Monday, 18 May 2015

Hook & Needle News - 18/05/15

Remember that I've been looking for a project in which to use Red Heart Super Saver blacklight yarn? Well, I decided to google it, and I found this scarf using Argyle Crochet and I was fascinated. I had never seen or heard of this technique before. And I decided to buy the Kindle book and give it a try. Here's the link to the book:

The book suggests that you try several swatches to practice before actually tackling a project. Here's my first attempt:
I added a scalloped edging and decided to use it as a pot holder/trivet. 
By the way, my plans are to make an afghan out of the blacklight yarn, using Argyle Crochet. I'm just hoping I'll have enough. The book says that you should make sure to use all one dye lot as the length of each colour can vary between dye lots. I've had to shop around at different Walmarts to find what I could of the same dye lot. And since this technique is done in single crochet, I'm sure it will take a lot of yarn. I currently have 7 skeins plus what's left over from making the Drop Stitch Cowl. I may have to try another Walmart or two. 
Here's the Drop Stitch Cowl:

Here's where I'm at with the Vivaldi Throw:
I've also started on the Choo-Choo Train Afghan for my grandson:
The main body of the afghan should work up quite quickly as it's double strands of knitting worsted using a 10.0 mm hook.  Then I have to add fringe and crochet and applique the trains.
I haven't made any progress on the Crystal Roses afghan or Sophie's Universe. But I have made progress on my basement crafting studio. I have finished the drywall taping and cornerbead and one coat of mud to all places that required it (and lots of places that didn't). I just have to wait for the mud to dry so I can sand and apply the next layer. However, now that nice weather is here, it's time to do some yard work. 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

"Cover Girls"

"Toilet paper dolls" is a rather unflattering moniker. Also a bit misleading since it almost makes it sound like the dolls are made of toilet paper. "Toilet paper cover dolls" is rather cumbersome. So, I've opted to nickname them "cover girls." Here's my first one:
I remember these from my childhood, but I can't honestly say it is with fondness or even nostalgia. My mother never had them in the house. With 7 children, we probably went through so much toilet paper that one of these dolls would be more trouble than it was worth. And most of them from my childhood looked more like this: 
The dolls weren't particularly attractive and they weren't very successful at hiding what they were supposed to be hiding under their incredibly cylindrical dresses. So I really hadn't had a desire to own or create one of these. Until a few years ago I acquired some patterns for them along with some other crocheting paraphernalia I got at a yard sale. And for me it was a new challenge. And recently I decided to take up that challenge. Finding a couple of Skipper-sized dolls at the thrift store, I knew they were the same height as the dolls used for this purpose and decided to see if they would work. 
The patterns actually called for worsted weight yarn. I felt that was quite bulky for such a small doll and considered using sport weight, but the local selection is pretty slim. So I opted to use Red Heart Soft Touch, which is one of the lightest worsted weight available at our Walmart. The only lighter one is Red Heart Unforgettable, but I didn't want a variegated yarn for this project. I also went down a hook size from the recommended 3.75 to a 3.50.
Before I go any further, I want to tell you how I compare yarns. I use metres per gram. I look on the label and find the number of metres and the number of grams and divide. For example, Red Heart Comfort solids have 792 metres in a 454 gram ball. That yields 1.74 metres per gram. Soft Touch is 1.9 and Unforgettable is 2.56. The higher the number, the ligther or finer the yarn. It's a handy index to have when substituting or combining yarns in a project, especially a project where guage is very important. 
So, I began to crochet, but had to make adjustments as anything in the Barbie family is quite a bit more shapely than the original toilet paper dolls. However, increasing and decreasing left too many openings where the doll's "flesh" showed through. I wasn't very happy about this. And as the skirt got longer, the weight of it pulled on these openings and made them bigger. And then, somehow the skirt was a little overwhelming for this tiny doll:
I do believe that there's a lot more "give" to this yarn than some other worsted weights, such as Red Heart Comfort, and as I started adding ruffles, the increased weight just seemed to pull the dress longer and longer. By this time, I had decided that Barbie was going to work better for this dress than the Skipper-sized doll and tried her out in the dress. Actually, at first I tried a doll called Darci, who is about an inch taller than Barbie. No, that's not going to work. She is too tall and risked topping over into the toilet bowl. Definitely not what I wanted to happen after putting all that work into this dress. So, then Barbie tried the dress on and she's pretty steady in her toilet paper stand and hopefully won't go for a dip. 
Unfortunately, with all that extra weight in the skirt, the armhole openings were stretched almost to Barbie's waist, so I had to do some more modifications. I crocheted some additional stitches under the arms and darned the openings around the waist. Still, there was a little too much Barbie showing through, so I crocheted her some black panties. The trim was supposed to be lace, but I was not about to handstitch yards of lace onto this dress. So I added the border in double strands of a 2-weight sparkle and sequin yarn (Loops and Threads Payette yarn from Michael's). I chose beige as the bathroom where she now resides is done in black and beige. 
I wasn't sure if I was going to make the hat or not. As I had yarn left over, I decided to give it a try. I greatly digressed from the pattern as Barbie's head is a lot smaller then the toilet tissue doll's. I'm not sure if I like it or not. I have to admit, however, that I think Barbie looks much better than the toilet tissue doll. Not only is she a prettier doll, but it's not so obvious that she's hiding toilet paper. 

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Hook & Needle News 03/05/15

Honestly, I really need to quit starting new projects until I finish more of the ones I'm currently working on...
Blacklight yarn: yes, I thought I'd found the project I wanted to create. I had gathered various skeins of yarn that went well with it. Then I picked up Crochet World Blue Ribbon Crochet and decided to use my blacklight collection to create the Vivaldi Throw. It actually calls for 3/dk/sport weight yarn, whereas my collection is 4/worsted/aran weight, but that would just mean I'd have a bigger afghan in these awesome colours. I was impatient to see how it looked and so, never mind how many other WIPs I already have, I began. I planned on using the blacklight as the main colour in the diamond motifs. But, while the floral motifs looked great in the yarns I had selected, somehow the blacklight wasnt' looking right. 
Beginning of Vivaldi Throw with Diamond Motifs done in Blacklight/Black

Close-up of  diamond motif done in blacklight/black
They just looked messy. So I tried one in all blacklight.
Close-up of diamond motif done in all blacklight
Then I tried reversing it, black for rounds 1 & 3, and blacklight for round 2.
Decisions, decisions...
No, the black is too stark and the blacklight is too messy-looking. None of these options were really cutting it for me. I posted pictures to facebook and google+ and most opinions were that the blacklight wasn't quite right. A couple of people suggested brown. Well, brown is about my least favourite colour. Someone else suggested a paler neutral, and I thought ivory might work. And since I didn't already have purple in this afghan, I decided to use that as the accent colour. I went to Walmart, and didn't really want the amethyst that they have in the Red Heart Super Saver. So I ended up having to buy Red Heart Soft Touch. It's a 4-weight, but definitely lighter than the Super Saver or Comfort that comprise the rest of the yarn in this afghan. The ivory (actually the colour is called Aran) is Super Saver. 
That's better, but still not quite the look I want, so I reversed the colours.
And finally, I"m happy with this look. This is what I've got done so far:
I took it out to my side yard for a couple of pictures.
And yes, I'm quite pleased with the purple/ivory diamond motifs.
But that still left me without a project for the blacklight yarn. Then with the new month came the next cowl in Red Heart's monthly, "Learn a Stitch, Make This Cowl." This month it's a knitted Drop Stitch Cowl and it calls for With Love yarn in beachy. That's a 4 weight yarn in a variegated colour. Perfect, because that's exactly what blacklight is. And I got started on that as well.
Last month's cowl was a crocheted drop stitch cowl, and I have to admit that I prefer the crocheted drop stitch over the knitted one, even if it was kind of awkward using a dowel! I find it's kind of sloppy working with the knitted drop stitch and, in this pattern, there are two regular knit stitches on each end to reinforce the edges on the drop stitch rows. That makes it shorter on the edges than it is in the middle. But the drop stitch itself is really not difficult to work. And I love this yarn. However, I'm not sure which of my cowl recipients is going to want such a loud cowl. LOL!
This cowl only calls for one ball of yarn and, of course I have several balls in blacklight, so I will still gladly find another project to use it in. I really like the way this argyle scarf works up in blacklight and have already purchased the author's book for her argyle technique. Since I love variegated yarn, I'm sure I'll find some great projects to do.
Of course, I'm not likely to be content making just a scarf out of blacklight. <smile>
And the next topic is toilet paper dolls. And no, I do not mean dolls made out of toilet paper. If you're old enough, you'll remember those dolls in fancy crocheted dresses that people used to have in the bathroom to hide an extra roll of toilet paper. Have you ever been in someone else's house, using "the facilities" and you suddenly realize that there's no toilet paper? None of us really want to snoop in someone else's cupboards. However, desparate times demand desparate measures. But what happens if you can't find the extra roll? Nothing like sitting on the toilet yelling out to your host, "I need some more toilet paper in here." Well, those little dolls solved that problem because you always knew where to find the extra roll. A couple of years ago, I purchased some knitting/crocheting supplies and patterns at a yard sale. And amongst this find were several patterns for toilet paper dolls. Or more correctly, the dresses they wore. So, I resolved to some day try to make one or two. Who knows? Maybe I'll bring back a trend. The biggest problem was finding the right doll. While I've seen it done with Barbies, I think they are actually too tall for a toilet paper roll to hold them stable enough. But I might give it a try if I find a decent pattern. I was able to find a 10" tissue paper doll online at Joann Fabric and Craft Store for $3.99. Unfortunately, their lowest shipping price to Canada is $9.95, so I'd have to want that doll very badly. Not to mention that those dolls are just not very attractive. So, I was storing the idea for future consideration. Until I was rummaging through the Barbies at a thrift store and found a couple in the Skipper size: 10".
It took me awhile to figure out who these dolls actually are. While they are both Mattel, they are not Skipper. After some assistance from a facebook crochet group, I found that the blonde one is Ashley Olsen. I had to google, however, to discover that the brunette is Gabriella from High School Musical. Not that that really matters since they're just going to be hiding toilet paper. Unfortunately, the build of these dolls is significantly different from the build of the typical toilet tissue dolls. The patterns I'm using are actually for a modified pillow doll. They call for knitting worsted which I think is a pretty heavy yarn for a doll of this size. I considered sport/3 weight but selection is very limited in my part of the universe. So I picked the lightest weight knitting worsted I could find, Red Heart Soft Touch, and used a 3.5 mm hook instead of the 3.75 that the pattern called for as I tend to crochet larger than guage. And I tried to make some modifications as I went along, particularly in the waist area as toilet tissue dolls are considerably thicker in the waist than anything in the Barbie line. Here's the project so far:
Not entirely happy with it. There's considerable "skin" showing through where I did the decreases for the waist. And the skirt is probably longer than it was supposed to be (kind of reminds me of the huge skirts worn by 'Anna' in The King and I, 1956), but overall, I'm reasonably pleased with it. I still need to crochet three more layers of ruffles on the skirt, plus put a couple of snaps on the back. The pattern says to sew up the back opening, but what if she wants to change clothes? There's also a hat to complete the outfit. I may attempt that, but again will require modifications as Darice's head (yes, the toilet tissue doll has a name, too) is quite a bit bigger than this doll's. Ashley, by the way, is posing on my vintage mauve toilet, which is in my main bath, but she is actually dressed for the basement bathroom, which is beige and black. She'll move down there once she's finished. 
I've finished a few more motifs for the Crystal Roses throw and one more row on Sophie's Universe, not significant enough accomplishments to post pictures. 

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Hook & Needle News 15/04/15

I've been feeling very tired lately. Not sleeping well and having very vivid dreams. Not enough energy to do anything when I get home from work. Except crochet, of course. So, no further work done on the renovations. I know I should be exercising and maybe now that the weather's finally better, I'll be able to get out and walk. If only I could find shoes that would keep my feet from aching. A life-long problem for me...
So, I've finished Part 6 of Sophie's Universe.
It now measures about a metre across. Here's a close up:
Remember the Yarspirations CAL that I wasn't enjoying?
Well, I've seen people's almost finished product and I'm still not impressed, so I don't intend to finish this one. But what to do with all of that yarn? Someone had posted a link on facebook's Crafty Crochet Community to "A Blanket of Roses Afghan" pattern and I had saved the link to my favourites. I wasn't sure about doing it in aqua/teal, so decided to try a sample and see what I thought. So, I began. However, I was not really happy with the darker (bluer) yarn in the picture above. After I purchased the yarn for this CAL, Walmart got in a different colour, which is a darker teal, instead of the aqua and it actually blends with the variegated better than the aqua does. 
See what I mean? While the aqua may not look terrible, it doesn't look as awesome as the teal does. And it bugged me. But I didn't think I could justify spending the extra money on another ball of yarn and tearing all of the aqua out of the squares I had already completed. And what was I going to do with the aqua anyway if I didn't use it in this CAL? But when I decided to use the CAL yarn for a different project, and after starting with the aqua and not really liking it, I decided to also invest in the teal yarn. Here's my first motif:
A couple of people I shared this picture with said it reminded them of the movie, "Frozen." And I, too, thought it looked somewhat like a snowflake, so I'll probably call it something like Crystal Roses. Three hexagon motifs and one square done so far. And I'm loving this one much more than the CAL. Meanwhile I still have to decide what to do with all of these squares I started.
I have some ideas, but I'm going to wait till I finish the Crystal Roses and see how much yarn I have left over. But all of that layered aqua and white yarn has got to go... Yuk!
One day while perusing the yarn in Walmart, I discovered that they had some more blacklight yarn.
I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with it, but I bought this green to go along with it. Plus the aqua I'm not using in the Crystal Roses afghan blends with the blacklight as well. The big white ball is for the Crystal Roses afghan. Since white is the main colour in that afghan, but I wasn't planning on it being the main colour in the CAL, I needed more. 
I finished April's Drop Stitch Crochet Cowl from Red Heart's "Learn a Stitch, Make This Cowl" project. This cowl required a large 19 mm knitting needle to make the drop stitches. I don't have one and couldn't find one locally. And I was impatient to get started, so I went into Canadian Tire and bought a 19 mm dowel.
So I nicknamed this the "dowel cowl." Necessity is the mother of invention, as my mother said. And it worked!
Here's the finished product. It called for Red Heart Medley yarn, but I decided to use Bernat Big Ball Chunky in Intrigue instead. I really like this colour combo. And it was available at Walmart, so I didn't have to wait for an order. 
This is the first cowl not made in the round, so I had a seam to sew.
I was quite happy with how this stitch worked up.
Last evening, I went to Walmart craving something sweet. They still had some Easter goodies at 75% off, so I picked up a couple of items. Normally, I eat a very healthy diet. And I'm also trying to be more conscientous about my eating and lifestyle. And most chocolate is not something that can be eaten conscientously as it is produced using slavery, including child slavery. So, if your chocolate is not Fair Trade, it's not fair. So, I thought, "If I don't buy the chocolate, I can have some yarn." The yarn won. 
This will be the main colour in the Choo Choo Train afghan that I will make for my grandson. He loves this colour. And he loves trains. It's Red Heart Super Saver in flame.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Hook & Needle News 01/04/15

I see it's been nearly a month since I last posted and I have been busy. I posted previously that I am doing Red Heart's monthly "Learn a Stitch, Make this Cowl." I'm all caught up now. Here is January's Twisted Cowl, which is crocheted, and I actually finished it just last night.
This one was made with Red Heart Medley in Eclectic.

Since my goal had been to get back into knitting, I started with Candi's Checked Cowl for February and was quite pleased with the results. 
This was made with two strands of Red Heart Soft in Lavender.

March's Lovable Cowl was a bit more of a challenge for me. I really didn't like the appearance of this one as well as the other two.

But appearance wasn't the only issue. I kept losing count and made a lot of mistakes in this one. Fortunately, most of them are hidden under the rolled upper edge. Somehow mine ended up shorter and wider than the one in the picture with the pattern. But honestly, my count wasn't that far off and the number of rows is correct. <shrug>
I made this one out of Red Heart Unforgettable in Parrot. And every time I looked at the name of the yarn, I kept thinking of this song:

For April, it's a Drop Stitch Crochet Cowl, which is supposed to be made in Red Heart Medley again. I think I might try an alternate yarn. I enjoyed using the Medley in the Twisted Cowl, but I'd have to order it online or wait until I can get into the city as it's not available in town. And I want to try different yarns. Meanwhile, I'm continuing with Sophie's Universe CAL. I've finished to the end of Part 5.

In addition to the original colours I had chosen, I have added some Red Heart Super Saver in black, blue, cornmeal, hunter green and carrot. Aside from the tulips/leaves rounds, I decided to to rounds 33 through 46 in rainbow order. Only round 46 is left to be completed of the rainbow section, which will be the Lavender. Here's a close up showing all the colours.
Unfortunately, the purple (tulips and last round) looks more blue in this picture, at least on my monitor. And the hunter green (tulip leaves) appears almost black.
I've also gotten a little more work done on the Bavarian crochet scarf, but haven't taken a picture. 
That's my crochet progress to date. This evening I did a little taping and mudding in my craft studio in the basement. I need to get that finished as I've got quilting projects to get caught up on. 

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Yarning Along - 08/03/15

Probably about 7 years ago, I began a Bobble Afghan and a Sweet Baby Hoodie in the same yarn for the new great nephew of the man I was dating. Well, that relationship ended and so did the progress on my crocheting. Moving more than once, buying my own house, working full time and studying for my degree intervened. Then about 3 years ago, I learned that my daughter was going to bless me with a grandson. And I hoped to finish both the afghan and the hoodie for him. But first I was determined to make him an afghan using the same Rainbow Afghan pattern that I used for her. I made hers with a white background and pastel colours, but since this was going to be a boy, I wanted something more bold and boyish. And I did get it finished:
In addition, I made him a quilt:
And finally finished the hoodie for him.
But the afghan was still lanquishing in a box in the basement. 
Last year, I learned that I was to have a new great niece or nephew in February. I already had a girl's quilt finished, Scrappy Shine
The quilt top is neutral enough that it could have been for a boy or a girl, but I had intended it for a girl and I bound it in pink. So I purchased fabric to make a boy's quilt as well, so I'd be ready for either gender. 
I had other quilts on the go and put off starting it as I had until February. Then I decided to renovate the sewing area in the basement. And those renovations are ongoing and most of my sewing/quilting supplies are piled up in the living room. As I'm sure you can imagine, there's no quilting being done. So I decided that I'd better get to work on that afghan in case it was a boy. 
As mentioned previously, that pattern is quite dense and the yarn is frustrating to work with as the shimmer strand keeps separating from the rest of the yarn, so it was really slow going. I was kind of hoping that the baby would be a girl (even though the parents were hoping for a boy). Then baby Seth was born and it became imperative that I finish that afghan. And I did.
Just last night I finally worked in the last of the ends, and it will get mailed off this week. The border ended up a little ruffle-y. I probably could have worked that out with blocking, but I doubt the parents (or the baby) will care. 
By the way, Mystery was so very good when I was taking the pictures of the afghan. I told him, "Don't get on the afghan or you'll be in trouble." And he only stepped on it once accidentally as he was skirting the edge of it. See how nicely he poses in that top picture. Such an awesome cat! (You'll also notice his tail in the bottom left corner of the picture of the boy's quilt fabric).
Meanwhile, I got my yarn for Sophie's Universe
And got started on this awesome pattern. Other crocheters were sharing pictures of their Sophie with the men in their lives, so I shared one with the Important Male in my life.
There were also pictures of Sophie outdoors, so I added a couple, including this one that shows how mild our weather is lately by including the water lying at the side of the street. I've actually got a bare patch of grass at the other end of my house.
And here's Sophie currently, done to the end of Part 3:
As she progressed, I realized that she was going to be bigger than the pattern stated, in spite of the fact that I'm using a 5.0 hook instead of a 5.5. I don't mind her being bigger, but I was concerned about running out of yarn, so I added a couple of colours: black and the blue that's on the last round in this picture. I wanted to add the black before I started a repeat of the colours, and remembered that I had some "in reserve" for the Cathedral Rose Window Afghan, so I "borrowed" some from that stash. In addition, while I was rummaging in the basement, I came across this mound of yarn, which is also in reserve for the Cathedral Rose:
That's 29 balls of green/purple variegated. This yarn came in those 1 pound packs of mill ends at Walmart. I have previously not purchased enough of these packages to finish a project, and when I went back, there were none left. So when I bought these, I was determined to make sure I had sufficient for everything I wanted to do and bought every package they had. There was more than this to start with, but I have completed drapery tiebacks
and the Lace Enchantment afghan in the meantime. 
While this is a pretty yarn, I've actually gotten rather bored with it. I'm kind of wishing I'd gone with the blues and purples in the picture on the Cathedral Rose pattern instead of the greens and purples. But I have this mountain of yarn now, so I need to use it. And it does go with my chosen decor better than the blues. Plus I also have the plain green I need. I thought I had the purple as well, but didn't come across it in my basement rummaging. Maybe I just thought about buying it. It will either turn up, or I will just have to buy some. Terrible thing, having to buy more yarn... LOL!

The yarn and needle I ordered for Red Heart's "Learn a Stitch, Make this Cowl" project arrived this past week.
That's Red Heart Medley in Eclectic for the Twisted Cowl (crocheted) and Red Heart Soft in Lavender for Candi's Checked Cowl (knitted). The Lovable Cowl pattern (knitted) was posted for March, which is made from Unforgettable yarn. I knew they had some in great colours at my local Walmart, so picked up a skein in Parrot, plus the needle I need, along with the blue yarn for Sophie. This cowl is lighter weight, so only requires one skein.
While I was there, I noticed that they had 3 skeins of Super Saver in blacklight. When I first saw the blacklight yarn, I fell in love with it. I love bright colours, especially set off with black, so this yarn was just awesome to me. And I resolved to make a project with it some day. Then when the Yarnspirations CAL came along, I decided to use blacklight as my main colour. I needed 5 skeins, preferably in the same dye lot. I'm not obsessed with dye lot, especially not in a variegated yarn, but would prefer to keep the same dye lot if possible. My local Walmart had only 2 skeins of blacklight and they were in different dye lots, so I had to choose alternate yarn. Later, even those two skeins disappeared and the blacklight slot on the shelf remained empty for a few weeks. So when I saw these 3 skeins, all in the same dye lot, I scooped them up. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them yet, but I wasn't going to miss out on them again. I am rather puzzled, however, as to why my Walmart would only bring in 3 skeins. Had someone bought them and returned them? Or is that all Walmart thinks someone will use? I have actually emailed Walmart to find out why their yarn stock is so depleted, both in the store and online, but I haven't heard back from them yet. 
I added a ball of the orange as it, too, was the only one left, and if I decide to do something with the variegated plus other colours, orange is one of the colours I can add. 
Now, the ex is coming over this afternoon with a bucket of drywall mud to help with my renos. Before he got into truck driving, he worked in construction. And if there's anyone that can do drywall well, it's definitely him. So I need to get on with my day before he arrives.