Monday 18 May 2015

Hook & Needle News - 18/05/15

Remember that I've been looking for a project in which to use Red Heart Super Saver blacklight yarn? Well, I decided to google it, and I found this scarf using Argyle Crochet and I was fascinated. I had never seen or heard of this technique before. And I decided to buy the Kindle book and give it a try. Here's the link to the book:

The book suggests that you try several swatches to practice before actually tackling a project. Here's my first attempt:
I added a scalloped edging and decided to use it as a pot holder/trivet. 
By the way, my plans are to make an afghan out of the blacklight yarn, using Argyle Crochet. I'm just hoping I'll have enough. The book says that you should make sure to use all one dye lot as the length of each colour can vary between dye lots. I've had to shop around at different Walmarts to find what I could of the same dye lot. And since this technique is done in single crochet, I'm sure it will take a lot of yarn. I currently have 7 skeins plus what's left over from making the Drop Stitch Cowl. I may have to try another Walmart or two. 
Here's the Drop Stitch Cowl:

Here's where I'm at with the Vivaldi Throw:
I've also started on the Choo-Choo Train Afghan for my grandson:
The main body of the afghan should work up quite quickly as it's double strands of knitting worsted using a 10.0 mm hook.  Then I have to add fringe and crochet and applique the trains.
I haven't made any progress on the Crystal Roses afghan or Sophie's Universe. But I have made progress on my basement crafting studio. I have finished the drywall taping and cornerbead and one coat of mud to all places that required it (and lots of places that didn't). I just have to wait for the mud to dry so I can sand and apply the next layer. However, now that nice weather is here, it's time to do some yard work. 

Sunday 10 May 2015

"Cover Girls"

"Toilet paper dolls" is a rather unflattering moniker. Also a bit misleading since it almost makes it sound like the dolls are made of toilet paper. "Toilet paper cover dolls" is rather cumbersome. So, I've opted to nickname them "cover girls." Here's my first one:
I remember these from my childhood, but I can't honestly say it is with fondness or even nostalgia. My mother never had them in the house. With 7 children, we probably went through so much toilet paper that one of these dolls would be more trouble than it was worth. And most of them from my childhood looked more like this: 
The dolls weren't particularly attractive and they weren't very successful at hiding what they were supposed to be hiding under their incredibly cylindrical dresses. So I really hadn't had a desire to own or create one of these. Until a few years ago I acquired some patterns for them along with some other crocheting paraphernalia I got at a yard sale. And for me it was a new challenge. And recently I decided to take up that challenge. Finding a couple of Skipper-sized dolls at the thrift store, I knew they were the same height as the dolls used for this purpose and decided to see if they would work. 
The patterns actually called for worsted weight yarn. I felt that was quite bulky for such a small doll and considered using sport weight, but the local selection is pretty slim. So I opted to use Red Heart Soft Touch, which is one of the lightest worsted weight available at our Walmart. The only lighter one is Red Heart Unforgettable, but I didn't want a variegated yarn for this project. I also went down a hook size from the recommended 3.75 to a 3.50.
Before I go any further, I want to tell you how I compare yarns. I use metres per gram. I look on the label and find the number of metres and the number of grams and divide. For example, Red Heart Comfort solids have 792 metres in a 454 gram ball. That yields 1.74 metres per gram. Soft Touch is 1.9 and Unforgettable is 2.56. The higher the number, the ligther or finer the yarn. It's a handy index to have when substituting or combining yarns in a project, especially a project where guage is very important. 
So, I began to crochet, but had to make adjustments as anything in the Barbie family is quite a bit more shapely than the original toilet paper dolls. However, increasing and decreasing left too many openings where the doll's "flesh" showed through. I wasn't very happy about this. And as the skirt got longer, the weight of it pulled on these openings and made them bigger. And then, somehow the skirt was a little overwhelming for this tiny doll:
I do believe that there's a lot more "give" to this yarn than some other worsted weights, such as Red Heart Comfort, and as I started adding ruffles, the increased weight just seemed to pull the dress longer and longer. By this time, I had decided that Barbie was going to work better for this dress than the Skipper-sized doll and tried her out in the dress. Actually, at first I tried a doll called Darci, who is about an inch taller than Barbie. No, that's not going to work. She is too tall and risked topping over into the toilet bowl. Definitely not what I wanted to happen after putting all that work into this dress. So, then Barbie tried the dress on and she's pretty steady in her toilet paper stand and hopefully won't go for a dip. 
Unfortunately, with all that extra weight in the skirt, the armhole openings were stretched almost to Barbie's waist, so I had to do some more modifications. I crocheted some additional stitches under the arms and darned the openings around the waist. Still, there was a little too much Barbie showing through, so I crocheted her some black panties. The trim was supposed to be lace, but I was not about to handstitch yards of lace onto this dress. So I added the border in double strands of a 2-weight sparkle and sequin yarn (Loops and Threads Payette yarn from Michael's). I chose beige as the bathroom where she now resides is done in black and beige. 
I wasn't sure if I was going to make the hat or not. As I had yarn left over, I decided to give it a try. I greatly digressed from the pattern as Barbie's head is a lot smaller then the toilet tissue doll's. I'm not sure if I like it or not. I have to admit, however, that I think Barbie looks much better than the toilet tissue doll. Not only is she a prettier doll, but it's not so obvious that she's hiding toilet paper. 

Sunday 3 May 2015

Hook & Needle News 03/05/15

Honestly, I really need to quit starting new projects until I finish more of the ones I'm currently working on...
Blacklight yarn: yes, I thought I'd found the project I wanted to create. I had gathered various skeins of yarn that went well with it. Then I picked up Crochet World Blue Ribbon Crochet and decided to use my blacklight collection to create the Vivaldi Throw. It actually calls for 3/dk/sport weight yarn, whereas my collection is 4/worsted/aran weight, but that would just mean I'd have a bigger afghan in these awesome colours. I was impatient to see how it looked and so, never mind how many other WIPs I already have, I began. I planned on using the blacklight as the main colour in the diamond motifs. But, while the floral motifs looked great in the yarns I had selected, somehow the blacklight wasnt' looking right. 
Beginning of Vivaldi Throw with Diamond Motifs done in Blacklight/Black

Close-up of  diamond motif done in blacklight/black
They just looked messy. So I tried one in all blacklight.
Close-up of diamond motif done in all blacklight
Then I tried reversing it, black for rounds 1 & 3, and blacklight for round 2.
Decisions, decisions...
No, the black is too stark and the blacklight is too messy-looking. None of these options were really cutting it for me. I posted pictures to facebook and google+ and most opinions were that the blacklight wasn't quite right. A couple of people suggested brown. Well, brown is about my least favourite colour. Someone else suggested a paler neutral, and I thought ivory might work. And since I didn't already have purple in this afghan, I decided to use that as the accent colour. I went to Walmart, and didn't really want the amethyst that they have in the Red Heart Super Saver. So I ended up having to buy Red Heart Soft Touch. It's a 4-weight, but definitely lighter than the Super Saver or Comfort that comprise the rest of the yarn in this afghan. The ivory (actually the colour is called Aran) is Super Saver. 
That's better, but still not quite the look I want, so I reversed the colours.
And finally, I"m happy with this look. This is what I've got done so far:
I took it out to my side yard for a couple of pictures.
And yes, I'm quite pleased with the purple/ivory diamond motifs.
But that still left me without a project for the blacklight yarn. Then with the new month came the next cowl in Red Heart's monthly, "Learn a Stitch, Make This Cowl." This month it's a knitted Drop Stitch Cowl and it calls for With Love yarn in beachy. That's a 4 weight yarn in a variegated colour. Perfect, because that's exactly what blacklight is. And I got started on that as well.
Last month's cowl was a crocheted drop stitch cowl, and I have to admit that I prefer the crocheted drop stitch over the knitted one, even if it was kind of awkward using a dowel! I find it's kind of sloppy working with the knitted drop stitch and, in this pattern, there are two regular knit stitches on each end to reinforce the edges on the drop stitch rows. That makes it shorter on the edges than it is in the middle. But the drop stitch itself is really not difficult to work. And I love this yarn. However, I'm not sure which of my cowl recipients is going to want such a loud cowl. LOL!
This cowl only calls for one ball of yarn and, of course I have several balls in blacklight, so I will still gladly find another project to use it in. I really like the way this argyle scarf works up in blacklight and have already purchased the author's book for her argyle technique. Since I love variegated yarn, I'm sure I'll find some great projects to do.
Of course, I'm not likely to be content making just a scarf out of blacklight. <smile>
And the next topic is toilet paper dolls. And no, I do not mean dolls made out of toilet paper. If you're old enough, you'll remember those dolls in fancy crocheted dresses that people used to have in the bathroom to hide an extra roll of toilet paper. Have you ever been in someone else's house, using "the facilities" and you suddenly realize that there's no toilet paper? None of us really want to snoop in someone else's cupboards. However, desparate times demand desparate measures. But what happens if you can't find the extra roll? Nothing like sitting on the toilet yelling out to your host, "I need some more toilet paper in here." Well, those little dolls solved that problem because you always knew where to find the extra roll. A couple of years ago, I purchased some knitting/crocheting supplies and patterns at a yard sale. And amongst this find were several patterns for toilet paper dolls. Or more correctly, the dresses they wore. So, I resolved to some day try to make one or two. Who knows? Maybe I'll bring back a trend. The biggest problem was finding the right doll. While I've seen it done with Barbies, I think they are actually too tall for a toilet paper roll to hold them stable enough. But I might give it a try if I find a decent pattern. I was able to find a 10" tissue paper doll online at Joann Fabric and Craft Store for $3.99. Unfortunately, their lowest shipping price to Canada is $9.95, so I'd have to want that doll very badly. Not to mention that those dolls are just not very attractive. So, I was storing the idea for future consideration. Until I was rummaging through the Barbies at a thrift store and found a couple in the Skipper size: 10".
It took me awhile to figure out who these dolls actually are. While they are both Mattel, they are not Skipper. After some assistance from a facebook crochet group, I found that the blonde one is Ashley Olsen. I had to google, however, to discover that the brunette is Gabriella from High School Musical. Not that that really matters since they're just going to be hiding toilet paper. Unfortunately, the build of these dolls is significantly different from the build of the typical toilet tissue dolls. The patterns I'm using are actually for a modified pillow doll. They call for knitting worsted which I think is a pretty heavy yarn for a doll of this size. I considered sport/3 weight but selection is very limited in my part of the universe. So I picked the lightest weight knitting worsted I could find, Red Heart Soft Touch, and used a 3.5 mm hook instead of the 3.75 that the pattern called for as I tend to crochet larger than guage. And I tried to make some modifications as I went along, particularly in the waist area as toilet tissue dolls are considerably thicker in the waist than anything in the Barbie line. Here's the project so far:
Not entirely happy with it. There's considerable "skin" showing through where I did the decreases for the waist. And the skirt is probably longer than it was supposed to be (kind of reminds me of the huge skirts worn by 'Anna' in The King and I, 1956), but overall, I'm reasonably pleased with it. I still need to crochet three more layers of ruffles on the skirt, plus put a couple of snaps on the back. The pattern says to sew up the back opening, but what if she wants to change clothes? There's also a hat to complete the outfit. I may attempt that, but again will require modifications as Darice's head (yes, the toilet tissue doll has a name, too) is quite a bit bigger than this doll's. Ashley, by the way, is posing on my vintage mauve toilet, which is in my main bath, but she is actually dressed for the basement bathroom, which is beige and black. She'll move down there once she's finished. 
I've finished a few more motifs for the Crystal Roses throw and one more row on Sophie's Universe, not significant enough accomplishments to post pictures.