How to Prepare to Crochet/Knit A Blanket From a Pattern

There are a LOT of blog posts, instructions and YouTube videos about this topic, but perhaps I can put some of this in such a way that it might click for somebody. I am FAR from an expert on the topic so please take everything with a truck-load of salt. After all, I still have problems keeping my edges straight. And I somehow managed to drop two stitches when I was 2/3 of the way through this rug.

T-Shirt Rug 8-28-19

 

I read a blog post written by my friend “Jamie” the other day where she talked about her first knitting project. I thought it was very well done for her first try! However, it reminded me that not everybody is used to reading patterns and knowing how to substitute materials, etc. I thought that I would take you through my process of preparing to crochet from a pattern. I’ve already shown what I do to prepare to make my crocheted afghans for Project Linus, but this is a bit different.

If I am going to make a blanket then I will usually have a certain yarn in mind that I want to use. Almost all of my yarn stash is made up of #4 worsted. A lot of times your pattern will tell you what weight of yarn it suggests.

4 Worsted

Typically if the pattern tells you to use a certain number, then any yarn that is rated at that weight should work. When I make blankets I really don’t sweat the weight because if it’s a bit thinner or thicker it won’t make that much of a difference. You will, however, want to make sure that you have enough of the yarn you will use before starting your project.

As an example, let’s say that I love the look of the free Diagonal Crochet Blanket pattern on Premier yarns’ website. Let’s take a look at what materials are required.

Blanket Materials

It doesn’t tell me what size yarn it uses because they have used a special yarn that is part of their line. The problem is that I have a TON of yarn in my stash that I want to use. I don’t care about the design that the yarn makes as it’s stitched, I just like the look of the stitched rows. I have a lot of AC Moore brand yarn (Studio Classic by Nicole) and I want to use one of the variegated colorways that I already have on hand.

Project Linus Blanket #22 - Yarn

The yarn label will give you all of the information you need. Looking at my yarn I see this:

Stitch Studio Plus

The Premier yarn called for in the pattern is 7 oz/200g, 656 yds/600m and 100% Acrylic. How does this compare to my yarn?

*****WARNING – MATH AHEAD*****

If we divide the total yardage by the weight we will be able to tell just how many yards we get out of each ounce of yarn.

Premier = 656/7 = about 93 yards per ounce.

Stitch Studio = 520/9.87 = about 52 yards per ounce.

What does this mean? That tells me that the Stitch Studio yarn will be a little thicker than the Premier yarn. One ounce of yarn stretched across 93 yards will give you a thinner strand than only stretching it across 52 yards. For me this will be okay because a thicker blanket might be better anyway. But how many skeins of yarn will I need?

Blanket Materials

How big do you want to make your blanket? They give you three sets of finished measurements. Then when you look at the yarn it gives you three quantities. It says that we can use Sweet Pea, Peony or Hummingbird for the blanket and for the small size we will need 2 skeins. To make the medium (36″x36″) we will need 3 skeins, and then 5 skeins for the largest size given. Let’s say that I decide I want to make the biggest blanket.

Premier yarns = 656 yds x 5 skeins = 3,280 yards.

Stitch Studio = 3,280 yds / 520 yd per skein = 7 skeins (rounded up from 6.3)

So, I would want at least 7 skeins of yarn for this project. Are you ready for me to throw one more monkey wrench into the mix? Let’s say that I need to stick to the yarn that I have in my stash so that I can see the floor of my crochet corner.

Yarn Mess 5-18-19

After sorting through my entire pile I find that I only have four skeins of the yarn that I wanted to use. Before throwing yourself on the floor in despair and lamenting the fact that you have a zillion skeins, but only FOUR of the seven that you required for this project… not all is lost.

If we look at the blanket pattern we see that they used a size G hook. This means that using the G hook (4 mm) and this Bloom Premier Yarn it took 5 skeins of yarn to make a 48″ x 48″ blanket. Let’s do the math to see how much yarn would be required to make the 36″ square blanket.

Premier yarns = 656 yds x 3 skeins = 1,968 yards.

Stitch Studio = 1,968 yds / 520 yd per skein = 4 skeins (rounded up from 3.78)

You can easily make a 36″ square blanket using the four skeins of yarn that you found in your stash. But what, there’s more! If you use a larger hook, say a I or J, then your stitches will be slightly larger and your overall blanket will end up slightly bigger, too. That’s not to say that you’ll be able to get a 48″ square blanket (because that won’t happen), but it will be slightly bigger than the middle size. The only thing I caution with this is that by using a bigger hook you are using up more yarn. So you might not want to go crazy because you’re only going to have about a quarter of a skein left if using the G hook. Also by going up a larger hook size you are decreasing the density of the stitch, thus decreasing the density of the blanket. You can always crochet a swatch and see if you like the stitches that you are getting from your yarn and hook.

Swatch 1A - G Hook

(This is a #5 yarn)

I think I’m going to leave that right there for now. It takes a little experimentation to get familiar with the yarns, hooks and what results when you put the two of them together. I just have a few more tips that I would like to share with you before I end this post.

There are some patterns that will give you directions for Row 1, Row 2, Row 3, Row 4 and then for Rows 5-40 they will tell you to repeat Row 2-4. Since not many of us will sit down and crochet a blanket all at once, how do you know where you’re at when you are able to pick it back up? This is where a little planning comes in VERY handy.

I’ll show you my cheat sheet and then explain what’s going on.

Tracking Rows

It looks like you need a magic decoder ring for this, doesn’t it? After I read a pattern I look to see how many rows in total there should be when it’s finished. In this case I am beginning work on a blanket with a very specific pattern stitched into it that has a total of 75 rows. You can see the pattern repeats every six rows until you get to the very last row, which is probably just a row of single or double crochet (I don’t have the pattern here in front of me). When I crochet I keep a stitch counter next to me so that as I finish a row I click the counter. I was using a plastic one, but I found this one on Amazon and I LOVE it. You do have to remember to click it because otherwise you will still lose track of your rows. However, if you’re consistent you will know that you are on row 56 when your counter says ’55’. If it helps you can also place a stitch marker on every 5th or 10th row, too. The stitch markers that I use look like little plastic safety pins. This way if you forget to click the stitch counter you should be able to quickly count how many rows you’ve already completed.

Also, on my cheat sheet above, I made a note as to when I will need to change colors. This way I shouldn’t be able to get too far before realizing that I needed to be using the other color. It takes a little bit of work to prepare, but it makes crocheting a LOT faster.

I hope that this was helpful to you. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll write up how I prepare to crochet a garment. Thanks!

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A Jesus Shed

This past summer one of the guys from church asked Jay to be involved with a project. Currently our creche at church involves a basic manger with plastic figures of Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus. They light up. Well, I guess somebody donated a nice new nativity set that also includes the Wise Men, an angel and a couple of animals. I only know this because Jay says that the donkey is not made to the correct proportions.

Anyway, they (some guys at church) decided it was time to retire Electric Jesus and make a new creche for the better set. That’s where Jay comes into the picture. They gave him rough dimensions and some guidelines, then he drew up a design. After it was finally agreed upon they went out and bought the materials so that Jay can start building.

Jesus Shed Start

This is not going to be a small Jesus Shed (as Jay refers to it). I believe the base is 4′ x 8′. Since it will be stored most of the year, it has to be able to be knocked down and put away. Jay has built that into his plans, I guess.

Jesus Shed Framed 11-8-19

Currently it is taking up quite a bit of our basement. We have to put side walls on it to help keep the snow out. It has to look good, but it can’t be too light or too heavy. It has to be able to firmly sit in place when the wind and snow are blowing, but it can’t require 8 strong men to assemble and move into place. Also, it was requested of me that I stain it a dark color (yes… apparently I got roped into this project as well).

A red mahogany stain that I’ve used in the past came to mind, but I also bought some Ebony stain to see which we preferred.

Jesus Shed Stain Samples

The ebony stain is the majority of this sample, but you can see the red mahogany next to it. The ebony reminded me of wood that has either been burned or tarred… I couldn’t quite decide. Jay and I both preferred the red mahogany.

This past weekend we stained the majority of parts that were ready.

Jesus Shed Stained Parts 11-8-19

I sure hope that’s dark enough for the other guys. We will use a marine-grade poly so that we don’t have to worry about it being exposed to the elements.

Jesus Shed and Stained Parts 11-8-19

Jay painted the base/floor a chocolate brown. The plywood was really soaking up the stain. I’m not sure who is going to poly it. I told the one guy who seems to be in charge of this project (not Jay) that I didn’t want to poly it in my basement because of the stink. Our actual shed isn’t heated so I can’t do it in there. He said that they would take care of polying it. So we’ll see how that goes.

Speaking of sheds, though, look at our Lean-To:

Lean-To 11-5-19

It has doors! There aren’t any airplanes in there, yet, but at least we can put them in there now.

Lean-To Doors 11-5-19

I had to have Jay take the picture because it’s dark by the time I get home. I can’t wait until this is full!

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Project Linus Blanket #27

Project Linus Blanket #27

Project Linus Blanket #27 11-2-19

“Cartoon Cowboy Boots”

I apologize for the picture, but now that daylight savings time has ended I’m not home when it’s light out. Pictures come out best when they are done in the natural light so I had to find the best place to take a picture in the house. It was not easy!

I can’t believe that I’m already on blanket #27. I was just looking and at the beginning of the year I was only on #16. That means I’ve made an average of one blanket every month this year. Apparently my hook has really been flying!

I had to call this blanket Cartoon Cowboy Boots because after I started with the dark brown and then went to the buff stripe it reminded me of the colors that would be used in cartoon cowboy boots.

Cartoon Boots

Project Linus Blanket #27 Cowboy Boots

Do you see it? That’s all I could think about when working on it.

I actually crocheted one of the variegated stripes while participating in my local Project Linus’ sew-in day that they had on October 19th. I was the only non-sewer there, but that was okay. The ladies chatted with me and they all loved my afghan bag that I use.

crochet bags with dividers

I watched them make jelly roll and Nine Patch quilts. I was very proud of myself for attending because I had wanted to hermit that day. Instead, I actually went out and was somewhat social! There may be hope for me after all. 😉

I used three solid shades of brown and then two different variegated yarns for this blanket. And yes, I still have to weave in the ends. But that’s one more down and one less bag of yarn sitting in my sewing room!

Project Linus Blanket #27 Stripes

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Painting the Carvings…

The other night I dreamed that Jay’s sister received a beautiful set of china as a wedding gift. Along with the china was a set of silverware with gorgeous ceramic handles. The problem was that the handles were very long and thin (like paint brush handles) and ended in a rather sharp point. The handles had to have been at least 12″ long!

Even in my dreams I can’t get away from paint brushes!

Last week I showed you the first samples that I painted:

I used latex paint for the tiger. I used wood stain and acrylic paints for the wolf. I really wasn’t impressed with either of them. So I moved on to the second set of samples.

Samples #2:

Carvings - Sample 2

Both of these were painted with the chalky acrylic paints. I have to say that I like the tiger a LOT better with this paint. I was also trying to figure out how I wanted to paint the eyes. I think I’m going to paint it like the one on the left.

As for the wolf, I wasn’t happy with this version. I definitely need to make the eyes stand out. Also, Jay had used a wider bit on this so the lines aren’t as sharp. On the final carvings he used the sharp bit so it should give me some really nice lines to follow. Oh, and just as a comparison, this is how big the actual carvings are as compared to my samples:

Tiger Full Size Carving

It took me over an hour to paint the stripes on the little tigers alone! I don’t know how long it will take to paint the big one. I have decided that I’m definitely using the chalk paints, though. I really like the coverage that I got with it.

As for the wolf, Jay and I both like the sharpness of the dark lines on the first one.

Wolf Sample 1 10-27-19

His coworker didn’t think his daughter would be into the wood grain look, though. Jay and I also are not crazy about the brown parts, either. I told Jay that what I could do is stain the wolf first in order to fill in the lines and then paint it in using the chalky paint. I decided to give this a try with the first sample.

First I painted the inside of the face with the lighter gray.

Repainted Wolf Carving 1

There is only one coat of paint on this sample. The finished version I will actually do two.

Then I painted over the brown with a dark gray.

Repainted Wolf Carving 2

Again, I only have one coat of it on here, but I think I’m getting closer. I would definitely do a second coat to darken it a bit more. I like the nose and eyes, but I’m unsure of the ears. Should I make them the same color as the nose? Make it a shade of gray in between the other two shades? I guess I’ll figure it out as I go along.

I have painted the white base of the big tiger. When I have a few hours to spare I will sit down and start painting the stripes. I do not look forward to that!

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Project Custom Clothes- Bodycon Dress

Have you ever heard of the term ‘Bodycon Dress’? I hadn’t until I asked “Jamie” to look around and determine what garments she would like to have in her custom clothing wardrobe. A Bodycon dress was on her list. I had to look it up to see what she had in mind. Here is an example of a bodycon dress:

Bodycon Dress Example

Body Conforming. In other words, something that I would NEVER wear in public. Which is okay because Jamie definitely WILL be able to carry this off in public.

Erin, Jamie, and Me

She hasn’t changed much since this picture, and despite wearing a wedding dress, you can tell that she would ROCK a bodycon dress. *sighs with envy*

I went out looking for a decent pattern and came across one by McCalls.

Bodycon Dress Pattern

I think this will make an excellent jumping-off point. Next I needed to find some nice fabric. I came across a great deal on some Ponte Knit fabric in a cranberry color.

Bodycon Dress and Fabric

It’s washed-out in this picture. In real life it’s much closer to a burgundy color.

Last weekend I finally had the chance to sit down and get to work on it. Now, the reason that I embarked on this project was because Jamie has a difficult time finding clothes that properly fit her figure. As I was looking at her measurements and the pattern’s measurements I started to get a headache. This is going to take some work!

First I traced off the pattern onto sturdier paper.

Tracing Bodycon Dress

I will have to do some pattern grading (merging from one size into another at different parts of the pattern), so I figured this would be the easiest way. If something doesn’t work out I can always throw my traced-off pieces away and start all over again.

Two Sizes

This picture is fuzzy, but you can see how I traced the two sizes that I need to grade between. I decided to trace them out on the full pattern just in case I needed to grade elsewhere. Currently I believe I only have to grade from one size to another between the waist and the hips.

Looking at the pattern, and based upon my experience trying to match Addie’s measurements to Jamie’s, I knew that I was probably going to have to add some length in the torso. Using the bust and waist points on the pattern, then measuring Addie’s bust and waist points, I decided I would have to add two inches.

Lengthening Bodycon Dress

Here you can see where I cut the pattern apart and added the extra length. Obviously, I did this to both pattern pieces.

Bodycon Dress Pattern Pieces

It doesn’t look like they line up very well because the back has a higher neck than the front. This will be a sleeveless dress with a lower neckline. Jamie doesn’t like anything choking her neck. Then I placed the pattern pieces together so that I can grade both sides in the exact same way.

Matching Up the Pattern Pieces

And that is where it has sat all week. I haven’t had time to get back to it. Luckily the cats have left it alone (although, when I just had the tissue pieces laying on the cardboard mat Bob decided that would be the BEST place to play with a piece of string). I was watching a few classes on Bluprint (used to be known as Craftsy) when I came across another idea that I’m going to try out before I actually do any cutting to this pattern. I just have to find the time to do it!

I want to get the pattern sized correctly so that I will have fewer adjustments to make once I actually cut the dress out of the fabric. This is actually the hardest part of making the dress. Once I am past this point it should be a fairly easy sew *knocks on every piece of wood within reach*. I hope to get back to it this weekend. Wish me luck!

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Wood Carving Finishes

Last week I showed you the wolf

Wolf Carving

and the tiger

Tiger Picture

that Jay had agreed to do for a coworker. When the giant carvings were done Jay had the coworker over to double check they were what he wanted. He was very happy with them. Then we asked how he would like them finished. I had an idea that I wanted to try where I use a pipette to spew dark stain only in the carved areas of the tiger, then when it’s dry I would go back with a light stain. I wanted more contrast than what we had with the dog clocks.

Dog Clock 1 Finished

Well, the coworker decided that since it’s a White Tiger he would actually like it to be painted. Then he decided that he might like the wolf painted, too. He likes the look of wood, but the gift recipients aren’t as keen on it.

This put me into a slight pickle. After all, we all know that I can’t paint very well as evidenced by these two pieces:

Sunset Painting 6-20-19

Concrete Calf 4

I am definitely more comfortable with stain as my medium of choice. However, since these are gifts I agreed to paint them. I asked Jay to make a couple smaller samples so that I could try some different types of paints or colors. Then I went out and bought what I thought I would need.

Carving Samples 10-26-19

Here we have my samples (there’s an additional carving on the back so that I have two of each) and the collection of paints.

For the tiger I wanted to try some regular latex paint as I thought that might give it the coverage and density that I want.

Latex Paint

Then for a different kind of finish I decided to go with a chalky acrylic paint. I’ve never used it before so I’m interested to see how it turns out.

Chalky Paint

So far I have one of each done. First I worked on the wolf.

Wolf Sample 1 10-27-19

The base color is actually a gray wood stain. I colored the rest of it in with various acrylic colors. The coworker said that most of his daughter’s wolf stuff is of the gray/gray variety, so I wanted to just show him how a different colorway would look. I’m also not sure about the eyes. I wanted them to have that ice blue color that some wolves have, but I don’t think this will work. I might have to try the orange-brown for the next one.

Then I painted the tiger with the latex paint.

Tiger Sample 1 10-27-19

The black didn’t cover as well as I had hoped, and the eyes are a bit weird looking, too. It definitely has to have the piercing blue eyes, but I need to do something different, I think. I tried to shade the inside of the ears so that they went from darker in the interior to very light on the edges. I don’t know. I’m not convinced.

The second test samples are currently drying as I type this post. I’ve painted the base colors and they have to dry for 2 hours before you can add another layer. Which means I will be working on them tomorrow night. The stripes on the tiger take FOREVER to paint. It won’t be as bad on the real one because it’s much bigger so the painting areas are larger. Let’s hope so!

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Meet Addie the Dress Form

I have a very lovely friend whom I’ll call “Jamie.”

Mrs. Cool

I have known Jamie for almost 20 years (YIKES!!) and she has always been petite and wispy. Just don’t piss her off because you will rue the day! Anyway, last year Jamie moved 1800 miles across the country from me. We email each other long novellas once or twice a month in order to catch up on what’s going on with the other. In one of these long missives Jamie was lamenting the fact that the one clothing brand that actually makes some garments that fit her no longer makes those designs. Just like the rest of us she has a hard time finding things that fit correctly. As you can imagine, she is NOT a sweat pants and t-shirt kind of girl. So, what did I say? “Hey! I’ve been wanting to try my hand at garment sewing, but I’m not sure that Omar is still in business for me to buy material for my own clothes. How about if I try to make some clothes that actually fit you?”

I’m not sure if I’m a glutton for punishment or if I just like a challenge. Maybe a little of both based on my huge project list. Anyway, I requested a list of things from her and we both became excited at the idea of Project Custom Clothes. Since she lives 1800 miles from me I knew that the initial fittings were going to be tricky and I didn’t want to spend a small fortune on postage. So I did the next best thing… I ordered a dress form.

The day that it arrived Jay was home before me, so he decided to see how long he could hide it in plain sight.

Addie in Box

I literally sat here for 30-45 minutes before I realized it was there. To be fair, the chair wasn’t facing that way. All I had to do was turn my head and I would have seen it. Jay thought that it was hilarious, which is fine. Turnabout is fair play and there have been MANY times that I’ve hidden stuff on Jay in plain sight.

Jay loves opening boxes so I usually let him open all of my boxes, including this one.

Opening Addie

He knew vaguely what was in there, but wanted me to take a picture when he finally pulled the form out of the box.

Presenting Addie

He then proceeded to take the stand out, assemble it, and place the form on top.

Assemblying Addie's Stand

I chose this model of dress form in case I ever had to make pants for Jamie I would actually be able to fit them to her waist, hips and backside.

Introducing Addie!

Addie the Dress Form

In case you were wondering, this is NOT Little Orphan Addie. Her name is Addie Poppins and she’s practically perfect in every way.

There was one person who was VERY concerned, though, when he first met her.

Gary Meets Addie

Gary wouldn’t let Penny look at Addie at first. He had a flashback to his days in the Imperial Army where they used to leave some of their victims looking like this. Once I explained to him that Addie is a dress form and is suppose to look that way, he relaxed.

Now, Addie does not have all of Jamie’s exact measurements. I had some preliminary measurements from Jamie that I used to order Addie, then once she arrived I asked for even more measurements. The closer we can get this to having Jamie’s shape, the less hassle it will be to make clothes that fit Jamie on the first shipment.

In order to get Addie into shape I had a pile of things at hand.

Addie Padding Materials

You can pad the dress form out, but you can’t take away.

Jamie had told me that some of her measurements were a bit odd, but I didn’t realize just how right she was until I started trying to match Addie to her shape.

Here is a picture when I was trying to match the length from the collar to the natural waist:

Addie's Initial Front Waist

I placed a piece of washi tape at the top where I estimated the collar bone to sit and then I placed another piece of washi tape at the measurement to her natural waist that Jamie gave me. Do you see that tape going around Addie’s waist? That’s where her factory natural waist sits. What this means is that my dear friend has a long torso. I double checked the measurement in the back.

Addie's Initial Back Waist

Same thing.

At this point I checked out the manufacturer’s website to see how they suggest you “move” the natural waist. Their suggestion was to pad out the rear and hips further down so that you essentially lower them to make room for the extra length in the torso. I had a problem, though. If I moved it down the two inches that I needed then none of Jamie’s measurements would work. The waist would have been around four inches bigger than what she gave me. Obviously, that wouldn’t work.

I’ll be honest. I almost gave up at this point. It was too hard and impossible. I even swapped out tape measures to make sure that the one I was using hadn’t been stretched.

Bob Helps With Measurements

Bob checked it and he said it looked fine. He was even offering to hold the end for me. He’s such a big help!

So I sat and thought… and checked out the other measurements. If I can’t move the hips, waist, and butt down the only other way to lengthen the torso is to move the boobs and shoulders up. I figured it might be easier padding those out anyway because Jamie is not lacking in that area. So this is what I ended up with:

Addie Padded Out Front

Bob figured that I had things under control at this point so he opted to curl up by the window on the couch and take a nap. He was spent!

I added shoulders to Addie. She kind of looks like she could be a linebacker for any of the professional football teams (and could probably score more points than any member of the current Dolphins’ team even without any arms or legs). I know that shoulder slope is important to how a garment falls on the body, but luckily most of the garments I’ll be making should be made of knits and they are usually more forgiving. Based upon the measurements I was given, Addie is almost right on for all of them. She’s slightly hippier, but not enough that it will make fitting difficult. I just have to remember that if it’s snug on her it should fit Jamie about perfect.

Addie Padded Out Back

So we’ll see how Addie works out. Again, if she gives me the big parts of fitting so that all I might have to do is tweak the garments a little then it will be okay. Once I’ve made a few things and can see how they fit Jamie I’ll be able to tweak Addie’s measurements a little more and get her even closer to perfect.

I will post pictures of Project Custom Clothes as they make their appearance.

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