Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Shell Stitch Blanket

As promised, I've branched out from my usual round ripple blanket and tried something new. I made this shell patterned baby blanket as an excuse to use up the large stash of Bernat Baby Coordinates that I've been building up. The pattern is based on the Rippling Shells pattern in the book 7-Day Afghans by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss.

If you have any book of basic crochet motifs, you can probably mimic it pretty easily. The main stitch is a basic shell made up of five double crochet stitches. The only alteration I made to the pattern was that after the first row I crocheted in the back loop only. After some experimenting I found that this just made the shells pop out a bit more. Overall, I really enjoyed working on this one. The shell stitch is very simple to do and the work becomes mindless after a couple of rows so you don't have to be constantly double-checking the pattern.

I tried to keep the stripes at about four rows per colour, but since my goal was to finish off a bunch of leftover scraps there are some places where I couldn't complete a full set of four rows. Most noticeable is the row in the middle where there's a switch from purple to yellow that stands out quite a bit. Aside from that, I'm very happy with how this blanket turned out and pleased to see my wool inventory is a little bit smaller now.

I have no idea who I'm going to give this blanket to. I know there are plenty of charities out there that accept knitted and crocheted baby blankets so it may end up going off to one of them. If anyone has any suggestions as to places in Canada where I could donate the blanket feel free to drop me a note in the comments section.

Monday, December 29, 2008

More Round Ripple Afghans!

As evidence on this blog would show I just love the round ripple afghan pattern. It's so easy to stitch and I find that if I put in about an hour of crocheting a day, I can get one of these done in about a week. Plus the pattern is so simple that once you have the basics down you don't have to look back at the pattern at all and can spend your crochet time in coversation or watching TV.

This first blanket I made back in the summer as a Christmas present for one of my girlfriends. The wool is Vanna's Choice in Denim Mist, Rose Mist, and Purple Mist. It's very soft and thick and I like how the white flecks carry through the whole blanket. I also made the blanket quite large, more of a bed covering than a lapghan.

Next up is a baby blanket that I made during the Christmas holidays for a friend of the family. Her first child is due in the spring so I have this one done a little early. It's based heavily on the round ripple baby blankets that you often see in the Mary Maxim catalogues. I've changed the order of the colours though to suit what I had on hand.

This one was made with various shades of Bernat's Baby coordinates. If you're interested in how I got the blended colour effect you can read about it in my previous post about this five point star blanket that I made. Yep, another star shaped blanket...I promise I'm branching out though. I've reccently been working on a square shaped blanket and discovered another pattern that I like almost as much as the round ripples. I'll try to show it off later this week.

Want the Pattern?
There are lots of variations of the round ripple pattern out there, but the one I like best is the free one you can find here.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Hippopotamus for Christmas!

A couple years back a local phone/internet provider garnered a lot of attention with their television ad featuring the song I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas and a hippopotamus from our local zoo wandering around on the screen. People were so taken with Hazina the hippo it caused a surge in kids wanting toy hippos for Christmas and links to the ad got passed around via e-mail to people all over the world. You can view the original ad here.

Anyways, I'm a couple of years late, but I finally managed to give my boyfriend's mom a hippopotamus for Christmas. This one is another cutie from Tammie Snow's Tiny Yarn Animals which I reviewed last week. I added the scarf so he'd be prepared for the winter weather. My boyfriend, who is both wise and witty, pointed out that it actually looked more like a hippopotamus once it had the scarf on. I'm not sure why that would be the case, but I have to agree.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Creepy Cute Bookmarks!

Now that the Christmas presents have been given out and I won't ruin the surprise I thought I'd share a few of the gifts I made this holiday season. My original intention was to give everyone at least one homemade gift. I worked on a few of them during the summer, but once school started, I just didn't have time to actually finish making something for everyone. Here are a couple that I did manage to finish and I'm deeply thankful to NeedleNoodles for sharing her Creepy Cute Cross Stitch patterns. It's been a while since I've done any cross stitch so it was nice to be able to start with something small.

The pictures were taken while these were still on the loom. Afterwards I cut them out and attached adhesive felt to the backs of them, turning them into bookmarks. (Click on the pictures if you want to see a larger version.)

I used NeedleNoodles basic patterns and then made them my own. These were presents for my two best girlfriends so I chose sayings that I thought would suit them and made a couple of minor changes to the colours in the original patterns. For the light grey on the ninjas I used DMC 414 because I wanted them to be a little lighter than the pattern recommends. The purple ninja is DMC 209 and 208. I've never been very good at making French knots, but these ninjas certainly gave me a lot of practice!

I wanted the vampires to be reminiscient of Spike and Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I used Ecru for the skin tone and for Angel's hair I used DMC 938 and 898. Spike's hair is DMC 3045 and 3046 and that tiny blue patch on his shirt is 931. I couldn't resist adding the bit of blood and frown to Spike. He doesn't like being cross stitched and he's not happy standing this close to Angel.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Is This What They Mean by White Christmas?

It's been snowing here on and off for about two weeks now, which is unusual for this part of British Columbia. Today I braved to the cold to take these pictures of our backyard. We're hovering somewhere between 2-3 feet of snow right now and as I write this it's still coming down outside. The weather channel promises me that tonight is the night it will all turn to rain and (finally!) start to disappear. We shall see. I love the look of snow hanging from trees. I just wish it could find a way to fall just on the trees and avoid the roadways. It's pretty to look at, but has led to lots of cancelled plans this holiday season since many people are too snowed in to drive anywhere. It's also given me plenty of time for crocheting and I'll try to get some posts up over the next couple of days to show you all what I've been working on.

For now, I hope that you're all having a great holiday season and that your own homemade gifts were a hit with loved ones. Happy holidays. Enjoy these snowy pictures and if you're feeling the need to get your own frustrations about the weather out, do what I do and go hit a penguin with a yeti!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tiny Yarn Animals...Truly Terrific

If you’re looking for a last minute gift idea for the crocheter on your Christmas list, or for yourself, I highly recommend checking out a copy of Tiny Yarn Animals by Tammie Snow (aka creator of Roxycraft.com). This sixty-one page book contains patterns for 20 different adorable amigurumi animals. You get some standard animals like elephants, lions, octopuses and mice, which seem to be a staple of most amigurumi books. However, there are also some unusual additions here such as Snow’s amigurumi fox, lemur, hippopotamus and beaver.

There are three key factors that I think make Tiny Yarn Animals a great amigurumi guide. First off, there is a great selection of animals here that will please a variety of tastes. Like Ana Paula Rimoli’s Amigurmi World this is a great go-to book whenever you need a quick little gift for a friend or family member.

Second, there is a nice selection of pictures for each pattern. The pictures are big enough that you can actually see the details of the stitching and most importantly, where to attach key elements like legs and tails.

Finally, Snow’s instructions are quite clear and easy to follow. A friend of mine, who was new to amigurumi, made the lemur and didn’t have any trouble following Snow’s instructions. (That is said friend’s lemur you see pictured here by the way.) And for those new to amigurumi or crochet in general, Snow includes step-by-step instructions, complete with pictures, showing how all the basic stitches used in the book can be made.

I’ve completed two critters from this book, the frog and the koala bear, and I only had trouble with one piece. For some reason I couldn’t get the koala’s nose to turn out the way it looked in the picture. In the end I resolved the problem by simply making a nose out of felt instead of crocheting it.

Those who attempt more than one creature in the book will notice that many rely on the same basic head and body shape, but the instructions are written out separately for each creature so you’re not constantly flipping between different pages to complete your project. As well, you do get critters such as the hedgehog, owl and fish that deviate from the standard body.

If I have any complaints at all about this book it would be that Snow hasn’t included a stitch count at the end of each line in the pattern. Most commonly the lines in an amigurumi pattern are written up something like this:

R3: *2 sc in 1st sc, 1 sc in next, repeat from * around. (18 sts)

Snow’s patterns leave off that final step and don’t tell you how many stitches you should have at the end of the round. An experienced crocheter can easily go through the pattern and fill in the expected stitch numbers themselves with a pencil, but I think this could lead to some frustration for beginners. Snow also uses the “ch 2 and then single crochet X-number of stitches in to the second chain from hook” method of beginning all her pieces. This is a matter of personal taste, but I really like starting amigurumi pieces with a magic ring instead. Of course, that’s a simple change to make to any pattern.

Those minor quibbles aside, this really is a great amigurumi book. The creatures are all adorable and simple enough that you could probably complete one of them in a day or two with less than a full skein of yarn. The biggest problem you may have is trying to decide which animal to crochet first.

My Other Book Reviews...

Creepy Cute Crochet: Approach with Caution
Amigurumi Word. My thoughts...
Mr. Funky's Crochet Elephant

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Joss Whedon Inverviewed by CrochetMe

Please tell me that I was not the last one to find out about this. I was surfing around to a few of my favourite crochet sites yesterday and was very excited to learn that Kim Werker of CrochetMe was finaly able to snag that interview with Joss Whedon that I talked about back in July. Congratulations to Kim and congratulations to everyone who helped bring this plan to Joss Whedon's attention. You can read the full transcript of Joss's crafty talk here. As if we needed more reasons to belive in the awesomeness of Joss Whedon!

One of my favourite bits from the interview is Whedon's explanation of Jayne's knitted hat, which has now become one of the key symbols of Browncoats everywhere:

My whole thought was that Jayne was your classic bad-guy mercenary type, and I thought this is the one guy who does not have a tortured past, who has a decent, hard-working family, who just, you know, this was his career choice and the idea of him getting a letter from mom that he struggles to read, and the knitted hat, was— it just felt so right. It felt very, very him and very human and then of course I saw the hat with its flaps and its pom pom, and I just couldn't have been happier.

And in other Whedon related news, I just had to show you this very cool lego version of the mule from Serenity. Not sure if this qualifies as art or craft, but you can check out the detailed construction plans at www.reasonablyclever.com. If only Santa could bring me a Lego Firefly game to go with my Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones.

Finally, I can't sign off without reminding everyone that Dr. Horrible is being released on DVD this Friday, December 19. It's currently an "exclusive" purchase through Amazon.com for $9.99. No word yet as to whether or not it will be availabe in stores at a later date.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Look! More Cousins!

A special thank you to everyone who keeps returning to check out Cthulhu Crochet and Cousins. I'm sorry that the updates aren't as frequent as they used to be. School is, in a word, busy! I'd like to have more time for the blog and for crocheting in general, but it just isn't possible right now.

Even though I'm not updating the site as often as I used to, it's still nice to see new people discovering it. I sincerely appreciate each and every one of you that has taken the time to post a comment or share a link to something you've made using the patterns I've created. Here are a couple that have popped up in my inbox over the last month.

First up, akyla sent me a note to show me this adorable Tiny Cthulhu she made. I like his eyes, and there's something about his tentacles...somehow they just look a bit more sinister than the ones on my cthulhu and I think that's a good thing!

Next up, Crafty-Shanna certainly earns her nickname with this Fone Bone that she stitched up. She used my pattern for the head and then improvised for the rest of the body and I think she did a terrific job. I'd considered putting proper hands on my Bone creatures, but wasn't sure exactly how to shape the fingers. Shanna's look great. I'm also in awe of the feet which look much smoother than the ones I created. I think my own Fone Bone is a little jealous because I keep promising him that someday I'll stitch him a little backpack and I still haven't gotten around to it. Check out further pictures on Shanna's Journal and you can see that Fone even has his beloved copy of Moby Dick.

Want the Pattern?

My pattern for the Tiny Cthulhu as well as the patterns for the three Bone Cousins are available through the links in my left sidebar, under the topic My Free Patterns.