Thursday, January 28, 2016

Fancy Braided Cowl

While searching Ravelry for fun things to make I came across this pattern for a Double Layered Braided Cowl.  I had already made the Alicia 1-Hour Cowl which has an extremely similar look and directions but uses Super Bulky yarn, single crochet stitches, and only has the one braid.  I gave the Alicia Cowl to my Aunt for Christmas, but John had commented that it was the neatest thing I had made so far!  When I saw this fancy braided cowl I just had to make myself one even though I feel like I've made a ton of scarves and I have at least 10 more that I really want to make for myself!!!  Maybe I just need to make them and give them away...but then I couldn't wear them! OMG, difficult decisions. :)

Anyway, the pattern on Ravelry and the website showed this braided cowl completed in solid colors, which I thought was important so not to overpower the pattern itself.  The thing is I have this aversion to solid colors!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE variegated yarns and anything that has multiple colors and other things going on like tweeds and heathers.  So when I went to the store I tried to stay with a mostly solid yarn, bot no way was I going plain and boring.  I decided to stay with Vanna's Choice and picked Pearl Mist.  I feel like the "linen and cream heather" color will go with so many outfits and I will be able to wear it often.

Since I'm located in Pennsylvania and we just got a TON of snow last weekend I ended up with a couple days off of work.  We did have to spend the first few days digging out ourselves, family, and friends but by Tuesday we could just relax and watch some trashy afternoon talkshows.  I started my braided cowl and got most of it completed with one skein on the first day.

I had to go back to work on Wednesday, so I only had a short amount of time after dinner to complete some more work.  I probably stayed up longer than I should have, but I got everything put together!

A note about the braiding: It's very simple to follow the pictures and braid the four strands together.  I have not yet sewn them in place as suggested in the directions, but I wanted to see how they laid first and make sure I was happy with them before finalizing their placement.  As you can see in the picture, the braid in the lower left of the photo is already twisting, so sewing them in place is probably necessary.  Since the strands of the braid are completed using half-double crochet stitches and then worked into the third loop (not the front or back as usual), this creates a different look on the two sides of the strands.

As you can see, the first picture shows both sides then the second and third are close-ups of the different sides of the strands.  You need to choose which side will face out when wearing your cowl.  The preferred side should face you when braiding.  I chose the side that had the V pushed forward more in the center of the strand (the bottom photo) than at the edges (the center photo).  If I had to guess, it looks like they chose the same in the Ravelry photos.

So, finally, my finished product.  Completely assembled, but I decided not to secure the back.  I kinda like how it lays.  If I get tired of it I can always secure the braids later.

When I looked at the original pattern, it called for two skeins of a solid color.  Since the solid color skeins have more length than the heather and twist skeins, I picked up three skeins of my Pearl Mist yarn.  I only used at most 1 1/2 skeins for the entire project.  But what amazing scarf/cowl doesn't have a matching pair of awesome gloves/fingerless mittens!!!  Next project!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

My First Sweater!!!

I'm so excited to have my first sweater!!!  I found a simple pattern from Lion Brand that looked easy enough to put together.  I just have to make a large square, fold it, and seam the edges together.  This project is like a practice run for another sweater that I want to make with some really nice Alpaca yarn that I received for Christmas.

The yarn used in this project is Lion Brand Homespun. I stood in Michael's for 20 minutes looking at all the color options that had at least 4 balls available.  I finally chose Waterfall because I like the purple and grey mixed in the blue and I figured it would go with the clothes I usually wear.

The Homespun is a little hard to work with since it's the first time I'm working with a "bobbly" yarn as I've been calling it.  The ch85 was hard to count if I stopped and forgot how many I had made, so I had to take it out and do all 85 at once so that I wouldn't have to try and count it.  Even going back and doing the first row of sc was tedious making sure to get each individual ch.  I counted again as I did the first row to make sure I had 84 sc.  From there you're just working in the back loop, sc, back and forth until you get the length needed.  The picture below is two skeins into the project.  It measures 42 inches across (the original chain), and 20 inches tall.  The pattern says to work until it measures about 38 inches, so I'm about half way!

In searching the Internet for the perfect pattern for my alpaca sweater, I came across a blog post about this pattern that I'm making now. The girl has awesome step-by-step instructions, suggestions for getting a perfect fit for yourself, and an optional collar. You can find her post here.  I'm still going to follow the regular directions and see what I get. I was planning on connecting the final project with stitch markers before connecting the sides so I will know if I need to take it out or change anything. One difference is that I used the same yarn as the pattern, so I'm hoping the measurements are all fine.

I actually haven't decided which direction I want to connect it.  The directions have you seaming the 42 inch sides together, which gives horizontal stripes in the front and vertical stripes down the back.  I was thinking of folding it the opposite way, but we'll have to see when I get there.

So I completed the length requirement with 3 skeins of the Homespun yarn. Since I didn't know which way I wanted to connect it I just used stitch markers every 2 inches and tried it on to see what it looks like. And I hate it :( The style looks terrible on me, but I'm glad I found that out on this yarn before I used the other stuff.  It's possible that I didn't like it because of the bulkiness of the finished product.

There are other sweater patterns that I've wanted to try, so I'll just have to find a style that works for me.  As for this yarn the plan is to pull it apart since I never worked in my ends and find something else to make, like a nice fuzzy scarf and some matching accessories!

After I posted, I told John I was just going to take it apart.  He said I shouldn't undo all the time I'd put in.  So the new plan is to take out the stitch markers (of course), maybe add a few more rows, put a nice edging around all sides and call it a baby blanket!  I'll post a photo when I'm done! :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Place for Everything, and Everything In It's Place.

So I completed a project on my first day of blogging!!!  I wanted to make myself a crochet hook case so I went online looking for the perfect pattern.  I didn't find exactly what I wanted so I went about half following directions and half making it up as I went.  I had a ball of Red Heart Super Saver in Blacklight so I went to town!

The first pattern I tried to follow was Crochet Hook Case and I really wanted it to come out nice, but by Blacklight yarn was just a little too busy for the shell pattern.  I was also really liking the Clover Amour Hook Case but I wasn't sold on the stitch she used.  So I kind of created my own out of what I liked from the two.

I started with the ch90 from the Crochet Hook Case, but I stuck with single crochet and a 3.5mm hook to make it nice and solid.  In the end I think it took me about 40 rows to get the 7" height needed to fit my Crystalites Hooks.  The case ended up being about 15" wide, which was longer than either pattern I had looked at before, but in the end it worked out because it's perfect for all of my hooks and an extra pocket from random items, like scissors, a pen, and needles.

After I had the back panel done, I went to my original ch90 and worked in the other loop to create the pocket.  Working in the chain make it easier since it was already lined up across the bottom, the same length.  I just kept working to make the front pocket.  When I ran out of Blacklight I decided Black would be a good contrasting color, so I went out and bought a ball of Red Heart Super Saver in Black and continued the top of my pocket.

For the top flap that holds the hooks from falling out, I worked a row of sc into the inside loop (the one that would be the inside of my hook case), then worked in both loops for the rest of the flap.  This helped it to lay down correctly.

Once my flap was long enough to catch my shortest hook, I started working around the outer edge to connect my flap and pocket.  I just worked a row of sc all the way around all four edges until I got back to where I started.  This gave me a nice edge that popped!

To create the individual pockets for each hook, I cut a piece of yarn, doubled it and threaded the two ends through my needle, leaving a loop at the end.  I counted 6 stitches from the right side and started there.  If you don't pull the thread all the way through, you can bring your needle through 3-4 stitches up and catch the loop.  At this point I separated the two strands, sent one back through the same stitch as before, holding the loop in place.  At this point I had a string on each side of my case.  I moved up another 3-4 stitches and sent each needle through the same stitch, one going to the back and the other coming to the front.  This creates the solid line of black instead of a broken line.  Once I got to the top, I sent the needle in the back through to the front and tied the two together in a tight double knot and snipped my ends.  I kept counting over 6 stitches to create more pockets.  I just made sure to end each one at the same point on the back of the work so it was uniform.

To create the tie, I made a ch5, then worked 4 sc across back and forth until I had a good length.  Now that it's complete, a ch4 with 3 sc worked back and forth would have been fine also.  I rolled my case from right to left then tied it around to make sure it was long enough and looked at placement, then attached it to the outside edge.  (The left side, when looking at the inside.)

I'm happy with the end result!