Friday, October 26, 2007

A trip to the zoo on a cool day

The kids were out of school last week for parent-teacher conferences and the weather was great, so we went to the zoo. It was a nice cool day, and the animals (the ones we saw anyway) were acting differently than they do on those hot summer days when we usually get to the zoo.

The penguins were swimming around a lot, and were playful. It's fun to watch them, especially when they dive.

The bears were actually out and moving, although, as you can see, not much. Just walking, then taking another nap. We saw the baby giraffe. He sure has grown a lot since we saw him last summer! He is really cute. And the mom and dad giraffes were out too. We just missed the chance to feed them. From 1 to 2 each afternoon you can pay a dollar and go up on a platform and feed the giraffes. The boys were disappointed, so I think we will try and do that next time we go.

And of course, we had to have the requisite picture of Kyle the monkey boy with his orangutan friend. I think he gets his picture taken on this sculpture every time we go to the zoo!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Progress on the doily afghan

Well, I got it started and have been working it a little at a time. I am pleased with the way it is working up so far. The yarn is Caron Simply Soft, and I am using a G hook. I probably could even have gone with an F hook and it woulf have worked out fine. I am through round 16 (of 29) and it measures 25 inches in diameter at this point. The bulk of the pattern is treble crochet, so it works up fast. As I am getting to larger rounds it is, naturally, taking longer to each round. And I am also finally getting to the point where the pattern is a little less lacy. This will not be a "cuddle up under me for warmth" finished product, but rather a "look how pretty I am" kind of item. It will look nice thrown across the back of the sofa. And it really can be used, it just won't offer great warmth.

I tried three different size hooks before I settled on a G. I started with a K, and I think a K would be great if you were to do the same pattern holding two strands of yarn together. That might also give it a more full look and fill out the pattern a bit more. All in all it has been a fun experiment. I think I will remain on the lookout for vintage patterns that could be adapted in ways like this. I really am not fond of crocheting with small thread sizes and steel hooks, but I do like a lot of the patterns used in doilies. It would be fun to adapt some of them to the front or back of a top (much like the swing top pattern in the spring issue of Interweave crochet) or a sweater (like the one in Crochet Me). I also saw a pattern in a magazine (sure can't remember which one right now) that used a pattern similar to this for the sleeves. Mmmmmm, the brain is working now...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Some new hooks

I ordered some handturned wood crochet hooks earlier this week, and they arrived this morning! I am so excited to have them, and I started a new project right away. Unfortunately, I think I need a smaller hook than I ordered.

I went ahead and ordered a set of large hooks, starting at size N and going up to size S. Those are the sizes I have the hardest time finding in a quality that I like. The large hooks, no.1, are usually made of cheap plastic. And, no. 2, it's hard to find a variety of sizes (usually just a P or Q, and maybe an N, but that's about it). These feel really good in the hand and have a nice smooth draw on the yarn.

Most of the wood hooks I have seen have just a slit for the hook and have a tendency to split the yarn and get caught. These are finely finished and have a hook that is shaped like those you would find on a nice quality aluminum hook. Another reason I was drawn to them. Plus, how great are the original designs on each hook?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Vest is finished, and it fits!

I am really pleased with my first fitted/clothing project. This picture is it after a long day of wear and no blocking before wearing. I added a little bit of length, but I think I'd like more on another one, and the bottom flares out more than I want on another as well. But I do love the ease and basicness of this pattern, and I think that I could use it as a jumping off point for a design of my own. I like the fact that decreases are made by changing hook sizes, but I also think they could be easily adapted to be made by regular decrease means. And I also think I might like to get a little creative with the lace border and try a couple different patterns.

I like wearing a vest or tank like this over a long sleeve shirt or turtleneck in the winter because it offers extra warmth without a lot of bulk and it doesn't overheat me like a full sweater might.

I have another set of Wool-Ease in a nice heathery green that I plan to make a second tank out of and I think I will take the opportunity to play a little with some adaptation to the pattern. And I'm wondering if the body of the tank can be made in the round from the bottom up. It seems like it should work, at least in theory. And thanks to my sister who recommended seaming with a slip stitch. It worked beautifully and created a lovely, smooth seam.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Front of tank is done

Well, I have finished the front of the Preppy Tank from the Sept/Oct issue of Crochet Today. I think I will like it, and I plan to start on the back panel today or tonight. The straps are 12 stitches wide, so they are a little bit wider, so they shouldn't slip much. I added a little length to the pattern, because as written it was shorter than I liked. I think it will be nice to wear when the weather cools, and because it is made of Wool-Ease, it will be warm without cooking me. I have some Wool-Ease in a green heather to make another one. I've adapted the pattern to be the size I think will be best, and if I need to make any changes to make it fit better, I can do that on the second one. It's been a quick pattern and pretty easy. Can't wait to see it done!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Boteh is finished

I finished the boteh scarf yesterday afternoon. I am really pleased with the way it turned out. And it took only one skein of the Luster Sheen. It's really soft and drapes very nicely. I think it will be a great accessory when the weather is a little cooler. I am looking forward to being able to wear it. The finish was just a half double crochet all the way around, and it worked up really fast. I think this pattern is a keeper, and would make really nice gifts. I think it could also be worked in a DK weight wool or wool blend, which would increase the size of the motifs a little, but would make it more of a cold-weather scarf to wear with coats.

The way it's worked up here it's more of a daily accessory that can be worn all the time. Yea!

Now it's time to go through my list of projects and decide what to start next. I am still working on those granny squares, but I'm itching to start another project or two as well.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

My birthday present finally arrived!

I have been waiting for three months for my Levenger lap desk to arrive, and it finally did today! I was hoping to have it over the summer when I was teaching and grading what seemed like a zillion papers, but no such luck. Then I hoped it would arrive before the fall semester started, and no luck then either. But today, it finally came. So now I can use it for my laptop (which I am doing right now), and for reading because of the handy adjustable top that can provide several levels of incline and hold a book, and that also means I can have my crochet patterns sitting at a convenient reading angle without losing them or having to move everything around. Plus, check out the great storage compartments underneath the lid. A big one in the center and two smaller ones on each side. What a great place to store a notepad, a couple of pens, a pair of scissors, or whatever! How happy am I?!

And one more thing for today

I feel like a blogging fool! I just had several things backing up and decided I would go ahead and catch up today. So here's the last item. I have started a new granny square (well, a variation of one, anyway) afghan. I have about 15 squares (of 48) finished. Thought I'd post a couple of pictures of the work in progress. I am pleased with the way the colors complement each other, and think it will be quite striking when it is finished.
I have also chosen Caron for this project, in seashell and autumn red. I haven't decided which color I will use to join the squares, but I don't have to decide right now. Maybe I will try each color on a couple of squares and decide which one I like best.

A scarf, and some new yarn

So I finished Alyx's scarf to go with her hat. She took the hat back to school with her when she was home a couple of weeks ago. I was looking for a quick project that I could just whip up and I remembered that I needed to get her scarf done. I love the way it turned out, and I think she will like it, too.
This one-skein pattern absolutely rocks! I can make it out of just about any kind of yarn, it always looks great, and it works up amazingly fast. And the shells give it a softer look, and because it is not so bulky, you can wrap it a couple of times and not feel like you are going to suffocate.
I also found some yarn to try the doily to afghan thing. I didn't want to spend too much for this first project, so I decided on Caron Simply Soft. I just love the way this yarn feels. It is so soft and I think will look really nice crocheted up in the doily pattern. I posted a few doily pics a few days ago, and I plan to use this yarn to make the traditional round doily.
It's a nice pastel peach color, and I believe it will complement the pattern well. I didn't want something harsh or bright. And I was afraid that if I used a variegated yarn that the pattern of the stitches would get lost. If I like the way this one turns out, I have some soft goldish-yellow Wool Ease in my stash downstairs that I would like to use for the wheat-pattern doily. I think it's a great wheat color and it would suit the pattern well.

Some fun pics of the puppy

Okay, so this dog just cracks me up! He loves to shove his face up against things (like the couch in this picture). He comes up and shoves his face into my leg all the time until I pet him. He also spends a lot of time sleeping on his back. The other day he stuck his feet straight up in the air and stretched all out while he was sleeping on the living room floor.

And of course we have to include the obligatory photo of Chewie. He's getting to be a pretty old man, but still loves his spot under the piano. As you can see, that's also where my yarn stash is. And amazingly, the dogs don't bother it. I thought Milo might want to chew on some of it, but thus far he has not even tried.

He is still a pretty mellow dog, and is very loving. He loves to cuddle, and usually jumps on my bed after everyone else has left in the morning and goes to sleep. He's so cute! He's rapidly become a member of the family and he and Chewie are getting along splendidly. Now, they are asleep in the living room...

Monday, October 01, 2007

Doilies to afghans?

Okay, so my sister inspired me to get a little out of my comfort zone again. She suggested I find a doily pattern and up-scale it with worsted weight yarn and a larger hook to make an afghan. So I found this doily pattern on one of the free pattern sites online. I think this will be the first one I try. I like the very classic look of it, and I think the pattern is not so lacy that it would work well.

Then I also found this neat wheat stalk pattern doily, and of course, being from Kansas, I figured it might be a nice one to make as well. I do very much like the wheat stalks, but wonder if the laciness of it might make it too delicate a pttern to translate into an afghan. Hmmm... But just look at the closeup of the wheat, and tell me it's not just a great pattern.

Now I just have to figure out what yarn to use (something soft, and somewhat fine, but still worsted weight). I probably have something in my stash, but maybe not. I think I might have to hit the yarn store... Oh how I love an excuse to shop for yarn!