Saturday, July 28, 2007

...but a LOT excited!

There's a new knit/crochet community coming to town...ravelry! It's still in the beta testing phase, but it's gonna be great. Go check it out! It's quite the nifty little fiber site and I can't wait to get started with it...if I get an invitation before it goes live.

Please, send me one?

A little sad...

Hi all! It's been a while - and I blame my dog, Sam.

You see I crocheted myself this adorable little cell phone case. I could say it was an original design, but I really just morphed two designs into one: the Cell Phone Pouch (which I found on Crochet Pattern Central) and the Cell Phone Hugger from Knit Pixie.

Isn't it cute? It's made out of Aunt Lydia Shimmer in lavender. The Cell Phone Hugger was the main pattern for the body, then I added the strap with the metal clip on one end. I guess I forgot to take a picture of the back, but I single crocheted around a cabone ring and tacked that onto the back so the clip could attach to it. The strap looped around my purse handle with the clip attached to the ring. The smooth button made for easy opening and I love the little window on the front so I could still see the time. It was a wonderful case - for two days.

Enter Sam. I left my bag on the floor, went upstairs to do something, forgot about it, and came back down to find that Sam had started the unraveling process and the case is now impossible to repair.

Sigh. Back to throwing my phone into the bottomless pit that is my purse.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Wanna see more crocheted bags?

I should first mention that I found all these bags through Crochet Pattern Central. That's my favorite site to find new crochet patterns of any type. It's sister site, Knitting Pattern Central, is my favorite site for knitting patterns.

This is the All-Occasion Totebag from Lion Brand's website. It was my first bag and I chose Peaches n' Cream in Peppercorn. While I'm not all that fond of the color anymore, the bag is huge and extremely functional. I like to pack it full of snacks and sunscreen when we go fishing.

This is the Summer Sling Tote. I really love this bag, but I need to line it to really set off the shape. I liked the construction of this: you make the front and back, then make one circular piece to function as the bottom/sides and handle. All parts are slip-stitched together. It's finished with a wooden toggle button. I think the front/back section could be easily adapted to be a baby bib, or a good looking adult bib.

The yellow and green bags are both the Drawstring Cotton Bag and the blue one is the Easy Mesh Tote. The Drawstring Cotton Bag has to be about my favorite bag. The pattern is dense so nothing will fall out, with just a hint of texture with some rows of crossed double crochets. My favorite part is how the strap is done. It's a chain with one row of single crochets. You make it long enough to attach at the base of the bag, thread through the drawstring eyelets, and attach again at the base of the bag. You can sling it over one shoulder or as a backpack. I made the strap for the Easy Mesh Tote the same way. My favorite use for this bag is to take it with when I walk my dog. I can load it up with plastic baggies and if I'm not near a trash can when Sam does his business, I can put the poop bag back into my cotton backpack and carry it home without incident. And I still look cute!

This is the String Tote Bag. Another nice tote bag, but I really should line it to increase it's functionality. I used it last summer to stylishly carry piano music to a wedding I played in, but the pencil I brought along kept falling out through the mesh. It is a cute bag though. It's constructed in 6 strips - 3 for the front and 3 for the back, then all is single crocheted together.

These are my two workhorses: CroBear's Shoulder Bag with Flap, and Denim Hobo Bag (this isn't a direct link, but look for it in the bag listings - it's a PDF file). The shoulder bag was my purse for all last summer. It's all single crochet so it's very stable and sturdy and the extra long flap keeps everything secure. The strap turned out too long though so I'm considering replacing it with a purchased strap. The Denim Hobo Bag was made with a single strand of Lion Cotton instead of a double strand of something lighter weight (can't remember what). It's all single crochet with a wooden toggle closure. I LOVE this bag!

Ok, last, but not least (and really not even last since I'm not including the bags I've made for my daughter), is this one...I can't remember what it's called! I think it was something like Honeycomb Bag, but I can't find the link. This is made from Red Heart Super Saver in a really pretty sand color that's subtle shadings of tan and ecru. I finished it with circular bamboo handles. I like this one a lot, but I need to add some kind of closure. I don't like having my bags open at the top too much for all to see the contents. Maybe velcro or a magnet. This is a nice bag for summer outings with the gals!
Ok, there's a smattering of the bags I've crocheted. Now back to work!

Ok, there's crochet too!

I have a thing about bags. In particular crochet bags made out of 100% worsted weight cotton. I prefer cotton because it's strong, doesn't stretch, and it's washable. I prefer crochet because it's strong, doesn't stretch, and looks so darn neat and tidy. And I love the texture and that worsted weight works up fairly quickly. I crochet tightly so I always use a hook one size larger than whatever is called for in my instructions. My favorite place to browse for new bag patterns is Crochet Pattern Central.

My latest fancy is the Bands of Beads Totebag. The pattern is provided free, but it's also part of a larger collection in the booklet Trendsetting Totes from the American School of Needlework. I bought a cone of ecru Peaches n' Cream and a bag of pearly copper mix pony beads and got going. In the meantime, I placed an order at Knitting Warehouse for the leaflet, cuz I can't get me enough of crocheted bags. I also bought some cotton for sweaters for my two boys, but that will be a future post.

Round and round I go. Beads look great, crocheting looks great...yippee! On to the lining. I've crocheted a lot of bags, but I've never lined them because in a lot of instances, crochet bags are strong enough that they don't need it. I had some great basic fabric (like Dockers pants fabric) on hand so I cut the pieces per the pattern directions. It was a 15x29" rectangle sewed into a tube and a 19 1/2" diameter circle for the bottom. The 19 1/2" circle seemed huge, but I forged ahead.

Next the directions said to ease the rectangle to fit around the circle. There would be no easing about it - I had to make actual tucks and pleats to get the circle to fit. Every instinct in my gut told me this was not going to work out, but I ignored my gut (never smart) and continued on.

Even though it looked funny, I went ahead and hand stitched the lining inside the bag. I got done and felt wonderful...that is, until I put my hand inside to straighten out the lining. No good! That huge circle of tucked and pleated fabric was puddled in the bottom of the bag. There was no option other than to remove the lining completely and do it again.

By this time, I'd received my Trendsetting Totes book in the mail and I thought for sure there would be different lining dimensions in the book. Nope. After looking at my keyboard, though, I'm conviced that it's a typo. Since the 0 is right next to the 9, I'm certain the diameter was mistyped and it should be 10 1/2". I recut the rectangle and used a dinner plate as a template for the circle. Re-seamed, re-pressed, and re-sewed, the lining now looks wonderful and fits perfectly. Like it? I love it! It is quite huge though and needs some pockets inside. That's next.

The rest of the book is fantastic and I'm already almost done with another bag. I should really be finishing my brother's blanket, but I have so much cotton lying around and now so many bags to make! Plus I always like to take a little break and trade crafts every now and then. I love them both!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

It's summer?

The craziness that is summer has now descended upon our house! It's nuts! We have community ed activities, sports, summer school, occupational therapy, speech therapy - and I get to try to work from home through it all. Riiight!

School got out later than usual on June 7 so it seems impossible that it can actually be July if the kids haven't even been out of school a month. The teacher blankies were finished in record time, distributed on time, and loved by all. It really makes me feel good to be able to make something special for those who work so hard to enrich the lives of special little kids like my boy.

Here's the stack! After the first one, the green one, I remembered that the last time I made these, I'd actually increased the width a little. So the green one was made exactly per the instructions for the lap blanket version in Weekend Knitting, and given to the teeny tiny speech therapist. The red one is the largest - I cast on 132 stitches for that blanket and it was given to the 6 foot tall kindergarten teacher. I cast on 120 stitches for the other two and they were given to the two remaining - and average height - teachers; the para and special education teacher.

I absolutely love these blankets and I'm getting ready to place an order for more yarn. At the end of the summer I will need to say goodbye to the Boy's occupational therapist of 4.5 years and she deserves perhaps the afghan size of this blanket. I think Symphony is discontinued, but luckily Smiley's is selling it for $1.50 a ball. Whee!