Flea Circus

At first blush I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m going to blog about a flea circus.  Luckily for all of us, it’s only a metaphor for what goes on in my brain. ha!

I’m so inspired by all the amazing crafts I see on the internet between the 200+ blogs in my rss feed reader to the innumerable swatches of eye candy on Pinterest,  that I want to own one of everything.  Then I think, “I bet I could figure out how that’s made and do it myself”.  This thought is the dangerous one. That’s the one that gets my mind jumping hither and thither like a flea, sampling some of every crafty thing out there without really concentrating on one.

It’s not always a bad thing to jump around because by trying new things I learn which I’m good at and which are better left to professionals.  Some fall in the middle where I can fake it well enough to at least get the decoration or pretty sparkly eye candy I was looking for in the first place.

These past few weeks have had me back in the crochet saddle, having put down the embroidery briefly. I was putzing around on Pinterest when I came across a pin of a crochet flower done by Annie Design.   Her shop is beautiful and I was so inspired I became determined to learn how to properly read a crochet pattern and make a flower.

I had been foiled by those dang patterns before. They read like some kind of alien language.  This time would be different though, right? All that “ch 6  slst to join, ch2 *dc2 into ring ch2 hdc1 into first ch* x12” blather was going to make sense, dammit!   After hunting down online tutorials and practicing following the patterns, I was indeed able to make flowers! WOO!!!

Here’s the eye candy!

Layered Flower using DMC Cotton Floss – Orange Tones
Layered Flower using DMC Cotton Floss Pinks & Yellow
Layered Flower using Simply Soft Worsted Weight Yarn
Layered flower size difference

For the Floss flowers I used a size B 2.25mm (US) crochet hook. The strands tended to want to separate, well, because they’re intended to when embroidering. I used a  size C 4mm (US) crochet hook for the yarn flower and had some issues with the yarn separating there as well. I have to wonder if it’s because the yarn is really old, or if I just chose the wrong kind of yarn. (Simply Soft is a medium weight, size 4 yarn, which I had used previously to make a baby blanket so it was in my stash.)  You can see in that last pic how different the same pattern turns out based on the size of the yarn/thread used.

Here is my effort using sock yarn:

Fuzzy Sock Yarn from the MIL

I loved working with the sock yarn; it just flew through the hook and didn’t give me a single bit of trouble. However, it makes for a fuzzy looking flower and tends to want to curl in on itself. I might iron it down if I decide to use it in a project.  My MIL gave me this teeny tiny ball of yarn and I’m sad to have gone through it so quickly.  Apparently it was the remainder of my brother-in-law’s hat.  Yay for scraps! 🙂

Here I’ve discovered the use of cabone rings!

1″ and 1/2 ” diameter plastic rings with single crochet around.

This will take some practice on my part. I don’t quite like the way the interior of the ring looks like the yarn is doubled, there on the bottom part. I’m not sure if I did too many stitches or if that’s just how it’s meant to look. Must research that.  These have a gazillion uses, some of which will include jewelry and embroidery! 😉

Here are my efforts using Perle Cotton by DMC:

Yep, that’s a butterfly!

These were using Perle Cotton size 5, color 4200 which is a lovely variegated selection of pale and bright pinks with even a touch of peach and orange. The pattern I found for these flowers listed them as being for barrettes. They are an appropriate size for that, but you’d want to layer them or put a bead in the middle to cover up that gaping hole.

Speaking of gaping holes.. get ready for another flea jump.  I mentioned on facebook that I was finally learning to crochet in the round and a friend of mine said once I could do that I’d be able to do Amigurumi.  Ya know, I’ve always admired those cute lil crochet critters.  Huh!  Time I figured out how to do one whilst I have these crochet hooks out!

Right! Let’s get a bunch of Amigurumi books from the library and figure out how to do these now that I can read a pattern.  Oh wait. That gaping hole we were talking about is not good for Amigurumi because the stuffing will fall out. Hrm. Well, better learn to do the “magic ring” technique! Yea. No problemo.  Here we go!

After a couple of dozen tries and several knots of yarn later, I am back to embroidery. I haven’t given up on the magic ring, I’ve watched about a dozen video tutorials on how to do it. I either have a learning deficiency or these people are from some other planet that allows them to do things with their fingers that my human hands cannot.  I will eventually figure it out.  My MIL has promised to work with me on one and knowing what a pain the bottom it’s going to be I will try to take photos through the process to share with you.

What I learned:

1. Crochet patterns aren’t as hard as they seem as long as you read them start to finish before beginning your project.
2. Crochet charts are evil and I’ve put off trying to learn to read them, maybe forever.
3. Cotton Floss is not very forgiving and you have to be very careful not to let the strands separate or it shows.
4. Cotton Floss is fussy about being undone and redone and will more often than not separate on you. When this happened to me, I started over with a new piece and cut my losses. (Literally!)
5. Sock yarn is a joy but makes for fuzzy flowers. I am sure there are similar yarn weights with less wool in them that would be less fuzzy. Finding them is on my to-do list.
6. The magic ring is as elusive to me as the One Ring was to Sauron.
7.  When you’re at the point where you want to scream and stab someone with your crochet hook, stop your current project and start another; like this:

Belle Ruffled Spiral Scarf

Yep, I made this while watching Jurassic Park on the Family channel. I started just as the T-Rex was eating the lawyer out of the port-a-potty and finished up during Jurassic Park III when Michael Jeter was left for bait.  The yarn I used was Lion brand Homespun color 338 Nouveau, which I also got from the MIL. (She has moved on to using specialty yarns, like those hand dyed by Llamas and spun from grass by monkeys.)  The pattern instructions were very easy to follow (this being a beginner level pattern) and was free to download.  I found it quite amazing that looking on Lion’s website at the actual Homespun yarn color Nouveau I would never have guessed it would look like what you see above.  It’s described as having chocolate, grey, and tan.  Maybe they’ve changed the dye lot? I would never have purchased it as it’s shown, that’s for sure.  But it did turn out to have lovely colors.

Now it’s time for me to get back to my beloved embroidery. For a final sneak peek, here’s a taste of what will be coming to our new shop on Etsy!

A Celebration of Purple

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