Sunday, May 16, 2010

A summer hat in thread

As some of you know, I am going on a business trip with my DH in a short while, to Florida. I am paler than Casper and in need of shade, but I also have a large skull and voluminous curls. This is problematic when it comes to shopping for a cute hat in any season, but more difficult in summer because most sunhats have no give, no stretch like the warm, wooly winter hats we all love.
Gosh, I wish I knew someone who could crochet just about anything. Wait...... I do!

LOL, ok, I'm done being funny now, you can all peel the fake smile off your faces. Feel better? Good. Now, back to the hat dilema. When the idea of making my own hat coalesced into a solid project idea, I went in search of patterns. I found the Sunlight Hat and Gloves, but they are too fancy for my needs. After all, as much as I love the pattern it's a trip to a convention in Florida, not a ladies tea and luncheon in a rose garden. Maybe I'll make it as a surprise for my mother-in-law for the next appropriate occasion.
What next .... most of the patterns I found fell under three reasons I couldn't use them~

1)Babies hats. I know we need to keep our little ones out of the harsh rays of the sun til their delicate skin is a bit hardier, but some of us never reach that 'hardier' stage. Where are the grown ups hats? *pout*

2)Too thick. It's summer and sun and heat and as much as we dislike talking about it, sweating. Why all the patterns that call for worsted weight yarn? It makes the hat heavy and thick, exactly what a woman like myself does NOT need in a summer sun hat.

3)Cost prohibitive. Though I normally like to make my own pattern because I sell my work often and copyright is a sticky subject, I do buy patterns for personal use or resale sometimes. But Great Googly Moogly, people! I'm not spending $14 on a pattern or $33 on a book full of patterns that I don't want to get the one I do and then another bundle on the yarn and THEN all the time to make it! I could pay the same for a plus-sized hat online if that's the case.

I had to come up with a pattern for myself. I am nearly finished, all that's left is to add the wire and put on the edging, then I have a custom sun hat. It's a simple 3dc,3ch,3dc shell pattern with increases. Yay, happiness is crochet. Of course, I did find a pattern that was free and I liked, but it would have to be in knit. Not my best subject. I think I'll try it anyway, it's called Wind-and-Sea and it's so pretty that I'll risk using my jealously protected fingering weight green merino. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Plarn Crochet

I first heard of this while 5 months pregnant with my first child. Someone asked me to make a purse out of plastic shopping bags and I agreed. I looked it up, learned how to do it and started. Then I took ibuprofen and slept off the headaches. Seems 5 months along I get awful headaches and focusing on crochet was bad enough, but the rustle and squeak of the plastic on the aluminum hook tripled the effect.
I haven't attempted it in years. Yesterday I decided it was time. I have a giant deposit of used shopping bags under my sink and every few months I consider again whether I should toss them or use them. The deciding factor on using them was when my 7 year old, the very child who was forming while I learned this particular craft, asked me if we were saving the plastic bag in his hand and when I said yes he gave me a long-suffering look and said with a sigh " I suppose I can find room under the sink with the others."
OK, time to face the project! I took out about half the bags and separated by color then cut up all the blue-and-white bags. I made a rectangle and kept growing it til it was the size of a placemat, added a row of red-and-white and continued on with the rest of the blue-and-white. When I get to the right size for a bath mat, I'll add one last row of red as edging and viola!! Half the bags are gone and we have a new mat.
It's surprisingly fun when I'm not fighting pregnancy woes. I should have done it years ago.
Here's how it works - Plarn Instructions.
And here are a bunch of ways to try it out - Plarn Patterns

There are tons of patterns out there, some really cute and usable, others downright awful. You have to choose for yourself, but it's such a neat way to crochet that it's worth a chance. My personal tips for making it easier to use.
1)ALWAYS make sure the bag is clean and free of holes. Finding a crusted something icky is not a fun surprise and holes in the bag can make for weak or broken loops.
2)Use a plastic or wooden hook if you can, the metal ones squeak in such a way as to make me drool as well as makes my inner ear vibrate unpleasantly.
3)Cut up all your bags ahead of time and keep them in (surprise) another bag. I have tried the method where they are tied then wrapped into a ball but if you get your loops tied together unevenly (which you WILL do) then as you crochet the extra on one side will stick out of the project. I tie them together as I go, no more than two at a time.
4) Be GENTLE. They will be super strong once crocheted together, but before that they are weak and will stretch or break easily. Stretched out plarn will make for a thin spot in your finished item.
5)Plan ahead with your stitches. Frogging is plenty possible, but it makes a lesser quality plarn for the second time around.