Saturday, August 10, 2013

Cream Bookmark

I made this bookmark, my second effort at thread crochet, as part of my Dad's birthday present (the other part is still a work in progress, to be posted at a later date).

I used the pattern for the Victorian Memories Bookmark by Denise Augustine Owens, which I found on Ravelry. The website where this is housed has a background image that makes it hard to read, but I found that copying the text and pasting it into a document worked well to create an easier pattern to follow.

 I used Aunt Lydia's Classic Crochet cotton (size 10) in Natural. I had a little trouble getting everything to line up right on the end where the pattern starts and finishes, but otherwise it worked up easily and was fun to make.

If I had all the time in the world, I'd be doing tons of thread crochet at this point. As it stands, I look forward to making time to do a few more projects like this.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Caleb's Pickachu

You may remember that last year, I made my nephew Caleb an Oshawott for his first birthday. It was my first try at amigurumi, and it turned out well, if I do say so myself. So, for his second birthday, I decided to try a Pikachu. Pikachu has a more complicated body shape, since he's all one contoured piece from his feet to his head, and I had a little more trouble finding a pattern I really liked.

I settled on the Pikachu pattern from Etsy seller getfun for the body, ears, and arms of my Pikachu. However, this pattern uses felt for the tail, feet, and details, and I really wanted my Pika to be all crochet.

So, I used the pattern for the tail, feet, and stripes from the Pikachu pattern by WolfDreamer Off the Hook. I improvised the cheeks and eyes, as they're just circles.

While you can definitely tell that this is Pikachu, I'm not quite as happy with this effort as I was with Oshawott. I'm something of a perfectionist, and I wanted Pika to look just like the cartoon. In the end, Caleb seemed to like it, which is what's really important.

Andy, Caleb, and Pikachu

Monday, June 17, 2013

One Piece Slippers

I made these slippers back last fall, as a prototype to possibly reproduce as a Christmas present. I wanted a pattern that was worked in one piece, and I tried several that I found online. Most of them, like these, were worked by starting from the toe in rounds, then switching to rows to create the sides.

Unfortunately, I never really hit on a pattern that I really liked. Of the several practice slippers I made, these came closest after I heavily modified the original pattern. However, I still don't like how uneven the edging is and I'd have to start over guessing to modify the size. So, I haven't written up my final pattern because I don't really plan to use it again.

I still like the idea of slippers for Christmas gifts, so I'm going to be looking for more patterns like this. I may give up on the idea of working them in one piece, but I'd love it if I finally found the perfect one-piece pattern.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Green Bookmark

Since getting into crochet a little over a year ago, I've been interest in thread crochet. It's much more delicate and allows for some beautiful, lacy patterns. I tried what seemed like a simple bracelet, but couldn't get it to work. So, logically, I decided to jump into a much more elaborate pattern. It worked out a lot better.

I made this bookmark using the Shell Stitch Filet Bookmark pattern by Julie A. Bolduc and Aunt Lydia's Classic Crochet Cotton in Sage.

This particular pattern also appealed to me because the central portion uses the same pattern of stitches to create a grid that's used in filet crochet. Since I'm also interested in giving that a try, this was a good introduction to both.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Candle Making (Part 2 of 2)

As I mentioned before, I made a foray into candle making for gifts this winter. Most of them were made to coordinate with either body products or another decorative gift.

Back: Camp fire, Middle: Bamboo, Front: Cranberry Fig
This batch ended up with more spots where the wax didn't adhere to the glass containers. Since I prepped the containers the exact same way for this batch, I have no idea why.

Making these seemingly simple container candles involved a lot of variables and was way more work than expected. The only real advantage to making these instead of buying them was the ability to match the scent to my body products.

In the end though, since basic candles are readily available and not very expensive, I don't think the extra energy required to make them is really worth it. I still want to try some more detailed candle crafts, but for simple container candles, I'll likely stick to buying ready made in the future.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Pattern: Poke Bag

My nephew who just turned two last month has already seen enough episodes of Pokemon to have his own favorites, leading me to crochet him an Oshawott and a Pickachu (post soon!). Of course, my little buddy's love of Pokemon is just an excuse for his dad, the older of my two younger brothers, to watch.

Actually, we don't make excuses, my brother and I love Pokemon! So, for his birthday I made him a bag to hold the damage counters, status problem markers, coins, etc. that we need to play the Pokemon TCG.

 It's a Pokeball!
The twist on this bag is that it has a flat bottom. So, when you open it and fold down the sides, it turns into a handy bowl to for easy access to grab the tokens during a game.

I actually first thought of this concept some time ago and made a smaller version for my dad. I haven't ever written up the pattern for that, so I'll do that soon. In the meantime, here's the pattern for the Pokeball version.


Appoximate amounts worsted weight yarn:

90 yards - Red
95 yards - White
20 yards - Black
H Hook


For anyone unfamiliar with working in continuous rounds instead of joining at the end of each round: Place a stitch marker in the first stitch of the round, and move it up as you complete each round.
Round 1: Create a magic ring. 6 sc into ring.
Round 2: 2 sc in each st around.
Round 3: *Sc in next st, 2 sc in next st* Repeat around.
Round 4: *Sc in next 2 sts, 2 sc in next st* Repeat around.
Round 5; *Sc in next 3 sts, 2 sc in next st* Repeat around.
Round 6: *Sc in next 4 sts, 2 sc in next st* Repeat around.
Round 7: *Sc in next 5 sts, 2 sc in next st* Repeat around.
Round 8 - 15: Sc in each st around.
Row 16 - 17: Change to black. Sc around.
Row 18 - 24: Change to white. Sc around.
Row 25: [Sc in next 6 sts, ch 2, skip 1 sc, sc in next sc] repeat seven times around.
Row 26: [Sc in each sc, work one sc around the ch 2 from previous row], repeat around.
Row 27: Sc around.
Row 28: Sc around until 3 last three sts. Sl st into the last 3 sc from previous round. Finish off and weave in tail under the first few sts of the final round to create a smooth edge.

Button (make one):
Using black, create a magic ring. 12 dc in magic ring, sl st to join. Finish off.
Using white, create a magic ring. 12 hdc in magic ring, sl st to join. Finish off.
Center the white circle on top of the black circle and position both on the front of the bag so that the black stripe on the bag is behind the center of the circles. Using white, sew through both circles to attach.

Use white yarn to chain stitch or braid a drawstring or use ribbon. Thread through the spaces created in rows 25 and 26 of the bag pattern.

While it's pretty simple, this is the most complicated pattern I've written so far. So, please let me know if you have questions or if there is anything that doesn't make sense. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Scaled Up Lotion Recipe

Some time ago, I posted my updated skin cream recipe, in a version that makes 2 oz. of lotion. Of course, when I'm making this as gifts, or even most of the time for myself, I make it in larger batches, so I thought others might like to see the scaled up version.

Batch of six 4 oz. jars:

3/4 c shea butter
3/4 c mango butter
1/4 c beeswax
1/2 c c jojoba oil
1.5 tsp vitamin E oil
16 ml essential or fragrance oil (4 ml per jar)

The instructions are the same, you melt all the ingredients except for the essential or fragrance oil in a double boiler. For the essential oil, you can add enough essential oil for the whole batch at once. However, what I usually do is put the amount needed for each jar in the jar, then pour the lotion mix  and stir each one individually.

One final tip: Keep in mind that fragrance oils are generally quite a bit stronger than essential oils. So, adjust accordingly depending on which you use and the scent level you prefer.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Grandaddy's Hat

 Somebody in my family gives my grandfather a sock hat, or something very similar, every year. He's cold-natured, and these hats are his first line of defense. This year, I decided to make one for him by hand, since this is the first year I've had the skill to do something like that.

 I decided to use the Back Loop Beanie pattern by Ryan Hollists, which is available as a free download on Ravelry. I couldn't seem to get the ribbing at the bottom to work right for me (actually, this was a hilariously awful failure so bad that I wish I'd taken a picture of it), so I decided to stick with extra rows of the basic stitch pattern. I used Hobby Lobby I Love This Yarn! in Navy, although this picture isn't terribly true to the color.

I also made a couple of sizing changes:

Add row 11: [Sc in next 11 sts, 2 sc in next st] repeat around (six times)
Row 12 - 40: Sc around

When he tried it on, I thought it wouldn't have hurt to have done another increase row or two. I intended it to be long, which it was, so that part worked out fine. On the whole, it's a basic hat, but it worked up nicely and seemed to please the recipient.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Christmas Mittens

I made a few pairs of fingerless gloves for Christmas this year using different patterns. I tried to think about how the recipient might use them and find a pattern that suited that use. For example, I made a pair for my brother-in-law with his outdoorsy businesses in mind that were nice and sturdy. I also wanted to make some that were soft and cozy, so I turned to a different pattern.

For these, I used the same pattern I used to last year to make a pair for my yarn mentor. This pair was for a woman with smaller hands who likes to work outside. So, I made them slimmer and in a dark color that wouldn't show much dirt. As it turns out, she told me she's worn them inside to read and type when it's particularly cold. The yarn I used for this pair was Caron's Simply Soft in Dark Sage.

This pair was for my brother, who has very large hands and drives a lot. I find that fingerless gloves are perfect for driving. I knew he'd prefer something basic for the color, and it doesn't get much more basic than a nice, neutral black. In this case, I went with Caron's Simply Soft in Black.

One of the great things about this pattern is that it's easy to size. To make them longer and wider for bigger hands, you just begin with a longer starting chain and work more rows. For a smaller hand, reduce the starting chain and work fewer rows.

If you're interested in more detail on my crochet projects you can find all that over on Ravelry.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Solid Perfume

Since I started making body products last year, I've been wanting to expand and make a wider variety. I have all the supplies I need to start soapmaking, but so far, I haven't had the time to get started. In the meantime, I did find a recipe for solid perfume and decided to try it first.

I based the proportions of the carrier ingredients, beeswax and sweet almond oil, on this recipe from Soap Deli News, which contains and links to numerous DIY projects.

Because I wanted to be sure my perfume would have a strong, lasting scent, I used proportionally more essential oil in my recipe. So, here's what I ended up with:

2 tbsp beeswax
2 tbsp sweet almond oil

Heat these two ingredients in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time and stir until it's liquid. Then add the essential oil:

Citrus Splash - 2 ml orange essential oil, 1 ml litsea essential oil, 1 ml bergamot essential oil

This recipe makes two ounces. The texture is a little stiff, particularly in these pots, meaning you have to rub it a good bit or warm it in your hands to get it out and onto your skin. Next time, I'll either use a little more almond oil to make it softer or try putting it in lip balm tubes.

As you can see from the pictures, I also made a rose-scented version using Rose Geranium oil and something else, but try as I might, I can't remember the second ingredient. It was something I added to lighten up the rose scent and add a fresh note, but I'll just have to try something new next time.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Warm and Stripey Scarf

I'm still working on posting all the Christmas gifts I made this year, so next up is the scarf I made for my other favorite brother-in-law.

I made this scarf using Lion Brand Jiffy Solids in Wine and Black and a K (6.5 mm) hook. I just wanted a straight forward striped scarf, so rather than use a pattern, I decided to improvise my own.

Ch 191 in first color.
Row 1: Dc in fourth ch from hook, dc across, turn.
Row 2: Add second color, ch 2, sc across, turn.
Row 3: Carrying first color up the side of the scarf, switch to first color. Ch 3, dc across.
Row 4: Carrying second color up the side of the scarf, switch to second color. Ch 2, sc across.
Repeat rows three and four until the scarf is as wide as desired.
To finish, work two rows of single crochet into the sides the stitches on each end of the scarf.

The thing is, once I got started, I realized I don't really know the right way to switch colors like this. So I just kind of made stuff up. Then, I worked two rows of single crochet in black into the side of the stitches on each end to cover up whatever I did. The end result looks nice, I think. Still, I'd rather do what I'm doing intentionally, not to cover a lack of knowledge. So, I've made a New Year's resolution to learn how to (correctly) change colors.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Updated Lip Balm

If I had to pick the bath and body gift everyone seems to love most, it's definitely my lip balm! However, as I mentioned in my post on last year's recipe, I really wanted something a little heavier and more nurturing, since I tend toward painfully chapped lips in the winter.

So, armed with a year's worth of research and experience making this sort of thing, I decided to create my own recipe.

The new recipe has a few more ingredients:

3 tsp cocoa butter
1 tsp shea butter
1 tbsp beeswax
2 tsp sweet almond oil
3 ml essential oil (optional)
1/4 tsp stevia sweetener (optional)

I melted the first four ingredients in an improvised double boiler, then removed it from the heat and added the essential oils and stevia. The essential oil blends I used were:

  • Citrus Spritzer: 2 ml orange and 1 ml lemongrass
  • Minty Fresh: 2 ml peppermint (2nd distillation), 1 ml spearmint
  • The Cranberry Fig was made using a fragrance oil.
I purchased very fine stevia powder sold for the purpose of lip balm, so I don't know it would work to use the grocery store kind.Used in this small amount, the stevia didn't actually make the lip balm sweet, but just counter acted the slight bitterness of using the essential oils by themselves.

I'm very happy with this recipe, and I can't really think of how I'd improve it. I may experiment with using a tiny amount of honey instead of stevia, so I'll let you know how that goes after I order some more tubes.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Candle Making (Part 1 of 2)

This year when planning my handmade Christmas gifts, I decided to give candle making a try. It complements my bath and both products well since I can match the scents, so it seemed like a natural extension. I did some reading on general candle making techniques and materials, which turned out to be more complicated than I expected. There are myriad wax formulations, dyes, scents, and other products to choose from when making candles, which I didn't expect. I figured you just melt some wax and pour it into something, right?! Ha!

Back row (L-R): Two Lilac, Strawberry. Front row: Vanilla, CK Escape, Pink Grapefruit

I decided to start with smallish container candles because these seemed the simplest to make. So, I got hold of some supplies to make soy-based wax candles in scents and colors that would suit my intended recipients. I got most of the containers at thrift stores, and I was able to find plenty of basic candle holder shapes and some designs that I knew would particularly appeal to certain people. For example, I found the perfect strawberry container for my crafty grandmother who collects strawberries.

This photo also shows the biggest issue I encountered making these: there is a circular crack that runs around the entire inside of the candle. According to my after-the-fact searches online, this is likely related to the temperature of the wax when I poured it into the container. Which brings us to confession time.

But first another pretty picture.
While I read a lot of detailed instructions, I found that when I was trying to make just one or two candles in a particular scent and color combination, everything just happened too fast for me to keep up with all the details. Between prepping the containers, measuring and melting the wax, adding the color and scent, and pouring it, tracking the temperature went by the wayside altogether.

This one's cracked too. Also, lotion spoiler!
 I'm kind of a perfectionist, so this doesn't sit well with me. In the end, I couldn't find a good fix to get rid of this crack after the candles cooled, so I had to accept them as they are flaws and all. A life lesson perhaps.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Ruby Princesses

While reviewing the craft photos I have saved for future blog posts, I realized that I had skipped a project from last fall. As I've mentioned before, I designed a number of fantasy tiaras for my friend Heather to use in her fairytale photography work, which you can see on her site Fairyography. As her collection of princess dresses grows, she occasionally asks me to create new pieces to complement them.

In this instance, her client expressed that the princesses-to-be would also love it if they could deck themselves out in jewelry, as well as tiaras, to get the full princess experience. I had a pretty short time frame to create these pieces, and they needed to be small child friendly, so I decided to go with something simple.

As all my tiaras are, I made these using color-coated copper craft wire and a variety of glass beads, pearls, and Swarovski crystals.

Heather likes a magical organic look for her photo accessories, so I developed this wire branch tiara design with her input for her very first crowns, and we've used it repeatedly since.

For the coordinating necklaces, I decided to go with large, faceted glass beads and a simple bead cap. I like how these ended up looking like crown jewel-sized ruby necklaces on the little ladies who wore them.

Finally, I made bracelets using smaller faceted glass beads knotted on stretchy gold cord. I wasn't sure these were up to my (and Heather's) standards, but in the final photos they look great, and the stretchy cord is very child friendly.

You can view some examples of the photos taken using these accessories in the Fairyography blog post featuring this photo shoot.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sturdy Fingerless Gloves

Let's get started on all the handmade Christmas gifts! I made these gloves for one of my two favorite brothers-in-law, who both DJ's and does grading and tree removal throughout the year. Since he works outside using his hands, I thought he could use a pair of sturdy gloves that would still leave his fingers free to get things done.

The pattern for these is from the blog My Recycled Bags, which as the name suggests, has a number of great free crochet patterns using reclaimed plastics and other materials. The Men's Crocheted Fingerless Gloves pattern uses standard yarn, and I made these using Caron's Simply Soft Solids in Black.

One of the best things about this pattern is that it explains a simple technique to end continuous crochet in the round with a smooth edge. This is something I've struggled with because I greatly prefer this method to ending each round with a slip stitch to join and a chain to start the next round. However, I've ended up with a bump at the end of the final round because of how it steps up over the last few stitches. The technique described in this pattern, which uses slip stitches to replace the last few stitches in the final round, completely fixes that!

The pattern suggests crocheting tightly or doing a decrease in the last couple of rounds to make sure the hand opening is snug. I decided to do a decrease on row 32 (second to last row), then just crochet tightly for the final row:

Row 32 - [Sc in next seven sc, sc2tog] four times, sc in next three sc (34 stitches)
Row 33 - Sc around using instructions to end with a smooth edge.

The thumbs on my gloves lay at an odd angle when they're not worn, but fit and looked normal on. I assume this is related to something about how I worked the first row of stitches to add the thumb, so any tips on how to fix that would be welcome.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Happy New Year!

I've been so busy crafting Christmas gifts that I've had to take a pretty long hiatus from posting. Now I'm back, and I have a big stash of holiday craft photos to post over the next few weeks! I'll start with the elf hat that I made for my brand new niece, who was born a little ahead of schedule on November 20.

I made this hat using I Love This Cotton! in Bright Green and White Sparkle. The pattern is the Newborn Elf Hat with Braided Tassel pattern by Sarah McPherson (this is a link to Ravelry; the pattern has been taken down since I used it). I should note that I changed the tassel and that I did something drastically wrong while changing colors. There's a reason this picture only shows the back of the hat. It also turned out to be a little too small, so overall, not my most successful project.

On the other hand, I have quite a few that turned out much better including a lot more crochet, some body products,

and, something new I tried this year, candles.

I hope everyone's enjoying 2013 so far!