Friday, February 8, 2013

These "Pixie" Hats Are Addicting to Make: Two More

I made these two hats using my Lionbrand Homespun Acrylic/Polyester yarn.  I hate crocheting with this yarn.  I had forgotten how much.  It snags on the hook every other time you pull a loop through.  I have lots of it, though.  I bought it super cheap at a yard sale, and I need to use it.  It is nice and bulky which makes it work well for this pattern.
As you can probably see for yourself, I have been changing the pattern, trying new things with the shape.  That is why I have not posted the pattern, yet.  I have done these two and the other one yesterday, just free hand figuring as I go, and holding it up to judge the size.  So far I really like them all, but they are each unique.  I am taking notes so I can reproduce each one.

The green one has a small "stem" and is more bell shaped.

I tapered this one back in at the bottom to make it cute and round.  It fits more snugly at the ears, which I like.  The stem is longer and more gradually tapered.  This one makes me think of Dr. Seuss.  I made it Molly's school colors, just in case she likes it.  Although I posted it on Etsy for sale so I might have to make her a new one.

I didn't cut the yarn between stripes I just ran it along the inside to the next row. You can tell on the inside but it makes it much easier.

From the top it is kind of fun.

A closer look at the point.  I love it.  I don't know if it will be fun to sit in the car in.  I hate it when my hat/hood touches the roof of the car when I'm driving.
Here is a link to my etsy postings if you would like to see them:
An the listing from yesterday:
Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Silly Wool Hat: A New Crochet Hat Pattern

I have been thinking about a very silly hat design, ever since I made the boob hats.  I knew I wanted a bulky yarn, something colorful.  I looked through my stash and found some odds and ends I need to use up.  I had two small balls of 2 ply hand pained, almost felted looking bulky yarn.  One is bright bold colors and the other more of a pastel blend. At first I tried to make the hat from just the brighter color, but soon found that I would run out long before I was done. The only thing to be done, then, was to use alternating stripes of both.  As it was I barely had enough to finish the hat.  Here it is:

The colors turned out even crazier than I could have imagined, but I love the shape. I wish I had more of this type of yarn.  I think I might try spinning up our woolpaca/angora blend to this thickness.

This is looking down at it.  With two solid colors it might have been more interesting from this perspective, but who looks at a hat from here anyway?

The tip just stays up just like this.  It is very sturdy.

Here are my notes I figured and jotted as I worked, so I wouldn't forget how I made it.  I will try to write a pattern of it for my next post.
Have a good evening, everyone!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Altered Boob Hat Crochet Pattern

I really liked the pattern I used for my first boob hat (, but I thought it needed some altering to accommodate the bulky yarn and larger crochet hook that I used. Here is the new one I designed:

My goal was to make the whole hat smaller, and keep it somewhat proportionate. I made the nipple smaller.  We all know that nipples come in all shapes, sizes and colors, but if I had made the hat smaller and kept the nipple the same size it would have been a bit funny.
Here are the original (left) and the altered one (right) side by side from the top

and from the side (flipped around new on the left, old on the right). The shape is rounder, less tapered.

The circumference is significantly smaller, too.  That is what I was going for.
Here is my pattern: (P.S. I have never written a crochet pattern before,
so be kind)
                               Yarn - two colors Lion Brand Nature's Choice Organic Cotton
                                          yarn, one skein of each will make two hats with lots of
                                          the nipple color left over.
                               Crochet Hook - Size J
                               Yarn Needle
I used almond and strawberry for my two colors, but we all know that boobs come in all colors, so choose whatever you like, or whatever you can get your hands on. I am not sure what colors this yarn comes in.
Starting with your nipple color make a magic ring of six single crochet stitches. For a great video tutorial on how to do this click the link:
Round 1 -  chain 1, single crochet around (5 single crochets) join with a slip stitch to chain 1, 6 stitches
Round 2 - chain 2, double crochet in same space as chain 2, 2 double crochets in each single crochet  of round 1(10 more double crochets), join with slip stitch to chain 2 using your second color this is a way to change colors while keeping the line between colors smooth, 12 stitches
Round 3 - continuing with your second color chain 2, double crochet in same space as chain 2, 2 double crochets in each double crochet of round 2 (22 more double crochets) join with slip stitch to chain 2, 24 stitches
Round 4 - chain 2, double crochet in same space as chain 2, 1 double crochet in next double crochet of round 3, *2 double crochet in next double crochet of round 3, 1 double crochet in next double crochet of round 3, repeat from * around (increase in every other stitch around), join with slip stitch to chain 2, 36 stitches
Round 5 - chain 2, double crochet in same space as chain 2, 1 double crochet in each of next five double crochets of round 4, *2 double crochets in next double crochet of round 4, 1 double crochet in each of next five double crochets of round 4, repeat from * around (increase in every sixth stitch around), join with slip stitch to chain 2, 42 stitches
Rounds 6 through 9 - chain 2, double crochet in each double crochet of the previous round, join with slip stitch to chain 2, 42 stitches
Round 10 - chain 2, *double crochet decrease (see below for a description of this stitch) in next two double crochets of round 9, double crochet in each of the next five double crochets of round 9, repeat from * around (decrease every sixth stitch around) the last double crochet is the chain 2 you started with, join with slip stitch to chain 2, cut yarn and pull through, sew in yarn ends, 36 stitches
double crochet decrease - yarn over as if to double crochet, pull a loop through one double crochet of previous round, then pull another loop through the next double crochet of the previous round (you should have four loops on your hook), pull a loop through the first three loops on the hook, then pull a loop through the last two loops on the hook.  It is like making one double crochet by combining two.

This is how much almond colored yarn I had left of the full skein after making these two hats.  I cut it pretty close.
If you find any errors and/or have any suggestions to this pattern feel free to comment.  I will update the pattern accordingly.  It is my first pattern, so be nice.

Crochet Boob Hat, Yes, I Said Boob

My aunt tagged me in a share of this hat on Facebook the other day.  It is meant to be worn by babies while breast feeding as a funny commentary or just as a prank on everyone who happens to notice.  I don't know.  It is very cute, though.  I wish I would have thought of it back when I was nursing, 14 years ago.  She asked me if I could make one for her new granddaughter, my cousin, since I crochet and she doesn't.  My aunt is a very talented knitter, but for whatever reason has never got the hang of crochet.  I found an awesome pattern:
This one is way cuter than the one in the facebook post pictures, and easier to crochet, I think.  The author of this pattern is so helpful with the color change tutorial and pictures.  I love it. I had to learn a new technique for this hat.  It is called a "magic ring."  I looked up a wonderful youtube video:
 Also, the author of the pattern explained in detail, with pictures, how to change colors and make the transition neat and tidy.  It was a great help.
My aunt wanted one of these hats so bad that she bought me some yarn and brought it over.  It is really great, soft snugly yarn.  When she told me about it she said cotton yarn, and I was picturing the classic dish cloth cotton.  This is very different. It is bulky recommending on the package the use of a size J crochet hook.
The two colors are perfect, and it appears that she got a very good deal, with them being on clearance.

The pattern is written for Red Heart Super Saver acrylic yarn and recommends size G or H crochet hook, but I decided to just use a size J like the yarn label suggested.  I hate trying to crochet bulky yarns with a too-small hook.  I crocheted the smallest size (0 - 3 month) and it came out about right for a 9 - 12 month old, I think.  It definitely isn't big enough for me.

Here is a close up of the "nipple."  The magic ring starting technique gets rid of the hole that usually results from starting crocheting in the round with a chain ring.  I made my husband, Heath, laugh while he was on the phone by miming certain actions with this hat while I was working on it. The shape is very nice and sturdy, requiring no additional shaping besides following the pattern for stitches.

Here is the finished hat again.  Lyra, my baby cousin, probably won't be able to wear it right away, but if she is a big head like the rest of my side of her family, it won't be long.  Even if she isn't a big head she should be able to wear it before she turns one.

There might be enough yarn left to make another one. I think I might try to make a smaller sized one.  Have a fun day.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Blending Angora

With Anya's new cage built and several ounces of her fur waiting to be used, Molly and I decided to get to work on blending.  We ideally want to achieve a 5 percent angora composition blending it with the woolpaca that we bought from our friend Kathy.  That would add that extra bit of super soft luxury to the yarn, but not make it too hot.  We also wanted to preserve the great springy memory that the current blend has.  Molly mentioned that she would like to try dying it after it is spun, maybe a nice bright orange color.  I am looking into that.  Neither of us have done anything like blending fibers before.  We had practiced spinning with our drop spindle before.  It is very fun and not too difficult.  Molly made some pretty good yarn last year. 

In the top right hand corner of the above picture you can see one of our yarns we spun last year when we were learning. We ordered an random assortment of roving from Kathy last year. That yarn was our experiment with plying. It looks awesome with the two colors.  I started by taking small sections of the woolpaca from the thick roving we ordered.  There are a few bits of straw and hay stuck in it, so I had to go through my sections and pick them out.  We want this yarn to end out being perfectly soft to wear it next to your skin.  The wool in the blend is so superfine and soft that after the VM (vegetable matter) is picked out, I am sure it will be soft enough.  I experimented with leaving it in and seeing if the combing would remove it.  It didn't really take much of it out. 

Next I prepared some locks of angora by sorting and picking it.  The woolpaca fibers are a bit longer than the rabbit fur I was using so a lot of it came our in the combing.  I think that by adding about 10 percent angora fibers and combing it until it is blended it comes out just how we want it.  The shorter fibers and tangles removed by the combs work great in the carders and blend up to make a nice rolag with a higher percentage of angora.  The combed roving is much smoother and shinier with longer fiber length, but the carded rolags make a fluffier roving.  It is interesting.  Using this method there is no waste at all.  The process would go much faster if we had larger combs, or a blending hackle, but for our little project the mini combs work just fine.  Here is a step by step photo illustration of the process:

You can see the little bits of hay we had to pick out.
To get them out you have to spread the fibers and pick them one by one.  There is no short cut that I could devise.

When I think I am done I hold it up to the light and check again.

I stick the bits on my pants leg until I am done with the section I am working on.

Then I wad it all up and throw it away.

I prepare two small sections to get ready to comb.
Loading the fiber on the mini combs takes a bit of practice.  Basically you skewer the very end of the lock or roving and grab it just past the fiber length and pull.  You basically comb it on, bit by bit.

Try to get it all between the outer tines.  If you get it on the outside it mostly gets left behind.

I load it about half way, then sandwich in the angora for blending.
The locks of angora have been stored in a Tupperware container.  This is from Anya's first haircut.

I took each lock and picked apart the ends so they fluffed up like this.

Loading angora onto the combs is a bit harder.  The fibers are shorter and slippery.
Here is a lock, close up.  I picked out the guard hairs you can see,

fluffed it up,

and added it to the comb.

Next I added another layer of woolpaca.  The actual combing process is hard to photograph with stills, but here are some pictures of Molly doing it:
Always point the tines away from yourself.  They are sharp! The left hand holds the left comb pointing upward or downward and the right hand combs through the wool.  The first few swipes should start closer to the tips.  Then you work closer and closer to the tines of the stationary comb. Each swipe moves more of the wool from the stationary comb to the other. 

When you have moved it all, except the short or tangled bits, switch the combs to the opposite hands.

See how fluffy it looks after combing it?

This is what was left after on the stationary comb the first time. 
All of these short and tangled bits left behind go onto the carder.

After this first transfer you can still see the stripe of angora in the middle here.

After three or four more transfers, its pretty mixed.

I fluffed the fibers up on the comb, spreading them out.

Here is what it looks like from the other side.

To get the blended wool off the combs and make a roving, I just grab the tip of fibers and pull gently.

As the fiber comes off I keep moving my fingers up towards the comb little by little, pulling just about the distance of the fiber length each time.

When you get to the point when it thins out and little tangles or nibs start showing on the tines it is time to separate it from the comb.
These left overs get added to the carder along with the left overs from the combing.

Here is what I pulled off this one combing.  All uniformly blended and smooth.  Just think how long it would be if these weren't mini combs.  I think it is pretty impressive.

After I draft it a bit more and give it a small twist to keep it together this is what it looks like.
Now for the stuff I put on the carder.

It looks pretty good and combed after just  a couple transfers.

I card it until it is mostly moved to the right hand card then transfer it back by catching the hanging fibers on the top of the first card and rolling them off with the motion of the second card onto the first.

Once it is good and smooth I just roll it off onto my pants leg.
To make a rolag you just roll this up.
Nice and neat.

Here the rolag and the combed roving are next to each other. 
When it is drafted and wound up the roving from the rolag is fluffier.  It has shorter fibers and more bunny, so it looks greyer.

All that is left to do is spin it.  Well, there is a lot more to blend and card.  We spun up a few test pieces to see what it spun up like.
These small bits were the first ones I made trying out different techniques.  The close one has lots of VM in it still because it is the one that I tired combing and carding out the VM.

Molly spun the top one here from a combed roving that she made from start to finish.  I spun the bottom one from a few rolags I put together and drafted out.

Molly's combed yarn, close-up.

A closer look at the rolag yarn.
I am still looking into dying the yarn.  I think we will try koolaid dying, just to see what it's like, but I want to get some good fiber dyes.  Maybe my next post on this blog will have some dying experiments and knitting with our new homespun yarn.  Molly needs to make something with her yarn for her school project.  Maybe something small and easy, like a hat.