Tuesday, January 31, 2012

All Work And No Crochet....

Makes me a lousy blogger!

I've been at my new position at work for just over two weeks now, and it is really keeping me busy. I was used to some downtime where I could crochet in the privacy of my office, but I am back out in cubicle land now, and I am staying busy all day. I'm not complaining -- I enjoy my work, but it does keep me from completing projects as quickly as I was before.

I am currently working on a North Carolina Tarheel themed sun hat that I hope to play a lot of golf in this Spring, Summer and Fall. The pattern I am using was for a child's hat, so I've had to increase the number of rows to make it big enough to fit me. Since it was mostly single crochet, it is slow going using a size G hook. The crown wasn't too bad, and I did switch to half-double on the side of the hat, but the brim is taking forever. I'm up to 144 stitches on my last round and probably have at least half a dozen rounds to go (with a six stitch increase each time) before I am happy. Might not sound like a lot to some of you, but I can only take so much at a sitting before I have to take a break. I hope to finish it up this weekend, but still have to buy the patch I plan to sew on to complete it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Alpaca Explorer Gloves

I tried something I hadn't done before with these gloves. Using two different alpaca blend yarns we got from my Mother-in-law, I crocheted them together into my fingerless glove pattern. They turned out looking really nice, but what ever possessed me to make gloves with alpaca wool blend is beyond me. They are very itchy!! Anyway, it was a fun exercise in blending different yarns and using up some of our growing stash.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Learning to Knit?

So, tonight I had my first lesson in the art of knitting. I'm not sure I'll ever do much with it, but my wife had been wanting me to try it, so the dutiful (and curious) husband in me gave in and let her show me the basics. I learned to cast-on (long tail style), knit and purl. To give it a fair shot, I'll probably try to knit a scarf in the near future, but for now, crochet is probably where I'll focus most of my creative energies. Remember, you are never to old to learn something new!

Monday, January 23, 2012

So, Who Is The Man Behind Man-Made Crochet?

Now that I have a few followers, I figured it might be nice to let you know a little about me. I didn't really expect to do much in the beginning with this blog except post a few patterns from time to time, but I'm enjoying it for now, so we'll see where it goes.

I addition to crafty stuff, I'm also a sports fan. I played a lot of baseball in my younger years and actually thought I might make it professionally at one time. Of course, a lot of young people have that dream only to realize the numbers are against you once you reach that level. Anyway, I am an Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox fan. Strange combination, but it works for me.

I also love college football and have been a fan of the Alabama Crimson Tide as long as I can remember. I was brought up while Bear Bryant was still in Tuscaloosa, so my roots run deep. We are experiencing a nice resurgence under Nick Saban, so life is good for Bama fans right now. Roll Tide!

I started playing golf when I was about 15, and wish I had started sooner. I don't play as much as I would like, mainly because it has become so expensive, but I enjoy my time on the course when I do play. I'm a single handicapper for those that know what that means. For those that don't, it wouldn't really mean much to you if I explained it. :-)

Another obsession my wife and I have developed over the last five years is with MINI Coopers. We've now owned four different MINIs, each with its own distinct personality. Feel free to check out my other blogs, especially the LEGO MINI for more on that aspect of our life although I don't update them nearly as much as I have been updating this one.

I have four children, two boys (18 and 7) and two girls (16 and 3). The older set live with their mom in Alabama and are big into percussion. My son plays top bass for the defending DCI world champion indoor drumline and my daughter plays in the pit for a nationally ranked high school indoor drumline. She also just learned to crochet over the Christmas break, so I look forward to seeing some of her finished work soon. My younger two kids are educated at home and both are already interested in learning how to knit and crochet like mommy and daddy.

If I tried to tell you about all the animals we have shared our home with over the years, I'd be writing for days, so let's just say we have been accused of being the crazy pet people from time to time. Mostly cats, but we've had dogs, gerbils, fish, hermit crabs and even a goat for a while. Petsmart loves us almost as much as Hobby Lobby!

So, there you have it. The man behind Man-Made Crochet. I hope to keep you entertained with my creations and finished projects in the future and always welcome your comments and ideas.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Craft Store Thoughts

Now that I am almost three months into the Art of Crochet, I have had the opportunity to spread my financial love around to several different chain craft stores. Here are my thoughts so far.

Hobby Lobby

I got my initial supplies here and have shopped Hobby Lobby for years for other things. Their yarn selection is pretty decent (for a beginner or budget conscious hooker) and they have a good selection of hooks and notions. They have some sort of yarn on sale almost every week, so this has become a regular stop. (3 out of 5 hooks)


This is another store we have used as a family for years, so it was only natural to check it out for crochet supplies. Their yarn supply is limited, but they do have things Hobby Lobby doesn't so we have to check them from time to time. Their hook and notion selection is also more limited than Hobby Lobby. The crochet and knitting section in our particular Michaels is all the way in one of the back corners, so it really seems more of an after-thought than anything. (2 out of 5 hooks)

JoAnn Fabrics

We just started going to this place within the last week, and it has quickly become my favorite store. The yarn selection is unmatched in Douglasville and the hook and notion section has much more than Hobby Lobby or Michaels. I remember going to this chain as a kid with my mom and grandmother and wish we had thought of it when I started crochet. While we will continue to visit all three of the chains in the future, JoAnn is number one in my book. (4 out of 5 hooks)

On a side note, we visited our first LYS (Local Yarn Store) today, even though it isn't really local to us (about 40 miles away). While the yarn selection was incredible, it is much pricier than I can justify at this point of my experience. Also, the store is geared more toward knitters, and we got the feeling that you had to be a regular to be really welcome. For now, I'll stick with my boring little chains.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Deep Woods Explorer Fingerless Gloves

So, after making the Explorer Cap last night, I decided to try and make a complimentary pair of fingerless gloves today. Instead of looking for a pattern, I just sat down with the same yarn and hook and started working. Having read about the basic construction of gloves and such when I made some gauntlets for my son, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do and it really went pretty quick.

The pattern is available on Ravelry at the following link.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Deep Woods Explorer Cap

As you have already seen, I enjoy making hats. I've been looking around on Ravelry for a good, outdoorsy style hat, but the couple I tried really didn't work out or seemed to have some design flaw. So, taking several stitches I learned in trying them, I came up with my own design and am quite pleased with the result. I used a bulky weight, variegated yard that really went with the pattern extremely well.

You can find the pattern on Ravelry at the following link. If you decide to give it a try and find any problems, please let me know so that I can correct them.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Angry Birds

Seems like everywhere you go these days, the Angry Birds show up in some form or fashion. My wife found some amigurumi patterns a while back and made a set of the birds for our kids to play with around the house. Since then, she has made a few more for people who saw them and fell in love. After a three year detail which saw me traveling around the country to oversee the opening of a bunch of new Social Security offices, I took on a new role in my old office this week. Since I'll be back at a desk most of the time now, I decided it would be nice to have a set of the Angry Birds there to keep me company. So, my wife and I crocheted like crazy over the weekend and finished an entire set in time for me to display them proudly. She did the bodies, while I made most of the little pieces and took care of the construction of the birds. I think they turned out great and I can't wait to see what everyone in the office thinks!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Native American Flute Sleeve

My wife and I bought a great pattern book for beginning crocheters called "63 Easy-To-Crochet Pattern Stitches Combine To Make An Heirloom Afghan" shortly after I started hooking. It teaches a lot of great stitches and someday we plan to actually make a pair of the afghans together to see how they turn out. One of my favorite stitches in the book is the Trinity stitch. It yields a very dense fabric that I initially planned to crochet into a scarf. After about two feet of work, I realized it would probably be too stiff for a scarf, but it would be perfect as a protective sleeve for one of my Native American flutes. So, I folded it over longways, whip-stitched it together and voila! Now, I have a good looking way to carry my flute!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

So Many Projects, So Little Time

Obsession is a word that is often thrown around when we talk about our hobbies and for me, crochet has certainly jumped right to the top of my list of obsessions. I have completed a lot of projects already in the six weeks or so that I have been hooking, but I have a ton more already lined up and it has become hard to decide what to work on next. My most ambitious project is the lap throw I started a few days ago. Due to the complexity of the stitches I decided to use, it will probably be something I work on a bit at a time for a while. My wife and I started a collaborative effort to complete a set of Angry Birds for my desk at work and finished three of them today (more about that in a different post). I'm also working on a bucket hat for myself and just finished a protective sleeve for one of my Native American flutes. The ideas are endless, and I'm sure at some point the interest will wane a bit, but for now I can't think of anything I would rather be doing!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Hats, Hats, Hats

My first project after learning to crochet was the crimson beanie in the picture above. Since then, I've done several hats (including the two others in the picture). There is such a sense of accomplishment taking a ball of yarn and turning it into something beautiful and functional.

Monet Spring Bonnet

I love springtime and the spring celebrations, so I thought I'd get an early start on a spring bonnet for my three year old daughter. Using the same pattern I used for the Sun Hat for Eloise, I changed to a larger hook and used a 100% acrylic yarn, hoping to get a larger hat with a little more flexibility in the yarn. The hat turned out looking great, but it still wasn't quite large enough to fit my daughter's head. Looks like I'll be playing with this pattern a little more to get it to the size I want!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sun Hat for Eloise

One of my four younger sisters will be having her first child some time in April if all goes according to plan, so I made a sun hat for my new niece using a great pattern from Lion Brand Yarns. If you are interested in the pattern, it is called Kid's Sun Hat #90263AD and a link can be found on Ravelry.com at http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/kids-sun-hat-90263ad.

I used the G hook suggested by the pattern along with a nice variegated cotton yarn and the hat should fit my niece as an infant and probably for a year or so after assuming she doesn't end up having a huge head! This hat is worked in spirals with simple, single crochet stitches. You work two rows in the back loops only to get the down turn on the sides and then the up turn on the brim.

I also plan to make some type of flower to attach to the side of the hat as an embellishment. Not sure yet what color I am going to make it.

I enjoyed making it so much that I have already started another one for my youngest daughter - this time using a larger hook and an acrylic yarn to get a larger hat. I'll post more details about it once it is finished.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Black Widow Amigurumi

This is my first design, so I hope it works for any who choose to try it. I couldn't find any black widow spider patterns for amigurumi that I liked, so I just decided to create my own.

G hook
Red Heart Super Saver Yarn – Black and Red
Safety Eyes - 10 MM (2)
Black Pipe Cleaners (4)

Main Body (Black)

Rd 1: 6 sc in magic ring
Rd 2: 2 sc in each sc around (12)
Rd 3: sc in next sc, 2 sc in next; repeat around (18)
Rd 4: sc in next 2 sc, 2 sc in next; repeat around (24)
Rd 5: sc in next 3 sc, 2 sc in next; repeat around (30)
Rd 6: sc in next 4 sc, 2 sc in next; repeat around (36)
Rd 7: sc in next 5 sc, 2 sc in next; repeat around (42)
Rd 8-13: sc in each sc around (42)
Rd 14: sc in next 5 sc, dec over next 2 sc; repeat around (36)
Rd 15: sc in next 4 sc, dec over next 2 sc; repeat around (30)
Rd 16: sc in next 3 sc, dec over next 2 sc; repeat around (24) - begin stuffing with polyfill
Rd 17: sc in next 2 sc, dec over next 2 sc; repeat around (18)
Rd 18: sc in next sc, dec over next 2 sc; repeat around (12)
Rd 19: dec over next 2 sc; repeat around (6) - stuff tightly, finish off and weave in tail

Head (Black)

Rd 1: sc 5 in magic ring
Rd 2: 2 sc in each sc around (10)
Rd 3: sc in next sc, 2 sc in next; repeat around (15)
Rd 4: sc in next 2 sc, 2 sc in next; repeat around (20)
Rd 5-7: sc in each sc around (20) - finish off, leaving extra long tail

Attach eyes, then using tail, attach head to body, aligning TOP of head to center of body. Head should be attached at end of body where Rd 19 was completed. Stuff as you go and weave in remaining tail when finished.

Hourglass (Red)

ch 6
Row 1: sc in second ch from hook and each sc across (5 sc), ch 1, turn
Row 2: sc in second sc and in next 2 sc (3 sc), ch 1, turn
Row 3: sc in second sc, ch 1, turn
Row 4: sc 3 in sc, ch 1, turn
Row 5: sc 2 in first sc, sc 1 in next SC, sc 2 in last sc - finish off, leaving extra long tail

Attach hourglass to bottom rear of body using tail.

Legs (Pipe Cleaners)

Feed first pipe cleaner through a single stitch at bottom of head, twist to secure and shape as desired. Fold over each end to form a thicker tip.

Repeat with three more pipe cleaners, descending toward main body. Last set of legs should be at joint where head meets body.

Welcome to Man-Made Crochet

I'm a guy who has been into crafts most of my life. I started cross-stitching when I was around ten, and I've been doing other crafty stuff ever since. I recently learned to crochet and it has become my new obsession. So far, I've mainly made hats and a few amigurumi animals, but I plan to continue broadening my experience over the years.