The Doily Progression

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When I learned how to crochet last year, I had no idea if I would stick with it long enough to make anything more than granny squares and dishcloths. With a blanket in every room and enough dishcloths to last a lifetime, it was time for something different. I needed a challenge.

In comes Pinterest, the place of a million ideas. I came across a cute little doily/coaster pattern and decided to give it a try, (Flower Coaster). The simply, yet frilly edging got me intrigued enough to see what else I could do.

They’re cute, but let’s face it, these are pretty basic coasters. My love of lace knitting must’ve been on my mind because I went searching for beginner lace crochet patterns. Pinterest came through again with a really cute, yet simple lace coaster pattern, (Contemporary Coaster).

I tried it out with some scrap Lily Sugar n’ Cream cotton yarn and got surprisingly good results.

Things got even better when I tried the same pattern with a smaller hook and DK weight cotton yarn from my stash basket.

These successes make me really brave to try something I never before thought about doing. If I can make lacy coasters, maybe I can make an actual doily. Lo and behold I found a series of fabulous tutorials on youtube that offer step-by-step, stitch-by-stitch directions to make beautiful lace doilies, (NotikaLand Crochet and Knitting).

Using some random blue DK weight yarn from my stash, I made the doily below from one of the videos in the tutorial series, (Crochet Doily Step-By-Step).

From there, I got even braver. I bought crochet yarn and and smaller hooks. I loved the first tutorial so much, I decided to try another one from the same youtube channel, (Tunic Motive, Part I). Admittedly, this one was probably above my skill level, but I think it turned out amazingly well given my lack of experience. If anything, it’s a testament to how good the tutorial is.

The first motif turned out so well, I dove right into the second design in the series, (Tunic Motive, Part II).

I’m in the middle of working on a third design tutorial. So far, it’s looking pretty good. I’ll post the result on Instagram (@cbwentworth) later this week!

The process continues as I work towards a smaller gauge crochet hook and cotton thread. I haven’t been brave enough to go smaller than Lace Weight 1 cotton and a D-3 hook, but my growing excitement for this craft means it won’t be long before I’m wielding teeny tiny hooks and thread.

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c.b.w. 2017

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Addicted To Granny Squares

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It’s official: I’ve fallen under the spell of granny squares. Nothing about them is remotely cool, except for the fact that they are ridiculously fun to make.

It all started when I decided I wanted to make a new throw blanket for the winter. I sat down with a set of instructions and made about 10 billion mistakes before I finally ended up with a semi-functional granny square. From there I practiced a bit and settled on a pattern I liked to make a 6″ square.

My mother always told me the best yarn for an afghan is Red Heart, so I got three skeins each of Burgundy, Hunter Green, Soft Navy, Coffee, Cafe Latte, and Aran Fleck. She’s right, by the way. Red Heart yarn is sturdy and can handle repeated failures!

It took a couple of months, but I made 14 squares for each color of yarn. From there, I laid them out in a diagonal pattern

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Joining the squares turned out to be the hardest part of the process because I couldn’t decide what method to use. I ended up stitching a single-crochet edging on each square with the Coffee color. Then, I did a back-loop slip stitch. This created a thicker color border and sturdier bond.

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I edged the entire afghan with two rounds of a single-crochet stitch, so it would match the width of the square borders. All in all, I happy with the result. I finished it just as the weather turned colder and it is very warm!

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I made a matching pillow with some of the leftover squares – I’ll post pictures of it soon, along with tutorial on how I made it.

This little pattern book gives great visual instructions and includes the pattern I used for my afghan.

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c.b.w. 2016

The Great Crochet Adventure

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The last time I tried to crochet, it did not go well. My mother tried to teach me how to make a granny square, but we quickly realized a right hander teaching a left hander is beyond tricky. On top of that, I had no real basis of understanding how crochet works, so a granny square was probably way beyond my skill level.

I was going to let crochet go until I decided to launch a major project at work. In response to students wanting to learn how to knit (several come to see me for help) and craft in general, I am organizing an after school program that teaches students crafting skills. In addition, our little collective is going to have a community service component. Some of what we make will go to charitable organizations. We’re going to make and donate everything from chemo caps to kennel blankets!

In the midst of organizing everything, I found out a lot of kids want to learn how to crochet. Yikes! It’s kind of hard to teach them how to crochet when I don’t have a clue. So, last week I set upon teaching myself some basic skills – things like how to hold the hook, the yarn, and some basic stitches.

Due to a weekend of no internet, I ended up teaching myself using an ancient Reader’s Digest book, The Complete Guide to Needlework. The pictures weren’t the best, but it was enough to get me started. Seeing as the last time my left-handedness was a major obstacle, I decided to try learning right-handed. After several hours of epic failure – my right hand was fighting me the whole way – I finally managed to make a little 4×4″ swatch using a single crochet stitch.

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Hooray!! The little victories are the best, aren’t they?

Emboldened by my tiny success, I decided to make a set of coasters as a means to practice the single crochet stitch and to find my groove in holding the hook and the work yarn. Like knitting, there is a method and rhythm to manipulating both the hook and yarn.

Just like the first go around, there was plenty of failure, (and hand cramping – my right hand does not like all this work!), but the repetitive nature of the project paid off. I ended up with a cute set of coasters and the “groove” is falling into place. My fingers are naturally finding their grip on the hook and I’m finally able to regulate tension on the yarn without overthinking it.

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Not bad for a few hours of self-instruction. Sometimes you just have to jump in and do it! Even if failure is a given. I’m not a genius at crochet, but I’ve at least got enough to be able to teach students the basics. As I learn, so will they. If anything we can laugh at our mistakes and cheer our victories together.

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c.b.w. 2016

Knitting With Scrap Yarn

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After just a few years of knitting, my scrap yarn basket has started to overflow. I suppose its inevitable for every knitter. Projects rarely use every last bit of yarn, so we are left with partial skeins of all different sizes and colors.

Some would say just throw it out, but like most knitters I can’t bring myself to do that. I love yarn and put a lot of effort into picking just the right fiber and color. I can’t just pitch it like it means nothing! Instead, I take the overflow of scrap yarn as a challenge. There’s got to be a creative and productive way to use the leftovers hanging out in my yarn basket.

Inspiration came calling when I heard my very old dog snoring in his bed. He is 14 years old and struggles to get comfortable. His favorite blankets are knit and crochet blankets I purchased at craft fairs or made myself. However, his favorite blankets often end up in the washer due to old dog “issues,” which means he is often without them. There simply aren’t enough crochet or knitted blankets in our collection! Sounds like a job for scrap yarn!

I sorted my scrap yarn according to weight and then sorted them into color groupings. From there, I selected a baby blanket pattern that matched the yarn weight in the first pile. I settled on Size 8 circular knitting needles because most yarns in the pile recommend a 7, 8, or 9 needle – I figured 8 was in the middle and would likely accommodate the Ā different types of yarn I had in the pile.

The first blanket I made used six different yarns! I slightly modified a car seat blanket lace pattern, (Car Seat Blankets by Leisure Arts) so it would fit my dog’s orthopedic mat with enough left over to scrunch it up the way he likes it. The result was better than I expected, given the wide variety of yarn that was used to make the blanket.

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The funny part is I know where all the yarn came from – there are leftovers from 2 hats, a pair of socks, and 2 scarves.

I had so much fun making the first blanket, I decided to make another using the yarn I sorted into the second pile. This time around, I went with a pattern called theĀ Maxi Cosi Blanket. It’s also meant for a baby car seat, but I’ll modify to fit one of my dog’s smaller beds (maybe 20″ x 20″). It’s not finished yet, but it is coming together nicely …

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So far, yarn from a pair of socks and a hat are in play. The fisherman’s wool (beige and cream) is a skein that just won’t stop giving … I’ve used the same skein in several projects including a scarf and a hat. This will hopefully be it’s last project!

When this blanket is finished, I’m planning on adding a flannel backing. I’ve never attempted to sew anything onto a knitting project, but I think it’s about time I got brave enough to try!

My scrap yarn basket has a lot more room in it after these projects, but there is still quite the stockpile of sock weight yarn. I’m on the lookout for the perfect project to put this part of my scrap yarn stash to good use.

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c.b.w. 2016

Vintage TLC: Garden Party

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Vintage Barbie restoration doesn’t always involves a long process. One of my first vintage fashion purchases was Garden Party (#931, 1962-63), minus the accessories. The dress alone, in good condition, can run anywhere from $15-30, which is again a bit out of this collector’s price range.

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Instead, I found a Garden Party dress that was in pretty good shape aside from a few stains, some wrinkles, and one loose stitch. I figured if I could get those stains out, it would be a total bargain at only $8.

The Before Look:

The front and back of the dress suffered from typical yellow age stains. The entire dress was covered, but it’s more noticeable on the lace layers in the skirt and along the bodice dart seams.

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Seller’s Photo (caller5547)

Aside from the stains, the dress looks like it’s been crammed in a box for years. The wrinkles change the entire shape of the dress (it’s supposed to poof out in a super cute way!).

I was lucky to find a TLC dress with the pink bow still in place. Most played-with Garden Party dresses are missing this little detail. However, the bow on my dress is dangling by a single stitch.

The Fix List:

The Stains:

The stains may have covered the entire dress, but they weren’t severe. I went with my go-to process of soaking the dress in a mixture of 3 cups water, 1 tbs baking soda, and 1 tbs peroxide. After Ā a single soak of 2 hours, I set the dress in direct sunlight to dry. That was all it took! The stains were completely gone, leaving the dress a bright white and brilliant pink.

The Bow:

The pink bow was hanging on by one thread of the original stitch. I simply added a couple reinforced stitches through the center fold of the bow (to hide the stitches) to secure it back into place. Done!

The Wrinkles:

A steam iron on the cotton setting quickly fixed the wrinkles crimping the skirt and bodice. Ironing Barbie clothes can be tricky. The tip of the iron is your best friend. The skirt usually fits around the narrow end of the ironing board – all you have to do is carefully work your way around one section at a time. The bodice is best approached from the top of the neckline – point the tip of the iron towards the waist hemline and iron one small section at a time.

The After Look:

Aside from the ease of restoration, I bought this dress specifically for my vintage Midge doll. I though she’d look adorable in it and she does! Once again, a little TLC can turn a down and out vintage dress into something beautiful.

Garden Party Midge

 

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c.b.w. 2016