Monday, April 27, 2009

Gege.....Drywall...??

I didn't get any crocheting completed this past week. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. Even though that usually makes me go through a panic attack mode, this time I'm perfectly cool with it. My husband and I actually were on a short-term mission trip with our church this past Monday through Friday. We went to Philadelphia to help out with Rock Ministries- an awesome ministry set in one of the worst neighborhoods in not only Philly, but also the nation. Buddy Osborne and Paul Orr run The Rock- a safe environment where young men and women can come in off the street and work out, learn how to box and grapple, and even more importantly, learn about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The gym area is fully functional; however, the rest of their building needed a lot of work in order to fully realize the vision of Buddy and Paul. One of the areas that we worked on was an apartment on the 3rd floor of their building. It will be the residence for a full-time counselor/minister so that there will be 24 hour provision for any kids who may need it. This apartment is where I spent my entire week.

Two years ago, on another mission trip with our church, our team was surprised to find out that I had some hidden talents and abilities. You see, my dad is a drywall finisher and I worked with him and my younger brother for 7 years- from age 12 to 19. I not only know how to tape, mud and texture, but I'm also a darn good painter, if I do say so myself. So, since they knew there was going to be a lot of drywall work needed in this apartment, and since I was the only one with expert abilities in drywall finishing, I was requested to go on this trip and be in charge of the drywall work. Even though my team knew the extent of my abilities, by the look on their faces, I'm pretty sure some of the other construction workers at The Rock thought it was cute that a girl was the team's taper....until they saw my work. Here is a short video of me in action. :)



Eat your heart out Ty Bennington!

Let me tell ya- I hurt all over! I'm very glad I learned these skills from my dad; however, I'm eternally grateful I don't do it for a living! Although, I did forget how very in shape I was when I was working with my dad- dang. My hands and arms are especially sore and still a little swollen; however, it is worth it. The amount of work our entire team accomplished on this trip was astounding and I know that all the work we completed is for a great cause.

So, even though I took my crochet with me, I was too darn tired at the end of the day to do anything but crash on my air mattress. My sister's birthday was this past week and I'm working on a gift for her I know she's going to love. I was hoping to have most of it done by the time we got back, but no such luck on that. That's ok- we'll be celebrating this coming weekend, so I'll be able to showcase one of my very favorite projects pretty soon. :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Holy Julie Newmar Batman!

I love cats. My family has always had cats for as long as I can remember. Granted, we also had dogs, birds, hamsters, chickens, ducks, fish, and even a pig. Actually- just a random factoid for ya- the fate of that pig is the reason why my sister is now a vegetarian.... Ahhh....nothing like country living. But I digress. If I wasn't married, I'd most likely be the crazy cat lady that lives down the street with fifteen cats roaming around my house and yard, muttering to myself all day long. Every now and then I do get the urge to channel Eartha Kitt (the only REAL Catwoman of color) and say, "You're purrrrfect darling," when I pass a mirror. Teehee!

So, I've been wanting to make a cat-eared hat for the longest time; however, I never found a pattern that really called out to me. This all changed just a few days ago when I was looking at and petting my yarn stash (Oh, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways!) The preciousness that caught my attention was the glow-in-the dark yarn that I've had for a while but didn't have a clue what I should create with it. Inspiration came a-knockin' my friends.

Most patterns I've seen seem to be a simple rectangle that is folded over and sewn together; however, the ears never seemed to be cat-like enough for my taste. There are also some that are plain hats with crocheted ears sewn on at the end. I hate sewing things together and avoid it whenever I can. So, I got tinkering with some yarn and with an increase here and a decrease there, I was able to get a cat-eared hat that really worked for me.

cat hat up close

See! The points actually look like cat ears! WOOO ME!

My sister's cat wanted in on my photo shoot, yet surprisingly didn't really enjoy being a model. Shame- he was such a natural.

cat hat baxter2

Although, I did get the point that he wanted out of his contract when he sliced my arm off- that darn cat.

cat hat baxter

The best part? IT FREAKING GLOWS IN THE DARK! Muahahahaha!

Another thing I've been working on is a purse inspired by my scarves.

catherine watermelon bag

Yes, I do have a thing for watermelons. My bag isn't complete- I'm looking for fabric with which to line it. However, I am writing up the pattern for it and my dear friend has offered to test it out for me, so I'll hopefully have it available in the very near future.

But, what I DO have is a pattern for my Cat Lady Hat!! It's not been tested, so if you do make it, please let me know if you find any mistakes. Enjoy!

MATERIALS
Black WW yarn (Color A)- not a whole lot- maybe an ounce or 2
Glow in the dark WW yarn (Color B)- ditto

Size 5.5 mm (U.S. I/9) crochet hook

NOTE:
To change colors, work the last stitch until 2 loops are left on the hook, then pull the new color through to complete the stitch. I carried the unused color throughout the work to avoid weaving in ends. I hate weaving in ends.

Also, if you do use glow in the dark yarn, keep in mind that it does NOT have any stretch to it at all. So, you may want to go up a hook size if you want it a tad looser.....

chain 3 does count as first dc

ABBREVIATIONS & TERMS
sc = single crochet

dc = double crochet

sc dec= Single Crochet Decrease (Insert hook in stitch indicated, yo, pull up loop, insert hook in next stitch, yo, pull up loop, yo, pull through remaining 3 loops on hook.)

dc dec =Double Crochet Decrease (Dc in stitch indicated, keeping last loop of the stitch on hook, dc in next stitch, yo and draw through all 3 loops on hook)

yo= yarn over

With black, ch 31

row 1: sc in second chain from hook. sc down row, changing color at end of row- 30 sc.

row 2: turn. with color B, chain 3 and dc down the row, changing color at end of row- 30 dc (including ch3)

row 3: Turn. with color A, ch 1, sc in same stitch, sc down row, changing color at end of row- 30 sc.

rows 4-11: repeat rows 2 and 3

row 12: Turn. With color B, ch 3. 1 dc in same stitch (increase made). 1 dc in next 2 stitches. dc dec over next 2 stitches. dc in next 20 stitches. dc dec over next 2 stitches. dc in next 2 stitches. 2 dc in last stitch, changing color at end of row. (32 dc total, but because of the decreases, you will still only have 30 stitches in which to work)

(NOTE: if you are carrying your unused color with each row, do not carry color B with row 13)

row 13: Turn. With color A, ch 1. 2 sc in first stitch (increase made). 1 sc in next 2 stitches. sc dec over next 2 stitches. sc in next 20 stitches. sc dec over next 2 stitches. sc in next 2 stitches. 2 sc in last stitch. DO NOT CHANGE COLOR. (32 sc total, but because of the decreases, you will still only have 30 stitches in which to work)

row 14: Turn ch1. Sc dec in 1st and 2nd stitch. 1 sc next 2 stitches. 2 sc next stitch. sc in next 20 stitches. 2 sc next stitch. sc dec last 2 stitches, changing color at end of the row.

row 15: Turn. With color B, chain 2. dc in next stitch. 1 dc next 2 stitches. 2 dc next stitch. dc in next 20 stitches. 2 dc next stitch. dc in next 2 stitches. dc decrease last 2 stitches, changing color at end of the row.

row 16: with color A, ch 1. sc in same stitch and down row. Do not sc in chain 2 of previous row. Change color at end of row- 30 sc.

row 17-26: repeat rows 2 and 3

Cut off yarns.

Fold hat in half and sew together by sc up each side- 1 sc in each sc and 2 sc in each dc.

Bottom band: Attach color A to any sc and sc around.

Repeat 5 more times. Cut off yarn. Weave in ends.

Voila!

Copyright 2009 Gege Crochet. All rights reserved. Pattern available for personal use only- please don't sell it- that's just not cool. Please don't post this pattern anywhere- you can provide a link back to here, though.

Meow Baby!

cat hat

Friday, April 17, 2009

I'm in love and I don't care who knows it!

Yes, folks. I'm one of the millions who has fallen under the enchantment of Susan Boyle. I'm not ashamed to admit that the tears were freely flowing down my face- and still do- each time I see the video. I've been working on the pattern for my new bag and, for those of you who crochet/knit, you know that wet cotton is not the easiest fiber to work with. Sopping cotton notwithstanding, I absolutely cannot stop watching her! I've seen her video at least 20 times. I just wanted to smack those all those people who were ridiculing her at the beginning. Even if she had the voice of a bullfrog, nobody should be tormented like that. Ahh...but when that voice, that beautiful angelic voice, sang those first few notes, I was elated! She sure showed them!! She has shown the world. In all of my cyber-stalking of this woman, I keep on seeing the phrase, "don't judge a book by its cover." How true that is. And yet how sad to think that, if she did have a terrible voice, everyone would still be judging her by her appearance. I know that they'll end up doing a make-over on her in order to conform her to the world's standards of beauty. However, all they will be doing is revealing the physical beauty that has always been there in an attempt to match the gorgeous inner beauty of this woman.

I really do hope that the Lord just blesses the socks off of her. I hope she not only wins the competition, but that she also makes bundles in record sales and concerts. I really hope that a good man will come into her life- one who will love her for her and not just because she's now famous- and that she'll finally get her first kiss. Good luck Susan Boyle and may God bless you!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

End of project doldrums

Blerg. That about sums up how I have been feeling lately. My Mario blanket was a huge mountain that I'd been climbing for a while and, like any mountain, once you reach the top, the only way you can go is down. I'm looking for my next mountain, but have been traversing some hills while I wait. I've been dragging my feet with the border of my Mario blanket because, not only is it the same few stitches over and over and over, I'm also so impatient to start something new. So I have. I worked on and finished a Chanson en Crochet, which I love and want to make in another color. I am working on a felted purse (actually, another one of my mom bags) that has been commissioned by a lady at church. I ran out of my brown and went to 3 different stores to find it. Granted, I could have just called them to find out if they had my yarn in stock, but where is the fun in that? I also have been working on a purse utilizing my favorite stitch that I used on my scarves. I am just about done with it (minus the lining) and am actually going to write up a pattern for it. Yay me. (Said in my best Ben Stein voice......doldrums, people.) My scarves have actually been quite a hit and I've received numerous requests for the tutorial that I've promised. It's coming. Promise. I just hope to get out of the I-finished-a-freaking-huge-blanket-and-now-what-do-I-do blues. So, tomorrow is Wednesday- hump day. Hopefully I'll be able to get over this hump and focus on some of the things that I need to do. Blerg.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Border Crossings and Princess Savings

Ahh...now that the hard part is done with my blanket, all I have left to complete (crochet-wise) is the border. I decided to go with my initial instinct and use bricks as the border rather than the ground tiles. Both hubby and my sis agreed that bricks just fit better.

border crossing

I'm humming along quite nicely on it- should be pretty quick to finish and not the never-ending project I envisioned. :)

Waaaay back in December, when I cut my hair, I was working on a new scarf- a Princess Toadstool scarf to keep Mario company. Well, I really wasn't pleased with....well, anything with it- the colors, the yarn I chose for the body, the design- all BLECK! So, as I do with anything with which I'm not pleased, I bury it and pretend it doesn't exist. Works for ostriches, works for me. Well, in one of those beautiful, miraculous once-in-a-lifetime moments, while I was in the yarn section in Walmart (where these moments usually occur), the bells tolled and the birds chirped when I saw the PERFECT yarn for my scarf. I love it when that happens. :)

Pri. vs Pri.

I am soo pleased with the outcome! I found the right scarf color, right skin color, right red hair color- and the yarn was great to work with. I don't remember the color name, but it was Vanna's Choice- LOVE it! I had an epiphany on how to fix the design, too. I really didn't like the back of the scarf with all the ends weaved in, so I found a way to hide the Princess' ugly backside (hey- not everyone can be J.Lo!).

Princess Scarf 2

I made a pocket!! I ran out of the main color, so I used this raspberry color, instead and then used it as an edging- LOVE it!! I guess with the right colors and design, you really can save a princess. :)

I even used white sparkle yarn to make the princess just a little more princess-y

Princess sparkles

The pocket is a good size and can fit a DS, natch.

Princess scarf with DS

The DS provides a nice heft to the scarf, so if you are walking down the road and are mugged by one of Bowser's minions, you can swing the scarf and whack them in the head. Hey- works in the game and, as we all know, games influence our real lives. ;)

princess scarf

Now, Mario has his mate. :)

Princess Mario

Mawaige....Mawaige is wot bwings us togeder today.

Wuv, twue wuv.....

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Mario follow-up

Wow. The response to my Mario blanket has been simply overwhelming. Thank you all so much for your comments! I'm just jazzed that there are folks out there who think it's as cool as I did. :)

This is going to be kinda like a FAQ blog post from the many questions I've received either on here or on various message boards.

1. What pattern did you use? Is there a pattern available? Are there charts available? etc.

A: There is no pattern that I followed. I searched the internet for screen shots of SMB and then used them for the map I had in my head. There is no "master graph" for any of the panels, much less for the entire project.

ETA: I posted a video on YouTube and showed the master map for my blanket as well as 2 of the sprites I used AND a "graph" of one of the panels.  I know some folks *coughboingboingcough* were a little incredulous that I didn't have graphs for the project....now you'll see for yourself!

The most involved panel was the battle scene and is the only one I drew out. I have absolutely no intention of creating a graph of my entire work; however, there may be a time when I decide to make a graph of a panel or two.....dunno when/if that will happen, though. I'll definitely post here when I do. :)






2. What yarn did you use? How much yarn did you use?

A. I used mainly Red Heart Super Saver. There was at least one TLC Heathers (the brown in Mario) and Vanna's Choice (the cream in the bricks) and the skin is a peach Caron Simply Soft....but mainly RHSS. They had the best colors!!! And, considering the amount of yarn that went into this baby, it was the most economically prudent yarn to use. I've weighed it (without the border) and it weighs a little over 7 pounds and will be maybe 8 pounds with the border. I didn't want wool because it'd be too scratchy for a blanket and, again, acrylic is just a little more wallet friendly. :)

3. I didn't know crochet could make images like that. What kind of stitch did you use? What size hook?

A. The reason the images came out so crisp and accurate is because I used Tunisian crochet- the stitches are more or less square and there is no turning of the work so there is only the "right side" when you are working. I used a size "I" afghan hook. I just filmed a short video tutorial on how to do Tunisian crochet and will upload it this weekend. I think one of the things I'm most proud of is that I have gotten to show so many people that crochet isn't some old timer's way of passing time for just making doilies. It can be, and is indeed, ART. Going to start on a TP cozy tomorrow.... ;) HA!

ETA:  video can now be found on YouTube here.  

4. What does the back look like? Did you weave in the ends? Are you going to put a backing on it?

A. The back is not even close to being finished and looks like this:

back fringe

I'm definitely NOT weaving in all the ends- did you see that picture??? I'm going to tie them into square knots and trim them and then sew some sort of (light weight) material on as a back. Not quite sure how I'll do it, but I'm pretty good at figuring things out...

back ties

My hubby has offered to help me with all the tying....he knows how lucky he is!!!! Especially after reading some of the hilarious responses (and marriage proposals) I've received. :) Men seem to really appreciate this work. Wow- a crochet blanket a man actually wants made for him!

5. What are you going to do with the original panels? Are you going to sew them together or make pillows?

A. YES! I actually made this pillow a few weeks ago but didn't post it because I wanted to reveal all the panels (except for the 2 I teased with) as a whole.

mario pillow

I simply crocheted them together and stuffed with fiber fill. It's incredibly soft and has gotten a lot of use already! We just have to keep the cats' claws trimmed so as to not snag it.... This is the only pillow I'll be making from the Originals since these two panels were the only two that came out well, color change wise. Hubby has asked for other pillows, though, so I'll be making them later.

6. What are you going to do for a border?

A. From the beginning, I was debating between using either the brick pattern or the ground tile pattern for the border. I envisioned it like a picture frame around the blanket and either of those two work. However, after I finished all the panels and saw the monstrous size of this behemoth , I thought, "I'm going to be 120 before I finish this thing!" and was seriously considering just doing a plain black border just to be DONE. But, I didn't take the easy way out with this project and am not going to with the border, either, so I'll be starting it this weekend. That gives me a solid week of rest since finishing, which I seriously needed. :) Which one of the two border choices, though....I dunno. The bricks have only 2 colors, which makes for a (hopefully) quicker border; however, as someone pointed out, I don't have the ground tiles represented in my blanket. Sooo.....suggestions??

7. You must have so much patience to crochet for a year and a half on one project!

A. No- no patience...at all. I had a lot of fun planning it out- it literally came to me in a dream. I had to tweak it a little while I was making it, but for the most part, that first map I drew is what you see today. My husband is the one with the patience- he had to put up with a ghost of a wife while I worked on it. I didn't call it "my obsession" for nothing....I seriously felt like Isaac from "Heroes" (or any other "future painters") when he got an artistic impulse....my eyes glazed over and I worked and worked on it until it was done. Also, I crocheted the entire blanket in 2 months- not a year and a half. I started it a year and a half ago, but since I had to scrap all but one of my original panels, all of my crocheting was between February 1 and March 28.

8. Have you really only been crocheting for a year?

A. No- it's been a year and a half. ;) I had wanted to crochet and/or knit since I was a kid, but that seemed to be the only artsy/crafty thing my mom didn't do. My aunt did and I always wanted her to teach me, but something or other always happened and I never learned. So, mid summer 2007, I bought one of those "I Taught Myself Crochet" kits from WalMart and...well...taught myself how to crochet. I couldn't get the hang of holding the crochet hook "correctly" with my index finger in the air, so I watched some videos I found on youtube. I found someone who held it differently- I tried it and VOILA! It just clicked. This is why I've decided to put up crochet videos- hopefully my videos will help others like the ones I saw helped me.

I started on the blanket a few months later- fall 2007. The vast majority of my stuff (actually, everything I've posted on here) has been my own pattern- the purses, the scarves, the Mario blanket. I've made a few Round Ripple blankets (just realized I never posted about them...) but those may be the only things I've made with a pattern. I've always been creative, but I never knew I was "artistic" until I got that hook and yarn in my hands. Some people paint with acrylic paints....I paint with acrylic yarn!

9. What are you working on next?

A. Something small and not as involved... :) I have a couple of purses that are almost done- need to line at least 2. I have a few other projects swirling around in my brain, but nothing as big as this.....yet. ;)

10. If I marry you, will you make me a blanket like that? Will you marry me?

A. No.

11. Is the blanket for sale? How much is it?

A. Nope- it's for my husband. Very few people in the world could afford what we would even consider selling this for. However, if you do have the clams, I am definitely available for commission work. If not for something this huge, then for something half size (which will still be a good blanket size- about 6.5' x 5' with the border) or even something for a wall hanging (for which the Battle Scene would be great!). Same goes for my purses and scarves. My email is on my profile page- contact me and we can work something out. :)

I hope this has answered all the questions I've been getting. Until next time, Zoobaroos!