Saturday, February 27, 2016

DK Market Bag

I really didn't intend to make another market bag for a while.  I really hope you aren't bored with me talking about these crochet grocery bags.  (This is a free pattern. You will have to check out to download the pattern, but no payment is due since the cost is $0.00) I really love the design, it is fast and mindless and really helping me get through my stash.

There is one difference from the previous market bags, this one I'm making with Sirdar Crofter DK in an unknown colorway.  I last used this yarn for some two at a time toe up socks way back in 2009.  (Side note, it is crazy to see how the blog has evolved over the years.  I spend WAY more time blabbering on about stuff now than I did back then!)  The socks are nice, and fit my foot size perfectly because I made them toe up, but there is no memory in the yarn so they don't stay up on my foot very well.  I think it will be perfect for a market bag because it won't matter if the yarn can spring back. This yarn is also going to be represented in my hexipuff quilt.  With a desired 1000+ hexipuffs I think I'm about 3% done.  It is time for me to use up the rest of this yarn in my stash and give it a new home.

This particular bag is a little more bittersweet.  I started crocheting last summer when I was waiting for some medical results to come back and I really needed something to distract me.  I wanted to spin but I wasn't allowed to lift my wheel and I forgot to have Keith move it for me when he left to pick up dinner.  What could I do to distract myself?  Pick up a hook and start making another cute market bag.  (Thankfully I'm totally fine, everything was benign but it was a stressful time for us.)

I haven't made this pattern with DK weight yarn, only fingering weight.  we'll see how it comes together using a larger hook and thicker yarn.  I'm also curious what will happen when I switch balls of yarn, the color changes might be a bit abrupt.

After 10 rounds in the section before decreases, 23 g remain.  I was expecting that the yardage here wouldn't take me as far but I guess it is going well.  I can knit some more rounds to make this bag even bigger before decreasing and doing the handles.  After 15 rounds, 16 g remain.  After 17 rounds, 13 g remain and I started the decreases.

This bag is bigger than the other Sidar bags, and I used all but 6 g of the yarn.  Now this is REALLY a successful stashbusting project!  162 yards (44 g) were used for this bag.

It is really wonderful to have such a simple and effortless stashing busting project in my library.  When things are stressful I can turn to this pattern for a distraction. It is simple enough that it doesn't take a lot of attention to work on, but at the same time it has enough of a pattern to be interesting (especially when you're using a variegated yarn!)  I'm sure I'm not done with these crochet market bags.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Frozen - A Sweater for Lucky

I love knitting for Lucky.  His hat from last year still fit wonderfully so I didn't end up making him new winter accessories but I really wanted him to have a new sweater.   I intended for it to be a sweater for Christmas, but was unable to finish it until early in 2016.  (Thankfully I finished right before his baby brother was born!) 

With a baby on the way, I don't have the chance to design and test a custom sweater.  Am I silly to think that I can plan and design matching colorwork vests for Lucky, Boogaloo and Keith for next year?  Maybe I should aim for the year after that...  I purchased 5 balls of City Tweed DK in Orca ages ago with the intent to make the pattern Frozen - a simple cabled sweater that isn't like anything you can find at Carters or baby Gap.  Wow, I think I bought the yarn in last year's Cyber Monday Sale, based on when I added the pattern to my Ravelry queue!

Since I wasn't sure how much yardage I would need, I ended up purchasing a 6th ball of yarn to hold in reserve.  The sweater is knit from the top down so if the dye lot is a little off it won't be as noticable as if the sweater were constructed from the bottom up.

On size 6 (4 mm) needles, I got 21 sts/4" and 13 rows/2" which is slightly large for the sweater.  However, this doesn't bother me.  When I cast on Lucky was just shy of 25 months old at 35.5" tall and 30 lbs.  His measurements fit the 2 YO sweater size so that is what I planned to follow.  Slightly larger gauge will make the sweater last a bit longer or even fit a button down shirt underneath.   In the end this project used 3.5 skeins of yarn (175 g, 431 yards).  Frequently I weigh yarn as I go, but for something like this that uses multiple balls of one color I just waited to weigh it until the end.

This yarn is so soft.  It is an unbelievable pleasure to knit with.  I don't think I've been so excited to just sit and feel the yarn slip through my fingers in a long time.  I've been doing so much sewing recently that it is nice to sit down with a project that has some more yardage than a newborn hat.

Notes from construction
  • Issue with the wraps from shoulder shaping.  (TL;DR I should have read the instructions completely before just repeating rounds 1 and 2 twice more.)  
    • R1 - this worked great the first time I did it when there was no stitch between markers, but the next time (row with chart round 3) I wasn't sure where to put the increase.  I knit right to the marker and then did the M1R.  
    • R2 - On the 4th chart round I got t o the end.  Now it says "P1, sl BOR..."but there are two stitches between the last marker and BOR.  Instead of P1 I am going to P to maker, then slip BOR.  But then this would have me W&T in the exact same stitch as before and that can't be right.   Next I decided to try to P1, P1, (Sl BOR )W&T.  There is nothing to K to BOR.  Just SL BOR.  I don't know if this is right, but it looks consistent with the other side.  
    • Wait, this says to work wrapped stitches as you meet them but I'm wrapping one stitch BEFORE the previous wrapped stitch each time.  WTF.  Oh, it looks like I wasn't supposed to follow R1 and R2 as written for the "2 more times" but go to the wrapped stitch and then wrap two stitches past it.  ugh.  Now I'll only have to frog 1 row and a few sts, so this isn't so bad.  If I had just read the instructions COMPLETELY then I wouldn't be in this predicament.  
  • After all that concern, I have 100 sts just like I was supposed to after the short rows are done.  
  • This is where I was when I realized that I did the ribbing wrong.  I read K2tbl as "K1-tbl" so I did a 2x1 ribbing on the neckband.  If I had done the ribbing as written, my cables would have lined up perfectly with the neckband.  I don't think anyone other than me will pick up on this detail, but I feel like I need to apologize to the designer for missing something so obvious.  (I'm really on a roll with this sweater, aren't I?)  I will need to make sure to do the 2x1 ribbing on the cuffs and bottom hem, too since I'm not going to start over at this point!  
  •  At the end of the body I still had a good chunk of ball 3 remaining.
  • A bunch of my notes here went missing.... super frustrating. For the bottom of the body I knit 7 rounds of ribbing and then bound off in pattern for the 8th round. I'll do the same on the sleeves. I went past 21 cm because with luck this sweater will fit Lucky for a while... Thankfully if notes were going to get lost they got lost on the body and not the sleeves! I went a little longer than 21 cm and ended on round 4 of the chart.
  • Sleeve 1 - starting with chart round 10. To decrease every 10 rounds, I will knit 9 rounds even and then do a decrease on the 10th. (This is fairly obvious but I'm making these notes so I can follow my margin scratching if I take a long break.)
  • When picking up the stitches, I purled the last one versus knitting. Also, I picked up some extra between the picked up stitches and where the held sleeve stitches started to avoid any holes.
  • Just after the 6th decrease round on the sleeve it measures about 20 cm at this point so I'm going to go and finish a round 6 of the cable chart and then wait to try it on Lucky to see how the length works. (It worked well)
  • start arm ribbing with K1-tbl.  
At one point I had to take a break from the project for the holidays and because I was trying to finish up some holiday gifts.  When I came back to work on the sweater after a few weeks I was nervous about how I could figure out where I was in the pattern.  Thankfully I keep detailed notes in the margin of the pattern page so I knew what section I was working on AND what rows of the chart I was on.  (I have a magnetic chart keeper that I love but when put away inside my coffee table trunk the magnets could have slipped so haing the notes was super helpful.)  

I have so many in progress photos.  It was such fun trying the sweater on Lucky.  He was very interested in the needles and yarn and thought that it was great fun to try it on.  The only trouble was keeping him still enough to get a sense of the fit!

When getting this post ready to publish I realized that some of my in progress photos never got imported.  Oh well, just imagine more cuteness of Lucky in various stages of an unfinished sweater.

Lucky really liked getting a chance to hold the yarn.

As soon as I finished the sweater I could not wait to try it on Lucky, but he was sleeping.  I knew I wanted to try it on him before attempting any blocking.  

As soon as Lucky woke up I slipped it on over his PJ's.  It fits!  (Of course it fits, I tested the lengths enough!)  I ended up not blocking the sweater because it fits really nicely without it.  I worried that blocking might make the cables that run down the sleeves wonky, so I think it is perfect as is.

Keeping Lucky still enough to get some pictures of the sleeve cables was a challenge, but he will pose for raisins!  He is so proud of his new sweater, and there is just enough yarn left over that I might be able to whip up something for his baby brother... stay tuned!  

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Valentine's Day Love Bug Hat

The 3 month sized baby hat is a little large for 3 week old Rowdy.  Newborn heads grow so fast that I wanted to make sure that the hat would fit when he was a month old!

I have not designed many Crochet patterns, but I wanted to give it a shot to create something for my second son who was scheduled to arrive in February.  Little Rowdy ended up being born in January, but he is still my little Love Bug and this pattern is dedicated to my newest little Valentine.  

The hat pattern is given as one size only (3 months).  The hearts and antennea modification could easily be applied to a larger hat base (knit or crochet) for older children or even adults.  Maybe if I'm able to design more hats while Rowdy is growing I can update this pattern to include some more sizes.

  • Size H (5.0 mm) Crochet Hook
  • Worsted Weight Yarn - The sample is crocheted with KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Worsted Weight Yarn in Black (Coal: 11 g, 25 yards) and Red (24 g, 52 yards).  
  • Gauge:  15 HDC/4", 6 HDC rows /2" 
  • Size: 0-3 month 
  • Final Measurements: 14" circumference, 5" brim to crown.  If the hat is too long the brim can be raised up so you can see the baby's face. Rowdy is 3-4 weeks old in these pictures.

Abbreviations and Techniques
  • ch - chain stitch
  • SC - single crochet
  • SC3tog - single crochet 3 stitches together.  Decreasing 3 stitches to 1 stitch.  
  • HDC - half double crochet 
  • DC - Double Crochet
  • Magic Ring- A loop of yarn that you crochet into the center of to create a round piece.  In the linked video, a magic ring is used to create a circle out of DC stitches.  This hat starts with a HDC magic ring and the heart is created using different crochet stitches into the magic ring center.  
  • sts - stitches

Hat Pattern (Size 3 months) - This hat is crocheted joining the end of each round with a slip stitch.  The CH2 at the beginning of each round does not count as a stitch.
  • Round 1: Make a magic ring, CH2, 10 HDC into the magic ring (10 sts).  Join with Slip stitch to first HDC.
  • Round 2: ch 2, 2 HDC in each stitch around (20 sts).  Join with slip stitch.  
  • Round 3: ch 2, *HDC, 2 HDC in next stitch* repeat from * around. Join with slip stitch. (30 sts) 
  • Round 4: ch 2, *HDC, HDC, 2 HDC in next stitch* repeat from * around. Join with slip stitch. (40 sts)
  • Round 5: ch 2, *1 HDC into next 4 sts, 2 HDC in next stitch* repeat from * around. Join with slip stitch. (48 sts)
  • Rounds 6-14: CH2, HDC around.  join with slip stitch
  • Round 15: switch to black yarn.  Ch2, HDC around. Join with slip stitch.
  • Round 16: Ch1, SC around.  Join with slip stitch and fasten off.  

Antenna (make 2)

  • Join yarn around two of the HDC posts from round 4. Ch2, 3 HDC in the same space around both posts. 
  • Turn work. CH1, SC3tog. 
  • Turn work, CH1, SC, CH1 and join to the bottom of the SC with a slip stitch. 
  • Make one more antenna on the opposite side of the hat.  Weave in loose ends

Heart Crochet Pattern (make 2 red and 5-12 black hearts)
  • Make a magic ring. CH3, In the circle 2DC, 2SC, 1 HDC, 2 sc, 2 DC.  ch3 and.  Slip stitch closed into the magic ring and fasten off. 
  • In the end, I stitched on 5 black hearts to the front of the hat and decided to leave it at that.  I made a bunch of extra hearts but didn't want to have any others peeking out around the front.  If you want to completely cover the hat in hearts then it will take around 10-12 black hearts.
*NOTE: the yardage amounts listed above include the yarn required to make 12 black hearts!*

Stitch the red hearts hearts onto the hat and tips of each antenna.

Stitch the black hearts onto the main body of the hat.  I only ended up sewing on 5 of the hearts to the front of the hat but you could make the heart dots continue around the entire hat if desired.

Weave in all loose ends and try the hat onto your little love bug, be it a human baby or a stuffed animal.  (Lucky's buddy "Dede" usually models my infant hats but this time the model is present!  Poor Dede getting left out of the process.)

Rowdy (3 weeks old in most of the pictures) is more than happy to show off his new hat... while he is sleeping.  He's otherwise not the biggest fan of hats.  His head size is currently 14" around and there is plenty of space for him to grow into the hat.  I know that we will use it a lot this winter as the weather dips into polar vortex levels.  

This design is dedicated to Rowdy, but I have one more shout out to give today.  Happy Birthday, Keith!  Lucky and Rowdy are lucky to be your little love bugs.

These knitting pattern was created by ChemKnits for your personal or charity use. You are not to sell, distribute or reprint this pattern without the permission of ChemKnits. © 2016 ChemKnits

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Concentric Squares Pillow

Project #5 from  1, 2, 3 Sew, here I come!  I am still in the pillow chapter and am going to try to tackle the concentric square pillow.  Many of my Halloween fabrics have a larger scale prints so they would not work well for these squares.  I do have this awesome hexagonal purple Halloween fabric that I plan to use for all three squares.  I fell in love with this fabric online and couldn't wait to incorporate it into my Halloween decor.

Cutting, cutting, cutting.  I am more worried about the cutting in this project than i was the last few projects because I really want to make things square.  I plan on cutting one piece of purple fabric and getting the smaller squares from the center of it.  Wish me luck!

The book suggested folding the square into four to cut out the inner pieces.

When the moment of truth came (opening up the pieces), I was rather pleased.  I am at least starting with something that looks relatively square.

Now the next part is going to come down to my pressing abilities.  Can I fold under the edges (with mitered corners on the outside edges) and still have things look square?

I don't think it looks that bad.  The edges aren't exactly square, but since the pattern is hexagonal I think it is pretty forgiving.  Stripes or something more linear would make the imperfections more obvious.

Now it is time to pin the fabrics to the back piece to stitch things together.  I'm not sure what the best strategy is here.  I started by pinning the largest square to the back, trying my best to square it up.  I want to make sure the pattern is all in the same direction as I'm adding these to the pillow front.

I purchased some invisible thread with this project in mind, but then I heard that you shouldn't press it with an iron because it can melt.  I know that I will need to press this project after sewing on the applique, so I decided to use a blanket stitch (stitch #28 on my machine) and the black thread.  I'll stitch in the ditch so there will be very little stitching visible on the applique itself.

I didn't really like the blanket stitch, i thought it looked heavy.  I then switched to stitch #13 with .6 amplitude and .8 stitch length.  This is a zigzag/straight stitch.

I shouldn't have really worried about the clear thread.  Surprisingly (to me anyway) this didn't require pressing after the addition of each piece.  It laid really nice and flat.  I'm really proud of what I was able to do in an afternoon here!  In theory I could have finished the whole pillow this afternoon, but since we are catching a plane later today and I've never attempted button holes I want to wait until I'm fresh to learn how my machine can help me with this technique.

This project has another new technique, adding button holes.  I tried to make a buttonhole with my machine but quickly realized that I need to switch to another foot.  I wanted to practice on a scrap piece of black fabric before attempting this on my pillow.

I already had some really fun pumpkin buttons in my stash.  There is no orange on the front of the pillow but this will add some fun Halloween whimsy to the back, right?  I like that there are a variety of sizes in case I mess up the button hole sizing somehow, then I will have some options to choose from.

I kept running into errors when I tried to start my button hole.  I got some "bL" or "6L" and I couldn't figure it out.  The following video helped me out and I discovered that the buttonhole lever was NOT part of the foot, but part of the machine and needed to be lowered.

the first attempt seems a little narrow and long.  I shortened the hole a bit (you can size the button on the foot!) and made the hole a little wider.  Increasing the width (buttonhole #16) to 6.0 made a width I felt comfortable cutting.  

Next I realized something about these buttons.  These buttons are directional and I would like them to face the top of the pillow.  This means that I need the buttonhole width to match the width of the pumpkins, not the length. I'm really glad that I took the time to play with adding buttonholes with my scrap fabric before attempting on the real thing.  

You can barely see the marks I make on the fabric with the air soluble fabric marker, but I still marked where the buttons should go.  I didn't really like how far from the edge the pattern wanted me to place the buttons, so I decided to start them 1" from the hemmed edge. 

Sewing the pillow together was so fast!  

I made the pillow form myself out of a standard sized bed pillow.  I slipped the pillow into the form and buttoned the buttons and it was completed!  

The pillow is done!  I love the surprise of the glitter jack-o-lantern buttons on the the back.  I considered adding three buttons, but I thought that it might look a little too crowded.  I remember being so nervous about the arrangement of these squares but I actually feel like it turned out pretty even.  I'm super happy with how it turned out!

This pillow is a perfect little addition to Lucky's Halloween Birthday Party.  One more pillow to go and then I'm onto projects from 1, 2, 3 Sew that actually require patterns.  (I think the next one has a circle pattern piece, but ultimately it is still a pillow!)  

Project started 9.25.2015