Friday, November 11, 2016

Get your beanie on!

I was supposed to meet up with a woman (whom I came into contact with via a local knitting and crochet forum) to show her how to crochet a beanie tonight but she flaked out.  After texting with her briefly, I gathered that she was a novice crocheter so in preparation for today's meet up, last night I dug out some chunky yarn and a big hook (size H) and crocheted a sample beanie to use as an example.  Many areas of the country are already well into beanie season.  Personally I love hats and I love crocheting beanies because they are so versatile, quick, easy and fun to make.

In my office downtown, excuse the mess in the background.

This is a great project that if you crochet as fast as me, you can bang out in 1-2 hours flat.  You really only need about 170 yards of medium-thick yarn (1-3 skeins) plus some extra yarn for your pom pom, a darning needle, measuring tape and size H hook.  Skill wise, if you can chain, crochet and HDC, or if you've ever made a scarf, you can make a beanie.

Simple Crochet Beanie Instructions

1) Measure the diameter around your forehead and over your ears (where you want the bottom of your beanie to rest).  You can take this literally or figuratively but I have a big head - 22" around!  Put that number to the side.  

2) Measure the length from your forehead to the top of the back of your skull (where the pom pom will rest on the top of your beanie).  Add 2-3" to that measurement if you want a folded brim on your beanie.  I measured 12" (9" + 3" for a brim) for my head.

3) So it really doesn't matter what tension or yarn you use because all you need to do is chain the length from step # 2 (i.e. 12").  

4) Then you just crochet or HDC like you're making a scarf until you get to the length from step #1 (i.e. 22").  

5) Once you get that far, you connect the "scarf" to create your beanie with a darning needle.  Then when you get to the end of the row, you weave/sew the edges together and pull the yarn taught to create the top of your beanie.  Leave a little excess yarn after you tie off so you have something to tie your pom pom on with.  Hide all of the tails inside of the beanie.

6) Make your pom pom, tie it on and shizzam!

I had so much fun finishing that little project that I decided to start another beanie with some absolutely gorgeous Galway 100% wool and size F hook using the ribbed stitch.  This is a beautiful stitch that creates a fine texture and contrast.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Owl lives!

Hard to believe it's been well over a year since I last posted anything but that doesn't mean that I haven't been crafting like crazy.  Dates and locations might change but one thing that always remains consistent is my crazy craftiness and/or craziness in general!  But just to bring ya'll up to speed (that is if anyone is even still reading this ancient artifact also known as my blog), after careful consideration and romantic provocation, in early July 2016 I moved back to San Francisco and into a lovely (little!) 2 bedroom apartment in Noe Valley with my boyfriend, Matthew.  We live on top of a very steep hill with fantastic views, surrounded by a surprising amount of vegetation (for SF).  It's a beautiful, friendly neighborhood bursting with a variety of cute shops, restaurants and a vibrant farmer's market.  And after months of work, our apartment is finally starting to feel like home.  I've transformed one of the bedrooms into the Preciousowl HQ.  It's still a work in progress but I can't complain.  At least I have my own nest!

3 months ago I started crocheting this rug for under our kitchen table with some rug yarn I thrifted in Niagara Falls while visiting my family back east over the summer.  It's actually a combination of 80% rug yarn and 20% scrap acrylic yarn leftover from other projects.  Mainly I would work on the rug whenever riding public transportation around the city, waiting for flights to depart and also in the evenings or on the weekend while binge watching "our shows" and/or football on TV with Matthew.

This is a very simple pattern but it also requires continuous counting. Once you get adjusted to the traditional chevron pattern, you don't have to count every single stitch but it helps to at least double-check that the count is correct on every other peak or valley.  As far as size goes, this is a very flexible pattern.  Each chevron/point/arrow equals 50 stitches.  25 stitches measures about 4" with a G size hook and medium-thick yarn.  I wanted my rug to be about 32" wide so I made a total of 4 chevrons (100 stitches total) across.

Basic Chevron pattern for 32" wide rug:

If my instructions don't make any sense, try this online tutorial.

1) Row 1.  Chain 100 stitches plus 5.
2) Row 2.  Skip the 1st stitch, crochet 2 stitches, skip 1 stitch, crochet 11 stitches, crochet 3 stitches in one.  At this point you will be at the top of your peak.
3) Still Row 2 (valley).  Crochet 11 stitches, skip 2 stitches.  You're now at the bottom of the valley.
4) Still Row 2 (2nd peak).  You're joining the 11th stitch from the valley to the 1st stitch of the 2nd peak.  That counts as the 1st stitch.  Now crochet 10 more, crochet 3 stitches in one and you're now on the peak.
5) Still Row 2.  Keep repeating and alternating valley and peak until you get to the final peak.  After you've crocheted 3 in 1 at the top of the peak, crochet 11 like usual but then because you're on the end, you will skip a stitch and crochet 2 stitches just like at the beginning.
6) Row 3.  I alternated 2 rows of every color but you can do it however you like so either keep using whatever yarn you're using or tie off and tie a new color on whenever you like.  The only real "trick" here is simply to chain 1 + 1 crochet in the first stitch, crochet 1 stitch, skip 1 stitch, crochet 11 stitches, crochet 3 stitches in one.  At this point you will be at the top of your peak and you can keep repeating all of the steps from the Row 2 directions.
7) Keep repeating the pattern for as long as you want your rug to be!

So now that my rug is finished, it's time to refocus on the patchwork square afghan I've been crocheting out of scraps since I was a little kid.  I've literally been working on this afghan on and off for about 3 decades and I've resolved to finish it once and for all and give it to my parents for X-Mas this year.  Some of the yarn came from my great Grandma Dorn's stash.  In general, it's a magical trip down memory lane using the scraps of 30+ years of crochet projects.  I plan to keep posting my progress.  Here's to hoping my next post will be less than annual!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Crochet Scallop Shawl - Neon Sherbet with Shocking Blue Fringe

When I was up in Portland, Oregon a few months ago I visited my favorite arts and crafts store, Craft Warehouse.  They have a really unique yarn selection and I was totally blown away by this amazing variegated neon sherbet organic handspun fiber yarn.  I bought as much as I could fit in my suitcase.  After much deliberation, I decided that a layered crochet scallop pattern would take the mesmerizing design of this yarn to the next level on a shawl.  And if that wasn't enough to catch your attention, I decided to trim the border with shocking blue netting and fringe.  I am absolutely thrilled with the results!

I love shawls.  They're so more fun, flattering and versatile than just wearing a jacket.

You can wrap a shawl around your neck and shoulders to create a layered cowl look.

The colors in this variegated yarn remind me of a summer sunset by the sea.

Crocheting a pyramid of scallops is like soothing arithmetic.  So if you don't like counting, I do not recommend embarking upon this pattern!

Crochet Granny Square Striped Pencil Skirt

Recently I was admiring the Crochet Granny Square Sweater Vest I recently made and started to ponder.  The only thing that would be wilder and crazier than my sweater design would be a matching pencil skirt!

I wanted the skirt to have the same sexy slimming effect as the sweater which required a fair amount of decreasing on the striped rounds.

The bottom of the skirt has 5 granny squares on each side but by the time you reach the top, the pattern has decreased to 4 granny squares on each side.

The key to crocheting a skirt that fits to perfect is keeping all of your stitches consistent.  In case anyone is wondering, I used a size G hook on this entire skirt.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Prexie Fun - Colorful Inspiration

I'm still in the process of moving.  It's really been quite an ordeal but that hasn't stopped me from crafting, creating and working on my shop everyday.  As far as stamps go, lately I've been really fixated with color themes.  Recently I worked on an unique color themed stamp set for a customer who plans to frame these stamps for display in her freshly decorated bathroom.  She wanted all red, blue and grey themed British postage stamps.  I found this subtly patriotic combo to be quite aesthetically pleasing in an unordinary fashion.

Let's not forget that color themed vintage stamps also work well as vintage postage.  Not only will these stamps accent purple themed save the dates, they can also be used to make a (political) statement.  You can use stamps to represent the destination of your wedding, where you first fell in love or to celebrate the fact that now same sex couples finally have the right to marry in all 50 states. Boo-yah!!!  San Francisco is a mecca for liberal ideas; the Castro is a flamboyant beacon and these pretty purple 3c postage stamps commemorate progressive thoughts and attitudes.

My final splash of color themed inspiration today is a card I just made for Mrs. Petersen.  She was my 1st grade elementary school teach at Ohio Elementary School in North Tonawanda, NY.  Not only did she show me how to make books out of used wallpaper catalogs with a sewing machine but she also introduced me to the wonderful world of calligraphy.  She's still BFFs with my 3rd grade elementary school teacher, Mrs. Holesko.  I was school mates with Mrs. Holesko's son, Steven, who tragically died of cystic fibrosis at a very young age.  When Steven was diagnosed with CF, Mrs. Petersen, always a very crafty lady, started making and selling handmade greeting cards to raise money for CF.  She's now long since retired from teaching and concentrates her creative energy on manufacturing cards at a frenetic level.  She has raised nearly $500,000 for CF over the span of 20 years with her cards.  She has made such a great impression on my life and she is living proof that crafty ladies are most definitely a force to be reckoned with.

The US stamp issues I used to decorate the cover of this card are what's referred to as Prexies.   They are a series of definitives issued in 1938 featuring all 29 presidents who were in office during 1789-1928.  These stamps are really fun to collect because not only are they jam packed with American history, but they come in a plethora of awesome colors and varieties.  

A little bit of color goes a long way.  Flipping and overlapping stamps adds extra texture and feel.

Nothing beats a handwritten personal note.  Nowadays you can find ink in a rainbow of bold and majestic colors.

Monday, June 8, 2015

75% Back in Action!

Just like a stamped envelope, the Head Owl in Charge is moving across the country. My shop was on vacation mode for the past week but I just reopened it today.   All of my philatelic items are available to be shipped on a daily basis.  I hope to have everything else back in action by the end of June 2015. If you have any inquiries in the meantime, please feel free to contact me in the comments section. Thank you for your patience!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Orange is the New Black

I've had numerous requests for custom crochet sweater vests lately.  They are so much fun to make and their unique design has a real slimming effect.  If you're handy with your hook, you can easily make them to order based on anyone's personal measurements.  I love how contemporary fashion has embraced this classic vintage style but with a modern twist!

A small/petite sweater takes less than a skein of the color you're using least (ex.) the white in the image above) and about a l lb skein of each of the primary alternating colors (ex.) orange and blue).  It's best to use soft yet durable flexible yarn, like organic wool.

Only 2 different stitches are required to make this sweater: HDC (half double crochet) and crochet to finish the edges and connect the granny squares.  If you know how to make a granny square (and you can learn from a tutorial posted right here on this blog a few years ago - scroll waaay down), you can make this sweater yourself.

Perhaps the only real tricky part is connecting the front and back of the sweater and crocheting consistently so both sides match.  Oh and I did mention that I'm a Syracuse Orange fan?