Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Crafty Holidays

The holiday season is upon us and for once in my 28 years of life, I might actually be ahead of the game.

My roommate has been doing Christmas shopping since October because she wisely decided that instead of buying gift for everyone all at once, it would be smarter to buy things over a longer period of time. While it's cut down on her stress it's certainly upped mine.

I know it still seems kind of early for Christmas shopping but her comments about how she only has two more gifts to buy is making me feel like I've waited until the last minute. It's a great motivator though! Due to the building panic, I actually have enough time to make gifts for a few people with my new found hobby.

First Three Rows
For one of her gifts this year, I've decided to make fingerless gloves. Ever since the weather has turned chilly, she's decided that fingerless gloves would be perfect for her at work and has begged me to make some for her. Of course I hopped on Ravelry.com and found a super nice, super easy pattern for Beginner's Wrist Warmers with Ridges.

I haven't gotten very far yet since I've only worked on it for 30 minutes or so and I can't work on it at home for obvious reasons, but so far so great!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Nifty Knifty Knitter

My grandma has always been a very crafty person. When my mom, aunt and uncles were growing up, she made a lot of their clothes by hand.

When I was a kid, I remember Grammy making several of my Halloween costumes and then she started making Teddy Bears. In addition to every member of her family getting a handmade Teddy Bear, she also made many for friends and of course for herself.

Soon, I became interested in sewing and with Grammy's instruction made a long skirt, a Disney's Princess Jasmine costume (the store-bought ones were always terrible) and a Teddy Bear.

Like most people do as they get older, Grammy's eyes have been failing her and the arthritis has gotten worse so sewing has become impossible.

So Easy to Use!
When I showed her my Hawaiian Flowers blanket she was proud of my work and asked if I could help her find a project that she could easily see to keep herself busy in the winter. Of course I was thrilled to repay her kindness in teaching me a craft and began my search. That's when I found the Knifty Knitter!

My First Loom Scarf
After some research and a co-worker volunteering to test drive it, I decided to purchase a loom and some yarn for Grammy. Because of her terrible vision, I knew it would be better to teach her myself rather than leaving her to read the instructions for herself so I sat down and knocked out a scarf.

Let me tell you, that loom is SO easy to use! If the Knifty Knitter people approached me to endorse their product I would sell out in a heartbeat it's so easy. In fact, I'm pretty sure that if Grammy eventually lost her sight entirely she'd still be able to make these fun and functional scarves.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hawaiian Flowers

It's been years since I've been to Hawaii but the whole experience was so unforgettable that the memories are as vivid as they were the day we came home. My favorite picture from that trip has to be the one I took on the plane as we flew over the big island.

When I came across a Hawaiian Flowers crochet pattern (found here) I was very excited to find how easy it was even for a super novice like me! The stitches were ones that I already knew except one (Double Treble) and I worked my test flower quickly and easily (as seen in the previous post).

First (non-test) Flower
When I purchased yarn for this project I decided that I would only start with one skein of each color instead of buying enough for the whole project. I checked to make sure the yarn didn’t have a dye lot so when I needed a new skein all I had to do was pick up a new one. Yeah, never do that because depending on how fast you work, the store may not carry the colors anymore. Also, I lost the wrappers that tell me the color name so going to the yarn website was a big fail too.

SO instead I bought all new colors and drew up a pattern of how all the flowers can be stitched together so I can use colors I've already used with the brand new colors. Now I just have to disassemble the ones I've already put together. 

Flowers Stitched Together

Monday, October 18, 2010

Choose Your Project THEN Yarn

2nd Ball of Yarn
To me, choosing the right yarn is critically important. If the yarn isn't just right I have trouble making anything out of it.

The second ball of yarn I ever purchased I let my roommate pick out. Of course she made a perfectly good choice, it was another Lily Sugar 'n Cream and it would have been perfect for the project she wanted me to try next.

"Stuffed" Star
At first I was excited about it. My second ball of yarn EVER and I was all geared up to start working some sort of decorative piece for our family room. The colors were a perfect mix of browns, greens and creams that would have matched the room but as much as I tried, I could not get enough motivation to use the yarn for a real project.

Instead I used the yarn as practice for different odds and ends. First I was interested in creating a stuffed star which turned out nicely but without fiber fill I lost interest in finishing it.
1st Hawaiian Flower

Then I did my first test run of the Hawaiian Flower patter which you'll read more about in future posts. Finally I created a man-thong (Without a pattern! My mom was SO proud!) which came about because of a running joke with friends.

After that I gave the remaining yarn to a friend at work I was teaching how to crochet. I'd like to think I didn't use the yarn because I didn't find any projects that I could have really used it in but I'm pretty sure that I just didn't like the colors.

Man Thong
Do others of you out there have trouble making things when the yarn just isn't right?

Friday, October 15, 2010

My First Project

In the beginning, probably the most difficult part of crocheting is keeping the sides straight. I wish I had a picture to show because the sides of my first shot at crochet was REALLY messy. I didn't give up though, which was very surprising to me since I usually get frustrated quickly.

My First Scarf
Once I got the single crochet stitch down and my sides were nice and straight(er) I moved on to double crochet. As I said in my last post, the instructions that were included with my first crochet hook were useless so I had to ask my Aunt to show me how. In the following weeks she gave me several lessons on basic crochet stitches which helped me to create this scarf.

It's not perfect but I'm proud of it. The most important part I've learned about keeping the sides straight is to create enough chain stitches at the end of each row when turning and not make them too loose or too tight.

Lucy's First Handmade Scarf
I'm pretty sure that this project took two balls of Lily Sugar 'n Cream yarn that I bought for cheap at Wal-Mart but since I used a lot of it making mistakes and getting it knotted up I only had enough to make a scarf just long enough to look good on Lucy.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Once Upon a Stitch

Origami Kitties
Every story has a beginning. Just as fairy tales have "Once upon a time" this story has, "Once upon a stitch." Over the years I've worked through a lot of different crafts. Writing has stuck with me the longest but since I've started writing professionally creating my own stories has become work so I started looking for something else to fill my need to create.

I worked on origami for a couple of years and have created some really cute things but I kept thinking that I wanted to create something a little more durable.

I chose crochet based on the fact that my Aunt Janie has been crocheting for years and I knew that if I ever got stuck I could alway go to her for help. Safety net in place, I picked up a beginners crochet kit complete with mini instruction booklet and crochet hook.

Chain Stitch
The book was mostly useless and the diagrams hard to follow, but the hook was made from a sturdy metal and I was able to master Lesson One: The Chain Stitch.

If you're just starting to learn how to crochet too, so far I've learned that mistakes are easy to correct, completed projects are rewarding and a little patience goes a LONG way!

I'm totally hooked! ;-)