Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Great Balls of Squishy Hyperbolic Goodness!

This week I'm hosting a Crochet-A-Long on a Ravelry group:  2015 Kitchen & Bath Cal.   I've invited the group to join me in making some Sea Anemone Bath Puffs.    You will need a free Ravelry membership to access the links above, but I've also explained below how to make (my version of) these:


Nevermind that Sea Anemones don't look like this, but since the name they've been given has me thinking of places like the Great Barrier Reef (not that I've been there, but...), they do sort of make me think of coral.   So...let's just think of these as Brain Coral's yarn cousins and have fun crocheting some wonderful hyperbolic "balls" of squishy goodness.

I know...they kind of look complicated, don't they?    They're not.  They are super-de-duper simple.   Yes, I just said super-de-duper, and you will too - after you've made one.  And, if super-de-duper simple isn't enough to make you run and get your crochet hook and yarn, let me add... I'm pretty sure they're impossible to mess up.

Have I convinced you to make one, yet?

Why do you not have yarn and hook in your hands, already?!?

I'll start with some general instructions and pictures of the first two I made.  Then I'll spell out the specific instructions of my modified puff (modified in ruffliness, size, and how I made the hanging loop).   

The short, simple, general instructions are in this link, or below using more words (because I always use more words.  And yes I know that's something to work on.  And I am.)  The short, general instructions will make a bath puff with no hanging loop.  You'll probably decide you want to make a puff with a loop and use the more detailed instructions further down - below the next two pictures - that explain how to start this puff with the hanging loop.  But I suggest reading everything here.  And not just because I wrote it. Read it because it will give you a clearer picture as you're starting out just how these ruffly puffs form - and will give you confidence that you really can't mess these up.

To start, simply chain 4 (or 3 or 5 - it really doesn't matter) and join the ends of the chain together to form a loop.  Then, crochet 2 single crochets in each stitch.  Or you can crochet about 8 single crochet stitches right into the loop - it doesn't matter..  Once you have a foundation of about 8 single crochet stitches begin crocheting 2 single crochets in each stitch - going around and around - you don't even have to pay attention to what round you're on.  You just stop crocheting when it's the size you want. 

And this is what you get (or something like it):



As you crochet, you may decide you prefer your puff to be looser (for the ruffles to not be so dense or compacted). Changing this up is easy - instead of crocheting 2 single crochets in every stitch, just crochet 1 single crochet in some stitches - or even for a whole round.  Or alternate crocheting 2 single crochets in a stitch, and then 1 single crochet in the next stitch - back and forth.  Or any number of single crochets in any given stitch.   The more single crochets you have in each stitch (and, consequently, in a round), the tighter and curlier will be the ruffles.  You decide just how tight and curly you want this to be.   You can religiously crochet 2 single crochets in every stitch in one row, and then be completely random about it in the next row.   It really doesn't matter - as long as you like what you're producing.  It really is that simple.

Here’s a picture of the second one I made with looser ruffles (and it’s also a tad smaller):


Okay, now for the detailed instructions for how to make a puff by starting with the hanging chain:

Start by chaining about 25 (you can chain more or less, depending on how long or short you want that hanging loop to be).

Then starting with the second chain make a row of slip stitches back down that chain. This makes nice “cord”:



Slip stitch the two ends together to make a large loop:



From here crochet 3 chains:



And join them with a slip stitch to the bottom of the hanging loop:



Now crochet 3 more chains and join them on the other side of the hanging loop (basically you’re making something of circle at the bottom of the hanging loop (the shape and look of this base is not terribly important):



From here, simply begin crocheting 2 (or even 3) single crochets in every stitch (or make 9 or so single crochet stitches into the two small loops (this part may feel a little “fiddly”, but the good news is, this doesn’t need to be perfect - you just need to establish a base of about 9 single crochet stitches, though the exact number doesn’t matter):



And then keep going around and around, crocheting 2 single crochets into every stitch. By round 4 or so, you’ll begin to notice the circle of yarn begin to ruffle:



Again, after experimenting, I’ve concluded I actually prefer my finished puff to not be as dense as the original pattern creates. I like it a little looser - especially for a bath puff. To achieve looser ruffles, you simply switch back to making 1 single crochet stitch in the stitch below (instead of 2 single crochets).


You can crochet single crochets in stitches randomly, or for a whole round, and then begin crocheting 2 single crochets in every stitch again. I found that sometimes I even forgot if I was supposed to be crocheting 2 single crochets or 1 single crochet in every stitch. And guess what? It doesn’t matter!!!

This is all so completely flexible - again, the density of your puff and its ruffliness is dependent on how many single crochet stitches you make in each stitch as you crochet along. You can change this up throughout the whole thing. If the ruffles feel too loose, double up on those single crochet stitches. If it starts feeling too dense, single crochet for a while.  Really... it’s pretty hard to mess this thing up.

I like to finish my puff by crocheting a single crochet stitch in every stitch for the last round. Or slip stitching all the way around looks nice, too.  This isn’t necessary, but I think it might make it just a bit smoother. And it’s fun to add a different color on that last round.



When adding new colors, just add them at any point. You do not need to keep track of the beginning of a round because it won’t show when the puff is finished, and when you’ve gotten your puff to the size you want, you can just stop by making a slip stitch into the next stitch in the row below and you’re done!

This is a great project for using up scraps of cotton yarn. I would guess that it takes approximately a full 3 oz. skein of something like Lily’s Sugar ‘n Cream, but since I like mixing colors up and using a combination of yarns, I never used a full skein of anything.   If you don’t want many ends to weave in, choose a variegated for an effortless change of color.

The variations possible on this puff are pretty endless.  And if you try it, you'll probably find you can't make just one.  Fortunately, you don't have to!



Linked to Small Things Yarn Along
and
Frontier Dreams Crafting On


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Another Linen Stitch Scarf

I finally finished weaving in the ends of my fourth linen stitch scarf!  The yarn is Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable in two different colorways:  Echo and Petunia.



While time consuming, this is a super simple stitch pattern that produces a very gratifying end product - especially with color changing yarn.
 
And while I want nothing more than to make more of these scarves - again, because they are so gratifying to watch develop, I am finally moving on to other things.  For a while...
 
 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A crocheted hook or pencil case...

While I'm in the thick of procrastinating weaving in all the ends on my pink-ish linen stitch scarf, and finishing the fringe on my blue and brown linen stitch scarf, I made a little crochet hook case posted on the Ravelry Red Heart Lovers June Challege.

I looked through my stash and found some Red Heart that I thought might be fun to create this case with.  And I've got say...I kind of love mine.

As I started I had no real plan for how it would turn out, but as I was crocheting the tube I noticed the dark pink yarn just sitting there in the basket (I'm using on the pink linen stitch scarf) and thought, "That would (kind of) work with this variegated yarn."  While it isn't exactly a match, I do think it "goes".

Then I looked through my giant button stash to find something I could use to make the closure, and finding nothing that went with either yarn I suddenly thought "A large bead would work."  Digging through those I found these long-forgotten-about butterfly beads!   Cute!



Again...not a perfect color match, but I think it works.  In fact, it might be that the purply-pink cartoonish butterfly  makes the dark pink trim work better.  Making the whole thing a little whimsical. Yeah...I need more whimsy.  :^)




I don't know that I'll keep my all hooks in it all the time.  I like having my crochet hooks in a ceramic mug where they are visible and more likely to inspire use, but I can so see putting my hook(s) and other accessories in this case when packing a tote with a crochet project I'm wanting to take along somewhere.

The pattern is linked to here (my project page where I made a few notes).  Most people seem to modify the pattern somehow to meet their needs (or perhaps the yarn they are using).  It's a simple and easy, and fun little project.  And Red Heart Super Saver yarn is perfect for this - a somewhat sturdy case that won't mind being squished in a bag of yarn.
~~~~~~




I'm currently deep in the book, Reinventing You by Dorrie Clark.  I watched an interview of Ms. Clark a few months ago and knew I wanted to know more how this woman thinks.  About how people bring about change - in themselves and in the world.  This book is written to help guide a person through a change of careers (typically after years of experience - both work related and personal).  I'm finding this book valuable food for thought as I'm in a transition of sorts (from 20 years enveloped in the homeschooling paradigm and social network to... well... not).   While I'm not interested, necessarily, in launching myself into a full-fledged career, there are great ideas here for gaining an understanding of what I can pull from my past experiences and contacts to launch into "the next thing".  I may actually just float into the next thing (as tends to be my style), but still...having some appreciation for the transitions of life is a helpful thing.

Frankly, I think this would be a great read for a college student.  Or any young adult.  As presented in the book, the ideas are tied to changing career paths, but the ideas are just as pertinent to a young person just starting out.

Check out Dorrie Clark at http://dorrieclark.com as well as all the yarny goodness at Ginny's Small Things Yarn Along; and other crafty-genius at Nicole's Crafting-On page this week.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Yarn Along... How would you fringe it?

I started a new scarf.  Surprise, surprise.  But I finally think this is the last one.  

For a while.  

Well, that is until the next pretty yarn or yarn combination catches my eye and causes me to wonder what it would look like crocheted in this very cool linen stitch.

This is another made with Loops & Threads Woolike yarn.  The colors are Chocolate, Denim, Ice Blue, and Beige:

Loops & Threads Woolike is classified as a superfine yarn.  It is very soft and, double-stranded I find it makes a nice cushy, but not bulky, scarf.  



I still need to work the fringe and I'm torn over whether to braid it, or leave it loose.   A friend suggested making short braids (like a couple inches, maybe?) to see if I liked that, but if I don't then I've got a scarf I've spent a lot of hours on that I don't like.  Please weigh in your preference. 

Braided?

Or loose fringe?


And before someone suggests weaving in all those ends, let me just say....No.   One of the joys in using this yarn (double-stranded) is the self fringing that I get.  ;^)

 ~~~~

As a progress report on last week's scarf, I have to report I have made none.  But I did find a petty basket to store it in:


Here is a link to the Ravelry page where you can find the pattern for this scarf.  While this scarf takes some time (I'm thinking there might be close to 10 hours in each scarf), it is a very easy crochet stitch and can be worked up in a variety of yarns and combination of yarns for a unique look every time.  

Check out Ginny's Yarn Along and Nicole's Crafting On to see what other yarn lovers are up to this week!


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Where have you been crocheting?


Crocheting on the patio at Clifty Inn overlooking the Ohio River (Madison, Indiana).  


A perfect day in every respect.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Yarn Along...

Second linen stitch scarf finished:


And a third one begun:


I think I may need an intervention.  This crochet stitch is so satisfyingly easy and intricate looking.  And every combination of yarns and colors is different from all the others.  I just can't seem to stop making these scarves!

In this third one I'm using Red Heart Unforgettable yarn in the colors, Echo and Petunia.  My thoughts about this yarn are mixed. The self-striping colors in both yarns work together in this pattern to make a pretty, almost mosaic-like pattern that is fascinating to watch grow.  Unforgettable is an acrylic yarn - and I love that it should be easy care.  While it doesn't feel scratchy at all, it is a bit less soft than some other acrylics, but it's certainly soft enough for a pretty (or handsome) scarf.  ;^)    

The spin is where it loses some points with me.  It is spun very haphazardly - in an intentional manner, I'm sure.  Its thickness ranges from tightly plied fingering weight to almost unspun slubs. I've had to cut out more than a few knots and slubby stretches of yarn and I can't say I like that.  I've seen pictures of some beautiful things created with this yarn, but after working with it, I'm re-thinking crocheting some lacy (or even larger) things I originally envisioned using it for. 

My overall thoughts are:  For scarves (and I imagine hats), it's terrific, and pretty reasonably priced.  I feels fine and, well...it is beautiful.   Some might say, unforgettable.  It comes in a variety of great colorways and two or more can be combined to make some amazing creations.  Again, everything I've seen made from this yarn looks great, but the way it is spun limits what I'd be willing to use it for.  When all is said and done, while I love it for these scarves, I'll probably think twice before using this yarn for other projects.  Two-week-later update:  I bought some more of this yarn. In two different colors.  The colors really are beautiful.  And I really am a bit insane over this linen stitch pattern.

A note on the scarves - in case it helps anyone else.  The beginning chain and row, for some reason, was more stretched out than the rest of the scarf in the first scarf I made, so I corrected this by, first of all, crocheting my chain and first row with a size smaller crochet hook than I used on the rest of the scarf, and then later (at any point in the crocheting) I go back (with the larger hook) and do a row of the linen stitch down the opposite side of the that beginning row.  It blends in perfectly - but I do recommend doing this before working the fringe. Now that I know to do this, I need to plan the color of that row as I'm starting out, but it's a very easy "correction" for what felt like a bit of a sloppy first row otherwise. 


This week I started reading The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier.  I haven't gotten far, but I'm all in after reading about the harrowing trip Honor Bright and her sister make to America on their sea-sickening voyage from England.

If you get this far, and are so inclined, I'd appreciate feedback on my font size.  I, personally, prefer a larger font - my eyes struggle to read smaller print.  But I have no idea how it appears to others. Any and all feedback regarding it is welcome this week since I'm experimenting a bit. 

Visit Jenny's Small Things' Yarn A-long to see what other yarn enthusiasts are working on this week..

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