DIY Chesire Cat costume accessories (Crochet)

Its that time of the year again, where I scramble at the last minute to make a Halloween costume!

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This year I’m planning on dressing up as the Cheshire Cat, in the style of the 1951  Alice in Wonderland Disney movie. The Cheshire cat and I go a long way, and if you’ve read this blog long enough you might recall it was once called “We’re all mad here”….a Cheshire Cat quote!

This year I decided to crochet the accessories for my costume, and get the rest of my costume as clothes I’m actually going to wear later. I love dressing in purple, so this is a win-win for my closet!

Here’s what I’ve made up until now:

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Cat Ears : I will start by saying I was super disappointed by most of the cat ears I saw in stores and online, so this was the first element I knew I’d crochet.

I was lucky to quickly find an easy & free pattern on Ravelry for chesire cat ears. The pattern is called “Chesire Cat Headband” and it was designed by  KandJdolls.blogspot.com. What an easy pattern!  My favorite thing about these is the hair band is striped and the ears fold easily. I may make this again in black if I ever need a black cat costume.

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Cat Tail: You can’t be a Cheshire Cat without a tail! Unless you pretend youre a cheshire cat in the middle of a disappearing act and your tail is invisible. Seriously, I considered this because the tail was a tough one. I was super close to buying one of those furry tails they sell at Spencers and Hot topic, but I really wanted the tail to perfectly match the ears, so I made one.

ENTER, furries! I found a GREAT tutorial to make your own furry tail. The tutorial is called “DIY Fox Tail Tutorial” and it was made by Jennifer at “iSaveAtoZ”. The only downsides are that it requires a lot of time and yarn. Since I’m low on free time this week I opted to braid my yarn. I followed one of the tips from the tutorial above and used a clean pet brush to make the end of the tail. Its soooo soft and fluffy. Seriously, if you have the time and need a tail try the tutorial. I may even go Cheshire Cat 2.0 next year just so I can make a proper tail.

I used about 12 strands of yarn, which originally looped around my waist and went all the way down to my knees.  Note! The length of the finished braid will be about 2/3 of the length of yarn you cut, so allow for some shrinkage.  Since I wasn’t very wary of this, I ended up with a shorter braid than I wanted and had to tie it to the back loop of my pants. My original plan was to split the braid halfway and tie it around my waist.

Still, Im quite happy with how this one turned out….considering it was mostly improvised!

Cat…Collar?

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Finally….a peter pan colllar! Yes, we’re mixing up fairy tales up in here!

I realized that the tail and the ears were not enough and I needed to tie my outfit together with one last matched accessory.

So in the middle of the night I made this super easy peter pan collar and alternated the double crochet rows with my chesire car colors. The pattern is called “Crochet Peter Pan Collar” and was designed by Mel Paton. The button is light purple, but if I can I’ll replace it with something more….WILD!

These were all quite easy to make…but my costume isnt finished. Im going to test out some chesire cat makeup and even a chesire cat at home manicure. : D

Are you dressing up this week? Any crafty plans for your costume? Id love to hear from you, dear readers!

Love,

L.C.

P.S. – Oh and in case you are wondering….the top is from Jc Penney online and the pants are a Gloria Vanderbilt thrift shop find!

The rewards of teaching

Last month I taught my very first in person crochet class.  Speaking in public has been something I’ve enjoyed in school and work, but I’ve never really considered myself a teacher. I still feel fluttery and excited when I think that I actually transmitted something I know to other people.

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I spent an afternoon teaching people of all ages how to do a chain, a single stich and a double stich. Most of the students caught on quickly and I was very surprised at how even the very young students understood the basics concepts of crochet. While I was teaching my mind went back to my grandmother, who first taught me how to make a chain. I saw her this past weekend and I’m happy to report she’s still teaching friends how to crochet. Go Abuelita!

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It was truly a day where I ventured into an unknown place and came back a happier and more confident person.  Best of all? I received several skeins of yarn as a thank you for my participation and I even won a door prize skein of yarn. These babies will keep my busy during the fall season while I crochet blankets and scarves.

Do you consider yourself a teacher? Let me know in the comments!

Peace out,

L.C.

P.S.  Many thanks to Ben Franklin Crafts and Frames for making this opportunity possible, specially to Lorraine! If you’re in the Seattle area and need a craft store with folks knowledgeable in a variety of areas, I can’t recommend this place enough.

Thanks as well to Lion Brand yarn, who donated many of the materials for the event.

Russian Join Tutorial

This week I learned a fantastic method to join yarn that I’d like to share with you. It looks intimidating but  it’s not as hard as it looks. I suggest you try it out the minute you need to join two strands of yarn. I promise, you will thank yourself later for learning how to join yarn this way. The results are so clean your two ends of yarn will look like a continuous strand.

    Materials needed:

  • Yarn
  • Scissors
  • Embroidery needle
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Note on embroidery needles: Make sure the needle is large enough to thread the yarn into it, but small enough for the needle itself to fit inside the yarn.

1. Find yourself needing to join to strands of yarn. I’m using brown and cream for a funky blanket I’m making, more on that later.

2. Thread the yarn into the needle (I use the technique in this video), leaving an end of around 4 inches. You can leave less at the end, but it will be harder to maneuver the needle.

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3. **Fun begins here** Insert the needle inside the yarn for about two inches, making sure you don’t lose the loop at the end. Tip: Stick a pencil or a crochet hook inside the loop so you don’t have to worry about the loop disappearing.

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4. Once the needle is wrapped by the yarn, pull the needle out the other end and take out the loose end. See how that pencil/hook is doing its job so nicely?

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5. Thread your second piece of yarn into the needle, again leaving around 4 inches at the end.

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6. Take out the pencil/hook  from the loop you made with the first yarn, and thread the needle (with the new yarn) through the loop.

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7. Repeat step 3, inserting the needle inside the yarn. This time you don’t need to worry about the loop because its being held in place by the first loop you made.

8. Once your needle is wrapped by yarn, pull the needle and the end of the yarn out.

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9. Examine the joined yarn  and start pulling from each end. If you did it right your two pieces of yarn will be safely joined and wont budge. You can snip off any extra yarn that is poking out but be careful not to undo your hard work.

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And that’s it! This gets much easier the more you practice, so I recommend  you practice this as much as you can. Joining yarn this way will help you avoid many loose ends to work on.

Have you discovered any interesting techniques to join yarn or change colors?

 

P.S. – I have no idea why this is called a Russian Join. I can only assume this bit of genius originated amongst Russian crafters. 🙂

Peace out,

L.C.

How to: Crochet amigurumi flower pot

This amigurimi flower-pot is both beautiful and fun to make. I think this is the perfect weekend project for someone itching to crochet something quick and rewarding.

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I started with Lion Brand’s Amigurumi potted plant pattern (you’ll need a free account to download the pattern) and grabbed scrap yarn from my stash.

Crocheting the “brick” pot was pretty straightforward, but I recommend starting with a magic loop to ensure nothing spills from the bottom. I suggest you use an earthy color to simulate brick or clay pots…or maybe a dark green like the plastic containers flowers are sold in.

Next, fill the pot to give it some weight and shape. The pattern recommends using polyfill pellets and polyfill fiber . I used these materials but I say go the extra mile and put those polyfill pellets inside a tied pantyhose sock or tulle. That way you ensure none of those pellets escape through loose stitches.

Next, crochet the circle top  (the earth) where you will later sew the flowers onto. You can make this green like the leaves or maybe even brown, like the earth it’s supposed to be. This is a straightforward circle, but make sure your circle fits comfortably inside the pot. The top circle goes inside the pot and should overlap.

Now you can go wild crocheting flowers and leaves. You can make them in absolutely any color and any shape. Hell, they don’t have to be flowers.  I recommend going for two colors the first time around to keep it simple. Use a magic loop to make the flowers since that will ensure your flowers look neat at the center.

Once you are happy with your pot, top, flowers and leaves I recommend you arrange everything without sewing anything on. This is will let you see if you need more flowers, leaves and if your colors truly look good together. I ended up with more flowers than I needed, but this is a matter of personal taste.

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If you follow one recommendation on this post, follow this one: sew the flowers on to the top circle first. The pattern recommends sewing the top to the pot first, then sewing the flowers on to the pot. In my experience I’ve found that sewing the flowers onto the circle first makes for an easier experience.

Now you should have a circle with many pretty flowers and leaves. Remember to sew a French knot in the center of the flowers in a color of your choosing. After all these steps you may sew the top to the pot (assuming the pot has been filled).

And that was it! Simple…no? Ok, there are a lot of steps but at the root of it are all very simple stitches. Each part is so small and quick to make, the project works up quickly and you see the fruit of your labor in no time.

I’m planning on making this pattern again soon in a variety of colors. It’s a perfect weekend project that you can give to friends as gifts.

Peace out!

L.C.

Lap blanket for Grandma

My grandma had an unfortunate accident while picking some fruit from a tree, and for the past few months she’s been sitting around with a leg cast.

I decided to make her a little lap blanket for christmas so she can cover her legs in case it’s too breezy.

This little gift is on its way to Puerto Rico, and will hopefully keep her warm. 🙂

The pattern is based on the Vibrant V-Stich Wrap pattern by Judith L Swartz. I basically used the stitch of the pattern but modified the shape since I wanted something smaller. I also used different yarns since I ran out of the blue I wanted to use.

I improvised the J and am really happy with the way it turned out. Crafting all those crazy amigurumis with their strange shapes has really paid off!

Are you staying warm these days?

xo,

Laura

Crochet & Knit christmas gifts

Short post this week. (I’ve been feeling sick and am in the middle of packing for Christmas VACATIONS!)

 I went to my local knitting/crochet meetup and met some awesome girls for tea. We exchanged presents and spent the afternoon knitting/crocheting/ranting.

It’s really different (and more fun!) to craft with other people. You see the different style in practicing each craft and you get to share stories about projects.

I made them all little birdie bookmarks…It’s a free pattern by Suzanne from Crea in the City and its available here!

I got some adorable Christmas ornaments that are already adorning my little tree. 🙂

During our meetup today I made a crochet flower hot pad for my BF’s mom…this is also a free pattern and available here.

I’m getting some posts ready for the next week. So happy holidays and happy new year! 🙂 I’m outta here!

xo,

Laura

 

Finding Vintage Crochet Patterns

d o i l yI sometimes like to challenge myself with old patterns and I also enjoy checking out what kinds of garments folks liked to crochet in the old days. I havent ever finished a vintage crochet pattern (except this one), but its been on my to do list for a while.

These are some of my favorite sites that come up when I want to check out

Celt’s Vintage Crochet (way back machine link)

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Doris’ collection of vintage pattern books

Antique Pattern Library

 Try searching online for “vintage patterns”, “antique patterns”…you’ll be surprised at what you can find! I also recommend checking out books at the library…they might have things that are not available online at all!

Tips for finding patterns in unavailable sites:

Is a site down? Unavailable? Disappeared? Try one of these steps to see if there is a copy of the site online still.

Option 1: Way Back Machine , my favorite option and usually the most reliable for old sites like geocities and angelfire

1. Copy the link for the site

2. Go to waybackmachine and paste url

3. Explore different snapshots (versions) of the site…many geocities sites that are now down are still cached in way back machine.

4. Just because the site is down, dont forget to credit where you the pattern from! 🙂

Option 2: Search engine cache, works sometimes if site was taken down recently

1. Copy site name and/or URL

2. Paste into Google/Bing/Yahoo, etc

3. Most Search engines have a “cached” option  many results. Click “cached” to see if the search engine has stored a copy.

Crochet coffee cup

Today I had the great pleasure of meeting some new crochet/knitting friends…while also taking time to crochet a little something!

The pattern is Coffee Cup and you can find it at BitterSweet blog.

This was my first time going to a crochet/knitting meetup and it was wonderful! I dont know many people in my area other than my college/work friends so this was a great chance to meet new folks. 

Yum!

Mohair Blues

This is what happens when you buy something because it’s fluffly and sparkly.

I went to the craft store last week and came back home with a skein of Mary Maxim Mohair Glitter yarn after being mesmerized by the beautiful colors and the soft sparkly glow it had.  Sparkles alone dont usually entrance me so quickly, so  I suspect I also bought it to experiment with a new fiber.

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Well, I spent a few days just staring at the beautiful skein of yarn, wondering what I would do with it, until last  night when  I decided I would just crochet a simple, double crochet scarf for myself. This is how far I made it…

Notice all the missed stitches on the left, which create that slant on the side

I had issues everywhere….issues with the tension, issues with seeing the stitches and issues with the texture. First, the tension…I usually crochet very tightly, but for this scarf I was trying out an I hook (recommended on the yarn label), which forced me to crochet a lot more loosely that I normally do. Next, seeing the stitches…I always have problem seeing the stitches when its a very dark yarn and also when the stitches themselves are fuzzy. This yarn is of a light color, but I still couldn’t make out where the stitches where after I had made them. This made me miss several of the final stitches and my scarf ended up looking like a funny looking square. And finally, the texture….the yarn looks very soft, but it isn’t. I’m not sure if it’s the nature of mohair or the fact that it has metallic glitter in there that makes it quite rough to the touch.

Something else I’m trying to understand is why is this considered a bulky yarn. The strand itself is super thin, so I was thinking it would be better to crochet this with a much smaller hook. I’m trying to find a “mohair fanatics” site so I can learn more about this yarn and the proper way to use it.

All in all, it was a very good learning experience, but until I figure out how to conquer the mohair I don’t think I will be purchasing it again.

That’s all for now! Happy weekend!

New things…

A few new things have made their way into my little home…I wanted to share them with you today.

First off, a cute and mysterious little bunny. The bf’s mom sent it to me and I love it so much! Of course, that as soon as the bunny arrived, he found his way to my carrots! He’s watching them and making sure no other rabbits eat them.

It’s that time of the year…and my christmas tree has come out of the box its been in all year. This year I decided to put all of our amigurumis and stuffed animals under the tree to make that corner a little happier. The bf brought some adorable birdy ornaments that are currently living on the tree.

And for the first time in a while I have made something in crochet! I went to my work’s christmas tree, where we have notes from people with fewer resources about things they would like for Christmas. One girl called Alma wanted a long scarf for the winter, so I decided to make her this! It’s a pattern from Debbie Stoller’s Happy Hooker and quite easy to make. Only took a few hours!

ttyl, internet! 🙂