Saturday, November 17, 2012

Let the Gift Crafting Begin

I feel so behind schedule already!  I always mean to start the Holiday making waaaay back in August, and I always manage to procrastinate until November.  But, at least I managed to get my lazy butt up and get started.

I made these mitts using the Basic Fingerless Gloves for Guys pattern by Jen Spears.  I made a lot of mods to make this fit a hand my size.  You can read my notes on my Ravelry page.

This hat was actually a custom for a trade.  I used the Floral Cloche pattern from Crochet Today.  I don't think I've ever made anything quite so pink before, but it's really cute, and I especially like the three tier flower.

This little hat was made from Linda Permann's Little Sister Hat, for my cousin's (almost here!) new baby.  Speaking of Linda Permann, everyone should check out her patterns, because Wowza! she designs some beautiful stuff.

And lastly, I've got my fabric for gift bags washed, and some of it cut.  I'm not super experienced with the sewing a matter of fact I haven't used it since last year's bag making!  But I trust that I'll manage to figure it out again!

What are you crafting for the Holiday season?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Autumn Table

I love the Autumn.  No other season brings me such a feeling of comfort, rest, and home as does the Autumn.  I try to take the time to pay attention, to notice all of the slow changes around me.  It's much different than the Springtime, with the awe of new growth and the animals and insects waking up and venturing further each day.  In the Autumn, it is a little harder to see all of the little changes that happen.  Slowly, we realize that the woodchucks aren't darting here and there, the spiders have stopped their frenzy of web construction and destruction, plants let go of their leaves and concentrate their energy on keeping roots strong for the upcoming winter.

I try to encourage my children to bring a little of the outdoors in...colorful leaves, acorns, rocks with interesting shapes, and so on.  Because while the outside is getting ready for winter so are we, nesting in the home and thinking of the season ahead, and we could use the reminder of the beauty of this season.

Benjamin, my four (almost five!) year old put together the decoration for our Autumn Table, using bits and bobs from the outside and leftovers from last Autumn's nature table.  In the glass container and Mason jar, he put pine cones from the park, buckeyes from the community garden, and acorns from a neighbors tree.  Around that, he put small squash from a local pumpkin patch, and a pie pumpkin from a friends garden.  Moving outward, there are small wooden candle holders that we thrifted a couple of years ago, with beeswax candles that the kids rolled themselves.  And of course, my favorite salt and pepper shakers in the shape of snails that came from a garage sale two summers ago.

I expect this display to change as the season progresses.  The pumpkin will soon be used for something delicious, the decorative squash will eventually make their way to compost, and new outside treasures will be brought in as they are found.  And throughout, we'll sit down at our family table and be reminded to notice the changes of the world outside.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Crocheting Garments

I love using crochet to make structural items…toys, baskets, bags, and so on.  But I’ve had a hard time trying to find the love for using crocheted fabric for clothing.  I feel a little bit like a traitor for mostly *knitting* the wearables that I make, since crochet was my first love.  There is a little part of me that wonders if I may be turning into a knit snob…you know those people who look at crocheting as a granny-square craft, only good for creating afghans or lumpy, ill fitting, and out of date garments.  I know that I won’t ever really be one of those people, but I felt compelled to spend some time thinking about why I am so hesitant to pick up the hook to make the same garments that I would knit without hesitation.

I identified several “sticking points”, but the one that I think was the biggest deal for me was that many of the patterns that are out there for crocheted clothing really don’t pay much attention to the drape of the fabric.  There have been many times that I have started to make a cardigan or a sweater for one of my kids and discovered that the fabric was as stiff as a piece of cardboard.  I discovered that to suit my taste, the standard hook recommendations on yarn labels are too small.  And in general, the lighter weight (fingering, sport) yarns look better for garment construction.

What I decided to do was go through my yarn stash and choose a yarn, and go from there in building my own garment.

The yarn I chose was Welcomme Le Tweed Angora, which is now discontinued.  It is listed as an aran weight, but is really more of a light DK yarn.  I fiddled around with it until I found a hook size and stitch that I liked…those happened to be an H hook and the Extended Single Crochet stitch.  I didn’t want a stitch as firm as the SC, but I don’t care for the DC used in wearables.

I had decided to make a sweater vest with buttons on one shoulder for my youngest daughter, but not in the size she was at the time.  I used the Craft Yarn Council’s sizing guidelines as a guide for sizing.  I made myself a gauge swatch, and did the math.  I started in the round and worked from the bottom to the armpits, then split for the front and back.  Since the stitching would look difference once I was working back and forth rather than in the round, I decided to add some Back Post Extended Single Crochet rows as accents, similar to the way garter ridges are used as accents in knitting.  In the end, I’m very pleased with the vest, and the only thing I would have done differently is the width of the shoulder straps…I would have made the back and the front a little narrower by about three stitches.  I want to try this again in a fingering weight yarn and compare the results.  My guess is that I would like the lighter weight garment even better.

In the end, I think that crochet can make beautifully draped clothing and elegant garments with a solid fabric, but the yarn needs to be finer and the hooks a little bigger.