Sunday, June 26, 2011

Free Crochet Case Pattern (Sewing)

Hard as it might be to believe I felt the need to replace my half finished scarf crochet needle case.  It was functional but not pretty to be sure.  I had some beautiful fabric precuts fat quarters and charm packs from the Sunkissed collection by Moda that I had been meaning to use and this seemed like an ideal project.  It's a quick project and not too hard if you can sew in a straight line.  I have included a link to the pattern as the instructions have a lot of pictures and I didn't want the blog to take forever to load.

Click Here For The Crochet Case Pattern

Now in the process of creating the pattern and my finished case I learned a life lesson.  Mistakes happen to everyone and you just have to be persistent.  See my oops......

Oops #1  Right sides together or you end up with your seam on the wrong side!

Oops #2 When using the sewing machine keep the rest of your project out of the way!
Maybe the real lesson is that I should go buy a seam ripper!  Oh well, mistakes happen and it still turned out fine.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Simple Toilet Paper Roll Cover Crochet Pattern

First, let me start by saying that there are some absolutely beautiful and amazing patterns for toilet roll covers out there!  However my decorating style is simple and contemporary and my house is filled with boys so I couldn't really see making a frilly doll cover or something covered with flowers.  I wanted a more clean look but still didn't want to spend money on one of those fancy brushed nickel TP covers.  That's how this pattern came about, necessity is the mother of invention they say!

This is an easy pattern and would be a great project for a beginner who is ready to make the leap from crocheting rectangles to working in rounds.

Simple Toilet Paper Roll Cover

  • 2 coordinating colors of worsted weight yarn (you will use less than one 50g skein of your primary color and only a few yards of the contrast color).  I like a high percentage of acrylic fiber for this project since you will want to wash it occasionally and don't want the shrinkage that can happen with cotton and wool.
  • size H crochet hook (5.00 mm)
  • tapestry needle (if you like to use one for weaving in ends, I just use my hook most of the time)
  • I use American crochet terms
  • Keep a roll of the toilet paper you use most often handy to ensure a proper fit, I have designed this with a double roll of 2-ply tissue.  If you use single rolls you will need to omit a row and if you use the mega rolls then you will need to add a row on the top of the cover.
ch - chain
sl st - slip stitch
dc - double crochet
sc - single crochet
rd - round
st - stitch

Foundation- with your main color ch 10 and join to 1st chain with a sl st to make a ring.  You want a finger sized hole in the middle of your ring, this makes it easier to slide the cover off when you're ready to use this roll.

Rd 1 - ch 3 (always counts as first dc in this pattern), dc in next ch, dc each ch around and join to last ch in ch 3 with a sl st.

Rd 2 - ch 3, dc in same st as ch 3, 2 dc in each dc of prior row, join to ch 3 with sl st. 

Rd 3 - ch 3, dc in same st as ch3, *dc in next st, 2 dc in next st*, repeat * to * to the end of the rd, join with a sl st to ch 3.

Rd 4 - ch 3, dc in same st as ch3, * dc in next 2 st, 2 dc in next st*, repeat * to * to the end of the rd, join with a sl st to ch 3.

Omit Rd 5 for a single roll sized cover.

Rd 5 - ch 3, dc in same st as ch 3, *dc in next 3 st, 2 dc in next st*, repeat * to * to the end of the rd, join with a sl st to ch 3.

For a mega roll cover add a round following the same pattern putting 4 single dc between each increase stitch that has 2 dc in the stitch.

Rd 6 - ch 1, sc in the front loop only of each stitch around, join to ch 1 with a sl st.  This round will fall where the side and top meet and going through the front loop only gives it a clean edge.  (If you're not sure what is meant by front loop only you can go to the previous post which explains this technique)

Rd 7-12 - ch 3, dc in each stitch around, join to ch 3 with a sl stitch. 

Now is a good time to check your fit, your cover should end about 1/4 to 1/2" above the end of the roll.

Rd 13 - switch to your contrast color. ch 1, sc in each stitch around, join to ch 1 with a sl st.

Rd 14 - ch 1, sc in each stich around, join to ch 1 with a sl st.  Fasten off.

Check fit and add an additional round of sc if needed.  Weave in all ends.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Crochet Terms: Front Loop and Back Loop

As a frequent user of free online patterns I have noticed that there is almost always a comment or question when a pattern indicates to crochet only through the front loop or back loop.  I know I didn't get it at first and my work never turned out looking quite right.  It turns out I was always crocheting in the back loop without even knowing it!  Okay, so what are these and why should we crocheters care? 

When making a standard crochet stich you insert your hook into the stitch and through both loops of the stitch as shown below...
standard crochet stitch
This will produce a nice smooth finished project, but sometimes we don't want a smooth finish piece and this is where the posts come into play. 

When you are instructed to use the front loop you insert your hook through the front loop of the stitch only.

Front loop (insert hook only through the front loop of the stitch in the previous row)

Using the back loop only is just the opposite, you insert your hook only into the back loop of the stitch in the previous row. 

back loop (insert your hook through only the back loop of the stitch in the previous row)
So, what do these do to your finished project and why do we need them?  Using the front or back loop creates texture in your project.  Below is a photo of a green afghan that was worked in the back loop only which creates a ridge every two rows on the front and back of the project.  Alternating rows of front loop and back loop stitches will create ribbing, therefore you will use these often when making socks, gloves, and hats.  The ridges can be used for a decorative purpose or can be very practical, for example the ridges on my crocheted kitchen scrubber really help with getting the goo up that my boys leave on my table.

decorative ridge created by working all stitches in the front or back loop only

deep ribbing created by alternating rows in the front and back loops
There is one other place where I have come accross these stiches and that is when creating a nice neat corner on a project, one row done all in the front post or back loop will create a nice neat edge and cause the project to fold naturally.

Any questions?  Use the comments section and I will respond as quickly as possible!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pattern Altering - Felted Crochet Hobo Bag Pattern

The more comfortable I get with crocheting the more I see the need to alter existing patterns to suit my own needs.  For example, I made a market bag a couple of weeks ago for going to our local farmers' market.  I used a free pattern from the Lion Brand website and other than adding some colored stripes and a decorative flower I stuck with the written instructions.  When it was finished I liked the shape of it (not sure about my color choices though!)  and wanted a handbag that would be similar but smaller.  After searching the web I found nothing that quite suited my purpose so I decided to alter the existing pattern to meet my new pattern is below.

On the left is my uh.."colorful" market bag and on the right is the felted hobo bag
  • chunky wool yarn, I used 3 1/2 skeins of Chunky Wool Blast by Filatura Lanarota.  You can substitute any bulky yarn with a high wool content so long as it is not meant to be machine washable.  
  • size I (5.50 mm) crochet hook
  • stitch markers or scrap pieces of yarn in a color that contrasts with your project yarn
  • 1 button if you want to add a closure to the handbag
  • tapestry needle
  • sewing thread and needle if you are adding a button
Gauge:  Not super important for this project as you can adjust the size as needed by adding rows or stitches, remember to work tightly so that it will felt well without having holes.  Remember that your bag will shrink between 30 and 40 percent with felting.

Special Notes:  I use American crochet terminology and abbreviations.  The stitches are worked in the space between the stitches not in the actual stitch loops, this adds strength to the finished product.  You can turn or not turn while working in rounds, since we are felting this bag it won't make much difference in the finished product.  Don't worry too much if your counts don't come out perfect, your bag will still work out fine!

Special Stitch: dc2tog - this is a double crochet decrease stitch.  Yo, insert hook in the space between the next two stitches, yo again, pull a loop through, yo and pull through two loops.  Yo, insert into next space, yo, pull a loop through, yo and pull through two loops, yarn over and pull through remaining loops on the hook.

yo- yarn over
sc- single crochet
dc- double crochet
st- stitch
sl st- slip stitch
sp- space
ch- chain
rd- round

To begin ch 3 and join with a sl st to form a circle.

Rd1: Ch 3 (counts as first dc), dc 11 times in the middle of the circle, join with a sl st in the space between the ch 3 and the first dc. (12 dc)

Rd2: Ch 3, dc in same space as you sl st join from the previous rd, dc 2 times in the space between each st around the circle, sl st to sp between ch 2 and first dc. (24 dc)

Rd3: Ch 3, dc in same space as join, *dc in next sp, 2 dc in next sp*, repeat * to * until you finish this round, sl st in sp between ch and 1st dc. (36 dc)

Rd4: Ch 3, dc in same sp as join, *dc in next 2 sp, 2 dc in next sp*, repeat * to * until you finish the rd, sl st in sp between ch and 1st dc. (48dc)

Rd 5: Ch 3, dc in same space as join, *dc in next 3 sp, 2 dc in next sp*, repeat * to * until the end of the round and join with sl st. (60 dc)

Rd 6: Ch3, dc in each sp to the end of the rd (do not dc twice in any sp), join with sl st. (60 dc)

Rd 7: Ch 3, dc in same space as ch, *dc in next 4 sp, 2 dc in next sp*, repeat to the end of the rd, join with sl st. (72 dc)

Rd 8: Ch 3, dc in same sp as ch, *dc in next 7 sp, 2 dc in next sp*, repeat to end of the rd, join with sl st. (81 dc)

Rd 9: Ch 3, dc in same sp as chain, *dc in next 8 sp, 2 dc in next sp*, repeat to end of the rd, join with sl st. (90 dc)

This is where I stopped increasing, if you want your bag to be bigger around you can continue adding rows with increases until you reach your desired size. Just continue to add one single dc between your 2 dc stitches.

Rd 10-16: Ch 3, dc in each sp around, join to sp between ch and first dc with a sl st.

We are now going to do some decrease rows to give our bag it's hobo shape.  If you want a taller bag add more rows at this point with 1 dc per sp.

Rd 17-19: ch3, *dc in next 15 sp, dc2tog in next sp*, repeat to the end of the rd and join with sl st. (these will not work out evenly but don't worry about it, it will be fine once felted)

Rd 20: ch 3, dc in each sp around joining with sl st at the end of the rd.  Finish off.


Lay the bag flat and fold in half with your joins making up one of the folds.  Fold in half again to find the center of the front and back and mark with a stitch marker.  Your handles are going to start at 16 stitches wide so using your center sp count 8 spaces on either side of the marker and add markers to each of those spaces. You can now remove the center marker.  Repeat on the back side.

Row 1: Join in marked sp with a sl st, dc in each sp until you reach your other marker, turn (16 dc)

Row 2: Ch 3, dc2tog, dc to last 3 sp, dc2tog, dc, turn

Rows 3-7: repeat row 2 (row 7 should be 6 dc wide), turn

Rows 8-18(?):  Ch 3, dc in each sp (6 dc)

Repeat this process on the other side of the bag.

If you want a longer handle repeat the last row until you reach your desired length remembering that you will have 30-40% shrinkage during felting.  I stopped at row 18 because I wanted my handbag to be tight up under my arm.

Once you have the desired length join the two sides of the handle with a row of sc on the back side of the handle.  Trim both edges of the handle with a row of sc.  Fasten off and weave in all ends.

How to Felt Your Bag:
To felt your bag machine wash with warm water (warm wash and rinse), you can use detergent but do not add fabric softener.  Tumble dry.  My bag was perfect after doing this once but if you are not happy with the felting you can repeat again.

Adding the button:
After felting my bag was tight except for a gap where the joins were which is now the front of my bag, this meant I didn't need to add a buttonhole.  You may need to cut a buttonhole in your bag if your joins were tighter than mine.  I then added the button to the inside of the bag on the side opposite from my hole so when closed the button shows on the front of my bag.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Diaper Trike

I love to make unique and creative gifts for holidays and other events.  Since we're on a tight budget around here it's often a lot easier on the pocketbook as well!

This is a diaper trike that I made for my cousin's baby shower a year or so ago.  Hard to believe my godson is already almost a year old!!!!  I found a lot of pictures of these trikes online but no directions so I reverse engineered this from a picture.

I picked up all the items to make this at the dollar store and a large discount store.  The only problem was that I didn't notice that the front ribbon had fallen down until AFTER I took my pictures.  I did catch and fix it before the shower! 

What you need to create the diaper trike:
  • one large package of size 1 diapers (better to have too many than not enough!)
  • 3 large rubber bands (I used the rubber bands that come wrapped around my!)
  • empty paper towel or toilet paper roll (also free!)
  • 2 receiving blankets
  • 2 bibs (I like the velcro closure bibs)
  • 1- 5oz. baby bottle
  • 1 pair of newborn sized baby socks (I could only find a package of 3 pairs so the extras I put inside the wheels
  • 2-3 yards thin ribbon
  • 2-3 yards thick ribbon (1 inch thick looks nice and works well)
  • double sided tape, glue dots, hot glue, folded over scotch tape (whatever you have that will hold the ribbon together)
First, divide your diapers into 3 equal piles, if it doesn't divide evenly put the extras in the pile for the front tire since it's fine for it to be a bit larger but the back tires need to be equal sized.

Start with your first stack of diapers and an empty paper towel or toilet paper roll.  The roll will keep the center of your tire open.  I curved each diaper around the roll one at a time until I had about half the diapers in my stack wrapped around the roll.  Have a helper hold the diapers on the roll or hold it with your knees while you put a large rubber band around the outside.  You can then add the rest of the diapers in a few at a time and adjust as needed.  You want to use a rubber band and not any adhesive so that the diapers are still able to be used.  It's tricky but stay patient and it will all work out, I promise!  Remove the roll once you have all diapers secured.  (if you have problems keeping the center open you can cut the tube so that is a little narrower than the diapers an leave it in the center of the tire.

Follow the same process with your other two stacks of diapers.  Use your wide ribbon and wrap around the diaper rolls to cover the ugly rubber bands.  Secure the ribbon to itself using your adhesive, I used double a hot glue gun.  Don't burn's not worth it!

Take one of your receiving blankets and roll it VERY tightly.  Again, since I was by myself I used rubber bands on each end to keep it rolled tightly while I worked.  Feed the rolled blanket through the center of all 3 tires in the configuration shown in the photo.  Tie it tightly with a knot and then slide the knot so that it is hidden inside the back tires.

Create a seat by fastening one of the bibs through the hole in the front tire with the bib part covering the space where the back two tires meet.  Fasten the other bib facing the front with the velcro though the center of the tire to create a front fender.

Take your other blanket and roll it as tightly as possible, if it is nice and tight it will make the handlebars stick out without any further support.  Again, I used rubber bands to secure it, this time in the middle and at each end and left them there since they would be covered.  Feed through the hole in the front wheel, the wheel will hide your middle rubber band.  Place the bottle on top of the bib and towards the back of the front wheel to create a headlight.  I used the thin ribbon to secure this to the trike by feeding through the center and tying with a bow.  Pull the wrapped blanket up over the top of the bottle and tie tightly with your thin ribbon and tie another bow.  If your blanket is nice and tight and you tie the ribbon tightly the ends of the blanket will create the handlebars. It took me 3 tries, so again, stay patient and keep trying!

Cover the ends of the blankets (and your rubber bands) with a baby sock.  You are done!

  • This is hard to transport because it wants to shift.  I didn't have a big enough box so I used a laundry basket in the car so it wouldn't move around too much.
  • Include a note on the trike or with your card letting the recipient know what size the diapers are (I had a duh moment when my cousin had to call me to find out)
  • Be creative...I wanted to put a stuffed monkey on the trike as a rider since that was the nursery theme but couldn't find one in my price range, a set of teething keys would be super cute hooked to the back of the handlebars.
  • Don't spend the $60+ dollars that these sell for...make your own for about $20.

Welcome & Treasure Chest Cake

Welcome to my blog that I decided I must have at midnight last night, insomnia is good for something!  I am looking forward to sharing with you my crafting successes and failures, I learn more from the failures sometimes! 

I'm one of those people that needs to learn how to do everything so  this may be a bit eclectic.  I am an avid quilter and crocheter.  I taught myself how to knit two days ago so that will be an adventure.  I like to put my own spin on existing patterns and am hoping to share those and some tips with you!

First some successes....check out this birthday cake from my son's birthday party last year, I was so proud of it and he LOVED it!  What's great is that if you don't frost well (and I don't) the "treasure" covers up a lot of mistakes.

To Make This Treasure Chest Cake you need:
  • 9x13 cake in your favorite flavor (works best if you use a mix that is not super moist as a very moist cake falls apart)
  • chocolate frosting (I used 3 packages of Jiffy brand chocolate frosting mix)
  • toothpicks
  • assorted gold and silver wrapped candies (I used Rolos, Hershey's kisses, and gold chocolate coins)
  • candy necklaces and or bracelets, ring pops
  • rock candy
  • red fruit by the foot
  • M&M's
  • brown sugar and raw cane sugar (if you can find it)
Take your cooked and cooled cake and cut a 2 inch section out of the middle giving you 3 pieces (two large ends and the 2 inch strip).  Set your strip to the side. 

Place one of your large pieces on your cake tray (I used foil covered cardboard, cheap and looks good too).  Frost the piece you just placed on the tray on the top and sides. 

Using a sharp knife or a long piece of waxed floss (works great and is very kid safe) slice your two inch strip on the diagonal, this is going to make a wedge to hold your "lid" open.  Lay your first wedge along the back of your frosted first piece with the point facing the back and the taller side of your wedge facing the front, Take your second wedge and lay it directly in front of the other in the same manner.  Frost the tops of your wedges and the front edge to act as glue for the candy and lid.

Now here is my trick that sets this apart from other directions out there for the treasure chest cake.  Take another piece of foil wrapped cardboard the size same size as the "lid".  Put your lid on this and then frost the top and sides of the cake.  Without the cardboard it's an absolute bear to put this together and it allows you to take the cake apart easier for slicing.

Place your lid on top of your wedges, secure in the back with toothpicks as much as needed, I made this a day ahead so I used 6-8 toothpicks (don't forget to remove them when you are ready to cut the cake!).  If you have an extra set of hands have them support the lid while you do this. 

Once your lid is in place frost over the exposed foil on the bottom and sides of the lid. 

Now the fun part, decorate away.  The gold coins can be stood on end to help support the front of the lid so I recommend adding these first.  After that adding the treasure is just a matter of sticking the rest of the foil wrapped candy, jewelery, and rock candy wherever you think looks good.  I set a few to the side to have spilling onto the sand.

Take your fruit by the foot and lay down the lid to make straps.  Use the M&M's to create studded nail covers on either side of the fruit by the foot.  Touch up the frosting and make sure any mistakes are covered. 

Finally, we've made it to the sand.  Smear whatever frosting you have left on the top of your tray around the decorated cake.  Take your brown sugar and raw sugar and mix it together (I like the raw sugar because it gives it a more authentic looking texture).  Sprinkle over the frosting around the cake carefully, try not to get too much on the cake itself.  I did pile some up on one side of the cake where I accidentally took a chunk of cake out with my frosting knife (oops!).  Add your leftover coins and chill until you are ready to party.

This is small cake (we fed 8 guests with it) so if you are having a lot of guests I would recommend having a plain frosted chocolate cake and some extra treasure handy and hidden to serve guests.