Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How to Crochet in a Circle

Okay. So this isn't the best video. But give me a break. It's my first one. :)

A lot of patterns tell you to crochet 4 chains and join them with a slip stitch to create a circle, right? These directions are common in hats and in the birdie and hacky sack patterns I used for the gifts I showed in the previous post.

But I say that's not the best way.

Instead, crochet in a circle so there's no hole, like the one created by the techique used above, and sew the hole closed with the tail of the yarn.

If you have trouble viewing the video below, go to YouTube and search for either my name (easbrooke) or the title "How to Crochet in a Round."

A four-day weekend of gift making

Chris and I recently took a second honeymoon to Gatlinburg, Tenn. We spent a Saturday through Wednesday traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway and gallivantin' around in Tennessee.

And I still had Thursday through Sunday left to fill up with activities. What to do, what to do.
So I swore off any house cleaning, other than laundry, and crocheted to my little heart's content.
But after that week of bliss, I was ill and didn't get much crafting or house cleaning done the next week. Therefore, I'm behind in sharing these fun projects.

I finished an afghan I had been working on for months. The pattern is from Leisure Arts' "I Can't Believe I'm Crocheting." I've seen a reprint of the book at various craft stores, such as Hobby Lobby and my own local deBeez House of Herbs and Yarn, Galax, Va. There's also a new version of the book, featuring knitter, crocheter and designer Melissa Leapman, but I don't know if it has the same patterns or what it's like.

It's Chris' afghan, so he picked out the colors: a tan yarn, a tan and cream variegated yarn, a reddish-orange yarn called paprika and a black yarn variegated with cream, reddish-orange and browns. It's nice and cozy!

I also came close to finishing these little birdies. My friend, Kelly, pointed out the pattern for them on Ravelry. I fell in love with them! These, once stuffed, will serve as a Christmas gift for one of my nieces, 6-month-old Bridgette. Since she's still a babe, I sewed on the eyes and bills instead of using felt or craft beads. I felt that would be safer.

The yellow one is a baby chick, the green is a baby parrot, inspired by my mom's new Quaker parrot, and the blue is a baby blue jay.

My friend and yarn pusher, Debbie Worrell of deBeez House of Herbs and Yarn, suggested stuffing leftover yarn into the birdies. I like this idea and have been slowly collecting a pile of scraps as I clip along on projects. If I don't have enough by Christmas, I'll either use yarn from skeins I'll probably never use or I'll buy some polyfill.

I also finished and stuffed this hacky sack for Bridgette's dad and my brother-in-law, Aaron. I was a little surprised that he asked for this as a present, but I made him one using leftover yarn from Chris' blanket. I filled it with rice.

I also found the pattern on Ravelry.

In the past week I also finished a hat for Aaron. I haven't taken a picture of it nor of a blanket and hat set I've made for a friend's soon-to-arrive infant as I haven't had time. Maybe later. But I'd like to keep some things a surprise until the said items are in the hands of the recipients. So maybe I'll share pictures later.

I will say that the patterns came from Debbie Stoller's "Stitch 'N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker," a good handbook for those learning to crochet or those who can't seem to remember how many chains to do at the end of a row for half-double crochets, double crochets, triple crochets, etc. It's full of more modern, youthful patterns that you won't find in most books or magazines.

I also recommend Stoller's other books "Stitch 'N Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook" and "Stitch 'N Bitch Nation," also a knitting book.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A beautiful quilt

One of the blogs I check regularly is fellow journalist Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood's blog and podcast "CraftSanity." Ackerman-Haywood also writes a crafty column for The Grand Rapids (Mich.) Press.

Recently Ackerman-Haywood and daughter Abby attended a local quilt show where they picked an entry to receive a judge's award.

Now, I'm not a quilter and don't think I ever will be unless I gain more patience, but I can appreciate all the hard work and creativity that goes into making one. And, I say, this is a marvelous quilt!

You can view this creation, titled "Lemonade Stand," by Marcy McAllister of Allendale, Mich., here.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fixing the shrink

Preshrinking material is important, I tell ya. Most people try to skip this step and continue on with cutting out fabric and sewing. But what will you do when you first wash the material and it shrinks? You're stuck with a beautiful garment that only a child could where.

But what do you do if the fabric shrinks and you don't have enough material to cut out the all the pattern pieces?

As I was cutting out a skirt pattern in a recent sewing class, I found my material had shrunk from 45 inches to 39 inches wide. This left me with about 3 inches less than was needed to cut out the back section of the skirt. What to do, what to do?

Class instructor Margaret Christie came to the rescue. She attached more material at the end, as seen above. You can see the seam above my thumb where material was added on. The seam was used as the fold for the hemline. The skirt is now a little bit shorter than I wanted it, but it would have been 2 inches shorter if we hadn't added on material!