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The Leisure Arts Crochet Blog
  • Finishing the Granny Square Market Tote!

    It's finished!  I have finally completed the Granny Square Market Bag from Totes & Bags!

    For some reason, this was a struggle.  The pattern itself is fine, and I'm usually a sucker for anything with granny squares.  But there is so much seaming!  So much weaving in ends! 

    So many modifications that I just felt were necessary for me to finish!  By the time I finished I was just changing things up just because.

    Single crochet strips five stitches across and placed too closely to the center?  Not part of the pattern!

    In the beginning, I made the squares.  I was quite faithful to the pattern.  Actually, no.  Never mind that.  I mixed up the colors.  And on a few of the squares I worked double crochet rows when I was supposed to work half double crochet rows.  That wasn't so much an modification as a dumb mistake.  It's fine.  I don't think the difference shows too badly.

    But then I had to arrange the squares and sew them together.  I don't like sewing.  But I did it.

    Then I was supposed to crochet three panels to connect the two sides.  Three. Separate. Panels.  Two of which involved stripes.  I don't know why it seemed like this was too much for me to handle, but it did.  Also, I somehow made the stripey panel look utterly, sickeningly, bad.

    So once decided that crocheting one big panel that would run around all three sides of my granny squares, everything seemed much more fun.  So that's what I did!

    And I crocheted it on because it felt like the sturdier option. Fine.  I just didn't want to seam this.

    And when I realized I wouldn't have enough brown yarn left to work the rows around the top of the bag, working three little rows of stripes seemed like fun!

    Also, I didn't have straps for the handles, so crocheting them seemed fine.  I don't know what happened!  I mean, this is a great pattern but I had a lot more fun once I started ignoring it.  Some projects are like that, I guess.  But!  This pattern is a fantastic jumping point. 


    And this bag is super cute.

    And so is my husband, who graciously modeled the bag for me.

  • Sometimes a Hat is Just a Hat.

    I made a hat from Hats & Diaper Covers.  Ta da!

    Which hat?  Uh, well, it started out as the Chick pattern but then I started running out of yellow yarn. So I switched to white yarn and hoped that this would look like a chick hatching out of an egg.  Then I realized that the baby I was crocheting for is made up of fatness and warmth and needed more warmth like springtime needs more pollen.

    So I just used my remaining yellow yarn and mixed it with the white for some adorable braided strings and called it a day.

    Sometimes a hat is just a hat.  I tend to forget that when I'm crocheting because embellishments are so easy to add and little babies looking like yarny animals just tickle me.  But a simple little hat can be cute also.  I like the bright yellow with the white border.  I like the braids.  I just like this hat pattern without eyes or ears or whatever else I typically add on.

    So here it is.  A very cute and simple hat that's obvious evidence of my Eastery weekend.  I was going to add this to the gift pile, but my daughter saw this and wanted to wear it (not pictured because she's a constant blur).  Once I tied the braids under her chin, she yelled that she was an egg.

    Oh.  Maybe this is a themed hat, after all!

  • That's the Whole Blog!

    Blogging for Leisure Arts means that I try out their patterns and write about them.  That's it!  That's the whole blog!  I've got about 30 years' worth of patterns to look at, and I've got a lot to say about them!  My whole 'say yes and see if you can pull it off' plan was really put into action last summer when I was asked to write more about crochet.  I now try to write 3 posts about crochet each week.  That's a lot of crocheting!  After some initial panic, I discovered that crocheting dishcloths is a great way to try out new stitches and techniques and I was hooked!  (Pun intended.)

    I blogged about blogging on someone else's blog!  Head over to CrochetAddictUK to read the rest of my thrilling tale of crafting and living to write about it.

  • Finger Crocheting a Cowl

    I crocheted something from a knitting book!  Again!  This time I made the Finger Crochet cowl pattern from Learn to Arm Knit.  You know what they say: come for the arm knitting; stay for the finger crochet.

    No one says that.  At least, I hope no one actually says that.

    But, I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that Learn to Arm Knit has a finger crochet tutorial and tips for making a cowl that looks like several loops of braided rope. 

    I mean that in the nicest way possible.  I used some Lion Brand Homespun with some Patons Classic Wool Roving left over from when I arm knitted a cowl


    I love how the blue and red look together, but I think using two similar colors would have looked better overall.  Oh well.  You live and learn and console yourself in the knowledge that you make another crocheted chain in thirty minutes or less.  By the way, the cowl is made by crocheting a long chain, and then wrapping it around yourself however you see fit.

    But first, you should play with it just because you can.

    Then you make sure your ends meet up and secure them with the extra long tail you leave yourself when you tie off your crocheting. 

    Stopping every so often to wrap yourself up like a Christmas tree can feel a bit silly, but I like this approach because store-bought infinity scarfs can be a bit long for me.  If you're under 5'4" or over 5'9" (or so my taller friends tells me), accessorizing with scarves and cowls can turn into a perilous undertaking in which you struggle with looking either completely buried in your clothing or like a kid who hasn't figured out how to tie a tie yet and you're wearing a small cowl when you wanted something drapey.  I think that's a big reason why I like making my own accessories so much.  Need a really long scarf?  Just keep going!  Want those mittens to be a different color?  Dig out the yarn!
      Interested in trying out finger crochet?  Then get those fingers going!

    That last part didn't make a lot of sense, but whatever.  Just try it.  It's kind of silly, but fun and quick and incredibly pretty!

  • Weekly Dishcloth: Whoops.

    I made the Granny Border dishcloth from Dishcloths again.  But with a few minor modifications.

    Last time, I used worsted weight cotton yarn and an H hook. I followed the pattern's instructions faithfully and worked six rows before adding a border.

    This time, I used bulky weight acrylic yarn with an N hook.  And worked twenty-three rows.

    So this is an afghan, and not a dishcloth.  But it's an afghan that comes from a dishcloth pattern.  I'm not really sure what happened.

    I can guess a little, though.  Do you ever have a knitting pattern that you want to crochet, or vice versa?  Because I've been knitting different versions of Elizabeth Zimmermann's Square Shawl (it's really a lightweight baby blanket) in different yarns of different weights for the last couple of months and I just love the two-stitch increase in the four corners. It's so simple and perfect! I thought about knitting up all of my stray skeins and balls of Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick, but then I remembered how much I dislike the needles I would need for this.  And I also remembered this dishcloth pattern and figured it would do nicely.

    So late last week, I got to work.  I started with small scraps.  I knew I wanted to add new colors only when I started a new row to keep things from looking too scrappy.  I also knew I could probably make this pretty quickly.  I did not know I would make most of this over the weekend and give myself some serious shoulder pain from working for so long on such a heavy project with so much deranged intensity.  But I guess it's nice to find a pattern that just works for you?  Or something.

    So now I have a lovely throw in my gift pile, and nearly every last bit of unwanted super bulky yarn is gone.  I have to confess that I went ahead and bought another skein of green and the brown tweedy-looking yarn, but everything else was from my stash.  I also unraveled some projects that weren't sitting well with me, and it felt fantastic to transform them into something I liked. 

    I didn't get bored with this pattern at all, if you can believe it. I think switching colors so much and thinking about yardage and color combinations as I worked helped a lot. Toward the end, I was a little ready to be finished because I was using nearly a skein per row and I was nervous about running out.  That's just so much yarn!  Which was the point, I know.  Oh, and I should mention that I didn't crochet the single crochet border on this blanket like I did when I made this pattern for actual dishcloths.  I didn't have enough yarn in any one color for that, and I like it when blankets stretch out and get a bit loosey goosey.  A good afghan should only get better with time, and I think that growing a bit is definitely better.

    This took about ten skeins' worth of yarn, which means I used up a little over a thousand yards.  That's pretty great!  I would happily make this again with worsted weight yarn and a smaller hook. Maybe an H or an I hook.  I have plenty of worsted weight yarns in tiny amounts, and the colors could be amazing.  It might take me a little longer to make than this project, but I think that's fine.

    Maybe two weekends.

  • I Got a Project Bag Full of Sunshine

    I'm crocheting the Ripples of Joy afghan from Baby Afghans again and I love this sunshiney little work in progress.

    This is looking a little different from the project I made with this pattern last time.

    For starters, I'm using one color instead of five, and I don't think I'll be making this nearly as big as I did before.  This is, after all, a baby pattern.  And I am making this for a baby this time around.  I'm using Caron One Pound, so I know one color should take care of the whole blanket.  This is actually my second skein of Caron One Pound for just this year.  I want to tell you that, but I don't want to really think about what that says about me because I'm not quite sure.

    Moving on.

    I love how this is going and I still love this pattern and I love the yarn and I love that the blanket will look like a sun in a children's book when I'm finished.


    I decided to skip the process of working through the back loops.  Here's a post that describes what that means and has a tutorial, and here's a left-handed equivalent.  But basically working in the back loops every other row is what makes the blanket look so ripply.  I don't know how ripply I want my sunshine to look, but I'm not convinced that this is the look that I should be going for.  Like most pattern mods, it seemed like a really great idea before I was actually doing it.  

    But now I'm just not sure.  Maybe it's just because it feels odd to follow this pattern while doing nearly everything differently.  Or maybe I would like the look of these ripple rows being worked in the back loops more than I had realized.  

    Maybe this is completely fine, though.  The points will become more pronounced as I keep working, and this is going to make a very cheerful and solid baby blanket.  I think I'll work this for a few more rows before I make a decision to rip back or keep going. 

    I hope your projects don't make you feel so conflicted.  Happy crafting!
  • Weekly Dishcloth: I See Sea Shells

    I made the Shells pattern from Dishcloths.  I love it!

    This dishcloth is one of the first patterns I made from Dishcloths.  Well, one of the first dishcloths I crocheted ever.   I remember enjoying making it, and that my mom was happy to get it as a Christmas present, and I know I must have blogged about it.  But it was so long ago that I don't think I'll bother going back into the archives to find the post.  And while I remember liking the pattern, and how it looks, I don't really remember making it.  So I made it again.  I wanted to see what it would look like in a variegated yarn, and I just like crocheting shells.

    This took about half of a skein of Sugar n' Cream Super Size in Creamsicle, and a G hook.  I like how the colors wound up striping a little and I was happy to get gauge with the recommended hook.  I left off one pattern repeat (of two rows) because I had already reached the recommended size of 8.5" x 9.5", and that's my favorite size of dishcloth.

    I couldn't be more pleased with this.  There's no real reason why.  It's just a pleasantly simple pattern that looks nice and is easy to crochet without being boring.  I worked on it for a couple of episodes of television after my daughter went to bed one night and I repeatedly held it up so that my husband would feel obligated to say nice things about it.  It's so pretty!

    I might have even said something about liking the edges. He tried to go along with my enthusiasm, bless him.

    My husband said it looked like something his grandma would have in her kitchen, folded up next to her plates with peaches painted onto them.  He meant it as a compliment, and I knew it.  Homey dishcloths are my favorite kind of dishcloths and this one seems especially summery.  Our spring here in Arkansas is still a little colder than we'd expected for this time of year, and it was fun to work with yarn that featured bright and warm tones.  I thought the crocheted shells even looked a bit like sea shells.

    I still have half a skein of that Dreamsicle yarn left.  I could make another one, and I just might do that sometime soon.  One for my gift stash, and one for me.  I like this enough to keep it!

  • Crocheting a Christmas Stocking. Why Not?

    Hello, friends.  It is April 9, we are ten days away from Easter, and I am crocheting the Basic Stocking Pattern from Crochet Christmas Stockings.

    I mean, why not?  I know plenty of smart people who begin their Christmas crafting some time in June or July, but I tend to get taken by surprise even when I do plan ahead.  So this year, I'm getting a jump start on my holiday crafting by starting now.  I don't know why I didn't think about this back around Valentine's Day.  Valentine's Day is probably a perfect time to start Christmas crafting because January is devoted to recovering from Christmas crafting-related burnout/selfish knitting and crocheting.  I bet that's what I'll do next year.

    But for now, I'm feeling pretty good about starting my crocheting in April.  I don't even know who this stocking is for!  But when Christmas comes, I'll be ready.

    This is the first pattern I've tried out of Crocheted Christmas Stockings, and I thought the Basic Stocking Pattern would be a good place to start.  Most of the patterns specify a yarn weight and hook size, but are based on the Basic Stocking Pattern.  So I just started this with a G hook and worsted weight Red Heart yarn.  I think this will be an excellent container for a hostess gift.  Or it would be a great decoration.  Or .... something.  I like how this simple little stocking looks, so I think it's going to be great regardless of what its use is.

    There are no instructions on where to stop working for the cuff on this version of the pattern, so I just started working with red yarn when this looked 'right' to me. 

    It's fairly mindless single crochet stitches worked in the round, with a few decreases here and there.  I've plenty of time to think about how sweet an initial would look on the cuff if I sewed some buttons into the shape of a letter.  Or about how I'll probably use a different color for the heel and the toe because I may run out of scraps for this.

    I was enjoying the excitement of feeling like I was productive and an efficient planner, but now I have that extra thrill of terror that comes from trying to figure out if the yarn will outlast my pattern.  Really and truly, this is where I think the project gets exciting. It doesn't take much for me, and that's okay.

    I hope you're enjoying your own projects!

  • Crocheting a Bunny Hat!

    I crocheted the Bunny Hat from Hats & Diaper Covers because I am on an eternal quest to be The World's Best Crafting Aunt.  I'm pretty sure I've got this!

    I can understand why you might be looking at this bunny hat and wondering why I even try to compete for this imaginary title when this hat is clearly not white. Or gray.  Or even brown.

    I had fanciful notions of more natural yarn color options.  I really did.  But the more I thought of my sweet-faced nephew, with his dark eyebrows and his big ol' cheeks and his wide eyes that are already turning from blue to...something else that hasn't been determined yet, I had a thought.  And then I sent my sister a text and asked "Very Important Question: If [nephew] was a bunny rabbit, would he be white, gray, brown, or tan?  Or would he look like the Blue Bell bunny (like I am picture for some reason)?"

    She immediately asked if this was a hat question.

    She knows me too well.

    We decided that if this three-month-old infant (four months old on Easter Sunday!) was going to be any kind of rabbit, he would apparently be a cartoon one and then I got to work with some Caron Simply Soft that I already had.  I think I was supposed to choose a more pastel blue, because it's Easter time and this is a small baby but 1) I didn't have any worsted weight light blue yarn around and 2) this just seems right.

    The patterns in Hats & Diaper Covers are for babies around six months old, so I left a row or two off of the main body of this hat.  Also, I crocheted the two ear pieces for each ear together, rather than seaming them because I dislike seaming.  I used a G hook, which is a size smaller than what I typically need when crocheting worsted weight yarn, but I think those measures will make the hat fit my nephew a little bit better.

    Or it means he's already outgrown this because babies can go from practically swimming in their clothes to completely outgrowing them in just a few months in the first year.

    But that's fine.  That just means that my favorite little guy is healthy and growing.

    It also means I can make a larger version of this next year.

    The Bunny Hat and Diaper Cover set is also available as a standalone pattern, but I would recommend buying the whole book.  There are plenty of adorable patterns and every last one of them would look amazing on some small person you love.  You can trust me on this for two reasons:

    1. I have made nearly all of them--the Puppy Hat, the Ladybug Hat, and the Giraffe Hat were all quick, easy, and super-cute patterns.

    2. I am The World's Best Crafting Aunt.  My word is bond.

  • Crocheting (Another) Granny Hexagon

    Last night, I went home and crocheted Granny Square #95 from 99 Granny Squares to Crochet.

    Just because I wanted to.

    I also had a cookie before dinner because I wanted that, too.

    Even though I'm in the crochetalong group on Ravelry that makes a square or two from this book every month, I never post my projects!  I also don't always crochet the square of the month.  But I like to lurk, and today I saw that one of April's squares was another hexagon!  Crocheting hexagons is new to me, and I love how granny hexagons look.

    Making them is pretty much like making a square, but they just look so different!  They look like they take so much more work!  And they're pretty.

    So!  #95 it was.  I used some medium weight cotton yarn scraps and my trusty H hook and made this in under 30 minutes. Ta da!

    Unlike the last time I made a granny hexagon and maybe got a little carried away, I felt pretty content with #95.  It's not as puffy as #93, and lays a bit flatter.  It's also a little smaller, about 5" measured side to side compared to #93's nearly 6". The pattern only calls for two colors, but you could add more--especially if you wanted more rows.  Once you start the stitch pattern, you're all set! 

    I thought about adding a few more rows, but decided to follow the instructions to the very last letter.  At least for my first try.  I've got the whole weekend ahead of me and I'm in a mood to do whatever I want.  We'll just have to see what happens next.

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