Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Store review, non-acrylic yarn

I think I've mentioned it here before that I wanted to try to experiment with other types of yarn (I generally stick with acrylic and dabble with cotton occasionally). Well, after searching for quite awhile on the internet, I found a site that had a pretty good deal on bamboo yarn (eco-friendly, anti-bacterial, soft - win-win-win!), eKnittingNeedles.com. They have a couple of types of bamboo yarn for $8.99/3 balls or 1 ball for $3.99. The variety of colors is nice, the site's navigation it easy, and they processed and shipped my order pretty quickly. I recommend them if you're looking for an easy to work with vendor!

I have yet to actually work with the yarn as it's always difficult for me to use up something cool that I have (seriously, it's silly, but it's the "But if I use it for X, what if I want to use it for Y instead? I won't have any if I use it!" type of thinking). It is pretty ridiculously soft and silky though and seems to be pretty durable.

And I just ordered some huge cones of cotton yarn off eBay in neutral-ish colors, tobacco, crocodile and pink (which is a very, very pale pink). 8lbs of cotton yarn is coming my way from NC! :) I look forward to making baby hats with them, as well as some other things.

A couple of weeks ago, I broke down and ordered from Joann.com. Ugh. Anyone who has ever ordered from them knows how LONG it takes for them to process even the simplest of orders. But I like their Sensations Rainbow yarns and couldn't get some of the colors in-store. At least I got free (turtle-slow) shipping and didn't have to pay the outrageous fees they charge!

Sorry that this post is a bit boring. Since finishing up the owl hats I needed to finish late last week, it's been a whirlwind of activity over here! I finally got to meet my cutie-pie nephew and hung out with my SIL & her husband a bunch while they were in town, as well as seeing some friends who just recently moved back from out of the country... And I was a crochet fiend Saturday night trying to finish up some play food for my friends' daughter, Emma (cupcakes, fried eggs, a couple more cookies). Naturally, I can't find my 32oz bag of polyfill, which I needed for the cupcakes, so I had to run to Joann and grab another (40% off coupon FTW!).

Thursday, May 19, 2011

PATTERN: Stargazer Lily-esque Flower

Inspired by all the crochet flowers I've seen on Pinterest and wanting to make some flowers for a friend's daughter, I made some stargazer lily-esque flowers. :) I made this first one in purple because it's my friend's favorite color AND because I had both next to me after finishing another friend's purple owl hat.
Stargazer Lily
Center: 12 sc into magic circle (could also ch2, 12 sc into 2nd ch) Fasten off.
Inside of petals:
Attach yarn to 2nd st of circle, ch10. Fasten off.
Attach yarn to 4th st of circle, ch10. Fasten off.
Continue attaching yarn to every other st of circle, ch10. Fasten off.
Outside of petals:
Attach yarn to first st of magic circle.
2: Sl st into 2nd st (where your inner petal is), tr 3 times into ch, dc 2 times, hdc 3 times, sc into next, sl st into end, sc into next, hdc 3 times, dc 2 times, tr 3 times, sl st into base of petal, sc into magic circle.
Rep 2 for all petals, sl st to join.

I used a 4.5mm hook and worsted weight yarn (Red Heart Super Saver Yellow, Caron One Pound Iris, Lion Brand Pound of Love Lavender) and made a flower that is about 5" from petal tip to petal tip.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Pinterest & Fun and simple Hawaiian Flowers

So after seeing how fun and useful Pinterest appeared when my SIL, Beth (Paired Hearts/The Wondercraft), and Jesyka (Visual Vocabulary) were using it, I requested an invite of my own. 24 hours or so later, I was invited to join. It's a fantastic tool to organize inspiration boards of images! Where was it 2.5+ years ago when I was planning my wedding and had to create folders on my computer to organize images (favors, hairstyles, wedding dresses, etc.)?!

I've been enjoying creating boards and pinning things, like inspiration for crochet projects, design ideas for the house, "No Evil" figurines (I collect them), photos of wolves I like... I sent my husband an invitation to join too, and he's enjoying using it for things like design ideas for painting miniatures (D&D, tanks, etc.), reference photos for work/other projects. All in all, it's pretty darn cool!

And you can follow others' boards when you find people who have (a) board(s) you enjoy.

So, while I was looking in Google images for cool crochet things, I found these Hawaiian Flowers by Sarah London (and her blog, which has been added to the list of blogs I will follow!). She added the pattern in 4 parts as a mystery motif, but I've grabbed each of those and you can find them below.
Note: ***NOT MY PATTERN***
Written in British/Australian crochet, so double crochet is the American single crochet, etc.

Hawaiian Flowers by Sarah London
Chain 1, work 12 double crochet into ring, join with a slip stitch into first double crochet.
Fasten off.

Join a new colour into any double crochet, chain 1, work 1 double crochet  into the same stitch, * work 1 double crochet into the next stitch, chain 11, 1 double crochet into the same stitch, work 1 double crochet into the next stitch, chain 1, 1 double crochet into the next stitch, repeat from * around, omitting last 1 double crochet into the next stitch and join with a slip stitch into the first double crochet.

Join a new colour into any double crochet, chain 1, work 1 double crochet  into the same stitch, * work 1 double crochet into the next stitch, chain 11, 1 double crochet into the same stitch, work 1 double crochet into the next stitch, chain 1, 1 double crochet into the next stitch, repeat from * around, omitting last 1 double crochet into the next stitch and join with a slip stitch into the first double crochet.

Work a round of double crochet in a contrasting colour as such:
Work 9 double crochet up one side of the petal, chain 3, work 9 double crochet down the other side of the petal, work 1 double crochet into chain 1 space of round two, continue around, join with a slip stitch to end.
Fasten off.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Softening Acrylic Yarn... Can It Be Done?

Now, before I begin, I should say that I generally steer clear of acrylic yarn that is scratchy or otherwise unpleasant for my projects, even amigurumi. However, there are those times when you need a particular color that just can't be found in any other type than Red Heart Super Saver (for less than $way-too-much).

I've looked before and seen things like "run it through the washer/dryer with fabric softener" and "it can't be done!". I've tried the fabric softener trick and it made my project smell like fabric softener (bah) and didn't necessarily soften it much. Recently, I have encountered the suggestion of using shampoo and/or conditioner.

Fortunately, I found some Red Heart Super Saver that was soft enough (it does depend on the colorway and lot for some reason), but I intend to try some of the scratchy stuff I've received from friends & eBay lots and see how well it works!

UPDATE: I hand-washed a skein and a swatch of Red Heart Super Saver yarn in white with shampoo (Suave Tea Therapy or some such... cheap stuff I happened to have and not use) and conditioner (Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Moisturizing Conditioner 23 fl oz (700 ml)). The end result was significantly softer yarn. I'm definitely not saying it rivaled some of the softer yarn I've bought, but it did get rid of most of the crunchiness. The annoying part was drying it though. I ran it on medium heat in my dryer for about 45 minutes and it was still quite moist. Air drying is the way to go, I think.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I'm free!! Well... mostly.

This past week and a half has been an especially busy one for me, but now I feel like I can relax a bit more. Last night This morning, I folded my last origami lucky star for my clients, Simon & Becky. I have been folding 600-700 stars a day for the past 10 days to get them done asap, which meant staying up until the sun came up, sleeping for 5-6 hours, and starting up again (with a few breaks for eating, showering, and taking care of my dog, Wicket).
My 10lb shih tzu, Wicket, standing on the papason
chair with the 20,000 stars

The 20,000 stars took up a lot more room than I originally thought they would (I assumed they would fit in a Large Flat Rate Box from USPS), the 40 tightly-packed ziploc bags filled with 500 stars taking up 10"x19"x19". Fortunately, I found the nearest to perfect box I think I could find in our garage; It was 12"x19"x19" and I am so glad I happened to save it! This morning, 9lbs and 14oz of box & stars were picked up by my mail carrier and off they went. And for only $15! :)

I realize this isn't crochet related, so my apologies for that. But I am SO RELIEVED to be done with those! I have really been wanting to work on some designs for baby hats and such and I couldn't when I had that massive order to fill. I think it goes without saying that I won't be folding any origami lucky stars again for awhile, haha. It is fun that I can now say I've folded well over 40,000 stars in my lifetime though (I've previously had several "large" orders of 4,000-6,000, plus the 6,000+ stars I folded for my own wedding, plus the dozens of smaller 100-2,000 orders).

But there is no rest for the wicked, apparently. ;) I received an order for another Castle Crashers hat a couple of days ago (it's so fun to be global... my creations crossing the ocean is just too awesome!), and a friend of a friend wants a set of owl hats. And then I need to talk to my SIL about possibly selling hats through her business, which means making "stock" (plug for especially anybody in Austin, TX: The Wondercraft. They have a boutique run out of a fantastically renovated Airstream trailer. :) Oh, and SIL's direct shop: Paired Hearts. She is an awesome artist and is fantastically stylish!).

I also received a very generous gift of a sewing machine from my MIL, Sally, for my birthday! It arrived yesterday and I'm excited to play around with it (I've never owned a sewing machine myself, having just used my mom's when I was younger). Fun little anecdote about that: She saw that I had a sewing machine on my Amazon Wish List and wanted to get me one that was a bit nicer. Apparently, Grandma Bilodeau (Sally's MIL) gave Sally her sewing machine 30 years ago and so Sally wanted to go with tradition and give HER daughter-in-law a sewing machine. Cute, right? I'll definitely be keeping that tradition going, though I've got a few decades yet before I can, haha. :)

 Y'know, I think I've just decided I need to change this blog a bit. I am so much more crafty than just crochet. And I want a place to blog about ALL my craftiness without being OT.