Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Unravel the Stars

Over the Holiday weekend, I started up a new crochet project.  It's called the "Cowl-Shawl" and it was in the book "Quick and Simple Crochet Scarves".

Pretty cute, right? I started with a ball of very soft dark turquoise yarn, and jumped in.  There were 2 new stitches that I had to learn.  The first was called a  "Linked Double Crochet", and the second was called a "Star Stitch".  With the help of some YouTube videos, I got the hang of it, and started with the pattern:

The pattern starts from the bottom of the button band and works up from there.  I thought it seemed a little small, so I went up a hook size and started again.

After the second time through, I realized that this "cowl-shawl" was going to be an intense project, that is, it was not something I could breezily work on while holding a conversation, or watching TV.    I decided to start over using a neutral colored yarn so that I could get lots of wear out of it after all that work.  Here is how it looked in the new yarn color:

The Star Stitch rows were a challenge to figure out at first.  You insert the crochet hook into five different spots and draw up a loop:

Next, you draw the yarn through all six loops on the hook:

And lastly, you chain 1 to complete the bottom half of the star.

The top half of the star is created on the return row:

Things were going pretty well, until I reached the point where the cowl portion began to take shape:

I couldn't quite visualize how this was all going to turn out in the end.  For one thing, being a left handed crocheter, my increases were on the opposite side. (I didn't want to end up with a cowl that might possible have to be worn "wrong side out".)  Secondly, there was no photo or diagram in the pattern that showed what the finished piece looked like when laid flat.  (There was just this photo for reference, and much of the cowl-shawl was hidden under the model's hair:)

Finally, my hand was beginning to ache when making the star stitch rows.  I think that having to continually pull the yarn through 6 loops required just enough of an extra pull that it was overworking my fingers. It seemed like a good idea to avoid the extra workout.  With 3 strikes against it, I decided that this pattern was just not for me.  I pulled it all out.

No problem.  I already have my next pattern in mind.  I have a new pattern book that I am eager to try.  It is called "100 Quick and Easy Crochet Stitches:

The book is filled with lots of pretty swatches, each with a picture and the directions to make the pattern:

A little math is all it will take to figure out how many pattern repeats I will need to get the width of a prayer shawl.  As you can tell from the multitude of pink post-its at the top of the pages, I have found lots of inspirations!

So, the "Cowl-Shawl" is not going to happen, but I did learn a couple of cool new stitches, and it kept this crochet  "hooker" out of trouble all weekend.  :-)

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

4th of July with no Fireworks

My quilt guild is putting together a calendar with a quilt photo for each month.  Guild members could submit photos to be included in the calendar.  They had to be 16" X 20" in size, and be representative of a particular month.  My month was July.  Without any particular plan, I started out with these fabrics:

I decided to make my quilt with 4-inch blocks arranged in a 3 X 4 setting.  I chose a LeMoyne Star for my block pattern, and used Electric Quilt to come up with a design.  In my head, I was thinking "Patriotic Fireworks".

I used Deb Tucker's Rapid Fire LeMoyne Star ruler to create the blocks, and played around with various combinations of striped and solid fabrics.  Using the red/white/blue striped fabric for all eight points of the star was rather dizzying to look at.  I decided that alternate points of navy blue would be better.

I quilted around each star, and used 3/8" spaced diagonal straight lines for the background.

The  16 X 20" size limit made it difficult to do much with sashing and borders. In the end, I went with no sashing, a 1/2" red border, and a 2" border of the Fireworks fabric.

This is the only picture I have of the finished quilt.  I brought it to our June meeting, thinking I would have the opportunity to bring it back home to get better photos of it.  However, the quilts were retained by the Calendar Committee for photography.

So here it is, July 4th, and I don't have my Fireworks quilt to display.  No problem.   It will be ready for next year, though!

Hope everyone has a Happy July 4th!

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Momma's Got a Brand New Bag...

I needed a new purse, so I pulled out the pattern for the  Potato Chip Bag.   I made my first one back in 2012, following the directions as written.

Then I made another, smaller one for my mom:

With two under my belt, I went off on my own and created a third bag for my own use, larger this time, and with a few bells and whistles like zippered interior pockets,an adjustable strap,  and patchwork for the front flap and back pocket.

After much use as my day-to-day purse, the larger one started to look a little faded and droopy.  Time to make new one.   My first choice for the purse was to use what was left of this border fabric from a recent quilt project:

I fussy cut the large floral to make the front flap, and used the rest for a pocket on the back:

On the inside is a pocket sized just right for my cell phone, a zippered pocket,  a "D" ring to attach keys, and a loop for a pen.  The Potato Chip Bag.  Betcha can't make just one!

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Parent's gifts

What do you get for the parents who have everything when Mother's Day and Father's Day rolls around?  I answered that question with some homemade gifts this year.

For Dad,  I made a reversible chef's apron.  I picked two fabrics that I knew he would like.  The first was this food printed fabric with all the Italian ingredients he loves:

And for the reverse side, I chose a fabric with newspapers printed on it, because Dad reads the daily news from cover to cover every day.

I didn't remember to take a photo of the finished product, but here is a photo of one I made for him in the past and I used the same pattern:

For Mother's Day, I made my mom a case for her sunglasses.  She has a pair of those nifty wrap around sunglasses like these, that you wear over your ordinary glasses:

The glasses are too big to fit into a standard eyeglass case, and the drawstring bag that came with them offered little protection and had no personality.

I chose a multi striped fabric in her favorite peach/coral colors and quilted it with a few straight lines.

Then I added a casing to the top for the drawstring, and cut out some squares so I could box the corners:

Added a few beads just for fun:

And now Mom has a upgraded, stylish case for her sunglasses:

As crafters, we are so lucky to have the ability to make items with our own hands for the people we love.

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