Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Night Round Up

It's been a mostly good weekend - some down time, some social time, some's funny, none of the kids will go to Sunday school, and so it's a bit stressful managing them during the service, but we get so many compliments on their behavior, so I guess we're doing something right. Mainly we bring stuff for them to do.

I was deep in my creative flow for a bit, and got sort of waylaid. I thought I'd think about what's in flight, and try and get inspired to finish some things this week! The big one is Sockopalooza, which got waylaid when I ran over a pin and snapped the upper knife on my serger. Yes, I've been told one CAN use the serger without it but I really don't want to! I have the replacement knife (plus an extra), so I just need to figure out how to install it. I only have 6 more pairs to do, and then I can send them out. I know, I really am crazy. :) much. I started a cute baby hat simply because I have the yarn. I'm envisioning a stocking cap. I've got socks, shawls...I've not been feeling the knitting mojo as much. Crocheting...nothing really. I did one of those newborn nests that I'm going to send to a photographer friend in TX. It's cute! I'll try and get a picture up soon - I just need to weave in the ends.

Life in general...I can't believe it's the Equinox today! YAY! I love that it's getting lighter and lighter! I need to start thinking about our summer schedule! It really shifted this week, we had some glorious warm days, and most of the snow is gone. I've got all sorts of thing popping up in my garden, so exciting! We've gotten so busy - both boys are taking piano lessons, we just started DS1 in karate (which is 2x a week!!), DS is doing gymnastics, DD wants to stop Music Together and try a dance class (we're going to do it at the Little Gym, not a dance studio...I'm very very wary of dance for girls - no eating disorder activities for us), soccer starts soon...*ack* I'm exhausted just thinking about it!!! I need to figure out how to balance all the BUSY stuff that we do with down time for all of us. I *never* wanted to be that family that's totally overscheduled, but unless you make all your kids do the same two activities (and you have three kids), there's no way to avoid it. I know, when soccer starts, that's three activities for the boys...I don't really have a justification for it. We'll see how it goes.

Friday, March 18, 2011

How can this be?

There's not a single cookie in this house.

That's just wrong. There are *children* here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

In which I admit, once again, that I am a huge geek.

The weather seems finally to have turned here in Massachusetts. We've got stuff growing in the garden, which really excites me! I'm not quite sure what it is, so that'll be fun to watch. I raked all the dead leaves out today, while the kids played outside. We had a half-day of school for conferences, so DS1 went to a friend's house while DS2 had a friend over. DD has been a whine-a-saurus today, so I was very very glad to be outside. I brought the iPhone docking station outside and blasted music while I gardened. LOVELY.

The geek thing is this...I am a *huge* Glee fan. I have been from the very beginning. These days I can't seem to watch it on TV, so I watch it online the day after (or several days after). For those who don't follow, it's a fun show that has, among other things, gay characters who are out. Well, two of those characters (the completely adorable Darren Criss and Chris Colfer) FINALLY got together with the sweetest first kiss I've seen portrayed in a long time. I'm still giddy! So that's geek thing #1. I've been listening to Glee all day, and dancing around. Geek thing #2. I've gotten Bieber fever. A friend is totally into him and just sent me the complete catalog, so I've also been listening to that. I know, silly.

I think I've got Spring Fever.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Thinking Spring!!

I actually finished this hat yesterday, but I'm still in recovery mode (turns out the reason I felt like death last week was that I have strep also! I'm doing MUCH better but my energy is still pretty low - hoping tomorrow will feel like a normal day).

Pattern: Crochet Jana Hat (Ravelry Link)
Hook size: J (I think)
Yarn: Tahki Cotton Classic

The flower is taken from Ann Norling's flower hats pattern.

This is yet another attempt to make a spring hat for my daughter. Which in all liklihood she'll never wear, but whatever, I like to make stuff. I made her one hat that's just terrible. Now I'll admit a bit of a prejudice against crochet. I know, it's not good, but there's a lot of stuff that just looks very...1970s to me. Now unlike lots of people I know, I actually lived through the fashion of the 70s. Granted, I was very young, but I was there. The hat I made is a seriously 70s hat. This hat, though, I think is adorable! I love the colors, I love the yarn, I think it's so cute!

In other news...I started another baby hat, knit this time. It may be way too small, I'm not sure. I need to do another few rows and figure out my gauge. I've got lots of ideas, things to work on, and lots of stuff in flight. I am trying to make one of those newborn nest photographer props but I'm using Homespun and if there's a more annoying yarn on the face of this earth, I have yet to encounter it and hope never to do so. Like I've said, I'm a not at all a yarn snob, but this stuff is just HORRIBLE!!!!! I knit one thing once from it and swore never again, and now I'll add crocheting with it to that list. UGH UGH. What a waste of money.

Hope Springs Eternal

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

I made something I like!

And let me tell you, I needed something to go right today. I've had someone home running a fever for a week now: flu, flu, and flu&strep. Not to mention I've had a ton of my own appointments. I think we've spent $140 just in copays in the last 5 days. And I've been getting no sleep, between having a feverish, hallucinating kid in my bed, my ownwretched cold, and then just my own insomnia...WHINE WHINE. Okay, I'm done now.

This is, in case you can't tell, a Bear Hat. It's crocheted, if you can believe it. I think it's a large newborn/smallish 3 month size, but I'm finding gauge hard to measure in crochet. I've looked a lot of hat and bear hat patterns over the last week or so, and this is really an amalgamation of them, I didn't follow any pattern. I'm going to write it out here to the best of my memory, so I can refer to it.

Yarn: Lion Nature's Choice Organic Cotton (I know lots of people scorn Lion brand as "craft store yarn", but you know I'm not a yarn snob. That being said, this yarn is *lovely*, it's so soft and squishy and just scrumptious!) For this hat, I used Khaki for the body (MC) and Strawberry for the edging and the interior of the ears (CC). I also have some Espresso and Almond that I think will be super cute as well. I used most of the ball of Khaki and not a lot of the Strawberry. I probably don't have enough Khaki to reverse the color scheme, but if I hadn't messed up and had to redo the ears, I might have.

Hook size: J for the body of the hat, I for the ears.
Stitches used: hdc and sc. Oh and slip stitch.
Gauge: approx. 2.5 hdc/inch
Notions: a locking stitch marker and a tapestry needle

Note: This hat is worked in a spiral. Mark your first stitch of each row with your marker, so you know where your row ends. You're not chaining any stitches or joining any rounds with a slip stitch.

Foundation row: Chain 3, join with sl stitch in firs stitch to form a circle.

Row 1: 6 hdc in the ring. (6 stitches)
Row 2: 2 hdc in each hdc around (12 stitches)
Row 3: *2 hdc in first st, 1hdc in next st* repeat from * around (18 stitches)
Row 4: *2 hdc in first st, 1 hdc in next 2 sts* repeat from * around (24 stitches)
Row 5: *2 hdc in first st, 1 hdc in next 3 sts* repeat from * around (30 stitches)
Row 5: *2 hdc in first st, 1 hdc in next 4 sts* repeat from * around (36 stitches)

Row 6-15: hdc all around. Join with sl stitch. Cut yarn and bind off.
(At this point I wove in the two ends I had.)

Join pink and sc edging all the way around. Join with sl stitch and bind off.

Note on sizing: It would be very easy to size this up, just continue increasing in the established pattern. Measure your diameter of your circle, multiply by pi to get your circumference, and there you go. I used the very useful Bev's Country Cottage size charts for hat length. I subtract about 1" from her lengths, as these hats are not having a rolled brim.


Move to I hook.

Foundation row: Using CC, chain 3, join with sl stitch in firs stitch to form a circle.

Row 1: 6 sc in the ring. (6 stitches)
Row 2: 2 sc in each hdc around (12 stitches)
Switch to MC.
Row 3: *2 hdc in first st, 1hdc in next st* repeat from * around (18 stitches)
Join with sl st and bind off, leaving a long enough tail to use to sew the ear to the hat body. Weave in ends.

Make two. Note on the ears: the first pair I made, I stayed at a J hook and used hdcs. I also made a MC backing and joined the front and back with sc edging. They were very cute, but HUGE and bulky, way too big for this small hat. Using the I hook, the fabric is firm enough that you don't need the backing (I personally think it's cuter but didn't do it that way for this hat). I took them off and redid them, and I'm much happier with the smaller ears. If you were making a much bigger hat, you might want to go to hdcs.

Attach the ears to the body with the tail. Weave in any remaining ends.

Note: it would also be very easy to turn this hat into an ear-flap hat. I used this lady's tutorial, though I think my flaps were one less stitch than hers. I also placed them each on stitch closer to the back.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Learning Curve, Part II

So, I'm working on this pattern (Ravelry link), using this yarn in Fern (so pretty!!). My first attempt, using an I (5.5 mm) hook, it was clearly going to be absolutely huge. Second attempt, using a J (5.00 mm) hook, I thought it was going to be too small. HA! It fit DD, albeit tightly. The 0-6 month version, that is.

I'm frustrated by my gauge issues. Now, I know part of my frustration is that I'm on kid #3 with the actual flu, which is nasty (even though we've been hit relatively mildly). I got very little sleep last night as I was talking my very feverish 7 year old down from nightmares that were close to hallucinations. But, I am not sure why on one pattern, it's way too small, and on another, it's way too big. There's no gauge listed on this pattern, so I don't know how far off I am. Well, how far off I *was* as I've ripped out attempt number two. I'm now thinking I'll just make my own hat pattern and then add ear flaps. It really doesn't look like it'll be that hard.

Unrelated to this, my husband kicked me out of the house today to get some fresh air, so I took the girlie and we went on a photo walk. I could hear the snow melting, and there were even some patches of brown grass showing in places, and it's the first time I really had hope that Spring may actually come this year!

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Learning Curve

Learning new things isn't always easy - especially not for those of us who have the lovely combination of perfectionism and impatience, with just a hint of narcissistic arrogance thrown in. Okay, I'm not that bad, and I've gotten much better in the last 10 years or so. I know I've talked about it before, but it's so true. Knitting and now crocheting has taught me *so* much about curbing my perfectionism, opening up my patience, and increasing my tolerance for making mistakes. For some reason, I've been on this total crocheting jag. I think because I want to make some hats, quickly, and I don't have a lot of time, so crochet is appealing as it's quicker. For some definition of quicker that seems to include needing to rip out 75% of what I'm making. Yeah, insert eyeroll here.

I started a hat for my daughter, realized I'd screwed up the pattern so I ripped it out and made a different one. I finished it, but I really don't like it, and it's not long enough. I don't know why, I have this problem making hats long enough! Then I made the above-picture hat, which turned out COMPLETELY cute, and I think is even the right not-quite-newborn size that I think will be useful for my friend. That's from some leftover craft-store acrylic that I acquired many years ago. I really struggled with the sizing of the pattern - I'm still new-enough at this to not know if the pattern is off or I'm off. Most likely the latter.

So then I found a cute pattern for a crocheted baby helmet-type hat, and I know my-friend-the-photographer would like one. I was knitting her one, and it was going to be HUGE, like it would fit my almost 3 y.o. daughter. So I ripped that too. I'm having gauge issues, apparently. (This, people, is why I don't usually knit items where gauge matters. I'm also paranoid because she told me that the little pink and purple helmet I did was way too small for her 9 lb niece.) So ANYway. I found this pattern, looked doable, found some really pretty yarn, so I waded in. It's really not hard, actually, but now I'm realizing that it's going to be HUGE. The complete opposite of the problem I had with the Bear Hat, which I had to do a 12-24 month size in order to get a hat that would be a bit loose on DD's baby doll. I think before I rip the hat out, I'll shove it on her head (the daughter, not the doll) and if it goes on her head, I'll rip because I do want a closer-to-newborn size. But not tonight, I've ripped out enough today.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The thoughts, there are many...

I am finding crocheting a bit perplexing. In a way, it seems like it should be so straightforward, but like any craft, there are nuances.

I'm working on a hat. Using the recommended yarn weight and hook size, my hat is way smaller than it should be, like 3.3" too small in the circumference. I've followed the pattern but it looks like I'm going to have to add another 6 rows or so to make it long enough (for the size I have, not even the size I am trying to knit). I'm wondering if I just crochet so tightly that my gauge is way, way off. I mean, it obviously is off, but why? That's the main thing I can come up with.

And wow, crochet uses a crazy amount of yarn!

Other than that...yeah. Life. It's okay - getting in the swing again. I feel like I've got so many possibilities right now, so many directions that I'm trying to go in. It's exciting but also a bit scary. It's good, I have to keep reminding myself, it's good. Hard and scary doesn't mean bad.