New House, New Job, New Shawl

If only this were the house!
If only this were the house!

Wow, where has the time gone?

So much has been happening lately. We are buying a house, and the negotiations have been crazy. But I think we are done!! We signed what they agreed to yesterday, so I am hoping it all goes through and we can get on to the closing at the end of November.

I also started a new job on Monday, and it has used up a whole lot of my time! And I am only part time this week. I start full time tomorrow! Ack.

In the mean time I got my invite to Ravelry!!! I am so stoked. But I am a little disappointed that I won’t have time to use it! I have met lots of neat people so far at my job, working as an order taker over the phone. It’s not glamorous or like my dream career, but it pays, and that’s what counts right now.

I can crochet on my breaks, so I have started the famous seraphina shawl. And I guess I am conforming, because not only am I stitching up a shawl that has been done by everyone, but I am using the Jo-Ann’s Sensations Boucle to do it!! It looks gorgeous all worked up, but it is a bitch to work with. My hook sticks, it doesn’t slide, it is near impossible to frog, and I can’t go very fast with it. At least this whole shawl only involves dcs and chs.

I have much more to blog about, but I am running out of time! I won’t be able to catch much tonight. Perhaps soon.

I do have a new pattern that I am putting the finishing touches on. Men’s slippers. I think I will sell the pattern online once I finish the testing. There seems to be a dearth of men’s patterns. All of the men in my family are raving about them, so I think they have passed the product testing phase!


More Crocheted Bookmarks and Current Projects

This bookmark is my latest. I made it for a friend for her birthday. She crochets too, and recently gave me a beautiful little crocheted wire amulet bag with beads. I thought it was wonderful. Along with it she included some sage from the prairie to the south, some sage from the hills to the north, and some water from the gulf coast (complete with sand). I was delighted. I love to collect waters from all over the world. When friends go off to visit family or far away places I always send them with a plastic peanut butter jar and ask them to bring me back some water. Sometimes I get funny looks, but it all works out.

Anyways, back to the bookmark. I did it all freehand, and just made up the pattern as I went. I tried several different things for the long body of it after creating the woven pentacle. First I thought I would try to modify a wide belt pattern, just doing fewer repeats. But I couldn’t figure out how to make it a belt from the instructions and not an isosceles triangle. I then tried some strange rendition of the hexagon stitch, but the edges were quite crooked. So in the end I went with the tried and true granny bookmark formula.

I attached it to three ch loops on the edge of the pentacle and went back and did the edging and went around the circle at the top when I got there.

I much prefer to stitch items like this in one continuous thread. It seems to make them stronger, but it probably also has to do with my hate of weaving in ends. Is there really any thread worker out there who enjoys that process?

I usually try to use the left over ends to do something to reinforce the piece, but of course that doesn’t always work out.

The pentacle itself is technically my own pattern, but I have seen many of them around. Working out the changes in size is always difficult. I did this particular one with a US size 4 hook (2.00 mm). I started out by chaining 51, leaving about a 10 inch tail. *Then 3 sc into the second ch from the hook. Sc in the next 9 stitches.* Repeat from * to * 4 more times. Now weave the end away from the hook into the pentacle shape. It will be a bit wonky at first, but it will work out. The spaces where there are 3 sc are the corners and should help the piece to turn. Slip stitch the sc your hook is currently in to the first of the 3 sc on the other end. Now, use your hook to slip stitch the starting chain to the 50th chain with the tail left from starting the work. Pull this stitch through.

At this point you can thread the tail onto a blunt needle and use it to stitch down the points where the pentacle overlaps. I pined it to my foam board and worked it out so it would be even, then gave it a shot of starch and a bit of water. I pressed it quickly and then went back and stitched around the inside edge of the pentacle, being sure to catch both pieces of stitching to anchor them together. I went around one more time on the outside edges, and then wove in the remaining tail.

Now you can go back to your regular working loop. Slip stitch one more sc into the middle of the 3 sc. Sc in this stitch and chain 7. *Sc in the middle of the 3sc on the point of the pentacle and chain 7.* Repeat from * to * three more times, joining to the original sc with a slip stitch. Chain one and sc in the same stitch. *Sc 10 times in the chain 7 space, and sc in the top of the sc.* Repeat from * to * four more times and join to first sc with a slip stitch. This completes the pentacle. Fasten off, or go on to turn it into something nifty. Could be a square or circle for a larger motif piece, or the center of a doily, or a bookmark, or just a crocheted pentacle.

This is my current project. It will some day be a snood. But I am designing it all on the fly, so there has been a lot of riping out!

Next to it was last nights break from pattern making! It is a tiny little witch hat from the left over gold thread I used to make the bookmark above. No pattern or anything, just stitching to relieve tension.

There is a better close up of the snood below. It hasn’t been blocked yet, so I tried to stretch it out so you could see the pattern. I used some granny stitches in the center section, and some pineapples. The large solid sections I am on right now have some front posting in them.

I am just starting on a fishnet pattern around the outside edge. I am not sure where I will go after that.

The yarn seems to be 100% cotton. It is actually yarn from my great grandmother. She crocheted a lot, and when she passed way her daughter (my grandma) gave me her crochet supplies. My grandmother knits mainly, and can crochet, but doesn’t very often. She mainly uses it to bind off or start knitting in some circumstances.

This yarn was one of many that had a border or edging crocheted out of it and stopped and fastened on the ball. I am not sure what to do with all of these edgings as I really don’t think I will ever use them. But as a piece of family and crochet history, I hate to unravel them.

I found this at Jo-ann’s back in the clearance section the other day. We were killing time before we had to meet the inspector for the new house, and my darling let me drag him into Jo-ann’s. The sign said it was two balls for $3, but it ended up ringing up as $.99 each. So I was delighted. It is a wool and nylon blend called cosetta purple. By Sensations yarn company. Jo-ann’s is clearing out all of this company’s yarn. It feels very soft and fluffy, and I have no idea what I will do with it. It is a 128 yds in the ball. I could knit a scarf out of it I suppose, since my knitting skills could use some shoring up. But I just haven’t decided yet. I do think it is fluffy enough that I would like to keep it light and knit it. Perhaps a kooky hat!

New Little Witch Hat

Just in time for our Samhain trick or treating, I finished my sweety’s Witch Hat. It is made like the other witch hats I have done but on a smaller scale.

I started with 3 sc in a magic ring and increased by 3 each round. It is crocheted in a spiral to save me the frustration of joins. The band is just done with tapestry crochet, and the buckle is crocheted in with copper embroidery floss. I left very long tails on the copper and used them to sort of over stitch and weave back in the ends all at once.

I made the cone part and took it down around the back so it would cover her ears in one piece. I just turned once I got to the forehead area. Then I broke the yarn and stitched on the brim. It is roughly 3 sc, followed by 2 sc in the fourth stitch. I went around the posts of the stitches of a round just below the purple band. After that I went in a spiral in sc increasing by about 3 per round. I didn’t really count this as I was just following the shape as I went.

I then added on the ties. I started at the lower front edge and chained until I had the length I wanted. I then did sc back up the chain and around the bottom of the hat. After 10 stitches I did a sc decrease until the last 10 stitches. This gathered in the back of the hat and made it curve under the back of her head. I then chained down until the length was the same as the other tie, and did sc back up it. I ended off and wove in the ends. It turned out beautifully and it keeps her nice and warm!

In Blows the Storm

Well, a foul mood has struck, the storm clouds are rolling and tumbling in the sky and the greyness is creating a thin cataract cast over my eyes as I desperately try to cling to my last dribble of sanity.

What could it be that causes this tumultuous tempest to have descended upon my happy form? As with all large explosions, it is often a well timed series of small but not less unfortunate events. It began last night when I realized with quite some dismay that the shawl I have been knitting for my mother had a dropped stitch. I did not despair much at this, as I figured, surely, I could fix this. Then as I began to lay out the 36 hours of knitting work on a nice clean sheet on the floor so I could begin surgery, I realized it wasn’t one stitch that was dropped, but about 30 that had slipped off one row at a time as I worked on the shawl this weekend in the tight confines of a truck cab with four other people on our road trip (fabulous trip by the way, but that was then, this is now).

I spent a couple of hours trying various ways to un-ladder the work. I searched knitting sites in vain, and had a variety of crochet hooks and cable needles prepared for the delicate procedures. In the end, I discovered that I had two choices, pretend it was supposed to look like that, or rip back about 40 rows and start from there. It was then, the innocence of youth wandered into the room and blithely pointed out another error. Somehow, I had thought I was casting on about 30-ish inches for the edge. At this point, even laying at rest it measure more like 70. And so, with less than two weeks to go, I carefully measured my second gauge swatch that was now about 70 inches by about 3 yards, and spent the rest of the evening patiently rolling it into a ball.

And so, I hang this story with yet another thumbtack on my wall of experiences. These experiences I treasure, even though each is bitter tasting, because they teach me things. You can’t become a mastermind without falling on your face a few times. Okay a whole lot.

To add to the wonderful foundation of knitting sorrow, today I was faced with two children who, in no uncertain terms, have decided that chores are not worth allowance and electronics privileges. While this in and of itself does not upset me, it bugs me a bit to have to pick up the slack a few days before we go camping, while I am re-knitting in such a short time frame.

A little chocolate drizzle over this icing was that my dog not just unplugged, but totally ripped out the co-ax cable to the cable in my bedroom. So, for about two weeks, no knitting watching tv or movies in bed.

And for whipped cream we have a camping trip I need to pack for this weekend, and alas, I do not know what my dear husband wants me to pack! For sprinkles, the fridge fan busted today, the pool filter got stuck, then clogged with hair, and it still is not clean after four hours off and on of attention, the incense I purchased out of town this weekend got wet, two pieces of mail arrived postage due thanks to the rate hike between when they were mailed and now, and my oldest stepped on a bee this afternoon. I know, first world problems. Just breathe.

The rest of the irksome day’s happenings aren’t enough to register on my makes-me-twitch-o-meter. But they still add up.

Basket Progress

Here is where I am currently at on my basket project. Things are coming along nicely. I am not sure where to go once I get this pattern finished though.

I am debating whether or not to continue with the twisted stitches method, working increases between the black diamonds, and decreases inside. The other option is to switch to charted diamonds and work them that way. I also have four more colors to add in. Most likely I will combine the charted with the current twisted somehow. Still haven’t puzzled out the details.

I am also not feeling too fuzzy about the current shape, I think it needs to be more flat. I was working 12 increases per round for the flat bottom, and I dropped to six per round as I move up the sides. But I think I need more than six and less than twelve. Which is going to be tricky on a pattern based on six. I am also debating ripping back about three rows to start some big diamonds with their points lower in the design.

In other news, I am doing the beginning research for a new column. I am going to be writing about books, as I spoke about in a previous post. Any thoughts, hints, or tips are most welcome. If you have books to recommend, or suggestions for what you would like to see in a column about books in the pagan/occult world, please send them my way.

Crocheted Jacket and a New Idea

Today I thought I would share with you my crocheted jacket. This is the first garment I crocheted. It is all granny squares as you can see. And it was an exceedingly simple construction.

I used Red Heart acrylic yarns, because it was what I had. I also have some bits of scraps from my yarn stash here and there. Each square is four rounds, with three different colors for the center, and a black round for the border.

I made four half grannies for the neckline. Each sleeve is 4 wide by 4 squares long. The back is 6 squares by 5 squares. Each front is 6 squares tall and 3 squares wide, With the second row being 5 tall, and the third being 4 tall, with the half grannies stepping it down. So that is a total of 92 squares!

The bottom edge has squares that have a really intense red in them. It was a scrap ball and I managed to just get these squares out of it for the bottom edge.

It is all attached with a single crochet in black. I have been secretly debating about extending the bottom so it would be around mid-calf length. Right now it hits around mid-thigh.

I have not put an edging on it, since I keep thinking I am going to extend it. But in the meantime I haven’t been making granny squares either, so perhaps some day.

This is what I am currently working on now. The picture is my inspiration. I am making the basket. At first I thought about just using a coil method to weave the basket. But honestly, I haven’t done that since middle school, and I thought I might do better just simple crocheting.

I am crocheting over a piece of wire as I go, so that it will be a bit heavier and stiffer. I want to use it for dancing, just like in the photo. Weight is really important. I may even go grab my lead curtain weight and crochet over that for the base too.

Right now it is on an H hook, but I am thinking I might start working with two strands in each crochet and go up to an I or a J. I am still experimenting to get the look I want.

I am also going to browse the raffia when I go do the shopping this afternoon. Perhaps that will give me more the look I want.

This second photo shows the other colors I have picked out to add in later. The background will be the light tan color I already have in there.

I am excited to make one, because these big baskets are very hard to find around here. And I am not to keen on mail ordering something I want to be able to balance on my head. I like to try it on before buying, and with them running anywhere from $50 to $200 each, I want to make sure I get what I want.

So I am hoping this little experiment turns out well.

Crocheted Snoods

So, we have already established that I like to crochet. And, I think briefly we touched on my strange and twisted love of history. And hence another fusion of passions: snoods.

I am a practical kind of lady, and tend to look to the past for what other practical ladies did. Snoods fit the bill for me and my hip length hair.

These two snoods are both my own inventions for the patten. Modeled by looks on some I found from the Civil War era. I did try to find and then follow some patterns, but they always came out way too small. I have A LOT of hair, and I finally gave up and just kept trying it on as I went.

The tan colored one is actually some sort of chenille yarn from an exchange long ago. It turned out to be fairly stretchy after it was all crocheted up. But oh my! It was such a pain to frog it! In fact after trying to frog it twice, I gave up and just cut the yarn and started again.

The brighter yellow in the edge is a grosgrain ribbon that has a piece of elastic about an inch long holding the ends together. The elastic stays enclosed in the ribbon the whole time to allow it to slide inside the yarn. I wore it without the elastic for about a year, but by then it had stretched out a little too big, and it wasn’t staying on my head even with the hair pins.

The pattern is made of chains and treble crochets. I increased the number of chains between the tr on each round, joining the rounds. I then switched to a triangle pattern for the band done with double crochets.

The purple one is made from some gorgeous silk yarn that was a Yule present from a crocheting friend of mine. There is a piece of round elastic concealed in the last row of single crochets on the outside edge.

I like the way it turned into a sort of web pattern. And even though the holes get to be rather large before I gathered it back in for the edging band, it still holds my hair very well. The pattern is simply chains with single crochet attachments, worked in a spiral. I then switched to some sort of hexagonal/square pattern for the band, not really sure what it is, but it ended up looking nice!

Some snood trivia: Did you know snoods are more like hair nets than hair bags? You are meant to style your hair neatly and securely, then place the snood over the top to hold the style down during activity and wind. There are also two types of snoods, full head snoods, and low snoods, that hold the hair in a hanging bun at the nape of the neck. The low snoods are often connected to either a headband or a large barrette. Snoods are also usually made of yarns/threads with a lot of grip, so they hang on to the hair.

Crocheted Bookmarks

Today I thought I would share another one of my passions. Besides loving hats, I am a certified bibliophile (and a sesquipedalianistlogodaedaly to boot).

So to keep track of all of my reading pursuits, I have been crocheting bookmarks.

I like for each book to have its own special bookmark. There is something charming about knowing that this book means enough to have its own work of art crafted for it.

The top green one with the ribbons I worked up a little while back from a pattern I found online. It is cute, and I think I may work some more with some changes. It currently lives in a copy of the Zohar.

The bottom one I also found the pattern online. It was rather difficult at first to see how it was going to work out, but it turned out great, and is one of my favorites. It is currently residing in Mulesand Men, by Zora Neale Hurston.

The pink one is a filet design that I made up as I went. I originally was going to make a pattern from (unfortunately no longer available), but then when I got to the first filled square, I realized that it was design for a 4dc mesh with half squares, and I had only done a 3 dc mesh. So I just made up a goddess type pattern as I went.

I am not a fan of pink, but I had some left in my stash from my great grandmother. So I used up the last of one ball of pink, and then when I ran out, I grabbed another ball of a variegated pink and white to make the tassel and connecting chain out of. And I used up yet another little scrap of pink thread to tie the tassel with and create the neck. This pretty little number is living in “OverSea, Under Stone,” the first in the Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper. If you like the Harry Potter books, you should definitely check these out. I am re-reading them again, and I just love them.

The top two crocheted bookmarks here are the same pattern. Usually called a V shell, or just a shell pattern. My great grandma taught me this, and I have several variations of them around. One lives in TheHerbalist by Joseph E. Meyer. If you are interested in herbs, or old remedies, this is a book you simply must own. It is an invaluable reference. The other is spending some time in a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories: TheAnnotated Sherlock Holmes. The link is to a newer version than what I have.

The next one down in green with the six petaled flower is just something I made up one night. It is currently residing in “TheMystical Qabalah” by DionFortune. Another one of those books you must read if you are interested in Western Occultism. I am reading it again for the more-than-I-can-remembereth time.

The bottom white one was inspired by this patternfor a book thong. Of course I didn’t really follow the pattern. This one is living in Cleopatra- a Biography by Michael Grant. This book is a bit ehh. It is definitely history, and can be dry at times. I find myself putting it down often, even though I like the dates and names type of history reading. But a friend loaned it to me, saying that is was supposed to be the most complete look at her entire life, not just the parts she was famous for.

I still have lots of crochet thread left in my stash from my great grandmother. So I am off to make more bookmarks. If you have an odd or unusual pattern link, send it my way.

I found several of the patterns I used here.

Some Crocheted Hats

I have always loved witch hats. I love the way they look, the mystique they carry, and all of the meaning behind them.

I also love to crochet. So I combined the two and made some hats. I went looking for a pattern on the Internet to just get me started, as I had never made a pointy hat before. I thought with a pattern it might help with my math a bit. I found one pattern, which surprised me. I figured there would be more than that. But, there was only one. It was done in double crochet, with 3 increases per row. The pattern called for joining each row with a slip stitch and beginning a new row with a chain 3. Not my favorite, as I am not a fan of the seam look in crochet, but I followed it faithfully anyways, since I didn’t really know what I was doing. The result was this black hat. I put wire in the brim, as it seemed a bit soft. The wire really stretched it out at the crown more than I liked, so I went back and wove in a chain with some spirals on the ends to act as a draw string.

This black and green version was my next attempt. This was all done in single crochet, using the tapestry crochet technique. I carried all three yarns through out, and it made a very sturdy hat. I had no pattern, and I made up the design as I went.

I did this starting with 3 single crochet in a magic ring, and increased randomly by three each round. I did not join rounds, but instead worked in a spiral.

After the fourth round with twelve stitches, I used some bright orange scrap yarn to mark off thirds of the hat. I carried these little bits of yarn all the way to the brim, just weaving them through as I went. Then I only had to make one increase in between each marker. It made it much easier, and I didn’t have to count.

When I got the cone wide enough to fit over my head, I increased for the brim. I did one single crochet in the stitch, then two single crochet in the next stitch around the first round. This did not work out quite perfect, so I skipped about a sixth of those extra single crochets, rather randomly. I kept working in my color pattern with the tapestry crochet.

I then worked the brim with only one increase in each round until I felt it was big enough. I used some wire from the hardware store to put in the brim. After fastening off the dark green and black and weaving them clear back to the top, I single crocheted without an increase over the wire. When I got back around to the start, I slip stitched into about 8 stitches to securely cover the point where I had the wire ends overlapping. I used a bit of duct tape on the wire, as twisting it would have been too bulky. Then I wove the light green back up to the top, and knotted each yarn to its start tail and wove those ends in too. I like to do this with hats, as it ensures the ends don’t come loose. Since this was done with cheap Red Heart acrylic yarn, it keeps the rain off very well.

This is my third attempt. I used the same formula as for the green hat, except I placed the three increases all in a line. This results in three points on the bottom edge. This is a home spun yarn with a thick blue plied with white, and then a thinner tan plied with some brownish. I have no idea what the content is or anything, as it was yarn I received in a trade long, long ago. When I got the cone big enough to fit my head, I realized I didn’t have enough yarn left to make the brim, so I opted for ear flaps instead.

 I stitched each flap starting at one of the points and towards what I was now calling the front, that has the center point. They are 13 stitches wide, decreasing on each side and turning every row. I stopped at 3 stitches on the last row. Then I went around the ear flap and across the back to the other flap, and repeated it. I went around the ear flap and across the back again to the first ear flap and made the ties. The ties are just a chain, with a double crochet spiral on the end, I then single crocheted back up the chain and went around the front of the hat in single crochet to put on the other tie. When I was finished I wove the end in back to the top and tied it to the starting tail, and wove those ends in.

The hat turned out to be a bit longer in the back with those extra rows, and it fits down warmly over the nape of my neck. The front center point dips down right between my eyebrows and looks very cute. Since the yarn is so knobby, the hat holds tightly together and can be bent and shaped and it will stay.

Leaping Deer! Oh My!

I am nearly finished pinning my deer down to the background fabric. This filet project was my first attempt at filet crochet. Nothing like diving into the deep end. The photo to the right is just after I finished, before blocking. I laid it out on the green linen I had obtained to admire my year’s worth of work. Yes, an entire year.
I created this as a devotional item, praying and chanting over each and every stitch. I worked on it during liminal periods, as it was my goal to convert that time in my life into something I could recognize as useful, and as a gift to my gods. And so, I chose this design, and only worked on it at those in between times. This meant carrying it everywhere with me, all the time. But I found that it felt good to have it in the bag by my side. I became very familiar with the feel of the cotton thread, and the rhythm of the crochet. 
Here is a photo after I finished blocking it, on my lovely plaid scrap fabric. It came out to around 45″ x 37″ finished. I have hemmed the linen and am currently pinning it down. Then I will put the hanging tabs on. I am not sure how I want to attach it to the linen yet. I could sew it down invisibly with sewing thread, or I could turn the attachment into an embellishment also. Since it is such a beautiful fabric, I have thought about adding some drawn thread work around the edge as a border. I do plan on working some macrame tassels into the bottom edge somehow, but I haven’t decided out of what fiber, or how many, or what dimensions.
Here is a link to the original pattern and chart. I made it out of a hand spun cotton that is 1 mm in thickness. I used a size 7 US steel hook, and made it with a 4dc mesh. Luckily the cotton I had was extremely long, and I made this from one thread with no knots.