Boredom Induced Crocheting

Roughly eight years ago I began teaching myself to crochet as a means of combating pervasive boredom. See, I had this job that was lacking in actual work for me to do. The days were painfully slow; I needed something to occupy my mind and help me feel like I was accomplishing something.

Over the years crocheting has been a creative outlet that is relatively cheap and, unlike sewing, portable. There have been busier times where significantly less crochet has taken place but even while finishing my undergrad, balancing classes, homework, work, & the demands of parenting, I usually had one or two very slow moving crochet projects sitting around.

One such project is a blanket for my daughter. I have been working on the stupid thing for three years now. Just this last weekend, though, I finally finished it. FINALLY! (That was my daughter’s actual reaction when I knotted that last stand of yarn off the hook.)

What started with one Mockingjay square turned into a hefty almost full sized bed covering monster. I’m not kidding, this thing is a beast. It probably weighs five pounds at least.

Some of the favorite themes covered in this blanket are: Doctor Who, Sherlock, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Night Vale, Hamilton, 4-H/horses, & the Princess Bride. There’s also a book shelf and a cactus. The large purple squares at the bottom were made by my daughter’s Great Grandmother (on her dad’s side) who passed away the year I started the blanket. Needless to say my girl loves this thing. And I’m pretty happy to have it done already. (haha)

(You can see the blanket in progress here, here, & here.)

Much like eight years ago my life is currently in a season of boredom. This one due to the time gap between getting accepted to dental school and actually starting it. I should point out that boredom is relative. I tend to thrive on a certain level of craziness in my schedule and life. Sitting around is not my strong suit and I’ve, more than once, been accused of not knowing how to relax. (I do think I’m getting better at it though.) Once again crochet has been helping to fill the time, keeping my hands busy and entertaining my restless mind.

Lately I’ve been all about the quick projects. Almost instant gratification is the name of the game here. And hats are where it’s at!

These two are a new baby gift for one of my sisters. Her two year old just got a baby brother. Hopefully I get these to them before it’s too warm for the tiny boys to wear them!

(You can find the free pattern for the aviator hats here.)

I picked up this variegated wool-blend yarn during my Christmas shopping with no specific purpose. I just really liked the colors, it was probably in sale, & I enjoy working with something other than acrylic yarn now and then. I first tried a hat pattern that had more detailed texture (the one following) but all the cool texture got lost in the colors of the yarn. This horizontal ribbing still incorporates some interesting texture but it doesn’t look overly busy with the constant color changes. There was no pattern for this one, just an idea for the texture and the basic hat shape. I’ve already  worn this colorful hat a few times but it’s really better suited for fall or winter. I’m sure it’ll quickly become a regular in my cool weather hat rotations.

I’ve had the “Ups & Downs” hat pattern in my Ravelry que for quite a while now. The different textures on the band of this hat made it fun and interesting to make. I first started this with the colorful yarn above but it was a little too crazy. This lavender soft acrylic that was in my stash is a much better match for this pattern. The braids on this one are a little wobbly. They’re made up of very tall stitches that are twisted together after the hat is finished; the last one is looped over the button to keep the braids in tact. Apparently my tall stitches could use a little work. I’ve got a whole other skein of this yarn and there’s a pattern for matching fingerless gloves. I might give those a go this week and see if my tall stitches don’t improve with practice. Why the heck not? I’ve got the time.

And, lastly, is this spring baggy beanie I threw together to use up some yarn leftover from a Christmas project. I’m planning to mail this one to a friend. It’s not her typical color scheme but it’s made from the same yarn as the hat I made for her daughter. A little mother & daughter matching is always fun.

So there you have it. A (finally!) finished blanket and a plethora of hats.

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What I’ve been making: the holiday edition

After I finished those five viking hats a friend had requested (a paid gig. Woot woot!) I had just enough time to make a few Christmas presents, small ones.

First there’s the basic eat flap hat for a preschool aged girl:

I varied the pattern slightly by doing taller stitches (triple crochet I believe) in the back loop only on the east flaps. Honestly, I didn’t plan or record what exactly I did here, I just messed around a little until I liked the results.

I made another small hat out of the remainder of this skein of yarn but forgot to snap a pic. That one had no ear flaps, a couple bright turquoise stripes, and a cute picot stitch edging also in turquoise.

My next project, and one I was particularly excited about, is this crocodile stitch pixie hat:

It’s for the daughter of a good friend (who happens to be my Goddaughter); she (the mom not the one-year-old daughter) knits. And not just regular once in a while knitting but really cool, fancy stuff like entire sweaters. She’s been knitting since we were in high school almost twenty years ago (Yikes! How did that happen?!?!) so I wanted to make something very distinctly crochet for her daughter. Plus I’ve long admired that crocodile stitch and this was the perfect time to give it a try.

While I do love this little winter bonnet it’s something only a small child could pull off. It’s quite whimsical!

I used a medium weight (4) yarn for the pixie hat instead of the fine the pattern recommended; the hat is thick but not overly bulky. Because of that I followed instructions for a smaller size but used the measurements for the larger toddler size.

I also made a V-stitch scarf for my boyfriend’s family gift exchange. Each person brings a generic gift in the ten dollar price range and they do a thieves exchange where once you open a gift it can be stolen. In which case you’d then either steel someone else’s gift or choose another.

The scarf was my generic female gift and it was a big hit. Buuuut of course I forgot to take a picture of that too (I finished it later on Christmas Eve) but this is the yarn I used.

Last but not least is the “So Good you’ll borrow it” beanie I found on Elk Crochet’s blog.

I made it for my boyfriend’s stocking but there was so much yarn leftover and I liked his hat so much that I made a baggier version for myself the first week of the year. I have to say, I loved this yarn. It’s so light & soft and it showed the texture of the special stitches on this pattern quite nicely.

I feel like I’m forgetting about something but that’s probably everything I got done before the holidays. Currently I’m working on an obnoxiously bright scarf for one of my daughter’s friends.

It’s a fairly straightforward scarf pattern. The cool X-stitch that makes this pattern unique was getting lost in the busyness of the yarn so I stepped up the double stitch legs of the X & Made them triples instead. This definitely helped but they still don’t stand out much. I do like the fun, colorful yarn though (it’s Caron Simply Soft in Rainbow Bright).

I’m also planning on pulling out and hopefully finishing my daughter’s blanket this week… It’s been almost done for a couple months now so it’s probably about time. We’ll see how that goes though. If I do finish it that’ll deserve a major celebration post.

Annual Christmas Craziness

Like every year (especially since going back to school), the few weeks before Christmas in mid December were Kuh-razy with a capital K. Finals/end of term projects for me and pre-holiday demands and events for the kids have me running around nonstop like the proverbial headless chicken. Because this is an annual thing I’m mostly prepared for it, as much as one can prepare for an already intense life to kick into hyper-speed.

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At one point (Tuesday), less than half an hour before the class period it was due, I was finishing a hefty presentation …from home…forty minutes from campus. All I could think was “How the Eff did this happen?”

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At another point, a day or so after the presentation procrastination, I was hustling my cranky kids out of the car to (quickly!) pick out a Christmas tree so we could get to the sledding hill across town where their aunt who was visiting from out of town was waiting for us with some cousins. It was cold, windy and already dark but gosh darn it we were going to get some sledding in. And we did. Just a bit before it was time for me to make dinner for 11 people. Directly following that I squeezed in an hour and half nap and headed to work for the night. Over the next couple of days I got six hours sleep. Total. In a span of 48 hours. I made it to my last test (it could hardly be called a final), attended my little guy’s school holiday concert, got the tree up and decorated before the kids left for the week, finished a paper, and worked another shift before finally crashing for 11 hours straight (and subsequently being an hour late for work Friday night).

But then my semester was officially over and a very strange thing happened…  end-of-finals-week-meme

I had free time. Well, relatively free time.

So I did what any sane person would do and began making some Christmas presents. There was just under a full week and making a list of things I wanted to make was as far as I had gotten.

First there was the Slytherin robe one of my sisters asked if I could make…

I used soap and drew the “pattern” out on the fabric. Other than the sleeves being a bit long (for growing room of course), it turned out perfectly and I expect I’ll see my nephew wearing this for a few years.

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And then there was a random hat made with chunky yarn for my mom, a scarf/cowl thing for my brother’s girlfriend, a “fallen leaves” baggy hat (for the same brother’s girlfriend), and a “Little Sister” hat for my God-daughter. (The other God-daughter got some My Little Ponies but she’s getting an Anna cape for her birthday in January.)

Sadly, I only got pictures of the Little Sister hat. It’s a bit big but should be perfect this spring or fall.

After that it was the holiday.

(Okay, that’s actually the before-Christmas craziness there.)

And that, dear readers, sums up this year’s round of pre-Christmas/finals week craziness.

Baby Viking Hat

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The finished hat

My family grows in leaps and bounds. My youngest was one of six babies born in a ten month time period. This past year I got a total of four new nephews, all between March and the end of June. Somewhere around early June my sister, the mom of one of those babies, asked me if I’d be willing and able to crochet said baby a hat for Halloween, a viking hat. It seems my sister is much better at planning ahead than I am. She knows how busy I am and had a specific goal in mind for her child. Maybe I was the person to help her accomplish that goal, maybe not. Considering she asked me half a year in advance I figured I’d be able to find the time. Besides, crocheting a viking hat sounded fun. It couldn’t be as hard as that shark hat was.

I found a pattern online but it was not free. (wah-wah) I totally get why people charge for patterns and it was only five bucks, but I was still resistant to pay for it. It’s my contrary nature in action. “What?”, it says, “You want me to pay?!? Psh, I don’t need your silly pattern, I can figure this out on my own.” And usually I can.

For this one I made a basic beanie (there are five million free patterns out there) with a four evenly spaced front post hdc around the hat. And then I realized that the example viking hat I was following had two front post stitches in the front and back and one on each side. Luckily my firs start of the hat was waaaay too small. It’s been a while since I’ve had regular contact with baby heads, my guestimating skills are rusty. So now my little guy’s stuffed hedgehog has a grey hat.

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The second attempt, first one completed

On the second attempt I made the hat bigger and had two front post stitches together in both the front and the back. (Front posts are the raised lines that run vertically, helping to give the hat the appearance of being a metal helmet.)

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While making the hat without a pattern was no big deal the horns were a bit puzzling. I’ve never done amugarami crochet or even tried a more three dimensional item. It went a lot smother than I thought it would; I figured it out on the first attempt and was able to replicate it pretty closely on the second.

I used a super tiny hook with regular sized acrylic yarn. The stitches are tight and it was a bit challenging to maneuver the yarn with that little thing but the effect is worth it. The little horns are stiff enough to stand up on their own and hold their shape perfectly. And look how cute they are!!! They’re like tiny wizard hats. My water bottle got to cosplay as Gandalf and then Dumbledore that day. Fun times all around!

The bottom edge was a little tricky and, honestly, I would not have mined having the pattern for this part. The ridge is again created by either front or back post stitches, this time single because I didn’t want height. One round of single front/back (whichever gave the bump on the right side) post, there’s a round of double crochet with interspersed bobble stitches. There’s no regularity to those, I just eye balled the spacing. And then the last row was another round of front or back post single crochet.

I finished the beard using this pattern (I’ve made beards before and knew they’re pretty quick and easy) the morning of the 28th when a couple of my sisters and I made plans to go to a local Trunk-or-Treat later that evening. It was as good an excuse as any to get the finished Viking hat to my sister and nephew. My sister brought the baby over to my house a little early as we planned to ride together…good thing too because the hat was still too small. I tried to stretch it but there was no making it fit that kid’s giant head. Aggghhh!!!

I undid the hat up to where the horns were attached and started rapidly crocheting it again. For a third time. This time I used double instead of half double crochet stitches for the body of the hat. It was quick and dirty crochet time here. I got the body of the hat finished moments after we arrived at Trunk-or-treat and he wore it as is for the evening.

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As we were driving home I added the bottom edge but even without it my nephew was a pretty adorable little viking.

A couple of my previous projects made appearances this Halloween too!

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Sherlock scarf…I thought I had blogged about this somewhere in there but couldn’t seem to find it.

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Originally a Cabbage Patch style hat, this one got a new life as Dorothy’s braids.

 

The Evolution of…This.

Every once in a while the item you’re in the middle of crocheting will take on a life of it’s own and suddenly look like something else, something totally unrelated to what you intend to make. Something…questionable.

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Here’s the finished work in all its predatory glory.

Back before Christmas one of my brothers posted a picture of a shark hat on the Book of Faces (aka Facebook) and stated that he wanted such a hat. I commented that there was probably a pattern for a crochet version of a hat like that. Then I completely forgot about the exchange until his birthday in January which happened to be the day before that same brother and I would be attending a concert together. And of course at that point it was too late to whip up a hat that resembled a prop from the notoriously bad movie Sharknado. I kicked myself for not remembering and starting the hat sooner. And then I forgot all about it once again until a week or so later when my family began discussing when we’d have our bimonthly birthday dinners. It occurred to me that I had possibly just enough time to make a hat before we’d be celebrating the January and February birthdays.image

There are plenty of shark hat patterns out there on the inter-web but I wanted a specific kind of pattern…a free one. What can I say, I’m cheap  thrifty? It also needed to be big enough for my brother’s giant head. image

The picture on the pattern was a bit goofy but it just looked like a shark. The hat I made, well, it’s got a whole lot of something else going on. It kind of adds to the fun ridiculousness of the thing.

Do you see it yet?…

How about now? If you don’t  your mind might reside in a slightly more lofty location than mine apparently does, not in the gutter for example. But seriously, look at this thing…image

In the words of Ron Burgandy, “Don’t act like you’re not impressed!”

imageOn a slightly more serious note, this pattern was a bit hard to follow. I ended up altering the fins just a little and then extending the length of the tail region. The latter was due to the fact that it just wasn’t long enough after the forty-third row so I added more and then attempted to make the front more pointy to be reminiscent of a shark’s nose and to make sure this would fit an adult male. When the hat was finished the tail fins were more …limp than I personally prefer and the dorsal fin threatened to droop. I wove some fine craft wire through each of the three fins to help keep them erect. It worked like a charm, like Viagra for yarn based shapes. Oh, and I left the side fins off. They seemed like just a bit too much, the hat was already over the top enough without them.

 

So, yup, I crocheted a very phallic hat for my brother…it’s not the first time something like this has happened here at Night’sWatchBlog.

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Strange things happen when you mess with yarn!

Third Time’s a Charm

The third of my five kids is my one and only daughter and, let me tell you, she is an amazing person. She’s in her second year of middle school and her teachers tell me that other students look up to her and respect her, that she has the ability to direct and guide them while still maintaining friendships with many of them, in short she’s a natural leader. She doesn’t have to shout direction (although she still does when it’s directed at her brothers), her classmates just listen to her and value what she has to say. This year she stepped out of her shell a bit more and joined the school government as an elected class representative. As a parent it’s so great to hear stuff like that about your kids but it doesn’t really surprise me. My daughter has always had the ability to make friends wherever she goes even if it’s only for a short while. One of her friend’s parents summed it up best when he said “If I didn’t know her I’d want to be friends with her, she’s just got a friendly face.” Now that my daughter is (barely) officially a teenager it’s even more fun to be her mom. Now we can geek out and fan girl about the same shows and stuff. She’s totally into Doctor Who, Supernatural, and Sherlock (and of course super heroes, Harry Potter, and Star Wars…that’s just a given in our household)  and has even introduced me to some fun things like Nightvale (though I do’t have nearly the time to keep up on it that she does). Like I said, she’s all round awesome….but enough Mom-bragging.

When my daughter’s thirteenth birthday was approaching I wanted to do something fun and special.
At one point she mentioned wanting a tote bag she could put patches, on I knew that was going to be at least part of what I would “get” her for her birthday.  Then she sent me a picture of a Princess Bride themed bag complete with a link to the website I could buy it from. As if I’d buy a cloth tote bag! Over the years I’ve made a variety of sizes and styles of bags. They used to be my go-to birthday present for children and adults. I’ve even made a few to sell along the way.
I was thinking about a Doctor Who/Sherlock themed bag. Maybe one side would be the TARDIS and the other would look like Sherlock’s door. As I was planning it out in my head, picturing what the lay out would be and which types of fabric would achieve the desired effect, I walked in the fabric store and saw this rack of  appropriately themed fabrics. My life got a little easier. And easier is always better…or so I hear.

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Since Van Gogh is one of my daughter’s favorite artists I chose the exploding Tardis print fabric (not shown in that picture). I loved the weeping angels fabric but it seemed a little thinner than the others. That’s no bueno for bags that are going to get a lot of wear. I did still include a Sherlock reference on the one side of the bag (it’s solid black with 221b on it) and made it reversible to be able to incorporate as many fun fabrics as possible.

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Luckily bags are pretty fast to make. Just measure, cut the five sides (back, front, two sides, and a bottom)…

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…sew the sides together…

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…add a strap or straps and there you have it….A bag!

Being a birthday we had to have cake too. Well, actually, peanut butter pie because it’s my daughter’s favorite.

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It’s very easy to make too so it’s ideal for a single mom trying to host a five-teenage-girl-sleepover while also attempting to run the four boys to their respective activities and friends’ houses (that was one seriously crazy afternoon right there!).

I also managed to whip up a baggie beanie style hat for her the week before her birthday. The girl loves her baggy hats…and mine too. I found the pattern for this one on another WordPress blog but it’s on Ravelry too.

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Gratuitous fuzzy winter pony

A Little Late Summer Crochet

As you can see it’s feast or famine around here. When it rains it pours..or when we decide to post we really go all out and Post, like, every day apparently. Really that’s just a coincidence. Or maybe it’s because we both have this week of wait time before school starts and are frantically trying to finish up all those lingering projects before the chaos sets in. That’s probably it.

While I’ve been slaving away diligently working on this baby blanket for the past few months I had this little side project going on too. Because, well, instant gratification. Plus my sister asked if I would make my little neice a summer hat. She posted a picture on my Facebook timeline of a hat she really liked.

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Unfortunately that hat didn’t have a pattern available. Well, not one in English anyway. But that’s what Google is for.

After I found this similar pattern and realized I needed finer yarn to keep this bad boy toddler sized it was smooth sailing.

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While this isn’t exactly the same shape as the hats my sister originally showed me it turned out quite cute if I do say so myself.

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it’s refreshing to crochet a quick project like a hat…

t-rez crochet ……….but next summer she’s making her own.

P.S.- Here’s the link to the flower pattern I used for credit’s sake and in case you want to try one.