Crochet Ice Skate Ornaments

As mentioned in my previous post, I gave Christmas gifts to my department this year, and these handmade ornaments were the easy part. My grandmother made a few for each of her children many years ago, and I snagged one from my parents house and did my best to duplicate what she did.

Tools:
2 jumbo paper clips
2 colors of contrasting yarn
F hook

Instructions:

Row 1: Starting with whatever color you’ve chosen as the main skate color, make 10 sc in the top of the paper clip (I found that 8 sc in the bigger section and 2 sc at the end worked best for me).
Row 2: Don’t make a chain here! Skip the first sc, sc in the next st, hdc in the following st, and then dc to the end of the row (you will have a total of 1 sc, 1 hdc, and 7 dc).
Row 3: Ch 2 (counts as first dc), dc to end.
Rows 4-6: Repeat row 3.
Fasten off, then repeat for the second skate.

For the yarn with which you will hang them, I cut 2 lengths of yarn a little more than  twice as long as I wanted them to hang. Take one, fold it in half, and thread the loop through a corner of the skate (either will do, as long as you do the same corner for both skates). Then, take the length and pull it through the loop you just made to attach it. Repeat for both skates, then tie the loose ends together.

With the contrasting color, weave the laces – I cut off 10-12 inches to do this (I learned my lesson quickly; tying knots with tiny bits of yarn is super difficult). It’s difficult to explain this process in words, so hopefully the photos below will help illustrate. (It isn’t unlike lacing a regular shoe…if you didn’t have lace holes, at least.)

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I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out! It’s a pretty easy and quick project, so it’s great for group gifts, like these.

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Cookie Mix In A Jar, Disaster In My Kitchen

In the last year since I’ve updated this blog (whoops), I got a new amazing job for an amazing company in an amazing department with amazing people. (Did I mention my work life is great?) I only started in January 2014, so this is my first Christmas season with everyone, and I didn’t even think about gifts for everyone in my department…of 9 other people. That’s a lot of thinking, and I can barely buy gifts for my husband who I’ve known for 10 years. So, I started looking for ideas online, and realized I could finally try something I’ve been wanting to try for a while but never had the occassion – the (in)famous cookie mix in a jar.

Image from The Creative Junkie

I’m sure you’ve seen these all over the internet, especially if you’re on Pinterest (I’m a recovering Pinterest addict myself). They look super cute and are great and inexpensive gift ideas, perfect if you work in a department with 9 other people. Plus, it’s literally dumping ingredients in a jar. How hard could it possibly be? (hahahahahahaha.)

I looked around and decided on following these instructions from AllRecipes. I got 9 1-qt mason jars from Michael’s for $2.49 each, and decided I would use a few sheets of Christmas craft paper I already had to cut into tags, and print out the instructions on pieces of paper and just glue them to the festive paper. (On an unrelated note, I also decided I would crochet small ornaments to go with these, which I will discuss further in another post.)

Since I purchased the jars on a Friday night, and wanted these prepared to bring to work the following Tuesday, Saturday morning seemed like a good time to have a test run, since I had absolutely no plans on Sunday. I knew we didn’t have enough of everything for 9 batches, so I went to the supermarket before 9am to grab extra of everything. (Did I mention this was all happening the weekend before Christmas? I have been a master procrastinator since I was 7 years old.) I got home and reviewed the instructions; in hindsight, I should have seen a red flag at “1 1/2 c of flour,” but whatever it’d be fine.

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Not so much.

This would be perfect if I didn’t still have to add a cup of chocolate chips! Guess who started baking cookies at 9:30 in the morning, with the organic butter I’d just paid a ridiculous amount for, since we had no regular sticks of butter.

I read through some of the comments on AllRecipes and was stunned that there was only one negative comment about actually fitting the ingredients. Everyone else claimed they packed and packed and packed with an ice cream scoop until it all fit nicely, but I didn’t have the time or patience for that. (Well, I had the time, but didn’t want to have an issue AGAIN, because now I definitely didn’t have enough butter for another batch.) So I figured I could just halve the recipe, and add 2 each of the cookies I’d just surprise-baked, since now I’d have room at the top of each jar. Except…

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Nice try.

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These things spread to be HUGE. I will take some of the blame for this, because the recipe called for softened butter, and I stopped paying attention and half of my butter was melted. But really? There is no way I’m fitting these things in the mason jars.

Now, it’s not even 11am and I’m drinking white wine because this whole experience has me strung out. Plus now I have to wash all the dishes from my surprise baking session. At this point, I’ve already rinsed out the Fail Jar, so I refilled it but with half of all the ingredients.

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A definite improvement, since now everything actually fits, but there is so much OBVIOUS empty space at the top, now I have to think of something else to fill it with. (Oh, and of course, this new job is for one of the biggest candy companies in the world, so putting some candy in a plastic bag and placing it on top would be pointless.) I toyed with the idea of literally dumping packets of hot chocolate into plastic bags, but then decided I would just cut the cookies up until they fit. (Cookie bites are a thing, right?)

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The cookies were a huge hit, and everyone was appreciative. And maybe if I hadn’t done this less than a week before Christmas, it wouldn’t have seemed quite as tragic. But I’ve learned my lesson – if I ever want to attempt the cookie mix in a jar gift again, I’ll just make the cookies.

Santa Hat Pattern

My sister-in-law asked me if I could create a Santa inspired hat (initially for New York SantaCon). She texted me a photo for inspiration, and I came up with this:

Sorry everyone, I’m not single.

I even remembered to write down the pattern!

Hat

Create a magic ring.
Round 1: Chain 3 (counts as first dc here and throughout; the first dc in each round should be a ch3!), 9 dc (10 dc)
Round 2: 2 dc in each dc (20 dc)
Round 3: *2dc in first dc, 1 dc in next dc* repeat from * to * until end (30 dc)
Round 4: *2 dc in first dc, 1 dc each in next 2 dc* repeat from * to * until end (40 dc)
Round 5: *2 dc in first dc, 1 dc each in next 3 dc* repeat from * to * until end (50 dc)
Rounds 6-12: 1 dc in each dc (50 dc)

Do not bind off after round 12!

Earflaps

Row 1: Turn, ch3 (does not count as first dc, here and throughout earflap), dc 7, turn
Row 2: ch3, dc 7, turn
Row 3: ch3, dc2tog, dc3, dc2tog, turn
Row 4: ch3, dc2tog, dc1, dc2tog, turn
Row 5: 
ch3, dc3, bind off

Count 20. join at 21st and repeat earflap pattern. (I would do row 1 of the second earflap, and then make sure it lines up to your own ears. This is what worked for me!)

Belt

**For this, I just worked the first row of sc in the 10th row of the hat. Since you’re working sc over dc (worked in the round, no less, so I had to mess around with stitch placement to get them to line up), I wouldn’t suggest this method. I mean, it looks fine, but it’ll be much easier to sc a black strip, and just whipstitch or sew it to attach. So, I will give the instructions for a black band.

Chain 51, turn
Row 1: sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc to end, ch1, turn (50sc)
Row 2: sc in each sc, ch1, turn (50sc)
Repeat row 2 three more times. Attach around hat (mine wound up spanning rows 8-10 of the hat)

Buckle

All you have to do here is surface slip stitch in a vaguely squareish/rectangular shape. Just make sure the top and bottom parts of the buckle are on the red part of the hat, and that the buckle is centered in the front of your head. My buckle was 5 stitches on the top and bottom, and 6 stitches on each side.

Here is a video on how to surface slip stitch: slip stitch surface: http://youtu.be/EJ8FI5PJfvk

Edging

With a fur yarn (I don’t know of any other than Lion Brand Fun Fur), sc all round the hat.

Pom Pom

I used the wrap method, and used width of DVD case and wrapped ~60-70 times. This turned out WAY TOO BIG and lead to 45 minutes of trimming and 15 minutes of vacuuming all the bits. I attached it  just by tying a knot on inside of hat.

This project on Ravelry

Kids’ Winter Hats

Over the summer, my cousin asked if I could make winter hats for her two children. She gave me colors, I sent her a few photos, and we came up with a game plan. Four months was plenty of time to make hats for an almost-4-year-old boy and a one-year-old girl.

Shamefully, I handed them off to the recipients on January 19. I’ll justify by saying that we had a warmer-than-usual winter. (Which, for the record, is true in New Jersey. It was 60 degrees only a two weeks ago.)

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I made these patterns up; I didn’t write them down but they are basic crocheted hats. The girl’s hat was done in a shell stitch, mostly because the yarn I was using was fine and I would have been doing it forever if I did it in single crochet. However, it turns out it added great character to it! Ironically, that is not the first earflap hat I made for that boy, but he was three days old the last time he wore the first one. The spike pattern came from here.

Tip: I didn’t have head sizes, so I used average head sizes from a few places online: here is one of them, here is another. I came to the conclusion that 7 inches in diameter was a good size for a four year old. This is not the diameter of the crown, it is the diameter of the actual hat! The crown should be slightly smaller than the diameter of the hat you are aiming for.

Girl’s Winter Snowflake Hat Ravelry Page
Boy’s Winter Dinosaur Hat Ravelry Page

Liara From Mass Effect 3

I’m not quite sure where to start this one; there’s no easy way to describe Mass Effect without playing it. As someone who has logged almost 300 hours of playtime for the series (judge me I don’t care it was worth it) I can tell you it takes place in the future where people fly around to different clusters within the galaxy and there’s aliens. I guess that’s all you need to know in order for this to make sense, but I STRONGLY suggest you just buy the games. The first two are probably $20 each now and you’ll get more satisfaction than you probably will from a month of World of Warcraft.

ANYWAY, there is a character named Liara who is an alien – an asari, actually. I recreated her in her Mass Effect 3 garb because there was something I really liked about the outfit. It’s weird, there’s is (what seems to be) a pretty high percentage of people who LOVE the asari, especially this character; I’m not one of those people. I don’t hate her, but if you’ve played the first game you’ll know what I mean when I say she’s naive, and her naivety enrages me in that game. You don’t really see much of her in Mass Effect 2, and by Mass Effect 3 you’ve formed relationships with so many awesome characters…by that point I just didn’t care about her anymore. The asari and their obnoxious omnipotence can eat dirt – compare them to the turians or the drell and they’re easily swept aside. If you’re me, I guess.

Liara Mass Effect 3

Yarn Liara

I made this up as I went and never wrote a pattern or really measured anything…it shows as her head is huge compared to the rest of her body; I wasn’t able to get her headcrest positioned correctly either. I think the proportions would look better if I had bigger eyes, but I bought a bag of 25 pairs and wasn’t about to buy more when I had that many laying around. Also, they are surprisingly difficult to find anyway.

Yarn Liara's uneven headcrests

Not sure who I’ll make next – my heart says Garrus, but I’m still burnt out with the headcrest so I don’t know if I want to tackle turian mandibles. Maybe Vega. I freaking love that guy. Or Blastos, because what the hell else am I going to do with the huge ball of pink yarn I have laying around?

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Christmas In July Scarf

I got an early start on Christmas gifts this year!

Just the scarf, not the cat. I used this Lion Brand pattern, which is RIDICULOUSLY simple, but the thick yarn and giant hook gave it an interesting look.

This project on Ravelry

More Baby Crochet

Way back in the end of May, I started making some baby items for a family friend who just had a little boy. She contacted me out of the blue the other day, which finally inspired me to buckle down and finish. (The sad part is the only things that needed to be finished were weaving in the ends…I always hate doing that!) The baby’s parents are country music fans, so I went with baby cowboy items.

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I LOVED these little cowboy boots, the pattern was great and so was the payoff!

 

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I wish I could say I loved the hat pattern as much as the boot pattern. Maybe it’s just me and the yarn I used, but it doesn’t lay like a cowboy hat AT ALL. Hrumph. There are other baby cowboy hat patterns that I would encourage people to try out before this one.

Baby Boots on Ravelry

Baby Hat on Ravelry

Pinwheel Sweater

I’ve had this sweater bookmarked on my Ravelry page for ages, and finally started it when I saw Lion Brand’s Amazing yarn in Mauna Loa on a shelf at Michaels. The pink in the first skein I saw on the shelf was sticking out and struck me because it was so bright and awesome. Finally, I finished the sweater after almost three months – it only took me so long due to non-craft related obligations (aka, wedding and house), as well as starting other projects and getting distracted. Also, I went through this yarn so fast, I was tired of having to keep going out to get more (I only get one ball at a time with my 40% Michaels coupon)…which is probably what lead to starting the other projects I have going, but it’s done now!

I still haven’t mastered how to get the front to lay yet, but I have confidence in myself. Do you like the sweater pick? I ordered it from Lion Brand and managed to break it within a day of receiving it. (E6000 to the rescue!)

Original Pattern on The Laughing Willow
This project on Ravelry

Baby Girl Blanket

I love making gifts for people, because everyone really seems to love receiving them. Or they are really good fakers. But regardless of whether or not people are faking it, I’ve set a precedence for myself when it comes to baby items. I feel obligated to make a baby afghan for each of my cousins’ children, even though afghans are the bane of my existence!

I lucked out again with this baby. Actually I suppose I lucked out with the baby’s parents, as they are the ones who decided to reveal the baby’s gender before she is born, so I knew I could go with girly colors. Of course, of all the massive amount of yarn I own, there is not a lot of girl colors, so I got Loops & Threads Snuggly Wuggly Big! baby sport and used the entire thing using a Lion Brand Pattern. It taught me a thing or two about paying attention to instructions, because Lion Brand’s suggestion of 10-ply Pound of Love is pretty different from Snuggly Wuggly. Ravelry claims it is 8-ply, but I’d venture to say it’s finer than that. But, in the end it was a blanket, and the path to getting there doesn’t matter as much as the end result, as long as you like it!

I did get to use up some scrap yarn, however, when I made flowers to sew onto the hood. I just made three, positioned them on the hood and sewed them on. Easy peasy.

Blanket on Ravelry
Flowers on Ravelry

The Mighty Frog & A Rebirth

Three or four years ago I made an afghan for my boyfriend. Since it is an early work I’ve come to hate it. The pattern is fine, but looking back I always thought it should have been wider.

Also there’s this

OMG I CAN'T EVEN

I’ve BEGGED for it to be thrown out or hid in a closet or something, but was always met with a stanch NO, so when I came across the Dusty Snowflake Throw, a light bulb went on – I could IMPROVE the afghan by DESTROYING it. And there would still be an afghan! A win-win situation, really. And, with the blessing of the afghan’s owner, I began The Mighty Frog.

It took almost two days for everything to come apart; I attribute this to the afghan’s age (the fibers have all rubbed together at this point and were a little knotted) and also because it was just kind of big. As I took everything apart, I learned WHY it came to be in such a terrible condition…well, I know it’s because what I did was completely wrong, but I couldn’t even figure out what I had done. But now as an older and wiser crocheter, I know not to make the same errors anymore, whatever they may have exactly been.

Getting started on a motif for the pattern was easy, and I got as far as completing the first row of snowflake motifs AND a row of the smaller motifs before I ran into problems. Even after watching the helpful videos posted on YouTube, I still couldn’t wrap my head on where to slip stitch for the next rows. I took a break for a few weeks, went back, and saw I had too many joins which was making it lumpy – this is MUCH easier to work on if you have a space you can lay it out on, so you can actually see what you’re doing. I tried like hell to blame it on the pattern, but it was 100% operator error.

Something else I find helpful is weaving in the end as you go. And by helpful, I mean “more likely to actually complete,” because there’s nothing I hate more than finishing an afghan only to find I have to weave in the ends of every square/motif that I’ve done.

This Project on Ravelry