Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I made this sweater. Doris Chan makes such beautiful things. Sadly, the patterns she writes are SO difficult to understand! I've had that problem every time I try her stuff.
She is very unclear most of the time, but this particular time there was a weird jerkiness to the pattern steps.
Let me explain - each of the sizes were written as a separate pattern.
Each pattern used rows from other sizes as pattern steps.
For example, for size 54 ~
Size 54
Rows 1-7: Work same as Size 51 Rows 1-7.
Row 8: Work same as Size 39 Row 6.
Rows 9-17: Work same as Size 39 Rows 7-9 3 times – 49 pattern repeats.
Ok, then so size 51 it is!

Size 51 has clear instructions for rows 1-3, then it gets crazy -
Row 4 (inc): Work same as Size 36 Row 5.
Row 5 (inc): Work same as Size 39 Row 6.
Rows 6-7: Work same as Size 42 Rows 5-6.
Rows 8-17: Work same as Size 36 Rows 6-8 3 times, Row 6 once more – 50 pattern repeats.
You pickin' up what I'm puttin' down? K, good, because I don't want to cut and paste the whole mind twisting pattern(s).

Yeah, so if you have even the tiniest distraction at any moment of making the row or in between making these rows, you're gonna screw up. All of the patterns are on different pages so I ended up with 4 tabs open and highlighting the rows I was on to keep them straight.
The good news is that once you make the yoke and arm openings, you join them all ( in a different way for each size of course) and from then on for a few inches in length you just make the same stitch. Then you increase in one row and make more of the same stitch. The sleeves are just as easy and if you've ever made afterthought ribbing, then you're set. If not... well, it's not for beginners. But it's pretty simple once you have the hang of it.
Now, how the finished product turned out. I love the fit, it's awesome, really. If I were gonna get picky, I would say that the length was a bit short and I had to add 4 extra rows to get it to a comfortable length for me on the body and two additional rows to each sleeve.
All of that I can deal with, but I am not too pleased with the section where the sleeve joins the body. There is a strange pouf of bunched up sweater because the increases forming the shoulder weren't as shaped as they should have been, there were too many increases and it gave the shoulders a shrugging appearance. I only made the larger size, this may not be an issue with the smaller sizes.
See here, it's much clearer when I am not wearing it. Do you see the upward curve on the shoulders? Then, look at the diagonal from the armpit up to the neck. Do you see those bumpy looking parts? This is laid out my curved couch, it's actually a little more noticeable than that when laid flat.

I would call this an intermediate to difficult pattern and no matter what level you've mastered, be prepared for some frogging and serious swatching.
All in all, it makes a cute sweater with a couple of changes. I am glad I made it!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The sweater nears completetion!

Despite messing up so royally at my first attempt and then my youngest child providing me with 8 hours or work in un knotting the mess, I have done it. I need to finish a sleeve and the collar and cuffs. I should be able to have a picture of it up later today! Possibly even of me wearing it to prove that it really IS sized for big women, not just randomly increased in only length or only width with no care to the dimensions of a human body bigger than 38 inches around. I know you big, beautiful crocheters out there have come across plus size patterns that look more like a costume for circus folk once you've finished it. The ones that do fit usually have sheer shapelessness to credit. It's hard for a big square to not fit. Why must it always be something boxy or old and dowdy looking for bigger women? To be fair, I have the same complaint about the fashion industry in general - do big women hate looking nice? Looking at all of the flower and animal print on increda-stretch fabrics and shapeless, bead/sequin/gem studded tops one could be forgiven for thinking that there is a direct link between the clothing size and style or taste.
News Flash~ fat does not kill fashion.
I am no fashionista myself, budding or otherwise, but I do have a sense of style and taste for something other than elastic waists and kitten appliques.
I do have to be fair, crochet is bulkier and less flexible than knit and that leads to making a body look bigger than she needs to. Each person had different dimension so a pattern is never truly for the general sizes we give them. for instance a 22... could be a 22 short, a 22 petite, a 22 long or a 22 wide. Does the woman have an ample bust with a slim waist? Larger waist? What if she is smaller above and larger below? And what about those poor women who are bigger due to build alone, not fat?
Yes, I do have a heart for the dilema designers and pattern writes face. But I am still more miffed over the lack of clothing that fits my body. It makes me jealous of men, who get their clothing by inches and therefore can feel secure in the knowledge that they can walk into a store, pick up a pair of jeans off a shelf and they will FIT. Why don't women in the US do that? Maybe we're embarressed, maybe we're brainwashed, maybe it's easier to sell to us if every brand and each color of the same style shirt in that brand are all different fits and sizes. We'll stay for hours under the unforgiving glare of florescent lighting to try on countless articles of clothing in search of the one that makes us look good. It means we'll shop for more, possibly buy more because we can't decide or we are fooled by the mirror or even the misguided attempts to make us feel pretty from our friends and loved ones.
I love pretty clothes and shoes, HATE shopping. I vote we take the example of men's apparel and buy clothing by measurements, not the size number slapped on the tags of our clothing. It would make a big difference, I think.

um, wow. I really do have a talent for ranting and long winded conversations on barely connected subjects. Pictures later, cross my heart.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Gotta love a good sweater

The season is warming little by little, the trees are sprouting once again and the snow is melting off. Of course, I have to crochet a sweater.
In my defense, it's difficult to find a pretty sweater pattern that fits a woman of my generous size, so when I DID find one, I had to make it.
I found it at ....No one will care if I'm American, right? Good because it's a great site.
I decided to make mine in a deep claret red and in the store, butter yellow seemed such a soft and pretty contrast so I chose that for the cuffs and neck. After putting it together though... the yellow brought out the red in the claret making it look less wine and more tomato. In turn, the red made the yellow more vivid. It looked a little like I should top a burger. I was almost thankful that I had screwed up and the sweater was a lumpy, bumpy, gap ridden mess as it gave me a good excuse to demolish it and start over.
The finished sweater looks lovely IF and I do mean IF you can follow the pattern. Each different size is in inches or centimeters, making for a much more accurate fit. However, each size has a variation in the pattern, the result being that someone decided they could economize by writing confusing jumbles of rows and pattern sizes and repeats. The pattern was no written to be easily understood even before the bright idea of interchangeable instructions between sizes entered the writer's head. Now that I've warned you, here is the link to the pattern.
A warning for anyone attempting the Crochet V-Neck Pullover!
It's worth it, the pattern stitches are easy to make, but be sure that you have no interruptions or you may do what I did and make the wrong sizes for different sections. Bust and sleeves were for the largest, waist for the second smallest, and hips for my size. At some point I got confused about what hook size I was using as well (my child's fault, he stole my current hook and case of hooks)and made part of it in a smaller gauge.
No pictures, I frogged that sucker the second after I took it back off. Here is how far I got since frogging it and restarting last night.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Box-of-Chocolates Cake

I don't celebrate Valentines Day, but I do love to make heart & love stuff. Like, really love to make it. I do this kind of thing all the time and February is a great time of year to collect ideas and recipes for indulging my little obsession the rest of the year.

Since today was a very special day, I made this cake for my husband. Just a reminder of how glad I am that we met that day and how wonderful my life with him has been. I don't know why it does that half-picture thing, but if you click on it you can see the whole cake.

Today turned out to be memorable again - in 2001 I met the man I would spend the rest of my life with and in 2009 I got a call from my mortgage broker with the news that we are approved for the USDA loan we applied for!!!! We're buying a home!!!! If my mom is reading this, I mean to call you tomorrow. If she's not, then PFFFFT, why aren't you reading my blog, Mom? Neglect, pure and simple.

OH, yeah, back to the cake. I got it round-about. I was giggling at Cake Wrecks blog and found a recipe on a blog mentioned there, Bakerella. ZOMG she's awesome. Her cake looks so cool, mine is nowhere near that good. In my defense, I was letting kids help and I am not experienced with fondant.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tomorrow is SPECIAL

February 12, 2001 I was introduced to a new employee at work. He was polite, nice, really had a way with people without being schmalzty. This was a good thing since I worked the phone in the IT dept. of an ISP and he was a new tech.
That day I teased and tormented him unmercifully over the IM - why? Because he was too nice and I was in a mood. He was confused at first but then gave as good as he got and I admired that. We were instant friends. In May, my SIL walked with me to get coffee during a break at work one day and in the middle of crossing a busy street, asked me if there was anything between us. WTH? He was the first guy I really felt an uncomplicated friendship with so I hadn't even considered anything more. Turns out he was a little ahead of me there, lol. We went on an official "date" in the end of May and it didn't take long for me to realize I hadn't just found my best friend, I had been a little blind to the fact I had been falling in love. We were married July 20th that same year.
We now have three beautiful boys, ages 5, 3, and 1. I don't think I knew what real happiness was til I met Michael, he makes me believe I'm beautiful.
Mike, if you read this, I love you more with each passing year and I can't imagine life without you - I would never want to. Years, decades, forever.

Green is a welcome color right now

So much snow and ice here, I long to see green again. Fortunately, a friend asked for a trade - cloth diapers for crocheted hats. Woohoo! My kind of trade! It was sheer chance that I had the color she wanted in the fiber she wanted and just enough to make both hats with three inches of yarn left over after the last stitch. I'll take a picture of them this afternoon before I send them on their merry way. She has good taste and I enjoyed making them, even if they were fast and fairly simply. I think she'll like them both :) But I'm egocentric. Riiiiiiiight.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I forgot my camera

Now that I have it back, it's hard to remember that it's no longer missing and I can actually take pictures of my crochet projects. hopefully, someone will take pictures I can use.
I was hosting a Fall Swap and today the boxes got sent out. You heard me, FALL swap and JUST NOW got sent out. In January. There were lots of reasons, mostly due to delays from every direction and the fact that I was a bit cocky about hosting this swap... completely disregarding the fact that I've never done it before. You know what, being a participant and hosting the dang thing are TOTALLY different.
In any case, the boxes got sent out today and I realized about two hours later that I never took pictures of my contribution to the Swap. Dagnabbit.

Have you ever seen amigurumi patterns by Ana Paula Rimoli?

Now you have!
I have that book, Seriously Cute Crochet. Love her stuff. She has a free cupcake amigurumi pattern on her Etsy store and I made those as well as my own pattern for a mug of coffee/cocoa with a smiley face. Now that I am looking at her Etsy store, I see where I got my inspiration for the mug, it looks a lot like this one. Mine is bigger, about 3 inches tall, has a question mark shaped handle higher up and no felt cheeks or plastic eyes. I used black yarn to make a little V-shaped smile and up-side-down V eyes. The cupcakes were altered a little as well since I was making them for people with kids. Instead of beads, I made a solid colored icing top and used a glittery multi-colored yarn to make sprinkles. They turned out great. Have I mentioned I love her patterns?
My sons all do, as well. Each of the older two asked for cupcakes of their own in wild colors and the youngest tried to snag one and run off to slobber all over it. Even my husband commented "nice cupcakes". I'm pretty sure he meant the toys.
I'll make some more and take pictures this time.