Post Category: Crochet

5.08.2010

Lion Brand Motif Afghan CAL (Fall 2009)

I am not even going to try to play catch-up with this blog, because that’s what got me in trouble this last year. So let’s fast-forward to the present where…well, actually I’m playing catch-up with my crochet projects. Go figure. I’m in that familiar place that so many yarncrafters (and other types of crafters) find themselves — in the middle of a big pile of unused yarn and unfinished projects. It started to stress me out, so I’m now going through and trying to finish all my unfinished projects. I’m doing well so far, and hope I can stay on track. Stop laughing.

Last fall, in spite of the many projects I already had going at that time, I joined the Lion Brand Motif Afghan Crochet-a-long. I couldn’t resist — it was a motif project from Edie Eckman! I don’t know if I’ve mentioned her Beyond the Square book on this blog before, but I have linked to quite a few of the Motifs I’ve made from the book. It is awesome, and I highly recommend it. The book itself is very beautiful as well.

This particular CAL was an afghan made from Motif 48. Using the CAL blog posts for guidance, I decided on a smaller afghan made of seven columns, with nine hexagons per column. The afghan is for our downstairs recliner couch, which is a merlot color with little flecks of various other colors. I got a ton of Lion Brand Wool-Ease yarn at JoAnn’s on discount, so I should have more than enough to finish the project. I found a red color that perfectly matches our couch, along with olive green, dark blue, and off-white, all of which match the aforementioned flecks of color in the couch.

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4.09.2009

NatCroMo Freeform Crochet-a-long 2009 (3/23-3/31)

Clearly, I am behind on updating my progress. Specifically, I am a month behind on my final NatCroMo Freeform CAL 2009 report. Here are the final parts of the design:

W is for Worm. I made little pink spirally worms along one edge.

W is for Worm

W is for Worm

X is for Xanadu. I went with the theme of “opulence” here, and crocheted with some beads. This marks my first time doing beaded crochet. I used a design from Crochet on the Edge.

X is for Xanadu

Y is for Yellow. I did a surface crochet chain around the central area using yellow.

Y is for Yellow

Z is for Zest. This loopy stitch made me think of lemon zest.

Z is for Zest

Your name. I added up the number values of the letters in my first name (A = 1, B = 2, C = 3, etc.). I then turned to that page in my new crochet stitch dictionary and used that stitch (Single Crochet Cluster Stitch I) in the cranberry color I used for J.

Your name

Your name

Neighbors. Our neighbor in back has a dog that’s white with light reddish-brown spots. I used the closest colors I have to that, and crocheted another stitch pattern out of my stitch dictionary.

Neighbors

Neighbors

Partners. I “partnered” up two colors of yarn that had been used earlier in the project (but not together) to make an improvised edging.

Partners

Partners

Fantasy. This made me think of something lacy and open, so I chose an appropriate stitch from Crochet on the Edge.

Fantasy

Craft. I wanted something that took a fair bit of craftsmanship to create. I ended up trying the lily of the valley sculptural stitch (which includes surface chains for the stems) from Crochet on the Edge. This was a lot more challenging and time consuming than I expected — I ended up with about a million yarn ends to weave in.

Craft

Craft

So it’s done, and it’s pretty wacky, definitely in a good way. I still need to learn how to do the more “traditional” (if such a word can be used) scrumbles that are used for freeform crochet, but I think this is a fun result for my first attempt. Next time: knitting! That’s right, knitting!

Lion Brand Crochet-A-Long: Moderne Jacket

As promised, here is my post on the Lion Brand CAL. The pattern was the Moderne Jacket — details and purchase information can be found here.

Before March, I’d never done a crochet-a-long, and it was great to read about everyone else’s experiences with the pattern and see all the different variations on the same garment. Originally I wasn’t going to participate because the yarn specified by the pattern would have cost about $130. That’s a bit out of my budget at the moment. Then, when I read the post on the Lion Brand blog about yarn substitution, I decided to go ahead with the project. Instead of the cashmere blend and the wool yarn, I used acrylic — Vanna’s Choice in Dusty Purple and Silver Grey, to be exact.

The pattern uses two yarns held together, which was a new technique to me. The combination of these two yarns was probably a bit bulkier than intended — the example jacket looks more “meshy” — but I think my version looks great.

As for the pattern, a lot of people had trouble with it because there were a number of inconsistencies. For example, working the pattern as written ended up with a staggered column effect, whereas the example jacket clearly showed the stitch columns aligned vertically. There was advice on both the Ravelry group and the Lion Brand blog on how to change this. Although I worked the pattern as written for the back, I aligned the pattern on the front (for the most part).

Another issue with the pattern was that the stitch pattern was meant for an odd number of stitches, but most of the front had rows with even numbers of stitches. No instructions were given on how to adapt for this. Also, at one point in the pattern, there was a missing row. I worked an extra row at this spot, with no issues. Others ran into the same problems, so it wasn’t just me misreading the pattern. I always try to rule out “user error” first.

Apart from those issues, the project went very smoothly. The larger hook (N) combined with the thicker yarn made it work up quickly as well. When I made the gauge swatch, my row gauge was right on, but my stitch gauge was just a tiny bit too big. This was perfect, because the small size was just a wee bit too small (bust size 34″, I’m a 34″ or 35″) and the medium size was way too big (bust size 40″). For the small size, I didn’t need to make the jacket longer but I did need it to be wider. I know the issues that can be caused by using the wrong gauge, but in this case, it worked very well. The jacket fits!

Although the fabric is thick, I still used backstitch for the raglan seams for strength. It didn’t seem to add too much bulk to the seams.

That’s enough writing. Here are the pictures of the finished piece. It fits a bit tighter on the dress form than on me, due to the pot belly on the form. Still, it looks good on me and on the form. Success!


Next time: the rest of my freeform project.

3.23.2009

NatCroMo Freeform Crochet-a-long 2009 (3/10-3/22)

Whew! I got behind on the Freeform CAL from the last post, but I’m finally caught up through yesterday (V). Time for another picture-fest!

J is for Jam. I went with a berry-colored shape. Since the yarn color was called “Cranberry” I even put little ridges into it, like the canned cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving.

J is for Jam

K is for Knowledge. I wanted to include a technique that I didn’t previously know, so I did a little rectangle of Tunisian crochet. I don’t have the proper kind hook, so I used one of my standard hooks to make it.

K is for Knowledge

L is for Leaves. I added little leaves to the chains between some of the “pebbles.”

L is for Leaves

L is for Leaves

M is for Mold. This made me think of the mold found in blue cheese, my favorite kind of cheese, so I added a mottled blue-green ruffle on the front.

M is for Mold

N is for Night/O is for Orange. Night is represented by the midnight blue shape, created using a star stitch, which I looked up online. Next to that is a little patch of puff stitch oranges.

N is for Night/O is for Orange

P is for Peel. I created three yellow banana peel shapes. I haven’t yet mastered the art of shaping my crochet to lie flat or curl the way I want it to — therefore these like to curl oddly. I got them to stand out correctly in the photo.

P is for Peel

Q is for Queen. Using a fan type stitch, I made a purple queenly robe, with fuzzy cream-colored yarn as trim.

Q is for Queen

R is for Russet. I only have one yarn of a russet color, and it’s the same variegated yarn I used for some other parts of this piece (the bullions, the antennae, part of the crab body). I used an edging stitch I found in one of my crochet books for this shape.

R is for Russet

S is for Stone. Since I already created some grayish/brownish pebbles for Ground, I decided to interpret Stone as gemstones and added a ruby-colored picot border.

S is for Stone

T is for Taste/Touch. I’ve been crocheting for less than a year, so I don’t have an impressive yarn stash yet. So it was lucky that I happened to have the perfect yarn for this one. My favorite taste is chocolate and one of my favorite things to touch is velvet. I had a velvety, chocolate-colored yarn (Lion Suede), and I used it to create another interesting stitch from my edging book. The stitch (twisted rib) took me quite a few tries, and I’m proud that I finally got it to work.

T is for Taste/Touch

T is for Taste/Touch

U is for Underground. I made the Night section into the top of a little cave/tunnel and added an entrance.

U is for Underground

U is for Underground

V is for Variety. I went through my stash and cut off lengths of yarns that had different colors, weights, and textures. Then, I tied them together and stitched an edging that uses a variety of stitch heights. I’m not sure how to deal with the knots on the back — I didn’t leave enough yarn to weave in the ends. I may just snip them off at the knots. Still, I like how this one came out.

V is for Variety

V is for Variety

One thing I’ve noticed about this piece is that by making the lettuce-y ruffle early on, I ended up with a very ruffly item where it really isn’t possible to see all the different parts at the same time. At first this annoyed me, since it’s kind of difficult to take a picture of something when parts of it are hidden, but then I realized that it’s kind of cool to be able to get different looks from the same exact object. I’m proud of myself for sticking with this project, even though I’ve had some not-so-fun time-sucks in my life this month (like both my bunnies getting sick at the same time). Now we’re on the home stretch, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I end up with, as well as everyone else’s finished projects!

Next time: my progress on the Lion Brand Moderne Jacket crochet-a-long.

3.10.2009

NatCroMo Freeform Crochet-a-long 2009 (3/1-3/9)

Last week was crazier than I expected, but I’m finally back with another post. This might be some kind of record.

March is National Crochet Month (or NatCroMo), and there’s a group dedicated to it on Ravelry. In addition, there’s a Freeform CAL (Crochet-a-long) project where there’s a different inspiration for each day. Despite having no experience in freeform crochet, I’ve been giving it a try. It’s been a great exercise for me. Although I have much to learn (how to make pieces lay flat, how to create the shapes I want without too much ruffling and/or curling, etc.) I’m also discovering that I know more than I realize. The final result (well, the final result so far) is rather crack-induced, but I’m discovering all sorts of ideas for future projects.

Here are the photos of my project in progress:

A is for Apple and B is for Blossom/Bullions. I started out with a reddish color (combined with another yarn containing muted versions of apple-y colors) and a shape that looked like the bottom half of an apple. To that, I added bullion stitches and ended up with a vaguely flowery shape.

A is for Apple, B is for Blossom/Bullions

A is for Apple, B is for Blossom/Bullions

C is for Crab. I added crab claws bordered with crab stitch. I also added a crab stitch border above the bullions.

C is for Crab

D is for Drop. I interpreted this as drops of water, and added a wave stitch in two shades of blue/aqua.

D is for Drop

E is for Eating. Crocheting food is fun, so I added a hyperbolic lettuce edge around the piece.

E is for Eating

E is for Eating

F is for Fragrance. One of my favorite fragrances is lavender, and the pieces ended up with a lavender spiral.

F is for Fragrance

G is for Ground. I chose a yarn with various grays and browns and crocheted pebbles (bobble stitches) around the lavender spiral.

G is for Ground

H is for Honey. That’s a honeycomb on the back side of the piece, crocheted in the closest color I had to honey.

H is for Honey

H is for Honey

I is for Insect. The little crab guy, buried under the lavender and pebbles, gained two moth antennae. They like to droop a bit, but I got them to stand up for the photo.

I is for Insect

I is for Insect

Today is J for Jam, but I haven’t decided what I want to do with that yet.

3.02.2009

About the New Layout (plus some crochet)

Okay! I’m finally sitting down to write an update post. I’ve been holding off on posting here until I was done with the new layout. I’m going to have to break this into several posts so I don’t go crazy. First, here’s the story behind the new blog look.

I’m redoing my portfolio, and one of the items on my to-do list is creating custom layouts for my blogs under my new name: Lopapalooza Studios. For my sewing and crafting blog, I am now using the name Lopapalooza Creative Fingers. The old name, “Diary of a Sewing Novice,” doesn’t really apply anymore. Not only am I no longer a novice (hooray!), but I’m focusing on more than just sewing.

For the layout, I wanted something that incorporates both sewing and crafts with muted colors and a bit of classic charm. And of course, I couldn’t resist including my lop logo! The site should be viewable on most browsers and versions, although it will look best on newer browsers. The text is also resizable.

I used brushes and patterns from Obsidian Dawn.

I am still very much into crochet, with the occasional bit of practice knitting. Crochet has become a major focus for me, and the best place to follow my recent progress is my Ravelry page. I encourage anyone who is interested in knitting and/or crochet, even if you don’t feel like you’re very good yet and even if you don’t have any completed projects, to sign up. The number of resources on there are just amazing, including the pattern search and all the groups. At the time of this writing, you need to sign up for an invitation, and it’ll take a few days to get it, but it’s worth it.

For those who aren’t on Ravelry, here are links to my latest completed projects. I’ll go more in-depth on these in following posts:

More to come soon!

12.11.2008

Yet another big update post

Wow, has it been over six months since I posted? I really have to get better about this. It’s not that I haven’t been working on sewing and other crafts — I totally have. At least I have that to say for myself.

Anyway, I recently upgraded my Flickr account to pro, so I’m going to try something new: storing my project images on Flickr and linking to them there. Obviously I won’t be storing all of my images on Flickr — just the main project ones. Hopefully I won’t have too many technical difficulties.

So what have I done since the last time I posted?

Well, I finished my bunny shirt — the shorter version of the dress (Simplicity 3867) from my last post.

Bunny shirt front
Bunny shirt side

The chest looks kind of collapsed on the dress form, but that’s because I didn’t provide the form with the proper…support before I put the dress on it. It looks better on the real thing (me).

Then in September, I was crazy enough to sew up a Renfest costume in one week. I used Simplicity 9966 and sewed just the shirt and the over- and underskirts. I’m glad I was smart enough to use a bodice I already owned — I just barely finished the three pieces on time.

Full costume (sort of)
Skirts
Neckline detail
Sleeve cuff detail
Skirt trim detail
Skirt clasp detail
Skirt serging/hem detail
Shirt seam detail

I’m proud of how it turned out, especially since the blouse was made out of such challenging material. I used voile, which was so wispy I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to sew it. Also, I had to adapt the sleeve pattern since the fabric wasn’t wide enough to accommodate it — the fabric was 36″ wide instead of the 45″ the pattern required. Since the fabric was so sheer, I used French seams throughout. I also finished the inside of both the skirts, just for that professional touch. I probably would have been finished in half the time if I hadn’t put so much effort into serging and whatnot. My only issue with the final costume was the skirt waist — I didn’t make the elastic tight enough. I guess that’s the problem with having a dress form with a bigger waist than my own.

At the end of July/beginning of August, I went to a 3-day fashion design course, which was awesome! I learned a lot about the design process, and I have some ideas for a future custom wardrobe.

Then there’s my new hobby — crochet. I posted some pictures of my beginning amigurumi. Since then, I’ve made quite a few projects. If you’re a member of Ravelry, you can see my project page here. Otherwise, here are some pictures of my most recent projects:

Amigurumi cornucopia
Short ‘n’ Sweet bolero
Camouflage wristwarmers
One-skein scarf

There are a few more projects I haven’t yet photographed. I’m really getting into this whole crochet thing. I added a bunch of crochet books to my Amazon wishlist. Knitting books, too! That’s just what I need — a new hobby.

I also crocheted up a couple of cactus amigurumi for John, but of course I forgot to take pictures of them before I sent them to work with John. Whoops!

I’m currently working on a complete site overhaul, including a redesign of this blog. This may take me some time, but stay tuned!

5.30.2008

Massively huge update

Thanks to my friend Mary, the most productive sew-er and crafter I know, I’ve had a renewed interest in, well, sewing and crafting. During the last several months, I’ve started and finished a number of projects. While I’d like to say I’ve recovered from my procrastinating ways, the truth is that I still have roughly a million unfinished projects around my sewing room. Oh well!

Here’s an overview of what I’ve been working on — complete with pictures!

First, there’s my most recent project, which has been on my to-do list for over four years: a custom dress form! I don’t recall if I mentioned this in a previous post, but the last attempt at a custom dress form didn’t go so well. It involves taping me tightly with duct tape, and as I learned the hard way, I pass out when my entire torso is wrapped up. It makes me all claustrophobic and stuff. I paid for an online class after this fiasco — this was almost exactly four years ago. This particular taping system leaves the tummy and chest untaped until the end. I guess I didn’t have any real reason for putting off making a dress form for so long, but I recently discovered that I couldn’t go without one any longer. So I enlisted the help of John and Mary to tape me. Last weekend was the scheduled taping date.

This time, the taping went much better. Until the end. As soon as the tape started going up my neck, I suddenly got that familiar clammy, hyperventilating feeling. Luckily, the form was pretty much done by then, but it definitely was not my finest moment there at the end. I’ll just skip over the details.

The good news is that I now have an almost-completed form. I just need to double-check the stuffing, tape up the back, make a cardboard bottom, and make a cover.

The bad news is that the form isn’t as exact as it could be. It’s about an inch larger than my actual circumference measurements at the waist and hips. And…well, let’s just lay that taping during severe PMS and directly following a large meal is not advised when you want an accurate dress form in the stomach area. The belly protrudes out about two inches further than my actual measurements. As John pointed out, at least I’ll be able to eat large meals and breathe easily in whatever clothes I make.

Here are the pictures of the form so far:

Front view
Back view
Side view

I can take some comfort in knowing that that’s as pregnant as my body will ever look. :P

Next we have some items that I finished in April, but didn’t have a spiffy dress form to put them on. The first is the last of three tiered skirts that I bought material for over a year ago. This one was a particularly tricky polyester material that did not want to stay on grain. Luckily, the fabric design, color, and nature of the skirt pattern helped cover up my off-grain cutting. I painstakingly hand-hemmed the skirt to prevent the problems I had with the other two.

Flowered skirt

I bought some material at CraftyPlanet and sewed up Simplicity 3867. I made a test garment from muslin first, and to my great surprise, the pattern fit without any alterations. Which is good, because I didn’t have the dress form when I made it. The dress includes pleats at the front shoulder and the skirt. The bodice is lined, and although the pattern instructions have the raw edge of the zipper tape exposed (sewn on top of the lining), I changed the instructions to cover the raw edge of the zipper with the lining. I also finished the inside edges with my serger. I used an invisible zipper instead of a regular zipper (and changed the pattern instructions accordingly) and did a hand hem. I’m finding that I get much better results when hemming by hand, even though it takes a lot longer.

Front view
Back view
Bodice
Back closed with invisible zipper
Lining stitched to zipper
Hand hem and finished inside

The pattern also includes an option for a shirt version, which I’m currently working on. Here is a close-up of the material (it has bunnies!) and lining:

Bunny shirt bodice

Sewing isn’t the only thing I’ve been up to. I bought some earring kits at The Bead Monkey. I put them together last month. One goes with the mauve tiered skirt I sewed a year ago and the other goes with my summer dress.

Mauve chandelier earring
Blue-green waterfall earring

Last but not least, I was inspired by a recent post on the CraftStylish blog and decided to try my hand at Amigurumi. I picked up this book and learned some basic crochet stitches. Having never crocheted before, I’m very, very bad at it, but I still completed a couple of small pieces from the book. I’ll post them here for amusement value.

Egg — my very first attempt at this
Chick in an eggshell — this one is a little better

Whew! That’s quite a lot of stuff. I also finished the bunny decoration for Mary, but stupidly forgot to take pictures of it. Derp!

More updates to come! For real!