Friday, July 31, 2015

Softer Baby Cardigans

My softened-up sweaters drying on my dining room table. 
The top one is made with Red Heart Super Saver in 
pink camo. The sweater on the bottom is made with a 
sport weight baby yarn I had in my stash. The more the 
sweaters dried,the softer they felt. And they smelled 
so clean and fresh!
I'm always learning something new. If you do not subscribe to any YouTube crochet channels, I encourage you to do so. That said, it takes time to sift through to find quality content but it is well worth the effort. A month or so ago, I got a notification about a video posted on Clare's channel, Bobwilson123, about how to soften scratchy yarn. I had no idea that scratchy yarn could be made to feel soft like other yarns. This was big news to me. I am a fan of Red Heart Super Saver. Love the colors. Love working with it. Love the durability. Love the easy care. Love the price. But . . . I hesitated to use it for baby sweaters because it wasn't as smooth to the touch as other yarns. After watching Clare's video, I did some additional research and found Emi's tutorial on her channel, Hectanooga1. Both tutorials utilized shampoo and conditioner.

I decided to use a similar process but use my washing machine and fragrance free fabric softener instead of shampoo and conditioner. I washed the garments in the machine, with a small amount of detergent on delicate. Then I soaked the 100% acrylic sweaters separately in warm baths of water and 1/3 cup of fabric softener in large bowls. I periodically gently swirled the sweaters in the softener solution and made sure they stayed submerged in the liquid. After 2 hours, I drained the softener water, squeezed out the excess, and put the sweaters right back in the washing machine. I put fabric softener in the dispenser cup then ran the garments through a regular delicate cycle without detergent. I tossed them in the dryer with two fragrance free dryer sheets and a dry white bath towel on the low touch-up cycle for 7 minutes. Still slightly damp, I let the sweaters finish drying flat on a towel. The texture of both sweaters improved significantly and were soft enough for an infant. I'm glad I went through this process prior to adding buttons. I may need to increase my button size slightly to account for the change in the yarn and how that loosened up my button holes a bit. I will definitely try the shampoo and conditioner method on my next set of sweaters but I also like the idea of using common fragrance free laundry products.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Crochet Baby Cardigan: Finishing

Done and done. Tails woven in. Buttons sewn on. Flower motif on beanie crocheted and sewn on. And there you have it! I love the final result. I fussed over buttons for a while and ended up using four 1/2 inch shirt buttons. I added a slight shank as I was sewing them on so the buttons would pop up a bit and make buttoning easier. I searched and found the perfect flower that had a double row of five petals on Crystal's Bag-O-Day Crochet's You Tube channel. Be sure to check out Crystal's channel. Although Crystal doesn't write her patterns down, she has excellent instructional videos.

The buttons are from Hobby Lobby. It is hard to see, but there
is also a matching button in the center of the flower. The
sweater is top down construction, size 6-12 months.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Crocheting in the Round: Stop Motion Animation

I first became fascinated with stop motion animation when I watched the Davey and Goliath series on TV as a kid. Definitely showing my age. The Wallace and Gromit movies are also familiar examples of stop motion animation art. Recently, I watched a video of a speech therapist and a young man with autism making a claymation video using an iPad. This prompted me to think about stop motion as a teaching tool for crocheters. I have often thought that when trying to follow a new pattern or starting a new unfamiliar project, it sure would be helpful to see how the parts combine to form the whole or to see the overall construction process in a video. Call me crazy. As a test, I made this quick clip showing two rounds of double crochet in the round.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Vintage Crochet: Nice Try!

I decided to give a vintage pattern a try. After multiple attempts to achieve gauge, I abandoned the project. In the process, I became intrigued with side-to-side design and began searching online for a pattern for a cardigan. No freebies and I hated to put a ton of time into a pattern that ended up not fitting well. I used what I learned about side-to-side construction from the vintage pattern and took off on a tangent. Of course, I wanted a cardigan because . . . well, because I really love cardigans. I also wanted to bust some stash. My WIP is a far cry from the feminine pullover I started out with. I think I like it. It reminds me of a sweater my grandpa used to wear, so I guess that still makes it "vintage".

Had I continued, the waist on the sweater
would have been 21". Uhm, no way. My
waist hasn't been 21" since middle
Doesn't she look pretty (skinny)! I'm not
quite sure what I was thinking. Anyway, I
learned a lot in the process. Still love the
original sweater design. 

My in-process "Vintage" grandpa sweater. 

I actually took notes! Not great notes but enough that I could
try the sweater again.

I liked the way the yarn pooled in this section. How lucky!
I wasn't so lucky with the same section on the opposite
side of the sweater. I had to re-work it several times to get
a similar look. Ugh!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Crochet Baby Cardigan: Size 6 to 12 Months

I figured it out! Using my original newborn sweater design, I problem-solved how to alter the neck foundation, stitch pattern, and hook size to create a cozy cardigan for infants size 6 to 12 months. I used the size charts here to guide me. Now, I just need the right buttons. The design is seamless or top-down like my adult sweaters I make. As per my usual process, the beanie design came to mind before the finishing on the sweater. In fact, I was re-working a sleeve cuff and decided to attempt to make a hat in a matching stitch pattern starting at the crown. The beanie literally flew off my hook and hands so fast, I didn't take the time to take notes. I must force myself to use my Crocheter's Notebook but it is hard when I am in the crochet zone.

I am thinking shell buttons but not sure yet. I used an H hook
with Vanna's Choice in grey marble. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Crochet Face Book Pages: People Say the Darnedest Things

Be kind  <3
I recently read a post written by Mikey from The Crochet Crowd on his Face Book page that got me thinking. It appears that a picture of a sweater was posted by a member that received several negative comments. Mikey expressed his concern and that he felt responsible and wanted to apologize because The Crochet Crowd is a supportive community of crocheters who share the same passion. As I read through comments offering support to Mikey and the member who shared her sweater, I began to wonder what causes individuals to write purposely hurtful comments. Is it because they struggle to name and notice what appeals to them? How much time do they take to compose a response? Comments on Face Book pages, blog comments, tweets, and texts are written language. The entire message is contained in the symbols, words and punctuation. As receivers of the message, we don't have access to the writer's face, body language, and voice. Words, like images, are powerful tools. I believe Mikey's response to the negativity was critical. Will calling attention to unkind comments make community members think more carefully about what they write? I hope so. #crochetkindly

Well I have let you down folks and I want to step up so you can take a swing with the bat. Yesterday, I featured a guy...
Posted by The Crochet Crowd on Monday, July 6, 2015

Creating a Crochet Business: Baby Steps

 So why would I spend so much time developing crochet patterns? Truth is, I don't know why. The problem solving feels more therapeutic than frustrating.  I have control. My thinking. My decisions. My time. I have recently been told by many friends that I should think about making a business out of my crochet passion. Maybe. Putting my patterns on paper is a goal but why do it?  Does it make sense to put so much effort into something, putting yourself out there as a business, and not worry about turning a profit? Doesn't seem like a very good business plan. For now, I am learning what I like as a consumer of crochet related products. I know I no longer have patience for blogs and sites filled with pop-ups and ads. I like Face Book, Google+ pages related to crochet as well as Pinterest boards. And Ravelry is the best tool out there for identifying good patterns. I am also willing to watch ads on YouTube prior to viewing tutorials from channels I like. My primary crochet related expenditures are yarn, hooks, and tools. I also purchase some patterns and magazines. I use the public library to check out crochet books. Eventually I will purchase some books but will wait for sales or an Amazon gift card. I suppose that sounds cheap. Crochet is not a cheap hobby and I know I am not the only crocheter who looks for bargains. That said, I strive to give credit where credit is due. If I am inspired by another pattern or tutorial, I indicate that on Ravelry and on my blog. It takes time to link to the blogs and Pinterest boards of others but I do the best I can to make that effort. I like the advice from Link with Love regarding the sharing intellectual property.

Notes from a baby shrug I am creating. It is a spin-off from the baby
cardigan. I really need to work through all the directions and GET IT ON PAPER!

Crochet Baby Cardigan Distraction

I was doing so well. What was it that distracted me?  I had a good run finishing and frogging my pile of abandoned sweaters. I found three more nearly complete ones in a box in my closet. I was in the process of re-working the bottom of one of them, a very cool motif pull-over, when I needed a break. I was working on uploading some projects to Ravelry and casually did a search on cardigan sweaters. As I scrolled through the photos, the baby sweaters caught my attention. So little. So sweet. So cozy. Creating a baby sweater pattern has been on my "plan to do someday" list for a while. I grabbed one of my frogged balls of Simply Soft, an H hook, and sketched a neck foundation in my Crocheter's Notebook. My little break turned into a late night crochet session and ended with the prototype sweater below. I want to add pearl shank buttons, about 5/8" I'd say. The sleeves may be a bit long so I will have to match it up to other sweaters or see if I can research sleeve lengths by size. Of course, once the prototype for a worsted weight sweater was almost done, I was already mentally working out the neck foundation for a baby cardigan made in light worsted weight yarn.

Here I go again! Here is a WIP using a 3 weight yarn. Now that is YELLOW!

Crochet Baby Cardigan: Newborn

After creating my baby cardigan prototype, I searched for size charts and found several. See the links below. According to the charts, my prototype is a size newborn. The arms ended up the perfect length. My Crocheter's Notebook has been a great tool to collect my revision process as I work through the cardigan design using different yarn weights, hook sizes, and stitch patterns to construct the sizes I want. My goal is to develop three size ranges in worsted (4), light worsted (3), and light (2) yarns. It will require hours and hours or work. Different yarns and yarn weights produce a variety of results. The basic pattern and process can remain similar but it is the fine tuning that allows for the pattern to be used across multiple sizes and yarn weights. Fit, feel, and details are important to me and I am willing to fiddle to get what I want.

Links for size charts that I found:

Baby Size chart from Craft Yarn Council                                 
Children's Size chart from Craft Yarn Council

Shoe size chart from Hectanooga1

Pinterest board with additional resources from 
Andi Ny Wahyu

Andi Ny Wahy