Monday, January 26, 2009

Japanese Red Maple Experiment - Day One

A group of people in my neighborhood planted a Japanese Red Maple last year but it died when a well meaning resident pruned it to death. Luckily, someone saved a ton of seeds from it and has kept them in refrigeration until now. A few residents, including me, have volunteered to try to get some seedlings out of them. When I first heard of this project I volunteered because I tend to be pretty good (or just lucky) with plants and I couldn't pass up the possibility of getting enough seedlings that I could keep one for myself!

When my package of seeds and soil arrived, the accompanying instructions seemed simple enough. Soak the seeds in warm water for 24 hours and then plant the ones that sink about a half inch deep in the soil. I soaked my seeds and after 24 hours I had just one sinker - the smallest seed. I went ahead and planted them all because, why not? So I divided up all my seeds between my three pots, labeled them "Sink" and "Float", and placed them in the windowsil with the rest of my plants.

Now this is an effort by a group of people who do not claim to be plant experts so the instructions also contained the suggestion to look it up online and follow whatever growing instructions we thought would work best. So look it up I did. Apparently there are over 1,000 varieties of Japanese Maple trees and it seems that each one has distinct needs. I'm going to try to find out from someone more specifically what kind of seeds these are but since they are already planted I think I'm just going to continue with my plan and hope for good luck. I believe I have them at a good temperature and I have plastic wrap over them to keep the moisture up until they sprout. But at the same time I've read that they like to dry out between waterings so I am wondering whether to take that plastic wrap off. I want them to soften up so the cover of the seed is easy to break through but I don't want them to mold. I'll see how they look tomorrow and just wing it.

Here are two of the three pots on the windowsil.

Over to the left you can see one of the three plants that I kept from my mother's funeral last year. All three of those are still going strong. I have no idea what they are called but two are ivies and one is a two foot tall bushy plant. So I guess we will see soon enough if these seeds will sprout. I'll do an update post every so often.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Child's Shawl

My niece turns three tomorrow so I made this little shawl for her. It has a tie in the front to keep it on and lots of little ruffles to spin around in. I just made this up as I went along but I do know what I did and plan to write the pattern up soon. Her birthday is at Chuck E Cheese's so that should be a lot of fun. It will be my son's first time there. Hopefully I can get some pictures of her wearing it tomorrow but with all the animatronic musical animals, arcade games and ball pits she may not have time to deal with trying on shawls, haha.

I used Bernat Softee Baby yarn in "Soft Lilac" and "Pink Parade" and a 4.5mm G hook. I worked until I ran out of both yarns and gained myself 4 points on the Stashbusting 2009 CAL! Yay!

Earth Tones Purse

I finished sewing the lining into the second bag this morning. This one also needs some flowers attached. I plan to do that tonight. I made this using an I hook and the following yarns: Caron One Pound in "Taupe", Caron Wintuk in "Nutmeg", Vanna's Choice in "Olive", and Vanna's Choice in "Dusty Green". I really love the fabric I used to line this and luckily I have a lot left so I can use it on another project. Wish I could get better at sewing so that I could add pockets. Maybe one day.

I brought out my lamp to take some of these pictures and they still turned out dark. I guess it's time to Google lighting for photography and learn a little.

Yummy New Yarn

Last week my boyfriend surprised me by handing me his credit card and saying I could buy some really nice yarn for the first time in my life. My eyes glazed over at the thought of what could be gliding across my hook. Before he'd even realized the card had left his hand, I was on Etsy narrowing down my choices. Four hours later (yes, I narrowed for four hours) I had decided on my three precious skeins of awesomeness.

I felt bad about the prices. I got great deals, don't get me wrong. But, before this, the most expensive yarn I'd ever bought was Bernat Satin at around three and a half dollars a pop. These yarns were in the double digits! But they were great prices compared to what most people were charging for similar stuff and, after the last two years I've had, I thought I deserved a little treat. Once my packages arrived and I opened up the boxes, I did not feel bad any more!

Yummy Yarn Number One:
Gossamer Silk Lace from The Fiber Denn
Color: Hematite

This is the most gorgeous color in the world. It's much smaller than I realized it would be. The day after I bought it, they put up a picture of it next to a coin for size reference and I had a bit of a d'oh moment but that's ok, it was my first time buying this stuff. I am still quite happy with my purchase, just completely at a loss as to what to make with it just yet. But it can just sit there and look pretty until I find the perfect pattern.

Yummy Yarn Number Two:
Hand Dyed Merino/Silk Blend Sock Yarn from Chrysalis Fibers
Color: Citrus Squeeze

I got some orange purse handles for Christmas and my first thought was to make a purse with this but I'm not sure there is enough there. Just as well, I can always make some socks or fingerless gloves or something. It's just so pretty I can't decide whether to start making something right now or just stare at it for a while!

Yummy Yarn Number Three:
Hand Dyed Peruvian Highland Wool also from Chrysalis Fibers
Color: Lilypad

This is definitely my favorite. If I thought I could do it without getting hair on my tongue, I would eat this yarn. Look at those colors! Don't you just want to touch it? You do, I can tell. I'm pretty sure I'll be making socks out of this. The only thing I'm not sure about is the fuzziness on my toes. I'll have to rub my feet on it and see what I think. As far as I'm concerned this yarn can be whatever it wants to be and I may have to wait a while for it to tell me and that's just fine. As long as I can fight off the urge to just unravel it and roll around in it. It makes me want to be some kind of small animal so I can nest in it. Do I have problems? Nah.

Ridge Swing Pillow

While working on my Ridge Swing Cardigan, I realized I needed a birthday gift for my boyfriend's step-mom. I decided to make her a pillow but after looking through patterns for a while the only one I really liked was the Basketweave Pillow but I didn't think I'd have time to make it. Then it occurred to me, why not use the ridge pattern from the cardigan? She likes bright colors so I got out a ton of yarn and worked the ridge pattern changing colors every row.

I intended the pillow to be square but I made a mistake. I increased to the size I wanted and then decreased back down the other side. This made it a bit more rectangular than square. I should have (and will in the future) gone with two triangles joined to make a square. But I'd already done all that color change work! So I just made the back the same way - increased up and decreased back down. Then I realized that, while I'd made them both the same, they needed to face opposite directions to be a front and back. So they wouldn't line up! Ugh! It was too late to do anything about it so I just kept going, hoping I could hide some of the mistake in the way I stuffed or flattened it.

I had a couple of pillows lying around that I'd been meaning to throw away so I cut one open and used the stuffing from it, which was really soft. My son enjoyed helping me during this part. If I'd had more time I would have added a lining (and again, in the future I will) but the stuffing can't be seen and doesn't seem to be coming out. All the sides lined up perfectly but there was a huge bulge in the middle of each side (and going different directions) that caused the pillow to twist in a way that could not be hidden by any amount stuffing or flattening.

So oh well, I learned a lot making this project and despite its wonkiness it still came out really cute. It was fun to make and I plan to do more pillows now that I know what I did wrong. I'd like to make her another one to replace it because it really is a little silly but I'm not looking forward to that much color striping again any time soon. I may make her another colorful pillow using a different design, possibly yoyos with a white lining. She said it had character and she loved it. It was definitely a learning experience.

I used an I hook and the back is made with Caron One Pounder in "Taupe". The front, obviously, is every worsted weight yarn I could find.



Firey Handbag

Tonight I finished a handbag for my aunt. Well, to be honest it's not quite finished. She requested a handbag with some crocheted flowers attached to it so I still have to make those flowers but that shouldn't take long at all. The really hard part is over - the lining. I just suck continuously on a sewing machine for some reason but I got it done* and it's not half bad I think. She liked the fabric I used on my bag and I didn't have any of that left but I had something similar.

I used Red Heart Super Saver Fleck in "Spa Blue Fleck" (redundant much?) and an I hook. The second picture is the truest color. I've got to do something about the lighting in my room.

* I actually made two linings tonight! I will sew the other one in tomorrow. I need these both done by Saturday so I can give them to her because I don't know when I'll see her again.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Scrap Ripple Afghan Progress

Here is a picture of the progress I have made on my scrap ripple afghan. I'm using the ripple pattern from Project Linus except instead of single crochet I am doing half double crochet. I've added a couple more rows since I took that picture and may work on it some more tonight. This project is helping me out a lot with the Stashbusting CAL at Crochetville. I've actually broken even in points today but I will be in the negative again when my special yarn arrives. But it was worth it!

Firecracker Gloves

Last week I went to stay a few days with my dad and while I was there I whipped up these cute fingerless gloves. They are the Firecracker Gloves by Ria Saakshi. This pattern is simple and perfect. They work up quickly and they fit my hand exactly. I am sure I will be making more in the coming year and hopefully getting some pics of me wearing them so you can see how they fit. I used Caron Simply Soft in Baby Brights Ombre and Red Heart Super Savers in White with a G hook.

Ridge Swing Cardigan

A couple of days ago I started the Ridge Swing Cardigan by Robyn Chachula. The pattern is available in the Fall 2008 issue of Interweave Crochet magazine. I am making it two tone using blue and brown. The pattern is worked in panels starting with the back. I started with one of the front panels so that I could measure where I wanted my stripe of brown to be. Somewhere along the way I messed up and got off on my stitch count but I still figured out about where I wanted the stripe so I frogged that panel and started on the back panel as the pattern is written. I think I messed up because the turning chain is counted as a stitch. I don't know why but I just hate that, it always screws with me. So I added an actual stitch to the beginning of each row and I have been right on track so far. I finished the back panel yesterday and the front right panel today. Tomorrow I will start on the front left panel and then I'll just lack sleeves. I'm excited about how it's going to turn out. I think it looks great so far. I don't have any pictures yet but it should be finished soon enough.

I ordered some really nice yarn yesterday for the first time. I've never had expensive yarn before so my boyfriend treated me and I shopped on Etsy for hours until I picked out the coolest yarn I could find/afford. I got three skeins: a green sock yarn, an orange sock yarn, and a silvery grey silk yarn. Just wait until you see pictures of these, they are amazing. I will probably keep them forever because no pattern will be perfect enough for them. I know I'm going to use the orange to make a purse to go with the orange purse handles I got for Christmas. Assuming they match.

I am still putting off adding the linings to those purses. I have really got to do that in the next few days before my boyfriend goes out of town and there's no one to watch my son who is deathly afraid of the noise my sewing machine makes. I also need to finish up that cross stitch project soon. And in about a week my boyfriend's step mom has a birthday so I need to pick something to make for her. I have a hat in mind that's been in my Ravelry queue for a while. That's about it on the to do list for now.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

And The Rush Abates

Whew! The holidays are over and everything went well. Everyone enjoyed the gifts I made and I managed to finish all but one - the gift for my boyfriend's dad. This is not a crochet project, it's cross stitch so it's taking a long time. I won't go into detail about it yet because I have plans to make a tutorial on it, assuming it turns out well. I also have two handbags to finish. One has been crocheted and only lacks a lining and a little flower. The other was just started last night but shouldn't take long to complete. So I'll get a little more practice with linings here in the next day or so. Wish me luck on that.

Once I finish these three items, I will be free to crochet whatever I want and it feels great! There are so many things on my to do list - patterns I've had my eye on forever and yarns I don't know what to do with. It will feel so good to pick out and make something without the pressure of a deadline or the looming expectations of the recipient. I've been searching for the perfect project with which to celebrate my temporary freedom but I haven't settled on anything yet. I joined the Stashbusting CAL 2009 on Crochetville, it looks like a lot of fun.

I've got a decent amount done on my scrap ripple afghan. I'll probably post an update on it next week. I'm also excited to get back to work on my MC Frontalot amigurumi once the handbags are complete. I ordered Front's new cd yesterday along with a t-shirt so that I can spread the joy of nerdcore wherever I go. Now that I've missed sending him the doll for Christmas I figure I may as well take my sweet time with finishing it. After all, the thing that makes an amigurumi stand out is detail detail detail! I've got tons of ideas for him and the fun part is: they're all tiny! So they should be quick to work up and that is ever so satisfying (and helpful in the Stashbusting CAL too). The only problem I can forsee at the moment is how to make his glasses. I was going to spray paint some Mr. Potatohead glasses black but they were just a tad too small. Too bad, they would have been perfect. But I'll keep my eyes open for something.

So with the start of the new year my hook is basically liberated until March when I have two birthdays to crochet for. I'm off to browse patterns and find something to work on!