A few recent crochet pieces

None of these were intensive enough to warrant their own posts, so here’s a quick roundup.

1. Hat for Tertia

I started by following the pattern for this hat from Five Little Monsters, but I got bored/annoyed eight rows in and just freehanded the rest. Yarn was Lion Brand Mandala in ‘Thunderbird’ (left over from Anselm’s afghan) and I used an I/5.5 hook.

She thinks wearing hats is hilarious. It’s the best.

2. Dishcloths!

I wanted better dishcloths so I bought some scrubby cotton yarn and whipped these out over a couple of evenings (not pictured: a few more that are either in use or in the wash). It was a good chance to also get in some practice with changing colours! This is Red Heart Scrubby Cotton in the colourways ‘Sunshine’ and ‘Blissful Print’. I used a G(4.25) hook and they’re all just simple half-double crochet squares.

3. Tertia’s Christmas stocking

Only briefly alluded to in my Christmas-rehash post, here is the thing itself, hung by the chimney with care. Obviously it’s got her real name underneath my hasty scribbles; this was the first year I remembered to do the embellishment before crocheting the two sides together. To absolutely nobody’s surprise, it was much easier that way. Yarns were random basic acrylics from my stash (probably Red Heart and/or Bernat) and I probably used a G hook. Maybe. I don’t know; I just wanted to finish.

Merry & Bright

It was Xmas — Xmas with its mantle of white snow, scintillating from a thousand diamond points, Xmas with its good cheer, its peace on earth — Xmas with its feasting and merriment, Xmas with its — well, anyway, it was Xmas.

“Caroline’s Christmas, or, The Inexplicable Infant”, Nonsense Novels, Stephen Leacock

It was Xmas — sorry, Christmas — and we modestly feasted, went to church-on-the-couch, zoomed with the relations we’re not allowed to visit, and generally worked ourselves into various over-sugared, over-stimulated, over-tired tizzies. There were stockings and presents. There was pie. Some mistakes were made (in case you’ve ever idly wondered whether silly putty is easy to get out of a lite-brite: it’s not). All in all, it’s been a reasonably satisfying Christmas all round. We even woke up to fresh snow yesterday morning — although it has been too overcast to do much in the way of scintillating.

True to form, after having nearly all of 2020 in which to complete Tertia’s Christmas stocking, I finished it on December 23rd (this may be a personal best). I love having a family set of stockings, but I hate making them. There is nothing more boring than projects worked entirely in single crochet. Nothing. But I pushed through with the help of Downton Abbey and Holiday Baking Championship, and her stocking was hanging from the mantel with the others come Christmas morning. We’ll call it a win.

The other big news vis a vis Christmas actually has nothing to do with the holiday, except that it happened on it: I did some laundry. That’s not news in itself, goodness knows how much laundry it takes to keep this house running, but what was unique about this load was that it evidently also contained a sparkly red crayon. This crayon was washed. And then it was dried. I only found this when I pulled the load out of the dryer and found that all of the children’s clothes had glittery red wax spots on them. Merry Christmas to me!

Anyway, if you ever find yourself in a similar predicament, here is how to deal with a crayon that’s gone through the dryer:

  1. Wash everything. Use your hottest water and longest cycle, plenty of detergent, add some OxyClean if you have it, as well as at least a cup of baking soda. This took the spots off 90% of the clothes. Hang things to dry if you haven’t cleaned your dryer yet.
  2. Second round: spot-treat the clothes that are still stained with OxyClean and run them through again, still with the hot water and baking soda. This took care of very nearly everything, and the one pair of pants that still has visible marks on it also has some paint stains from before, so I’m not too bothered.
  3. To clean the dryer: run it for a few minutes so that it gets hot and the crayon bits soften, then open the door and scrub the surfaces with dryer sheets. You will have to do this several times since it gets progressively less effective as the machine cools. Don’t forget the back wall of the dryer, the inside of the door, and all the other little crevices where wax can hide. Once you think you’ve got it all, run a load of damp rags through to make sure.

And that, dear readers, just about sums up our little Christmas en famille. May your days be merry, your jammies be seasonal, and your dryers remain wax-free. Here’s to 2021.

Flat-worked crochet Christmas stocking

Last night I finished a project that has been the bane of my existence for probably about two months now. Behold, my new Christmas stocking, made to match the family set:

There are… so many things wrong with this project I’m not sure I even want to list them. I had to start the whole thing over when I was 85% finished because I realized that a) I had used too small a hook and would never be able to get the letters on, and b) I had forgotten to make the heel. That involved ripping everything out because I was low enough on white yarn that I wouldn’t be able to make a second stocking without cannibalizing the first. I had to do the top red muff section twice because the first time I was accidentally increasing on each round instead of staying true to size. When I was joining the two white sides together it ended up wrinkly because one of them was shorter — but only on one side. Don’t ask me how because I know very well that’s impossible. Because I was using frogged and re-balled yarn it was super kinky and I was constantly fighting splits. My letter spacing is all sorts of wonky and my ‘S’ is upside-down.

And you know what? I don’t even care. It’s FINISHED.

The big problem, I think, was just my own hubris: this is a pattern I created, and I’ve made it three times before. I relied far too much on my (faulty) memory of how it went, instead of digging out the actual pattern, with the above results. Ah, well… a lesson learned, I supposed.

Assuming that you’re making it correctly, this is actually a very easy pattern. The entire thing is worked flat and then joined, and only uses single crochet (with, optionally, some double crochet at the top just to make it go faster). I used a 4-weight yarn (good old Red Heart) and a G hook for this:

  1. Chain 31, turn. Single crochet across (30 stitches). Chain 1, turn.
  2. Repeat until you have 50 rows.
  3. On the turn, skip a stitch (to decrease) and then sc across. Ch 1, turn.
  4. On the return, skip the stitch right before you last one. Ch 1, turn.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you have 11 rows in your decreasing section; this forms the heel. (On step 3 you will work 29 stitches across, on step 4 you will work 28 stitches, and so on.)
  6. Rotate your work 90 degrees. Single crochet 20 across. Ch 1, turn. Repeat 10 times.
  7. Decrease 2 stitches per row (one on each edge) to form the toe. Repeat six times or until your top row is 8 stitches across. Tie off, weave in end.
  8. Repeat steps 1-7 to make second half of stocking.
  9. If you are going to be adding letters or any other embellishment, do those now. I used surface crochet to add my letters, but you could also do yarn embroidery, sew on felt, etc.
  10. Join the two halves together with a contrasting colour by single-crocheting around the edges.
  11. Make the cuff: single or double crochet around, joining your rows with a chain stitch and turning so that you’re alternating working the inside and the outside of the stocking (this prevents you from creating a spiral which will look uneven). When it’s long enough for your taste, form a chain of 20-30 loops to create a hanger. Join the bottom of your chain to the inside of your stocking near its beginning, tie off, and weave in ends.

And there you have it. I’ve not added dimensions because — to be perfectly forthright — I’ve made four of these and they’re all different sizes. A lot will depend on your hook size (I recommend a G but you may want to size up or down), yarn weight, tension, etc. If you’re not sure, make a swatch and see how you feel about it (ie: be cleverer than me!).