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  • Crocheting a Bulky Cowl: the Quick and Easy Twist

    Friends, it's that time of year again.  And by that, I mean it's June.  We're halfway through the year, and it's time to think about gift knitting and crocheting.  I always make lists and think grand thoughts every year about how I'll get a jumpstart on handmade Christmas gifts, but this year I've actually started picking out patterns and pairing them up with yarns and I've even made some gauge swatches.  Brave new world over here!

    For some reason, I was thinking about the book Crochet Cowls a lot last week.  So when I was reorganizing my craft corner this weekend, I decided to pick out some yarns and see if I could pair them up with some of those patterns.  I really liked the way my Quick and Easy Button-Up turned out, and so I thought I might make a couple of cowls for friends and relatives this Christmas.

    The next thing I knew, I had grabbed up the last of my white Lion Brand Quick & Thick and started on the Quick and Easy Twist pattern.

    What can I say?  I love any pattern that has the words "quick" and/or "easy" in the name.  Throw in super bulky weight yarn and I'm 'hooked'.  (I really cracked myself up with that pun.  I'm sorry.)

    A couple of episodes of television on DVD later, and I had 28" of a cowl body! 

    Once you get started, it's just the same row of shells over and over.   It is perfect television crocheting--it took me a little over two hours to crochet and roughly 1.5 skeins of yarn.  If you choose not to be a virtuous (self-righteous?) yarn crafter and make this cowl months in advance, then you can certainly make this one day in advance.  Or even on the day of.   It's such a quick and easy project that you could whip one of these bad boys out in the car on the way to your holiday festivities.

    Or if you thought you needed a new cowl, then you could just make it for yourself and emerge from your vehicle swathed in a fluffy, bulky cowl and your smug sense of superiority that you can do anything in a couple of hours.

    Hey, I'm not here to judge, okay?  I'm the crazy lady wearing cowls in the middle of the summer.

    I hope you read this for the bad puns and dumb faces.

    I am here to recommend the pattern, though.  This is a quick project and a lovely cowl and it could very well save your tail when the holidays catch you unawares.  Or you could get started on it right now.

    Just do it with some sweet tea and an air conditioner running nearby.  This thing is warm.

  • WIP Wednesday: It's Unraveling All Around Me

    I wrote a WIP Wednesday post a couple of weeks ago, and thought I'd talk a little more about my works in progress. 

    First up, this is my Honey Cowl with Scratchy Allergic Yarn from Hell.

    I unraveled it.  The yarn wasn't working with the pattern, and the yarn really wasn't working with my hands.  So that's the end of that

    (Dusts off itchy, splotchy hands.)

    Next up, the Mitered Eyelet Blanket from Baby Blankets Made with the Knook.

    I unraveled that one, too.  I just didn't like the yarn with the pattern.  I do want to try the pattern, though.  I think I will soon, and probably with some yarn that is not cotton.  I'm sure the yarn will find a nice project some day, but I think this pattern needs some yarn that's just a little bit fuller.  And maybe more colorful.  We are talking about a baby blanket, after all.

    Looking through some of these projects really motivated me to think about whether I wanted to work on things or not.

    It looks I did not want to do too very much with this dishcloth.  I haven't unraveled it, though.  I think I'll just add another few rounds every time I have some spare cotton yarn ready to go.  It may look like a crazy person dishcloth, but it will be living in my kitchen.  So......

    Remember when I thought it would be cool to turn a headwrap into a cowl?  It was a fun idea at the time. 

    Then I guess I changed my mind.  I haven't touched it in two full weeks, and I don't think I will any time soon.  Consider it frogged.

    But!  I still plan to work on the Cable Headwrap--you know, an actual headwrap--from Slouchy Beanies and Headwraps (Knit).

    I mean, I haven't worked on it in the past 2 weeks.....but I feel motivated to get back at it now that I have this picture shaming me.  My friend's birthday is coming up (and a lot sooner than her wedding!), so I need to hop to it.

    And then there was this guy.

    This is the Little Baby Sweater from Purl Bee, and it's just precious.  It's also going pretty well.  It's not finished yet, but I'm probably about 75% of the way through it. 

    And then I'll start on Sweater #2.  Sigh.

    I'm making good progress, but this is all I want to show you.

    You know how it is with gifts.  Part of me wants to talk about it, but another part of me wants to be secretive and sneaky.  (And I want to play with my camera because it's new and fun.)

    A newer WIP is the Rib and Welt dishcloth from Easy Textured Knits. I'm using standard cotton yarn and knitting needles that are a size smaller than what the pattern calls for to account for gauge. 

    I like it a lot, and it's going well. 

    So 3 projects are gone, 2 are just the same, 1 is actually progressing, and 1 itty bitty baby WIP was born last weekend.  I'm a little freer to work on my projects, and some of those projects are a little farther along than they were the last time I posted.  If I keep posting these updates, I know I'll probably be a lot more motivated to finish up my WIPs in a much more timely manner. 

    What motivates you to finish up your WIPs?

  • WIP Wednesday

    I thought it would be fun to have a WIP (work-in-progress) Wednesday post.  Why?  Because I adore alliteration adamantly.
    And because I think it's fun.  Setting out all of my WIPs either inspires me to finish them up, or forces me to decide if I want to keep going.  I think most people have some kind of process for figuring out how they feel about their projects, and this is mine. 
    First up is the Honey Cowl by Madelinetosh (this links to the Ravelry pattern page, so you'll need a Ravelry account to view it.  Please tell me you have a Ravelry account!).  Half the Internet seems to be working on this, so I thought I'd join in on the fun.  I'm knitting the smaller size and using Size 6 knitting needles.
    And some alpaca yarn that I've never used before, and seem to be having an allergic reaction to.  I tried to write it off as dry winter skin, but when the red splotches were even on the finger I use to keep my tension even, I knew it was time to set this project aside.  I don't know if I'll take another chance on this, but it's going to sit in its corner a little while longer because ALPACA.  Something could change.  You just never know.

    This is the Cable Headwrap from  Knit Slouchy Beanies and Headwraps.  I'm using some medium weight acrylic and Size 6 knitting needles.  I cast it on to try out the double increase stitch and I really like this.  The main part of the knitting is a four-row repeat, and I think it's really pretty.

    I don't know what button I'll add to this when I'm finished, but the friend I'm making it for isn't having a birthday for another month.  Which is good, because I'm making a slightly altered version for a friend having a birthday next week.

    Like I said, slightly altered.  I'm going through a weird phase right now.  Actually, I'm going through a lot of yarncrafting phrases right now.  One is the nagging feeling that I should be starting every project I see.  Another is that I keep seeing things and wondering how they would look as a cowl.  The stitch pattern in a hat.  Lots of scarf patterns.  And when I saw the Headwrap Pattern, I thought it would like nice as a cowl.  I pulled out some Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick and some Size 15 needles and tried to find out if I was right.

    I think I was! 

    I'm not sure how I feel about this work in progress, though.

    The pattern is the Mitered Eyelet Blanket from Baby Blankets Made with the Knook, and the yarn is some lightweight cotton I got from a friend last fall.  I like the yarn and I like the pattern, but I'm not sure that I like them together. I may finish the square first, though.  Just in case.

    And because I firmly believe that sometimes you need to crochet something, I'm using up scrap yarns from my Knooked dishcloths on this Rainbow Dishcloth from Dishcloths (#5951).  And besides, I can never turn away from a good granny square project.  This colorful little square is making me happy.

    Like I said, most people have some sort of method for figuring out what to do with their WIPs.  Do you complain about them to friends until one of them says "Just rip it and get it over with!" like you were hoping they would?  Do you check your project pages on Ravelry?  Do you post your own WIP Wednesday posts on your blog?  Let me know in the comments!

  • Cowl Crocheting Update…

    Happy Saturday All! The Cat and I’ve been crocheting this morning. Well, to be more precise, I’ve been crocheting, and he’s been drooling on my yarn. Yuck…

    Anyway, remember the other day when I babbled about picking my next crochet project, the Quick & Easy Button-Up from Lisa Gentry’s Crochet Cowls? The whole thing really just started out as an excuse for me to play with my vintage button stash, but you’d be proud of me! I’ve actually started that crocheted cowl project!
    Here’s the yarn I decided to use, green, of course, and the buttons I finally settled on.
    And look, see, after crocheting all morning, I’m more than half way through the project! It’s going really quickly. It is, in fact, a great TV watching, talking to The Cat, and listening to the birds sing kinda project because once I got the pattern in my head it just flew through my hands. Gotta love patterns like that!
    Hopefully, I might even finish it today! Wish me luck. I’ll show a finished photo next week if it all comes together…
  • Vintage Buttons & Crocheted Cowls

    I’ve picked my next crochet project in my quest to get ready for the cold weather months—the Quick & Easy Button-Up from Lisa Gentry’s Crocheted Cowls!
    Normally, my next step would be yarn selection, but instead, I’m using this cowl project as an excuse to dig into my vintage button collection to find the perfect accents for my new cowl…
    First, I get to spread all my buttons out on the dining table (The Cat and The Love-Of-My-Life are amused)…
    Then I start picking out the buttons I like (difficult decision!)…

    Here are some of my favorite button pairs! Which ones do you like best?
    Oops! Found some more. Loving the big white buttons on the card…
    Decisions, decisions…And now I also need some inspiration on what to do with the cool blingy buttons I’ve found. Got suggestions?
  • Win It Wednesday: Cowls to Knit & Crochet Part 2

    Drum Roll, Please!!! Our Winner is Magpie's Mumblings!

    Win! There I go throwing around that word again—Win! For this Win It Wednesday, I’ve got two new pattern books to give away— Lisa Gentry’s Knit Cowls & Crochet Cowls! You could win them in my Lisa Gentry Cowls Giveaway! It's easy to win.
    Yesterday on the blog, I babbled about and showed you all the pretty projects in Knit Cowls—check it out if you missed it! Today in Part 2, we’re looking at some of my favorite projects in Crochet Cowls!
    Crochet Cowls
    Crocheted cowls are beautiful, easy-to-wear accessories. You'll find 10 stylish cowls in this warm collection by Lisa Gentry. They use a wide variety of yarns, ranging from light weight to super bulky weight. While scarves have loose ends that must be rewrapped or retied, cowls are buttoned, seamed, or crocheted into one continuous piece. This makes them a practical choice for your wardrobe and perfect for thoughtful gifts! Designs include Quick and Easy Button-up, Lace Scrunch, Shells with a Twist, Short but Sweet, Ruffles and Buttons, Casual Clusters, Diamond Twist, Quick and Easy Twist, Fringed Collar, and Buttons and Blooms.
    Quick and Easy Button-up

    Lace Scrunch

    Shells with a Twist

    Short but Sweet

    Ruffles and Buttons

    Casual Clusters

    Diamond Twist

    Quick and Easy Twist

    Fringed Collar

    Buttons and Blooms

    Meet The Designer: Lisa Gentry!
    Lisa Gentry, a Louisiana resident who grew up in Germany, is a knit and crochet designer and teacher whose work has appeared in books and magazines nationwide. She was awarded the title of "Fastest Crocheter" by Guinness World Records in 2005. Lisa was also once named America's fastest knitter by the Craft Yarn Council of America. You can see all of our Leisure Arts publications from Lisa Gentry on our site.
    So, how’d you like Lisa Gentry’s Knit Cowls and Crochet Cowls? Just leave a comment at the end of this post before next Wednesday, August 29, and you might just win the giveaway of my copies of Knit Cowls and Crochet Cowls! Be sure to tell me if you knit, crochet, or both, just in case I decide to pick two winners! If you can’t wait to win, order your copies of Knit Cowls and Crochet Cowls now!
  • Cowls to Knit & Crochet—Part 1

    I think handmade knit cowls and crochet cowls are really going to be popular during the cool/cold weather months this year! (If those months ever arrive!) Have you tried your hand at cowl knitting or crocheting yet? (I'm really liking the versatility of a twist cowl!)
    Let me encourage you! Leisure Arts has just released two new pattern books from Lisa Gentry (the Celebrity Slouchy Beanies designer!) – Knit Cowls and Crochet Cowls. (Yes, each skill has its own great set of patterns, so nobody’s left out!) Today, I thought I’d share some pretty pictures from Knit Cowls to inspire you!

    Knit Cowls
    Add more color and texture to your wardrobe with easy-wearing knit cowls! These 10 patterns to knit were created by Lisa Gentry, and they use a wide variety of yarns ranging from light weight to super bulky weight. Besides being warm and attractive, cowls are a practical choice. They are seamed or knit into one continuous piece, or buttoned together for wearing. So while a scarf or muffler has loose ends that must be rewrapped or retied--once you put on a cowl, it stays put beautifully! Designs include Garter Ridge Cowl, Shoulder Fringed Cowl, Buttoned Lace Cowl, Squiggles and a Flower Cowl, Button as You Please Cowl, Tempting Texture Cowl, Rose Neck Wrap Cowl, Diamonds with a Twist Cowl, Lace with a Twist Cowl, and Sideways Made Cowl.
    Garter Ridge Cowl
    Shoulder Fringed Cowl
    Buttoned Lace Cowl
    Squiggles and a Flower Cowl
    Button as You Please Cowl
    Tempting Texture Cowl
    Rose Neck Wrap Cowl
    Diamonds with a Twist Cowl
    Lace with a Twist Cowl
    Sideways Made Cowl
    Meet The Designer: Lisa Gentry!
    Lisa Gentry, a Louisiana resident who grew up in Germany, is a knit and crochet designer and teacher whose work has appeared in books and magazines nationwide. She was awarded the title of "Fastest Crocheter" by Guinness World Records in 2005. Lisa was also once named America's fastest knitter by the Craft Yarn Council of America. Check out all of Lisa's Leisure Arts designs on our site!
    If you like Lisa Gentry’s Knit Cowls, tune in tomorrow, Wednesday, August 29, for Cowls to Knit & Crochet—Part 2. I’m going to be showing off Lisa’s Crochet Cowls book and offering up a great Win It Wednesday Giveaway!

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