Tag Archive | Winter

Have Yourself Some Merry Little Christmas Crafting.

T’was the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring…

EXCEPT for the crazy crocheter with visions of grandeur still frantically crocheting her Christmas mouse!

2015 Christmas Card Picture

 

I told myself NO CHRISTMAS PROJECTS this year, despite all the wonderful ideas and patterns there are to read about in the blogosphere and on Ravelry for Christmas crafters.

But, right around Thanksgiving the Christmas crafting bug bit me and I decided that just one little, teeny, tiny, project that could be easily completed before Christmas came and went would be ok to make.

This project needed to be something small and simple that could be made with minimal stress and time. As I looked at my patterns and some ideas on line, I found this pattern for some amigurumi Christmas light bulbs and picked it to be my one and only Christmas crafting project for this year.

The pattern for these Christmas light bulbs is very simple and it only took a couple of Christmas movies for me to have 10 bulbs, 2 of each color, crocheted up. It took a few more Christmas movies to stuff the 10 bulbs, and then I had to stop watching movies altogether so that I could concentrate on the details of these Christmas bulbs. The devil is always in the details isn’t it?

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It took just a few minutes to stitch the tops of the Christmas bulbs closed once they were stuffed. I decided to use googly eyes instead of safety eyes, so, with the husbands help, it only took a few more minutes to glue the eyes on to each bulb. But now the long process of giving each bulb a smile and a personality started.

I tried big smiles, small smiles, v-shaped smiles, rounded smiles, and crazy zig-zag smiles but nothing looked good to me. I finally decided on smaller v-shaped smiles. I was using black yarn to make the smiles but the black yarn was not showing up well on the darker color bulbs so I tried white yarn instead. That looked awful, so I switched to some silver color yarn. After much trial and error, I completed the 10 smiles on the Christmas bulbs.

Now, what should I do with 10 Christmas crocheted amigurumi light bulbs? I could chain them together into a string of lights to make one Christmas decoration. Or I could put a bulb on a long piece of string or yarn and make it a necklace for all my friends and coworkers, but who wants a silly Christmas light bulb necklace? At last, I decided to make them up as Christmas tree ornaments.

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I dug through the closet and found some silver and gold metallic cording to make loops to hang these Christmas light bulb ornaments. I carefully cut even lengths of the cording, and threaded the cording through the top of each bulb. I knotted the cording, planning to twist the cording around and then hide the knot in the top of the bulb but this did not work.

The knots in the cording were too big to pull into the stuffing at the top of the bulbs. In hind sight, if I had stuffed the tops of the bulbs less, this would have worked, but I stuffed the tops good and plenty so hiding the knots in the top was not an option. I tried using yarn instead of the cording but that did not look as good. The silver and gold cording added an elegant Christmas touch to the bulbs. So, after much debate, I decided to just leave the knot at the top of the cording so it was still visible.

This was a great idea and a simple solution except that the bare ends of the cording knots frayed like crazy. I wanted the ends of the knots trimmed close but then the cording would fray and the knot would come untied. Flustered, I turned to the husband who said one word.

GLUE!

So thank heavens for clear drying glue. So, after carefully knotting and trimming the cording ends, I doused the knots and ends in glue to seal the cording, stop the fraying and keep the knot tied. After much patience with the knotting, cutting and glueing, the glue dried clear and the Christmas light bulb ornaments were done.

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At first, I did not like what I had made and I thought seriously about tossing the bulbs into the garbage can. But after they sat on the cutting table for a little while, their silliness grew on me and I now think that they are very cute silly little Christmas light bulb ornaments that my friends and family will be more than willing to hang them on their Christmas trees this year.

Until next time, Crochet forth and Christmas craft on!

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Pepper And Piper

DSCN3431 (1)Squeals of delight rang from my sewing room when I saw the pattern for these penguins. They were so cute, and the pattern showed pictures of endless possibilities in colors and variations for making a whole colony of penguins. I could not wait to get the crocheting started. I envisioned making several penguins in a variety of colors and belly spots.

DSCN3439 (1)I decided to start with a basic penguin with a gray body with no belly spot and black feet and beak. Crocheting the pieces went smoothly. When it came time to crochet the different colors of the head, I decided to cut and tie each color change. The last time I made a multi-colored head for Charlie the horse, I carried the yarn across the color changes instead of cutting and tying each color change, and I had to work very hard to keep my tensions even. Cutting and tying the color changes was easier than keeping an even tension, but it was time consuming, so it slowed down the crocheting process.

DSCN3438 (1)Before I stitched the first penguin together, I crocheted the next penguin in the colony. This time the penguin would have a gray body with a white belly spot and yellow feet and beak. Once again, I cut and tied the color changes in the head and now the body. If you look closely at the pictures, you will see a small “birth mark” on this penguin’s belly. I miss counted and did not notice my mistake until a couple of rounds later after several cut and ties were completed, and I did not want to undo all my work to fix that one stitch, so I am calling it a birthmark. It adds character to the penguin and in no way decreases his cuteness. Soon enough, I had all the pieces for the second penguin crocheted and ready to stitch together.

DSCN3436 (1)I picked up the yarn to start crocheting the next penguin in the colony, but then I decided to complete the first two penguins, whose pieces were already crocheted up, before starting another. The stitching together of these penguins was much easier than the stitching together of most my amigurumi’s. Because of the multi colored head, there was no question as to where the eyes were inserted, or where the beak DSCN2730was placed. On the second penguin, I had left a long piece of gray yarn from the head to stitch the head and body together. When I came to the white of the head and the belly spot, the gray stitches stood out badly. I had to stop the gray yarn and start a piece of white yarn to sew the white areas together and then return to the gray yarn to finish stitching the head and body together. On the first penguin, I had left I long black tail for sew from the body. This blended in well with both a gray and the white of the head. The color of yarn I leave for stitching is something I will have to keep in mind when I make amigurumi’s with multicolored heads and bodies in the future.

DSCN3432 (1)Because of the black heads, I stuffed the penguins a little lighter than most of the amigurumi’s I make. Usually, I over stuff my amigurumi’s. They say the stuff settles over time, so to over stuff at first. But, when you’re working with a dark color and white stuffing, the stuffing really shows through as the stitches are stretched by the over stuffing. Although, I really like no stuffing showing through the black stitches of the head, it was very hard for me stop stuffing before I thought the pieces were completely stuffed.

DSCN3434 (1)Feeling his head now that he is stitched together, I wish I had added just a little more stuffing to the first penguin’s head, especially in the back, but the second penguin is stuffed just right. The husband likes the less stuffing. I explained to him about the stuffing settling over time, but he still said that he liked the lighter stuff and he felt that the penguin’s still had enough stuffing to withstand the settling and a lot of be played with. It will be interesting to see if that turns out to be true or not.

DSCN3433 (1)With these two penguins completed, I picked up the yarn for the next penguin in the colony and asked the husband what color beak and feet I should crochet for this penguin and should it have a belly spot or not. The husband rolled his eyes and reminded me about all the fun patterns I have yet to crochet. And, he was right, I had already made this pattern, twice, and it was fun and the finished amigurumi’s were just adorable but other just as fun patterns are waiting in the wings.

I quickly named the two penguins Pepper and Piper and they are now waiting for a good home to go and live at.

I have tucked this pattern close to the front of my crochet pattern stash, and if and when the day comes that I want to complete the penguin colony or I just need a fun and simple amigurumi that turns out super cute, I know which pattern to reach for.

Until then, crochet forth and colony on!

Doubling the Edge

dscn0498dscn0527On one of my journeys into the stash, I ran across two fleece blanket kits that I had purchased on clearance many years ago. “Why had I purchase these?” I wondered to myself. A John Deer Blanket? A Christmas Blanket? “What was I thinking?”

Well I will tell you what I was thinking, they were cheap and they were fleece and they were blankets and I needed them to live in the stash. But alas, their time had finally come. They would no longer just live in the stash. They were blankets and since it would soon be getting cold, they needed to be made into blankets and used as blankets. I would not be keeping these blankets once they were made. They needed to go to a good home and to live with someone who needed a blanket. And even though they would be leaving, I would still get the pleasure of transforming them from a kit in to a useable blanket, and that is the real reason of why I bought them.

dscn0506Prepping the fleece was the first step in this adventure. At first I thought about making 4 single layered blankets from the two kits, but then I decided to make the kits just as they came and to make two double layered blankets. Because I wanted to crochet around the blankets instead of just cutting and knotting the edges, I had to attach the two layers together before I could use the skip stitch blade to make my edges to crochet.

Sewing the wrong sides together and turning the blanket, like I would if I was using flannel, would have given me too bulky of a seam with the 4 layers of dscn0528fleece along the edge. And I did not want that bulky edge.

Because the fleece would not ravel like flannel would, I decided to skip the turning part. So, after squaring the fleece, I held the wrong sides together and sewed along the edge of the blanket, about 1/4 inch in. This made the edge of the blanket only two layers thick. Next, using the skip stitch blade, I cut 1/2 inch from the edge of the blanket to make the slits for crocheting. I did not cut off the dotted lines part of the top fleece. These dotted lines were the cutting guide to be used if you were knotting the edge of the blanket together. I did not think the lines looked bad around the design and it made the blanket just that much larger.

dscn0505With the skip stitch portion done, it was time to start crocheting. Since both blankets were in masculine colors, I decided to make a simple edge, with no scoops or scallops.

The first row was the foundation row into the skip stitch cuts. For the second row I changed to the complimentary color and did a chain 3, skipping every other stitch. Changing back to the foundation row color, the third row was a chain 3 and then slipstitched into each of the second dscn0530rows chain 3.

I have made this edge several times before on baby blankets and it is a quick crochet and I love the look of it when it is done.

One difference between these blankets and some other blankets I have made, was that I got quite warm under these larger fleece double blankets while I was crocheting the edges compared to a lighter flannel baby blanket. This was actually ok this time of year, but I will not be making any of these large double thick fleece blankets in July.

Now that they are completed, these blankets are ready to find a needed home.

Until next time, crochet forth and blanket on!

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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DSCN0801I just love to do Christmas crafting. The idea of making that something special for that special someone really gets me in the Christmas mood and gets my creativity flowing. I love baking holiday cookies, crafting that new ornament for the tree, or sewing that perfect gift. Unfortunately, my hopes, dreams, and ideas are usually bigger than the holiday season, and I never get everything done that I want to, but over the years I have learned to not let that ruin my holiday fun. This year was no exception. I was able to do some holiday crafting, not as much as I would have like to, but some and I am thankful for that.

Each Christmas season, my work has an auction for the Relay for Life cancer event and asks for donations. This year I decided that my Christmas crafting would be to make something to donate. I wanted to make something small that people would not mind spending a dollar or two on. So, when I found some fun snowflake patterns on ravelry, I knew that was what I wanted to make and donate.

DSCN0776The problem with that was that I don’t crochet with thread so don’t have any in my stash, or have any good small sized hooks to crochet with. So I wondered what the snowflakes would look like made out of 4-ply acrylic Red Heart yarn and my favorite size G hook instead? Let’s find out! And the answer is they turn out just great! I had a great time crocheting the snowflakes and changing up the pattern each time so that each flake was just a little different just like real snowflakes. When they were finished though, they were kind of boring. I needed to spice them up.

DSCN0780To do that I found a pattern for a star shape in a scarf pattern I had. That would work to spice up the snowflakes, but what color should I make them in? I started out with a light blue. What about dark blue? Oh, maybe black? No, silver! How about this blue variegated? It is Christmas, so why not some red and green too? I started making stars from all of the colors to see what I liked best and found that I liked them all. Some colors I liked a little more than others, and some colors the husband liked better than others, but all the star looked great with the snowflakes. I had to modify the star pattern a little and use a size H hook to get the larger sized star that I needed to match the snowflakes size.

DSCN0792I thought about stiffening the snowflakes, but I decided not to. Because of the yarn I used, they were already stiff enough. I did block the snowflakes and stars with water to help them lay even and flat. When I started to glue the snowflakes to the stars, the husband said they needed to be spiced up even more, so he helped me use spray adhesive to glue blue and silver glitter to the snowflakes before I used some tacky glue to attach the flakes to the stars.

DSCN0809And now my Christmas snowflakes were complete! With the changes to the snowflake pattern and the different colors of the stars, and the glitter, no two snowflakes are the same just like real snowflakes. These snowflakes were fun to make and turned out great. I hope they will make someone’s Christmas I little bit merrier and make a little money for the Relay for Life event.

In the meanwhile, while watching Christmas movies, I crocheted this little reindeer. I call him Rudy. He has the tiniest body for his big head but he is so cute! He was a fun and quick crochet and will accompany the snowflakes to the auction. Hopefully someone will get a kick out of a tiny crocheted reindeer with a big red nose!

Until next time, crochet forth and Christmas craft on!

Ode To My White Pants

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Oh white work pants, oh white work pants,
Oh how I love you so!
I wish you would last forever,
But then I’d have nothing to sew!
Oh white work pants, oh white work pants,
I will miss you so!

Each year as Labor Day draws near, I weep. Besides the end of summer, Labor Day means it is time to return my beloved white pants to their rightful spot in the closet for another winter season. And as this Labor Day approaches, I weep even more for this is the last year I will wear this particular pair of white pants. They have been a tried and true friend for many a summer now, but they are starting to show their age and it is now time for them to go to the old clothes heaven in the sky. Or maybe just goodwill.

Some 15 years ago, I decided that my wardrobe needed some white pants. Now, I am very particular about the fabric that I use to make my pants with. Not just any old white fabric would work for these pants. I wanted them made in white denim. And it had to be “white” denim, not cream or egg shell, or an off white color. Also it could not have too much lycra in it. And it had to be strong enough to withstand the day to day wear and tear of work, but still not be stiff and heavy. It had to wash easily and well, because as you know white attracts everything. It had to be thick enough not to show any unmentionables that may be worn under it, but not so thick that it wouldn’t breath well on the hot summer days. After a great deal of shopping, I found my white denim fabric.

Basic_Baggy_White_Chef_Pants_11I washed and dried my white denim fabric throughly as I knew it would shrink. Using my good old pants sloper pattern, I made my white pants. And they were a dream! I loved them the first day I wore them. I felt and looked good in them.

After the first summer of wearing my white pants, I carefully cleaned them, and put them away to wear again the next year. Each Memorial Day, I pulled my precious white pants from the closet and wore them every chance I got through the summer months until Labor Day, when they again returned to their winter home safe in my closet.

After a couple of years, on one particular Memorial Day, I pulled the white pants from their resting place, only to find that the winter had been especially harsh to me. My lovely white pants no longer fit so well. Due to a little weight gain, the pants legs were now too high off the ground and were high waters. I let the healthy hem they had out and re-hemmed them with the shortest hem I could. The new hem was only about 1/4 inch, but this new hem allowed me to wear my white pants for that year.

4102_10914_Khakicargo_frontOver the years as my weight has waxed and waned, my white pants have hung in there. Some years they fit better than other years but I could always wear them each summer. On the years that I was waxing, I refused to dry my white pants in the dryer and often accused the husband of washing them in hot water. On the waning years, I did not pay as much attention to how they were laundered. I wore them through thick and thin.

As I have worn my gorgeous white pants this summer season, I have noticed that they are showing signs of wear. I was truly saddened by this but what could I have expected after 15 or so years of wear? The tiny hem they have is fraying. The white denim is thinning especially in the seat area from friction wear and the seams are starting to split out.

Throughout the summer, I have mended them several times, hoping that they will make it just one more day, and bless them, they have. I have worn them faithfully all summer long. But as I washed them for the last time this summer, I see that images-3it is time for them to be retired. There is no need on packing them away for another 9 months until next summer. They will not make it through another season. It is finally time to let them go.

Luckily, I am a fabriholic. When I found this perfect piece of white denim and turned it into such fabulous pants so many years ago, I quickly returned to the fabric store and bought enough for a few more pairs of pants. This fabric has been hiding out in the stash ever since then just patiently awaiting its turn to be my next beloved pair of white pants.

Now, I have my work cut out for me. I have just one short winter to get another pair of perfect white pants made before next summer arrives!

Wish me luck!

Until next time, sew forth and white pant on!

Take Off That Hat And Scarf! It’s Still Summertime out there!

DSCN0243I must have been trying to think of cool thoughts while enduring the heat of the summer when I decided that my next amigurumi project would be a penguin.

Actually, a more accurate reason for choosing it was the purchase of a particular color of variegated yarn. I love the extremes of it. First a bright neon color then the complete opposite, black, then the bright neon color again. What would show off the burst of colors in this P1040325yarn? Of course, an animal with the same contrast, a black and white penguin.

I found the cutest penguin pattern and it included instructions to make a hat and scarf too. The crocheting of the pieces went smoothly, and the pattern was very well written with lots of detailed pictures. The only change that I made to the pattern was the penguin’s white belly spot. The pattern called for just a round white circle for the belly spot, but that looked odd to me. So, I undid the last round and added some double crochets to what would be the top of the spot, making it an oval at the top and round at the bottom. This looked better to me than just the round circle did. The oval top seemed to fill the belly area of the body better.

P1040335Stuffing and stitching the pieces together went smoothly as well. Soon enough, I had an adorable penguin all crocheted up! I actually thought about stopping there, but the whole reason for making this amigurumi was to use the new variegated yarn, so I started crocheting again to make the scarf and hat.

The scarf was no problem to crochet and it was a good length after being tied around the penguin’s neck. The hat was also a simple crochet to make. There is one thing I thought about changing on the hat and that was the color of the last round of the cap. The last round is crocheted in double crochet versus the single crochets of the rest of the cap, to give the cap a finished edge. This edge is lost when made in the variegated yarn. I thought about undoing the double crochet round and chaining the color to black. But I figured that would that just make the double crochets blend with the penguin’s black head and I would lose the edge anyway. In the end, I decided to leave the double crochet round in the variegated yarn, mostly because I love this variegated yarn on the black and white penguin.

DSCN0241The challenge for this amigurumi came with the pompom on the hat. I know how to make a pompom, but I have never had any luck making a successful one. They always fall apart on me. I thought about leaving the pompom off the hat but I really wanted one so I got started on it. After trying a couple of times to make the pompom and having it fall apart on me, I was ready to quit. So after filling the bottom of the garbage can with failed pompoms, I decided that the hat did not need a pompom after all. I showed the husband the completed penguin with the pompomless hat and scarf and his first comment was “Where’s the pompom?” Flustered I showed him the garbage can and explained to him how I had been trying to make the pompoms with no success. He said to let him try. I watched closely as he did the exact same thing that I had done to make a pompom, DSCN0247but when he pulled the yarn to tie the knot, he pulled it so much tighter than I could have had pulled it, I found my problem. The husband’s pompom was a success and I promptly stitched it to the top of the hat for the penguin. It looks great and best of all it did not fall apart. Unfortunately for the husband, he is now the official pompom maker.

This penguin was quickly named Paulie, not a very original name, but a good name. I think Paulie is very cute and was fun to make and I love his hat and scarf from the variegated yarn the most.

Until next time, crochet forth and crochet on.

Denver Broncos Number One Fan

Well not me personally, but most of my family seem to be big fans of the Denver Broncos. I don’t really have any particular sports teams that I root for and I’ve never been a big professional sports fan.broncos2

P1030923My dad though is a huge Denver Broncos fan, and he fights a constant battle during the summer trying to keep the squirrels from eating everything in his garden. And  because I just love to tease him about them doing it, I decided to make him this one of a kind, custom made in team colors of orange and blue, Number One Denver Broncos Fan Squirrel with a matching foam finger.

The squirrel pattern that I used for it is a free one that I got from the Red Heart yarn website. I used a 4mm G hook with Red Heart mocha, aran, orange and blue colors.P1030929

It crocheted up very nicely even though I was concerned that the arms and legs were going to be too small. But once I started to assemble the pieces it all looked the way the pattern showed it should. Also when I crocheted his tail according to the pattern it seemed to be too small to me, so I made it about 10 rows taller than the pattern showed and about 6 sc wider. I also used one of my large round sewing weights to go in the very bottom part of the squirrel to weight him down somewhat. I figured with his very large tail he would fall over or be wobbly without some extra weight to keep him upright. And I was correct. Once I attached the tail he would have fallen over very quickly without the extra weight. And I changed the design of the hat shown in the pattern from a santa or elf shaped pointy hat to a more rounded stocking cap design.

IMG_0027I used the felting fuzzy brush technique that I recently learned to do on a previous blog post on his tail and it turned out great too! It looks very puffy and fuzzy just like a real squirrels does.

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In the end I think he turned out great and I hope my dad likes him!

Go Broncos!

And good luck in winning this year at Super Bowl XLVIII!