Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stone Path Hat

I feel bad that I haven't posted in a while -- only to post about a major loss in my life.

So to balance the sad with the good, I want to share one of my biggest crochet triumphs -- The Stone Path Hat.

As you can see, this hat pattern revives the knit Aran Sweater pattern of lines, wide cables, tight cables and popcorns. It is a true wonder of mathematical precision, designed by Lisa Naskrent. I obtained the pattern from a free e-book of crocheted hats through

I did find, however, that the hat ends up too small, even when the gauge works out right.

Then again, I used regular worsted weight yarn (Caron's Simply Soft) and, I believe, a size "H" hook (unfortunately, I didn't write down the hook size on this first attempt) where the pattern called for sport weight and a size "E" hook. This hat will fit a small adult or pre-teen.

I made a second attempt, with mint green sport yarn and a size "J" hook. I also followed the pattern for the largest size and am extremely pleased with this second hat. It ended up just a tad large, but since this will be donated in my cancer hat project, a little large is good. I also finished it off with a slightly different edge -- forgoing the roll up brim.

This was a case of where I began with the written instructions. Unlike most patterns, I had to carefully mark off each pattern repeat and it took great concentration to make sure that I maintained the increases correctly. It was very important when I finally began the body of the hat and got into the full-fledged cables and twists and popcorns. At that point, I switched to the crochet symbol diagram as it gave me a clear impression of what each row looked like and how they interacted as a whole.

When making the mint green version, I discovered a great tip (darn! can't remember where now) that said to take recipe cards and transfer the symbol crochet pattern, one row to one card through one pattern repeat. WOW! What a great idea! I did exactly that. I recreated the symbols, line by line on 6 cards (6 rows make one full pattern). These were easier to carry and I never lost my place in the pattern. It made making the second hat a breeze!

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Marian De Young: 1924 - 2011

My wonderful mom passed away in her sleep on Sunday, August 21. She would have been 87 at the end of this month.
Mom had a series of strokes within the last couple of years and has been bed-ridden for the last six months. Her passing was quiet and peaceful.

I love you, Mom!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hairpin Lace Scarf

I've finally finished (and photographed) the hairpin lace shawl I made for a young friend of mine who just graduated from the university.
Here is a shot of the shawl draped over my wicker form. This shawl is comprised of 5 strips of hairpin lace with the center strip having an extra twist in the loops.

As you can see in the photo above, I twisted the loops twice before joining with a stitch.

Okay, so now you've seen the finished shawl -- how did I make it? First, you need a hairpin loom and a crochet hook. By working around the loom and crocheting down the center, you create the base of a very pretty lace.

At the top of the photo, you can see the Boye Hairpin Loom that I recently purchased. I used Caron's Dazzleaire yarn in a lovely bone color. The pattern called for 240 loops on each side. In order to keep track of the loops as I worked (and to allow me to slide off completed groups), I used safety pins to hold 10 loops together. I could easily keep track of the number of loops this way. The pattern actually gathered only 5 loops at a time, which was also easy to keep track of with the 10 loop groups.

Once you've got a 240 loop strip complete, you join the 5 loop groups into an edge with chains in between.

Finally, you attach the strips together with more chains worked between the rows to form a pretty diamond pattern.

I am so very pleased with the finished piece, that I think that I will make myself the same shawl (pattern from Red Heart Yarn's Hairpin Lace Shawl). Maybe in a pale brown or dark green color for the fall season.

My next project is a cotton dress for my granddaughter, Alexa. Hope to show it off soon.

In my last blog, someone asked me to post a photograph of my completed Mystery Crochet Pattern purse, so here it is!!!!


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Amigurumi Love

I've been wanting to try my hand at amigurumi for a while now. This is the Japanese crochet technique of making stuffed dolls and animals using single crochet, very tight, using a circular, spiral pattern to create the head, body and arms of your project. Stuffing is done as you create your animal with standard polyester fill.

I planned to make my granddaughter a crochet animal for her 2nd birthday this month, so I bought a Pound of Caron yarn in a light brown color and small amounts of red and bone colored Caron's Simply Soft. Using an amigurumi monkey pattern, I made the usual changes (I can't crochet without changing some part of the pattern) and created a Sock Monkey!

Sock Monkey on Laptop and Quilt Rack

I think he turned out great! The original pattern called for the bone color for the entire muzzle and the nostrils and  mouth were to be embroidered on. The body was entirely to be done in the brown. For a true sock monkey, the mouth was to be red and the little bottom was also to be red (for the original work socks had red toes and red heels). So I took the small amount of red and crocheted the red mouth on the muzzle and worked out the placement of red for his little bottom!

I think this was completely successful!


Before I started the monkey, I tried my hand at the technique of holding 2 strands of yarn together to obtain interesting colors or textures. My friend, Sue, who donates yarn to me for my cancer hat project, provided 2 nice spring colors of Caron's Simpy Soft, a soft yellow and sage. I began making a hat with these two colors together, but soon found the stitches to be thicker and stiffer. So I made the circle for the crown of the hat a little larger to accommodate the stiffer stitching. Wouldn't you know, after I began creating the sides, I realized that the hat was waaaaaayyyyyyy too big. I took it to my friend Sue to get her opinion and yes, it was too big. But, as I held it with the top in the palm of my hand, Sue exclaimed that the piece would make a great bowl. So instead of tearing the previous rows out to make it smaller, I just continued until it was a nice little bowl. Then to make it more spring-like, I added a crocheted daffodil!

Now the amigurumi part . . .

Since no one would supply Easter candy for my bowl (this is our Spring piece at my job), I decided to see if I could find a pattern for Easter eggs.

Wouldn't you know it, my favorite yarn website (Lion Brand Yarn) had a great pattern for amigurumi eggs! My young friend from the nearby university gave me for my birthday some wonderful Red Heart yarn in a multi-color skein that just shouted out EASTER! So in between making the arms and legs of the sock monkey, I created little gems of Easter eggs!

I also took the opportunity to try my hand at spike stitches as you can see on the egg in the upper left!

The eggs looked a little lost in the bowl, so I created "grass" from green copy paper cut very thin on an office paper cutter.

I think the entire effect is wonderful!

What do you think?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Spring is Closing In!

This weekend I was busy with multiple crochet projects.

I decided to attempt a new technique of crocheting 2 strands of yarn together. You can choose 2 complimentary (or contrasting) colors or 2 different textures of yarn for entirely new looks. My friend Sue, who donates yarn to me for creating soft comfort hats for cancer patients, presented me with a skein of Simply Soft Sunshine and a skein of Simply Soft Soft Sage. I decided they were nice colors and decided to make a hat holding both yarns together. It was turning out beautifully, a nice thick double crochet post and the colors were really very nice. It also ended up a bit stiffer than I'm used to, so I increased the size to compensate for the lack of stretch. WELL . . .

The hat soon became too large. I was holding it up on my palm with the top down and the sides up explaining to Sue that I would have to pull out a few rows to shrink the size, when she pointed out that it looked like a pretty basket! I looked at it again and sure enough, it was a pretty Spring basket! So I thought, "what the heck!" we'll use it as a candy dish in our department.

Long story short, I continued for a few more rows, topped it off with a crab stitch row and made a pretty little crocheted daffodil for the front and here is my Spring basket!

This weekend was also a Women's Health Fair at our small local hospital. This being the first year for this event, I decided to bring a small skein of yarn to keep me busy while waiting for some of the free sessions that were offered. I had a small amount of pink / white yarn from my very first cancer hat, so I thought I'd try my hand at making a necklace choker. I knew I had a couple of loose pendants (without chains) that might work nicely as charms on the choker, so I quickly worked up rows of a single crochet / double crochet pattern that looks pretty and in less than an afternoon, I had this great necklace. My hubby helped me chose the charm and button for the clasp and I finished this up lickety split!

What do you think?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Year

Well, it's a new year. To be honest, I'm glad to be rid of 2010 and hope that 2011 will be a bit brighter for my family and friends. It seems that this last year was trying for everyone -- my Mom suffered a total of 7 strokes that has finally left her in a near coma, but at home with my Dad under home hospice care. One of my dear younger friends has been struggling with her sister's lymphoma and slow recovery. My DH is still getting weaker and experiencing more and more difficulty getting around. And everyone is suffering from the sluggish economy and high gas prices. Sigh!

I have been crocheting my little fingers off (well, not really) amidst all of this turmoil. I completed both sides of my lacy tunic, but without a way to properly block it, I haven't finished this wonderful project. I really need to block the pieces before I sew them together into a warm lacy cowl tunic. Then I made 9 Nubby Mitts for my co-workers holiday gifts, one basket weave, shell edging baby afghan for another co-worker, and warm, soft, fuzzy mittens for my younger friend in Dekalb. I also made Mukluk slippers for my soon-to-be granddaughter (who is going to be 2 years old in April) and men's wristers for my son and lacy wristers for his fiance.

Finally, my biggest project was making a Helmet Liner / Ski Mask for a friend of my older sister. Her son is stationed in Afghanistan and requested one of the liners. It was my opportunity to work with 100% wool, which I've avoided for years. Since this was a special order and going to a member of our military, I used Lion Brand's Fisherman's Wool in dark brown. It contains lanolin and is waterproof as well as warm. I started with a pattern I found online by Ann B. but as I tend to do, I started making changes from the get-go. The pattern did not have any finished dimensions, and when I began the standard hat increases, I realized that the crown was going to be way too small. So I just keep increasing until the diameter of the crown reached 7 to 7 1/2 inches across (the difference is that wool tends to make the circle a hexagon where the stitches are increased. I measured 7 1/2 inches from a point to a point). The next change I made was at the opening for the eyes. I did one single crochet decrease in each side of the opening after 3 rows. This actually shaped the opening a little better than a slash. Finally, after crocheting 7 more inches from the eye opening, I found the halfway point in the front and back and worked more single crochet decreases so that the head tapered slightly to the neck. Since the pattern creates a full head with the yarn continuing down to cover the neck, I decided that the subtle shaping would help keep the warmth around the neck.

After all is said and done, I'm glad that I had the opportunity to make this liner, but I couldn't afford to make any more as the Fisherman's Wool was pretty expensive. Add to that the fact that I think I had a skin reaction to the wool (not certain, though), I think this is one charitable project I will pass up. Hats for cancer patients will continue to be my passion.

I hope this new year will bring you happiness, health and a wealth of fun projects!

P.S. For images of my recent projects, please visit my Photo Gallery page.