Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Settlers of Catan 'ghan! With Free Pattern

Was it the sheep that gave it away?

Congratulations to Katherine, Shoveling Ferret, Deeners and Kicki for correctly guessing the large collection of hexagons I was making were for a Settlers of Catan afghan.

This is an idea that's been spinning around in the back of my mind since last summer. It took me a while to work out a suitable hexagon motif. I originally made all the brick squares with a hexagon that had more airy space in it. After looking at them for a couple of months I decided I didn't like them. I pulled them apart and settled on this more tightly crocheted hexagon which makes me much happier. A permanent price reduction in Vanna's Choice yarn from $5.99 down to $3.99 also helped the project along.

At it's widest point the blanket is about 37 inches across making it a bit small for an afghan. Maybe more like a lapghan? It would be easy to make it bigger just by extending the hexagon motif a few more rounds though. I also think it would make an awesome baby gift for Catan-loving parents-to-be, but with the Vanna's Choice it's fairly heavy. Perhaps it could be made in a sport weight yarn for that purpose instead?

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to have some sort of sheep roaming around on the light green squares. It took me a while to figure out how I was going to do that. I totally adore these sheep buttons from the Button Drawer.

Unfortunately, these cute little guys are $2.45 a piece. Thriftyness won out and I picked up six pre-cut, painted wooden sheep from Micheal's for 39 cents each. Then I bought broach fasteners and glued them to the backs of the sheep. This way my little flock is both moveable and removeable when it comes time to wash the afghan.

I wasn't sure how I should lay out my Catan map. We normally play with the Cities and Knights expansion, but I didn't want to have the single hexagon sticking up at the top that represents the pirates. Instead, I just used the map suggested in the instruction book from the original game.

Finally, for those who have no idea what I'm talking about, check out Settlers of Catan. I learned to play a couple of years ago when my boyfriend's brother gave us a copy of the game. It's a lot of fun and very easy to learn. In some ways it's similar to Monopoly, except you don't have to spend time counting and giving away money. The real game doesn't come with plastic sheep, just cards with pictures of sheep on them, and yet it's still awesome.

Want the Pattern?

It's free, and it's right here! I love to see what others make with my patterns. If you complete a blanket, post a comment and give me a link to a picture of your finished version. If you have any questions about the pattern, post them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them.

Settlers of Catan Afghan Pattern


size I/9 (5.5 mm) crochet hook
stitch marker
yarn needle
1 skein of Vanna’s Choice yarn in White, Black, Brick, Mustard, Charcoal Grey, Mustard, Dusty Green and Olive
3 skeins of Vanna’s Choice yarn in Colonial Blue
wooden sheep and 3/4 inch broach fasteners or sheep buttons

Hexagon Motif

Use the following motif and refer to diagram and pictures above to create the required number of hexagons in each colour.

6 sc in a magic ring (pull ring tight or leave a small hole if desired), slip stitch into first stitch, ch 1.
Rnd 1: 2 sc in same space as sl st. 2 sc in each st around, sl st in top of first sc, ch 1. (12 sc)
Rnd 2: in same space as sl st: sc1, ch1, sc1. *sc 1 in next sc, (sc 1, ch1, sc1) in next sc. Rep from * to last sc. Sc 1 in last sc. Join with sl st to top of first sc.
Rnd 3: sl st into next ch-1 sp. Ch 1. (sc 1, ch1, sc1) in same sp as sl st. *sc 1 in each of next 3 sc. (sc 1, ch1, sc 1) in next ch-1 sp. Rep from * to last 3 sc. Join with sl st in top of first sc.
Rnd 4: ch1. Sc 1 in same sp as sl st. *Ch1. Miss next ch-1 sp. 1 sc in each of next 5 sc. Rep from * to last 4 sc. 1 sc in each of last 4 sc. Join with sl st in top of first sc.
Rnd 5: Sl st in next sc and ch-1 sp. Ch1. (sc 1, ch 1, sc 1) in same sp as sl st. *sc 1 in each of next 5 sc. (sc 1, ch 1, sc 1) in next ch-1 sp. Rep from * to last 5 sc. Join with sl st in top of first sc.
Rnd 6: Ch 1. Sc 1 in same sp as sl st. *Ch 1. Miss next ch-1 sp. Sc 1 in each of next 7 sc. Rep from * to last 6 sc. Sc 1 in each of last 6 sc. Join with sl st in top of first sc.
Rnd 7: Sl st in next sc and ch-1 sp. Ch 1. (sc 1, ch 1, sc 1) in same sp as sl st. *Sc 1 in each of next 7 sc. (Sc 1, ch 1, sc 1) in next ch-1 sp. Rep from * to last 6 sc. Sc 1 in each of last 7 sc. Join with sl st in top of first sc.
Rnd 8: Sl st in next ch-1 sp. Ch 1. (Sc 1, ch 1, sc 1) in same sp as sl st. *1 sc in each of next 9 sc. (sc 1, ch 1, sc 1) in next ch-1 space. Rep from * to last 8 sc. 1 sc in each of last 8 sc. Join with sl st in top of first sc. Finish off.

Note: For two colour hexagons begin the pattern with the centre colour and then for Rnd 2 work as follows:

Rnd 2: in same space as sl st: sc1, ch1, sc1. *sc 1 in next sc, (sc 1, ch1, sc1) in next sc. Rep from * to last sc. Sc 1 in last sc. Join outer colour with sl st to top of first sc.

Continue working rnds 3-8 in outer colour.


Sew hexagon motifs together as shown in the map and photos above. My prefered method of joining is the Invisible Weave or Mattress stitch. It’s described really well on page 80 of Debbie Stoller’s The Happy Hooker or you can have glance at this tutorial if you’re interested, although I found the worded description here isn’t quite as clear.

After your hexagons are all sewn together weave in any loose ends. Then I did the following border on my piece:


With Colonial Blue, join with a sl st in any inward corner point.
Rnd 1: Ch 2 and half-double crochet (hdc) in each sc around, placing 3 hdc in every outword corner point sc. Join in top of beginning ch-2 with black.
Rnd 2: Ch 1, sc in each hdc around, placing 3 sc in middle hdc of each outward point, ending with a sl st in top of first sc. Finish off and weave in ends.

Sew sheep buttons on Dusty Green hexagons, or glue wooden sheep to 3/4 inch broach fasteners and attach to Dustry green hexagons as desired.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Katamari Prince Hot Plate!

Although it was much belated I finally got the chance to get together and exchange birthday gifts with some friends over the past weekend. My friend, the Infamous and Crafty, Lisa created this Perler Bead Katamari Prince hot plate for me. It's slightly larger than the video game related coasters I've made in the past so it will be perfect for setting teapots and other hot serving dishes on. Very cool! I totally want to pull out my Perler Beads and start playing with them again now. Lisa put this together using the free Katamari Prince cross stitch pattern that's available from johloh over on the Sprite Stitch Pattern Request forum.

While I was hunting down the free cross stitch pattern to share I also ran across these very cool pieces of Katamari art that are just too cool to resist posting.

The above picture comes from Etsy user loudxmouse. For $160 U.S. she will paint a custom Katamari ball or Katamari cousin into a scenic painting for you. I've seen these landscape paintings dubbed as "motel art", and now I'm thinking how awesome it would be to replace some of the dull artwork in motel rooms with Katamari pictures like this one.

This one is called Colossal Katamari and it was created by pixel artist Snake. Click on the image to see a larger picture of it and you can see how detailed the textures are on the monsters' skin. I believe what we have here is the Prince rolling up creatures from the video game Shadow of the Colossus. I've never played the game, but my boyfriend is a big fan.

I found this one on SF Weekly and it just made me laugh. How about a cross-over game of Lego Star Wars vs. Katamari? I'd play it!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pinwheel Revisited

I decided to take another crack at the pinwheel pattern I was talking about a few days ago. Things are going much better this time. Since I managed to misinterpret the pattern twice, I figured I'd post a work-in-progress picture in case it helps out anyone else who happens to be struggling with this one. I haven't been able to find a free version of the pattern. The version I'm using comes from the book 7 Day Afghans and I recently noticed that Bernat has a larger version (the one I'm using is intended as a baby blanket) available in this new leaflet.

I'm not loving these colours. I mostly just grabbed some scraps that were on hand, so this sample is made with Vanna's Choice in White and Mustard. I'm thinking that if I keep going with this one I'll use up some of my Vanna's Choice, alternating between a white strip and a coloured strip.

My first misinterpretation was thinking that the blanket was made working from the centre outward like a round ripple afghan. It's not. My second mistake was thinking that it's piece-work. That you have to crochet all the stripes individually and then stitch them together. It's not, and thank goodness because I hate piece work. What you actually do is start with the long white row that you see on the left hand side and work your way through the white section, tapering it off a bit every second row.

Eventually you get down to a very tiny white row that's only about three stitches. Then you join your next colour and work crochet stitches into the edge that you've been tapering off. This creates your first long row in your new colour and from there you repeat the process. Once all the stripes are done you just have to stitch your last piece to your first one to complete the circle and then thread some wool through the centre part and pull it tight. At least that's the theory. I'll have to get that far and actually try it to know for sure.

So now that things seem to be going right I'm enjoying this pattern. The crocheting is very simple; just a repeat of single crochet one, chain one, single crochet one. You just have to recheck the pattern to see where to end your rows. Another nice thing is that each row you work is smaller than the one before it (until you change colours) so it crochets up very quickly.

I'll post the completed version if/when I get it done. Until then, special thanks to Amy B. who found this picture of a completed crochet pinwheel on Ravelry for me.

Friday, April 24, 2009

3-D Perler Bead Vehicles! Cute Thing of the Week

If you grew up in the 80's there's a good chance you'll find something in Doctor Octoroc's 3-D Sprite Gallery to send you on a trip down memory lane. Along with this great Perler Bead version of the A-Team van there are a number of other very cool vehicles from the much loved tv shows and movies of my childhood. I'm a huge fan of Perler Beads, but there's no way I'm ready to graduate to 3-D creations just yet, which is why I'm so taken in by these. Imagine the time and patience it would take to put them together. It's also great to see someone whose doing something with Perler Beads other than video game characters. Not that I don't adore the video game characters, it's just cool to see something different for a change.

Doctor Octoroc says he was inspired to start making these because of the 3-D puzzles he put together when he was younger. Check out the colour detail on this General Lee from the Dukes of Hazard above. It's great that he can actually achieve that level of colour blending with Perler Beads, considering they don't have that many colours to choose from. Below is the Ecto 1 car from Ghostbusters. It's been a long time since I've seen that movie, too long!

These are just a couple of my favourites from the gallery. If they've captured your attention, I highly recommend checking out the whole collection.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Blast From the Past

My mom was doing some spring cleaning a while back and came across these crochet hooks that she used in her youth. I thought I'd share a couple of pictures since they're an interesting piece of crochet history. I'm guessing she bought these sometime around the late '60s, early '70s. That's about when she was making ponchos and dresses out of granny squares. Turns out that's not a cliche, it's what people were actually doing with crochet back then. (And my mom's the one who shakes her head and says I'm strange when I show her things like my crocheted Nibbler and vampire bunny rabbits...)

I give the set points for the lovely case the hooks came in, but I like them more as an artifact than as something I'm actually going to use. The hooks are about an inch smaller than the standard Boye ones I like and they just feel uncomfortable in my hands. My mom always says she stopped crocheting because it hurt her hands, and with these things, I can see why. It's clear that ergonomics was not part of their design.

Above is a close up of the set's hook #1. They're all have numbers, with this largest one being #1 and the smallest being #10. The company name on the case says Warwick P.Q., but the colour and feel of the plastic reminds me a lot of the Susan Bates line of hooks and knitting needles. Below you can see the conversion chart that also came with the hooks and that's another interesting piece of history.

We don't have "Canadian" standards for hook size anymore. Canada slowly started going metric in the 1970's. Today when you buy hooks and knitting needles in Canada they're printed with the metric size in millimetres and the U.S. equivalent number or letter on the handle as well.

What's also interesting is that these sizes don't even match up with modern standards. The chart tells me the #1 hook is the equivalent of the U.S. "K" hook and a metric 7.0 mm hook. Not true today. My Boye hook is a K/6.50mm. According to Teresa at Crochet Tips it is common for lettered hooks to be different in size, or cause your projects to turn out different sizes, even if you are using modern day hooks.

So that's your history lesson for today. Anyone know of a craft museum where I could donate these things?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wall-E! Cute Thing of the Week!

Another thing to add to my list of things I absolutely have to make someday. Craftster user sukigirl74 took an existing Wall-e pattern and made some alterations to come up with this very realistic looking version of the adorable little trash compactor. Instead of trying to crochet or stitch the eyes she created them out of polymer clay and then put crochet around their base. I love how the clay allows Wall-E to have such expressive eyes. The fact that this little guy is only about two and a half inches tall just makes him even cuter.

Receiving an honourable mention in this week's Cute Thing of the Week is the original Wall-e and Eve patterns created by Craftster user sunshineravioli.

Make that two things to add to my list because I can't have Wall-E without his little eggish love interest.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Has Anyone Seen or Made This Blanket?

This is the Peppermint Candy Baby Afghan from the book, 7-Day Afghans by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss. I've been Googling and Craftster searching, but I just can't seem to find any finished versions of this out there. I did find a couple of similar blankets that had been knit, either using a loom or knitting machine, but there don't seem to be any crochet versions out there. Which begs the question, why?

I think this is an adorable pattern and it would be very easy to change the colours depending on whether the little one was going to be a boy or girl. And of course there's the added appeal of the promise that this is only a seven day project. Perfect for when you need that nearly last minute gift idea...So I'm curious, has anyone out there made this blanket, or do you know someone who has, or have you perhaps run across any pictures of a crocheted version of it anywhere? If so, drop me a comment and let me know.

I did try starting one a few months back, but ended up frogging it because it was one of those days when nothing was working right. I had grabbed the only red wool I had on hand. It ended up being too thick so it was difficult to work with. Plus, my first piece kept coming out with the wrong number of stitches when I got to the end of the second or third row. I'm not sure if it was a typo in the book or my mistake. I have a feeling it was me, so I need to go back and try this one again when I'm feeling a bit more patient.

In my searching I did come across these tape measures, which certainly look like a miniature version of the blanket, don't they? These are available from Lantern Moon for $10.50 each.

Aside from "peppermint" I also tried using the word "pinwheel" when I was looking for samples of the blanket. As a result, I ran across this amazing creation from Crafster user craftydeb, which I am absolutely in awe of. I admire anyone who has the patience to sew that many pieces together because that's my least favourite part of crocheting. I also love this bright mix of colours. I've seen these pinwheels before in pastel colours and they've never really grabbed my attention the way this version does.

For anyone who is interested, here's a free version of the Pinwheel motif that was used to make this afghan. Now I have way too many blankets I want to make...but let me know if you run across any crocheted Peppermint Baby Blankets!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Guess the Project?

Just for fun I thought I'd put up the pieces of this project before its finished to see if anyone can guess what I'm making. My boyfriend, who is both wise and witty, was able to figure it out with a couple of clues. I say clues, he says obvious hints.

So what can I tell you about this project? It's going to be an afghan, it involves a lot of different coloured hexagons and those sheep are going to be attached to the light green hexagons. It's something geeky and to my knowledge (that is, after checking Craftster, Google images, and a few other crafty sites) it seems that no one else has thought of making this particular item yet.

Any guesses? Feel free to post them in the comments section or use the comments option to ask me more questions about the project if you want a few more hints. I've still got some hexagons to make. Then I need to sit down, sew all the pieces together and put a border around it. All in all, I'm hoping to be finished sometime in the next couple of weeks. I'll post the completed afghan and free pattern then. Until then, feel free to post your guesses.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Bilby! Cute Thing of the Week

It's been a while since we've had a Cute Thing of the Week so let's start off with something a little different.

The bilby is a desert-dwelling marsupial found in Australia. According to Wikipedia there were two species of bilby in Australia prior to European colonization. One went extinct several decades ago and the other is currently on the endangered species list. Conservationists have been working to promote the Easter Bilby as an Australian alternative to Easter Bunnies, even selling chocolate bilbies in stores with proceeds going towards the conservation.

This wonderful crochet bilby and basket were created by Etsy user Crochetroo. It's available as a pdf for $4.00. While your checking out the bilby, also have a look at some of Crochetroo's other amigurumis. There are some beautiful bird patterns and adorable koala bears, wallabies and wombats.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Homespun: First Time User, Long Time Fan

I often spend time in the craft store looking at Lionbrand's beautiful, soft Homespun yarn, but up until now I've been reluctant to buy any. I didn't have an actual plan as to what I could do with it. I just really like the colours and the texture. Finally, with a little birthday money in my pocket, I decided to treat myself and pick up four skeins of Homespun Waterfall. Also, feeling kind of lazy, I decided to just stick with what I know and use it to make another round ripple afghan. What can I say? I love the way these things look and once you get past the first couple of rows it's just mindless repetition that you can use to occupy your hands while watching TV.

Overall, I was really impressed with the Homespun. It's a little hard to see your stitch spaces. I think I would have been frustrated if I was trying this stuff for the first time with an unfamiliar pattern. Doing something familiar, it wasn't too much of a challenge. Aside from that, I was impressed that the yarn didn't rip or fray easily, something I was concerned about because of its soft texture. Looking at the yarn while it was still on the skein I wasn't sure how its variegated colours would look once they were stitched up and I was really happy with the naturally stripey pattern that emerged as I worked with it. I hate changing colours, so to get an effect like this naturally was a lot of fun!

The colours in the first picture are more true to what the afghan looks like in real life. I just wanted to include this picture show the texture.

Next up, an afghan in a different shape. It involves piece-work though, so it may be a while before I get all the little bits finished and sewn together.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Books I'm eagerly awaiting!

I was doing some browsing on Amazon and came across two books I can't wait to own. It's amazing how excited you can get about something you didn't know existed ten minutes ago, isn't it?

First up on my wish list is Crobots: 20 Amigurumi Robots to Make by Nelly Pailloux. This 96 page paperback is expected to be released on April 21 and will retail for about $13.51 in Canada. Pailloux is the name behind the Etsy shop La Fee Crochette. I've featured her adorable Cookie Monster in one of my Cute Thing of the Week columns and am also an admirer of her South Park characters. If those creations are any indication, I'm certain her collection of robots is going to be adorable. I can't wait to have a look inside the book!

I'm a huge fan of Ana Paula Rimoli's work and I was very pleaesd to discover that her first book, Amigurumi World: Seriously Cute Crochet, was successful enough to earn her a sequel. Rimoli's new books, Amigurumi Two!: Crocheted Toys for Me, You, and Baby, Too will be released in paperback in June, 2009. The new book is 80 pages and expected to retail for about $17.07 Canadian. You can check out pictures of all the patterns that will be available in the book by visiting this Flickr site that Rimoli set up

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tiny Cthulhus are taking over!

In case I don't mention it enough, I love when people leave comments showing me the things they've made with my patterns. It really makes it worthwhile to post the free patters when you know there are people out there who are actually using them. Plus, even just the slightest change, using a different type of wool or a different type of eyes, can turn a pattern into something all new and it gives me new ideas for things to make.

For the past couple of months I've been reading all the comments, but I knew I wouldn't have time to post the pictures. They've been going into a special file so I wouldn't lose track of them though. Now without further ado, may I introduce a few of the latest cousins in the Cthulhu family:

This Cthulhu in a little pink shirt comes courtesy of Jude Thaddaeus. I highly recommend checking out her Photobucket pictures of this one because she did an amazing job on the wings.

A few adaptations on this one made by The Fair Weather Optimist and I think it's absolutely adorable.

Jenna Ellis created this little cousin. His eyes look so innocent, yet I'm certain he's planning something evil!

I'll post some more in a few days. If anyone's interested in the pattern, you can find it in the sidebar on the left listed along with my other free patterns.