Thursday, December 4, 2014

Mickey Mouse

Another afghan from "Aunt Debi" and wow did I have a blast making this one!

The mom-to-be (due in January 2015) is a big Disney fan.  Anyone who is a fan of Disney like my niece Laura just has to have a Mickey Mouse blanket in their nursery.

I found the pattern through a diligent search of Pinterest.  Here is the link that was generously shared by a fellow crocheter:

While there were not many colors in this one, because of the spacing, I had multi-attachments of the same color.  The area of the hands and buttons was the worst as far as having multiple lines of yarn attached.

HEre's a photo of what I was working with.  Notice I had nine (NINE!) attachments of black yarn, three attachments of white yarn and two attachments of gray yarn .... all at the same time!

It got to the point that I could only work on this while stretched out on the single bed in our second bedroom because I needed the space to spread out the multiple balls of yarn.

If you've never worked with multiple colors, here is a video clip that walks you through how to do it.

As I flipped the afghan over to start a new row, the yarns, of course, became pretty tangled up.  Thanks to a fellow crocheter on Facebook, here's the trick I learned.  As the afghan develops, fold up the bottom and place all of the attached balls of yarn inside this "pocket".  At the end of a row, flip the folded afghan over with all of the yarns tucked neatly inside the pocket and they won't get all flipped around and tangled up.  Over 40 years of crocheting and I'm still learning fun tricks!!

The afghan size, as you can see from the first photo, is the size of a single bed. This photo is my nephew holding it up (you can see his toes at the bottom!). 

I started by crocheting a chain of 103 stitches, using a size "H" hook.  My yarns were all Lion Brand Yarns, Wool-Ease.   I'd guess I have about 25-30 hours in this one.  Unlike "Miss Vivian's" afghan (in an earlier post), this one is easy enough that I'll probably make this one again!

I worried about it being too small, but as someone pointed out, if a bigger afghan is needed, then a border or edging can be added to make it as large as needed!  Smart idea!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bathroom Decor Projects

Here are some quick simple things to make as gifts or for a craft show.  If you like to change the d├ęcor of your bathroom, this is a great way to make seasonal decorations.

I found the  FREE PATTERN HERE .  I made a number of them, with my own variations, of course (like I always do!) and donated most of them to my sister-in-law’s United Way consignment shop, where the sales benefit the Salvation Army and other programs.  I didn’t add the ribbon.  I just left the design open.

The long holders took me two or three nights in front of the television.  The toilet paper cover (back of the toilet) was finished in a couple of hours.  When I say “quick project”, I’m not kidding.  These are so fast and easy to make.

These extra holders are great for more than just toilet paper rolls.  Hang one by your sink or close to the shower and store rolled up washcloths or small hand towels.

Photo compliments of ""

Here is another pattern  (CLICK HERE FOR SINGLE ROLL PATTERN) for a single roll holder, as shown in this pic (this one was not made by me….. it is the ‘model’ in the referenced link.)

This is my Halloween or Fall set.  The toilet paper cover that sits on the back of the toilet comes from  THIS FREE PATTERN.

I love the Christmas Set.

The cover on the back of the toilet was yet another one of my “made it up as I go” projects.  Basically, I started the project like I would a scarf, using the double crochet stitch.  When it was large enough to wrap around a roll of toilet paper, I just connected the two ends together.  I crocheted the hat (again, freelancing it) and was happy to find the ‘fuzzy’ trim that I crocheted onto the outer edge for the Santa effect!

I sewed little beads on the white portion of the holder to make the center look like bells.

And of course, living in Indianapolis, I had to do an “Indianapolis 500” race design of black and white!

To hang them I used the removable hangers, as shown here. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Jacob's Ladder Afghan

This afghan pattern is called “Jacob’s Ladder” and when I saw a photo of one, I instantly had to find out how to make one.  Here is the pattern I used to get me started: 

I deviated a bit from it as I didn’t like so many bump-parts of the design.  I wanted those to be the accent of the finished afghan.  (If you follow my work at all, you know I RARELY actually follow a pattern the way it is written.  I almost always make my own design changes in about everything I make!)

This is a blanket for my niece who is expecting her third child.  I felt pretty safe using these colors because there are no girls in their family.  She already has 2 sons and her husband’s brother is expecting their first baby …. a boy.  Wouldn’t you know it that when I’m over half done with this, she finds out it is a girl!  Oh well.  As I tell people, “Girls wear blue all the time!” 

I used one skein of the blue (with lots left over), 4 of the white and 8 of the multi-color.  However ….. I used 2 strands of yarn when crocheting with the multi-color so if you used just a single you won’t need near as much.  Size “H” crochet hook.

There are some things about the pattern I just love and some things you have to think about.  I love that I can easily figure out how many beginning stitches to make and still have the pattern come out right.  (Don’t you just hate it when you have 3 or 4 extra stitches at the end of your first row because of miscounting or miscalculation?).

The bump part of the design is actually 10 chains that are twisted together and braided.  The instructions in the pattern were pretty easy to follow.  

Knowing that, I was able to easily count my stitches for length.  The wide parts of my afghan are 30 stitches, so I just counted off 10 for the first solid section + 10 for the chain-10-braid + 30 for the next solid section +10 for the chain-10-braid  …….. and so on. 

The part you have to think about is the blanket will shrink in actual size once you do the twisting/braiding part.  The chain-10 are about 2-1/2 inches wide but once they are twisted they are only ½ inch wide.  You will lose two inches in width for every braid in your design.

But spend a few minutes thinking it through and you will be fine.  This is illustrated very well in these two before-and-after photos of the afghan laid out on the bed.  Notice how much extra bed is exposed in the after-photo.

The "before" measurement was 48 x 58.

The "After" measurement was 48 x 43.

I was concerned the bump in the design would be hard to lay on but was happily surprised to find it is just as soft as the yarn being used.  No worries after all!

This pattern is very easy, even though it may look a little complex to beginners.  So beginners ….. give this one a try and your family and friends will rave over your expertise and talent!!

It is about to become my Go-To pattern.  I’m planning one where I make the afghan all one color and the braids a different color.  Can’t wait to see how that turns out!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Spoke Doily Variation Update

As promised, I made the smaller "coaster" size doilies to go with the larger spoke doily in my last blog entry.

I used the same thread but with a size 10 needle.  Each one took me only a couple of hours.  (I have to confess I had about three hours invested but that included refilling my glass of tea and then multiple trips to the bathroom!)

I love them on my glass top coffee table and I love that they are slightly larger than the standard coaster.  Smaller candles fit beautifully on them.

Here are two photos.  One with just the doilies and then a second one to display how my coffee table is set up with the set.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Spoke Doily Variation

I've made a few doilies using this spoke doily pattern ((CLICK HERE for the pattern).  I have a couple on the coffee table and a couple of smaller versions (smaller needle, smaller thread) that we use as coasters.  But they were "use up the leftover thread" projects and don't really match.  

Here is a photo of the dolly as made according to the pattern found on the above link (I did not make this one ..... it is a photo from the website referenced above):  

I like the pattern and wanted a set for my large coffee table.   So here is the variation I made using the above pattern as my inspiration:

Using standard crochet thread (Aunt Lydia's size 10) and a size 7 metal crochet needle, I started out with the spoke pattern but at the end of the flat-topped spoked, I continued, using a decreasing dc and turned the flat-ended spokes into points.  I continued with the "dc-ch3" but didn't want just a lot of blank space, so I added the mini-pineapples in the (what I call the) outfield. The green trim near the outer edge is when I went back to the original pattern and finished it up.

Like many of my projects, this was a "make it up as you go".  One day I just HAVE to remember to write down what I'm doing as I do it!

A large glass candle display will sit in the center of this.  I plan to make four or six small ones to use as coasters.  Photos to follow, of course!

Maybe I'll crochet a basket out of seafoam green bedsheet strips to keep the coasters in.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Simple Multi-Purpose Bag

Even though I have been crocheting over 45 years (since I was seven years old), I'm still learning new things.  

A couple of years ago, I figured out how to change colors in a pattern without doing the cut-n-knot thing.  

Here are some samples of bags I designed.  The one thing I am bad at, however, is that I rarely record a pattern.  I just start crocheting and create the pattern as I go.  So there is no pattern for most of these.

I started with a basic bag pattern that I found CLICK HERE as a free pattern on Lion Brand Yarns website.  I then just adjusted the center of the bag with the pattern I wanted.

Here are some of the bags I created using the above pattern as my base:

This one I made for my daughter,
who was a Mary Kay consultant
at the time.

On the inside I added a pocket and a ring to hold keys.  It is nice to have a great big bag but we all know the horror of trying to find something in the bottom of it.  The ring was to be able to hook a key ring on it (I use a "D" ring for my keys) and the pocket was a great place for my cell phone.

When I added the pocket, the first problem I encountered was it was hard to see the pocket that was the same color as the bag.  So I started added a top edge of a different color to make it easy to see.

These bags are really strong!  While a full time college student (I went back to college at the age of 50), I would carry 2 textbooks, my lunch, a couple of cans of Coke, plus all of the regular purse stuff.  When  I connected the strap, I made it a little longer so I could overlap the two sides, created a nice padding on my shoulder.

Anyone can use these as a gift!  They are universal and provide a wide array of uses, such as school supplies, overnight bags, a place to carry games and toys on a car trip.

Miss Vivian's Afghan - Block Square with a Pattern

I love making afghans for the new babies in our family.  I try to actually have them made by the baby shower, but Miss Vivian, the recipient of this one, was three months old before I got it to her.  It took much longer than I thought.  Not because of the difficulty but because I used a smaller thread and needed to make over six times as many squares.

The original pattern (HERE ) that inspired this design used an "E" hook and (regular size yarn) to make a blanket of 6x6 squares.  This blanket, assuming an average of one hour per square including connecting, would have taken me about 36 hours.  (See my previous blog entitled "Size Matters".)

The blanket I made for Miss Vivian was 15x15 squares (225 total), using very small yarn and a size "E" hook.  The yarn was oh so soft and tiny!  It was given to me and I searched the internet to find additional balls of it because I just fell in love with it.  

The finished afghan took over 200 hours (average of 45 mins to make each square plus connection time) and is made of over 2 miles of this thread.  I laid out the pattern using Excel ...... making just a lot of squares then labeling each one with "W" for white and "M" for multi-colored.  My memory is vague on the number of balls I used.  I had some on hand that had been given to me.  I ordered more online.  I ran short and had to order more online.  So I THINK I used 10-12 balls of white and 6-8 balls of color.  (I promise to keep better track on future projects!)

I kept the multi-colored squares to a minimum as variegated thread/yarn tends to makes a project look "busy".  I wanted the color to be just an accent and not the focal point.

Putting it together was fun!  I took over the extra bedroom and laid it out according to the pattern I had created on the Excel spreadsheet.  I didn't wait until the very end to put it all together.  I would attach squares when I got 15 or 20 of them done.

Adding the multi-colored ruffle made such a difference as you can see in this "with and without" corner photo:

The ruffle enhanced the color without making it overbearing.    The border I found online is called "Cathedral Edging" and the pattern/pic can be seen (HERE) and is a free Ravelry download.  I made a few adjustments on this pattern, though.

I wanted the ruffle to be a big softer so I used a larger hook (a "G" size) on the ruffle.  The Cathedral Edging called for a total of 8 treble crochets in each point (4 tr, ch-3, 4 tr) but that was a bit too big. So with some experimentation (and a few unravelings!) I settled on a total of 6 double-crochets with the ch-3 between (3 dc, ch-3, 3dc) to form the point.

It is finally done and will be delivered to Miss Vivian this coming week.  I hope it becomes her very first family heirloom!

Checkerboard Game Blanket

I found this pattern online (click HERE for the free pattern) and made it for my grandchildren and for a friend's daughter's birthday.  Big hits on both fronts!

The board is about 30x30" and can be used as a game board and can double as a small cover on a child's bed.  It is great for snuggling on the couch while watching TV.  I used an "H" size hook and soft baby yarn.

The drawstring bag was a "made it up as I go" pattern, meaning I just started crocheting a bag and if I have to make another one, I'll wing that one, too!

The checkers are super simple.  They work great as projects to do while traveling in the car.  Tip:  Make the bag first then you have something to store the completed checkers in as you make them!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Crayon Afghan

I am the aunt that always makes the new babies in our family an afghan.  So when my niece Laura announced the coming new addition to the family, I began crocheting away an afghan for the baby shower I knew would be down the road.

A few weeks later, Laura posts on Facebook that the baby's room theme would be crayons.  She posted some very crafty pieces she was creating that were beautiful!  I was very excited as I threw the WIP (work in progress) afghan aside and bought yarn for the afghan I had been dying to make!

A crayon afghan.

I had found this pattern online some time ago and was very anxious to make one.  I now had the perfect opportunity!  What I love about this design is it is a great way to use up those extra skeins that we always seem to have.  Each crayon takes about one skein.  Any colors can be used.  Shades of pinks for a girl's room; shades of blue for a boy; bright bold colors for a Dora decor.

Here is the finished afghan.

It is a very easy afghan to make but here are a few tips that I discovered along the way while making it.

Practice changing colors if you have not done this before.  Here is a good Youtube video to show the steps of How To Change Color While Crocheting.

Align tops of panels to attac

When ready to attach the crayon panels, lay them out with the top of the crayons aligned.  Keep the tops aligned evenly, regardless of the length of the crayons.

While I used the same brand and type of yarn, the different colors resulted in different lengths of crayons.  I have heard other crocheters say that color does make a difference, sometimes, in the end result size.  This was not a big deal to me because after all .... crayons, when used, ARE different sizes, right?  Right!!!

Here is a photos of the finished blanket in the crayon-themed baby's room.  Even if the room is not crayon themed, it works very well in a bright color theme or a room decorated in primary colors!