Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pretty in Pink....or not

This sweater vest was made from a pattern on Ravelry called Pretty in Pink . Being a vest to keep my mother warm in the winter, I went with a color she would like. I fell in love with it, too. It's called "Cognac". Doesn't that just conjur up images of well-suited men sitting in big chairs in some exclusive club library smoking cigars and discussing politics? No? Pardon me....

I chose to make it in wool because that is one of the best fibers out there for keeping warm.

I must confess a bit of silliness went on in the making of this sweater! The first part is knit up from the bottom to the armholes, thus no seams. Gotta like that! But then silly me who does not like to do one front, then the other front, then the back one after another went and attached two extra skeins of yarn and worked all the parts simultaneously on long circular needles. So imagine it like this: Knit right front row, drop the yarn; pick up yarn for back, knit a back row, drop the yarn; pick up ...well you get the idea. In theory this is a good idea. I was too stubborn to stop and just do it the traditional way. Now, before you go and try this method yourself, be forewarned: Handling three skeins of yarn is tricky business and requires strict attention to the placement of each skein immediately prior to working with it every row. Otherwise. I shudder here. The skeins become hopelessly tangled and you, dear knitter, curse the very day you read this blog!

This lovely photo gives you a peek into my yarn room. You can see a couple drawers full of yarn next to my comfy knitting chair. On the table to the left is a lovely shrug I knit in an acid yellow hue that my daughters wouldn't be seen in (thank you internet sale!). It has since found solace in the company of a girl studying for the theatre (no kidding). The skein of yarn just under the shrug is Lorna's Laces dk in Child's Play. I have two skeins of this pretty stuff. Not sure what they will become. Also, my button box came in handy. I chose some bone colored shirt buttons. PS Mom likes it a lot. PPS Mom does not like having her photo taken. Ever.
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Sandy the Dottie Doll

Well, here's a mess! With a capital M! You see I set about making a doll and had to take out all kinds of things for inspiration and practicality. Crochet thread, embroidery thread, felt, fabric, scissors, needles, beads, trims, yarn and glue all littered the table during her preparation and "birth". It took two tries alone to get the right size motif to fit her body.
Isn't she a cutie??? Dotties are dolls made of fabric according to a set theme. My theme this time was mother earth related. Although I mostly knit and crochet, I wouldn't be worthy of the title The Stitch Sleuth if I didn't look for other ways to be crafty and incorporate my specialty. Her hair is made from strands of Lion Brand Homespun which has a thread twisted around it. Remove the thread and Voila! you have what looks like wool roving. This color is called Quartz and it's lovely shades of purple. The end of the tail is a five-pointed starfish and the 'sandy beach' across her body is a motif from the Vogue Knitting Stitchionary 4 Crochet. The starfish is on page 148 and the wide scallop is on page 128.
Here's a closer look at the wide scallop. This is actually an edging pattern that you can repeat, but I only made one. This one is made using No. 10 crochet thread. The first one was made with No. 3 thread, but that turned out way too big. I think the motif gives the feeling of the wave retreating from the beach and leaving a lovely, sandy pattern, don't you?

If you want to learn more about Dotties, just search the web or join Swap-bot. I sent this lovely lady off to a swap partner and received one from someone else. Loads of fun, really! You should try it! Ta Ta For Now! Happy Stitching!

Sunday, July 11, 2010


I've been making a lot of these bracelets lately. They have proven a popular extra when I do swaps and my two daughters like theirs, too. I made a two-circle pendant to match one of the sets. They are super easy to make with my directions below:


Items needed:
#10 crochet thread--Go for the sparkly kind if you like!
No. 9 steel crochet hook
plastic rings (many sizes available at local craft stores)
one button (for closure)
sharp needle (to sew on button and weave in ends)

Step One: Make a simple crochet circle. The button is sewn on this circle in the finishing step.

Leaving a 6" end, Chain 2. 6 sc in the second chain from hook. Place a marker in the last stitch made.
Row 2: 2 sc in each stitch. 12 stitches.
Row 3: *1 sc in next stitch; 2 sc in next stitch* Repeat around. 18 stitches. This completes the button holder. Remove marker. Do not fasten off. Chain 1.

Step 2: Now you crochet half-way around the plastic rings. Generally, 7 rings makes a nice size bracelet between 7 and 7 1/2". Use your own wrist as a guide and keep in mind that there will be a little give in the final product. Here we go:

Hold a ring in your left hand, insert the hook through the ring, draw up a loop firmly around the ring, yo and draw through both loops. Repeat until your ring is half full. Different sizes require different amounts to look covered, but not crowded. Write down how many stitches you use to cover the ring. If you use different sized rings in a project, just write the number as you go.

So now the ring is half full. Chain 1. Pick up your next ring and fill it half full with stitches. Chain 1. Repeat half-covering a ring, then chain 1 until you have enough filled to be a bracelet.

You will now chain a loop big enough to fit over the button you are using as a clasp. I mostly use shirt buttons and they take 8 chains. You will have to use your best judgment on how many chains will work for your button, but remember there is more give to a chain than you think, so be a little conservative in your estimate. But if you have a shirt button, at this point, Chain 8.

Now you will fill this side to match the number of stitches used on the first half. After the first circle is filled, you will slip stitch into the back of the Chain 1 you made between rings. Keep going, filling the circles and slip stitching into each Chain 1 until you are back to the button circle. Slip Stitch into the last Chain 1 before the button circle. Fasten Off.

Step 3: Finishing. I use the original tail from my chain 2 at the beginning to sew on the button. Weave in any loose ends. Put it on and admire it!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Coaster Swap

When it comes to swaps, I spend a lot of time looking for just the right thing. I mean, my swap recipient has gone to all the trouble of listing her fav colors, objects, books, movies, etc. Why not tap into that?

When I say "the right thing", I mean the right pattern. The coasters on the right were a free pattern off the internet. I made them during my marathon session watching the Prime Suspect series from the BBC--seven seasons, mind you! These weren't the only stringy things I made during that series....more on other items for another post.

These are crocheted with No. 3 Thread from Royale and a B hook. No. 3 thread is supposed to be sport weight. I like it because it's soft, colorful, readily available and cheap.

This swap marked the start of my "swap anxiety". As I made these little pretties, I was actually thinking about my older son and daughter who live elsewhere. Do they have pretty coasters for their furniture? Nay, I say. Why am I making these for a complete stranger when my own family is wanting? Well, for now, I assuage my guilt with the knowledge that it's not too late to make them some. This was a swap in May and it's July now. I am finishing up my July swaps this weekend and plan to take at least a month off of Swapping with Strangers.

Don't get me wrong, I see swapping with strangers as a boost to my creativity. Then I will share that creativity with the ones I actually live with. Soon.
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Monday, June 14, 2010

Tour of Afghans #1

This is an afghan that I started making over ten years ago! I remember putting it away because I was getting confused as to where I was in the pattern. So it sat in a bag in my garage for probably six years before I rediscovered it.

Of course, when I saw it with fresh eyes I was able to complete the last 20 rows or so and call it done.

I actually donated this to a raffle. One of our friends won it. The following November at a church bazaar, I was startled to see it tagged for $20 and for sale! So, since I really loved it, I bought my own afghan back!
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Sunday, June 13, 2010


I made this washcloth for a swap on Swapbot. It's about 12' x 12'. Crazy big, I know! The yarn I used is from Hobby Lobby called I Love This Cotton! It is super soft.

I made a new cloth with the same two-note motif using the same yarn and much smaller needles. I went from a 7 to a 5. It turned out a more usable size. I sent it on and my swap partner really liked it.

I still have this one--it makes a good duster!

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Currently on the needles and scoring #1 in evening knitting time is the charming Pimpelliese by Christine Ebers of Spinning Martha. I have wanted to make a triangle scarf like this for quite a while, but the most popular one called Baktus was very plain. There is a variation with some yarnovers called lacy Baktus that is also very popular probably due to the fact that the yarnovers break the monotony of garter stitch for some. The yarn is Jojoland Melody superwash wool which features gradual tonal colorshifts that I find soothing and interesting.

This picture shows what I shall call my gauge swatch. My other wip is worsted weight and this is fingering weight so there was quite a call for my fingers to control this yarn. After several inches into the scarf, my tension became more even so I simply tinked this back and started over.

The Jojoland Melody feels soft but a little crunchy worked up as garter stitch. I am hopeful that a good soak at the end with Eucalan will soften it sufficiently to wear around my neck next winter.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mother's Day Present-Round One

Kid to me:
'"Mom, what do you want for Mother's Day?"

"Oh, I don't know.....something that starts with "Y"."


"It can be in a gift certificate."

"Oh. ok"

"Y.....you know, yarn...."


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Swapbot Yarn Exchange

I've been having some fun with Swapbot.com. It's a computer generated swapping facilitator that connects people all over the world with others that have common interests. Take, oh, I don't know, yarn, for instance! I signed up to swap yarn and chocolate with one other person. One skein of yarn and one chocolate bar had to be sent in April before the hot weather set in causing chocolate coated yarn skeins to be delivered. Sticky yarn is never fun....

This package was sent to Canada! My swap partner loves wool, so I sent a skein of Lorna's Laces Swirl DK, a super soft blend of wool and silk. I know we were only supposed to send one chocolate bar, but they were on sale.....The envelope says "A little something I made...JUST FOR YOU." Inside is the crocheted bracelet I blogged about earlier in the week. I hope she likes it all! I don't know yet because I sent the package on the deadline and at the post office they told me it would take 5 to 10 days to be delivered! I'll keep that in mind for future international swaps anyway.

Now, on to the package I received.

My package comes from a knitter in California! Too cool! In addition to the yarn, she sent me a fat, blue pen with an Apple logo! I wonder who she works for! The skein of Mission Falls 1824 Cotton was just perfect for me. I've been wondering what this yarn is like. I know just what it will be, too. Since it's a one skein project, it won't take too long to make up. Of course, the project will have to wait its turn in the queue!

I think Swapbot is fun. You do have to be pretty trusting though. It is monitored, but they require addresses and other personal information to make the site workable. The envelope I put the bracelet in was also from a stationery exchange on Swapbot. It's made from paper pressed with flower petals and smells very springlike. It came in handy to put the bracelet in and sweeten the whole box.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Silly Little Caterpillar

This little creature is from the book Crocheted Gifts by Kim Werker The pattern designer is Toni Rexroat

Well, actually, it's a bracelet and a variation because I wasn't going to use size 10 thread or a size 1 hook. I can and have made things with size 10 thread, but I just wasn't in the mood. Plus I thought "I have a lot of pretty size 3 thread that will take way less time to work up."

Looks like a caterpillar just up and died on it's back right on my blocking board!

The beginning chain needed to be a multiple of 6, so I tried 60, which yielded a 7 1/4" bracelet. On the second round, I sc 2; sc, ch 3, sc in same stitch; sc 2, sl st in next chain, repeating until the end of the side. At that point, I attached a shank button by using an impossibly small size 1 hook, inserting it through the button hole and drawing up a loop through the shank hole. Then I switched back to the size 10 hook and sl st in the same stitch to anchor it. Then just keep going with sc 2; sc, ch 3, sc in same stitch; sc 2, sl st in next chain and repeat to the end of the round.

I think crocheting the button on is way better than sewing it on. First of all, it is permanently anchored. Secondly, there are no sewing ends to weave in; not to mention I didn't have to dig through my notions box for a sewing needle and a threader! I think it turned out very pretty. I sent it to a special friend. When she gets it, I'll let you know what she says!
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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Ajune Toddler Pullover

Really, now. I took a pattern and changed it up! The pattern called for DK weight yarn. I used Aran. I had leftover balls of Bernat DenimStyle to use up. I actually made a crocheted afghan with this yarn. I didn't really like the way the fabric turned out crocheted. It worked up too thick and didn't show the pattern well. However, it is a soft yarn; the kind you might even like to hold up to your face and pet a bit! I was right! It knit up into a wonderfully soft pullover. The fabric was substantial but not hefty or stiff. Happiness!

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This pick shows the measurement I tried to most closely match on the original pattern. This size was supposed to be 11.5". I went to a little over 12". Not a problem for it to be bigger because the little recipient is growing fast right now. In order to make it about the same size (I wasn't really worried about a sweatshirt type of garment with no shaping not fitting a toddler at some point in his life) I cast on 20 fewer stitches than called for in the pattern, threw all caution to the wind then started knitting.

As a reminder, this free pattern is available at the NaturallyCaron.com website. I recommend this pattern for beginners as there is lots of garter stitch. New skills for some might be casting on mid project and picking up the stitches for the neckline and working in the round. I used a 16" circular because as we all know, I haven't had the moxie to try dpns....yet.

I'm proud of this project because I used stash yarn and (listen for trumpets blaring) it was finished ON TIME! BEFORE the birthday party! I am now doing a little celebration dance a la Snoopy....excuse me

Easter Present for Daniel

Well, well, well, what do we have here? A sausage? no. A balloon? no. A thick branch off a tree? No, no, no! It's a pillow!

See? If you look again, you will recognize stockinette stitch! The beauty of this design is that I used up all but a few strands of the yarn. I was using stash yarn, Bernat DenimStyle, and didn't want any leftovers. No little balls of anything I might be forced to make into a granny square later.

Did you take a good look at the end? Fooled You, didn't I? The ends are crocheted! Yeah, you know me--dpns aren't yet my thing.

Here's what I had leftover: just a few ends clipped off after weaving. The really long one became a temporary meal for the cat. But her owner discovered it hanging out of her mouth and rescued it for the garbage just in time!


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Flu Shawl

Follow me back in time to October 2009. Not that long ago really. A very bad month for the H1N1. I work at an elementary school where the flu was making its rounds. However, I'm pretty sure I actually caught it from my husband who works with the public at a grocery store. Anyhoo.....the end result was the same: Too sick to go to work; too tired to work at home. Enter this shawl project: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/senso-crochet-wool-shawl

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It's crocheted in Lily Chin Chelsea, a 30% merino/35% cotton/35% acrylic blend I picked up from a WEBS sale last year. The only mod I made was adding the fringe. After completing the last row of the shawl, I slip stitched to the edge, chained 40 and slip stitched to the next stitch, chained 40 and repeated the same process all along the two sides.

I like this yarn. I'm always looking for blends of cotton and merino to work with. Mostly because I get too hot in 100% wool. I have four balls of this left which is about 760 yards. I'm thinking of knitting a little dress for my baby niece. Time to go look for a pattern!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Here is the Ajune Toddler Pullover up to the armholes. I thought it was so pretty! However, there were a few problems with it. Number One-the yarn worked up too thinly. I have come to admire a certain squishiness in yarn. Not wet sort of squishy, but thick and fluffy kind of squishy. These two yarns were making a very lightweight, cheap looking fabric. Second, I doubted this would actually fit a 12-month old who wears 18-month clothes. So, this version was frogged.....

Oops! That's not right! I didn't frog it....I threw it out! Yes, I committed the ultimate yarn workers travesty and threw out some precious fiber. Don't get me wrong; I wrestled with the moral implications for about a week. Afterall, none of the other fiber bloggers ever admit to throwing out a frogged project. I weighed the implications of storing this cheap looking stuff until I could find another use for it. Well, why would I ever want to make anything else with it? Is it ok to dislike something so much that you actually throw it out? My answer was "yes" and after this post, I'm not going to even think about it again.

In the meantime, I completed another pullover based on the Ajune pattern. Wait til you see it....next time.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What has The Stitch Sleuth been looking for this week?

Hmmmmmm...while poking about on Ravelry I came across this free pattern from Lion Brand: Scallop Crochet Scarf http://www.lionbrand.com/patterns/80985AD.html?r=1
It's construction is similar to the Luna Scarf published on Ravelry. There is a long chain and one half of the scarf is worked into it. Then a mirror image of the first half is worked on the back of the chain.

I really like that this scarf is a perfect mirror image. The Luna Scarf isn't. But I have made three Lunas because we love the Harry Potter movies and there is a beauty in that scarf my daughters and I really like.

Since I have a lot of Vanna in my stash, I can see this scarf being made a few times in the future.

The Stitch Sleuth is always looking for scarf patterns to try, both knit and crochet. This scarf could be made in an evening or two with just two balls of yarn. It's sure to become one of my go to gift ideas.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

That Darn Cat!

Oh, dear! Kitty is in the napkin basket again!

Good thing daddy is at work! He doesn't like to see Kitty on the dining room table!

Please view a Sweet Little Nothing that was dragged around the house by the innocent looking cat in the basket! It's supposed to be a shrug for my oldest daughter and was progressing nicely. It's a very easy top down raglan. I made it more challenging to knit by buying a $15 ball of Metallic FX by Berrocco to add a little bling. What you can't see is the tangled knotted useless mess the Metallic FX is right now. It's too depressing to show you. Sigh. The one day I leave the door of my yarn room open, the kitty cat seizes the opportunity to grab the daintily threaded sequin ball and drag it 50 feet out into the living room! Needless to say I have no hope of restoring this project or ever finishing it.

When I told my friends at work about the kitty sequin yarn disaster they suggested I just buy another $15 ball of sequin yarn and keep going. Don't they know about dye lots! Much less the psychological trauma of being foiled by a cat!

" Mmmmm....I love eating yarn." That Darn Cat!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I am a poor purler and a cheater

I admit it: I am a poor purler! Here is my rendition of the superb pattern by Jackie of JL Yarnworks: Hermione's Cable & Eyelet Hat. It took me over a year to screw up the courage to try this hat. Why? Because I was a poor purler. Yes, you read it right: poor purler. Why so poor a purler? Well, let's go back about 35 years to 4-H, where I learned to knit. I had a lovely teacher who was an accomplished knitter. I do not blame her for my weird purling habit. First of all, I never gained the dexterity needed to hold both needles up at the same time. Well, what do you do with the other needle? You stick it between your thighs! Weird, huh? Yep, I let my thighs hold the left hand needle while I knit or purled the stitches off holding the right needle. So, a year ago when I decided to start knitting again, I knew it was time to grow up and hold the needles correctly. It took several garter stitch projects to get the hang of it, but I did it! Then I made some projects requiring purling. Although my stitches looked ok, I could feel that I wasn't purling effectively and quickly. So I looked up purling on You Tube. I am a continental style knitter, German style, if you will. I love it. It's efficient and fast. So, the Hermione Hat is my first knitting project where I knit and purled correctly the whole project. It turned out better than I expected.

Now, I also confess that I am a cheater! I have a lot of knitting hangups to get over and using double pointed needles is one of them. So....when this project decreased to the point of needing dpns I used a 9" circular! Bet you didn't know they even make these little babies! Well, unfortunately for me, 9" is still too big to go all the way down to 5 little stitches. So I cheated. I ended early. There it is. I feel so much better for telling you! I ran the yarn around and back twice when there were still 10 stitches left! You can't even tell, can you?

So, this project was a real milestone for me. Here's my list of brave deeds for this project: purling correctly; yarnovers; and cables. I guess making this project made me braver for whatever is to come next. I'm not afraid of endless stockinette stitch now and maybe instead of calling it cheating, I'll call my compromising efforts innovative coping strategies.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

One Hour Scarf--Yes, Really!

What can you do when you forget your friend's birthday on Tuesday but want to give a beautiful gift one day late? You make the Ruffle Cravat from Leigh Radford's wonderful book, One Skein. I bought this book because I thought I could make inexpensive presents out of it and since it's mostly knitting, I would start knitting again. Well, it's very inspirational and all, but I'm still a better crocheter than knitter, so I've made the Cravat twice now, both to rave reviews!
Since this is only my third post, I hope you'll forgive my lack of expertise is placing photos! The top photo is the completed scarf. It is very soft and lovely with dark blue as the prominent color, with accents of brown and white. The middle photo shows my time at 1 hour 8 minutes. It took me over an hour because I was watching a hilarious 1980's British comedy, The Vicar of Dibley, for the first time. Because of the accents and the 80's time warp, I had to pay a bit more attention to the episodes. One Hour and Eight Minutes isn't bad though. Not bad at all.
I would use Deborah Norville Chunky again. Inexpensive and soft, soft, soft. Don't you just love being able to take some string and turn it into something fabulous!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

ksl.com - Experts: Sitting too much could be deadly

ksl.com - Experts: Sitting too much could be deadly

The above article is a must read for any crafty who has ever been immobilized for hours under a hefty blanket or shawl. How about all that time we spend looking at patterns on Ravelry?????

Take heed crafters everywhere! Get up and move or death awaits you!!!!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

It's a Toddler Sweater, for cryin' out loud

The Ajune Toddler Pullover http://www.naturallycaron.com/projects/ajune/ajune_1.html

I went stash diving for this one. DK weight. Hmmmm. Well I have two skeins of Berocco Comfort DK. Only 175 yards each, though. Well, that 3/4 skein of Sirdar Snuggly will go with it and I'll hold my breath to see if I have enough. Feeling pretty edgy on the yardage situation, so back to the stash for some white Fore-'n-Aft Sport that is so old it only cost $2.15 brand new. And that's $2.15 for 175 yards of 100% orlon acrylic! That's plenty of yarn for a size 18 months. Whew! Here are my yarn comments: Love the color of the Comfort and it's plenty soft. Cheap, too. Don't like that it snags easily and feels thin worked up. Sirdar Snuggly is so soft and pretty, but this DK is not the same weight as the Comfort--Don't worry, I'll work that out later. The Fore-'n-Aft: who knows--never used it before. I have had it in the stash for at least 20 years! lol. pics, tradgedies and triumphs coming up soon!