Sunday, November 17, 2013

Grandma's notebook project 8: Lily Sugar 'n Cream String Bag

At the top of this pattern in my grandmother's notebook she writes that this bag was made for me.  Once I got over the guilt of not recalling the bag she must have made for me, I got to work making one myself.  This is definitely a pattern I can get behind.  As soon as I finished one bag I started another.  The second bag was made from recycled grocery bags.  As I have been collecting grocery bags to make plarn this is an ideal pattern.  Ultimately even though I did not remember the bag the Grandma made this pattern certainly was , as she wrote, for me.

If you would like to make this bag for yourself you can find the pattern here.

There ought to be a law

My grandmother's home, much like my own, has always been draped in yarn. Whether knit or crocheted, every surface is covered.  Doilies on tables, antimacassars and afghans on chairs, and throw rugs throughout the house.  In the few years prior to the move which would consolidate my family into one home I would overhear, on occasion, my grandfather express disapproval of the a fore mentioned throw rugs. He was never a man to disparage anything that my grandmother did, however he was having more difficulty getting around, and those throw rugs didn't help.  After slipping across the floor one too many times he declared to his ever adoring granddaughters, "There ought to be a law." Evidently this law would forbid the placement of throw rugs without rubber backing in the homes of octogenarians. It actually seems like a reasonable law, however the rug in question was one lovingly crafted by my grandmother with his initials in it.  She was so proud of that rug, and there was no way that it would be removed, even there had been a law.
During a recent visit I found a booklet entitled "So You Want to Make a Rug". The bookshelf in the entry way, which held my grandmother's craft books, had been dismantled in order to put in a new floor.  I poured over the books, in awe of their magnificent kitsch. Grandma gave me permission to take the books, and even added more to the pile.
So, don't be surprised if one day I break that law about throw rugs in the home, because somethings are just to wonderful to be left in the 1970's.

Keepsake baby blankets

When you work in an office with mostly women you will have to go to a baby shower or two (or more).  This past year I had the opportunity flex my creative muscle with these keepsake blankets. Neither was done with a pattern.

Before I knew she was pregnant I planned to make this blanket. I had just delivered the Squirrel Baby costume to another co-worker, and I asked my office mate what kind of animal themed baby blanket she would like.  She laughed and said, "a giraffe" about 2 months later she shared her good news.
I searched for a pattern, but but finding nothing I opted to create one myself, using primarily a hexagon motif.

It was not long after my office mate announced her pregnancy that another co-worker happily shared her news at a staff meeting. I listened for queues to figure out what kind of blanket I should make for her. When I received the invitation for the shower I was delighted to see that it was to be a dragon themed party, given her affinity for Game of Thrones. Once again I could not find a pattern. I ended up using a crocodile stitch and combining a basic hat pattern for the hood.

Grandma's notebook project 7: Crocheted puff stitch afghan

In her notes on the pattern she writes "finished January 1986". Iwas 10 years old. She kept this blanket for herself, and Grandpa. It is a nice heavy blanket, perfect for January in central/upstate NY. The blankets she kept hold more significance because they were the stuff of my childhood. They hold the memories of naps on the couch, or sometimes the lamb skin rug. And of Grandpa lovingly pulling an afghan over us, even when it was perhaps too warm for one. They remind me of the sense of security and warmth of walking into a home that smelled like casserole, brownies and a hint of paint thinner from Grandpa's work day at the Paint Shop. This afghan is filled with loving memories. I think I might keep this one, too.

To make this afghan yourself, click here for the pattern.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Grandma's Notebook Project 6: Ripple Afghan

The first project my grandmother tried to teach me was a ripple afghan. She probably chose it because it was so simple. Of course as a complete novice I didn't find it so. It required counting, and that I pay attention. The first blanket I made employed the stitch in the back loops, but the peaks and valleys of the ripple afghan were quickly abandoned. I still have that blanket, it is a random assortment of left over yarn that Grandma must have given me.

Many years later when I picked up this pattern to complete the sixth project in her notebook I had to laugh to myself. This is such a simple pattern, it must have frustrated her that I would insist on doing nothing but single crochet for so many years.

The colors I chose were ones I had left over from making a 1960's style crocheted dress in brilliant dayglo colors. The dress was for a 1960's Pop Art Party at work. I worked the dress with no pattern, but even here you can see that I used the ripple effect.

If you would like to make your own ripple afghan, you can download the free pattern here.  Hopefully my transcription works for you!!

Ripple Afghan pattern pdf

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Nightmare

A few months ago it occurred to me that I needed to make my entry for the Staff Art Show. I needed something that was recognizable, but not too obvious, and something that displayed dark humor. I flipped through art books and bounced some ideas off my roommate. We agreed on Fuseli's "The Nightmare". 
I started with the horse head, which set the scale for the rest of the project. I had no pattern to work from, so there was some adjusting, and times when I just held my breath in hopes that it would all work out. I did, undid, and redid the woman. Then I did, undid, and redid the face of the incubus. Finally it was done. All that remained was to construct an armature to hold it all together.
With one day to spare we made a trip to Home Depot, and my roommate constructed the armature. When I woke up this morning I felt like it was Christmas morning, I was so excited to install my work.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Grandma's notebook project 5: Vanna White Baby Blanket

As long as I can remember my grandmother has watched Wheel of Fortune.  It has been a constant in our lives, much to the chagrin of my father.  I suppose we should count ourselves lucky that she is not a devotee of the Lawrence Welk Show, although it has been known to find its way onto her television, which is much more of a horror to my father!
I'm not sure what the appeal is, not that there is anything wrong with it.  I do know that she is quite fond of Vanna White.  I know this because she calls her Vanna; her autobiography, Vanna Speaks is on her bookshelf, and yes, she has read it; and one of the crochet books Grandma has given to me from her collection is Vanna's Favorite Crochet Gifts. So it was no surprise to find a Vanna White pattern in Grandma's notebook. This pattern was so easy to follow, and the end product was just beautiful.  I have to say, I'm a pretty big fan of Vanna, too!
Luna the Cat inspects the finished blanket

If you would like to make this blanket you can download a PDF of the pattern here.
Like this blanket, but don't want to make it yourself? Buy it at my Etsy site.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Grandma's Notebook project 4: Snap Brim Hat

One of the fun parts of following these patterns is that I have no idea what the project will actually look like until I am done.  It is also one of the frustrating parts.  Grandma had transcribed the pattern for this hat from a "Quick and Easy Crochet" magazine from 1993.  At the end of the pattern she writes, "lightly block and fold up brim in back as seen in photo." Yet there was no picture.  I tried to follow the gauge, but I've never been too good with gauge.  The whole time I was making the hat I thought, well, some people have very large heads, maybe it will fit them. Ultimately I think it turned out ok, and I did break down and Google "snap brim hat 1993" and found the original image.  I felt like maybe the standard hat on the mannequin photo didn't do the hat justice, so I put it on and did some muggin' for the camera.  I think it appropriately captures the spirit of the Snap Brim Hat circa 1993.

Click here to download the PDF of this pattern, if you would like to make this hat yourself!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Grandma's Notebook Project 3: Colorful Summer Afghan

This afghan pattern is what crocheters might call "a stash buster".  My grandmother wrote "use up scraps!" at the top of the page on this pattern.  She also writes that this is a "Colorful Summer Afghan", but my colors ended up making a colorful Autumnal afghan.  As I worked on this project I found myself feeling overwhelmed and doubtful, and then foolish, as this is not a terribly complicated pattern.  I worried that I would not have enough yarn to finish it, that my color sequence was all wrong.  I started doing crazy lady crochet math, trying to work out my problems. I began to flip forward in the notebook and found a knitting pattern with Grandma's crafting math. It made me feel instantly better.  I thought of how Grandma handled children's tantrums.  She just let them happen.  She had six children, and as we've been told, she raised them with a sense of humor and an acceptance that sometimes you have to abandon the illusion of control.  If you don't you might miss out on the unexpected moments that make life delightful. I recalled stories of my uncle running away from certain punishment with Grandma giving chase. He ran straight for Grandma's bed, diving under the covers to hide, causing Grandma to laugh too much to follow through with the punishment.  Then there is the story of my mother returning home late after a date with my father.  Her brothers had locked the doors so that she could not get back in, so she climbed a ladder to get into her second story window.  Grandma called out, "Rosa, are you in?" to which my mother responded, "halfway".
I let go of the worry, I relaxed and finished the blanket.  I held it up and realized, this is beautiful in spite of all my frustrations as I made it. I might even make it again.

If you would like to make this afghan too, click here to download a pdf of the pattern.

Grandma's Notebook

Recently I asked my grandmother if I could borrow one of her binders of patterns.  I have already posted a couple of the projects I have finished since she lent it.  She will be 97 in June, and only recently I've begun to appreciate that she will not be with me forever.  Somehow for quite a while it seemed like maybe she might, and frankly I'm not sure what a world without her will be like. I have always felt a kindred spirit with her, and although I never mastered her obsessive organizing gene I did inherit the hoarding aspect of it.  I have string too short to use all over my home, I just never labeled a box "String too short to use". 
These binders represent a life's work, though they are only a tiny portion of the woman she is.  I am thankful to be able to pay tribute to her by following in her footsteps.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Grandma's Notebook Project 2: Mittens

These mittens were omnipresent in our lives. Everyone in the family had a pair. I remember sitting in my grandparent's living room while Grandma crocheted these mittens during a visit from my Great-Uncle, her brother.  I remember her mhming while he talked. Sometimes the mhm's didn't quite land right, but that never much bothered my Great-Uncle, nor did it slow down his monologue. I understand now that she was counting, especially now that I've made a few of my own mittens.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Grandma's Notebook Project 1: Baby Sacque

 This pattern was tucked into a birth announcement inside of a pencil case in Grandma's binder. Along with the announcement there were two shipping slips and two cards from family members thanking her for the beautiful baby blankets- one for their first child, a girl and another for their second child, a boy.  I do not know the baby she made the sacque for.  That baby would be 43 now.
I had yarn left over from a baby blanket I made for a dear friend expecting her second child.  The end result was lovely. I will send the sacque along with the blanket. My friend's son happens to share my Grandfather's name, purely a coincidence, and just one of those instances of cosmic connectivity that makes the world that much more magical.

Download a PDF of this pattern.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Breakfast Scarf

When I was new to the work force I was adopted by a mentor.  She was a Special Events manager and was hard to keep up with.  I am eternally grateful that she took me under her wing and feel that my current employer benefited from her efforts.
She used to bring me along to tastings.  She warned me, don't eat everything, you will go into a coma if you do.  The caterer would bring out plate after plate of gorgeous and delicious food.  Not eating everything was a challenge, especially for a poor kid living hand to mouth.  She brought me primarily because she was a vegetarian, and would not taste the meat dishes, but also to share the experience with me as a mentor.  Whatever her reason, I was grateful.  It was certainly the loveliest part of the job.
Frequently she would arrive late to the office with a fast food wrapper in hand.  She loved McDonalds' breakfast sandwiches.  She always got the Egg McMuffin with bacon.  But wait, she was a vegetarian, right? I challenged her on this point once and she helped to clarify for me.  Bacon does not count as meat.
I'm not sure that most vegetarians would agree with her assertion, but I appreciated her logic.  After all, bacon is delicious, and if it were not so then soy products would not be manipulated to imitate it.
So, as I worked on my weekend project I thought of Mary Alice, because in actuality this bacon is not meat.

This pattern was adapted from Twinkie Chan's book of patterns, but if you wanted to buy this scarf you could do so at my Etsy Shop!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Easter Egg Basket Blanket

When I was a little girl Easter was an important holiday.  My father was a minister, and impressed upon us that Easter was far more important even than Christmas to Christians.  We spent a grueling month leading up to Easter, because when you are a minister's kid the liturgical year actually means something, and Lent was my least favorite part of the liturgical year.  Dad always seemed to work more during Lent, which frequently meant that we had to work more, too.  We eagerly anticipated Easter weekend, and on Easter Sunday looked forward to a rousing sing along to our "Jesus Christ Superstar" album and a basket of joy.  In later years it was mostly candy (white chocolate crosses instead of Easter Bunnies, because chocolate gives me migraines and Mom could never stand to watch us eat rabbits). In our youth the basket would contain a lovely Polly Flinders dress for us to wear to church that morning and Wonder Woman Underoos, which we would invariably wear under our Polly Flinders dresses.

Times have changed, though.  Dad is no longer a minister and we don't get Easter baskets anymore.  There was a brief moment this year when I considered decorating eggs, but then determined that this would be an absurd and pointless endeavor.  Instead I made an Easter Egg Basket Blanket (now say that 10 times fast).  following a simple pattern for the eggs and a basket weave pattern for the trim, ultimately the hardest part was adding the grass fringe around the eggs.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Lego Blanket

It's a simple pattern, really. Chain 26 the half double crochet across 24 stitches. On the third row add a popcorn stitch after 4 HDC and repeat across until you have 4 bobbles on that row. HDC across for the next 3 rows, and in the next row repeat the 3rd row. Finish off with two more rows of HDC. Repeat until you think you might go mad, until you think "this has to be more than enough" and then make more.

Lego had not sunken their marketing hooks into my psyche as a child, so I do not share the fascination. I am crestfallen whenever my niece and nephews insist that all they want is Lego. It is so very very expensive. But I admit that I am quite impressed by what they create with it. I support any toy that encourages creativity. Yarn became my Legos long ago, the building blocks of my creative endeavors.  Here is my homage.

This blanket is sold, but if you want to commission one like it click here to go to my Etsy Shop.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Bags from bags

When I decided to save plastic bags to recycle into plarn (plastic yarn) I enlisted my co workers to share their bags, too. Before I knew it plastic bags were taking over every available space in my life, or at least it seemed that way.
So many other projects were much more appealing, and in all honesty easier on my hands and wrists. But the bags kept amassing and something had to be done, hence bags from bags. I sketched out several designs and had (and still have) more than enough materials. 



Saturday, February 2, 2013

Like printing money

My friend's husband once said of the Magnum PI blanket, "I would think that it would be like printing money." Only a short time later I had a request on my Etsy store to make another Magnum Blanket on commission. Like printing money, sort of.
The experience was overwhelmingly positive. I shared updates as I worked on the blanket and was especially grateful to receive a photo of the blanket with its grateful recipient. If you are interested in commissioning a themed blanket, I would be happy to work with you on it.  Check out my Etsy shop to request a custom item!