Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Red Heart and Teddy bears part 3

Now back to the story...

I know you have to be wondering how Red Heart plays a part in this.  I had driven to a city about 45 minutes from my home to drop off some things that I had agreed to make for a friend's son's wedding.  Always one to make sure I do more than one thing at a time if possible.  I loaded up some pod casts I'm behind on.  I was listening to Creative Yarn Entrepreneur and Marie Segares was talking to a woman named Carrie from Red Heart Yarns about the yarn, the industry and pattern submissions and so on.  For whatever reason, this brought to mind the teddy bear I made.

But even more, the bear was made with Red Heart acrylic yarns and bought at Sears [this tells you how long ago this was (many years ago, my dad sold furniture there and we got the employee discount)], the local discount department store and anywhere else I could lay hands to skeins.  Red Heart yarns have made many changes over the years, some for the better, some not so much.  My hands have also made many changes over the years and things that never bothered me as a kid now cause immense misery.  At the time of the crocheting, Red Heart yarns were softer than Super Saver is today, but weren't as limp as Soft is.  

I encourage you, if you are crocheting along, to use proper fiber fil for this project.  Barring that, there are also beads out there that are used to stuff bean bags/beanie babies/bean bag "chairs".  These may or may not give your bear enough structure while being soft and squishy and potentially light in weight that you desire.  If you use the beads, please line your bear to prevent them from popping through.  Definitely keep from the hands of children or even teens and adults if there is a chance of someone putting these in their mouth.  They can pose a choking hazard.   Plus, I speak from experience here, my dogs have gotten some beanie type toys in the past.  Our beagle loved to tear the bean bag out of the butts.  (This seemed to be the usual location to make the animal sit up like a person.)  Sometimes they came out intact.  Mostly not and the polyester beans were everywhere.  They caused a slip hazard on the hard surface floors and a mess for the vacuum on the carpets.

I do remember my bear had a very stretched out neck and needed a necktie to delineate his body from head.  Dad gave me one of his I think.  I also know his head was oversized.  It was as wide, if not slightly wider, than his body.  I will be making corrections to my memory of him to the pattern.  This bear's head will be smaller.

Teddy Bear part 3

Stuff the body.  Make sure there are no lumps if using fiber fil  or similar.  Make this as firm or soft as desired.  Remember, firmer equals heavier.  Softer might not sit up on his own.

The neck:

Work 3 rounds of straight dc in dc as you have done for the body and legs.

The Head:

Increase Rd: Ch 3, dc in 4 dc, 2 dc in next dc. * dc in 5 dc, 2 dc in next dc.  Rep from * around.  Sl st in top of ch 3.
Repeat Increase Rd.
Work Straight Rnds as for the body and legs until head measures 12" from the beginning of the neck.  Stuff the neck and head.  Make the neck firm so the head doesn't sag and loll off to the side or front like he's inebriated or sleeping, unless this is a look you want.

Start the decreasing to the top of the head.
Dec Rd: Ch 3, dc in 8 dc, dc dec over next 2 sts, * dc in 9 dc, dc dec over next 2 sts.  Rep from * around.
Straight Rd:  Ch 3, *dc in dc.  Rep from * around.
Dec Rd: Ch 3, dc in 7 dc, dc dec over next 2 sts, * dc in 8 dc, dc dec over next 2 sts.  Rep from * around.
Straight Rd:  Ch 3, *dc in dc.  Rep from * around.
Dec Rd: Ch 3, dc in 6 dc, dc dec over next 2 sts, * dc in 7 dc, dc dec over next 2 sts. Rep from * around.
Straight Rd:  Ch 3, *dc in dc.  Rep from * around.
Dec Rd:  Ch 3, dc in 5 dc, dc dec over next 2 sts, * dc in 6 dc, dc dec over next 2 sts.  Rep from * around.
Dec Rd: Ch 3, Dc in 4 dc, dc dec over next 2 sts, * dc in 5 dc, dc dec over next 2 sts. Rep from * around.
Stuff Head more.
Dec Rd: Ch 3, Dc in 3 dc, dc dec over next 2 sts, * dc in 4 dc, dc dec over next 2 sts. Rep from * around.
Continue decreasing in this fashion until you have dc dec with no stitches between.  Finish stuffing the top of the head.  Fasten off leaving a tail to weave around the top of the stitches.  Pull tight and fasten off.  If there is a hole, sew across it in a star fashion until there is no hole.  Fasten off again and weave tail.

Weave tails as needed in both the body/head and the legs.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Red Heart and teddy bears, part 2

To continue....

I look back and see that the bear was less than stellar in execution.  I want to examine why.  I know that having a limited to no knowledge of gauge played a huge part in why the stitches were as widely spaced as they were.  What showed to be a close 4 sts per inch before stuffing, proved to be 2 1/2 sts per inch after and only got worse.  The weight of the old clothes used to stuff helped with the stretching.  Not understanding stretching of the fabric, I thought it would be done well and quickly if I made large stitches.  Sound familiar to anyone out there?

Stuffing with old clothes was not what I wanted but pricing fiber fil sent me out of the store fast. It was expensive, at least for me. Mom knew it was too expensive for my budget and hers, but I wouldn't listen.  After all, surely I knew better than any adult. I couldn't chop up yarn scraps fast enough to fill the bear and have enough for the size I wanted.  That much I did know.  I also knew that chopping yarn up made it compact easier and that was not desirable either.  I wanted him fluffy and large.  Can you see the flaw in this thinking?  40 years of experience tell me I can't be both fluffy and large like that while maintaining light weight and still expecting it to sit upright.  

So far this poor bear is suffering from filling showing, less than skillful stitching, non existent decreases (I just skipped stitches when I wanted it to get smaller), and being very overweight.  (He was overweight in the same way a very muscular person weighs more than a person of the same dimensions who doesn't work out.  Muscle is dense same as gold and lead.  Fat is much lighter in weight for the same volume like hydrogen and helium are lighter than the air we breathe.)  I feel more and more sorry for this bear every time I think of him....... to be continued.

Teddy bear pt. 2


Ch 4, join with a sl st to form a ring.
Work as for the legs out to 300 sts.  
Then work in the round for 24 - 30 inches

Then start the decreases towards the neck.
Dec Rd 1:  ch 3, dc in next 9 sts, dc dec in the next 2 sts, *dc in the next 10 sts, dc dec in next 2 sts.  Rep from * around.  Join with sl st in top of ch 3.
Ch 3, dc in each st around.  Join with sl st in top of ch 3.
Dec Rd 2: ch 3, dc in next 8 sts, dc dec in next 2 sts, * dc in next 9 sts, dc dec in next 2 sts.  Rep from * around.  Join with sl st in top of ch 3. 
Ch 3, dc in each st around.  Join with sl st in top of ch 3.
Dec Rd 3: ch 3, dc in next 7 sts, dc dec in next 2 sts, * dc in next 8 sts, dc dec in next 2 sts.  rep from * around.  Join with sl st in top of ch 3.
Ch 3, dc in each st around.  Join with sl st in top of ch 3.

Continue these rounds of straight and decrease until there are 5 dc between the decreases.

Do not fasten off.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Red Heart and Teddy Bears, part 1

Once upon a time, long, long ago, when I was a little girl, a local radio station had a give away every Easter.  The businesses that had advertising on the station received buckets and chance slips.  The prize?  A Wilbur Wabbit.  It was free to enter as the businesses hoped you would do shopping when you came in to put your chance slips in the bucket.  No, I didn't know that as a child.  

You probably have no clue about Wilbur.  But a quick check on-line shows there are still Wilburs around.  Here is a 1969 ad from the local newspaper featuring WiLBuR.  

Wilbur seemed to be a very large rabbit, 5 - 6 ft tall.  I'm not sure if I remember correctly or he just seemed that large.  Over the years, he shrank in size until he was about 3 ft tall.  He is no longer the Easter giveaway.  Now it's a large basket of candy.  Oh how times have changed.

However, back to the story.  Because my sister and I were in school when the shopping was done (kudos to mom and dad for not letting us get away with the gimmes by using this tactic), we didn't get to put in chances for a Wilbur.  I always wanted one.  I had carloads of small stuffed animals but nothing large.

After I learned to crochet I decided one summer to do a similar project of my own.  Wilbur was clearly for Easter or so I thought.  Teddy bears are universal and year round in my mind.  So I made a plan but not a pattern.  There was nothing out there at the time for a 6 ft tall bear, or any other kind of animal for that matter that I could find.  I also was unable to purchase sufficient yarn for this and so used remnants and scraps and whole balls as I could.  Poor bear was mostly pale yellow and a gingerbread color with loads of burnt orange, red, pink, royal blue, navy blue, black, kelly green, chocolate brown thrown in for good measure.

So here is the first part of the pattern.  35 + years later and working from memory.  The bear is no more and I have no clue how much yarn he actually used.  I also know that stuffing that bear with old clothes made him un-bear-ably heavy, probably 50 lbs.  I know I don't have a picture of it either, for good or for bad.  Sloppy stitch work, poor finishing, 4 legs 4 different sizes.  He was tall.  He was skinny.  His head was too big for his body.  He was mine.  He sat in the child size rocking chair in my bedroom until I moved out and got married.  I wonder what ever happened to him...... to be continued

Teddy Bear

Worsted Weight yarn, use scraps if you want a scrappy bear or at least 100 oz.
Size F hook, or size needed to get gauge
Tapestry or yarn needle

Gauge:  30 sts per 4 inch

Legs: Make 4

Ch 4, join with a sl st in first ch to form a ring.
Rd 1:  ch 3 (counts as a dc now and throughout), 11 dc in ring.  Join with a sl st in top of ch 3.
Rd 2:  ch3, dc in same st as ch 3, * 2 dc in each st around.  Join with a sl st in top of ch 3. (24 dc)
Rd 3: ch 3, 2 dc in next st, * dc in next st, 2 dc in following st.  Rep from * around.  Join with a sl st in top of ch 3.  (36 dc)
Rd 4: ch 3, dc in next st, 2 dc in next st, * dc in next 2 sts, 2 dc in following st.  Rep from * around.  Join with a sl st in top of ch 3 (48 dc)
Rd 5: ch 3, dc in next 2 sts, 2 dc in next st, * dc in next 3 sts, 2 dc in next st.  Rep from * around.  Join with a sl st in top of ch 3.  (60 dc)
Rd 6: ch 3, dc in next 3 sts, 2 dc in next st, * dc in next 4 sts, 2 dc in next st.  Rep from * around.  Join with a sl st in top of ch 3.  (72 dc)
Rd 7: ch 3, dc in next 4 sts, 2 dc in next st, * dc in next 5 sts, 2 dc in next st.   Rep from * around. Join with sl st in top of ch 3.  (84 dc)
Rd 8: ch 3, dc in next 5 sts, 2 dc in next st, * dc in next 6 sts, 2 dc in next st.  Rep from * around.  Join with sl st in top of ch 3.  (96 dc)
Rd 9: ch 3, dc in next 6 sts, 2 dc in next st, * dc in next 7 sts, 2 dc in next st.  Rep from * around.  Join with sl st in top of ch 3.  (108 dc)
Rd 10: ch 3, dc in next 7 sts, 2 dc in next st, * dc in next 8 sts, 2 dc in next st. Rep from * around.  Join with sl st in top of ch 3. (120 dc)
Rd 11:  working in the back loop only, ch 3, * dc in dc.  Rep from * around.
Rds 12 - ? :  ch 3, dc in each dc around.  Join with a sl st in top of ch 3.  (120 dc)  Rep Rd 12 until the leg is 23 inches from Rd 11.  

At the end of the leg, fasten off leaving a tail.  

Make all 4 legs.  Depending on your taste for bears, you can shrink or stretch the number of rounds for length.  Just make sure to keep your gauge on the more stitches per inch than less.  You don't want the stuffing to show through.  Plus it will wear better.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Catastrophes part two

While we as a nation have been mostly lucky, there are times when people have had to be evacuated from their homes.  We've all seen these tragic events on tv, wildfires, earthquakes, floods.  Some of us may have been involved in an evacuation.  

What do we take?   We are told to have a "bug out bag" for each person containing 3 days of necessities,  including medical needs.  I know we also want to take irreplaceable items like pictures and heirlooms.   We take our pets.  I want to suggest that to this container, we add yarn, two or three skeins and hook or needles to go with them.   Why you will be asking yourself.   I can hear you now.  I heard that from my husband when I first thought about it years ago.   Then I heard about it from a podcast.

Think about it this way.   The yarn crafting we do might be a solace for you in a stressful situation.   The yarn can create a useful thing if it's needed.  The yarn can be used for games to keep boredom at bay for children.  It can be a way to help someone having trouble adjusting to the evacuation.   In the previous catastrophe post, I alluded to a quick succession of moves for my family.  I may have posted about this before.  We had a fire.  Family that helped us collect the necessities for living, got me yarn and needles and a few hooks.  In no way did I really have time to knit or crochet.  But by having these things with me, I could have a sense of normalcy for myself.  We had a lot of school functions for the kids at the end of the year to attend.  The kids got where they needed to be, we didn't get to attend these important functions as parents.  We had to deal with the insurance company, the fire police, the utility companies, the adjuster company and so on.  My knitting was something I did to keep sanity.  Nothing I made, a series of slippers that I told everyone was for charity, was in any way even remotely wearable.  Stress made my previously on target gauge nearly bulletproof.  I had to rip out when I couldn't get the stitches to move at all along the needles because of the tightness.  When I could manage to get a finished slipper off the needles, what had previously fit an adult man now fit a toddler.

I did finally relax and my knit and crochet went back to "normal".  My kids were then the recipients of most of my stitching.  They wore the outerwear accessories and slippers and many other things. My husband was a recipient but he doesn't care for hand knit items so I let him be his own person.  He is more a t-shirt and flannel shirt person.  His hobby is cars.  He gets greasy and dirty.  He doesn't want to ruin anything I might make him.  He doesn't have to dress up for work so that isn't an option.

More recently, my son was involved in a car accident.  I took him to the ER to get checked out when he decided things weren't getting back together fast enough.  We didn't know the hospital was on divert.  This is a nice way of saying they were full up and didn't have room for more runny noses and sore throats.  But I understand people will do what they think is necessary.  Just like we did.  But I thought ahead and took some small balls of yarn with me to work on swatches for a class.  Turns out there were a few young elementary school children there who were waiting for someone to be checked.  I kept them entertained with the yarn balls by teaching finger knitting to them.  Even the parents were interested in what was going on.  Eventually everyone was seen.  My son was given medications to make him more comfortable and the knowledge that he was on track in his healing.  The kids saw us as we were leaving and they were up to be seen next.  They had to show me, the "yarn lady" how far they had come in their ropes.  The parents were relieved to not have screaming memes so late at night.

These incidents have taught me to keep yarn and hooks or needles in each car, my purse and stashed in a few other locations.  I can make a difference during a crisis or perceived crisis or even just a long wait.  Knitting and crochet make a difference in my own temperament.   For the last few years, the Craft Yarn Council of America has been highlighting how knitting and crocheting have positive effects on our health.  I think I have just shown in my own personal life how yarn is positive.  

How does yarn, knitting, or crocheting help you with your health or those around you?  Leave a comment below.  I'm interested in hearing your stories.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Catastrophes : what is a catastrophe?

Simply put,  a catastrophe is anything that causes a lot of distress of any type.   Now why am I talking about this?   No, nothing bad has happened to me or my family.   Nothing terrible has occurred in the knitting or crocheting that can't be easily fixed.

I listen to Tv a lot as I go about my day.   My favorites are knitting shows but they are in short supply right now.   I love old movies and pick them by the actors.  I also like a lot of DIY shows.  In this category comes, not only  remodeling and cooking but prepper shows and certain reality shows, such as car building and the Alaska centered.

Something that is stressed in most of these shows is having a stockpile.   I couldn't help but see the connection between that and a yarn stash.   From what I see in friends homes and online in various groups,  very few, if any, knitters and crocheters purchase only the exact amount of yarn called for in the pattern only.  We are told to get an extra ball for swatching, an extra ball if we have to lengthen the garment.   We may not need that extra ball depending on the gauge we get.  And so a stash begins.  Then there are the skeins we might get as gifts from those who know yarn is good for presents but not in a fiber, color, or quantity we can use for anything just now.

But what is a stockpile,  or stash, for really?  Well, I know that my stash is there for a few reasons.   1. The yarn came in faster than I could use it.  2. The yarn on hand wasn't right for the project I was making, for a variety of reasons.  Usually the color is the culprit. 3. I purchased yarn on field trips with the guilds or on vacations with my family.   That yarn has special memories.  4.  I was gifted yarn which I can't use but didn't want to hurt the feelings of the giver by making a fuss in a negative way.  My mother did manage to teach me a few manners.  5.  I foresaw a time when either money or yarn might not be there in quantities that allow me to make what I want so a skein or three needed to come home with me.   I'm  thinking about retirement or if one of us becomes incapacitated for a while and can't go back to the jobs we currently have.  6. The yarn called to me.  Either I felt the color was extraordinary,  the price was too good to pass up,  or I wanted to try the yarn because it was new, I had to have it.  Or the fiber is something I absolutely had to have RIGHT NOW.

I don't have the idea of some of the more pessimistic minded people that we are going to have to restart civilization.  But the retirement and health issues make a stash a useful thing to have.  Yes, I will admit that there is a small chance that a catastrophe will happen and I will need it.  As an example,  we moved 15 years ago from one side of town to the other.  Our previous home saw two blizzards with huge snowfall and record cold temperature. But by happy circumstances we were never without power or stranded.  The head of the road work department lived on that street.   Fast forward to today and two moves made in quick succession.  We have had two major accidents that cut electricity from the neighborhood at large,  had flooding that prevented us from getting into town or to work three times (it never got into the house unlike those down the hill from us),  been cut off from water once and another three record snowfalls. 

We take the weather more seriously and plan ahead now.  We don't wipe out the egg, milk, bread aisles but we do fill gas cans,  keep the freezer full and check batteries for flashlights and the candles.   My yarn stash was there for me during these times. It gave me ways to fill hours when there was no way out until the weather cooperated and we could get dug out.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Upcoming .....

Great things are coming.  Great things have already occurred.  One great thing was my church festival is over.  It's always a lot of work and a lot of joy and a lot of weather worry.  We had help when it was needed.  We experienced joy before during and after the festival.  We had 3 days of good weather, hot and humid but no rain. 

Upcoming things include online classes.  Eventually each class listed on the different pages will be available online.  A local high school teacher and I are teaming up to learn this online process.  I will post updates as they occur.  First up will be some Tunisian crochet.  I offer how to do the stitch and how to tame the inevitable curl.

I'm also looking to do more designing.  I will keep you abreast of where to find the patterns or post them here if they are free.  I will also be revamping previous patterns.

For now we are having a heat wave complete with high humidity.  Small children, the elderly, and those who are not working at 100% are asked to stay inside.  I'm taking advantage of this to finish a project that I needed done before July even started.  With the bright sunny days, I have plenty of light.  This is something I didn't have back in April and May.  I'm working on repairing an heirloom tablecloth for a friend.  I finally (with help from Wanda and Jane, thanks ladies) found the correct thread size.  Now I have good light and can get this work done.  I'm finding the getting older eyes do not work so well in all levels of light.  Maybe I'm not as young as I think I am.....

Thanks for sticking with me through the long silence.  I did actually write but was not willing to post them publicly until I could edit them.  There is a series about when I was a child and Wilbur Wabbit.  Do any of you know about him or is he a local phenomenon?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Swatches and their uses beyond the obvious

Swatches beyond their obvious use of finding the gauge you are getting with a particular yarn and hook or needles.  I would love to do something other than the afghan idea and the few ideas presented in April.  Not all of these are my own ideas.  Years ago I did a search for ideas.  Those ideas sparked new ones.  Other people gave me ideas.

1. One square equals one coaster.
2. One square, along with some felt and stuffing, and you'll have a pretty pin cushion.
3. Two squares and some felt for padding will produce one potholder.
4. Two large squares can travel along as a handy beach bag.
5. Two small squares stitched together, then lined with felt, and you'll have a handy home for all those loose needles.
6. Two motifs, tied with ribbons at the sides and shoulders, can be a vest for a favorite doll.
7. Make three tiny squares of fine crochet cotton, stitch them together into a strip, and you'll have a gift for the family bookworm.
8. Gather all your knitting worsted yarn scraps together, make four squares to cover that "seen better days" sofa pillow.
9. Four squares equals an eyeglass case-- 2 squares on each side.
10. Sew six squares into a two motif by three motif rectangle and you'll have a table mat.
11. Nine tiny squares will make a doll house afghan. The best yarn to use here is one strand of three-ply needle point yarn.
12. Nine four-inch squares can cover the side of a slightly worn, but oh-so-handy tote. Eighteen squares and you can cover the whole thing!
13. Nine squares is also the right size for a seat cushion for the dining room chairs.
14. Sixteen squares in rug yarn makes a nice bathroom rug. Figuring four squares by four squares, you can make it larger, if you like.
15. Twenty squares makes the perfect welcome mat. This is four squares by five squares for a nice rectangle to fit by the front door.
16. Thirty-two is about the right number of squares to cover the old backing on your rocking chair. Figure a four by eight block rectangle; be sure to measure the chair as rockers, of course, differ.
You have now found a home for 122 squares.

What to make with even more Squares:
1. 4 squares (4" each) made from cotton yarn and whip stitched together makes a dishcloth.
2. Take 2 - 12 inch squares whip stitched together on 3 sides. Make a braid 30 inches long. Attach the braid to the top edges where they are joined and you have a Bag for the beach or as a book bag (lining would be nice).
3. Whip stitch together twenty four 5 inch squares together (6 by 4) and fold in half width wise. Sew along bottom and side. Make a chain cord to weave through the top and you have a heating pad cover.
4. One 7 inch square folded in half and crocheted across the bottom and side and you have another eye glasses case.
5. 6 squares stitched together into a cube shape and stuffed make a baby block toy. I like to place a big jingle bell in the center of the stuffing before closing the last side.
6. 2 squares in cotton yarn and whip stitched together on 3 sides with a draw string through the top makes a soap saver/soap on a rope.
7. Take 6 squares in cotton yarn and whip stitched together 2 x 3 and you have an absorbent pretty hand towel.
8. 12 small squares make these granny-square-slippers.
9. 42 squares make this groovy squares poncho.
You have now found a home for 99 more squares.

A Chest Full of Squares
Have even more Squares? Here’s more ideas!
1. With 64 squares, all the same size, you can make a cardigan. Need it to fit a variety of people? Vary the size of the yarn, hook and size of square. Keep them all the same. Add a collar and button band as desired.  See this post granny-square-baby-cardigan

2. With 6 squares, 5 sewn together in a strip that is then joined and the last one sewn to one long edge of the ring. And you have a hat.
3. With 9 squares sewn together in a long strip, you have a scarf
4. With 30 tiny thread squares sewn together into a long ring, you have a fancy lanyard for a convention name badge or scissors.
5. With 19 squares and some lining fabric, you can make a rectangular tote bag, 6 on each side and the rest are the gusset. Line for stability. Add purchased handles or strap.
6. A variable number of squares or rounded squares to fit your window, make a chevron shaped valance to add interest to a window that doesn’t need to be fully covered.
7. A cotton square 8 or 9 inches in size makes a great dishcloth.
You now have found a home for at least 175 more squares that you can make.

If you have only a few swatches that you have made for other clothes, such as sweaters, most likely they are the same color family as clothes you already wear.  Try adding patch pockets with the swatches or elbow patches to ready made clothes.  Make a cell phone case from two of them.  Make a change purse from one or two and a zipper.

What ideas do you have??  Post them below in the comments.  Links included are ones I have made and they are well written.