Winter Crochet Blitz

IMG_1537As of this writing, I’ve made four hats and three pairs of hand warmers.  Documenting them, though, has been a bit of slow, and posting them hasn’t been all that easy– even on my Instagram feed.  I have been happy using my yarn stock (and I am happy they are finally being put to good use!), and I am so thrilled for all the compliments I’ve been getting.  It has so inspired  me to keep trying new methods and stitches along the way…

Temperatures in New York City have been  dropping and rising unpredictably,  and yes, we’ve had our taste of snow. Occasionally, we are back to rain, but the cold sore on my lip is not a welcome occurrence.  These are the things we have to deal with, living here in the big apple.

I am very happy about how my hand warmers have literally taken shape.  Stitching a plain one for my first pair, I did the stitches vertically which helped me lay the foundation for the next.  The idea was to embellish the plain one with separately crocheted pieces later, but I found this too bulky and decided it wouldn’t work.  Maybe I should stitch a design a la embroidery by yarn instead?  I will try that later.

Hand warmers Fall/winter2016I did a square pattern as the base for the second, which meant a slightly bigger than desired form.  The hands, after all, are are not without its curves.  They worked out pretty well and received compliments, but they were too wide around the fingers.  I also made the mistake of trying to tuck yarn ends into the beginning stitches of the next spool.  I tried something different for the next which proved to be more helpful and cleaner both on the front and inside of the warmers.

Just remember that I’m doing this without a pattern, same with my hats, and that means undoing rows and rows when the fit doesn’t work out.

Learning from hand warmers #s 1 and 2, I decided to try and work the rows horizontally instead of vertically, starting from the top.  I figured I would have an easier time increasing stitches down the rows rather than decreasing them if I worked from the wrist up.  Besides, the problem was really about the top where the warmers grip the fingers to keep them all cozy.

Hand warmers Fall/winter2016The first step was about figuring out how many stitches would be smug enough to hold all 4 fingers.  I settled on 20 using a size J needle.  I measured after the first row of single crochet stitches which I joined to a round to see how it worked out.  (My hands, by the way, are average in size.  When buying gloves, I usually fit nicely into a Large.)  I wanted to use a stitch that I could work with without too much trouble in terms of counting, and which would hug the fingers together nicely when actually worn.  I did a shell stitch using 5 double crochet stitch, and while I had thought the 20 would fall snuggly into that scheme, it left me with half a shell at the end which required some work around.  That actually gave me the idea to bridge that row to the next by completing the shell, giving me the “increase” I was looking for to give my knuckles room.

Here’s my first attempt at trying to do a pattern:

Row 1: Chain 21, join last stitch with first.  (Leaves you 20 free.)

Row 2: (Shell Stitch) make 5 DCs on Ch3, skip two and connect shell to Ch6, SC.  Repeat until end.

Row 3: connect 5th DC into DC3 of row 1 shell, do all stitches, end row correctly. (No overlap)

Another thing I wanted to do was to be able to incorporate a change of colors in the design.  As you can see, I used three different yarns to make this particular pair.

One issue I have with the stitch is that it left open gaps were I did a shall on shell to create a round design, but I’ve found that even with those little holes, the warmers serve their purpose well.  Your hands will keep warm even with the fingers extending out like it did.

Hand warmers Fall/winter2016The third was definitely an improvement on the second, and I am still looking to improve the stitching.  I might just end up undoing the first because I think it’s been shown that the better direction to go would be horizontally stitching rows to give it its proper shape.  Here are the two that I’ve worn and which people have seen.  Even shapewise, the one on the right is less clunky, and it definitely wears more comfortably.

I stitch a round of 10 single crochet on all my hanwarmers with no decrease.  You really need more allowance where the thumb is because of all the directions it moves in, more so when texting.  Besides, the stitching eventually pulls at each row making it adjust.  Any more even just by 2 and it would be a tad too wide.

Hand warmers Fall/winter2016This is how it actually looks like on my hand. Not bad, don’t you think?  I’m almost afraid to try and make another one because I just loooooove the pink of this one.  Keep warm, everyone..

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Looking for the right hat

Slouchy Beanie #1 in Heathered Grey yarn. Pic looks black and white but the speckles are actually more colorful. Been wearing this as the temperatures started dropping here in #NYC. Finally a beanie that doesn't give me hat hair, and hair finally longWith Fall here and winter just around the corner, the temperatures have started dropping and we’re pulling the coats out of the closet along with the usual cold weather accessories that we all don this time of the year.  If you’re like me, there’s the perpetual search for the right head gear that will keep you warm and not give you the dreaded “hat hair”.

Last year, I resumed knitting and crocheting which led to a lot of craft experiments.  (Translated: I didn’t quite finish a project.)  A year later, I’m actually hoping to make better progress.  For starters, I’ve found a crochet pattern for a slouchy beanie which I hope I can finish and wear.  I have my coterie of crochet hooks in all sizes and quite the healthy stash of yarn.  I picked out a spool of tweed yarn this morning and started the so-called “magic loop”.  If it’s as easy as it’s touted to be, it shouldn’t take me long to find out if I’m going to make another one.

Choosing a hat can be quite the dilemma.  I have no problem with wearing beanies because I have a perfectly round head (being a c-section baby), but then I have a round face and my hair used to be perpetually short which wasn’t quite flattering underneath any sort of headgear.  That’s changed a bit now with my shoulder length hair.   I also quite like the look of slouchy hats which aren’t as snug on the top of your head, giving your head room — literally.  We will see.  I haven’t seen any slouchy hats to try on so I’m making one.

So for starters, I reviewed if I am doing my double stitch right and found that I have been actually doing an extra pull all these years.  This video was helpful in reminding me how it should be done.  The pattern only uses the single and the double stitch and switches between two crochet hooks but only at the end.  The increase in the stitches in the first 9 (original) and in mine (8) are pretty straightforward and a no-brainer to follow.

I started crocheting and finished this in less than a day, and I know I would’ve been able to finish it sooner if I wasn’t doing it during breaks only.  I followed the pattern to a T and used the two hooks specified, but the hat turned out to be too big.  Following the suggestion from JennyLikesYarn who authored the pattern originally, I undid the stitches to the rows where the increases stopped and am working on 64 instead of 72 total stitches in the final rounds.  This was the second to the last row before you worked without increasing the rows.  I am also trying to gauge how much of a slouch I want my final product to have.

Although the first was obviously too big, I liked the way the adjusted hat sat on my head and yet felt warm enough to cover my ears in a comfortable yet snug way.

This pattern is easy enough even for younger crocheters to take a stab at, and it’s a pattern you can do in various colors and dress up with a button or ribbon in unlimited ways.  I’m already thinking of how I can dress up the next version I make.  Just be warned that the size of the beanie changes not only depending on the hook you use or number of stitches per round you use, but the yarn itself.  The nice thing it’s easy enough to make and undo as needed, and you can tailor fit it according to the style you want.  More coming!!

 

Crochet Pieces

Disclosure: The post below provides links to the products I am using in my project which will take you to Amazon’s website in case you are interested in looking up the product.  I have also provided suggested sites you can visit if you are interested to learn more about Crochetting or purchasing Crochet kits. Please note that clicking on the link might mean a commission for me if you do purchase it from the vendor.  

Crochet has been a new-found passion the last couple of months.  I have been working on smaller pieces I hope to eventually “stitch together” later into something wearable for the coming fall and winter.  I have actually been knitting and crocheting my scarves in recent years, that is why I only buy fabric scarves, but I haven’t really gone beyond that.

I think I’m finally ready to try and craft something from the bits and pieces I have gathered in various ziploc bags, but I am a bit wary of how it will come out.  I have grouped them into patterns based on color and type of yarn and hope to create a good mix of the many pieces instead of just pulling in similar ones for a project.  I bought a grey fleck (speckled?) yarn that I hope to piece the rounds together with against an all black background.  (I am hoping to post the work in progress after the weekend.)

Meanwhile, I have been intrigued by this Icelandic sweater crochet pullover I’ve been seeing online, but a pattern for which I cannot find.  I am hoping to mimic it for the sweater tunic I’m making out of the Bernat blanket yarn I am experimenting with.  I also stocked up on the Caron one pounder which went on sale over at Michael’s around two weekends ago.  That, plus an additional 25% off coupon, allowed me to buy it at half off the original price.

I try to stick with the cotton and acrylics so that I don’t have to worry about fabric care later on.  When working with yarn, it’s always a good idea to check fabric care before purchasing it so you know it’s I remember knitting with some fancy wool-blend yarn years ago and when it was washed, it became a rag. (I had given it as a gift to my mother-in-law.). Back then and even now, I worked with fancy threads and yarns for my knitting projects because I couldn’t do the complicated stitches.  I would work designs into the scarves by switching yarn or needles.  Crochet is a different matter altogether, because I had learned this firsthand in grade school.  I can even read patterns in both the word form and diagram.

Switching yarns and needles is a little trickier for me in crochet, because I worry about how the finer and softer yarns would hold up against the tension or pull of the actual piecework.  It would be horrible to see parts of the final project fraying or hanging loose because it was carrying too much weight. But then again, I wouldn’t know until I finally pulled it together.  I am trying to confine the finer yarns as embellishments to the chunkier, hardier spools.  The set you see below will be part of a bigger crochet collage.

I will try to focus on getting a “draft” layout of the collage going this weekend, and trying to work piecing them together as I have envisioned it.  Sometimes planning one thing turns out another way when you actually execute it, and I want to see how it works on a small piece before going for the entire thing.  I guess my weekend is cut out for me.

If you’re interested in buying crochet kits, Craftsy has Crocheting kits around $10 or less, excluding shipping!. You can also visit their site below to look at available classes.
Craftsy

Busy with my crochet hooks

I may not have had the chance to post anything here all of June, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy.  Sometimes crafting and blogging don’t go at the same pace and I end up doing more of one than the other.

I have been busy collecting crochet hooks, mostly from the dollar store, of all places!  It’s the same ones being sold in the craft stores, and I’ve been lucky that my store has a stock.  I had decided to stick with the G but I’ve lost two so far, and the store is all out.  I will probably have to just swallow the full cost and get it from one of the stores in the city, if not my always reliable Michael’s.  I don’t know why but hearing the metallic hooks jingling in my pencil case cum crochet hook case is just music to my ears.
Work in Progress; Freeform CrochetMy yarn stash has also been growing, mostly in shades of pink.  (And then some..). One of these days, I will show you where I get my yarn here in Manhattan and you’ll see the varied offerings.  I have also gone up to my attic to dig through my yarn box which I had pulled together mostly to knit into scarves.   Work in Progress; Freeform Crochet

I continue to experiment with new stitches and the more complicated ones are proving to be a challenge.  But I am enjoying learning them and trying to get better at doing them.  With everything that I’ve managed to stitch up so far, I haven’t quite decided yet what I am making first — a scarf, a pull over or a hat.  Decisions, decisions!
Work in Progress; Freeform Crochet

I’m thinking there’s still plenty of time before fall when I expect I would get to use all these things eventually.  And then there’s the trip to Manila where threads the threads are a whole lot cheaper than here.  While the variety in yarns is lacking  (the ones we have here are more colorful and artsy), the cotton threads available there are hard to find here at the same price.  I grew up with the cotton threads that became those fancy adornments in houses of old.  Now if only they didn’t weigh so much!

I like the way the hook pulls the thread and weaves each stitch and gets you into a certain rhythm that can be hypnotic sometimes.  It can be very relaxing once you know what it is you want to create.

I’ve started a Pinterest board for Crochet inspirations, and another for Crochet by me.  It helps me to be able to see others who have created these fabulous pieces, be they just bits of freeform crochet or swathes of intricate stitches that make an elegant stole or shrug.  There is inspiration aplenty.  Dreamy!

 

Freeform crochet, anyone?

#crochetProject: #tinywheels to be stitched together as part of my foray into #freeformCrochet .. Still trying to find the right shade of #Fiuschia #yarn #crochet #crafts #craftproject #pinkandpurple #stitchesI had started drafting this post more than a month ago and it has remained unposted due to difficulties uploading the graphics.  Well, I’m determined to do this today.

I learned how to crochet in fifth grade with the nuns.  Even back then, I already loved crafts and was drawn to the lure of wanting to create.  I have written about how I had once upon a time taught myself how to knit, using the how-to in our encyclopedia — way before the advent of the Internet.

While I can only knit and purl the regular way, I have been fortunate to be able to “read” crochet patterns and actual word instructions.

A former high school friend of mine whose Pinterest board I follow had started pinning crochet patterns and pieces which spurred a new interest.   I found myself  hooked! (Pardon the pun!). I stumbled into other like boards, and I was immediately curious about free form crochet.  It was, literally, an abstract creation of shapes, patterns and textures.  You just went and pulled together a patchwork of color, stitches and different yarns.

I went to YouTube and found various instructional videos and I was learning again!  One of the things I like about crafting is that it is a continuing journey of learning.  There are always new techniques to learn no matter how good you have become at a certain pursuit.  There were new stitches and techniques to begin the whole piece and bits and pieces to improve on tightening a look, or producing a certain shape and form.

I knew what I wanted to create and what colors I needed, so I hied off to grab some yarn.

Trying freed form crochet

Sine I started on this project, I have had a couple of trips to different stores, just eyeballing the various offerings and deciding right there and then when a color appealed to me.  I am still in search of the elusive right shade of fuschia pink, but I am not giving up.

In the meantime, I’ve created and experimented with bits and pieces, until I can get comfortable enough to piece them together.  Still trying..