Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cascading Fans Tunic/Dress

Hi, there, amigos!  Not a lot to post today, but I wanted to share a tunic/dress I recently made for my four-year-old niece.  A piece of advice:  Don't pull an all-nighter to make a garment when the little girl is asleep.  Guesstimating measurements is really not a good idea.  Who would have known?  It fits my 10-year-old niece perfectly.  I'm making a smaller one for my younger niece, this time with her around to try it on.  I'm attempting to put it to paper too.  Soon I hope to have it up on Ravelry.  It will be my first paid pattern!  How scary!

We have had a scorching heat wave in the Los Angeles area.  How are you all faring weather-wise?  Please send cool, rainy thoughts to us.  We desperately need them.

Hasta la proxima!

FYI, she is wearing shorts underneath :)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Good Intentions

It's been a very long time again, hasn't it?  I always have good intentions to blog, but then I procrastinate.  I get too nervous because I don't feel I have much to say that's interesting.  I'll find a rhythm eventually, I guess.  Today I think I'll share some favorite techniques for starting and ending projects.


Technique No. 1:  Magic circle.  Why?  Because I can close the circle as tightly as I want.  I prefer no openings.  It works for making amigurumi or patterns with a circular beginning.  Here's a helpful video.

Technique No. 2:  Chainless foundations.  Why?  Because the side you start in with chains is usually narrower and/or tighter than where you end the project.  I hated this on blankets or scarves or really anything else.  I tried using bigger hooks to start the chains and switching to smaller hooks to continue, but I didn't like the result either.  This technique looks better, I think, and is a lot more elastic.  Here's a helpful video.


Technique No. 1:  Invisible finishing.  Why?  Because I like to be as clean and neat as possible.  Have you ever put granny squares together and accidentally counted the ending pointing where you slip stitched and cut the yarn as two stitches?  Maybe you haven't, but that ending section gets tricky when joining squares.  Even when not joining squares, I like the end of my projects to look uniform.  There's no awkward section where I finished off that's noticeable.  I think it's one of my favorite tips.  Here's a helpful video.

Technique No. 2:  Securely weaving in ends.  Why?  Because they like to get loose with washings or use.  They were a big pet peeve of mine until I learned this technique.  Whereas many tutorials suggest using a blunt tip needle, I use sharp needles.  I weave in back and fourth over the same section three times and make sure that the needle is splicing the yarn so that the ends are secure.  Then I pull a little, cut, and then flatten the piece.  I have yet to have any ends peek through since I started using this technique.  However, keep in mind that the thicker the yarn, the more noticeable the place where you wove in the end will be.  In that case, separate the end into two or three strands and weave into different sections.  Here's a helpful picture tutorial.

Technique No. 3:  Leave enough of a tail.  Why?  Because if you don't, all your hard work will unravel before your eyes.  Never, ever, ever cut your yarn right where you finish.  If anybody tells you it's worked for them, they haven't been keeping a close eye or the piece is framed.  I don't frame my pieces.  They're intended to be used.  Leave at least a 4-inch tail and weave in as demonstrated in technique No. 2.  You must keep in mind that something may eventually happen to your crocheted piece that will need emergency surgery.  Keep a long tail available to work with.  Yes, weaving it in securely makes it a bit of a pain to undo, but it is possible.  I've done it when I've found a mistake that I have had to go back and correct.  Those long tails have helped a lot.

So there you have it!  I will post pictures of many things I've made since I was last here.  One thing I never made was a video tutorial for the soccasins.  I am playing with the idea of making it a photo tutorial split into several posts, sort of like a CAL.  I hope it generates enough interest to do the same with other free patterns.

Have a happy weekend, everybody!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My First Free Pattern!

Hi, dearies!  I am happy to share my first free pattern with you.  It is a car seat tent for when you take the baby outside and need to brave the elements.  It's designed to keep the wind or sun out as much as possible.  I don't want to call it a blanket or cover because searches usually turn up the car seat blankets with the two slits to pass the seat belt buckle through.  This tents over the baby.  I made it with a car theme for a little boy.  The car appliques are not my design.  I added a link to the pattern for the appliques.  My pattern is for the car seat tent, and you can add whichever appliques you like.  It is available on Ravelry.  If you are not a member, please register.  It's a great site, and you can add patterns you like to your library to keep track of them as well as find lots of other patterns and even share your creations and projects.

The pattern has not been tested.  Since I have to make another one, I'll clean it up as I use it to make the second car seat tent.  I think it's clear enough for now so that you can get started on one if you're in a rush.  I started it on Friday, January 25, and finished it on Sunday, January 27, all assembled and washed and blocked.

So here...



Basic Car Seat Tent (Free pattern link)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bags, Vests, and Curly Q

Well, hello, beautiful people!  How busy are you now that it's officially the Christmas holiday season?  Are you crafting away like I am?  I have had less time due to work, but I have managed to start a few WIP's and finish none.  Oops!  Big oops!  I have an afghan that I took over work on from a fellow crafter that is unable to do so.  I am really hoping to send it back before Christmas.  There are the items for the two swaps that I'm participating in.  Paula, my former swap partner from Down Under, and I have begun a purse/bag CAL.  We have survived two Saturdays (her Sunday), and we've achieved some progress!  I am making Kim Guzman's Crescent Bag and even have the magnetic clasps and lining picked out for it.  I may use a handle I purchased instead of crocheting it.  I haven't decided yet.  

Here's a picture of what I have completed so far:

Remember that granny square bag that I made out of the squares from the Round Robin?  I finally lined it.  The fabric was too short to line the bag all the way to the top.  Instead of stitching it where it ended, I added the peaks with crocheted sections.  Otherwise, the stitching would have shown through the squares' designs.  I think it looks great.  It now holds the almost-finished projects that are missing a booty here, woven ends there... they're not exactly WIP's, but they're not FO's either.  

Here is a picture of the lining:

I have a few other baby sets I've made.  The patterns are not public yet.  I'll post pictures when they are.  I wish I could show you the other things I'm working on, but I don't want to risk my current swap partners reading about it and seeing the pictures.  I doubt that will happen, lol, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

Have you heard or seen Red Heart's new Curly Q yarn?  It is fabulous!  There's a learning curve because it is stretchy and you have to make sure you don't crochet or knit while you're pulling on it.  You have to keep the yarn relaxed.  I found it at Hobby Lobby yesterday, all the way at the bottom of an aisle.  I had missed it on two trips down that aisle while looking for it.  I chose the Allspice colorway.  It's gorgeous, and the yarn is bulky, stretchy, soft, and just yummy! I chose to make the Drop Stitch Scarf on RH's web site.  I know that the name of it is actually Drop Stitch Tassel Scarf, but I don't like all the tassels.  I'll add them only at the short ends.

Here's a picture of the first few rows:

It doesn't look like much, but the flash distorted the colors.  It's dark outside or I'd use natural lighting instead.  Red Heart has a video on youtube with tips for using the yarn.  Watch it and see if it's something you'd like to try [disclaimer:  I am not being paid by anyone for any endorsement whatsoever].  It works up very quickly too.

It doesn't seem like much, but that's what I have been up to lately.  Have you ever seen the Soccasins by Megan Mills?  I made them maybe two years ago.  Or was it one?  I can't remember.  No, it was two years ago.  Last year, Ms. Mills gave me permission to make a video tutorial.  A few people had contacted me with questions when they saw pictures I had posted of the ones I made.  At that time, it seemed those were the questions asked most when I was contacted for help.  Immediately after getting permission, my aunt was killed.  Needless to say, I was not in a tutorial frame of mind.  I am planning to make another pair; so I'll videotape my progress and then edit it to show how to make the soccasins.  It will be anywhere between January and February.

Oh!  Today I scored a free little organizer.  No pictures because it's going to be part of a swap, but it was nice to get something free!  I went to the Yarn Garden in Whittier, CA after my job today almost across the street from there.  I promised my oldest niece that I'd make her the Heather Hoodie Vest.  I have had the pattern for a while.  Today I went for the yarn.  It was not on special, but a few other things I purchased were either BOGO free or BOGO 50% off.  That organizer was a total surprise.  Apparently a customer took them in and left them for whomever wanted them.  How nice is that?!  Yep, yet another project to add to the queue.  I'm really expanding my knitting repertoire.  I'll finally be working with cables.  Let's hope I don't pull my hair out!

So that's all, folks!  If I try, I know I'll remember some other projects I'm working on, but then I'll never make it to the grocery store.  Have a wonderful week :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Swaps, Improvisation, and Inspiration

I have been so busy lately with work and crochet, but it's been satisfying and fun.  I often visit and post on Crochetville, and recently I joined two swaps.  This was a new and nerve-wracking experience.  It's so easy to make baby stuff that the majority will like, but making something for an adult is an altogether different experience.

My first swap was a shawl swap.  My partner provided a list of colors she liked.  I got an assortment of colors in Caron Simply Soft.  Why did I get into a swap to make something I've never made?  I dive into projects, sight unseen.  I learn a lot, but I should make things easy once in a while.  It hasn't happened yet.  lol.  So I made the shawl my partner was hoping for, the Butterfly Wing Shawl by Holly Miller.  I had read from others that the bigger you made it, the longer the bottom tip got.  I modified that tip to control the length a little.  It took me a couple of weeks to make it because of work, but at last I finished it and started to gather extras to send with the package.  My partner sent me a lovely shawl, the Fancy Fans Stole, as well as some other very nice things.  

The second swap overlapped with the first.  Both were to be mailed by the same date.  On top of it all, I made my own cosy instead of using a pattern.  The flowering teas reminded me of Japanese teas; so I went with a cherry blossom theme.  You know what the most difficult part was?  Getting reacquainted with thin steel crochet hooks and cotton thread.  I would lose grip of them and ended up with sore hands.  I should have used my Boye interchangeable steel hooks with the grip made by Jimbo.  Here's a picture of what mine looks like.  It was an educational experience.  I love what my partner sent me.  She also improvised her own pattern.  I'm so lucky that we turned out to have so much in common.  Can you see all the cute details on the cosy she made, pictured below?  She even added a clothesline!  I can't get over how perfect it is.  If I had partners like her for all swaps, I'd be in all year round!  lol.

Aside from participating in swaps, I have tested some more patterns for Shifio.  I've tested Halloween baby hats, a puff matinee set, and some other sets that haven't been put up on the website.  Once they do, I'll be able to post pictures.

I had so much I wanted to write, but it's almost 2:30 a.m. here.  I am finally sleepy.  What have you been up to on your end of the woods?  What has inspired you lately?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Use Less Elbow Grease!

I'm quickly posting this because I'm in a hurry yet want to share a tip.  I have a stove I purchased three years ago but only used for two and even then only sparingly.  I moved and left it so my roommate could use it.  Mind you, I left it nice and clean when I left.  She had to vacate and asked me to pick it up.  It was dirty, and the burners were grimy and yucky with burnt food!  I found a buyer, which got me to thinking there's got to be a better way to clean those grates.  I found it, and it works!  The longer you leave it the better the results.  By accident I discovered that if you leave very warm or hot water running while you're cleaning them after soaking, your job is even easier.  Those grates are almost perfect!  They could have done with more time soaking, but the buyer is going to pick it up soon at the storage place.  I'm on my way out but not before recommending this post.  You will not regret it.  I will try to post after pics when I return.  Hasta pronto :)

**And a couple of hours later:  I forgot to take pictures!  Ugh.  Glad that there are pics in the link :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

RoMa's Heirlooms Now Open!

I opened an online store!  I'm trying out Payvment on Facebook, and apparently what I created was a store on Lish that is accessible through Facebook.  It's nothing fancy because I'm not a photographer or an artist, but it will have to do for now.  I'll see if my brother has time to fiddle with cover art for my FB page and also some good photo ideas.  If you want to see what it looks like, visit RoMa's Heirlooms.  "Ro" is for my mom, Rosa, and "Ma" is for me.  After all, she was my crochet teacher.  I feel it's her legacy and so it must have her name in it too.  I miss her.

I'm having difficulty getting good pictures of my crochet.  What do you personally do?  Were you ever a newbie like me?  How did you learn?  What do you recommend?  Tips are really needed and are greatly appreciated.

There's not much going on this weekend except some more crochet.  I'm not going outside.  It's too hot!  Ah, I love A/C.

Happy crafting!

Rosa Luz Vazquez, 06/30/53-03/05/04