Thursday, June 24, 2010

Grandma Goodies

I'm going to be a first time grandma!

My youngest son (Jeff) and his wife (Gin) are expecting a baby in mid November, soon after my son turns 40. Jeff writes, "We're totally excited and freaked out." This means I am ready to create "grandma goodies." Here is my first goodie, a hooded baby blanket.

This baby blanket is knitted with a double strand of two kinds of yarn: Lion Brand Pound of Love in Antique White and a matching boucle, JoAnn's Rainbow Boucle. The Pound of Love yarn makes the blanket strong and durable; the boucle makes it soft and lush. Both are acrylic yarns and that means the blanket is washable. The pattern is a Lion Brand one that is found on the inside of the skein wrapper. One of my friends, Marilyn, has made the blanket on more than one occasion for baby showers and charity events and recommended it so I gave it a try. She didn't use boucle, however, that was my idea.

As of this posting, the gender of the baby is not known. Apparently, this baby is modest and kept turning away from the ultra sound instrument. When the gender is known, then grandma can make more gender specific goodies.

June 24, 2010
In the meantime, here is my second grandma creation...daddy and baby matching USC hats for football time. The USC Trojans produce formidable football teams each fall. USC's colors are cardinal red and a deep yellow. The color here is not quite true, the cardinal red is really a darker red than appears in this photo.

June 25, 2010
20 week checkup reveals that the baby is a BOY. Now I can set to work making lots of boy things.

June 26, 2010
Tonight I started a little soft, blue baby sweater using Lion Brand Microspun sport weight yarn. The sweater will be a raglan sleeve cardigan knitted from the top down using size 3 and size 5 needles. I'm done with the neck ribbing and am a few rows into the main body of the sweater done. I used this yarn before to make a little hat for my cousin's grandson and I have already made a little newborn hat for my own future grandson using the same yarn. I will have plenty of yarn left over to make socks and mitts, too because a few weeks ago when Michael's was closing out this yarn in a few colors I picked up some skeins at less than half price.

July 27, 2010
I finished the sweater a week or two ago. (See photo that follows.) I was concerned about the edge of the neck fraying so I crocheted a little edging at the neckline as well as down the front placket, too. I have also knitted newborn booties and a hat using the same Microspun yarn. I have another newborn crocheted hat done, too. The sweater came out a little larger than I anticipated and seems more of a 3-6 month size than newborn size. I don't have enough of the same yarn to knit a larger hat but if I use what blue I have and the same white yarn I used to edge the neck and placket, I could probably make a little larger hat.

I work a little at a time on a knitted light blue blanket in a basket weave pattern. I especially like to take this project when riding as a passenger in the car. Right now I am halfway done with this blanket. I just did the math on how many individual stitches I have knitted on this blanket. There are 104 rows, so far, with 236 stitches per row. All together the total is 25,544 stitches! Only about 25,000 stitches to go!

August 30, 2010
With only a few rows left, I had to buy another huge skein of yarn to complete the blanket.

August 31, 2010
The blanket is done! 49,088 knitted stitches! It measures 44x30 inches. That was a lot of work! (Next time I will crochet a blanket. It takes less time and is less stressful on my hands.) I was just about to feel relieved and complete and then at the last moment I decided to add a little edging all the way around the perimeter of the blanet. I had some soft, white crochet thread that I had used on baby projects in the past and figured it would be perfect. I made a simple, scalloped edging and would have made it fancier and more intricate but I only had enough of the soft crochet thread to go around twice. Simple scallops, it is.

Update: Baby Max was born November 17, 2010. He weighed six pounds even. Here is a photo of Max at about seven weeks wearing the sweater and booties.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Swapping Treasures

Recently my ravelry friend, Cindy (a.k.a. LubbockArmadillo), and I decided to conduct our own crocheted potholder swap. In this swap we decided to exchange three potholders each. On Monday, June 21st. I received Cindy's three potholders to me. They are pictured in the photo below.

I took this photo of Cindy's crocheted potholders with some "jewels" to emphasize the specialness of these handcrafted treasures.

Here is some of what I know about the potholders. Cindy developed the fish potholder pattern and has made several colorful fish, including a clown fish (like Nemo) from it. The main body of this fish is made from an ombre (variegated colors) of cotton in pastels. The burgandy, green and white potholder is likely another crocheted creation of Cindy's which ends with a scalloped edge and small loop/holder at the top. She used Elann Sonata for most of the construction of this potholder. Elann Sonata is cotton and of high quality. The potholder on the lower right is one that Cindy crocheted from a pattern that she translated from German where it was called Gehaehelte Topflappen. Topflappen translates into pot rag or oven cloth. Again Cindy used Elann Sonata to crochet this potholder. All three of the potholders are double-sided for maximum comfort and safety when handling hot pans and dishes.

When the packet of potholders arrived, I was so excited to examine and finger the three potholders that it was not until the next day I realized that Cindy had included the pattern on how to make the "topflappen." That same evening, after setting aside some knitting, I started the pattern. Here (above) is what I made using mostly 100 percent Tahki Cotton Classic yarns.

Below are photos of the three potholders I sent to Cindy for my part of our potholder swap. Cindy requested the "Tropical Sunset" potholder from my creations and, in addition, I sent her two others as surprises.

I chose to send a Green Eggs and Ham potholder because Cindy has young grandchildren and her projects reflect a fun sense of humor, as exemplified by her sock monkey potholders.

A blue, white, grey and wine color potholder was my third choice because I wanted to include something more traditional and textural.
I tried some different stitches on this one that I found in a pattern for crocheted squares called "Circle of Friends" developed by Priscilla Hewitt. I sent this pattern to Cindy who, it turns out, was working on a similar one at the time.

For Cindy's patterns and blog,
Click here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Anissa's Potholder

It's July and that means time to create another potholder for the Dazzling Dozens Potholder Swap. This time our featured group member is "crochetinmama" (a.k.a. Anissa). When asked her preferences, Anissa stated, "Okay here is the scoop, hehe. I love kitschy and wild and even more I love all kinds of potholders. Surprises and colors and new age to Kitschy are absolutely fine with me. I love potholders and towels for my kitchen lol I so love any type and any be wild and surprise me. I have seen some very lovely potholders made here and believe me I so will love each and everyone one that you all make me."

Wild? Kitschy? Colors? Okay, Anissa, hopefully this fulfills your requests because this one's for you.
Through the magic of photo software, you can see both sides at the same time.

About the potholder: Mostly the potholder was made using Tahki Cotton Classic yarns. The only exception is J&P Coats Royale Fashion Crochet thread, size 3 was used for the outlining on both sides. The outline color appears to be black in this photo but it is actually midnight blue. A size 4.0 hook was used throughout. I began with the side that is seen here on the left. It measured 8 inches. It was important to have this done first to know how to tailor the spiral side to fit.

The Spiral: While the spiral incorporates three colors: orange, green and midnight blue, there are actually four strands of yarn/thread used to create this spiral. The midnight blue crochet thread serves as the defining outline between the orange and green colors which meant the necessity of using two strands of it. To demonstrate the spiral process with four strands, here are two photos taken during the making of this side of the potholder. It is not as hard as you would think. You just crochet on one strand for awhile and then switch to the one that needs stitches next. The strands didn't get twisted like they can in many knitting projects.

Photo left: Initially the potholder began with sc's. Once started, the orange and green colors were upped to hdc's. Later (in a subsequent photo) orange and green were upped even more.

I figured out how to do this spiral on my own but I want to recommend a book that I checked out at the library. The name of the book is 201 Crochet Motif Blocks, Projects and Ideas by Melody Griffiths. In it, photos and how-to's show how to execute 2, 3 and 4 color spirals.

Below right: Here is the cover of one of the editions of this book. On this one you can see a two color spiral featured on it but this cover is different than the one I checked out.

Let me digress for a moment: You might want to check at your local library (or main library, if you live in a larger city) for this and other crochet books. I went online at home to scan our library holdings where I found there were dozens of crochet books in my library system. I reserved several of them with the request to be sent to my nearby library. A few days later I received my first email notification that the first wave of books had arrived. I am now on my third wave of crochet books. I returned a few of the books right away but kept several of them for a closer look until the due date. I have expanded my crochet horizons with a few interesting stitches I have incorporated into some of my projects. Anyway, if you want to try to tackle a spiral in multi colors, this particular book is a good resource.

Back to this potholder.

Photo left: Here is the potholder more progressed. By this time some rounds of orange and green dc's were done and trc's were begun. The midnight blue crochet thread were maintained in sc's throughout. When the spiral was getting close to completion, then it was time to fit it next to side one to know when/where to start decreasing the stitches to ease the colors back to make a more rounded shape. It was also important to end with midnight blue sc's.

Finally, the two sides were pinned together. The two sides were joined with sc's ending at the center top where a 1 and 1/8 plastic ring was put into place. Using the midnight blue crochet thread, the plastic ring was secured. A tight round of button hole stitches (also called blanket stitch) around the plastic ring completed the project.

The colors in actually are a little more intense than translate here. Very colorful potholder!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Green Eggs and Ham Potholder

This post includes the pattern, photos and how-to's for crocheting a Green Eggs and Ham Potholder. If we didn't grow up on this book ourselves, then we certainly read it (many times) to our children and/or grandchildren. Maybe this potholder will continue to add to happy memories of this classic Dr. Suess book.

You are welcome to use this pattern. When sharing your project online or in print, please attribute your completed project to this pattern/site. Thanks. There are no other restrictions for its use.

General Information: Use cotton threads and yarns for potholders to endure the heat. Synthetic fibers, such as acrylic, are not recommended because they can burn or melt.

Photo 1: Supplies
Pictured here are supplies and tools needed to complete a potholder using this pattern.
Yarns: There are different weights of yarns for different parts of the finished potholder. Lily's Sugar 'n Cream (Jute) for the basic front and back "plate" on which the eggs and ham will sit. The purple border is also Lily Sugar 'n Cream but the color is Lilac. The ham is another Lily Sugar 'n Cream color called Hot Green. The white bone is Omega Sinfonia. Another white, Paton's Grace (Snow) makes the egg whites with the yokes of Omega Sinfonia (Olivio Intensio). Tools and other supplies: crochet hooks H and F, scissors and blunt-nosed needles. Not pictured but important: One plastic ring size 1 and 1/8" (purchased cheaply in fabric stores in a small package of 12-14 per package) is used for the hanger.

Photo 2: Front and Back Plates
Note: It is very important to start with the plates and not the parts (ham, eggs) because you will be checking to see if the parts fit proportionally to the plates as you go along.

Foundation: Using the H hook and heavier weight cotton, ch 5, sl st to make a loop.
Round 1: Ch 2 (to count as first st). dc in the same space, dc around, sl st to the top of the ch 2. Total st's = 13.
Round 2: Ch 2, 2 dc in st's for a total of 26 st's.
Round 3: Evenly space 10 increases for a total of 36 st's.
Round 4: Evenly space 10 increases for a total of 46 st's.
Round 5: Evenly space 10 increases for a total of 56 st's.
Round 6: Evenly space 10 increases for a total of 56 st's.
Round 7: Evenly space 10 increases for a total of 66 st's.
Round 8: Evenly space 10 increases for a total of 76 st's.

Your "plate" may be slightly cupped. That is okay. It will lie down later. In fact, a little cupping with cotton is preferable to rippling. You may wonder at the density of each plate, that it may seem loose or floppy. Don't be concerned. By the time the potholder is all assembled, you will have two plates plus another layer of fiber with the ham and eggs. It will be a firm potholder when done.

Now make a second plate identical to the first. Secure the loose ends. Set aside.

Photo 3: Ham, Beginning
Foundation: With the H hook and the heavier cotton, chain 5. Sl st to form a circle.
Round 1: Ch 1, 11 sc's around the loop. Sl st. to join at the top of the ch 1. DO NOT break off green.
Round 2: To make the ham bone, switch to the smaller hook (F) and thinner white, Omega Sinfonia or Paton's Grace. Ch 1 and the 2 sc's in each of the front loops around. Sl st to first ch 1. Do not be concerned if this round cups. It will lay down after the next round.
Round 3: Still using the smaller hook and white, pick up the back loop of white, then go into the back loop of the green and make a sc. Do this around. Sl to the start and break off. This round will produce a nice ridge to simulate a bone.
Round 4: Still using the small hook, to enable you to go into the thinner white yarn, pick up the green again and loosely crochet sc's around the sides of the bone.

Round 5: Before beginning this round, the theory behind is that you are going to shape the ham to be larger on one end than the other. To accomplish this, you will be crocheting sc's at the top end, dc's at the opposite end, and a few hdc's on the sides as transition stitches. Using the H hook, begin the ham shaping. The exact number of stitches is unimportant. Start by making a sl st to the top of the ch 1. As a guideline, this ham has 7 dc's and some of those were increases, then 2-4 hdc's on the right side. At the top, there are about 12 sc's. The left side again repeats 2-4 hdc's. This ham has a total of 25 st's for this round. Yours may vary somewhat.

Round 6: Continue with the dc's, hdc's and sc's to shape the ham by paying attention where you need to increase to gain a flat ham. Remember, the sc's are at the top, a few hdc's are on the sides and the dc's are on the bottom. This ham has 31 st's on this round.

Photo 4: Completing the Ham
Round 7: Continue as in rounds 6 and 7. This ham finishes this round with 38 st's: 15 dc's, 3 hdc's on each side and 17 sc's on the upper part. At this point, check to see if this is the right size ham for your plate.

For this potholder, I am stopping here. Other similar potholders (see photo 11 below) will show that the hams can be larger. It is matter of personal choice. If you want the ham to cover a larger plate area, crochet another round.

Finish off by sl stitching to the starting ch 1. Before cutting the yarn, leave at least a 36" tail for attaching the ham to the plate during the assembly process. DO NOT attach it now.

Photo 5: Eggs
Note: I recommend Paton's Grace (Snow) for the yarn because of its sheen (like eggs) and because very close sc stitches can be achieved. J&P Coats Royale Fashion Crochet Thread #3 would be a good second choice. However, because of availability or yarn or what is in your stash at hand, use whatever works for you. If you use a heavier yarn, you will need to use a larger hook.
Foundation: With F hook, ch 4, sl st to make a loop.
All rounds: Sc all rows in a spiral with the goal to make an asymmetrical egg. To achieve an oblong or oval egg, make your sc increases at either end, rather than the sides. Stop when you think you have an egg that is the size and shape that works on your plate with the ham. Sl st, before cutting, leave a 30" tail for later assembly. You may need to steam press from the back side to flatten the eggs. Do that now so that it dries before you make the yokes.

Photo 6: Yokes
The idea behind the shape of the yokes is to make it like a large gumdrop. The final row will be tucked under when attached to the egg white.
Foundation: With the F hook, ch 4, sl to first ch and make a loop.
All Rounds: Sc in a spiral without making rows. Increase sc's the first few few spirals to make the yoke flat and then in subsequent rounds, only increase minimally to make the yoke take on the gumdrop shape. You will end with one round that will be tucked under, inside the yoke so allow for a little more length than just what will be visible. Leave an 18" tail after you sl st to end.

In Photo 6, the lower yoke is in the correct position (facing up) while the upper yoke is on it's side to show the shape.

Photo 7: Yoke, rolled
This photo shows the yoke upside down with a row of stitches curled inward. This is the way you want the yoke when you turn it over and attach it to an egg white.

Photo 8: Assembly
Step 1: Begin by stitching the yokes to the egg whites before the whites are attached to the front plate. Use your green yarn tails and the smaller of the two blunt-nosed needles to sew the yokes to the whites.
Step 2: Before sewing onto the plate, determine placement of the ham and the two eggs on the plate. The ham should go on first as you may want to overlap one or both of the eggs on the top of it.
Step 3: Once you determine your final placement, remove the two eggs and begin by stitching the ham to the front plate. To make clean and invisible stitching, go around the posts of the final round rather than the tops of the stitches. Secure the green ends of yarn in the back of the plate.

Step 3: Again return the eggs to the plate to check your placement. Some overlapping is recommended for graphic interest. Remove the egg that goes on last and stitch the other egg in place. In this example the first egg to be stitched into place is the one nearest the top of the potholder. Again, using the log yarn tail left and the smaller blunt-nosed needle stitch into place going around the posts of the final spiral round. Also, you may want to make a few stitches more toward the center to keep the egg flat for future use and washings.

Step 4: Stitch the second egg in place. Secure loose ends in the back.

Photo 9: Final Assembly
Step 1: Line up the front plate to match the back plate and pin together. Large corsage pins are handy for this step.

Step 2: Determine the exact middle top and start there with a contrasting color (Sugar 'n Cream, Lilac) leaving a 10-12 inch tail for later use when attaching the plastic hanging ring.

Step 3: Using an H hook, hdc around the entire plate increasing as necessary for the edging and plate to lie flat.

Step 4: When you reach the starting point, leave a 30-36 inch tail to cover the plastic ring, as explained in the steps of the next photo.

Photo 10: Plastic Ring
Step 1: With the large blunt-nosed needle and the shorter of the two yarn tails, secure and attach the plastic ring to the top of the potholder by going around the ring and discreetly into the purple edging 4-6 times.

Step 2: With the large blunt-nosed needle and the larger of the two yarn tails, make tight button hole stitches (also called blanket stitch) around the entire ring and in the process covering up the first few attaching stitches made with the shorter tail.

Step 3: Secure your yarn ends. All done.

Photo 11: Green, Purple, Blue and Orange Eggs and Ham
Might as well have a little fun with this! Why stop at Green Eggs and Ham? I wonder what Sam-I-Am would say about orange eggs and ham...

Copyright 2010. Delights/C.Lowman. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Jewel Heptagonal How-to

This purpose of this page is to serve as visual support for the Jewel Heptagonal Pattern as found on a previous blog page.

A final potholder using this pattern is seen in the photo above. The one with the black trim is a completed two-sided potholder. The potholder with the green trim is the front side only and is the one pictured step-by-step in the series of photos that follows on this page.

On this page you will be guided by:
1. photos of yarns and tools used to make the green edged potholder front
2. photos of the step-by-step process
3. general explanations and insider tips about the steps

For the exact pattern, go to the Jewel Heptagonal Pattern page.

Photo 2
Yarns: The yarn used for the main body of the potholders is Hobby Lobby's "I Love This Cotton."* The lighter of the two here is called Ivory Print. The darker is High Sierra Ombre. Other possible cottons for the main body that will give a jewel-like look to the finished potholder are: **1.) Lily's Sugar 'n Cream color Jewels which is an ombre in purples, blues and green. 2.) Lily Sugar 'n Cream color Painted Desert, which is an ombre very much like the Ivory Print but not as much of the lighter, ivory color. Other yarns used to complete the potholder: J&P Coats Black Royale Fashion crochet thread size #3; Hobby Lobby "I Love This Cotton" (black), and any matching cotton color for the center such as other colors in "I Love This Cotton," Paton's Grace or Omega Sinfonia.

*It is important to make potholders of cotton or felted wool. Acrylic can burn, melt and smell badly if exposed to intense heat.

**If you use one of these heavier cottons, the pattern and hook sizes are different. Email me for the adjustments.

Tools: Crochet hooks size F and G, two blunt-nosed needles (one large and one smaller) and scissors, of course.

Let's get started.

Photo 3
Chain 5 and make a loop. Then either make 2 rows of hdc's around (increasing as necessary) or one round of tr crochet.

Photo 4
This photo shows that you are going to make long sc spike stitches over the previous row or rows by going down through the center and back up to complete your sc. You can see about a third of the piece is covered with spike stitches in this photo.

The purpose of the spike stitches is to make the center have dimension to look a little like a jewel.

Photo 5
This photo shows spike stitches all around. It could have more of them to cover the round beneath. You can see how the center puffs out using this stitch.

Photo 6
Using the thinner crochet thread (size 3) and going into the front loops only of the previous round, crochet either a row of hdc or dc. You will not want to make this round lie flat; it should cup. In the next round it will fit perfectly.

A good number of stitches to complete this round is 42.

Photo 7
The next row of black will be crocheted in the back loops of both the black and the lime green. Just sc through both the black and lime colors. This will make the first round of black stand up and form a raised ring around the center green color.

The purpose of the two black rounds is to make a "setting" around the green "gem" center.

The raised black also adds interest to the potholder so that it is not just flat.

Photo 8
I like to have 42 st when I finish the black. This is perfect for starting the main ombre color. The potholder is a heptagon, a seven-sided object. The first segment of the main color will have seven st's: six hdc's followed by a ch sp. By having 42 st from the previous row I will crochet *2 hdc's in the first st, then 1 hdc in each of the next st's, then a ch sp and repeat from * around. This will make a total of 49 st's for the round. Note: I use the smaller hook on this first round because of the smaller black crochet thread used in the previous round. I crochet loosely with this hook so the st's will accommodate the larger hook for the next round. Mark your row starts with a safety pin, as shown in the photo here. Because you will not be making a sl st to end the row with chains up to start the next round so you will need to know where you began.

Photo 9
Once you are into the main color, the potholder goes very fast. After your ch 1 space, crochet 2 hdc's into the first st of the next round. All you do is crochet 2 hdc's in the first and last st's of each heptagon segment with a ch between segments. You will have 7 hdc's in each segment on round two of the main color plus the ch sp; 8 hdc's in each segment on the next round; 9 hdc's in each segment on the next round; 10 hdc's in each segment on the next round. Then there is a change: 2 hdc's in the first and last stitches of each segment PLUS 2 hdc's in the middle of each segment so that the total number of stitches in each segment of this round numbers 12 (plus the ch 1 sp).

The above photo shows the start of the shaping round. There are three shaped segments here and four segments still to be shaped thusly: sc in each of the next 2 st; hdc in each of the next 2 st; 2 dc in the next st; 1 dc, 1 trc, 1 dc in the center st; 2 dc in the next st; hdc in each of the next 2 st; sc in each of the next 2 st. Ch 1.

Photo 10
Using the large blunt-nosed needle and starting between the st at the top of a valley, embroider a line of chain stitches down to the center raised round. Once you have completed all seven lines , secure all of the loose ends in the back.

Photo 11

Then sc around the entire outer edge.

Steam press on the backside only for a nice flat finish. Caution: use a damp cloth on the backside and steam with the iron just by setting it straight down momentarily. Do this three times to cover the entire surface. Be careful not to press too hard or to slide the iron. You want to preserve the crispness of your stitches. While you want your potholder to lie flat, you do not want flat stitches.

Once done, crochet a second side identical to the first and then sc both sides together starting in a valley so you can end up in the same location to attach a plastic ring for hanging. Leave about 30-36 inches of your joining yarn at the end of your sc's. With the smaller blunt-nosed needle, secure the plastic ring in place with a few rounds over the ring and into your sc's with your short starting tail. Then make blanket stitches (also called button hole stitch) around the plastic ring in place and over the first rounds that secured the ring in place to hide them. Secure ends. All done!

Copyright 2010, C. Lowman/Delights. All Rights Reserved.

Here are two just completed potholders. To the left is the one made for this pictorial how-to page using the "I Love This Cotton" High Sierra Ombre yarn. To the right is another potholder made using the "I Love This Cotton" Ivory Print. I sent both of these as a surprise Thank You to Lubbockarmadillo, a ravelry friend. Hope you like them, Cindy.

I crocheted one more potholder as a test. Because I listed Lily's Sugar 'n Cream as a possible main body color, I decided to make one using the color "Jewels" to see how the pattern adapted. I had to make some adjustments, namely a larger size hook (H) and fewer stitches (starting with 5 stitches instead of 7 after the black raised "setting" at the center and ending with 10 on the last two rounds). Here is my overall assessment:
1. The Sugar 'n Cream is coarser to the touch.
2. The overall finished size came to 8 inches. I prefer the finished size of potholders to be a little smaller, about 7.5 inches or no larger than 7.75 inches.
3. The Sugar 'n Cream yield was less than The I Love This Cotton. The yield for the Sugar/Cream was one potholder (front and back) but for The I Love This Cotton I squeezed out two (2 fronts and backs). To be fair, there are 2 oz in the Sugar/Cream skein compared to 3 oz in the Love/Cotton.
Conclusion: I like the colors of both yarns but I recommend the I Love This Cotton for this pattern because it is easier to work, feels better and yields more per skein. However, if you have plenty of Sugar 'n Cream on hand and want to use it, go for it. Just make the adjustments or you may have too large of a potholder.