April Fools!

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Several prototypes

I have some exciting news…I’ve decided to focus all my attentions on my true passion. I’m going to be opening up an etsy shop called Polly Wants Panties: Artisanal Underpants for Discerning Birds. I’m so excited to embark on this new chapter of my life!

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First Circular Knit: West Desert Hood

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I finished my very first circular knit just in time for fall! I used the absolutely fabulous West Desert Hood pattern.

A note on the ribbing– I found that using a 8 ply yarn with US size 8 needles made for some very loose and rather sloppy looking ribbing. I had never done ribbing before so I learned this the hard way, and it involved a lot of ripping out my work while making an angry monster face. SO after much trial and error, I ended up using US size 6 needles for the ribbing and then transferring it over to the US size 8s for the rest of the pattern (until the final ribbing). I suppose it’s a matter of taste; I prefer tighter looking ribbing.

I didn’t get any in-progress shots, but it’s really quite a fun and simple pattern!

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I used Malabrigo Mech in Archangel, which is just the most gorgeous yarn, with its blend of reds, oranges, and purples. I discovered it in a little yarn shop in Maine, and I’m absolutely hooked!

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Bonus cell phone selfie! It was about 80 degrees outside when I took this and it’s quite a warm cowl, so that might account for the crazy eyes.

Crochet Teabag Label Bookmark

So I was bored this past weekend and decided to start on a project that popped into my head a few weeks ago. Here is the final outcome:

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Kindly ignore the horribly depressing words of the book, Into Thin Air.

I’ve been chugging crazy amounts of green tea lately, and one night I looked at the string/label and thought it would make an adorable little bookmark! So I made one! Here are the materials I used:

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So, we’ve got off-white yarn, green yarn, red felt, off-white felt, a sewing needle, different colored sewing thread, and black thick thread.

First using the white yarn, I crocheted a chain as long as I wanted/thought looked good. I then single crocheted in the second chain stitch from the hook and in every chain stitch after. I then broke off the yarn.

Moving next to the green yarn, I made two identical label pieces. I chained 10, then single crocheted in the second chain from the hook and in each chain across for a total of 9 stitches. I then chained one and single crocheted into each stitch for eleven more rows to make a rectangle. On the thirteenth row, I began decreasing stitches at the ends. This means I single crocheted two stitches together to make one single crochet stitch on each end (for symmetry). I did this for three rows until I ended up with three stitches. I then broke off the yarn.

There ends the crocheting part! Everything after this involved sewing (yaaay, my favorite…). I cut out a piece of white felt and a heart on the red felt. I first sewed the heart onto the piece of white felt. I then used the thick black thread to embroider the word “tea” onto the white felt (by far the worst/most difficult part). Once that was finished, I sewed the white felt onto one of the green crocheted label pieces. I then placed the long white chain between the two green label pieces and sewed them together! And there you have it, a cute little bookmark.

More pictures:

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Bookmark in a closed book.

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Public service announcement: never use books as coasters!

Crochet Tree of Life Blanket

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*Trumpets sound, angels sing* My second blanket is finally done! …Actually, it’s been done for maybe two months, but taking pictures of it is difficult because of the raised trees. It looks awful with flash, so you need enough natural light (read: a sunny day) to take a decent picture. But it looks beautiful in person in any kind of light, of course!

ANYWAY, for those interested, I used this very free pattern on the Lion Brand website. I changed it a little bit to suit my tastes. I added more room between the thistles/flowers in the middle because I thought they were spaced too closely together. It threw off the square shape of the blanket, but I don’t really mind. I also changed the border.

Here is a detailed view of a tree:

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Tree!

I actually really enjoyed making this blanket, especially the trees. I hadn’t learned that stitch before (the back post and front post stitch), and it was super fun!

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Progress pic.

It went surprisingly fast. This is after about a month or so of working on it very sporadically (thanks a lot, law school!).

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Taken with flash.

This was a border I was going to add but I thought it was a bit too much. I think with the trees and the flowers/thistles and the multicolored raised border, it is fine as it is. It’s important to have an editing eye.

Anyway, I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s my second blanket overall and my first blanket that isn’t worked in the round/comprised of squares to be put together. I encourage everyone interested to try the pattern! It looks overwhelming and challenging but once you get started, it’s really not that hard (I promise)!

Making Alchemy Earrings Using Lost-Wax Casting

So, I made a pair of huge asymmetrical earrings:

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Clearly they go well with bright red lipstick. 

Okay, so I’m not going to go into the whole blow-by-blow of how to make something using lost-wax casting again. If you want to read about that, go here.

I did, however, chronicle making these earrings, so I’m just going to picture dump BECAUSE I CAN!

DESIGN PHASE

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Initial rough drawing.

I had the idea to make something with alchemy symbols for a while. I was going to somehow do a ring of it, but it was impractical. So here is the fruition of my alchemy idea! I first chose my symbols based on meaning and design appeal. I didn’t want them to be just random symbols with no connection to anything, so I chose the symbols for silver, silver spirit, the torrefaction of silver, and wax. I’m So Meta Even This Acroynm (thank you, XKCD). I had to redesign the alchemy symbol for silver spirit just slightly as you can see by adding a top part for the post/symmetrical reasons. I also added arrows to it so that it would better connect to the other earring and not look totally unrelated.

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Final to-scale drawings. 

Straight lines are not my friends. I am terrible at drawing straight lines, as evidenced above. I was also super careful to make sure that the earrings were of the same length. Asymmetrical is one thing, but different lengths is annoying (at least to me).

WAX PHASE

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I used wax sheets (seen above).  Using the master drawings of the earrings, I traced copies and then laid the drawing over the wax sheet. I used a knife to cut the outline of the symbol in wax.

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Taken with my phone, hence the weird color.

This was a good deal more difficult than it sounds. I initially tried to use an x-acto knife, but the shape of the blade resulted in strange pressure issues on the sheet of wax and instead of cutting cleanly, it more or less tore it. The curved blade (above) was perfect (although in a moment of idiocy, I cut my thumb open with it…).

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Here we see a bunch of paper cut-outs and a reject silver spirit made of wax. Oddly, it was the less-complicated silver spirit symbol that gave me the most trouble.

CASTING IN METAL PHASE 

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By some miracle, I managed to cast all the pieces together in one cylinder. As you can see in this picture, I ran out of time (as usual) and didn’t fully clean off the investment from casting. I also hadn’t dipped it in the acid, so that’s why it’s not white. I made the holes for the jump rings (the ring that holds the two pieces together) in wax using the tip of a jewelry blade because it was much easier than drilling into metal.

FINISHING PHASE

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Here are the pieces detached from the sprues, dipped in acid, but before being filed down.

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Here are the sprues. I used a pair of shears to cut some of them off because, as mentioned in another post, it’s less accurate but much faster. I did use a saw for a few of the sprues, though, because they were attached the back of the piece and filing down the nubs left over from the shears would have taken me forevvveeerr.

So after filing down the pieces (which took a while), I polished them up using a polishing machine. Let me just say, you need to have a very firm grasp on your piece while polishing it or it will fly out of your hands. That obviously happened to me…and those moon points and arrows are sharp. Needless to say, I gave myself a few stab marks trying to polish the pieces.

Finding jump rings that fit the small holes I made was a bit tricky but after some trial and error at AC Moore and Michaels, I managed to find some that fit (it also involved using a jewelry saw blade to widen the holes slightly). And in my most controversial decision– it made every jewelry-maker I talked to make a very judgy, disgusted face– I glued (yes, glued) the posts to the back of the earrings. (Shhh, don’t tell.) I basically ran out of time and soldering is not my strong point. In my defense, the posts are holding very well.

And finally, in what was the most distasteful part of the process, I slapped on bright red lipstick and took about 500 selfies of myself wearing the earrings. Taking close ups of my face/skin is definitely not on my Favorite Things list (it’s just after talking about feelings and eating glass), but I don’t have a model available.

BONUS PICTURES:

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THEY ARE SO SHINY. No really, they are super shiny and catch the light when you move your head. And I adore them.

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I felt like the shininess didn’t show as well in the picture with a black background.

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Mugshot wearing them to prove I have a top-half of a face.

All in all, I really, really, really like them a lot and will actually probably wear them in public. Which is progress, considering I almost never wear anything I make. They are huge and shiny, and that is all I want in anything (but especially earrings).

My First Gloves: Iron Man Gloves

So I did not know how to make gloves until last summer. I was quite content working on blankets and scarves, but my friend saw some Iron Man gloves on tumblr, and I agreed to make her a pair. I worked off the picture and this pattern. (I ignored the ‘thumb area’ part.) Here is what I ended up with:

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These will turn you into Robert Downey Jr. Oh god, I wish.

However, I found some issues with the pattern. I changed both the number of stitches (as needed for sizing and thumb comfort) and working in the round.

Corrections:

Work off the linked pattern above (ignoring ‘thumb area’ section) and the picture for color switching.

Glove

Round one: Once you’ve made the cuff, working on the ends of the cuff, sc around X times, then join with slst to first sc. Ch1. TURN WORK.

Round two: Sc in each sc around and slst to first sc. Ch1. TURN WORK.

Once you’ve made the thumb hole, keep turning the work with each round so that you’re alternatively working the wrong side and the right side of the piece. This is because if you don’t turn the work when making this part of the glove, the stitch pattern will look inconsistent throughout the glove (since you’re forced to turn to make the thumb hole). I discovered this the hard way. Learn from my mistakes!

Finally, you just need to make a very basic circle and sew it on (the worst part, by far). I just messed around and freehanded the circle until I got one that was the best size. It’s very easy!

My friend was very pleased with how they turned out (as was I). And they set off my obsession with making gloves. I am unapologetic in my absolute love for fingerless gloves. I’m from New York, so I know they do absolutely nothing for you in terms of warmth, but they’re so cool. 

A Rug: My First Big Crochet Project

So my first big crochet project was a rug. Until that point, I had made some scarves and a hat but nothing too substantial. I was moving into my first apartment, and I was extremely excited, so I decided to make myself a rug. I used bits and pieces of yarn that I already had and made myself this:

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So retro.

It reminds me a bit of Kandinsky’s Color Study of Squares, though that wasn’t intentional. I love love love the fringe. I hate the 70’s aesthetic, but I love fringe. Go figure. It was also really fun to put all the fringe-y tassels on! I have since moved apartments and, through a heavy obsession with rugs, run out of floor space for more rugs, so my dear first big crochet project has found a new place in my room….

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I really like mixing patterns and colors.

I think it really jazzes up a cheap Papasan chair I bought at Target (oh god, so 70’s I can’t even handle it). Maybe I’m in 70’s-love denial. And now I want to make something else with fringe…