Friday, December 15, 2006

A gift for the furballs

Today I bring you a pet blanket:

I initially made this for my dog, but for some reason or other it ended up on the couch under my cats instead. They seem to like it.

My main reason for making it wasn't any great desire to give my pets something to lie on. I had just bought a whole bunch of yarn for an afghan project and then decided almost instantly that I hated said yarn and would hate to crochet a whole afghan out of it. It was my desire to use up the yarn that inspired me to make this.

Here's an extreme closeup:

Don't mind the occasional hair that's visible in the pic. I didn't clean the blanket before snapping the pics. This is actually the clean side.

I used no pattern to make this. I just made a chain until I liked the length, and then crocheted on it until I liked the width. I wasn't sure which stitch I wanted to use, so I used all three. I just did a row of single crochet, a row of half double crochet, and a row of double crochet and then repeated. I like the effect.

Because I was making this thing in an effort to use up yarn I hated I decided to crochet with two strands of yarn in order to maximize the yarn usage. It worked pretty well and I ended up with a nice, thick, cushy blanket, in spite of the scratchiness of the original yarn.

The edging is some reddish fun fur that I had lying around that actually amazingly matches the yarn. I like it. Though the yarn the actual blanket is made from is washable, the edging is not. Guess how I found this out?

Yep. When I did finally get around to washing the blanket the edging felted together. I really don't care. It still looks ok (though much different), and even if it didn't it's just a blanket for my cats to shed on anyway. No harm done.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A place to rest your weary head...

...if you don't mind a few divots in your face.

Introducing the first and only pillow I've ever made. I plan to make more in the future, but that's just one in a long list of projects on my shadowy "to do someday" list. I have no definite plans.

I made the pillow for my mom. She picked the color to match the decor in the living room. I'm not a big fan of how the stripes came out on the pillow (and I don't think she is either), but it's ok. Mom's too nice to try to hide her new pillow even though it doesn't look as good as we'd hoped; it sits out in a prominent position on the couch.

I used what my pattern book called a popcorn stitch, though I've also seen it referred to as a bobble stitch. I've noticed that no two pattern books seem to agree on what constitutes a bobble and what constitutes a popcorn.

I do think it's interesting that it came out in fairly clear vertical stripes, considering that I crocheted it horizontally. Check how it came out all plaid on the back:

It would have been cool to skip all that silly popcorn on the front and just go straight to the rockin' plaid on the back. The big thing I like about stripy yarn is seeing how the pattern will come out in your project.

The pillow cover came out a little small, so I had to tie the middle button to the button hole to keep it looking nice.

You can't tell from the above picture, but I ran out of yarn partway through. I'd bought the amount that my pattern said I needed to complete the project, but the pattern lied. Mostly the pillow looks fine even though I had to use a ball of yarn from a different yarn lot to finish, but the brown is slightly lighter with the new yarn ball. You can tell below:

Overall I'm proud of my pillow, even though I don't love the color scheme on the front. It's also the first project I've ever blocked. That was an irritating experience because I couldn't figure out how to make my iron steam satisfactorily.

Thinking back on my experience pinning down the pieces of this pillow and arguing with my iron always reminds me of the movie Memoirs of a Geisha. There aren't any similarities at all, it's just that my brother and I had gone to see it earlier that day. As you might imagine, the mental link I have between my pillow and that movie irritates me deeply. Read the book instead. The movie blows.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Bad Hats

Ok! As promised, a crochet post!

As the title would suggest, this post is mostly going to be about hats. And not very good ones. I confess, I haven't mastered the whole hat thing yet. But I'm working on it! And today you're going to see some of my early attempts.

But first, a scarf:

Not a hat, I know, but it does match a hat that will be featured today. This scarf was my first attempt at color changes. I had varying levels of success.

If you look closely at the above picture you can see what I mean. When I first started out I had no idea how to change colors so that your final stitch of Color A wouldn't carry up into your first stitch of Color B. I did work it out by the time I finished, fortunately. Then I promptly forgot what it is I did so that I had to relearn it next time I did a project featuring color changes. (You'll see that one in a later post.)

I'll deliver on the promised hats in a moment, but first I'd like to introduce you to my model, Vena:

I bought her today. She makes a very good hat model, especially since I'm too shy to model the hats myself. As you can see, I forgot to remove her price tag.

She was four dollars! Cheap!

If it seems silly that I bought this dummy head just for the blog, remember that should this blog thing not pan out I can always duct tape a brick to Vena and throw her through wurwolf's window. Vena has many powerful uses.

Don't look at Felix, my cat, who is lurking around in the background where he doesn't belong. I like him and I know from experience that bad things happen to pets featured on this blog.

On to an actual hat:

This is the very first hat I've ever made, and ties with one other hat in this post as the worst hat I've ever made. It doesn't look so bad on the floor, I know, but wait until you see it on:

Poor Vena. She has been blinded. This hat is supposed to be a beanie. I suppose it would be perfect for Charlie Brown or maybe a basketball, but it does not work for real people! Or even fake people with semi-realistic head proportions!

One fun thing about wearing this hat is that if you turn your head quickly the hat does not turn with you. It matches the scarf nicely though, at least.

I did learn one big and very important lesson from my experience with this hat:

Gauge is important.

I did not really get this before, but I do now. So while this hat gets an award for suckulence, it's worth it because now I pay attention when a pattern tells me to use a certain weight yarn and a particular size hook. Rookie mistake, I know, but I was a rookie at the time.

Fortunately, there is one way to almost redeem this hat, and that is by pushing it far back on your head, like so:

Do this and it almost looks like I meant to do that. Of course, the hat will drop off your head at the slightest movement, but that's no big loss. It's not a very good hat anyway.

The next hat was another learning experience. It was my first time using mohair.

Some people recommend beginners use mohair because it's so fluffy you can't see the mistakes you make. Mohair is also bad for beginners for the same reason, I find. Not to mention that it's more difficult to handle than a smoother yarn; the hook likes to catch on mohair.

The finished hat doesn't look so bad, but there are some issues, which I'll get to.

The hat is almost too big, but it works out. It looks looser on Vena because she doesn't have any hair. On me it's comfortably loose, but not so loose that it is in danger of falling off.

I had the most problems with the seam, as you might expect with a beginner. The usual difficulties that come with learning to crochet in the round were compounded by using a yarn where I couldn't see my stitches. You can definitely tell where I had to move from one round to the next. It kind of comes to a point in the back-- most likely because I didn't know where the join was supposed to go and there are too many stitches back there. Of course, I couldn't tell you for certain because I can't see the stitches.

Stupid mohair.

But the hat isn't so bad.

Now for an actually good hat:

The pattern for this hat was the very first real pattern I ever had (though not the first pattern I've ever used). It took a while before I was confident enough in my pattern-following skills to give it a shot. I used two colors of fine yarn (black and blue, obviously) and twisted them together, which was fun until the yarn balls wanted to get all twisted up wrong and I had to unwind them.

But anyway.

This hat is almost too small, but it's supposed to loosen up with wear. If I ever wore hats, that might happen.

It's true. I make all kinds of hats, but I never wear hats. I'm told I have a good head for hats. I keep thinking if I keep making hats I'll want to start wearing them, but it has yet to happen. Oh well.

After finishing that hat I had some yarn left, so I decided to make a second hat with it. Then something went wrong:

Hat number 2 is considerably smaller than hat number 1. I don't know why.

It doesn't look so bad there, but look at it on:

Poor Vena. She didn't expect to make her debut like this.

I still don't know why this hat came out so small. It literally fits neatly inside the other hat. No squishage necessary. I used the same pattern. Same hook. Same yarn. I don't know what went wrong here.

Look at that travesty! She looks like she would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.

Yes, I know. As soon as I saw that something was going wrong I should have frogged the whole thing and started over. By the time I noticed, though, it was pretty clear that I was running out of yarn. I wouldn't have had enough yarn to finish the hat correctly anyway, and since I'd bought the yarn while out of town I couldn't just run out and get more.

So we're left with the munchkin hat, which is the hat that is tying with the big hat for worst hat I ever made. It may even be worse because 1, there's no way to make that thing attractive and 2, I learned NOTHING.

So those are my first attempts at hats. My next post, when I get around to writing it, will feature a project that I was a little more successful at. I can't dwell on my blunders all the time!

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Ok! I know! I'm a slacker!

It's been a while since I posted. I know that. There's a good reason, actually. Only a week after I posted that picture of Pickles on the blog he flew away.

I wasn't there when it happened, and how it happened is something I won't go into right now. But suffice it to say that I felt a bit awkward about coming back in here after I'd just finished talking about the bird. Thinking about it made me feel sad and still does.

But anyway, that's depressing and I don't want to depress you. This blog is supposed to be about crochet, not lost pets. I'm working on a new post which I will put up soon. It will actually be about stuff I've crocheted.

So more cheerful, I'm hoping.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Let's get down to business!

Wow. This must be what, my third "starting" post in a row in this blog so far? I'm doing this for reals this time, though.

I thought I'd start by showing you some of my early work. Behold, my very first swatch, which I still have because I'm an overly sentimental sop and I don't throw things away like I should:

I like to think it looks a little bit like a crochet map of California. Of course, it's supposed to be perfectly rectangular, but you can't have everything.

You can see how at the top (technically the bottom, but I don't display it that way) I made my foundation chain way too tight and then the whole thing bunched up when I started doing the actual crocheting in the following rows. I don't remember what it was like to make this thing, but I must have had to fight like hell to get my hook through the loops of that chain.

This is my parakeet, Pickles (aka The Buzzard, aka You Green Little Snot, aka You Noisy Bastard, aka Crapfactory, aka Little Terrorist, aka @!!!**!), cheekily refusing to pose with my swatch. When I don't want him near my crochet I can't get him out of it.

He makes it very difficult to get any work done because he likes to be with me, but he also likes to try to eat anything I happen to have in my hands, be it a crochet hook, a pen, or a (computer) mouse.

My very first "real" project was a blanket. Personally, I do not recommend making a blanket your first real crochet project. It's so big! It's probably better to go with something smaller, but still rectangular, like a scarf. That's what most people start with. But no. I did a blanket.

Not even a blanket made up of a bunch of little squares sewn together either. A great big blanket all in one pattern.

I started with a test swatch to make sure I had the stitch down:

Here's the actual blanket, all freaking 100 rows of it:

This thing took over two years to make. I couldn't tell you exactly how long. Part of it is that a blanket of that size is unpleasant to work on during the Summer, especially around here where it gets into the hundred-teens and we don't use our air conditioner much because of the power bills.

Factor in that I had to put it up when we got a puppy until she was old enough to know better than to try to eat the thing while I was working on it, and then do the same when we got kittens, and that adds on a big chunk of time.

Also, I have a terrible tendency to absolutely hate any craft project by the time I get to the end of it. Usually I end up giving it up. Crafts that are dead to me now because of this tendency of mine include (but are not limited to) sewing, embroidery, and latch hook. I just take so long to finish that I either hate it or lose interest before I get done. I have no idea how my interest in crochet managed to survive the thing that killed so many other crafts for me, but it did.

Now that it's all done, we keep it draped over the top of the couch when it's not in use. This is a good place for the cats to lie on it and dig at it with their claws. A nice way to treat your first project that you spent over two years on, no?

I'll close with a close up so you can see the stitches:

Not hugely complicated for a beginner. This stitch might make a nice scarf. It's all double crochet, which is nice. 2 dc, skip 2, 5 dc in 1 stitch, skip 2, repeat.

I did all the work on this blanket through the back loop, mainly because I was too inexperienced to know I was supposed to be going through both until I was pretty much committed to what I had been doing. I think the effect was nice, though.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I've finally decided what to do with this space.

I like to crochet, so I've decided to use this blog to share some of the work I've done. If you asked me how long I've been crocheting, I'd probably initially want to tell you it's only been a couple years. If I think about it, though, it seems like it would have to be at least four. Maybe a year longer than my dog's been alive, and I think she's three. I still think of myself as a beginner, maybe even intermediate when I'm feeling extra brilliant, but that's probably a big lie, too.

I am definitely still learning about the craft, though, which is definitely a good thing. If I get to the point where I feel like I have no more to learn then somebody should probably puncture my big fat bloated egotistical head so I can get through my door. Besides, I like knowing that I still have a lot left to try. And there are definitely a lot of different kinds of crochet projects I haven't tried yet.

I've just taken some pictures of some of my early crochet work, and I'll have a new post for you, coming right up.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

In the beginning...

Creative name for a first post in a blog, no?

Just so you know, I am not Tork. He's a friend of mine and he's got a knee fetish.

I don't know how often I'll actually use this blog, or what I'll use it for. I mostly set it up so I could have a Blogger profile when I contribute to another blog I'm working with a friend on.

I might just use it for random stuff that doesn't fit in with the style of the other blog. I might just let it rot all lonely and afraid with only this post to keep it company.

We shall see.

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