Category Archives: crochet
I see that it has been a few weeks since I last posted. Summer is in full swing and crochet is snoozing on the sidelines. I am still working on my Calypso Clutch but had to take a break to e-mail Lindsay Jarvis at Interweave Crochet Magazine for the dimensions of the side panels. My gauge is a bit smaller and I want to be sure that the bag assembles properly when done. Lindsay couldn’t have been nicer! She located the sample clutch and did the measurements. What service!
I also had to take some time out to go car shopping. The 2002 Taurus that we inherited from Paul’s dad when he passed away finally became too expensive to repair. I had been pushing for new wheels for several years now but I think there was a sentimental hurdle to overcome on Paul’s part. Our new ride is a charcoal grey Nissan Altima.
I must spend some time learning the electronic features. This car does everything! I synced my iPhone up and now I can answer the phone by pushing a button on the steering wheel. All the commands are voice commands so that making and receiving calls is completely hands-free. I also no longer have to dig in my purse for my key as everything is keyless! I wonder how the electronically challenged folks will manage with these new vehicles!
Next week I will enjoy a visit from my sister Karen who lives in West Palm Beach. We always have a great time together, bumming around second-hand shops and flea markets. We plan to ride the New Freedom Steam Train and visit Chesapeake City. If time permits, we might also drive up to Longwood Gardens. It will be a week of dining out and enjoying a mini-vacation at home! I’ll post photos.
I hope that all my readers are enjoying a beautiful summer. It always seems that the summer season is so short. I noticed that WalMart already has their school supply display at the front of the store. Keep cool everyone and I will be back in a couple of weeks!
The Spring Issue of Interweave Crochet had the cutest little bag designed by Brenda K.B. Anderson. The bag features chevrons in alternating colors, side gussets, and two bold buttons to set off the front flap. As soon as I saw it, I knew that this would be the perfect summer project. The yarn I chose is Cleo from Plymouth Yarns. It is 100% cotton and very lightweight. I ordered 2 hanks of each color, gray and lavender. These two colors are so close in tone that they virtually blend together. I have to admit that this is a combination that I would not have considered before seeing the one in the magazine.
At first I had a lot of trouble with the initial row of chevrons. They must be worked into a chain space several rows below and I discovered that my chain spaces were almost impossible to see once subsequent rows had been crocheted on top of them. After ripping my work out several times I finally decided to mark the chain spaces with stitch markers. Once I got beyond that first row of chevrons, it was all downhill from then on. The rows began to flow off my hook without effort and the result is a beautifully thick and textured fabric.
Because you are working over top of previous rows, this project does take some time to complete. The work does not grow as quickly as most crochet. But because this is a little whimsical endeavor anyway, I’m finding it very satisfying and enjoyable to work. My lap is not covered with hot, wooly yarn and I can hold the whole thing in one hand! I believe that I will add a wrist strap or a shoulder strap to my finished bag. But first, there is the assembly, plastic canvas, and lining to finish. Quite a fun little project!
Who wouldn’t like to go to a plant farm on a day that the weather is sunny and warm and you get to taste tidbits offered by area restaurants? And you get 50% off any plant that you buy? Well, that’s what we thought so we headed north to Leader Heights PA. Miller Plant Farm is beautiful! We had to pay $10 each to take part in the tidbit-tasting but it was well worth it. Indoors and outdoors various restaurants and markets had set up serving tables and were offering everything from barbecue beef sliders to chocolate covered peanut butter balls. All of the meats and vegetables had been raised locally. Our favorite treat was a penne and seafood pasta dish being served at the Paddock Restaurant in York PA. Not to be outdone, The Glen Rock Mill Inn was cooking up roasted vegetable skewers and delectable appetizers. Miller Plant Farm was responsible for that decadent treat, the chocolate covered peanut butter balls. After eating one of those, you are not hungry anymore! I was particularly interested in Sonnewald Natural Foods. They were offering coffee and tea made from dandelions and beet juice. I only tasted the coffee. It vaguely resembles traditional coffee in its color but the taste is much milder. Not bad actually.
After moving to PA 4 years ago, Paul and I did not spend much time investigating the restaurants in that area. We tended to rely on habit and patronized the eateries that we knew across the state line in Maryland. After all, both of us had lived in Maryland our whole lives! I have to be honest when I say that we had a slight disdain for the small city of York and its lack of amenities. We bemoaned the fact that there was virtually no cultural influence and we assumed that the restaurants would be inferior to those across the Mason-Dixon Line. But we were wrong! Armed with menus, brochures, and business cards as well as pages of recipes, we now have a good idea of where to dine next time we go out.
After eating our fill we got down to the business of shopping. The store has everything imaginable for the yard and garden, all kinds of food, and many gift items besides. We were quite taken with a small wall piece that was a combination gel fireplace and fountain. The space in our home does not allow for a fireplace so I was gazing longingly at this item. I was also quite taken with the beautiful art glass bird feeders and bowls. As you can see from the photos, there was much to admire.
Outdoors we enjoyed the array of flowers and shrubs that were on display. Our mission was to buy a Crepe Myrtle for our side yard and we found a nice specimen right away. The helpful saleslady encouraged us to get a cart immediately and reserve the plant before somebody else decided that they wanted it. That 50% off had folks loading up their carts as quickly as they could! In another area, a small enclosure held a calf that had just been born. Little children were coming along to pet this delightful little creature. Paul loaded the tree into our truck while I took another quick turn through the gift shop. No more purchases for me so we headed back down the road after a very enjoyable afternoon!
What’s Happening At JC Penny?
JC Penny is renovating selected stores and adding a cutting-edge home department; think Crate and Barrel or IKEA but even trendier. I spent a bit of time walking around the White Marsh, MD store last week and was impressed by the variety of up-to-date merchandise that was available. Not only was it beautiful, but it was also displayed in imaginative ways. I’m a pushover for contemporary furniture and I saw several items that were worth drooling over! It remains to be seen if Pennys can sustain this new venture but I sure hope so! I couldn’t help taking a photo of a couple of crochet pouffs…
Crochet Has Come A Long Way
Gone are the days when little old ladies stitched up day-glo orange and brown granny afghans in church basements. I began to seriously follow crochet on-line in 2002. At first all I could find were some vintage patterns offered on ebay. Kim Guzman had a website that had a few free patterns. Cylinda Matthews and a few other folks were posting photos of crochet projects on the web. Crochetville.org was born soon thereafter and the explosion began!
But even in those early days, many crochet designs copied the earlier vintage looks. Worsted weight yarn was a heavy (and I mean HEAVY) favorite. Acrylic was very popular because it was economical and the leader was clearly Red Heart. Gradually soft acrylic yarns, such as Caron Simply Soft, became the norm. Today, you will see crochet designs in everything from thread and lace to super bulky weight yarns.
Once the website Ravelry came on-line, crocheters were able to view collections of patterns in every conceivable yarn weight. The search system over at Ravelry is still the most useful for gaining inspiration. You can enter your desired item (sweater, bag, toy) and desired yarn weight (fingering, worsted, sport) as well as the yardage that you have on hand. Up come pages and pages of photographs with the corresponding patterns and information about the designer!
Not to be outdone, today’s crochet magazines jumped on the bandwagon. There are now four major crochet magazines but my favorite is still Interweave Crochet. The editors at Interweave Press consistently present sophisticated designs that use new and delectable yarns. This month they outdid themselves.
Vashti Braha, a fellow Raveler, has a stunning shawl on page 20. The Ennis Shawl is inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright with its architectural border. For this shawl, Vashti chose a very economical yarn, Southwest Trading Company’s Bamboo. You will only need two skeins for this beauty!
Vashti is also the designer of my favorite piece in the magazine. The Electra Wrap is worked in mohair and features an easy love-knot stitch. Two different yarns give this shawl a 3-dimensional look. And according to the editors of Interweave Crochet, this shawl looks airy but is actually quite warm.
Mimi Alelis is a crochet friend from my early Crochetville days. Her specialty is thread crochet and she offers a variety of colored threads on her website. Her Hibiscus Tunic is simply gorgeous. It is feminine without being fussy and can be worn as a swimsuit cover-up or as an overblouse to a tank top.
And Kathryn White, another friend from Crochetville, is a true crochet artist. Her intricate doilies have won many awards and have been published in many magazines. For Interweave Crochet this month, she has designed the Love Is A Rose Shawl that is featured on the cover. This shawl can be worn as a shoulder wrap or as a waist sarong. What a beauty to take to the beach or to wear over a sundress!
There are many other wonderful summertime designs in Interweave Crochet. Just because the warm weather has arrived, there is no excuse to lay aside your hook! This summer’s designs and lightweight yarns can keep you occupied through many a balmy evening. Let’s hear it for some of the most innovative designers in the field!
DIY Leather-Look Lamp Project: Update
Here are the photos of my finished lamp. As I stated previously, I ran into a couple of snags but I managed to overcome the problems and to finally finish the decoupage overlay on my old ceramic lamp. The leather-look finish that I was after is not really in evidence here. I don’t know why the finish ended up looking so shiny. I tried to tone it down with a matte coat of polyurethane but it still came up quite glossy.
Despite the disparity between what I had envisioned and the end result, I am very happy with how it turned out. To dress up the top rim where the base meets the harp, I cut an old belt to size and glued it around the edge. A quick trip to Joann’s for trim netted me a beautiful copper-shaded cord which I attached to the shade on the top and bottom edges with fabric glue.
This lamp looks much better in my living room than the previous more modern fixture. It has some real bulk which serves to balance out the arc lamp on the other side of the sofa. Additionally, the more versatile bulb mechanism allows me to set the light level at three different brightnesses. The bigger shade allows more light to shine onto my work area. And I really do love the finish on the base! It may be a bit shiny but it has a great textured look and feel.
I know that I will try a paper craft like this again. The next time I will use heavy craft paper instead of the thinner picture-frame backing that I used for my lamp. I will be sure to use dark shoe polish ( Thanks Dee Bullock! ) instead of the oil-based stain that I had on hand and I would color the paper before I coated it with Modge Podge. I think that the shoe polish would have added more emphasis to the raised areas of the paper. As with most DIY projects, you have to give yourself a little leeway and adjust your methods as you go along. This was certainly the case here but I am pleased to say that this project was a success!
I’ll leave you with a photo of the wildflowers that are growing next to our shed. On a whim, Paul threw a few handfuls of wildflower seed onto the unsightly mound of pineneedles and dirt that borders our shed along the back fence line. What a feast for the eyes this little spot has become!
I have to say that I think that this is the prettiest item that I have ever made. Just look how weightless and airy this shawl is! I mentioned before that I am not a fan of wearing lace but oh, how I love to make it! Not only is the pattern repeat very interesting and keeps you on your toes as you were crocheting, but the lace trim is simply scrumptious. The yarn, called Scrumptious, is a blend of Merino Wool and Silk. A good blocking opened out all of those beautiful fans and fillet stitches. Honestly, when you have it on your shoulders, you can hardly tell that you are wearing it. My mom is the only person I know who will wear a lace shawl and appreciate the effort that has gone into making it. I’ll let my sister take it back to Florida with her in July and give it to my mother for her birthday.
Faux-Leather Lamp Project
Everything was going along swimmingly with my lamp project. I had torn and crumpled the brown paper, glued it to the lamp base and covered it with Modge Podge several times. The trouble started when I decided to stain it brown because the light color was not working in my living room. I used a Minwax stain that we had on hand and I didn’t notice that it was also a sealer and was oil-based. I applied the stain with a foam brush and then wiped it off with a rag. The stain was causing the Modge Podge underneath to soften and become sticky. Then I noticed places where it had apparently bled through the Modge Podge and caused what appeared to be unsightly ink blotches on the finish.
This was not a happy development! If only I had used a nice water-based stain instead! Oh well, it was too late for that but I found a good solution to the problem. wherever the stain had blotched, I simply tore some more paper and made patches, applying the Modge Podge extra thick this time. Of course the patches were much lighter so I had to wait 3 days for everything to dry and then I stained the patches. I am actually quite pleased that this happened because the base was looking a bit monotone without the relief of the lighter patches. Now it has to dry again for a few days. I will still put a light coat of a coppery colored glaze over the whole thing and then seal it with polyurethane. You’ll notice that it now appears extremely shiny. I’m hoping that a matte coat of polyurethane will tone that down.
The shade still needs some work. I think that I will add a bit of trim to the top and bottom edges. I had purchased a subtle animal-print ribbon that I had intended to use but Paul did not like it at all! So it is back to the drawing board as far as the shade is concerned. I guess I’ll have to make a trip to Joann’s next week to see if I can find some nice trim.
So just to re-cap:
- Brown Craft Paper or Brown Paper Bags
- Modge Podge
- Foam Brushes
- Water-Based Stain
- Pigmented Glaze