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.

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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.

Some Not-So-Recent Makes

While crocheting has almost been at a stand still for me lately (except for one tiny little baby hat I started and almost finished over the weekend that I’m hoping to write down a pattern for…and then, of course (eventually) blog about.) I realized I’ve made some things over the past few months  year or so that have not found their way to the blog.

Also, my co-blogger has posted twice this week…WTF? Twice! And it has awoken my mildly competitive side. No way she’s showing me up! (Yes, yes, I know, this is not a contest and we’re all winners here (Pffft!))

So even though it’s 5:30 and I ran but haven’t showered yet and really should be making dinner so we eat sometime before 8pm tonight, I thought I’d write a real quick picture heavy crochet based post. I think it’s been a while since we’ve had one of those around here.

First here’s a pair of fingerless gloves I made as a birthday gift for one of my daughter’s friend’s birthday back in October. Well, her birthday was in October, I’m pretty sure I made these sometime in November.

granny square fingerless mits panda hat mid make panda hatThe hat was made as a later part of the gift as it was finished just before New Year’s Eve, Hey, I got it done within the year of the kid’s birthday. That counts for something right? I didn’t use a pattern for either of these though I keep thinking I’m going to write one down for the gloves (in all my spare time). I’ve made a few pairs of these and they always turn out nice.

Sometime this past fall (or early winter) whenever it started getting chilly and I pulled out my collection of scarves and hats and such, I made myself a hat. I had one baggy hat that I was wearing all the time; I was getting a little tired of it. SO I made the “Falling Leaves” hat pattern from Ravelry that I’ve made a couple times before (for other people). It’s been one of my favorites since I finished it.

Kind of an odd picture but it gives you an idea of the texture and a view of the back.

Kind of an odd picture but it gives you an idea of the texture and a view of the back.

Lastly and ,frankly, most embarrassingly, is a blanket I made last spring and summer as a baby gift for a high school friend of mine. I say embarrassing because I finished it last June and took these pictures but somehow failed to get it to her. Yup, this adorable little blanket is still sitting in my Finished Projects draw. Her baby just turned one last week…hmm. The fact that I have a Finished Projects drawer says something too.

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Aaaandflower square 1 flower square 2 flower square 3 flower square 4 some close ups of some of the squares.

Note to self: Must mail baby blanket soon  ASAP!

Christmas Makes…and Almost Makes.

It’s impressive how quickly things can go from Intensely Crazy to Nothing Going On  with the rise and fall of the holidays. Granted the holidays aren’t actually over yet, there’s still New Year’s Eve & Day to look forward to (does anyone actually celebrate New Year’s Day? Other than by praying to the porcelain gods?) but most of the hubbub has ceased. I enjoy a fair amount of busyness in my life but It’s nice to sit around and do pretty much nothing for a change.

Part of the craziness and fun leading up to Christmas is trying to get all the gifts made. Usually I start thinking about making stuff for Christmas shortly after Halloween, I come up with all sorts of awesomeness that I’m going to make and give to like, everyone! Then around mid-November I actually start working on these ideas. Let’s just say I do not have a hundred percent success rate of getting gifts from the idea phase into actual production and completion.

This year I was slightly more realistic with my idea list and only had four or five items I wanted to make. I got three started, two finished, and two last minute December birthday presents not on the list made.

Here’s the Misty Morning Cowl I started AND finished.
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It turned out exactly as I hoped it would except that bottom edge that keeps turning up. Blocking would probably help that. Maybe I used the term finished loosely. This was my first non-hat knitting project. I think knitting takes longer than crochet but that might just be because I’m new at it.

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Not a tube!

My inability (or unwillingness) to follow a written pattern seems to translate to knitting too. I didn’t like the tube look of the cowl as the pattern was written. Some of the pictures made it look like there were increases but there were not. It was just one big tube. Hmm, Once I realized that I planned (also a term I use loosely) a couple increase rows. The first one was after the second section of nine rows, I added a stitch after every fourth. Mathematically this worked out perfectly with the little wavy rows between each nine-row section. My next increase row, which was closer to the bottom of the cowl, was mathematically not as nice even though I increased after every fourth stitch again. It wasn’t a big deal but I did end up with a little weirdness on the ribbing at the end. It really isn’t noticeable though and I’m happy with how the cowl turned out over all.  Doing the same stitch for most a project gets a little boring sometimes though.

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Finally finishing this thing.

I also crocheted a short cowl for one of my sisters for Christmas but didn’t grab any photos before wrapping it up. Then yesterday I whipped up a couple Ninja Turtle mask hats for a nephew and his dad who both have December birthdays. Don’t be too impressed, I had one hat just waiting for the colored mask band and another that was already started. I don’t know who those were originally for but they sure came in handy yesterday.
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The started-not-finished Christmas project is a scarf for one of my boys. He wanted a very long scarf that could be wrapped around at least one full time. I didn’t think this required a pattern and decided to just knit & purl back and forth until it was as long as it should be. Unfortunately I cast on more stitches than I should’ve making it a long and wide scarf….which equals a time consuming scarf, especially since this son is mini-man sized (at least 4 inches taller than me. :/).
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It’s going to be super warm and cozy though. I used all bulky wool blends. It’s SOOO soft!

Yup, I'm pretty much like that with yarn.

Yup, I’m pretty much like that with yarn.

I think natural fibers have ruined me. I may never be able to go back to straight acrylics again.

Crap! Note to Self: Find way to increase yarn budget in 2015.

(Pshh, like I have a yarn budget!)

New Note to Self: Make a yarn budget in 2015. …May need to request more student loan overages.