Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Knitting and crocheting clothes

What else have I been knitting and crocheting over the past 8 months?  Clothes.  One of the many reasons that I finally taught myself how to knit was that knitting creates really, really nice clothing.  Great, stylish crocheted clothing patterns are rare, at least in my experience.  Nothing I've ever crocheted myself has ever made me very happy.  So, in February, as soon as I got a bit of knitting confidence (created by 6 weeks of knitting afghan blocks and dishcloths), I attempted a short-sleeved cardigan for Sonia:

Haimi Cardigan

It turned out okay, but I had chosen some really cheap yarn, and I wasn't wild about how the front curled in on itself.  But I succeeded in my goal-- knitting something wearable!

I decided then that I needed to try creating some smaller clothing.  Plus, Sonia was sick for over a week, and we needed some sort of excitement.  So, Barbie dresses were next!  I was too nervous to try knitting at first, so I crocheted dress # 1:

Barbie's Crochet Dress

I was so confused as to why the dress was turning out much longer than I thought it should.  I ended it right where the pattern was just getting to the waistline.  After I finished off, I looked closer at the pattern and realized it was written in UK crochet terms.  So, I should have been doing a single crochet stitch, not a double crochet stitch.  Whoops!!  You can't tell in the picture, but in real life, the dress is a bit see-through since I used such a large stitch.  Oh well-- Sonia doesn't care!

Then, I took a deep breath, and attempted a knitted dress. It turned out GREAT!

#0099 Short Pink Dress

Sonia chose the yarn... Can you tell?

Then, my crazy friends, Libby and Sallie, managed to talk me into attempting to do a knit-along with them.  They had been planning for months to knit the Hitofude Cardigan, and it looked crazy-complicated.  Gorgeous, but very intricate.  I had done a tiny bit of lacework so far, but as of May, I was not in the position where I was confident in my lace skills.  But they promised me that we would help each other through the project, so I bought a huge hank of yarn from Miss Babs, took a deep breath, and cast on.

Then I frogged it.  Then I cast on again.  Then I frogged it.  Then I cast on again.  This time, it worked!  Why was the casting on so hard?  Well, it was a special provisional cast where you start with a crocheted chain made out of waste yarn.  Sounds like that would be right up my alley, but it just about killed me.  However, I made it work finaly!  The sweater took me six weeks (and a million conversations with Libby and Sallie) to knit, but I got it done.... and I LOVE IT!!!!


I kind of wish it had turned out a little longer, but I was running out of yarn.

This sweater never fails to turn heads when I wear it, and it's not just because I chose such a shocking pink color!  The pattern is ingenious and perfect.  It is made all in one piece.  NO SEAMING.  I don't mind sewing up seams too much, but it was thrilling to make an entire cardigan with one strand of yarn.  Only two ends to weave in.  (Well, I actually had four because a cat chewed through the yarn at one point, but we'll just pretend that didn't happen.)

I usually never like to make the same pattern twice, but I am itching to make another one....  Longer this time, of course.  Maybe Niki needs one for her birthday next summer.

During the knitting of the Hitofude, I took a short break to crochet myself this cute little top:

Summer Road-Trip Top

Unfortunately, I stupidly chose 100% merino wool for it, and I come close to passing out from heat stroke every time I wear it. I should have used cotton.  Boo. I'm thinking of frogging it and making something else with the gorgeous MadTosh yarn.

By the time I finished my Hitofude, I was convinced that I was a sweater-making GENIUS.  So I promptly knitted three more sweaters.  TO BE CONTINUED.....

Friday, October 23, 2015

Hats, cowls, and mittens

Since I haven't been stitching amigurumi right and left like I have in years past, what have I been making?  Stuff to wear.  It really is too bad that I moved to a state where a lot of this clothing isn't seasonally appropriate for more than two months out of the year....

Hats are so fun to make!  Yes, they need to fit correctly, but they are a heck of a lot easier to fit than, say, a sweater.

Anna from Frozen (this is more a hat/wig combo!!)


Super Mario (for my Super Mario-loving nephew! What a crazy-awesome pattern.)

Declan's hat (I have done cabling on many knit projects, but this was my first cabled hat!)

November Cabled Hat (I loved the first one so much that I jumped right into another!)

Cowls are also so much fun to knit and crochet.  They are relatively small projects and you don't have to worry as much about fit issues.  For my first cowl attempts, I wanted to give Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable yarn a try....  If you haven't seen the amazingly beautiful color ways offered in this brand of yarn, RUN, don't walk, to your nearest big box craft store to check them out.  GORGOUS!!!  First, I crocheted a cowl:

Turquoise V Stitch Infinity Scarf

And then I knitted one:

A Very Braidy Cowl (This pattern showed off the gorgeous colors so much better, I think! And what a ridiculously cool pattern...)

With these successes under my belt, I asked my sister if she would like a cowl.  She ordered a chunky chocolate brown one, and I decided to make this project with my first ever purchase from a store that is devoted to yarn and yarn only (Holley's Yarn Shop in Dallas).  I think it turned out so beautiful....

Vite Cowl

I think the Vite Cowl might also have been my first attempt at knitting lace.  Once I figured out the whole "yarn over" thing, I was entranced.  There will be more lace to come in future blog posts....

With my knitting confidence climbing, I attempted my first pair of mittens.  How fun are these?!

Frozen Mittens (made by combining two patterns: Basic Cuff-Up Mittens and Warm Mittens)

Unfortunately, I didn't take into account that the mittens twist a bit when you put them on (due to the placement of the thumb on the palm as opposed to the side), so the snowflake stitching is a bit off-center.  Oh well, hopefully Avery doesn't mind!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Amigurumi of 2015

I have definitely slowed down on crocheting amigurumi since I accepted the fact that it makes my hands ache, but the benefit of waiting 8 months in between blog posts featuring amigurumi is that it looks like I am somewhat prolific!  Here are the amigurumi I have created since February:

Summertime Dolls #3 and 4

Spring Bunny

Kwazii, Kwazii, and Dashi (these patterns are amazing and worth every penny!!)

Frog (I just heard that a dog munched on this and I am going to attempt some repairs...)

Race car (I'm not happy with how the wheels turned out, but it was totally user error and not the pattern's fault!)

Hippo and Lion Loveys (both of these patterns are SERIOUSLY AMAZING and were written by genius pattern designers)

Yoda (from the incredibly awesome Star Wars crochet kit!!)

Chipmunk (Holy cow, how cute is he?!?)

And presenting.... MY FIRST KNITTED AMIGURUMI!!!!!  Wow, this bunny was hard for me.  Well, harder than crocheted amigurumi, anyway.  The bunny's dress marked the first (and still only time) I have attempted any sort of color work with knitting.  I think she turned out pretty nice!

I discovered, sadly, that knitting amigurumi also hurts my hands.  So, I have determined that I need to stop knitting and crocheting items in which the yarn needs to be pulled tightly.  Sad face.  I might try another knitted amigurumi with worsted weight yarn sometime with the hope that knitting this bunny hurt my hands because I was using sport weight yarn.  Hope springs eternal.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Knitting stuff for the home (with one bonus crocheted item)

I haven't posted about my knitting and crocheting shenanigans in over 7 months, but let me assure you: the spun fiber in the state of Texas has not been lonely.  I have been knitting and crocheting so many projects that it took me a really long time to gather all the information together to being clearing out the blogging backlog.  Plus, I have lucked into joining one of the most amazing stitching groups....  I have made a bunch of new fiber friends, learned a ton about yarn and knitting, and have spent enough time immersed in the world of knitting and crocheting that Andrew has declared me to be a fiber addict.  I do not contradict him.

Anyway, when I last blogged about my fiber activities, I was just learning how to knit.  One of the reasons I decided to learn how to knit was so I could learn how to make all the amazing knit clothing patterns that I saw pop up on Ravelry.  But, I knew that I needed to walk before I could run, so I forced myself to stick to dishcloths and afghan blocks for a while.

I will be forever indebted to Margaret MacInnis, one of the most talented crochet and knit designers that I have ever seen, for cranking out a large number of beautiful 9" afghan block (or dishcloth!) patterns this past spring.  Just like the garden-themed patterns that I talked about in my previous knitting post, she presented these blocks as mystery knit-alongs in several series. Once again, I helped her test several of the patterns.  All of the patterns were fun, well-explained, and, well, FUN!  Here are the 8 afghan blocks that I made (which I might join into an afghan sometime before the end of the year):

Mystery Series III: Comedy

Block I - Gentle Twisted Ribbing

Block II - Comedy Masks

Block III - Flutter on Bye (oh my gosh, I LOVE this one!!!)

Block IV - Twisted Sisters

Block V - Hedge Hazing

Mystery Series IV: Reversibles

Block I - Furrowed Brow Cartridge Belt Rib

Block V - Road Sign

Block VI - Carbon Dating

I knitted one more dishcloth, but this one is definitely not able to be used as an afghan block pattern.  This Almost Lost Washcloth pattern is so much fun! I love how the short rows create a circular pattern.

I stitched one last item for my home...  A Chunky Crocheted Basket!  I used recycled t-shirt yarn (purchased, not made out of t-shirts I previously owned) to make this handy basket.  I also made Niki some for her birthday, but I failed to take pictures of them.  They look pretty much like this one, so you're not missing anything.

More pictures to come soon....

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Birthday presents for all ages

This summer, I made presents for four different gals -- one turning five, and three others turning, well, many years older than that.  And a couple of those presents led to little gifts for other women who weren't actually having birthdays.  Such is life.

For my sister, I sewed a bunch of project bags in which to keep her various knitting projects.  She just wanted very simple, unlined drawstring bags, and I was happy to oblige.  Here are two of the three I made, from fabric my Aunt Janet found me at her friend's garage sale:

And where is the third one?  Apparently, she GAVE IT AWAY.  Yes, it was to our grandmother, but STILL.  Hee hee.  But seriously, I fully supported the regifting --  our grandmother was visiting from Arizona and carrying her knitting project around in a plastic grocery bag.  As if!  So, when Erin came to visit me in Michigan a few weeks later, I made her another replacement bag.  This one I made with a  round bottom, so it's a little more interesting than the flat ones. The fabric was from my inherited stash.

Then, when we were in Texas a few weeks after that, Erin talked me into sewing our mom a project bag.  Apparently, Erin didn't think the bag Mom had been using (not sure what) was acceptable.  We found these cute fabrics in Erin's dusty fabric stash and I whipped one up at Erin's house one afternoon.  I seriously want more of these adorable fabrics!

For my friend Julie, I made some little zipper pouches out of oilcloth to hold her essential oils.  For those, I roughly followed this tutorial, but changed the dimensions.  I ended up making three bags, but only photographed two of them.  The third one was made from the green polka dotted oilcloth that the first two bags are sitting on in this terrible backlit photo.

When my friends Heather and Ivette saw the pouches, they immediately asked for pouches of their own.  Heather wanted one for her essential oils, and Ivette wanted one to put her camera and keys in when she goes to the beach.  I didn't photograph Heather's polka dotted bag, but here is a shot of Ivette's zipper pouch.

Next, my niece Maisie turned five years old.  She is totally obsessed with all things horse-related, so I made her a fun little tote bag for traveling with some of her herd.  It will not, however, fit the horse that NanaB gave her for her birthday.  That sucker is about two-feet tall and three feet long!  Anyhow, I had to go to three different fabric stores to find good horse fabric, so I hope she liked the bag!

Finally, last week I sewed my friend Sandra a lens cap cozy to put on the strap of her camera.  She is a professional photographer, but I have personally witnessed her shoving her camera's lens cap in the pocket of her jeans on many occasions.  Surely this will be cooler, right?  

Here is the cozy from the back, to show how where the strap feeds through.

I found the tutorial for this lens cap cozy here, but I think it originally appeared on the Crafty Staci blog.  I wasn't able to find it in her archives, which makes me think it was intentional removed.  I still want to give credit where credit is due though.