Towel Topper

Saturday, December 29, 2007
I don't do a lot of designing. I find it a difficult and painful process. I'm a builder, I love the process of making things -- useful projects, good materials and excellent techniques. When I do design it's mostly to improve upon someone else's design but occasionally I'll write a pattern to meet my needs and aesthetics.

Towel topper patterns can be found by the hundreds but somehow the vast majority of them have long skinny necks or cutesy faces and flowers and I was looking to make something quick and easy with a short neck. I had to write it myself! It's now a family favorite and is regularly requested.

Towel Topper Pattern

Heart Silhouettes

Monday, November 19, 2007
A pattern from:
Vanna's Favorite Gift Afghans
by Vanna White and Susan Frantz Wiles

I fell in love with this pattern because of the heart motif but I now love it for the simplicity of the pattern and the ease of putting it together. I will be working this pattern again and experimenting with different types of yarns.

Here are my details:
  • Finished size: 51½" x 65"
  • Hook size: J
  • Yarn: TLC Cotton Plus (I bought 15 skeins and used 13.5) I loved working with this yarn and I love that it's 51% cotton. Such a different feel then wool or acrylic. I'm hoping the 49% acrylic blend helps the dimensional stability.
  • I easily memorized the pattern for this but I kept working the last round wrong. I would forget the 2 holes toward the corners (which make the square motifs when the squares were joined. I discovered my errors when I was stitching the motifs together so not only was I having to frog back a round of crocheting but I had to undo the sewing. Remember to watch out for this next time!!
  • MAJOR PATTERN ADJUSTMENT: I made a VERY important aesthetic pattern correction by changing where the rounds start & end. As written, the pattern rows end and start in the middle of one of the four hearts (you can clearly see this in the picture from the book). I moved the start of rows 2 thru 7 by slip stitching to the corner. From row 8 -11 I didn't slip stitch to the corner but started the row where I was and followed the pattern. It wasn't a difficult adjustment to make and it looks 1000% better.

    My Ravelry project page - Heart Silhouettes
  • Why I blog

    Friday, November 09, 2007
    I never had the chance to share my love of crochet with my grandmother. She died when I was 11 and that was well before my enthusiasm and passion for the craft emerged. I have a few things she crocheted and I admire the detail, fineness and perfection of her work. I also inherited her crochet books. Her work and the books are the only crocheting memory I have of her.

    I wish she had written notes, made comments or kept a diary of her projects. I wish I knew what her favorite things to make were and the problems she had making them. I wish I had known her as a crocheter. So that is why I blog, because maybe someday a daughter, a granddaughter or great-granddaughter will find a passion for crochet or knitting and make a connection to me and my grandmother.

    I'm not real keen on pictures of myself and I've finally gotten around to working out an "avatar". I've scanned a motif my grandmother crocheted called Crinoline Lady. It was originally done to decorate a corner on a woman's handkerchief. The pattern is in a book I inherited from her titled Crinoline Lady in Crochet - Book No. 262 - Copyright 1949 by The Spool Cotton Company. Since my user name is ladynthread it is a perfect match.

    How Long to Make a Scarf

    Tuesday, October 16, 2007
    While I was working on my scarfs for the 60 Scarves in 60 Days Challenge I needed to research how long to make them. Basically, you make a scarf any size you or the wearer wants but here are some facts to help you decide.
    • Most scarves measure between 40" to 66"
    • Many people swore by the rule that you make a scarf as long as the person is tall. In the United States, the average female is 64 inches tall and the average male is 69 inches tall (numbers are rounded from the Wikipedia article on human height)
    • The most common figure bouncing around for a child's scarf was 31"
    • The average scarf length is 48"
    • A super long scarf length is around 95"

    60 Scarves in 60 Days

    Monday, October 08, 2007

    Yesterday was a long sports day and I needed a project to knit or crochet. Luckily on Saturday night, I was reading and catching up with my favorite bloggers when I came across Dee's progress report for her 60 Scarves in 60 Days Challenge. I had found my Sunday project!

    I took a skein of Caron Simply Soft and chose one of my favorite patterns -- the *K2, P2 *across, K1. I also decided to challenge myself and knit the scarf using only the continental method. There's a lot of wasted motion and strain on my wrists when I knit with the English method because I hold my wrists at funny angles, so I've been teaching myself using videos and switching to exclusive use of the continental method. This was going to be my first attempt with a knit ribbing.

    The Details:
    • Caron Simply Soft (the color is actually Iris, my camera does not do purple)
    • Size 9 needles
    • 33 Stitches
    • Finished size: 4½" x 48"
    • Will be donated to a local shelter

    Oh, the sports results??

  • The Boston Red Sox swept the Los Angeles Angels and advanced to the American League Championship Series.
  • "My guy" Jeff Gordon won the Nascar race at Talladaga and now leads in the championship race.
  • The New England Patriots remain undefeated.

  • Do you think knitting a scarf for the 60 scarfs in 60 Days Challenge had anything to do with such great results?? ..... Hmmm, maybe I should try it again next weekend!!

    A Note to Myself

    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    I need to write down inspiration and details as they come to me, so I love taking notes. I make them all the time. My family knows I will stop in the middle of a shopping expedition to jot down the finer points of something I've seen (I carry a special notebook in my purse for just this purpose). When I'm working at my desk I have note cubes for that quick reminder or "to do". These usually get tossed once the note is not longer needed or transfered to a notebook for more permanent remembrance.

    The kinds of things that get written down are:
    • Titles of books that I'm not going to buy but I want borrow from the library
    • A drawing of a garment that I'd like to "knock off" for myself
    • Phone #'s and addresses
    • Bridge hands so I can retell a story or work out a problem I didn't get right at the table
    • Notes from an article found in a waiting room magazine
    • Crochet or knitting design inspirations
    • Questions I want to find the answers to, for example: Do you put periods at the end of lists items or does the list item notation function as a period?
    • Anything I'm afraid I'll forget

    I didn't know until yesterday that when you're buying a box of note cubes you need to pay attention to the little cutout on the box. THAT is what tells you how many pieces of paper there are in the cube -- NOT the size of the box!! The arrows on photo show the bottom of the window where the paper ends, the rest of the box is filler. Both boxes are the the same size but the one on the right held less paper than the one on the left and neither box listed how many sheets of paper it contained.

    I buy note cubes mostly based on the design rather than how many sheets there are and I think that's why I'm irritated -- I liked the note paper than came from the box on the right and it ran out faster than I was expecting.

    What's the point of this entry concerning crochet, knitting or crafting? Mostly, to express how important to my creative process note taking is but it is also a note to myself to check the cut out of a note cube the next time I purchase one.

    Garter Stitch Hat

    Friday, September 21, 2007
    Hats are a great project to try a new pattern or stitch and a wonderful way to get your feet wet with your own designs. Hats are very forgiving projects to knit or crochet -- Someone somewhere will be a fit for your hat!

    This year I knit two hats using a pattern I give to my elementary school knitting class. The garter stitch hat is simple and easily adapted to any yarn or head size. The simple structure of the hat makes it easy to add your own design features.

    Here's the pattern:

    Simple Garter Hat

    Size 9 needles, cast on 72 stitches loosely (multiples of 12).

    Knit every round until piece measures 6” (8” if you want a 2” cuff)

    Shape top of hat as follows
    Round 1: (K10, k2 tog) around.
    Round 2 (and all even rounds): Knit.
    Round 3: (K9, k2tog) around.
    Round 5: (K8, k2tog) around.
    Round 7: (K7, k2tog) around.

    Now, begin working the decreases every round as follows:
    Round 8: (K6, k2tog) around.
    Round 9: (K5, k2tog) around.
    Round 10: (K4, k2tog) around.
    Round 11: (K3, k2tog) around.
    Round 12: (K2, k2tog) around.
    Round 13: (K1, k2tog) around.
    Round 14: k2tog around.

    Finish by running the yarn through the remaining stitches and pulling tightly to close the opening at the top.

    Sew seam with mattress stitch.

    Leave as is, or top it with a tassel, pompom or other decoration.

    Green hat specs:
    Size 9 needles
    Caron Dazzleaire (a stash busting hat because Dazzleaire was discontinued in 2004)
    Circumference: 19"
    Hat height: 7¾"

    Brown hat specs:
    Size 8 needles
    Lion Brand Wool-Ease
    Circumference: 16½"
    Hat height: 7¼"

    Dress Bookmark - revisited

    Thursday, September 13, 2007
    I've updated this post with a video for round 5. Thank you to my lovely daughter Laura for taking the video. -- I love my new camera!

    This is a follow-up to a previous post about a very adorable crochet bookmark that sits on the corner of a page and looks like a dress. The previous blog entry and pattern link is here.

    The pattern is pretty straight forward through round 4 but figuring out round 5 from the pattern can be a little difficult so I've put together a tutorial with pictures and a video to help out.

    At the end of Round 4 everything should look like this:

    The beginning of round 5 looks like this (I've worked round 5 in red thread to highlight the work):

    Also, I don't end my rounds like this pattern has written for them to be finished. The pattern has you joining the end of one round right into the space that you'll be starting the new round from (effectively skipping a number of stitches that originally began the round)

    I always join the end of one round with a slip stitch to the beginning chain of that same round, then I slip stitch into the next couple of stitches and into the space that it wants me to start working from on the new round. I have found this to be a clean/flatter finish to the round.

    Continue working rounds 6 thru 10 and you'll have a very cute crochet bookmark!

    Throw - Soft Boucle

    Saturday, September 01, 2007
    This throw is sooooooooo so soft and was very easy to crochet (the only stitches are chain and double crochet.) The Bernat site categorizes it as an intermediate pattern (I'd really like to know what they think is simpler than this!) --pattern ratings are arbitrary and no one should dissuade themselves from attempting a project because of one. The hardest part about crocheting this throw was frogging. It's very difficult to take out stitches with Boucle yarn. The stitches get caught, the yarn pulls and before you know it you have more ends to work in!

    I didn't quite get gauge with an L hook and my finished size was 44 x 60 (however, the throw is very stretchy and I took this measurement without a lot of stretching.)

    The pattern for the throw is here. However, you may need to have a membership with Bernat to see it. My advice -- MAKE IT UP. You do not have to give real information in any way, shape or form. I have an internet persona (with matching Yahoo mail box) made up just for this purpose and I hope if mucks up the demographics of every site I use it with.

    Updates: I worked this pattern a second time and made a few changes which I like even more. The blog entry for the second afghan is here. Also, you can now download this pattern directly from the Ravelry project page without having to login to the Bernat site.

    Crochet at Colonial Williamsburg

    Friday, August 24, 2007
    There is a very strong argument that crochet did not exist before about 18001 so you don't see crocheted items at Colonial Williamsburg. However, at Basset Hall, which was a home for John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his wife beginning in 1936 (and is now a part of Colonial Williamsburg,) I found two crocheted pieces. One elaborate and another extremely simple.

    The picture above is a crocheted bed covering decorating one of the guest bedrooms and these are close-ups of the two motifs.

    If anyone knows the history of this bedspread or information about the pattern I'd love to hear about it.

    The last room we toured at the Basset House was the kitchen and my eye caught this as we were leaving -- a crocheted dishcloth! It looks like worsted weight cotton thread and rows of single crochet (but it looks a little different than that -- any ideas?)

    1Crochet and its Origins -- FAQ

    What's in the past should stay in the past

    Tuesday, July 31, 2007
    I'm still busy going through my craft magazines and I ran across this yarn ad from the Fall-Winter 1973-74 McCall's Needlework and Crafts.

    When the poncho, shawl, shrug rage of the past few years happened my children always wanted me to knit them items and never wanted anything crocheted because "it would look like we were wearing one of your afghans". I have to say I understand their point of view. This look may have worked in the 1970's (and maybe not even then!) but that's where it should remain. When it comes to garments I'm almost exclusively a knitter.

    Knitting Loves Crochet - book review

    Monday, July 30, 2007

    I've never reviewed a book at before but this book compelled me to publicly warn others. Crocheting is my needle art of first choice but knitting comes in second and combining the two together hasn't been done a lot so I thought I had hit a gold mine with this book ..... unfortunately it was fools gold and the following is my posted review:

    Knitting Loves Crochet by Candi Jensen

    In the past year there has been a lot of exciting and interesting work created that combine both knitting and crochet. With the hope of finding inspiring and innovative designs and based solely on the book's description and intriguing cover, I bought this book to fill in an Amazon order and get the free shipping.

    I was extremely disappointed. There are 22 "stylish designs" in this book but only 7 patterns are garments. The other patterns are accessories or home decorating and over half of those are simply crocheted flowers slapped on a knitting project or the tired basic granny square worked into one more design.

    The knit i-cord dog leash with chain 3 crochet loops around the handle for "trim" is the worst of the book but others come very close. I wish I had been able to scan through this book because it would never have passed my buy test -- are there at least three patterns that I might be interested in or that inspire me? The pattern on the cover of this book was the ONLY one.

    Let Nature Take Its Course

    Friday, July 27, 2007
    I'm in the process of organizing and downsizing my collection of crafting magazines. I'm only saving the stuff I find really, really, really inspirational and the patterns that, after all these years, still makes me say "I want to make that". I have been asked if I haven't gotten around to it by now, am I ever going to? I Don't know, but there are a few things that have been PIM's (projects in mind) for 30+ years and I still intend on getting around to them!

    Anyway, I'm flipping through a copy of Seventeen's Make it! magazine from the spring/summer of 1972 and I find this little gem (click on photo for larger view). See what's interesting about it?? That picture would never be shown today because some idiots would go out and wrap a hammock around their neck and lose what few brain cells they had to begin with, resulting in a major lawsuit that would have the publisher of Seventeen taking care of them for the rest of their lives (if they hadn't managed to suffocate themselves to death).

    Nowadays a picture like that will have a slew of disclaimers. Starting with the environmental one : "No trees were harmed in the making and using of this hammock." Followed by the liability one, "do not attempt this yourself, the humans used in this advertisement are professional stunt doubles for trees."

    Granny Square Heart Afghan

    Wednesday, July 25, 2007
    This afghan was actually made quite some time ago and I remembered it while I was blogging my woes from the Endless Ends Afghan. This is the first afghan I duplicated solely from a picture. The afghan measures approximately 57" x 68" (including the borders) and each square is three rounds of the traditional granny square pattern and measure 3½".

    These figures from my notes represent generous allowances for the yarn used:
    White - 1700 yards
    Dark Pink - 290 yards
    Blue - 290 yards
    Pink/Blue/White Ombre - 570 yards
    Light Pink (for border) - 400 yards

    Click on the photo to the left for a larger version of the graph and additional details.

    I really like the boarder I put on this afghan:
    Round 1: Sc evenly around, working 3 sc in four corners. Join.
    Round 2: Ch 3, 2 dc in same st, *skip 2 sc, 3 dc in next st. Repeat from * around but make adjustments (by skipping only 1 sc, if needed) so that the three corner stitches are worked such: 3 dc in first stitch of corner, ch 2, skip middle sc of corner, 3 dc in third stitch of corner. Join
    Round 3: Slip st to next space between 3 dc clusters. Chain 3, 2 dc in same space, *skip next 3 dc, 3 dc in next space. Repeat from * around working 3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc in each corner. Join.
    Round 4: Slip st to middle stitch of dc cluster. Ch 1, sc in same st. *Skip 2 dc, 5 dc, skip 2 dc, sc around (you should end up with a 5 dc cluster in each corner - you may need to frog and start with a 3 dc cluster at the beginning of the row instead.)

    This afghan is no longer my daughter's favorite because it's a little too cute but mostly because it's not airy enough --but her rabbit, Dusty, liked it so much he chewed on it!

    My Ravelry project page - Granny Square Heart Afghan

    Chanson En Crochet

    Friday, July 20, 2007
    It was the hot item to crochet about a year ago (I know, I know -I'm that behind on finishing my projects!) The advantage to having a work basket of UFO's is that by the time I got around to making this, most of the errors in the pattern had been fixed with an errata page. I made a few minor adjustments along the way but I don't know if that was because I was reading the pattern wrong or if there were pattern corrections still to be made. The pattern links for the Chanson En Crochet and any errata are here.

    I used Caron Simply Soft and my piece came out exactly to gauge. However, I am a 5'9" woman and it's just a little short for my preference. If I had thought about it better at the beginning, I could have added length by repeating a section somewhere in the middle.

    My Ravelry project page - Chanson En Crochet

    A Couple of Baby Sweaters

    Wednesday, July 18, 2007

    This is a catch-up blog entry about two baby sweaters I made about a year and a half ago!

    Ravelry Project Page - Baby Sweater for Haden

    The first sweater was for my grandson Haden. Rebecca's husband liked the pattern called "Garter Stitch Cardigan" from the book Knitting for Baby by Melanie Falick and Kristin Nicholas. I knit the sweater with Lion Brand Wool Ease using the colors Woods, Forest Green Heather and Mushroom. It's a beginning knitting pattern and was very easy to knit (lots of ends!) Structurally the button band may prove to be a problem (the simplicity of the pattern didn't provide sound facings) but Haden will probably outgrow it before that's an issue!

    Ravelry Project Page - Baby Sweater for Salem

    The second sweater was one I made for Salem, the daughter of Rebecca's friend Lori. It's a crocheted sweater from a Leisure Arts Leaflet (No. 2630) titled Baby, It's Cold Outside. I stashed busted the yarn used for this and unfortunately, other than the fact that it was a sport weight, I don't remember what I used. The pattern worked up quickly once I figured out the special pattern stitch called the Double Crochet Cross Stitch. Rebecca helped me shop for the creative buttons -- I had never thought to use two different sizes. Very cute!

    The Endless Ends Afghan

    Sunday, July 08, 2007
    Insane. Insane. Insane. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. That's how I feel about myself for taking on this project and having a major bout of obsessive compulsiveness kick in (about finishing what I start) didn't help.

    It all began when I found a photo of an afghan. I liked the looks of it immediately and it suited my geometric design impulses so very nicely. I filed it away in my afghan patterns folder to wait for the right time. When I was looking for an afghan pattern, with the intent of stash busting some pink yarn, this pattern jumped out as a perfect project. It's not the first afghan that I've picked apart from a photo (oops, never blogged about that one! details soon). Warning signs did not light up during this phase.

    The first thing I needed to do was to graph the granny squares. Picking out the pattern was a challenging puzzle and great fun. In retrospect, I should have stopped here, but again, no serious warning bells were going off.

    Once I had the pattern graphed I knew that it was going to take 145 white squares, 66 dark color squares and 66 light color squares. Yep, 277 squares. Major warning bells should have gone off at this point but I was still having a blast knocking off the design.

    Quick math determined that a 4" square would make the afghan 84" across at the widest point and a 3" square would make it 63". So I searched my pattern books and the internet for a 3" square that would be interesting (a simple granny square was not going to "pop" the design.) I found the perfect square in the Leisure Arts publication 99 Granny Squares to Crochet. It's square #75 and the interesting middle is done by turning the granny square around to the wrong side and working a sc and dc in each stitch around and then turning back to the front to work the final round (since the pattern is copyrighted I can't give any more hints than that!)

    So I merrily began crocheting 277 squares. Each square only took about 10 minutes to do and hey, it was crocheting so it was fun. The warning bells finally began to scream when I started to sew the thing together ...... have you done the math on how many ends there are to sew in?? If you have, you are soooooo much smarter than I am. There are two ends for each square + two more for sewing one to another + two more for putting each strip together. BUT -- sewing the strips together took more than one color, after all, I couldn't sew a pink to pink portion with white yarn. I sewed in almost 1000 ends. I was insane. I was stupid.

    I edged the afghan with a reverse single crochet but I was so fed up with the thing by this point that I don't think I executed the stitch properly - it doesn't look like cording. It did look better than regular singular crochet so I just left it.

    My Ravelry project page - Endless Ends Afghan

    Crochet at the Smithsonian American Arts Museum

    Saturday, July 07, 2007
    This summer we visited the Smithsonian American Art Museum and there were two pieces in the Folk Art exhibition that caught my eye. I love traveling and visiting new places and I really love it when I see crochet!

    Indian Woman(ca. 1970) by Miles Burkholder Carpenter

    Smithsonian Photo

    Embroidered Garment (ca. 1949) by Alice Eugenia Ligon.

    For many folk artists, life-changing events such as death, injury, or disease that affects the family may trigger a period of great creativity. According to the embroidered inscription, Ligon created this dress as a Christmas gift for her children while she was a patient at Fulton State Hospital. She was hospitalized there in 1949 and 1953 for an unspecified condition. Ligon enjoyed sewing, crocheting, and quilting, but this garment; this gown, probably her first hospital gown or uniform, shows her remarkable skill. She crocheted the hem and sleeves and used every available inch of cloth to embroider religious, patriotic, popular, and personal portraits, vignettes, and inscriptions.

    Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006


    Sunday, June 10, 2007
    The largest number of books from my Grandmothers crochet book collection are for potholders. These two potholders were made for me by my mom and are from patterns found in my grandmother's (her mom) books. There are a lot of interesting potholders in these books and I may stash bust by making up a few!

    The potholder above is the "Star" potholder and the pattern can be found in Potholders - Star Pot Holder Book No. 101 - Copyright 1953 The American Thread Co., Inc.

    The pot holder on the right is the "Lantern " pot holder and can be found in Suggestions for Fairs and Bazaars - Star Book No. 98 - Copyright 1953 The American Thread Co., Inc.

    Simple Shrug

    Thursday, June 07, 2007
    This is about the trials and tribulations of "simple".

  • First, I couldn't get the gauge right so I ran out of yarn and it took A. C. Moore more than six months to get it back in stock. I had almost given up and was going to order online (and pay shipping, which I hate to do).

  • Second, The pattern is worked in stockinette stitch so I worked increases every 4th row instead of every 5th row (how do you increase on a purl row???) This probably contributed to my yarn shortage as well.

    Update 6/14/2014: I have since learned how to knit the purl front and back increase.

  • Third, using smaller needles for the collar/border around the shrug produced an uncomfortably tight fit. I frogged, bumped up to the same size needle that the body was knit with and added a half dozen more stitches and it fit much more comfortably.

    The pattern was on the wrapper of the yarn (Caron Simply Soft Shadows - Pearl Frost) and can also be found online here.

    My shrug is nice, warm, soft, comfortable and the right size (the sleeves are longer than normal but I like that) - I love it now - however, the pattern is flawed (fixable but flawed none-the-less) and between the yarn shortage and reworks it took almost a year to complete.

    My Ravelry project page - Simple Shrug

  • Friendship Quilt

    Friday, May 11, 2007
    I love family/friend/album quilts! This one was done for our daughter Rebecca by her husband for her 31st birthday. David did a square with limericks he had written about boys. Sarah did a monster square and Laura's is a saying that she and a friend came up with (which I LOVE and wear on a t-shirt!) I did, what else ..... hearts?! I used the Little Granny Square Heart. I DID find a project for it!

    Pineapple Fan

    It's not often I get a request from my Mom to crochet something. A few months ago she requested a chair back and arms cover set and hoped I had the book with the pattern that her mother frequently used. I did have the pattern! it's in the book New and Old Favorites - Book No. 205 - Copyright 1944 The Spool Cotton Company.

    The pattern called for size 30 thread but I used size 20 and my gauge came out about right. I used 1½ balls (approx. 600 yds total) of J.& P. Coats Royale #20 Natural and a size 8 hook. It's the first time in a very long time that I've needed to block any of my work and I had to search the internet for a refresher course. Here are the two sites I referenced: How To Spray Block Crocheted or Knitted Squares and How to Block Thread Work

    I love vintage crochet thread patterns. My mom recently gave me a tablecloth my grandmother made for her and I remember it being used at many family dinners. I have to do some conservation work on it and I'm hoping I can find the pattern grandma used. Details of that project to follow.