Thursday, November 5, 2015

An Ode(r) to Sheep


Oh, mighty Sheep, who live in a barn
Your fleece can be used to make wonderful yarn
You are important, oh mighty Sheep
As you are counted we drift off to sleep

Oh mighty Sheep, we love your wool
Fiber this fabulous won't come from a bull
Your roots in our history run quite deep
We owe much to you, oh mighty Sheep


You are a beast that is often ignored
At the mention of "sheep", most become bored
Your popularity is now a bit less slight
After you recently managed to stop a flight

Interest was piqued when we received word
That trouble was caused by some of the herd
You caused a fiasco, oh mighty Sheep 
When you were packed on a plane, two thousand deep

It must have been miserable down in the hold
But you got your vengeance a hundredfold
The pilots and crew met with some trouble
When the airplane filled with your methane bubble

Oh, mighty sheep, you don't smell like roses
Your odor began assaulting their noses
In midair, with nowhere to run
They had to endure the deed that was done

In distress, the flight was grounded
As fire alarms and warnings sounded
Oh, mighty Sheep, as you flew through the sky
Did you laugh while you made the pilots cry?

The air was cleared and the flight resumed
But the crew had already been properly fumed
It must not be fun transporting sheep
The smell is quite bad, and the -ahem- gets deep.

Oh, mighty Sheep, may your conditions be checked
And you treated with much more respect
For your wool is so loved among the fiber arts
That we can forgive your smelly farts


  For those of you who haven't heard, quite a debacle was caused recently by some sheep on a cargo plane. In transport from Australia to Malaysia, the 2,000+ sheep packed in the cargo hold managed to ground the flight due to an excess of methane gas. The beasts released so much manure and flatulence that the gases set off the fire alarms. I found a report of the incident here. Apparently, after airing out the aircraft for two and a half hours, the flight was able to resume.

  In closing, I'd like to add that over 2,000 sheep on a plane seems extreme, even if they were lambs instead of full-grown sheep. If they were full-grown sheep, then holy cow! I mean... Sheep! No wonder the flight was grounded. Being unable to find an example of how packed in they were, I can't condemn these people. Who knows? Maybe the sheep had plenty of room. But when your flight is being grounded due to sheep farts, perhaps that's too many.

Happy Crocheting!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Bandanna Baby Bib

  Make sure those baby bronc busters are geared up right! Even the littlest cowboys and cowgirls need a bandanna for ridin' the range. Since the youngun's are a mite too small to be tyin' their own, here's one that ya'll can stick on for em'. A few color changes and some fancy stitchin' make this here kerchief snazzy enough for the town hall dance after the dogies are rounded up.

crochet, free pattern, baby, accessories, western wear, bib

  Okay, enough cowboy-talk and let's be serious. This bib was made to fit from 6 months to 12 months, with a circumference of 12" (30.5 cm) around the neck. The body is 4" (10 cm) long, at the point. After consulting my size chart, I discovered that a neck of 12" should fit from 6 - 18 months. Really? Doesn't the kid grow somewhere in between there? I don't have any 18 month old to try this out on, so I'm cutting the size off at 12 months for safety, and you won't make a bib that cuts off the poor kid's circulation. If you happen to know baby sizes better than me and you have the answer, please leave a comment to help others out.

Skill level:
crochet, skill level. easy

3 colors worsted weight (4) acrlic yarn
-I used Caron United in Cherry, White, and Navy
Crochet hook size H/8-5.00 MM or size needed to obtain gauge
Yarn needle
Matching colored thread
Sewing needle
Sew-on Velcro

crochet, free pattern, baby bib, western wear, gauge example

In 4" by 4" (10 cm by 10 cm)
8 rows of 12 half double crochet

Chain 2 at beginning of rows always counts as a half double crochet

In straps: Chain 1 at beginning of rows always counts as a single crochet

Change colors on the last yarn over of a stitch. (For hdc: Yarn over, insert hook, pull up a loop - 3 loops on hook. Yarn over with new color, pull through all 3 loops.

Stitches and abbreviations:
Chain (ch)
Slip stitch (sl st)
Single crochet (sc)
Half double crochet (hdc)

Skip (sk)
Space (sp)
Stitch (st)

Directions (body):

Begin with Color A (CA).

Row 1:
With slip knot on hook, ch 2 (counts as first hdc). Make (1 hdc, ch 1, 2 hdc) in farthest ch from hook.

Row 2:
Ch 2 (counts as hdc), turn. 1 hdc in first hdc. 1 hdc in next hdc. (1 hdc, ch 1, 1 hdc) in ch-1 sp. 1 hdc in next hdc. 2 hdc in last hdc.

Row 3:
Ch 2, turn. 1 hdc in first hdc. 1 hdc in each of next 3 hdc. (1 hdc, ch 1, 1 hdc) in ch-1 sp. 1 hdc in each of next 3 hdc, 2 hdc in last hdc; change to Color B (CB) on last st.

Row 4:
Ch 2, turn. 1 hdc in first hdc. 1 hdc in each of next 5 hdc. (1 hdc, ch 1, 1 hdc) in ch-1 sp. 1 hdc in each of next 5 hdc. 2 hdc in last hdc; change to CA on last st.

Row 5:
Ch 2, turn. 1 hdc in first hdc. 1 hdc in eaach of next 7 hdc. (1 hdc, ch 1, 1 hdc) in ch-1 sp. 1 hdc in each of next 7 hdc. 2 hdc in last hdc; change to CB on last st.

Row 6:
Ch 2, turn. 1 hdc in first hdc. 1 hdc in each of next 9 hdc. (1 hdc, ch 1, 1 hdc) in ch-1 sp. 1 hdc in each of next 9 hdc. 2 hdc in last hdc; change to CA on last st.

Row 7:
Ch 2, turn. 1 hdc in first hdc. 1 hdc in rach of next 11 hdc. (1 hdc, ch 1, 1 hdc) in ch-1 sp. 1 hdc in each of next 11 hdc. 2 hdc in last hdc.

Row 8:
Ch 2, turn. 1 hdc in first hdc. 1 hdc in each of next 13 hdc. (1 hdc, ch 1, 1 hdc) in ch-1 sp. 1 hdc in each of next 13 hdc. 2 hdc in last hdc. Do not bind off.

Beginning of left strap:

Row 9:
Do not turn. Ch 2 (counts as hdc), 1 hdc in post sp. 2 sc in next post sp.

Row 10:
Ch 1 (counts as sc), turn. 1 sc in next sc. 1 hdc in each of next 2 hdc.

Row 11:
Ch 2, turn. 1 hdc in next hdc. 1 sc in each of next 2 sc.

Rows 12 - 30: 
Repeat rows 10 and 11 (8 times), repeat row 10 once more.

Bind off, weave in ends.

Right strap:

Row 1:

With CA and wrong side facing, join in the side post space of row 7. Ch 1 (counts as sc), sc in same sp. 2 hdc in next space (row 8).

Row 2:
Ch 2, turn. 1 hdc in next hdc. 1 sc in each of next 2 sc.

Row 3:
Ch 1 (counts as sc), turn. 1 sc in next sc. 1 hdc in each of next 2 hdc.

Rows 4 - 22:
Repeat rows 2 and 3 (8 times), repeat row 2 once more.

Bind off, weave in ends.

Surface crochet embellishment:

crochet, free pattern, baby bib, western wear, surface crochet

*I tell you in the following instructions to begin with the right side facing you. In the picture above, you see the back side of the surface crochet, which some may prefer. If you want the thinner single strand to show instead of the crocheted loops (seen in display photo), begin with the wrong side facing.

Working down right strap -
With Color C and right side facing, bring up a loop in the middle post space of row 30 (body). Sl st in the middle post space of row 29 to secure. *Pull up a loop long enough to reach the ending hdc sp of next row, sl st in this space. Pull up a loop long enough to reach the middle post space of the next row, sl st in this space.*Repeat from * to * until reaching the main body of the pattern.

Working across the body -
Pull up a long loop, sl st in first hdc of body. Pull up a long loop, sl st in post sp of row 10. **Pull up a long loop, sk 1 post sp, sl st in next post sp of row 11. Pull up a long loop, sk 1 post sp, sl st in next post space of row 10.** Repeat from ** to ** to the space before the corner ch-1 of row 10. Sk 1 post sp of row 11, pull up a long loop, sl st in the next post sp of row 11. Pull up a long loop, sl st in ch-1 corner sp of row 10. Pull up a long loop, sl st in first hdc post sp after ch-1 sp of row 11. Pull up a long loop, sl st in post space of row 10.Repeat from ** to ** to end of body. Repeat from * to * to end of left strap. Bind off, weave in ends.

With needle and matching color thread, sew on 2" (5 cm) Velcro to the end of each strap.

*If you follow the blog, then you know my (lack of) sewing skills! If not, then you can always refer to my post "I am a Sewing Dummy". The following is an example of how I sewed on the Velcro. It's probably not the right way, but it works for me... Except for that part where I became a pincushion... That hurt a little :)

sewing, crochet, free pattern

First, gather all needed supplies, including coffee. The yarn isn't needed for attaching the Velcro, and I don't know why it's in the picture. Maybe because I needed more coffee. I'm probably using the wrong kind of needle for this, and I don't know what size it is. Sorry, I'm not much help when it comes to sewing. Wanna come over and sew some Velcro on for me? I'll make you a cup of coffee!

crochet, sewing, Velcro, baby bib

Okay, before we get to my horrible example of sewing: I really recommend putting the rough side of the Velcro on the side that faces out. In case the pieces aren't exactly lined up when attached to the little one, the soft side of the Velcro will be towards the skin. 

sewing, crochet, free pattern, Velcro

What I have is a big, long tape of Velcro. I've seen it sold in pre-cut squares and rectangles, plus ovals which may be perfect for this project. But since I already have this kind, I cut about 2" (5 cm) of Velcro, then I trimmed the ends to round the corners. 

sewing, crochet, free pattern, Velcro

Before I attach the Velcro, I secure the thread to the crochet piece with a little back stitching. Although I know the correct term for this, I'm probably doing it wrong - I leave a long tail after sewing through a bit of yarn, then sew over and over... And over, and over the tail.

crochet, sewing, Velcro

I sew up through the Velcro then back down through it, without going all the way through the crochet piece. I angle my needle so that it comes out to the side of the Velcro before traveling through to the back of the yarn. Each time I bring the needle back up, I begin before the last stitch made, to (hopefully?) secure the thread.

crochet, sewing, Velcro, baby bib

I did pretty good at making a straight line for part of the seam, but the rest shows my true abilities.

crochet, sewing, accident

And this picture shows my sewing abilities at their full extent. It's a good thing that only went through the top layer of skin. Once, I went horizontally all the way through my nail bed. This is where I'll stop the sewing tutorial and tell you to proceed at your own risk. 

  I don't want it to end that way, but I'm really not your teacher when it comes to sewing. Twice, I sewed myself to the pattern, and almost bled on it after a good jab of the needle. I know, I know... Use a thimble... But how do you keep the thing on your finger? It's constantly falling off and just annoys me.

  I remember another of my mother's attempts at teaching me to sew: "You really don't get this, do you?" I can do algebra and geometry. I'm not always grammatically correct, but I know when you're not. And I have common sense enough to back out of a parking space and not cause a disaster. Sewing is just... Beyond me. I managed to attach the Velcro without a trip to the hospital. My seams are strong; threads intact. I wish you the same. I'll just spare you the pictures with the bandages and bloody fingers. After all, Halloween is over, right?

Happy Crocheting!
And successful sewing, too!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Get Outta the Kitchen and Get Back to Stitchin'

  I mentioned in my last post that I'm working on promoting a product... And it has nothing to do with crochet. I promise, this post has something to do with crochet, but you're going to hear about my adventures in baking first. This side job has been a bit both a blessing and a curse for me. The good points: I've been in a bit of a funk lately, so it's nice to step away from my crochet work that has become stressful. I used to love to bake so this keeps me in my comfort zone. And I get to keep a product that, to be honest, I would probably never purchase.

Peanut butter cheesecake stuffed brownies recipe

  The bad points: My feet, and possibly my waistline. Baking was my domestic specialty before I learned to crochet, but it's been years since I've spent the whole day on my feet in the kitchen. Day? I've been tending the oven for a week! I'm tired of standing, stirring, straining and scrubbing. And if I eat one more cupcake, I'm gonna puke.

Angel food cake cups filled with strawberry preserves and vanilla custard

  So, I'll stop complaining because that's all I can complain about. I'm getting paid, the neighbors are enjoying my successes along with a few mistakes, and now I can sit down in a cool house for a while. I have a few (not so) funny stories about trying to make meringue in the hot and humid Florida weather, and why not to try using the electric mixer in that smaller bowl. I came out alive, a couple pounds heavier, the batter is cleaned up, and I'm ready to get some crocheting done!

An unsuccessful attempt at meringue, stuck and deflated in my new baking trays

recipes, fails,

  Now, about what I said about not buying the product... That's just me and my budget talking. I often have to make choices between paying bills or buying toys, and these baking trays fall under the 'toy' category. That doesn't mean I wouldn't want them. I rely on my out-of-the-box thinking to create my own versions of products I can't afford, like when I attached a small key chain light to one of my crochet hooks, instead of buying a set of the lighted ones. That - like many of my attempts - worked temporarily. The light only worked when the button was pushed, so I had to hold it together with the hook. And I ended up with blisters.

  Of course, even though I have this product in front of me, I had to see if I could recreate it without buying it. I think I might save that whole story for the article I'll be writing about the product, but let's just say for now: It turned out to be a great advertisement opportunity for Ivory dish soap and Arm & Hammer baking soda. I'll add that if we had a 'swear jar', it would be full. My recipes came out (mostly) successful in the product (except for that awful decision to attempt meringue... And the hamburger cups shown), and my knockoff idea was a complete disaster.

recipes, fails, hamburger cups

  It made me think about fiber arts - and not just crochet in general. How many products can we live without, and how many tools do we actually need? I know I get by with the bare minimum, but I would love to have all the gadgets and gizmos there are. In my past sewing adventures, I have tried to make curtains without an iron. I mean, who needs an iron to sew a straight line, right? Yeah... If your fabric isn't straight, then your seam isn't, either. Irons are needed for sewing. Somebody tried to sell me a set of fabric weights for $1. I don't exactly know what those are for, or if I really need them. I'll save my dollar for now.

  Stitch markers: A necessity for some projects, both knitting and crochet. But do you need to spend a ton of money on them? No! I usually use a scrap of yarn or a bent paperclip. Sometimes I use a clip-on earring with a missing mate. I recently used a few locking shower curtain hooks found in the junk drawer. And if you do want fancy ones, all you need is some simple jewelry-making skills to make your own. Don't let stitch markers break the bank.    

  Yarn ball winders, lighted crochet hooks, and fancy yarn totes are all great to have, but they are things that you can live without. It may take time, but you can wind that skein by hand. Lighted hooks are great for travel and bedtime, but a small flashlight or even your cell phone can provide light, and I bet you already have at least one of those. Maybe if you're on the go a lot, then a fancy yarn tote comes in handy. But I know that I have old backpacks and purses stuffed in closets that can serve the same purpose. Why not save more money to spend on nicer yarn?

  Then, there's that fiber art that I try my best to stay away from: Counted cross-stitch. My mom does that. She's great at it. I can't even get the fabric straight in the hoop. Which brings to mind all the things you really do need for that craft... The hoops, thingies to wind the thread on, fabric, special needles... It seems like even a pencil and paper are necessities to complete a project. And magic. Memories of trying to learn cross-stitching are filled with the phrase "No, not that way", no matter which way I went. And french knots are pure evil. Okay, so maybe I speak of the necessities for cross-stitching from inexperience. Maybe if you're good at it, all you need is a needle and thread. Disregard my advice about the craft.

  There are quite a few tools of the trade that we can live without, but it's nice to have that one special thing... A fancy hook, a book of awesome patterns, or just a novelty pincushion that brings a smile to your face. Do you have one? Besides my ancient Hero hook (and that's a hand-me-down), I don't really have anything. Besides yarn, there's not one single tool I bought just because. I've been dying to try out a Furls hook, but that falls under the 'toy' category again, since I already have hooks. *Jumping up and down* "But I want it!"

crochet, hook, steel, antique, Hero

  My kitchen was the same, until this baking deal added my new special tools. I don't have a different gadget to chop this, or a do-dad to cut that. Up until now the most special thing I had in the cabinets was my spring-form pans, but I scored them at an outlet store for ten bucks (for the set!). And of course those were a necessity, because how am I supposed to make homemade triple-layer pumpkin-peanut butter-chocolate cheesecake without them?

  Hey! All I've shared so far is my dessert creations... Not into sweets? I need a break from the kitchen, but I managed to squeeze in a savory dish for breakfast/brunch/lunch/dinner, too! (We had these for dinner, but I think this recipe would make a nice brunch.) My hamburger cups were a disaster, but check out these egg creations:

Southwestern egg and cheese cups recipe

  Clicking on the photos of my successful creations will take you to Guidecentral and the recipe. I'm not going to push the product here on a crochet blog, but in case you're interested: There's a coupon code at the end of each recipe for 10% off the product! If you didn't click through and you don't want to scroll back up, here's the direct links:

Peanut Butter Cheesecake stuffed Brownie Cups

Strawberry Custard filled Angel Food Cupcakes

Southwestern Egg and Cheese Cups

Happy Crocheting... And maybe baking, too!

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