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!