Sunday, May 28, 2017

Angel Wings Pinafore

Short and sweet would describe both my project and my post this week.  :)

Last week the Angel Wings Pinafore was a CAL (Crochet-A-Long) project in the Our Happy CAL Place.  I finished mine today - just in time for my weekly YOP post.

While the pattern was easy and it worked up super quick for a sweet pinafore, I have to be honest that I'm not real crazy about the yarn I chose.  It's an acrylic, and while I like using easy care acrylic for baby blankets and the one baby sweater I've made, I think something like this begs for a yarn that has...  I don't know... more substance? Cotton seems, to me, to be the obvious choice, but it would have to be an airy cotton so it wouldn't get too heavy.  Probably a cotton and synthetic blend would be best.  

I have some choices of cotton-blend yarn in my stash and I look forward to making this again - most likely in a larger size.  I think this would look adorable as young girl's pinafore top worn over a long sleeve t-shirt and a pair of jeans.  Or even just a summer top by itself over a pair of jeans or shorts.

The yarn I used is Lion Brand's Jamie (DK weight, or size 3).  It's an awfully splitty yarn and I personally don't care for it now that I've actually used it.  Since I have a bit left, I think it will work well enough in a blanket (mixed with other yarns), but this Jamie yarn did not score any points with me.  And I would not purchase it again.  Fortunately, I only bought 3 small skeins of it on clearance once upon a time.

This was probably a good project to give the yarn a go with, though.  I consider that I've made a quick and cute prototype, and now that I know how one of these pinafores is made I can adapt it to a larger size fairly easily I think.

To see what other Yoppers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Twiddle Muff

This week I was going to try to finish one of the two longer projects I've had on the hook for a over a month now.  But then someone posted an interesting project on the Our Happy CAL Place on Ravelry.  And like a child who's attracted to everything new and shiny, I couldn't resist jumping in.

We were introduced to the concept of a Twiddle Muff (also called a Fidget Mitt or Sensory Sleeve - though this name can refer to another item as well).   If you're not familiar with the concept, you can Google or search Pinterest with any of those terms (and others) and see variations on the theme of an item that has attached to it all sorts of "twiddly" things.   Dementia patients and autistic children or adults may find these items a great relief to play with or focus their attention on.

If this is a new concept to you, you might find some of these links interesting:

Video showing a commercially made twiddle muff
Video showing how to make a crocheted twiddle muff
Knit a mitt for patients with dementia
Could you knit a twiddle mitt?
Twiddle Mitt Knitting Pattern

There are some basic patterns (both knit and crochet) out there for making these twiddle muffs, but basically, you just knit or crochet a tube (approximately 11 inches long and 8 inches wide) and attach stuff to it.  Suitable stuff to attach is really anything that's safe for handling and is machine washable.  To add body to a muff and to hide the messy stitches that happen on the inside when you attach twiddly stuff to the outside, a liner is recommended.

Without a particular pattern, but understanding the concept, I came up with the following for the outside fabric of my first Twiddle Muff:

First I made a chain that I thought looked about the right size, joined the chain and began crocheting in the round.  I confess, I didn't apply a lot of forethought before beginning this sleeve.  I think I used an I (or J) hook and after chaining 45, I just kept crocheting in the round.   At some point I consulted a book of stitch patterns and chose some stitches that I thought would provide interesting variation of texture over the length of the muff.  Most of the irregularities caused by different stitch patterns were blocked out when I was finished crocheting the outer sleeve.

The first (bottom) section has some front post stitches, then the greenish section has four rows of "shells" (which I like for its own twiddle-factor, as a person can stick their fingers in the holes and explore what that section feels like).  I followed that with a stitch pattern that approximates a basket stitch, followed by a simple linen stitch and I finished up with some ruffles made by chaining and front-post-single-crocheting around a series of double crochets.

I think my favorite part is this "ruffly" bit. 

When I had this outer sleeve finished I set to work crocheting a lining for my mitt -- by starting with a chain (joined together) and then crocheting half double crochets in the round until I it matched the outer sleeve in length:

This liner is about 1/4 inch smaller around than the outer sleeve.

I may add a pocket or two to the inner lining and then when I'm finished adding "twiddly" things to the outer sleeve, I'll finish by crocheting the lining to the sleeve.

Figuring out the twiddly stuff is both fun and time consuming.  And I can see that it will be hard to know when to quit.  But knowing when to quit, it seems to me, is just as important as starting one of these in the first place.  Hopefully, I'll know when I'm done - otherwise, I can imagine that too much twidde-ability might lead to sensory overload for someone.

So far, the outer sleeve has gotten some flower treatment

And a short ribbon of twiddly beads 

I have some more ideas for twiddly add-ons, but I've run out of time this week.  Hopefully, next week, I'll have a finished Twiddle Muff and will be moving on to my other languishing projects.  :)

To see what other Yoppers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

College Graduation...

Celebrating Joel's graduation from IUPUC - 
with a Purdue Degree in Mechanical Engineering.

We are so proud of Joel for working hard as an engineering intern for the last two years while continuing as a full-time college student.

Where has the time flown?!?

Round Jacob's Ladder

I had a finish this week!  After much dragging of feet, and mostly ignoring this project over the last month and a half, I actually managed to finish crocheting the Round Jacob's Ladder Baby Blanket:

I don't know why I was so pokey finishing this blanket up because it's truly not hard (once you work the kinks out of the pattern, that is).   I'm pretty sure I'll be hooking up more of these in the future.

And yesterday was middle son's college graduation.  It was a beautiful day in all respects.  It feels so good to see your children succeeding and marking the milestones of their lives, but times like these also make me nostalgic for the days when they were little boys.  Why oh why does the time seem to fly now that those days are passed?

Feeling very pleased and proud of this young man

To see what other Yoppers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

How I feel about felting...

Don't you love it when you try something you've been putting off - maybe it seemed difficult, or you didn't think you had the proper tools for it - and it turns out, once you give it a try, it's really easy and you didn't need anything special to do it after all?

Such was my experience last week.  

I needed a quick and easy project for a CAL I'm hosting this week on Ravelry and I came across a pattern for making felted coasters and a felted container to hold the coasters in.  The instructions looked too easy not to try - even though I didn't really think it could be as easy as the designer made it look.  I figured even it was a bust, it was worth a couple of hours of my time to finally try this felting thing.

Well, lo and behold, felting a crocheted (or knitted) coaster and bowl is extremely easy!   You need to use 100% non-superwash wool and you'll need a few items everyone has at home, and you're good to go.  My coasters are still "in process", but my bowl is finished:

 I'll be the first to say it's not the prettiest thing, but I'm still very excited to have a success. 

If you check out the pattern link and think you'd like to crochet a set of coasters and a container to put in them, I have some thoughts to share:

First of all, I had to make my coasters and the base of the bowl larger than the designer said to (maybe because I crocheted too tightly?)   Shrug.  For the coasters I crocheted 10 rounds to get a 5-inch coaster (pre-felting).  After felting (and drying) my first coaster measures 4 1/5 inches across - which is a perfect size.   I made the base of my bowl two rounds larger than my pre-felted coasters, but that ended up being a bit too small to hold my coasters.

So, I think this is important to mention...  If you want to make a container to fit coasters into, I suggest making coasters first (felted and dried) and then make the container's bottom at least an inch and a half larger than the felted coaster, then crochet the sides.  Once felted, this should give you enough space inside the container to fit the coasters.  That said, it's all still a bit of a guessing game.

If you're curious about my experience and things I did differently from the designer of this pattern, I've written a detailed explanation of how I felted the bowl above on the CAL page on Ravelry.  

Here's the thing... felting is an inexact science (or maybe it's more of an art - but regardless, it's inexact).  Everything shrinks during felting and I'm thinking it's pretty near impossible to accurately determine how much shrinkage you'll have.  After I have some more experience under my belt, I may feel like what I have to share about this business is worth writing about in more detail, but for now I'm embracing the uncertainty and enjoying turning something like this:

into this:
Just because I can.  

To see what other Yoppers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.