Saturday, December 31, 2011

Potholder Palooza!

Wow, are holidays bad for getting blog posts up!  Sorry about that. I did spend the holidays creating though, so more patterns will be forthcoming very soon.  I may even put up a few extra posts a week to make up for my lag, assuming I remember.  

Anywho, as you may have noticed from the title of this post, I've switched gears a bit.  Wearables are being set aside in favor of some useful household tools.  In this case, it's potholders. 

The most obvious question is, why potholders?  There are tons of patterns out there for potholders and trivets because, lets face it, they're usually squares or circles and it takes next to no thought to make a circle or a square.  There are, of course, exceptions that can be found where someone got super creative and made an awesome trivet or potholder.  Those do tend to be thin on the ground, though.  The real answer is, my mom needed new potholders and I needed stocking stuffers (hence this being posted now.  I couldn't very well put up a post about mom's presents before she got them.  That would have been silly.).  Which brings up the second question, why not just go buy some?  The answer there is also pretty simple.  Store bought potholders suck.  They are way too thin, tend to be made from really cheap fabric, and don't hold up well to the standard abuse kitchen things get.   Mom and I are pretty rough of kitchen linens, they get changed out and washed often in the hottest water we can manage and usually get bleached as well.  Tea towels and potholders just don't stand up to that well for long anymore, but kitchen cleanliness is important enough that we aren't just going to stop washing them in the most sanitary manner possible. 

Once I started thinking potholders I needed to know what is expected from a potholder so that I could make one with all the necessary characteristics.  That process always makes me laugh.  I feel so ridiculous thinking "what do I expect from a potholder?" and "what should my potholder be able to do?" that I just start giggling.  I mean seriously, it's just a potholder. Still, if it doesn't do everything it's supposed to, what's the point?

My potholders need to be able to do a few things.  Primarily they need to be sturdy enough to stand up to kitchen abuse while maintaining their ability to protect hands and counters.  It's a plus if they look nice. Whether or not a potholder is pretty has no bearing on how well it does it's job, it's an extra in case you have to use it in front of people or accidentally leave it out.  The other two are the important part.  If the pot holder is going to protect anything it needs to be thick enough to do so.  I hate it when you get stuck holding a cookie sheet longer than you expected because you've eagerly removed the tray from the oven and realized you have no where to put the thing.  Then the heat starts coming through the oven mitt or potholder you're holding it with and your choices quickly become drop the tray, and everything on it, or stuff it back into the oven, which is still warm, and possibly overcook whatever you're making.  Anything that you use that way should be insulated enough for that not to happen.  Washable for me and mom means the potholder in question needs to be able to stand up to some pretty harsh washing conditions.  Super hot water and bleach on a weekly basis will tear up a bunch of stuff so it's got to be able to withstand that or it's useless.  At this point I know what I'm making; a super thick, ultra sturdy uber pot holder.  Now I have to decide how to make it.

Crochet gives more insulation than knitting, so I used crochet.  Using two strands of yarn together gives more insulation so I did that too.  I had to use a natural fiber type for the yarn because synthetics can melt if they get hot enough and I'm too lazy to test the yarn at varying temps to see what happens.  Who wants to make something that might melt?  Of the natural fibers, bamboo and silk are too expensive for something like this which leaves wools and cotton.  We wash kitchen things in super hot water so wool would be a bad plan, it felts and shrinks too easily, so cotton it is.  The cheapest and most easily available cotton yarns are Sugar 'n Cream and Peaches 'n Cream (the sort of knock off brand).  Happily, they come in lots of nice colors so they should work just fine.

The only thing left is to actually make the bloody things.

A quick note here, and I'll repeat this on all my pot holder patterns, if you save the left over yarn from this project you can use it for scrubbies (coming soon) later.  Trust me, you'll like them (they're awesome!).

Right, all the random rambling over and done with.  On to the pattern!

 Lyssa's Super Potholder Set

2  balls Sugar n Cream in blue
2 balls Sugar n Cream in green
I hook

Gauge: In pattern 5 st =2 inches (5 cm)

This pattern will make either 2 super thick pot holders plus 1 regular pot holder OR 5 regular pot holders. 

Potholder base size 1, make 1 in each color
Holding two strands together throughout, ch 22.
Row 1: In third chain from hook work 1 sc.  Work (Dc, sc) across work ending on a dc.  Ch 1, turn.
Row 2: Work (dc, sc) across ending on a sc.  Ch 2, turn.
Row 3: Work (sc, dc) across ending on a dc.  Ch 1, turn.

Repeat rows 2 and 3 until piece measures about 8 inches (20 cm), bind off.

Hold the two pieces together and work a sc border around the entire piece using 3 sc in each corner. (Skip this step if you want 5 pot holders)

Potholder base size 2, make 1 in each color
Holding 2 strands together throughout, ch 24
Work as for base size 1, including joining step.

Measures about 8 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches (22x22 cm)

Striped potholder
Holding 2 strands together throughout, ch 22.
Work as for the other sizes, changing colors every 4 rows.
This piece does not have a border, I ran out of yarn before I could edge it.
Measures the same as the base size 1 potholder.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Super Simple Scarf

I had a ball of yarn to play with at lunch one day.  I was working on other ideas so I didn't want to do anything really complicated.  Simplicity sometimes gives you really good results, so I kept it simple.  This particular scarf is so easy to make that it doesn't even really need a pattern.  I'll give you one, of course, but it's another that can be easily modified. I know, I know, it's a rectangle.  I couldn't think of an interesting way to make another shape and wanted something easy so the super simple scarf looks like a normal scarf.  The fabric of the scarf is a very simple pattern stitch that I haven't used in a few years.  I came across it in a few of the crochet books I got from my grandma.  The pattern is called a double stitch and, for some reason, it doesn't seem to be widely used an I'm not really sure why.  It's no more complicated than your average single or double crochet, doesn't noticeably use more yarn,  and it makes a really nice texture.  I made two blankets for friends with this stitch a few years ago and I was very pleased with the look and the warmth of said blankets.  Still, even searching Ravelry for it turned up a designer called Double Stitch (they've got some neat looking stuff, by the way) but nothing that was obviously the stitch pattern.  All Google found was how to make double crochets, not the stitch pattern.  I find it odd because usually the internet knows about more obscure patterns and things.  Not in this case, it appears.  Who knows, maybe it will gain some traction.  I know I like it, maybe you will too.

Super Simple Scarf

I learned to tie tie knots for this one because it's so long.  I like the look it gives.

Naturally Caron Spa yarn, 1 ball per scarf size.
K hook 

12 sts in pattern = 3 inches (7 1/2 cm)

Stitch pattern:
Double stitch- You work this stitch form like you're making overlapping single crochet decreases.  For an example, if you have 4 stitches you ch 1 then bring up yarn (as you do to make a sc decrease) in sts 1 and 2 then pull through 3 loops.  You then bring up yarn in sts 2 and 3 and draw yarn through all three loops, then 3 and 4, and finally 1 sc in st 4.  The last 1 sc is essential, it's what keeps your piece from decreasing.
Bringing yarn through first and second stitch
Completing the double stitch by pulling through all 3 loops

Close up of double stitch pattern

Mini Scarf
ch 9.  In the second chain from the hook start the double stitch pattern and work it back and forth until the scarf is your preferred length.  I was using up yarn so mine is super long, a whole 84 inches (213 cm).

Wide Scarf

ch 13  and work as you did for the mini scarf.   This one I made a bit more reasonable, it's only 59 inches long (150 cm).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lacy Honeycomb Afghan

It's done! My bright yellow project is done!  Sadly, it isn't as large as I was hoping it would be.  I used the Sayelle yarn my friend had given me and, as it was in finite quantity, so was the resulting afghan.  It is, however, large enough to count as and afghan or blanket.  For that I'm grateful.  Especially since I had hoped for a bright yellow afghan to go on the bright purple couch that I want.  Yes, I've found furniture.  It's somewhat custom made so I won't be ordering it for a while since having it delivered during snow storm season seems like a bad plan.  In the mean time I have a happy yellow blanket to add to my collection of winter nesting materials.

Lyssa crocheted, cat approved.  I don't think there's a more compelling argument for the snuggly-ness of this one, even if I thought it needed it!  (-:

I have been struggling a bit with other pattern designs though.  All the dreary, cold days seem to be sapping my creativity.  Plus I tried to get a cold earlier this week, though I managed to fight it off with the cunning use of sudafed. It worked, which is good because being sick doesn't help with the creative process and I need all the creativity I can get.  I really want to create another blanket pattern, too.  The purple couch gets the yellow blanket, but my bright green loveseat is going to need a blanket too.  I'm thinking either bright blue or fuchsia.  I would prefer the fuchsia, but I'm not sure I can find enough affordable yarn in a bright enough shade.  I shall have to go yarn hunting soon. 

Lacy Honeycomb Afghan

approx 9 skeins (36 oz) Sayelle yarn.  Sayelle is discontinued and I do not have yardage information on it.  Red Heart or I Love This Yarn should be roughly comparable.
I hook

Finished size:
51x60 inches  (130x152 1/2 cm)

Motif Gauge: 
4 inches (10 cm) flat side to flat side and 5 inches (12 1/2 cm) point to point.

Motif pattern:
ch8, join into a ring
Round 1:  18 hdc in the ring, join
Round 2: ch 7, sk 2 sts, dc.  Ch5, sk 2 sts, dc* around join last ch 5 to the second chain of the ch7(makes 6 loops)
Round 3: ch2 , 2 dc.  ch3, 3 dc.  (3dc, ch3, 3dc) in next 5 loops.  Join to the ch 2, break off.

Make 1 pattern motif.  When you reach round 3 on the second motif, join it to the first one by (ch 1, sc to the other motif, ch1) in place of the ch3.  Your first row will only have 2 joins per motif.  Once you start working the second row your motifs will have between 2 and 4 points where they will connect.  Make 13 motifs for you first row, 14 of the second, 13 for the third, and so on until you have 7 rows of 13 and 6 rows of 14 for a grand total of 175 motifs.  I recommend weaving in ends as you go for this one, it's less to fuss with later.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Snow Flowers

Being a desert child anything that takes the bright, shiny, warm sun away is horrible.  Cold is to be avoided at all costs.  As is snow, ice, and other bits of cold that try to follow you about.  Snow should be decently kept in the mountains where it can be visited and then left behind.  This whole covering my house thing, after 15 years I'm still not OK with it.  The only good thing about cold is that I can wear lots of things made from yarn and I am a big fan of that.  But lately I've been feeling the icy grip of winter tightening on the world.  In other words, it's been freaking cold!

Gift giving is also approaching, which works nicely for the yarn stuff, talk about convenient.  It's cold, gifts are needed, and I play with yarn.  (-:  I don't really get into the whole Christmas thing though.  Halloween is my holiday of preference, so you won't see Santas or things like that around this site.  It just isn't my thing.  However, since it is other people's thing so I've done something I don't do terribly often.  I actually tried to care what other people think.  I'm not very good at it.  I have an independent streak several miles wide.  Seriously.  I once got sent to the counseling office because I refused to stop wearing mismatched socks and shoes.  (Long story short, the other girls at school told me I was "too old" to wear colored socks.  I took it to the nth degree because it pissed me off and wound up wearing unmatched socks, shoes, and shoe laces. Then they tried to tell me to 'be normal' or they wouldn't be my friends.  Needless to say, we ceased being friends that day.)

So yeah, doing things because other people like them has never been my strong suit.  But before you get the wrong idea, I do absolutely love it when people like, or seem to like, my ideas and creations.  Especially if they make the thing and like the finished object.  I find it very exciting to share ideas that way.  But, if people don't like them it doesn't really matter to me; I make things because I think they're neat and I like them.  You can see why it's challenging for me to go along the path of what other people think.  But, I'm also not the kind of girl who can see a challenge and walk away.  So here goes!  My first attempt at making something because I thought other people might like it and not just because I thought it was a neat idea.  I've taken up the glove that winter has thrown down and dueling in the way that is most unexpected.  I'm going with a winter themed scarf, inspired by snow, and made in the color I usually avoid as assiduously as pink and orange; white.  (I avoid pure white things because I look terrible in white; I'm much too pale for that pale a color.  Plus, white is so hard to keep clean and looking nice)  This is what I came up with.

Snow Flower Scarf

1 ball Vanna's Choice yarn
I hook

Gauge- Each 6 point flower measures 6 inches (15 1/4 cm) across, the 5 point flower is about 5 1/2 inches (14 cm)

5 Pointed Flower Motif (for the ends)-
 make 1 to start

Ch 8, join in loop.
Round 1: 16hdc in loop
Round 2:  Hdc, 2hdc in one st* around plus 1 hdc, join. (25 sts )
Round 3: Ch 8, skip 4 sts, join to 5th st with slst.* repeat around, join.
Round 4: In each loop work (1 sc, 2 hdc, 3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc, 2 hdc, 1 sc). Join and break off.

6 Pointed Flower Motif and joining

Ch 8, join in loop.
Round 1: 16hdc in loop
Round 2: Hdc, 2hdc in one st* repeat around, join.(24 sts)
Round 3: Ch 8, skip 3 sts, join to 4th st with slst* repeat around, join.
Round 4:In the first two loops work (1 sc, 2 hdc, 3 dc, ch 1, sc in ch 3 loop of the previous piece, ch 1, 3 dc, 2 hdc, 1 sc).  Then continue working 1 sc, 2 hdc, 3 dc, ch3, 3dc, 2 hdc, 1 sc in each of the remaining 4 loops. Join and break off.

Repeat this until you have 1 five point flower on the end and 9 six pointed flowers.  To finish make a 5 pointed flower joining as for the 6 point flowers.

Blocking may be necessary to keep the petals from curling.

This pattern doesn't take terribly long to finish, it looks far more complex than it really is.  I also really dig not having to sew the thing together.  This scarf gave me some of the ideas for my 'mystery' yellow project.  Moving away from circles to more pointy geometrics seems to have been a good idea.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Project Updates

Oh man have I been busy with the crafting!  Of course, not all of it is stuff I should be working on (like presents for people.  Oops!).  I got this huge creativity brainwave though and I'm super excited about it.  More on that in a bit.  Since I don't have a pattern ready for today, here are some flowers just for you.

Hehe, I told you I like bright colors.  That's in my office and yes, all four walls are that color.  You wouldn't believe how long I had to play with my camera before it would get the colors right.  I wound up using the "autumn leaves" setting on it, it was the only one that didn't get the screaming heebie jeebies when pointed at my walls.

Anywho, the great yellow project is trucking along.  I may even name it one of these days.  It's working out really well, though, and I'm quite happy with it.  I am still a bit concerned about running out of yarn.  I've gone through about half of what I have so far and it's made of a discontinued yarn, with a dye lot no less, so it isn't like I can go find more.  I think there's enough but I won't know for a while longer yet.  Just for fun, have another teaser pic.

I have a new scarf pattern almost ready for posting.  It's one I plan on entering in the Vanna's Choice contest, actually, and it's really pretty.  I'm having a fiendishly hard time getting decent pictures of it though.  I'm not sure why but my camera seems to hate it so I've been having to try all manner of different lighting conditions.  Once I get some good shots I'll post it, hopefully that will be later this week.

I've got another 2 or 3 patterns that I'm working on as well  I'll try to get them finished and written pretty quick seeing as how gift giving is nigh and they might help someone out.  There's a hat pattern floating around somewhere too, but I'm not entirely sure how to describe what I did so we'll see how that goes.

Now then, on to my brainwave!  I went surfing the web for interesting geometric patterns, and I found some.  I do have plans for a fair number of geometric patterns, but the one I'm really keen on is going to take forever to chart out.  Consequently, I came up with something else.  I saw this wonderful geometric pattern and I knew it had to become a scarf.  Now, I don't want to give away the epicness too soon.  For one thing it won't look as epic as it is without having a fair bit of it made.  Making it is going to take a while too, it's done in ::sigh:: piecework.  One of these days I'm going to invent a good way to make motifs that doesn't involve having to sew them together or use fancy joining techniques.  In the mean time, here's a really blurry teaser pic for you.

I'm not sure why, but my camera really doesn't like to focus on highly zoomed things.  I suppose that's a good thing for teasers though.  I mean, if you don't want to give something away it doesn't really need to be in focus anyway.  It is kind of annoying, though.  It took me close to three hours to work out how to make the motif for it, I'm still not sure it's exactly right, and my camera just refuses to do what I want it to do.  Very irritating.  Still, it's a start.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tim, the Crocheted Scarf

You have no idea how excited I am about this particular pattern.  It took me forever to make it work.  Well, not really forever, closer to 2 weeks, but it was seriously frustrating.  Writing out the pattern took longer.  (Yes, I know I could have looked online for how other people have done similar things but I consider that cheating.)  I persevered, however, and I've got a wicked scarf to show for it.  It was well worth the fight.

I had a bit of help with this project, lol. 
I mentioned in my Movie Madness post that I was going to start making items in tribute to some of my favorite Hollywood icons.  This is one of those.  I'm sure those of you familiar with the work of this person (or those of you who know how much I love it) have probably already figured out who it is from the picture of the scarf.  Drawing from the twisted imagery that is so frequently present in his works and from his very signature play on contrasts I have designed this spiral-ish scarf in homage to Tim Burton; master of the macabre. He was a pretty obvious choice for my first go at people-themed stuff.  I love his movies, especially the ones where he had a lot of control over the story.  I mean, just look at Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Interestingly, they both include some manner of horror + Christmas.  I've always found that amusing, plus the fact that they're also love stories.  For someone who is known so well for the dark and twisty stuff it's almost surprising that the stuff he writes isn't dark and twisty deep down.  But enough of the critical analysis.  Let's get to the part you've been waiting for, the pattern!

Allow me to present, for your viewing and crafting pleasure, the Tim Scarf

Tim Scarf


Caron simply soft in black and in purple(about 1/2 a skein each), a small amount in blue

E hook- I used a small hook on purpose, it gave the best shape to the pattern without having to make huge pentagons.  The fabric will be tight, again on purpose, so that the shaping and pattern are clearly visible.

Gauge- Each pentagon should measure 3 inches (7 1/2 cm) on a side,  3 1/2 inches (9cm) from a point to flat side across from it and about 4 inches (10 cm) from a point to either point across from it.

Note:  PM= place marker, it's a notation more often seen in knitting patterns but you really need it here.   Seriously.  Don't try to make this thing without using markers, you will get lost when your attention drifts and your spirals will start to round out instead of being pentagonal. Always keep a marker in the ch 1 space, ALWAYS!  After the markers are placed on the second round you just move them up each time you make a ch 1 space.   

Spiral Pattern, make 9, 8, 1

Notes:  Work the spirals in the round without turning the work.   Color A should always be worked into Color B sts and vice versa.  You're going to make 9 spirals with black as Color A and purple as Color B, 8 more spirals with purple as Color A and black as Color B, and 1 spiral with black as Color A and blue as Color B.

With A ch 2.
Work 2 hdc in the second chain from the hook, then pull the loop large (so the yarn can't escape) and drop the color.
Join B and work 3 hdc in the same sp as the 2 hdc in color A.

Round 1:  With B work *hdc, ch1, PM, hdc* in the next 2 sts. Switch to A.  Work * to* in the next 3 B hdcs.

Round 2:  Continuing with B work *2hdc, (hdc, ch 1, hdc) in the ch 1* three times.  Drop B, pick up A and work * to * twice

Round 3: Continuing with A work *4 hdc, (hdc, ch 1, hdc) in ch 1* three times.  Drop A, pick up B and work * to * twice.

Round 4: Continuing with B work *6hdc, (hdc, ch 1, hdc) in the ch 1* three times.  Drop B, pick up A and work * to * twice

Round 5: Continuing with A work *8 hdc, (hdc, ch 1, hdc) in ch 1* three times.  Drop A, pick up B and work * to * twice.

Round 4: Continuing with B work *10hdc, (hdc, ch 1, hdc) in the ch 1* twice.  Then work 10 hdc, (hdc, ch 1, sc) in ch 1, sl st twice, break off B leaving enough of a tail to sew with later.  Pick up A and work * to * once.  Then work 10 hdc, (hdc, ch 1, sc) in ch 1, sl st twice, break off A leaving a tail to sew with later.

Once you have all your spirals made start connecting them to each other.  I stuck them in a sack and shook the pieces up and then pulled them out in a random order and sewed them together.  The assembly layout is as follows.

Hold the first spiral with a point up, so it looks kinda like a house.  The top point is point 1 and numbering for the other 4 points goes clockwise around the pentagon.  For the assembly pattern you will sew the flat between points 3 and 4 on the first spiral to the flat between points 1 and 2 on the second spiral.  The flat between points 1 and 5 on the third spiral is sewn to the flat between points 3 and 4 on the second spiral.  From there keep repeating the pattern.

Assembly Layout

I've given you a picture of what the pattern looks like, because the description is kinda scary. You can even play around with the way they connect and do it like this (which happened when I wasn't paying enough attention to what I was doing):

It was an oops, but at least it was an attractive oops!