A Long Hiatus

It has been a very long time since I’ve updated this blog. During that time I’ve been busy working on the most complicated and tiring crafting project I’ve ever undertaken. And any day now I’ll finally get to meet the result.

pregnancy silhouette

(Photo credit to Natasha McCarthy of McCarthy Photography and Design)

Finally, after many months of having no urge to craft I’ve been struck by the crafting bug, and now I have the best possible reason to create.

There are lots of projects to come, but the very first thing I made is this pair of crocheted shark booties. I bought the pattern from Janine Tsakisiris on Ravelry.

These are insanely adorable and were quick and easy to make. My husband used these to announce to his co-workers that we were expecting by placing them on his desk at work and waiting for people to notice.

crocheted shark booties

I hope you like them too!

Crochet Baby Blanket

Most crafters love making items for other people. I am clearly not most crafters.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love that moment when you give someone a hand-crafted item and they truly love it, and they appreciate just how much effort goes into a handmade work. It’s all the moments leading up to that moment that I don’t love. The stress that comes with working on a deadline, the worry over whether the recipient will like the gift or if it will just get tossed in a closet never to be seen again, and the constant feeling that whatever I’m making isn’t good enough – if I can see all the flaws then clearly everyone else must be able to as well!

And yet, despite all these feelings, when I’m horribly sick, swamped with work, and have less than three weeks until a baby shower, I’ll still end up deciding that making something is a good idea. Because even though I spend the whole project grumbling to my husband, asking why I always do this to myself, swearing that I will never do this again, and cursing myself for thinking that crafting on a deadline is ever a good idea, deep down I know I will make the same decision again… and again… and again. Because at heart I’m a crafter, and that’s what crafters do.

On the plus side, I’m not completely deluded, so at least I picked the fairly simple rainbow granny square afghan from Stacey Trock’s Modern Baby Crochet as the project. There’s nothing better than whipping out piles of granny squares while watching movies on a Saturday afternoon. Granted, washing, blocking, and joining all the silly things wasn’t my favourite task, but making the squares was fast, so even with my crazily short timeline I had well over a week to deal with the finishing.

Crocheted granny square rainbow blanket

Stacey’s version of the blanket used grey instead of white for the joining colour – perhaps a more baby friendly (i.e. less stain apparent) choice – but I needed the yarn in my hands immediately, so I had to settle for whatever Micheal’s had in stock. Frankly, I was thrilled to find all the rainbow colours I needed in a single brand of yarn1, so no complaints. In the end I like the fresh and modern look of the white, and I did use a machine washable acrylic, so hopefully it holds up okay. Of course I’ll continue to worry since that’s what I do about items made as gifts.

Luckily, I think the recipient (my co-worker, who is expecting her first baby to arrive any second now) truly appreciated the blanket. Hopefully when her little baby girl finally decides to join us, she will as well.

 

1The yarn was the Michaels exclusive Loops & Threads Soft & Shiny. Sadly, I believe it has been discontinued. It was actually a fairly nice acrylic to work with and the final blanket was unbelievably soft. If it hadn’t been a gift I might still be rubbing it against my face.

Kirby

I’ll sheepishly admit that I’ve never actually played a Kirby game. I’ll also admit that I finished this little guy quite awhile ago but never managed to post him here. That being said, here’s Kirby with his star pillow:

Amigurumi Kirby with crocheted star pillow

Amigurumi Kirby with crocheted star pillow

You can find the PDF pattern on the Patterns page.

Kirby came into creation solely because he’s simple shapes to practice on as I keep trying to develop my amigurumi design and patterning skills. He now lives on the desk of my husband’s co-worker Kerby, who also may have never played a Kirby game. But apparently having the same name with a different spelling is enough to get you gifted with toys 🙂

And a couple more pics, just because:

Amigurumi Kirby

Crocheted star pillow

Candy Monster

I’m a huge sucker for cute crochet. Particularly cute crochet with a bit of an edge. So when I found Brenda K.B. Anderson’s Beastly Crochet: 23 Critters to Wear and Love, I was totally smitten. The book is full of patterns for purses, stuffed creatures, slippers, baby clothes, and more, all featuring adorable monsters, skulls, vampires, robots, and other delightful critters.

My first creation from the book is a hilarious candy monster, with a particular penchant for chocolate.

Crocheted candy monster

He’s an interesting type of design that I haven’t encountered before. He’s crocheted in the round, like any amigurumi, using a wool yarn, and then felted in the washing machine until the fabric is dense and can stand up on its own. Once the felting is complete, a hole is cut for the mouth turning him into an adorable container. It never occurred to me to use the hollowness of amigurumi as a feature rather than simply a repository for stuffing. Obviously, this would only work with felted fabrics as the felting helps prevent the cut yarn from unraveling, but I think this technique opens up a lot of possibilities for purses and bowls.

And who doesn’t want an adorable monster sitting on their desk guarding their afternoon snack? I just hope he’s willing to share!

 

 

Reversible Image Crochet

I’m still working through projects from the Creativ Festival. This one is reversible image crochet from a workshop by Sonja Hood. The concept is similar to double knitting in that it creates matching images on both sides of the work. I was completely blown away by this technique and can see a lot of great uses for it. It’s worked using two contrasting strands of yarn together making a very thick fabric – perfect for dishcloths or really warm blankets.

Below are the samples I stitched followed by a detailed tutorial on how to crochet reversible images.

Reversible crochet heart

Reversible crochet skull

Reversible crochet butterfly

Tutorial

Reversible image crochet is created using double crochet with two strands of yarn held together. For best results choose two yarns of highly contrasting colours. The image portion is created by working the front loop and back loop separately, using a stitch that I’m going to call puffy double crochet, because I don’t remember what it was actually called. It’s essentially worked as if you were making a double crochet two together but into a single stitch instead of across two stitches.

Ready?

Holding two strands of yarn together, chain your desired number of stitches and complete a row a double crochet. I’m making the skull above, so the pattern is 12 stitches wide. With worsted weight yarn I used a 6mm hook.

Double crochet row

The second row of the skull pattern has 4 regular stitches, 4 image stitches and another 4 regular stitches. Work the first four double crochets up to the point where the image begins.

Ready for first image stitch

To get ready for the first stitch of the image, extend the loops that are currently on the hook.

Extended loops

Remove one colour loop from the hook (in this case grey) and tighten up the loop of the other colour (in this case pink) so it is ready to use.

Pink loop ready to use

Yarn over and insert the hook into the front loop only of the next double crochet.

Insert front loop only

Yarn over and pull up a loop (three loops on hook).

Yarn over pull up loop with pink

Yarn over and pull through two loops on the hook (two loops remain).

Pull through two loopsYarn over and insert into the same front loop of the same double crochet to pull up another loop (4 loops on hook).

Yarn over and pull up another loop in same stitchYarn over and pull through two loops (three loops remain).Pull through two loops againYarn over and pull through all three loops. This completes the first half of the puffy double crochet.

Pink half of puffy double crochet complete

To get ready to complete the second half of the stitch, extend the pink loop that is currently on the hook and remove it from the hook. (Extending the loop is just to make sure it doesn’t get pulled back into your work and unravel the crochet). Put the grey loop back on the hook and tighten it up so it’s ready to use.
Pink loop removed from hook, grey loop ready to useYarn over and insert the hook into the unworked back loop of the same stitch the pink stitches were worked into.

Yarn over and insert in back loop

Yarn over and pull up a loop (three loops on hook).

Yarn over and insert in back loop

Work the rest of the stitch the same way as the pink stitch:

Yarn over and pull through two loops (two loops remain).
Yarn over and insert into the same back loop to pull up a loop (four loops on hook).
Yarn over and pull through two loops (three loops remain).
Yarn over and pull through all three loops.

That completes both halves of the puffy double crochet stitch.

Yarn over and pull through two loops

Continue working the rest of the image stitches in this same way. Once the needed number of stitches are completed (a total of four stitches in this case), place both loops back on the hook to continue on.

Four image stitches complete

Work the remaining stitches as normal double crochet stitches using both strands of yarn.

Here’s what the piece looks like from the front at this point. There are four pink stitches between two sets of multi-coloured stitches.

Row two pink stitches

On the backside, you have four grey stitches between the same two sets of multi-coloured stitches.

Row two grey stitches

Chain your turning stitches and turn the work.

On the wrong side rows, to create the puffy double crochet stitches, the grey yarn will be worked into the front loops, and the pink yarn will be worked into the back loops.

Here’s the next row worked up to the first puffy double crochet. I’ve extended the pink loop and removed it from the hook. The grey loop is tightened up and ready to use.

Ready to work grey row 3

The next grey stitch is worked into the front loop of the next double crochet, but the following grey stitch is worked into a puffy double crochet.

The puffy double crochet is actually made up of two separate stitches. Here’s the top view.
Top view puffy double crochet

In this case, the ‘front loop’ is considered to be the two strands of the grey stitch and the ‘back loop’ is considered to be the two strands of the pink stitch. So, the grey half of the next stitch will be worked into the grey loops.

Working into grey loops

If you are working a normal double crochet into a puffy double crochet, the stitch is worked through all four loops of the puffy stitch (both the pink and grey stitch in this case).

When working multiple puffy stitches in a row it is possible to work all of the front loops before working all of the back loops. This is much faster than needing to switch colours within each stitch.

Here I have finished the first half of each of the six image stitches using the grey yarn.

Front loops of next six stitches worked

Here’s a top view where you can see the grey stitches towering over the ledge of unworked back loops where the pink stitches will be worked.

Grey stitches

As you work the pink stitches into the back loops you will notice that a pocket forms between the pink and grey stitches.

Pink and grey pocket

This is normal. As you continue working an image, regular double crochets will eventually be worked over the image stitches. As already stated, these double crochets are worked through all four loops of the puffy double crochet. This closes up the pocket to complete the image.

A couple of final tips:

Some people find it easier to work the back loop of the puffy stitches before the front loop. Give it a try to see what works best for you.

You can change which colour shows on the front or back of the work based on which yarn you work into which loops. This allows for the creation of two colour images. (See the butterfly above where the body is one colour and the wings are the other).

Have fun!

Creativ Festival

Sadly, between a terrible cold that has left me wanting to do nothing for three weeks, and a debilitating addiction to Story of Seasons for the 3DS, there hasn’t been much crafting happening in the last month.

Luckily, I was able to spend three days last week at the Creativ Festival in Toronto, Canada, which was a great way to get the crafty juices flowing again. The festival featured five days of hands on workshops and lectures, as well as a three day exhibit hall packed full of craft vendors. The workshops were definitely the highlight for me as I attended a wide range of classes on a number of different techniques, including chainmaille, crochet, needlework, and jewellery making. (More to come on all of these later!).

For now, here are a few pictures of my favourite parts of the exhibit hall.

The crew at the Crochet Crowd made a stunning Winter Wonderland display, complete with two huge Nutcrackers made completely out of yarn:

Crocheted Nutcracker

Crocheted Nutcracker

(I think my favourite detail is the tiny Christmas trees on the second nutcracker’s feet!)

As well as the crocheted igloo I helped create snowflakes for:

Crocheted Igloo

All of the Crochet Crowd’s workshops were held inside the igloo, which was a really neat idea, and gives you some idea of the scale, since it was large enough to easily accommodate chairs for 10-15 people.

Yarnspirations showed off its incredible Narnia-themed display, Yarnia, which featured a large number of creatures and characters from the Narnia world. My favourites were the small woodland creatures, who contain a ton of detail and show off a wide range of techniques.

Knit/Crocheted Owl and Fox

Knit/Crocheted Beavers

Knit/Crocheted Owl

The last thing that caught my eye was a Christmas tree covered in hedgehogs. I didn’t catch who made it, but it was part of a competition where exhibitors were asked to decorate Christmas trees and attendees were able to vote on their favourite.

I didn’t manage to get a good picture of the entire tree, but here’s a close up to give you an idea:

Christmas tree decorated in knit & crocheted hedgehogs and snowflakes

I absolutely must have a tree like this. I best get working on the hedgehogs!

Crochet Snowflakes

A few weeks ago I stumbled across a page on the Crochet Crowd’s website soliciting crocheted snowflakes to help Diva Dan build a full size igloo at this year’s Creativ Festival. The festival runs from October 15-17 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I’m planning to spend all three days at the festival (and I’m insanely excited since I’ve never been before), so how could I resist whipping up a few snowflakes when I’ll actually get to see the final result?

It turns out that snowflakes are super fun to make (even in the Summer!), and I had a blast varying the pattern, hook size, and yarn to make each one unique.

Here’s the final set:

Group of crocheted snowflakes

And close-ups of some of my favourites:

Crocheted snowflake Crocheted snowflake Crocheted snowflake Crocheted snowflake Crocheted snowflake Crocheted snowflake

Oh, and did you know that October 17th is I Love Yarn Day? What better way to spend the day than at a craft conference?