So much for a matching hat

As much as I like to think I’m an invincible crafter, it’s so not true. Sometimes the stuff I make just doesn’t work out and I end up tossing it out. I wanted to make a matching striped hat to go with my scarf, and I was all ready to post it here when I got finished. But the pattern I was using just wasn’t a good one. The first hat I made was super tiny and seemed to get much wider at the end. I discovered I was using the wrong size needle and had managed to add 10 stitches by the time I got to the end. So I started over (this is like a 3-hour hat) with the correct needles and more precision with my stitch counting. Unfortunately, the final product is cute, but it doesn’t fit my head. And by the time it’s stretched out large enough to partially fit my head, it has really big holes in it, rendering it not very warm for winter weather.

So, no hat. But I have tons of hats, and I can certainly try another one when it gets closer to fall. I’m actually less in love with the idea of it matching, too. I have a cream-colored cable hat in bamboo yarn that would look good, I think. For now, I have to move on to some other projects I’ve been working on.

I also need to get moving on some wedding presents for the great wedding tour of 2008, and I have an idea for some holiday presents that I will have to start early.

So, no time to waste blubbering over a too-small hat. I did learn a new stitch, though! Reverse crochet to trim the edges. It’s twisty and cool.

Only a crazy person would make this scarf

So I started this scarf back in January, I think, with the intention to finish it by Valentine’s Day. I wanted a red/pink combination and I wanted to try making a crocheted, rather than knitted scarf. But needing to do things the hard way I decided to go with horizontal stripes, meaning that I would have to do very frequent color changes and ultimately weave in about a thousand ends.

So, six months later I finally finished it. Truth be told, it only took me less than a week to do the bulk of the work once I got determined to finish what I started. But it was as labor intensive as it looks. If anyone has a suggestion for making something with lots of color changes less painful, I’d love to hear it.

To save some finishing time I crocheted over the end strand of each new color so that I would only have to weave in the end of the old color. Does that make any sense?

Now I think I’ll make a hat to go with it. I found a pattern that I should be able to convert. When I get it finished I’ll put both patterns on the blog so you (should you decide to lose your mind) could make this, too.

Rediscovering: yarn!

I blame Brianne for the fact that I almost peed my pants at work today thinking of how exciting it would be to get back to knitting/crochet projects. Am I an 80-year-old woman in a 27-year-old’s body? I think so.

But seriously. I pretty much tossed my knitting bag into hiding as soon as the temperature hit 50 and haven’t thought about it until she talked about knitting a cable scarf today. I kind of go nuts when I’m working on things that involve yarn, resulting in burnout by the end of the hat/scarf wearing season. Just ask Mike — it is yet another example of my obsessive-compulsiveness.

But even though it’s July and (supposed to be) hot as hell, I’m ready to pick up where I left off. I started clicking through the Lion yard Web site at all their mostly free patterns and I just couldn’t stop. I got so excited. I don’t know what it is about knitting and crochet (especially since I end up not liking and getting rid of half the things I make) but I just love watching those projects come together and thinking how cool it is that I made something myself. I guess I live for that project that turns out even better than you imagined and attracts a lot of you made that? type comments. It’s crafting crack and I can’t get enough.

Soooo, when I get done with my photo framing project and my super top secret craft-to-sell idea I’m cooking up you better believe I’ll be at Michael’s stuffing yarn balls into a basket and squealing like a ‘tween.

At long last, a crafty project

I’ve been working on some photo projects lately. I realized that I have tons of photos, but hardly any displayed in my house. I’ve also been working on collecting some older family photos (and hopefully I’ll get some from Mike) to display. I’ve scanned in a few, and hope to just print them out on glossy paper.

For now, I started with my photos from Europe last summer. I got prints made in different sizes (I use Snapfish and have always been happy with it) and then bought some inexpensive frames at Michael’s. I made a sort of random arrangement on the wall, thinking that Mike and I both can add to it with other sort of artsy photos we’ve taken.

My other project was to hang some ads from old magazines that I’ve had for AGES. Way back when I saw a cute idea in Blueprint (sniff, sniff) to hang them in sheet protectors and tack them to the wall. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to find 11X14 sheet protectors without ordering the ones they suggest, which are not much cheaper than buying frames.

So I found some at Office Depot that were 9X12, and trimmed the edges off the ads so they would fit. Not an ideal solution, but these are not pricey works of art, and I’m not even sure how long I’ll keep them.

They are hilarious, though.

Bamboo cable knit hat

As a person who admittedly likes everything just-so, I like to have a hat and a pair of gloves in the pockets of all of my winter coats. I’m very likely to forget one or the other if I just grab a coat out of the closet. And I have lots of coats. So when I bought my newest coat, a long, black pea coat, I had a cute striped scarf and gloves but no hat. I have to knit another hat? Darn. I actually really needed something crafty to work on after a month of crazy weather, busy work and insane shopping trips.

I decided I wanted a super soft cream colored hat and I found the perfect yarn for it at Michael’s. It’s actually bamboo, which makes me even happier. I like to use sustainable materials when possible.

Anyway, I used the pattern for a basic cable hat from “Stitch ‘n Bitch Nation.” My yarn was labeled bulky, but it really isn’t much thicker than the Lamb’s Pride worsted I used the last time I made the hat. Plus, I have a big head. So the only adjustment I made was to add a couple of rows after the cabling was done because I wanted it slightly longer. It worked beautifully.

My first (big) blanket: finished!

So, 140 little squares later my blanket is finished. Sewing the squares together was not difficult, but it was tedious and it left a million little ends to deal with. I never really feel good about the ends hanging out, even if I have weaved them in, but oh well. That’s what makes something handmade.

Since I altered the color scheme I really didn’t know how this blanket would turn out. But I have to say, I love it. It achieved the effect I wanted, which was a blanket that was both old school and modern.

I’m now formulating some ideas for more granny square projects, possibly even some to sell.

My first (big) blanket

Months ago when I knew I was about to be laid up in bed for several weeks I decided to make a crocheted blanket. Well, that plan failed miserably, as the medicines I took knocked me out and made concentration on a craft all but impossible. But I did start the blanket, and I kept at it, picking it up every few weeks and making a few more squares. It’s a typical granny square afghan, except that it’s arranged in blocks of color. I adapted the pattern from on in my old fave, the Happy Hooker book. Theirs was supposed to resemble the pattern that appears when your TV goes out.

I preferred the softer colors, specifically the ones in Cotton Ease yarn. So that’s what I used. At full price it’s a lot of money ($4.99 a skein), but I was able to find it on sale for $3 a skein a couple times at Michael’s.

At first the little squares took ages. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to follow the directions in the pattern for each square, or the one I learned on, which appears earlier in the book. Basically the difference is whether your center ring should be 4 or 6 stitches. I ended up going with 4.

Now I am nearly done with the squares and just have to sew it all together. The finished blanket is actually kind of small, more of a throw, but I’m proud of it all the same. And I’ve got to wrap it up as I’ve got aplenty of homemade Christmas gifts to get to work on.

Office additions

When I get a chance (read: a few extra bucks) I try to upgrade my office/craft room a little. I got one of those 3×3 cubes from Target with the fabric drawers, which helped a lot. But I’m already in need of another one. So until I can get that put together, I’ve been focused on the walls.

I added these cork tiles (only $5.99 for 4 at Target) because I like them more than a plain cork board.

They are also great for showing off my little thumb tacks made with fabric covered buttons.

I also stole yet another idea from Real Simple and put up a piece of grosgrain ribbon to hold postcards and other fun mail with little clothespins.

My next plan is to add that second 3×3 cube and fill it with see-through jars filled with buttons, ribbon, and other supplies I can’t see when they’re shoved in a drawer.

Scrapbookery

I’ve never considered myself a scrapbooker. I don’t go down that aisle. I don’t do stamping. I do not need a super duper puncher thingy.

But let’s face it. If you’re crafty and you need to make a photo album, you’re gonna scrapbook the hell out of that thing.

After my recent trip to Europe I made what I would call an album/scrapbook hybrid. It’s mainly photos with minimal labeling and a few ticket stubs/maps/etc. thrown into a straightforward red canvas book with 12×12 pages (Martha at Michael’s, of course).

I had a booklet describing the different stops on my cruise, so I grabbed the place names from each page to divide the sections.

I stuck the photos on with cheap-y photo corners that proved difficult to use, to say the least. But I like the way photo corners look.

I thought the pages looked a little dull so I added some decorative tape here and there. I thought the patterns looked sort of Mediterranean.

Then, in the front I tucked in my travel journal. It’s just a little Moleskin lined notebook that I about half filled. I created a little pocket for it by cutting the backing off just the edges of a piece of decorative tape and sticking it down over the notebook.

Doris Daymat

I’ve spent the last two weeks in bed recovering from back surgery, and I thought that meant I’d have two weeks to devote to crafting. Well, not so much.

Though I had plenty of time and was bored out of my mind, I was also doped up on Vicodin. Which makes you feel a little bit drunk all the time. Not so good for the motor skills. I bought five skeins of yarn to make a blanket with my newly learned granny square skills, but I didn’t even touch them.

I did, however, complete one project, and that’s cute little “Doris Daymat.”

The pattern comes from Stitch ‘n Bitch Happy Hooker. I made several changes to it. First of all, I didn’t want to use jute and twine from the hardware store, as the pattern calls for, because I read it was slippery, and I already had yarn in the 3 colors needed for the flowers. God knows I don’t need any more yarn (even if it is twine).

At the craft store (Michael’s to be specific) I found some thick nylon yarn that’s used for some other craft project. They had the exact green color I needed so I bought 2 rolls. Later when I needed 2 more rolls I went on a wild goose chase for it because that store was out. But I finally found it.

One type of flower turned out to be super easy to make. I could make these all day long.

The others were ridiculously hard. So much so that I made two and gave up. But that seemed plenty. Because I was using bigger yarn I had to use the smaller needles to get a similar sized flower. But that meant it was almost impossible to make the petals, which required getting 3 and 4 stitches into one stitch.

All in all it’s a little misshapen, but I love it. And no one better walk on it!