Category Archives: Crochet

Tiramisu blanket

I have finished my first large crochet project, woo! This is the Tiramisu blanket (first blogged here). It’s for Meredith, of course – I’ve got to create for her until she’s old enough to tell me that handmade stuff is not cool, heh heh. Mods to the pattern – I used a much smaller hook and thinner yarn and therefore rejiggered the numbers somewhat from the pattern.

I used Lang Borgosesia Colle yarn (100% cotton, DK weight, cabled and dense). The final dimensions are about 30-31″ square. My gauge relaxed as the project progressed, and the finished end is an inch wider than the beginning. I thought I could block it straight, but crocheted cotton isn’t that forgiving. But that’s OK.

My ratio for picking up the sides to attach the edging also was a little wonky – I picked up a few too many stitches. However, the blanket looks quite nice with a slightly ruffled border, and I have decided that it’s a feature, not a flaw. 😀

I found the best ribbon at a local shop, it is a satiny 2-sided ribbon, teal on one face and spring green on the other. I love it!

Meredith approves!

Hold that thought

I was thumbing through an issue of Science magazine and came across this neat article about reCAPTCHA. I’m sure most of you know that CAPTCHA is that program that forces you to read a squiggly word and type it in to prove you’re a human before you can comment on ‘blogs, register at Web sites, etc. Well, reCAPTCHA is a variation on that theme. Computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have used CAPTCHA to harness human intelligence and apply it to digitization of books (specifically, humans decipher words that cannot be read through optical character recognition of scanned pages). I thought this was fantastic and have added it to my site. I hope it doesn’t deter you from commenting!

Thanks to Cathy for a lovely crocheted sweater for Meredith. Lilac is her color!

I made a quiche (spinach, cheese, ham, onion, egg – YUM) using storebought pie crust (Pillsbury “Just Unroll”). The crust comes 2 per box, in case you want to make a double-crust pie, but that meant I had an entire sheet of dough leftover. I find the dough pretty salty, so I didn’t want to make a fruit pie. Instead, I recalled Nicole’s egg tarts and figured that would be a good way to use up the last crust.

I cut the pie crust into small rounds (using the cover of a baby bottle!) and pushed them into a greased mini-muffin tin. I used a fork to dock all the crusts. I mostly followed the custard recipe shown on Nicole’s site, but where she says “whisk together sugar and egg yolks by hand until sugar is mostly dissolved,” I could not get the sugar to dissolve. It was more like sugar crystals coated in egg yolk. I added the milk, hoping that would help, but no dice. I strained the whole mix and probably discarded 1/3 to 1/2 of the original amount of sugar. Odd. The custard was still plenty sweet, though.

They were delicious – and the mini size was fun to eat. The dough was really hard to get out of the muffin tin, despite having greased the pan. A lot of the crusts crumbled when I took the tarts out.

I’d make this again, but I think I’ll use paper tin liners to improve presentation. And I might try adding a bit less sugar.

A new day

Meredith and I have gotten hands-free nursing down to an art form. If I put her on a nursing pillow, I can spend the time working on a project. Lately, I’ve been crocheting a modified version of the Tiramisu blanket. The pattern is mindless (only single crochet stitches), easy to pick up and put down without thinking twice, the crochet equivalent of stockinette.

It currently is 27 inches wide and a little over 14 inches long. It’ll be a square eventually – guess I’m just past the halfway mark. The corners curl (normal for single crochet), but the border should tame the piece. The stitch is quite pretty, even at the denser gauge I am getting.

The yarn I’m using is a tightly spun, cabled cotton, and my gauge is tight, so this is turning out to be a firm blanket. It may end up as a playmat because it’s not exactly snuggly. I’ll wash it a few times and see what happens.

The time has come to leave the baby in other competent hands while I return to work and begin whipping my postnatally mushy brain back into shape.

How can I leave such a cutie behind?

But truth be told, I have missed working. I enjoy what I do and my work colleagues are great, so I therefore am eager to get back. Furthermore, I have missed feeling that I am skilled and capable. As a stay-at-home mom, I was a bumbling newbie, unsure what to do when the baby cried, confused about how to entertain/educate/stimulate a newborn brain, uncertain whether I was a good caregiver. These days, we’re understanding each other a little more (I can keep her mostly happy most of the time), but it still is difficult on those days when I try so hard and she just cries and cries. Sometimes I feel like she’s yelling, “You’re doing it wrong! You’re doing it wrong!” and I long to be in a situation in which I confidently make the correct decisions and take the most appropriate actions.

Anyway, I’ve packed my work bag for the first time in months. This weekend, I’m going through my closet to identify the office clothes that still fit. I’m preparing bottles of milk for Meredith to drink while I am at work. I’m happy and sad that this day has come. Wish us luck!


I showed a preview of this project in yesterday’s post, and judging from some of the comments, I think there are those among us who have minds in the gutters!

This is the project I was working on:


And a side view:

The ears are a little antigravity, but it contributes to the puppy’s perpetually surprised expression. The other thing that mildly bugs me about this project – I’m lousy with embroidery and severely fudged burying the black thread ends. Something tells me I should have embroidered before assembly, oh well! Next time! It’s still pretty damn cute. For the record, it’s crocheted with organic Shetland wool and stuffed with white Border Leicster fleece. The amigurmi book with the pattern is here.

Matt and I are taking a little road trip to celebrate my birthday (today). See you in a few!

The other reason I learned crochet

I wanted to make amigurumi animals!

He’s a little over 6 inches tall, made of organic Shetland wool in natural colors, DK weight. I used a size 00/E crochet hook (3.5 mm), and I swear I’ve permanently damaged tendons in my right hand from the tension of the fabric. But… so worth it!

I love his nubby tail!

I was surprised by how much the expression changed with subtle alterations in the layout of the eyes and muzzle. Stuffed animals have a lot of finishing work – stuff and sew the head to the body, attach the muzzle, tail, arms, and legs. I embroidered the eyes about 4 times before I had something that didn’t look so “I AM AN ANGRY ROBOT BEAR”-like. The twisty scarf makes him look a little less naked. I think this wee project took about 15+ hours from start to finish (began Fri night and finished Sun afternoon). I definitely enjoyed making this, but my right hand really hurts now.

The bear is a gift for Richard and Margaret’s not-even-2-month-old daughter. As a general rule, I don’t knit for kids. I suspect babies in particular are best off wearing comfortable, hard-wearing, washable, disposable clothing, and handknits tend to not fit in those categories, so kids get storebought clothes (usually in cotton) from me. I will occasionally give a handmade toy. But it’s a rare event. All the features on the bear are embroidered (the pattern called for beads or buttons for the eyes and nose) because I didn’t want the baby gnawing off and choking on anything.

Instructions for this fella came from a Japanese amigurumi pattern book, I ordered it here. Back in college, I studied Japanese for a few years. I was a pretty dedicated student and got to the point where I could slowly and painfully read books for adults and write childish essays, and then I stopped taking the classes. Naturally, I’ve forgotten all of it by now, but when I was trying to decipher the Japanese directions, I could pick up little words without consulting the dictionary. In the pattern, by changing the shape of the ears, you could have a rabbit – I was able to read “usagi no mimi” (rabbit ears) versus “kuma no mimi” (bear ears), and I was really psyched. I could also read “shippo” (tail). I remembered the kanji for “te” (hand) and “ashi” (leg or foot). But the directions are very clear, you definitely don’t need to know any Japanese at all to follow the pattern.

I am still crocheting

Fiber work of all types has become back burner business recently. But I did manage to hook together a few more snowflakes.

Each motif takes me about an hour to do. It will be too open and holey if I don’t put something in those yawning circles, but I can’t decide if I want to fill the holes between motifs with the minimotif shown. If you’re wondering what this is ultimately going to be, I’ve decided to make a stole because I’ve been recently overcome with the urge to make large rectangular shapes.

Now tell me, am I reading the wrong blogs? I have not read of anyone giddy with anticipation for MDSW, which is just a couple measly weeks away. I’ve been singing a sheep-and-wool ditty (the sheep-and-wool ditty) since I bought the air tix last month. If you too would like to sing the ditty, to the tune of “Campbell ladies,” please hum, “I am going to the sheep-and-wool, sheep-and-wool, sheep-and-wool…” As in past trips to Maryland, I will be meeting with family, friends from grad school, and friends from undergrad years, too.

I’m traveling alone this time, renting a car, and staying in a hotel so I can see the fair on my own terms after I say goodbye to my peeps. (My friends tell me they enjoy the show, but they’ve seen enough after an hour or two. Ha. Like I’m going to go to MDSW for an hour.) I have almost nothing on my “to buy” list, with the possible exception of a true black alpaca fleece that does NOT prickle (but only if the price is right). I originally was planning to stock up on spinning fibers for Twosheep Yarn, but with my fiber time being kind of limited right now, I think I need to put those ideas on hold.

The one thing about this upcoming trip that I’m not looking forward to – if you’re one of those Real Life friends, you know I loathe driving in general, I especially hate driving alone, and driving for a prolonged time in unfamiliar places can literally make me weep – particularly when I’m late and lost. (Ha ha ha… Does anyone remember the time I was going to pick Richard up from Newark airport and was stuck on the Goethels Bridge b/c I flaked and took the wrong exit on the turnpike and couldn’t figure out where to turn around and found myself over water, behind a police car, and the driver of that car then stopped all traffic on the bridge so he could investigate… a bomb [?!?] because this was just a few weeks after 9/11, and everyone was freaking out over everything? Do ya remember the TEARS!? Oh, good times, good fun.)

I’m flying into Reagan because my first stop is Arlington VA. I’m already stressing about driving on the Beltway (I think my plane lands around rush hour on Friday!), and you’d better believe Giselle is coming in the carry-on.

I am getting better at this crochet thing

I’ve been practicing my crochet, but most of it is just boring little squares of different stitches that are not worth photographing or showing. But last night – I made something pretty! Looky what I did!

Pretty cool, huh?

Sorry for the crap photo, it’s with the flash and taken indoors at night.

I used Shetland laceweight yarn (purchased almost 2 years ago, sigh), a 2.1 mm hook, and the “snowflake” pattern from this book. It’s 4 1/2″ across and uses only single crochet and double crochet stitches. Can you see a bunch of them linked together into a stole? Or a tunic top?

Hanky panky

Some weeks ago, I bought some gorgeous fiber from Anne. It’s a blend of Rambouillet (like Merino, very soft and bouncy, short fiber, high crimp) and angora from her bunny Hank.

Isn’t it gorgeous? Lovely lovely stuff, as soft as qiviut. I’m spinning it rather fine (I have ~4 oz of it) to make a 2-ply laceweight yarn. I’m thinking I might use it to crochet myself a scarf.

Yes, you read that right, I’m starting to teach myself how to crochet! (I told you at the start of this year that I was beginning to get bored with knitting.) I’ve been emailing with Cathy, a crochet Goddess, and she’s been sending me helpful links, ideas, and encouragement.

Behold, my first 2 swatches! For the upper one, I didn’t understand what “5 ch sp” meant (the space under the chain of 5 stitches, duh!) and kept hooking into the center stitch itself. Oh well! This past Sunday, I tried to make a swatch of single crochet and ended up with a triangle. (Riiiiip!) I’ll try, try again.

One thing to remember – many crochet garments are fugly (uh, IMO) because they start with handknitting yarn. Since crochet turns any yarn practically into a 3-ply version of itself, many patterns cram too many stitches into too small a distance and end up with a bulletproof fabric that can stand without support and take itself for a walk. What I’m trying to emphasize here – a bulky and high-density fabric has no drape, no clinginess, no sex appeal. It is inappropriate for clothing!

Would you pay money for this?

But if you start with thread or with very fine yarn, look at the pretty things you can make!

From Saks:

From Neiman Marcus:

Wearable crochet! It can be done!