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Long Overdue Update

I can hardly believe that it’s been over a year since I’ve given any attention to this blog.  Life tends to get in the way of living, and I’ve just let this project lay low while I’ve tended to the kids and nurtured another business venture.

Remember my post about making a spindle and spinning my own yarn?  Well…let me tell you…that is one slippery slope.  One little spindle and four ounces of fiber turned into a spinning wheels and pounds of fiber, which then in turn morphed into a second spinning wheel and even more fiber.  And the dyeing…oh, sweet fancy Moses, the dyeing.

So, what’s a girl to do once she starts dyeing and spinning?  Well…she starts selling, so in August of last year, I opened my third etsy shop for my handspun and fiber goods, andol Hookaholic Handspun was born.

So this is what’s been taking up a good chunk of my time lately –

Handspun Rainbow

And this –

HS001b

And some of this –

easter-egg1

So, yeah.  One little spindle…

The good news is, I’m also using it in my own creations, so it’s kind of a win-win.

And in other news – I updated the Crochet Chart Tutorial post with some FAQ and a video demonstration of color changes.

 

 

Week 12: Rag Quilt

This week I wanted to make something for Alexis, my two and half year old.  Rag quilts – they’re quick and easy and they take everything you know about traditional quilting and throw it out the window.  I whipped this one up in less than a day.

First, I picked up some cotton flannel at the fabric store.  I wanted one of the squares and the back of the quilt to be a solid pink color, so I bought three yards of that and a yard each or a light stripe, dots, and elephant print.  Some of the tutorials I’ve seen for these call for using batting between the squares, which also means sewing an ‘X’ in the center of each square.  I skipped this step entirely and used a second layer of pink flannel both for additional warmth and also more fringe-y raggedy goodness.

I squared up my fabric and cut out 6″ blocks.  My quilt is 8 blocks wide by 6 blocks high, so I cut 48 each of pink backing and middle, and 12 each of my four front blocks.

I started by laying out rows of backing, topped it with rows of the middle fabric, and then finished with the pattern blocks on top of that. 

Starting at the bottom right corner, I grabbed two blocks, held them WRONG sides together (see what I mean about quilting rules be damned), and sewed along one side with a 3/4″ seam allowance.  The I grabbed the next two and sewed them together, and so (sew) on until I had one complete row.  Notice that there’s no pinning involved yet?  Once I had all six rows done, I pinned two rows, again with the WRONG sides together.  I made sure to pin and open each seam so that I could sew over the top.  The bundle was sewn with a 3/4″ seam allowance.  I repeated this until the entire thing was assembled.  I don’t have pictures of these steps because my camera battery decided to crap out mid-project and I was done by the time it charged.

Now for the tedious part – cutting all of the raw edges of fabric to get that rag look.  Longest part of the project, and my hand is STILL sore, but totally worth the effort.

Here’s what it looks like before washing.

And here’s the finished product.  Lex adores her new blanket.

This week I made another project for Ava.  It seems like the newest baby is always the one that ends up as the focus of my crafting efforts.  There’s just so much adorable baby stuff out there that I can’t stand it.

These are reversible Mary Jane baby booties.  I love that there are no raw edges on the inside like some other patterns.  The pattern is available from Sweet Pea Patterns on Etsy.  It was super easy to follow with lots of photos and options for the ribbon tie, strap closure or elastic.

Here’s what the reverse looks like.

Ava seemed to enjoy them.  I had a hard time getting a photo of her wearing them because she decided to try to jump as my husband was holding her up.

I just looked at the calendar and realized that I managed to lose two weeks somewhere.  I SHOULD be on week 12.  Hrm.

Anyway, I have a thing for baskets.  I think it’s because although I tend to create clutter as I craft, deep down (and I mean WAY down), I aspire to be one of those highly organized minimalists.  Yeah.  Right.

Here’s a quick and easy (and free!) pattern for a chunky crocheted basket.

MATERIALS

  •                 Lion Brand Thick and Quick yarn (I used less than a full skein)
  •                 Size N (9.00mm) crochet hook

 DIMENSIONS

                My basket ended up being 8.5” across and 5.75” deep using this pattern.

 PATTERN NOTES

                Basket is worked in joined rounds.  The rounds are joined with a slip stitch to the first stitch unless otherwise noted.  Gauge is not crucial in this project.  Pattern is written in American crochet terms.

 PATTERN

 Ch 4.  Join with sl st to first ch to form a ring.

 Row 1:  Ch 2 (counts as first hdc now and throughout), 11 hdc in ring.  Join.  (12 hdc)

 Row 2:  Ch 2, hdc in same st, 2 hdc in each st around.  Join.  (24 hdc)

 Row 3:  Ch 2, *2 hdc in next st, hdc in next st*, repeat from * to * around.  Join.  (36 hdc)

 Row 4:  Ch 2, hdc in next st, *2 hdc in next st, hdc in next two stitches*, repeat from * to * around.  Join.  (48 hdc)

 Row 5:  Ch 2.  Working in FRONT LOOPS ONLY, hdc in each st around.  Join.

 Row 6.  Ch 2.  TURN.  Working through BOTH loops, hdc in each st around.  Join.

 Row 7:  Ch 2, hdc in each st around.  Join.

 Row 8-9:  Repeat row 7.

 Row 10:  Ch 2, hdc in next 5 sts, ch 6, skip next 6 sts, hdc in next 18 sts, ch 6, sk next 6 sts, hdc in next 12 sts.  Join.

 Row 11: Ch 2, work hdc in each st and 6 hdc in each ch 6 space of previous round.  Join, cut yarn and weave in end.

I changed colors a few times along the way for my basket.  For a larger basket, continue increasing the bottom before working in the front loops (row 5) that form the side.  To do this, you’ll increase 12 stitches per row (hdc in next three sts, 2 hdc in next), and so on.

These baskets would also look great felted if you use 100% wool.  Quick and Thick is part wool and part synthetic, so I don’t think it would felt very well.  Just remember when you’re making the basket to felt it that it WILL shrink, so crochet it larger than you’d like the finished basket to be.  Once you crochet it, toss it into the washer with a few pairs of jeans (make sure there’s nothing with velcro in there or it will stick to your project), and wash as usual on the hot cycle.  Check your basket every few minutes and take it out once the felting is to your liking.  I allow my felted projects to air dry so that I can shape them as they dry.

My youngest munchkin doesn’t have much hair yet, and in an effort to keep people from mistaking her for a boy (how many boys wear pink outfits?), I whipped up a little flower headband.  I like this design because the elastic is wide enough that it doesn’t leave a dent in her head but not too wide that it engulfs her skull.  I got the elastic from Bitsy Bands, and they’ve got tons of different styles.

Gather up some felt and elastic.

Cut out three 2.5″ circles from your felt.

Cut a spiral into each circle, leaving a little oval shape in the very center.

Starting at the outside edge, start rolling your felt.  I sort of squish it down between my fingers as I roll so that it spreads out the petals a little.  When you get to the end, use a little blob of Fabri-tac on the bottom to hold the petals together, and press the oval down to cover it.

Repeat with the other felt spirals and then cut out a rectangle of green felt.  This serves two purposes – it acts as a backing for your flowers, and you can trim the edges into leaf shapes.

Cut out the leaf edges and glue your flowers to the center.  Sew your elastic securely.  It doesn’t have to look too pretty because your flower cluster is going to cover it. 

I used a little embroidery floss to sew the cluster to the headband.  You can also cut a small oval of felt and glue it on to cover the sewing, but I didn’t bother.

The elastic is super soft and stretchy, and when I popped this onto Ava’s head and she didn’t even notice it. 

I’ve been searching for the perfect yarn to make a specific project that I have in mind and I just can’t find it.  I’m convinced that it doesn’t exist.  It’s led to obsessing about making my own.  I’ve been reading anything and everything I can get my hands on about spinning yarn.  Sooooo much information – drop spindles, spinning wheels, double or single treadle, scotch tension, wool types, tops and roving.  My head was ready to explode. 

Spinning wheels are not cheap.  Even used wheels hold their value and are hard to find, and they’re usually not much cheaper than a new one.  Although I tend to launch myself into new projects with my hair on fire, full steam ahead, I could easily see a spinning addiction getting out of control FAST.

I started small.  I figured I would give it a try, see if it’s something I LIKED  to do, and provided the results I was looking for. 

Step one – find some wool.  I’ll be honest here.  I chose this wool based entirely upon the color.  I wanted a bright rainbow of hues, and I found exactly what I was looking for at The Painted Tiger.  I selected 4 oz. of Corriedale wool top in tropical rainbow.  (I’ve since bought out her remaining stock because it’s just so damn awesome.) 

This photo doesn’t do it justice, and it was actually twice as fat as this, but I forgot to take a picture before I split it.

Okay, then.  I had the wool.  Now I need to turn this into yarn.  Not just any yarn, but that delicious thick and thin slubby art yarn with lots of big puffs and thin, thready areas.  There are about a million tutorials out there on how to make a simple drop spindle.  The idea to make my own came to me on a Sunday afternoon and my resources were limited.  I ended up with a 12″ length of dowel, a wooden coaster, and a cup hook.  That’s it. 

I drilled a hole in the center of the coaster and jammed it onto the dowel.  It was a tight fit, but that was fine with me.  I didn’t want to mess with trying to glue it on.  Last step, I twisted the cup hook into the end of the dowel.  Total investment for the spindle?  About $1.80.

Spindle + wool = yarn, right?  I watched countless YouTube videos on working with a drop spindle and was feeling pretty confident.  It took a few false starts and some awkward fumbling (and a LOT of mumbled curses), but I finally started to find a rhythm in spinning the spindle, drafting the wool, and producing something that actually resembled what I was looking for!  Yay!

I kept practicing until I ended up with a little over 40 yards of yarn.  It was far from the amount I need for the As Yet Un-named Project, but it was plenty to make a newborn hat.  It was also more than enough for me to realize that I really enjoyed spinning, and I’ve been eyeing the Ashford Kiwi spinning wheel.  A lot.  Yet another hobby…

And here’s a close-up of the yarn detail.  Yes, I did this on purpose.  I wanted it to look this wonky, and to be honest, it’s pretty easy for a beginner to do.  It probably would have ended up like this even if I wasn’t trying.  I can’t wait to whip up some more of this.

My tiniest clone is just about seven months old and still hasn’t popped a tooth yet.  She’s been drooling at a rate of about 3 gallons per hour though, so I think she’s getting close.  Bib changes are pretty frequent around here, and I knew it was time to whip up some new ones when I found myself reaching for a Christmas bib because all other options were in the wash or soaked with drool.

Gather your supplies.  You’ll need:

  • Fabric of choice (a fat quarter will make four bibs)
  • Cotton chenille stripe fabric
  • a glass or other round 3.5″ object
  • velcro
  • a sewing machine

Layer your fabric and chenille, right sides together and cut it to 8×10″.  Be sure when you’re lining it up the the fabric and chenille in the directions that you want them.  I like my chenille stripes to be horizontal, and for this bib, I wanted the fabric stripes to be vertical.  The longer length is the vertical measurement.

Use your glass (mine was my beloved Yuengling lager pint glass) to trace rounded edges at each corner.  Center the glass about 1.75″ down from the top edge and trace a circle.  Trace a line from the middle of the top edge into the circle. 

Now start cutting.  I like to throw a few pins in the layers to keep them from slipping around. 

Once all your cuts are made, it’s time to sew.  I pinned the edges and sewed all around with a 1/4″ seam allowance, making sure to leave about a 2-3″ opening along one side so you can turn your bib inside out.  I used a pencil to get into the corners when I turned it inside out because the top pieces can be a little tricky.

Fold the edges of the opening under and pin in place, then press your bib.  Add the Velcro and top stitch with a narrow seam allowance around the edges.

The great thing about this bib is that you can use the chenille side for very heavy droolers, or the fabric side for the more fashionable baby.  If you want to make several at once, you can layer, trace and cut them all at the same time, just be sure the right sides are together because it makes it easier to line up to sew.

Here’s Miss Ava modeling her new bib.  It took about 4 seconds for her to drool on it.  🙂