Tuesday Reviews-Day: Crochet Animal Rugs

Tuesday Revews-Day

This is a sponsored post. I was provided a copy of the book for purpose of review. All opinions are my own and any mistakes are mine, too. Amazon affiliate links may be included.

I first learned to crochet when I was 7 or 8 years old while visiting family on the holidays. But all my grandmother taught me were granny squares. It wasn’t until I taught myself to knit almost 20 years later that crochet patterns started making sense.

Lately I’ve been splitting my time between knit and crochet projects, so when I was offered a copy of Crochet Animal Rugs  by Ira Rott for review, I was very interested. Even more so when I saw there was a monkey set included in the patterns!

I had so much fun working on the monkey rug and companion pillow. They kept my hands busy during Hurricane Michael and the three day power outage afterwards as well as while watching over Todd after his gall bladder removal the following week (October was a busy month for us). And thanks to the yarn-bombing project a couple years back I had almost all of the materials I needed to complete both the rug and the pillow in my craft stash (I didn’t have the right size hook, so I ordered a set that had L, M, and N hooks).

The patterns in the book are clearly written, well-illustrated, and quite fun, to boot! Because the rugs use three strands of yarn at a time, the individual pieces work up pretty quickly, so they definitely give you that instant gratification feeling that I love about crochet in general.

The pillow pattern only uses one strand of yarn and, yes, the base shape is slightly tedious to construct, but even that’s not so bad. I’m the girl who detests garter stitch in knitting because it’s so incredibly boring, so 25 rounds of single crochet isn’t going to get rave reviews from me, but the end result is worth it. I love the ruffle on the monkey pillow and the big and small bows were so fun and quick to crochet that I may need to make some to wear!

Of course, if the rugs and pillows (each animal set also comes with a third project–toy bags, security blankets, a stool cover, and a placemat, for example) are adorable in their normal scale, how much cuter would they be miniaturized?!

That would be very, in case there was any doubt! For the mini version of the panda rug, I used a single strand of lace-weight and sock yarns and 1/2.75mm steel hook. For the pillow I dropped down to crochet thread (No. 10) and a size 7/1.65mm steel hook. This scaled the finished projects down to roughly 1:3 scale, making it perfectly proportioned to 18″ dolls.

Not that this stops my 12″ dolls from enjoying the rug and pillow. The rug just takes up more floor space and the pillow becomes a big cushion–I don’t hear her complaining!

Working through these patterns I picked up some new skills (like popcorn stitch and crab stitch) as well as discovered useful gems in the form of the bows and even the star element from the panda–I can just see those stars worked up in metallic thread as ornaments (or even thin-gauge metal itself).

Sure, the projects in this book are intended for the joy of kids, but I’m a big kid at heart and I look forward to finding just the right spot for the monkey rug and pillow in my own home. I’ll also be set for any upcoming baby showers on the horizon!

Crafting the Ceremony: the Handfasting

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

The final portion of our ceremony will be a handfasting–something the Hive is no stranger to, thankfully, but something that in our neck of the woods isn’t too common. Because of this, we thought it’d be helpful for Friend-ficiant L to say just a few words about it’s history so our guests wouldn’t be completely lost. Something along the lines of…

The Road Trips have chosen to conclude the ceremony with a handfasting. In centuries past, when towns were spread out and priests would travel from place to place,  there wasn’t always an official  handy when a couple wanted to be wed. Necessity being the mother of invention, couples would bind their hands together in a simple ceremony to declare their intentions, with the community as witness to the new union. This is where we get the phrase “tying the knot.”

While we don’t have that problem today, of course, I just really liked the visual symbolism of tying the knot, it gives the ceremony a nice closing element, I think. And while most scripts I’ve found for handfasting seem to take place before the rings, I thought it would make more sense to do all the other stuff then end with the tying of the knot.

Our handfasting cord | personal photo

Our handfasting cord | personal photo

It’s fairly well established by now that I’m of the crafty persuasion, so it probably comes as no surprise that I crafted our handfasting cord, too, right? There’s no real pattern or tutorial for this, I just strung a bunch of 6/0 or e-sized beads onto Number 10 Crochet Cotton and made a 5-stitch round cable out of a mix of double and triple crochet, adding and subtracting stitches at random to give it a more organic feel and slipping in beads whenever it seemed like a good idea. I did the original cord 36 inches long then doubled back, attaching the second pass to the first at intervals and doing the same with the third pass for 3 intertwined vines. Then beaded the ends in little grape-like cascades.

Mr. Road Trip will be making the box that will hold the cord both before and after the ceremony, but his work schedule’s been a little hectic so hasn’t managed more than picking up the materials. Once he gets started on it, it shouldn’t take very long. He’s pretty crafty, too, especially when there are power tools involved.

After looking through a lot of ceremony wording, we managed to cobble together this short but sweet version that we think will work for us, though some revisions are inevitable.

In a collaborative effort not unlike the marriage we are here to witness, both Miss and Mr Road Trip have created something for this ritual. Miss Road Trip has created the cord in the style of three intertwining vines, one each for the past, the present, and the future. Once tied these cords will reside in a wooden box Mr Road Trip made specifically for this purpose and will have a place of honor in their home together.

Road Trips, please join hands, right to right and left to left, forming the symbol of infinity.

Like a stone may your love be firm; like a star may your love be constant. Let the powers of the mind and of the intellect guide you in your marriage, let the strength of your wills bind you together, let the power of love and the desire make you happy, and the strength of your dedication make you inseparable. Enjoy closeness, but retain your individuality. Support one another with patience and understanding. Freely give of your affection and warmth.

May this cord draw your hands together in love, may the vows you have spoken today remain sweet in your mouths.

As your hands are joined, so are your lives.

Now, to close the ceremony, it’s usually “you may now kiss the bride ” or the slightly more equal ” you may now kiss each other.” We weren’t really looking for an option, but while catching up on many DVR’d Four Weddings, we  heard the officiant say “you may now start your marriage with a kiss.” How much better is that, I ask you?!

And as we kiss, what song will play?

(Direct link for the feed readers: Little Wonders by Rob Thomas)

Meet the Robinsons is, hands-down, my favorite Disney movie ever and no matter how many times I watch it (even back-to-back, to listen to the commentary) when the opening bars of Little Wonders play I get choked up. And since I’m very picky about lyrics, when I listened to the words and not just the emotion of the song I was even more impressed and it was an easy decision to ask Mr. Road Trip if he’d mind this as our Kiss/Recessional song. As he loves the movie almost as much as I do it wasn’t a hard sell.

It’s just got such a great message about embracing the moments and feelings, and letting everything else drop away. *frissons of excitement* Every. Time.

So while Rob Thomas croons we’ll kiss, slip out of the still-tied handfasting cord and place it in its box, sign the wedding certificate, probably kiss again (it could happen), then recess down the aisle.

1 Hook+3 Stitches=Fabulous

64 Arts

I originally learned to crochet when I was 7 or 8; my grandma taught me when we were home for a visit. She showed me the basics and set me up with some acrylic yarn and a hook and I had fun making granny squares that visit and all the way home.

The only problem?

That’s all I knew how to do. And over time I forgot some of the fiddly bits (mainly in regards to turning the work or starting new rows) so I’d just wing it. Most of the time that was okay–after all, I was just making big, doily-ish squares to go on my nightstand or attempting some Barbie clothes, certainly nothing important. But then one time I tried to make a blanket with what little knowledge I’d retained…

A green and white crocheted throw of concentric squares that tilt a bit with each round

That’s not a trick of the camera, my concentric squares really are tilting.

I’m not sure I could do that again if I tried.

The other issue I had with the just-enough-to-be-dangerous-to-a-skein-of-Red-Heart knowledge level was that I couldn’t read crochet patterns. They looked like calculus to me, all sorts of abbreviations and symbols.

Of course, once I taught myself to knit at age 26, suddenly those crochet patterns made sense, but I’d forgotten most of what I knew.

So when this week’s task was to find and actually try a crochet lace pattern, I was a little apprehensive!

Luckily, though, I managed to find a very neat bag pattern from a 1913 pattern book of which reproductions are now for sale but this sample pattern was not only free, it required only 3 stitches: chain, single crochet and double crochet.

And since this pattern required a certain amount of precision, I did look up some instructions for the latter two just to make sure I was doing them correctly.

Wanna see how I did?

shamrock-patterned crochet panel

This is actually the back of the bag (I found out as I was working ), though it looks kind of neat just on it’s own as a doily or something, don’t you think? The front, what’s pictured above in black and white, is made up of 4 panels: 2 rose and 2 shamrock; the back is just a shamrock panel with a bunch of extra rows around it so it’s great practice for the corner “petals” for when you get to the front. Once I’ve finished the front panels I’ll use the picot (the bobbly connector bits) pattern to join all the bits together and then work the top band and trim.

So far I’ve completed the back and almost finished one of the front shamrock panels and, I have to say, I’m having so much fun with this one that I’ll very likely finish it just to see how it looks. It’s not perfect, of course, but it’s pretty damn good for a virtual novice like myself. Maybe I’ll even enter it in the state fair 😉

At any rate, a few notes about crochet lace–consider this a mostly-pro list with only a few cons, comparing it to knitted lace.

  1. Generally you’re only working with one stitch (i.e. loop on the hook) at a time, so there’s less chance of disaster, I think, than in knitted lace.
  2. Because you’ve only got that one stitch, though, it’s easy to set the work down and then go off in the opposite direction when you pick it back up again. *cough* not that I’d know anything about that *cough*
  3. When you’re working with a loop of chain stitches–like at the beginning of the shamrock centers–and the pattern says to put 27 stitches in a ring of only 12 chains, that’s a sign to not crochet into the individual chain stitches but to treat the loop as one big stitch and stitch AROUND the chain loop. This is, thankfully, one of the few things I did learn from those years of granny squares.
  4. Lace crochet requires creating bits of work and then securing it in places to create the net or pattern; “catching” is how this pattern describes that attachment period and while I tried, at first, with a slip stitch, it wasn’t looking right; use a single crochet into the caught stitch and you’ll be golden.
  5. It’s tough to watch television and do a project like this–whereas a lot of knitting I can do with only half an eye on the work, lace crochet requires a lot more direct supervision, so try for music, an audiobook or a show you know well enough to just listen to while working on a pattern like this.

After this fairly successful foray into something I was more than a little intimidated by, I’m now wondering if I could crochet my own lace should I decide to make my own wedding dress!

Are you going to give this pattern a try?