Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Amigumicrobes: Cold Virus #1

Attempt one at crocheting microbes is finished!

Success? Close, at any rate. The bottom and top are not quite symmetrical - the last ring of "proteins" is really really close together. Will have to rework a bit and try again, but I almost have a functional pattern! Eyes (because obviously virusus have eyes...) will come when I get one right :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009


I suppose the whole point of safety eyes is that they are supposed to stay on well, and perhaps that means hard to get ON, as well as off. But I really didn't think it would be quite so bad!

The first set of eyes (for the Cthulu, from Jo-Ann's) went on fine. The owl, though.... the yellow cat eyes from Hobby Lobby proved rather more of a challenge. Try as I might, the backs would not go on to the eye posts. Finally, I had success with a hex wrench that fit around the post (without pushing the back of the washer closed). Put the eye against a hard surface and the back on the eye post with the wrench on top of it, and push down on the wrench.
Voilà, eyes!
 Fair warning, though - don't do this on a surface you care about! (oops....)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Tomorrow, I will be making a call to accept a middle school science teaching position (hooray!). A few problems... I left much of my teaching stuff at my old job - at least the things I thought I'd never use again (when I planned on never teaching again!). Sigh. I know I will have at least a few things to replace!

One thing I always meant to buy and never did was one of those awesome giant plush microbes. They'd be perfect for games, calling on students ("you only get to talk if you're holding the Flu!"), etc., aside from being just plain awesome. Well, having now discovered not only crochet, but also amigurumi, I think it only appropriate that I crochet said Flu (and friends) for my classroom! Sadly, Ravelry contains minimal microbe amigurumi patterns. It's like there aren't more biologists who crochet! Naturally, this means I'll need to try my hand at concocting a pattern (or a few) for amigurumicrobes :) Soon, there will be no shortage of germs to go around! I'm thinking middle schoolers will get a kick out of it, too!

Monday, December 21, 2009


I have discovered Amigurumi. This is not good. I've made a little owl, a cthulu, half a baby dragon, and part of a big owl. I see no end in sight. I will, however, post pictures - just maybe not til I finish the mad rush of making caramels, baking cookies, bread, more cookies, more bread, a few more cookies just for good measure, lefse and perhaps go shopping for real food to make for Christmas dinner!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Trios Fingerless Gloves

This is the result of my not being able to find something that I liked that was within my skill level and possession of materials (there's some great stuff for teeny tiny yarn and teeny tiny hooks!). It's a Christmas gift, and is a bit tight on me. I'd go up to an H hook for big hands!

I want to put thumbs on these, but haven't figured out a good way. If you come up with one, let me know!

Trios Fingerless Gloves Pattern

Monday, December 14, 2009

I might be crazy

I have to wonder how many UFOs and WIPs (that's Unfinished Objects and Works in Progress, for the unenlightened) are now floating around my house (all having appeared within the last 2 weeks!). Some crazy part of me decided to make Christmas gifts, using patterns I've never tried (obviously, since I just started crocheting!)... and this is the result. I can think of at least 4 or 5, off the top of my head. Most of those consist of equally unfinished pairs. I can only hope I will finish in time for Christmas! And I gained 2 skeins of gorgeous wool from a bellydance friend today - to make her 2 pairs of Surface Waves wrist warmers, which already make up 2 of my unfinished objects!

And why did I decide to make my own pattern for hand warmers?? I couldn't find one I liked well enough.... However, I am pleased with how they are turning out. That pattern will be posted soon!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Making Old Things New

Mira is probably the biggest inspiration for this. I envy her knack for finding the cheapest way to do everything (lessons, please?!). I'm learning, bit by bit. But really, what is more fun than taking something old and at the end of life and giving it a new one? So here are bits of some recent projects of ALL different types.

Recycled Lamb I had an old wool sweater that had finally gotten moth holes in it, and didn't want to give up on it. I found (or rather, was shown) this set of patterns for felted wool animals. Shrink, cut, sew, stuff - cute new toy :)
Buttermilk The stuff is so stinking expensive, yet so darn easy to make - take 1/4 C cultured buttermilk, add regular milk, leave on counter overnight. Done! Use some, refill with milk, repeat. Never-ending supply of cheap buttermilk.

Gleaned Yarn Found a nifty, loosely knit (and basically unworn) scarf at Goodwill for $2. Pulled apart for three balls of yarn! I LOVE the orange (all the colors are a bit darker than the picture shows). Now to decide what to do with them.

This one's definitely Mira's idea - despite the fact I've no baby butts to cover! 

New & Improved Darrell's  My favorite cookie recipe is and has been Darrell's Forget-the-Cookies-Just-Give-Me-That-Batter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough from the Klutz Kids' Cookbook. This is my "New & Improved" version:
Mix & melt in pan or microwave:
   2 T butter
   6 T applesauce
Add & stir:
   2/3 C brown sugar
   1/3 C white sugar
When cool, add & stir together:
   1 t vanilla extract
   1 egg OR 1 T ground flax seed plus 3 T water - let sit 3 minutes before mixing in
In a separate bowl, mix together:
   1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
   1/4 t salt
   1/2 t baking soda (or a bit less, if you live way up high like me!)
   1/4 C wheat germ
   2 T flax seed (I just sprinkle some on top)
Add sugar mixture, mix well, then fold in:
   ~1 C (or a handful) Chocolate Chips
   ~1 C (or a handful) Oatmeal
   1/2 C chopped nuts (optional)
Place bowl in refrigerator for about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375 F. Roll into walnut-sized balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes - don't overbake! Eat & enjoy :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Who needs a teacher...

... when you have tutorials this awesome?

So as I said, I re-taught myself to crochet a few weeks ago. The entire process became infinitely easier when I happened upon Crochet Spot. You know how sometimes you go to look something up, and all you find on google are crappy YouTube videos and those terrible About.com links? No pictures, lots of words, not much help. This is NOT one of those sites.

Crochet Spot has awesome tutorials, step by step instruction, and a close-up picture of each step of each stitch. Brilliant! Everytime I find a new stitch, this is where I go to figure out HOW exactly to do it. Also, for you lefties, hover each picture for the mirror - left hand version. My only complaint - there's no index of all her "How To Crochet" tutorials. So I'm making one here (including hers and a few assorted others), as much for myself as for anyone who might find and read this post. Enjoy!

Getting Started:
How to Read a Crochet Pattern
How to Hold Yarn in Crochet
How to Crochet: Slip Stitch (sl st)
How to Crochet: Chain (ch)
How to Crochet: Foundation Single Crochet (fsc)
Another FSC tutorial from Snuffykins
"Magic Adjustable Ring" for Crochet in the Round

Regular Stitches:
How to Crochet: Single Crochet (sc)
How to Crochet: Extended Single Crochet (exsc)
How to Crochet: Half Double Crochet (hdc)
How to Crochet: Double Crochet (dc)
How to Crochet: Triple (or treble) Crochet (tc)

Increases & Decreases:
How to Crochet: Single Crochet Decrease
How to Crochet: Single Crochet Invisible Decrease
How to Crochet: Double Crochet Decrease
Another Invisible Decrease
I haven't found an "increase tutorial" yet - but as a general rule, just do 2 stitches in one stitch to add a stitch to the row.

Special Stitches:
How to Crochet: Front Post Double Crochet (fpdc)
How to Crochet: Back Post Double Crochet (bpdc)
How to Crochet: Tunisian Simple Stitch (tss)
How to Crochet: Tunisian Knit Stitch (tks)
How to Crochet: Popcorn Stitch
Loop and Nub decorative stitch Tutorials (from NeedleNoodles)

How to Change Colors in Crochet
How to Finish off and Weave In Ends
How to Minimize Weaving In Ends
Joining Yarn: Russian Join

7 Tips for Consistency
Using Stitch Markers in Crochet
How to Crochet on the Opposite Side of a Chain
How to Find the End of the Yarn in a Pull Skein
Master List of Crochet Abbreviations

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hooks & Yarn

Back in the day, my grandmother taught me to crochet. I was never very good at it (always managed to miss a stitch!), but it was fun. I dropped it for 10 (15?) years, and never really thought twice about it until about 2 weeks ago when I decided to give it a try again in order to (what else?) make a bellydance belt.

What's that? Yes, bellydance. Like many things, this too is Aertimus's fault. First gypsies, now bellydance. Well, it was only a matter of time.
So, a bellydance belt. I couldn't find a pattern for one I liked, but did manage to find Crochet Kitten's AWESOME blog. She has a great set of bellydance patterns, and I promptly made myself a set of Josephine Gauntlets (for which I need to take a better picture - this one will do for now!).

But, alas, no belt. I liked the pattern well enough, though, to fumble through my own adaptation of the "Josephine" stitching, and came up with something I am quite please with! Add fringe (this is the pricey part - even cheap ribbon is not cheap when you need a yard and a half for each fringe!) and a cowrie belt I found at a thrift store last year, and voila! Awesome dance belt.

Crochet? Want a pattern? Here you go.

 © K. Frank, Handmade Gypsy 2009. All rights reserved.
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