a bit before I do the edging. I had always planned to make it longer, a bolero really doesn't suit me.

Here's a shot of where I am right now:

The solid double crochet at the bottom is my extension. I will probably do a few more inches of that and then start the edging.

I may not actually end up being able to fit in this though, sadly. Once I got the sleeves attached and tried it on it seems like the neck is really wide and the shoulders aren't quite sitting right. So either the edging makes up for that or my linebacker shoulders have prevented me from having yet another cute top. Sigh. But that's okay, I know lots of tiny people who would probably appreciate this if it ends up not fitting me. Crochet, much like life, is all about the trial and error.

Anyhoo, so that's what I've been up to. I've got a lot of baby prep going on this week but I do plan to finish up this project at least. Then I've got one more sweater to attempt and I'll dive back into the wonderful world of blankets.

I hope you all have a lovely week. Wow, can you believe it's already June tomorrow? Crazy times.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

A nice surprise, actually.

Hello again, and happy Memorial Day Weekend to everyone.  Be sure to take a moment during your festivities tomorrow to remember all of those, past and present, who have dedicated their lives to protecting us and the freedoms we so often take for granted.  While I never considered going into the service myself, the majority of my family has served or is serving, and I have to say I am proud of and grateful to every one of them for doing so.

But on to crochet.  

I have officially scrapped the Bright Eyes Baby Throw/Homespun project.  I am just at a loss with what to do with that yarn, so I have stuffed it in one of my yarn drawers and will revisit it at a later date, or find some other deserving home to pass it on to.  Sigh, which reminds me, I think it is time for a clean out and reorg of my crochet station.  It is getting rather wild again, plus now that it's in my closet, it is easier to let it get out of hand.  But that's for another day.

But what did I get done this week, you may ask.  Well, the answer is, I made a giraffe, huzzah!  The huzzah is because it actually came out much better than I thought it would and because it was not nearly so frustrating to assemble as I had anticipated (minus the "horns"--those did drive me a little crazy).  But Wednesday I sat down and started on the pattern for Lion Brand's amigurumi Georgina the Giraffe and I was very pleased with the outcome.  

See for yourself:

The pattern is available for free on Lion Brand's website (though you may have to register to see the free patterns, but there's no cost or anything).  

This is actually a pretty quick and easy project (I did it in a day even with breaks for food and calming down).  I did make a few deviations from the pattern though.

  1. The horns:  I did not stuff them as the pattern calls for.  I tried to at first, but that just made them so much more difficult for me, so I ended up just leaving them flat.  But I think they work, they're not extra floppy or anything without the stuffing.
  2. The spots:  Pattern calls for two big ones and three little ones, but I only made two little ones.  This is more because I misread the directions than anything else and afterward decided that I didn't want to go through the trouble to make and then attach another piece (I was almost done by that point).
  3. The eyes:  The pattern calls for safety eyes but I stitched them on instead with the same brown yarn I used for the mouth.  I did this because the giraffe is going to a newborn.  While I had initially intended to make it just a decorative toy to go with the safari theme we're doing in her room, I realized I wanted her to actually have a toy I had made for her and that she could play with.
So there you have it.  All in all, I am really pleased with how this came out.  I just hope my baby likes it half as much!

Next up I am going to try my hand at more apparel.  I'll be trying the Blooming Bolero by Jacqueline van Dillen.  But I think I may insert a quick project this week before I start that.  I've been walking a lot lately and now that it's starting to really get into Texas summer I need to start carrying water with me on my walks.  So I think I am going to make a quick little crochet cozy/sling to carry a water bottle in.  Shouldn't take too long to whip up, and I've got plenty of leftover yarn to choose from.  

So that's it for me.  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  

Until next time, 

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Project Fail

So I had to scrap the Bright Eyes Baby Throw already.  Sigh.

It's not that the pattern is a bad one (it's actually eerily similar to the blanket I just made without a pattern).  The problem is the yarn.  I was using the Lion Brand Homespun yarn, which is super thick and soft, and also textured.  And I could not see the stitches.  I am just not down with a closely stitched pattern and chunky yarn I guess.  Also, I was three fourths of the way to the point where I would stop increasing and start decreasing and I am pretty sure it was nowhere near the right size.  It was actually too small, go figure.  

So, I pulled the whole thing apart.  I thought I'd just try doing a regular granny square with it, since that would be open enough I could at least see where my next set of stitches needed to go.  I started that back on, like Wednesday, and I haven't picked it up since.  I am debating whether or not to continue with this blanket at all or just to move ahead to my next project and save this yarn for something else down the road.  

I really like this yarn, I just don't like working with it.  Bleah.  

I'll probably update once I figure out what to do next on that front.

In other news, I did my sister's swap square, which it just dawned on me I totally meant to mail on Friday and didn't (guess I know what I'll be doing tomorrow)--and I absolutely love the pattern for that.  I can't post a pic of the finished square yet, but I really like how it uses different colors to actually come out looking like a flower.  I am already planning a full sized afghan using this square--I am just trying to decide on colors.  So, that's some happy in with the bad, right?

Hope you all have a great week!  Until next time!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Come fly with me...

Well, despite getting completely sucked into the completion of my Lego Indiana Jones video game this week, I did manage to also complete my latest baby blanket, yay!  

A side note to you gamers or friends of gamers--if you're playing Lego Indiana Jones and aiming for %100, do the bonus levels as soon as you've unlocked them, don't leave them for last--they are kind of lame compared to the rest of the game and make finishing it something of a letdown.  Or at least do the Warehouse level before Ancient City.  Just sayin.

But back to crochet.

The once "Jungle Fun Baby Blanket" has been rechristened as the completed "Dragon Wing Baby Blanket."   In between the pattern I ended up choosing and the contrast in colors of the border to the main body, it just reminded me of nothing so much as a dragon wing, so that's what it became.  

Despite my rocky starts with this thing I am actually really pleased with how it turned out.   Hopefully baby girl will enjoy it as well.  It's not huge, only 32" square, but I still think it's a good size.  This will probably be a put on top of the baby's other blankets to keep her warm or lay down on the floor for her to sit on or a stroller blanket, rather than a truly functional blanket.  Mostly because while it is machine washable, thing ain't going near a dryer.

Here is a shot of the finished product:

And here is a closer shot of the corner so you can get a better idea of the colors and see the patterns of the border and body a little bit better:

I tried to do a really cool texture thing with the border where I did a back loop only or front loop only row every few rows, but it didn't really turn out like I thought it would.  I guess that only works if you alternate them every other row, sigh.  Still, I am pretty happy with it nonetheless.  

As for the primary body of the blanket, it is something of a granny square with a twist.  Instead of doing the square in the round, I did it side to side from corner to corner.  It was pretty easy and looks really nifty.  To get that effect, here is how I started it:

  1. Chain five.
  2. Three double crochet in fifth chain from hook (first chain space).
  3. Chain 1, double crochet in same space.  This gives you a chain three (serves as first double crochet), a chain space, a three double crochet, a chain space, and a double crochet.
  4. Chain four and turn.
  5. Three double crochet in first chain space, chain one, three double crochet in second chain space, chain one, double crochet in third chain of chain four.
  6. Chain four and turn.
  7. Repeast steps four and five, making three double crochet in each chain space across, until blanket is the desired width along sides of triangle.
  8. To decrease:  Chain four and turn.  
  9. Skip first chain space, three double crochet, chain one, in each chain space across until you get to the end.  Do not three double crochet in last chain space.  Double crochet in third chain of chain four.
  10. Repeat steps 8 and 9 until you only have one three double crochet on the row.
  11. Chain three, slip stitch to fourth chain of chain four.
And that's how I got the body.  The border is just a simple single crochet.  Three sc in each space along the sides and five in each "corner" space for the first row.  Then one single crochet in each single crochet around, with three single crochet in the center single crochet of each corner.  Row four is front loop only and row seven is back loop only.  Nine rows of single crochet then the last row is double crochet all the way around (three in each corner).

It's actually a pretty simple blanket to make, if you just sit down to do it.  

For the yarn I used Lamb's Pride Super Wash for the body (four skeins) and LB Collection Cotton Bamboo for the border (one and a half skeins).  Both have the same washing directions, but each has a totally different texture which gives the blanket a neat flare.

On deck for this week is my May sister swap square (I'll probably go whip that up today).  Then I have yet another blanket I want to make.  I really thought I was done making baby blankets.  Nope, totally not.  I saw a cool pattern in my Lion Brand newsletter last week and it just kind of stuck with me.  Yesterday I bought the yarn.  It's the Bright Eyes Baby throw over at Lion Brand's website and it uses their Homespun yarn.  I've never made anything with Homespun before, but I like how it feels.  It is a bit chunkier than I usually like my yarn to be, but we shall see, I guess.  I have chosen to use the color Lagoon rather than the one called for in the pattern (of course).  

And after that I swear I am going to make that Amigurumi giraffe.  I swear.  I am just dreading assembling all of the pieces on that one.  Also, would like to reiterate--that will be for my baby's room as purely a decoration.  It is not actually a toy for her until she's old enough for the safety eyes to be safe.  It will be placed in some nice out of reach location to just look pretty until then.

Okay, that's me for this week.  Hope you all have a great one!  Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bring on those May flowers!

Aren't the April showers supposed to stop once May is over?  Why, then, is it still so rainy here, huh?  Sigh.  Oh well--I shouldn't complain.  Once June hits we'll be lucky to get regular rain here at all, and on the plus side, for the most part I can now actually avoid going out in the rain if I don't want to.  So I should just accept it, right?  Right?  Um, yeah...anyhoo.

First post of the month, so it's time to reveal the squares my sister and I swapped for April.  The pattern was one of my favorites, Windowpane, by the super talented Chris Simon.  

Here is my contribution:

And my sister's:

For May we are using another Chris Simon pattern.  This time it will be Flower Burst, which is appropriate, assuming the rain ever stops long enough for the flowers to actually come out and play!

In other project news, I don't have any pictures of the baby blanket I have been working on but I am done with the main body of the blanket (and very happy with how it turned out).  Now all I have left is the border,  so I hope to get that up later this week.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!  Take care.