This is my now 10-year-old in 2009, wearing the brand-new bunny hat I crocheted for her that spring. I also crocheted the border of her homemade dress and a cape, which she refused to wear.
This is the same hat on my 2-year-old yesterday. The crocheted border caught in daughter #1’s shoe and fell off during Sunday School 7 years ago, so although I saved both dress and lace, I pulled out neither for this Easter. (Bygones, right?) And the little cape that was so unloved back in 2009 later became a dress up box staple and was used so much it became ratted and tangled and was eventually thrown away. But the hat! It got a second life, right? And it was really nice to see it on daughter #2 this Easter. Happy Easter!
This is a cowl I made with some bulky yarn from KnitPicks. I used the pretty “Tell Me” cowl pattern by DROPS design, but changed it around a bit to use the bigger yarn. I just did fewer repeats. It worked up very fast and is soft and cozy. Wearing great big, chunky cowls feels a a trend mostly embraced by women younger than me, so the first time I wore this out in public I felt a little self-conscious. But then I got hit on by someone slightly younger than me at the Subway, so there you go. Crochet this cowl, get hit on at Subway by slightly younger men who can clearly see that you are toting around three children and have a wedding ring. Hmmm.
Sometimes projects are inspired by different things. This project came about because I had earrings with no outfit to go with them. It’s all well and good for me to watch PBS dramas, lust after the costumes, then see show-inspired earrings on Amazon.com while innocently browsing for something reasonable like homeschool workbooks, then to add them to my wishlist, and to actually receive them for Christmas (in 2014)…but it’s another thing altogether to find something in this Kentucky homeschool mama’s closet to wear with Downton Abbey earrings. So crocheted a shawl to go with them! I used Andean Treasure yarn from Knitpicks for the first time, and it will not be the last. I loved, loved, loved this yarn. It may be my favorite yarn I’ve ever used. It’s soft and delicious, the color was so complex and beautiful (I used midnight heather), it didn’t split, it didn’t grow when I blocked it, and it doesn’t appear to be pilly. Wow! The pattern was nice too. I like the patterns by DROPS design; they are clearly written without over-explaining and they have clear charts. This pattern, 104-11 Crochet scarf, is mostly just a chart but it makes good sense. The result looks more complicated than the crocheting. I didn’t love the look of the ends of the scarf so I sewed mine together to make a loop. It’s quite possible that now I need a cup of tea and a Downton Abbey jeweled pin to go with it…
Washed out photo courtesy of my husband, who wasn’t allowed to tough the dials on my camera and thus can’t really be blamed that I didn’t have it on the right settings! It’s hard to get photographs of projects that are worn by me!
If you follow me on Pinterest, you may have noticed that I have been pinning crocheted jewelry like crazy. I love to pin it, but I’d only ever tried to make it once as a gift. In the after-Christmas lull I decided to finally try out a couple ideas for myself. I have a stash of Curio yarn from Knitpicks because buying whole spools of cotton crochet thread at a Knitpicks sale is cheaper than trying to buy enough tiny little wads of embroidery floss to keep my bracelet-happy nine-year-old in business. (Especially when she has a mother who raids her stash for her own projects!) I made two pieces of lace, then starched them lightly with some watered-down Stiffy (not the Stiffy again!). The gray one was very hard to block. I had trouble getting all the points even, and then maybe I didn’t stiffen it quite enough because it still got a little misshapen when I was wearing it. I tied the gray piece with a small silver ribbon. I wore this on New Year’s Eve and when I came down with it on my oldest daughter said, “what did you tie around your neck?” So there you go. But in all honesty, I kind of like it in spite of its problems. The red one blocked much better although I’m not sure the shape of it lends itself quite as much to being a necklace. I attached it to black metal chain with jump rings.
I don’t like making scarves because they are so boring. Knit or crochet a nice pattern…then do it on seemingly infinite repeat. Yawn! But I really wanted a new gray one to wear this winter, so I decided to limit my Ravelry searches to patterns that use only bulky yarn. This one, the Anesha Crochet Lace Scarf, worked up very quickly and is very pretty too. I only had to do 10 repeats of the pattern and I alternated crocheting each one with other household tasks (laundry! crochet repeat! dishes! crochet repeat! vacuum! crochet repeat!…) to finish it in just one afternoon. I used Brava Bulky from KnitPicks so the yarn is soft and washable. I wouldn’t be able to block it to lay flat like the designer’s example scarf, but I think this one is meant to curl and drape anyway, and easy washabality seemed important to me. It’s like the Fancy Nancy of quick, easy scarves. Ooh la la!
I made a set of crocheted washcloths for my brother as a birthday gift. Each year at Christmas I make him a big batch of lye soap to use for the year, and occasionally I have knitted or crocheted washcloths for him to go with the soap. Crocheted washcloths are so nice. The nubbly texture is great for your skin in the shower, and the cotton yarn has such a nice feel after it’s been washed. I hope my brother doesn’t every start to think my shower-related gifts are commentary on his need for greater hygiene. 🙂
I made and hung brazen, bold and beautiful family room curtains about five years ago. You can see them in this photo from 2011. They were from Robert Allen’s Kiki Pinata fabric and they set the stage for my family room, which was bold and cozy at the same time. Here are some other pictures of the room as it was, in an old post. I loved it, but I was getting tired of it. For one thing, it’s just a really bold fabric, and one nice thing about homemade curtains is that it’s okay to change them in five years if you’re a little tired of the print. For another, I thought I would like the coziness that the bright yet dark colors would bring to the room, but instead it was starting to feel too dark. In the winters it gets dark so early; lighting a fire at 3:30 and settling into our family room was so great, but sometimes by 9:00 I just wanted a break. So this summer I gave my family room a lightening-up. I’m not posting pictures of the whole room yet because the final touch is going to be a makeover of our fireplace and that requires my brother’s DIY skills instead of mine, but here’s what I’ve got so far, before he comes and finishes the job for me. I made a sign for our homeschool, complete with our new logo (read more here). I designed the sign on the computer and had it printed on canvas.
Then I picked out new, white things for my mantle. I spray-painted branches for a tall vase, then crocheted and stiffened medallions out of cotton thread to make colorful ornaments. Instead of making new curtains, I ended up buying some ready-made ones that were such a good deal they were cheaper than sewing new ones myself. The white lets in so much light, and really brightens up this room.
My sewing area got a little lift too, with new dust covers for my machines and some new white storage containers for supplies.
Of course Belle was not left out; her new bed fits the new scheme!
And new coasters from the dog bed scraps!
And I have been using a cart next to our sofa to coral some of the school things we need close at hand. I made it a tablecloth to keep it from getting beat up (it was my Grandma’s) while tying in all the green stuff I’ve added to the room. I’ve also painted some furniture and I’m gathering up the courage (and funds!) to buy a rug, but I’ll save all that for the post after the fireplace is done. I’m really enjoying the room’s new vibe. It’s still cozy and lively, but now the daylight seems to go much farther in here.
I hope my sister-in-law doesn’t mind her gift sharing a post with a dog collar! Both of today’s items go around necks that are dear to me. Giggle. This is a crocheted necklace I made as a birthday gift. I got this idea from Pinterest, and it originated on Craftsy. I used Gloss lace-weight yarn from Knitpicks because I already had some, then put it on a black metal chain. I felt like it needed to hold its shape so I soaked it in some Stiffy (why oh why is it called that?) that was a little watered down, and now it’s just right. It holds its shape without looking…stiff. Now that I’ve made this and given it away, I sort of feel like making another one for myself. I could just make sure not to wear it where Molly is, right?
I got some new embroidery software for my birthday. My embroidery machine is a simple, inexpensive model (the Brother PE 500), but it does basically all I think I’d want in an embroidery machine. I’ve considered upgrading to a bigger or more complicated model, but I like things that are simple and straightfoward, and I really appreciate owning things I can afford to replace if a rowdy child “accidentally” knocks it across the room. One thing I wished my machine had was more fonts, and the ability to lay out more than one line of text at a time. So for my birthday I got this Letter It! software. It’s great, and it makes me feel like I can now get even more out of my little machine. It works basically like a word processing program. It comes with a nice variety of fonts, and you can purchase and import more if you want. Then you lay out your text just the way you want it to look on your final product–with multiple lines, mixed fonts, and distortions like curves if you wish–and then just save it as a file that you send over to your machine. I tried it out on this collar for my dog Belle. I liked being able to line up her name and my phone number just the way I wanted it, and she likes not having a dangling metal tag.
I went on a hat-making binge at some point after the holidays. It felt good to complete small projects, and to keep my fingers busy near the fire or in other warm and snug places. Most of them did not make my blog. I rounded up a few this morning, and had some other snaps on my phone of others that have since gone to new homes. Several of these hats are from the book Lace One-Skein Wonders, which I really love. I think it may be my favorite of the One-Skein series. I’m not sure more of the patterns aren’t up on Ravelry, though it’s still a newish book, having been published in 2013. This hat is based on the Lacy Liberty Wool Hat from that book. I modified it to use bulky-weight yarn, because that’s the yarn I had that I wanted to use. This hat is for a friend.
Sorry about the bad phone pictures again! This was the same Lacy Liberty Wool Hat, this time in a gray bulky yarn. I liked it so much in the green and it worked up so quick I decided to do it again. I modeled this one, but gave it to a another friend. Isn’t the pattern pretty? I think it’s such a nice lace pattern for a hat, and I actually really like it in the bulky.
This was another gift hat from the same book. It’s the Tredegar Hat. It’s blocked over a plate, so it has kind of a tam shape with a flat part on top. I made it out of a yummy alpaca in a pretty green with copper and dark red accents. It’s for a beautiful young lady with long, curly reddish hair who is going away to college somewhere cold. This hat looks like it was just made for her–because it was.
This is the Etta Hat from the same book. It’s for me, though it is being modeled here by a rather unwilling five-year-old boy. (Good sport, he did it anyway.) I lost this hat a few months ago and it never turned up. I loved the yarn so much, but only had a small amount left. I decided to use it as contrast for this hat. I liked the shape of this pattern, though I don’t really love the contrasting lace. The yarn was so pretty–it really wanted to be a hat all its own. Sigh… I may do this pattern again some time in a solid color.
And finally, this is a Sarah Zimmerman hat I crocheted for Daphne for a Valentine’s Day gift. I realized on February 13 that I had picked up small little things to surprise my older loves, but had nothing for my toddler. Fortunately, it doesn’t take long to crochet a hat in bulky yarn! I made this in a size up because Daphne has kind of a big head, and I wanted her to be able to use it next year. It was a little too big, so I tacked up the brim with some basting stitches I can remove later. Daphne growls when she puts it on, which is the best part.