Friday, June 29, 2012

Summer Stripes...

I was working on this striped bag, thinking that it would be perfect for pretty much everything I want to do this summer.  It's completely made of cotton, and it's not so big that I feel like I'm going to give myself back problems if a quick trip to Target ends up in a crazy adventure at Disneyland, or the beach, or detours into a fishing trip.
It measures 14" across, 8" high, and 5" deep.  The strap drop is 14".

I was almost done with it, and then I sold it.  Crazy!  My sister was watching me finish up the strap and then offered me designer-purse money for it.  She could buy Coach for the price she offered me.  She is a handbag snob.  That was when I knew that I should write it up as a pattern.  The purse is really that cute.

Hmm... Guess I'm going to have to make another one for my summer adventures... LOL!!!!

(Do you need one for your summer adventures?  The pattern is available on Craftsy and Ravelry, for the bargain price of a single buck.  Designer bags have never been more affordable!)

I wanted to throw in a little cute bonus for her, so I made a matching case for her sunglasses and iPhone.
I thought you might enjoy the bonus too! Here's the pattern:

Summer Stripes Cell Phone/Sunglasses Case
Finished measurements: 6.75" x 4.5"


100% Cotton Worsted Weight Yarn, approx. 40 yards (I used Bernat Handicrafter 100% Cotton yarn in Strawberry and Mango) or any other worsted weight yarn
Size G crochet hook
Yarn needle
Sewing needle

Main Case:
Stripes are created by changing color every two rows.  This gives a bolder stripe, and it allows you to work continuously without having to cut your yarn when you switch color.  You can just carry the yarn up the side of the work as you go.  You will only have to weave in four ends on the main piece if you use two colors.
Or, alternately, you can make the case from a single color.

ch 16
R1: sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc in each ch sp across, ch 1, turn (15 st)
R2-49: sc in each sc across, ch 1, turn (15 st)
R50: sc in each sc across.
Fasten off, weave in ends.

Front Pocket:
Continue in stripe pattern, beginning with the color that you started the main case with.

ch 16
R1: sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc in each ch sp across, ch 1, turn (15 st)
R2-19: sc in each sc across, ch 1, turn (15 st)
R20: sc in each sc across.
Fasten off, weave in ends.

Sew the stitch loops of  R20 of the Front pocket to R14 of the Main Case piece, matching the stripes.

Single crochet both sides of the case closed, using one stitch per each row, going through all three layers when  necessary.   Fasten off.  Weave in ends.  Enjoy your new double pocketed case!!

You could even use it to hold two pairs of sunglasses!

*ed. side note:  In an effort to show you how useful the Cell Phone/Sunglasses Case is, I have shown it with my sunglasses and phone sticking out of it.  In reality, the sunglasses and phone tuck neatly inside the case, so they won't get scratched and beat up while they're being carried around.  I just wanted to clarify, in case anyone was wondering why you would only want to protect ONE of the lenses of your pricey sunglasses... ;D


Thursday, June 28, 2012

La Luna

Have you seen Brave yet?  It's magic, right? I am pretty sure that it will be the theme of our family's Halloween costumes this year...

I really loved the short film that played before the movie too! La Luna totally inspired my project today.

Can you guess what I've done?

Glow-In-The-Dark Yarn!!! Yippee!!!
If you want to attempt this, and I highly recommend that you do, latex (or non-latex for you allergy sufferers!) gloves will be your best friend.  Put on your gloves and squeeze some of the glow-in-the-dark fabric paint into your hand.  Then just run the yarn (I used 100% cotton yarn) through your closed hand and it will coat it fairly evenly. I looped the yarn over the towel racks in the bathroom so that it wouldn't stick together as it dried.

Once it was dry, I rolled it up into a ball, and now I've got a big ol' bunch of glow yarn to play with.  I made some of my stars for Mims, because she loved La Luna too.  We hung one on her ceiling.  She tucked the other one under her pillow. She calls them her wishing stars.

They glow really brightly!  I was wasn't expecting much, so it was a really lovely surprise when they practically lit up the room.  It's a softer glow than a glow-stick, but it was still bright!  

I made a couple of glow bracelets for us, which have been a big hit.  Even Jake wanted one.  I can imagine that they would be loads of fun at a slumber party...  All I did was just a quick chain long enough to go around our wrists, and then tied them with a surgeon's knot.  So simple!!!  You could make a ton of these for a party in a few minutes.

I will say that the yarn is not soft when it's been glow-painted.  It's pretty rubbery.  It doesn't slide smoothly when you crochet with it.  For our family, it was totally worth the hassle of fighting a little bit with it to make it work.  I made Mim's stars with one side glow-y and one side plain cotton-y, so she had a glow side and a snuggle side.  The glow side is not the least bit snuggly.

But it GLOWS!!!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It Came From Beneath the Sea...

I like library sales.  I like them because I can get really cheap books and vhs tapes (yes, we still use vhs tapes, especially because Mims can put them in herself, and we have players in most of our old, outdated, vintage tv sets).  I love craft books from the 60's and 70's, and I have found a few gems for the collection at library sales.

I have lately been on the lookout for vhs tapes with super hard, 'video-rental'-type cases.  I wanted to make a hard sided tool case for holding pointy scissors, and sharp needles, since I'm finding that since I started this blog, I have been carrying my crochet with me everywhere! In fact, the other day I almost sheared through the side of the nylon Work-In-Progress bag with my little scissors, which made me think that enough is enough.  Time to bite the bullet and make a case for my dangerous work implements.

My intention was to make a crochet lining, with a flap for holding my crochet hooks, but I was so inspired by the movie that had been inside this case, that I opted to go for something a little more fun.

The large tentacle is open on the bottom, so that I can use it for hook storage if I need to.  The smaller tentacles could hold yarn needles, if I need them to.  Once the tentacles fold inside the case, there isn't a whole lot of room for much more than a hook, a yarn needle and a pair of scissors.  Ah, but it's worth it for the tentacled fun in public...

Besides, if I want to make a case to hold the rest of my supplies, I'll use one of the other awesome cases I found...  I'm always up for some Sesame Street fun!


Monday, June 25, 2012

Any Ravelry experts out there?

I think I'm Social-Networking-Challenged.  I can't figure out how to add a picture to a pattern that I uploaded to Ravelry.  I've been fooling around with it for an hour now, and I've just about reached my frustration limit. There's a box on the side for a photo, but I can't find a place to actually add it.  I was able to add photos of the project on my project page, just not on the actual patten.  Rrrrr.  If you are a Ravelry expert, please take pity on me and tell me what I'm doing wrong. 

I so admire all of you amazing bloggers out there who find a way to balance Pinterest, Ravelry, Hookey, Twitter, Facebook, your blog, creating new patterns, finish old projects, and still have time to have a life outside of it all.  I am having a hard time finding balance.  I found myself crocheting like a mad woman in the dark at the drive-in theater last night, while Mims and Jake watched a movie, because I needed to finish up the project for an upcoming post.  

Wait. Maybe that is me finding balance.  At least I didn't stay home...

Okay, well, I am still frustrated with my ignorance of Ravelry.  Please comment below if you've got any suggestions for me.  I will reward you with double Dynamo points!


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fun with a wig...

It's summer!  It's hot and no one needs a hat, yet, I felt inspired to make one. Actually, I felt inspired to make  a crocheted wig, which necessitated an under-beanie to help hold the shape, so really it's a double layered heat-trapping super hat.  Terrible timing, but funny doesn't care what season it is.  And I live for funny!

We took the crazy thing to the Fullerton arboretum, because if you've got a heat-trapping super hat, the best thing to do is take it outdoors in 90 degree heat!  But it's so funny!

I miss fall...

I made everyone else wear the crocheted wig too, because it make me laugh!

Mims absolutely fell in love with the giant Ombu tree.  We probably played there for an hour.

We couldn't get a good photo of Mims and Jake in front of it, because so many people had carved their initials into it.  I really hate graphitti. It's just so disrespectful.

But, as I sat on the bench near that beautiful tree, I was inspired to create some graphitti of my own.  Something that could be easily removed.  But something that, while it lasted, would be more interesting than hacking into a tree that I remember playing under when I was little too.  Red seemed like an appropriate protest color...


Friday, June 22, 2012

Life at the Old Farmhouse

I live in an old farmhouse.  My grandparents moved it onto this property in the 1950's.  It was built in the 1920's though, and moved here when they realized that their smaller house was not going to have enough room for their growing family.  It was quite a hassle, apparently, since the city that the house originally was from only allowed houses to be moved during the night, and the city that the house was moved to only allowed houses to be moved during the day.  So they split the house in half, put it on wheels, and towed it to the city limit, on a bridge over the riverbed, where they waited for daybreak.  Then they got it moving again and towed it to it's new home.

I love the house, but it's nearly 100 years old, which means it's drafty and quirky.  My grandparents remodeled the kitchen by removing walls between several rooms to make one big room.  Which is really great, but they didn't add any extra counter space, so there's not enough room for two people to prep food for parties, despite the fact that twenty people could sit around in the kitchen and watch.  And there are three interior doors that lead to the kitchen, and a back door, which means that there's a door on every wall.  Did I mention that it's drafty?  It's really drafty, and the air pressure makes the doors slam shut when winds blow.

We put a spongy foam door stopper on the swinging door, in an effort to protect Mims when she was a toddler.  My sister and I consider getting our fingers smashed in that door a rite of passage, but Jake and I felt like we'd be happier if Mims waited until she was older to have that experience.  The foamy stopper has worked like a charm, so we've just left it on, even though she's probably old enough/responsible enough to handle the door now.

But the other doors are being constantly banged around, even when the wind isn't blowing.  Mims slams them, Mema slams them when she pushes them out of the way to get into the cupboards (quirky detail!), and   the back door is on a spring, so it slams anytime we come in or go out.  I wanted something that would stop all the banging.  Maybe not keep the door from shutting entirely, the way the foam stopper does, so I needed another idea.  Maybe just a bumper, something that could be removed easily, something that would look cute...

Kitchen Door Bumper - version 1
Small amount of worsted weight yarn (I used Bernat Handicrafter 100% cotton, and the pink smelled like fruit punch, very summery!)
Size G crochet hook
Yarn needle

Chain 35
R1: sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc in each ch sp across, ch 1, turn (34 st)
R2-4: sc in each sc across, ch 1, turn (34 st)
R5: 2 sc, ch 9, skip 9 sc, 14 sc, ch 10, turn (35 st)
R6: sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc in each ch sp, 14 sc, sc in each ch sp, 2 sc (34 st)
R7-9: sc in each sc across, ch 1, turn (34 st)
R10: 33 sc, 3 sc in next st, turn and 8 sc evenly across short side, 3 sc in corner, turn and 32 sc across long side, 3 sc in the corner, 4 sc across very short end, chain 20.  Fasten off.
R12: (continued) With a new piece of yarn, chain 20, 4 sc across remaining very short end, fasten off.
Weave in ends.

(The white stripes were done on rows 2-3 and on 7-8)

I looped the closed side of the kitchen bumper around the door knob and then tied the open side around the door knob on the other side of the door.  It fit! It would keep Mims from slamming the door as she runs through the house!  I took pictures.  I showed it to Jake.  My parents came by.  I showed them too.  But, I wasn't sure it was spunky and cute enough.  

I've been admiring the colorful projects over at Attic 24, so I decided that the bumper needed some flowers.  I grabbed a hook and some size 3 crochet cotton and whipped some out.

Ah! Fun!  I love it now!

So, I think that I learned a bunch on this project.  The next time I make one of these, I think I'm going to swap out rows 5-6 with this:

R5: 2 sc, ch 9, skip 9 sc, 12 sc, ch 9, skip 9 sc, 2 sc, ch 1, turn (34 st)
R6: 2 sc, 9 sc across the chain, 12 sc, 9 sc across the chain, 2 sc, ch 1, turn (34 st)

I discovered that it isn't stretched too tightly when it's on the door, and I won't have to untie it to remove it, so I don't see any reason to go to the extra effort to do the ties.  

If you're thinking you'd like to make some too (whether your house is quirky and drafty and old, or not!) I would highly recommend that you measure the space between your door knobs, and adjust the pattern accordingly, so that you get a perfect fit.  


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The WIP Bag, Part 2 - Put in the Zipper!

Are you ready to put a zipper into your bag?  I know that I am.  I'm going to show you a way of putting them in that looks really neat, and will impress all of your family and friends.  Okay, grab the supplies you rounded up on Monday and meet me back here in two minutes (brief reminder, you'll need your: zipper, your bag, your lighter (or matches), a pair of scissors, a sharp needle, thread that matches the bag, yarn needle, and leftover nylon yarn).  Whether you go get a glass of iced tea or not is entirely up to you...

First thing we're going to do is sew the zipper on to one of the flaps.   You can just center the zipper along the flap.  Don't try to line up the end, it will only make it more complicated later.  Centered inconveniently is what we're going for here.   Sew it in, getting the flap lined up as close to the zipper teeth as possible, then go  back and whip stitch the bottom (non-toothed) edge to the flap as well so that the zipper lies nice and flat against the bag.  The picture is what the inside should look like, with the two rows of stitches.

Pin the other flap in place, along the other side of the zipper, and then stitch it down the same way you stitched the first side.  It will be a little less fun than the first side, because you'll have to unzip the zipper in order to do the stitching.  That's why it's important to pin it in place before you start.

Now you can zip the top closed! Yippee!  You're in the home stretch now, so why don't we stitch the zipper closed at the bottom of the flap?  It's easy, just stitch over the teeth where the flap ends.  Go over it with doubled thread, three or four times.  Then slide the zipper pull into the area between the flaps and pin the zipper closed at the other edge of the flaps.  Stitch the zipper closed at that edge too, which will be a little less neat, and a little bit more difficult, since the zipper is open at that edge.  I've put two pictures, one so that you can see how it should look, and then one pointing out the exact places you will be sewing across the zipper teeth.

Now you're going to cut the zipper off at the end of the flap!  Sounds scary, but it's not.  Just snip across the end!  Then get out your matches or lighter (Jr. Dynamos, please get help from an adult!) and run a flame along the cut edge to seal it and protect it from fraying. (You will notice the knots left from when I sewed that  end shut.  I didn't cut through my stitches, lol!  We're going to cover the ends of the zipper up in the next step, and I didn't want my knots to show on the inside of the bag.)  Make sure you cut and seal both ends of the zipper.

Last step!  Get out your yarn needle, and the leftover piece of nylon you had left.  Stitch the last 4 stitches along the edge of the flaps together, and then sew the flap pieces to the little open area at the butt end of the zipper.  Do it on both sides.  Weave the tail ends in about two stitches, and then snip and melt the ends, like you did on Monday.

Voila! You now have an awesome new bag to put your current project in! It looks small, but...

Look at all the stuff it's holding!!!  Can you believe it?!  It's like the clown-car of bags!!!
Btw, yep, that's a couple of lip balm holders in-the-making... Have you made one yet?  What are you waiting for?! 


Monday, June 18, 2012

Work in Progress... Part 1: Crochet!

I cannot say it enough, I love project bags.  Small enough to throw in a purse on my way out the door, but big enough to hold all of the supplies I need for crochet-on-the-go.  I tend to work in phases, and it helps me to stay organized when I keep the yarn and hook and pattern all together when I have to put a project aside for a while.  Then I know I've got everything there when I am ready to pick it back up again!

I am fascinated with nylon yarn.  It doesn't behave the way that cotton, wool or acrylic do, the fibers don't blend together.  The stitches are smooth and even the tightest stitches leave lacy stitches and hole-y fabric.  It's heavy and it's slippery.  The ends unravel.

Yet, it produces beautiful results.  Results that you can't get any other way, because the natural fibers don't behave the way that nylon does. Nylon doesn't stretch out of shape in awkward and dramatic ways.  You don't have to weave in ends...

I got some Iris Nylon Thread (size 18) to make a project bag.  I wasn't sure what I had in mind, but I wanted something with a zipper, and maybe handles. I wanted a one-skein bag, since I only bought one skein of this color...  I got to crocheting, and 197 yards is just not much to work with.  I frogged several designs, since I was at the end of my skein before I was even halfway done with my bag.  My bag was going to be a lot smaller than I had thought it would be.  This was going to be a bag for delicate projects.  That was okay with me, I am still on my size 3 crochet thread kick.  My current projects tend to be small anyway.

The crochet part of this bag is really straightforward and simple, but the zipper instructions are a little image heavy, so I'm going to break this project up into two parts: The Crocheting Instructions, and Installing the Zipper.  Most of the crocheting is just working hdc stitches in the round.  I made the flaps in (what I would consider) a rather unconventional manner, so I would recommend reading through the pattern before you start.  If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at CrochetDynamite (at) gmail (dot) com.

So, if you'd like to make a Work In Progress bag, grab your supplies and let's get going.

The WIP Bag
1 skein Iris Nylon Crochet Thread size 18 in French Wines (or any other color that makes your heart sing!)
Size D crochet hook
1 polyester zipper that is at least 9" long
Thread to match yarn (if you have to choose between matching the zipper color or the yarn color, match the yarn color)
Yarn needle
Sewing needle
Matches or lighter

Making the Bag:
ch 31
R1: hdc in the back loop of the 2nd ch from hook, hdc in back loop of each ch across, ch 1, turn (30 st)
R2-4: hdc in each stitch across, ch 1, turn (30 st)
R5: hdc in each stitch across, 5 hdc across the short side, 30 hdc across the other long side, and 5 hdc across the other short side, sl st to first hdc of row (70 st)
*a side note: don't add extra stitches to the corners, we don't want the bag to flare out, we want it to go straight up from the base.
R6-31: ch 1, hdc in each stitch around, sl st to first hdc of row (70 st)
R32: (flap row) ch 1, 30 hdc in back loops only, 5 sl st, 30 hdc in back loops only, ch 10, skip 5 st (60 st in a really weird row. Don't turn work, just start next row, leaving the chain to dangle.)
R33: (flap row) 30 hdc across hdc stitches, ch 10, skip 5 st, 30 hdc across hdc stitches, ch 10, skip 5 st (60 st)
R34: (flap row) 30 hdc across hdc stitches, ch 10, skip 5 st, 30 hdc across hdc stitches (60 st)

Fasten off, leaving a few inches of yarn tail.  We're not going to weave the ends in, exactly, but we are going to move them away from the edge of the bag flaps a little. So, use your yarn needle to pull the end through a couple of stitches, so the frayed yarn end is now on the inside of the bag.  Make sure the starting yarn tail is on the inside as well.

Now, READ THIS CAREFULLY:  You are going to cut the chain loops from the flap rows.  Only cut through ONE strand of yarn, halfway between the two flaps (which would make it the 5th or 6th chain). THEN, unravel the chain back to the crochet fabric. Stop before you unravel your flap!  Use the yarn needle to weave the unraveled chain back into the flap a few stitches.  It's going to look bad at this point, but the next step will clean it up.  Trust me, dear Dynamos!  I would never steer you wrong! You will be cutting, unraveling and weaving the end into the inside of the flap for all four of the chain loops (8 frayed chain ends, plus the start and end tails, will give you total of 10 ends to be dealt with).

This next part is slightly dangerous.  If you are a Junior Dynamo, please get an adult to help while you do this next part.  Grab your matches, or lighter, and your scissors. We're going to melt the ends of the nylon so that they don't unravel or fray. *Go slowly. Only do one thread at a time!! Open a window so that you aren't inhaling the fumes!

Snip the thread, leaving a 1/4" tail sticking out of the fabric.  Melt it with the matches, letting it melt into the stitches around it.  This is a quick process.  Don't worry if the stitches around it get slightly melty. (Just don't touch them!!!  They are super-hot melted plastic, and it will stick to your skin and burn you.)  The melted end will cool into a little hard blob of plastic that will never come loose.  Yippee!!

Now do that for all of the frayed ends.  Wow!  That was awesome.  Put it aside and get yourself a glass of iced tea.  We'll put the zipper on Wednesday. (Oh, and don't throw away the last 2 feet of yarn you have left, you'll need it for finishing up the top!)


edit 6/21/12: This is the post where we put the zipper in!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

It was all fun and games, until a bird pooped on it...

Good Morning Dynamos!  Happy Saturday!

As you know, I am just smitten with tiny crochet lately.  I love the tiny hooks, I love the tiny thread.  I love the tiny projects.  When I die, I want my tombstone to read "Here lies Jaime Maraia.  Champion of Size 3 Crochet Thread Endeavors". That is how much I am into it right now.

I am having difficulty finding just the right colors in my tiny thread.  I wanted to do some tiny dolls, but I haven't been able to find a peachy skin color that made me happy.  Plus, even if I could find one shade of peach, beautiful little girls come in loads of colors that wouldn't be represented by that single color... if it existed... which I doubt... because I can't find it...

So, inspired by the awesome podcast and blog of Stacey Trock over at, I thought I might be able to use Kool Aid to over-dye some natural colored size 3 crochet cotton and make my own peachy range of colors.  (By the way, if you haven't heard Stacey's podcast, Crochet Chat, you should download it immediately!  I'm serious! Go do it now, we'll still be here when you get back...)

These yarns don't look very diverse in this picture. In person, they are multi-hued and gorgeous, instead of, as Mims refered to them "Meat Colored".  
I mixed up my own custom blend of Kool Aid, vinegar and water and gave it a go.  I was surprised that the cotton dyed so easily and quickly.  The lighter colors were made by dying and then washing the yarn with dishsoap under running water.  The darker colors were just rinsed.  Also, since I was just experimenting, I tea dyed some of it, and then tea dyed over the top of the Kool Aid over-dye.  Whew.  Luckily, I had bundled little mini-skeins of 23-25 yards before I started, so I wasn't too worried about snarls and knots.

From Top: Kool Aid dyed (washed), Kool Aid dyed (rinsed), Tea dyed, Kool Aid dyed (washed) + Tea dyed, Kool Aid dyed (rinsed) + Tea dyed
Then I had to figure out what I was going to do with my freshly dyed yarn.  I opted to wind it around the back of one of our patio chairs, since I thought it would have excellent air-flow and would dry quicker.  I was right.  I neglected to remember that these chairs seem to have been claimed by our neighborhood birds, and that they frequently visit the chairs to rest and poop.  Ugh.  The good news is, only ONE of the yarns got pooped on.  The bad news is, ONE of my beautiful new peachy yarns got pooped on!!  I wound the rest of them up into little pull-skeins, and then took my bird-poop yarn inside to scrub.  I used scalding hot water and a ton of dishsoap and the poop came out.  Some of the color lifted as well, but I had expected that.  It still is a lovely shade of peach, just not the darker, more interesting shade I had hoped for.  I wound it around an empty paper towel tube to dry overnight in the kitchen, safely away from nature.  I brought the rest of my yarn upstairs to admire...

I couldn't help it.  I had to see how it would work, if it would look right, how it would feel! I got out my size C hook and grabbed my new yarn and began crocheting!  My yarn is a little less soft then it was before I dyed it, but I think that's because I roughed up the surface a little when I scrubbed it in dishsoap.  Also, it's a little stiff, which I think might be because of the soap.  It is just the shade I had hoped for.  Twenty yards was just about right for my project, so I'm looking forward to making more dollies to go with the one I made last night.

Overall, this was an incredible success.  There was some question, out in the internet, as to whether cotton could be dyed with Kool Aid.  I am thrilled that my experience was that cotton can be dyed very nicely with Kool Aid.  I am looking forward to see what else I can do with it in future dying adventures!  

Have a great weekend, Dynamos!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Designing a pillow...

Good Morning, Dynamos!

I've got a project to share today, but it's not exactly a pattern.  It's an idea for a pattern.  I shot pictures as I went along, thinking that I was going to write it up, but now that it's complete, I'm a little iffy on it.  So I thought, instead, I'd show you a little about my design process.

I saw a cute idea on Pinterest for a pillow that wrapped around a car seat belt, for kids on long car trips.  I thought, "Cute idea!  I should make one of those for Mims."  Alas, the link was for a company that was selling the actual finished pillows.  They were a little pricey for a whim, so I then thought, "Still, it's a cute idea.  I can figure out how to make one for Mims."

Meanwhile, I had just made an Ikea run and had brought home several "naked" pillow forms to crochet covers for.  My favorite were the ninety-nine cent stomach-sleeper pillows.  I had made some throw pillows last year out of them, so I knew I could sew and cut them to whatever size I wanted. Besides, if I screwed it up, I was only out a buck!

I thought I wanted my car pillow to be made up of two 4" pillow sides, so I measured out 8" columns which I sharpied onto my pillow.  I sewed along the marker lines, and then cut my pillows apart.  I was able to get three 8"x19" pillows out of one stomach-sleeper pillow.  Score! Then I sewed a seam down the center of the pillow, to crease it so that it would fold around the seat belt.

Then I used a piece of scrap fabric (9"x40") to make a pillowcase for my new pillow.  I sewed the fabric, right sides together, along both of the long cut ends. Then I turned it right side out and poked the corner out so that they were sharp.  I would have ironed the pillowcase, but I knew that it was going to be encased in crochet, and the day was too hot to bother.  Besides, I was making it for Mims, not a private client. So I slid my pillow into the case, tucked the open end inside around the pillow and sewed the case closed.

Next I got to crochet my cover.  It took an entire skein of Lion Brand Cotton 100% Cotton worsted weight yarn.  I used a size G hook. I made my piece 70 stitches long, and just went back and forth using hdc stitches until the skein was gone.  I was left with about 18" of yarn for a tail.

I sewed my covered custom-sized pillow onto my crocheted piece, leaving about an inch of crochet as an edge I could use later for installing the pillow into my car.  I wasn't sure at that point how I was going to do it, and I wanted plenty of room in case I decided velcro was the best way to go.  I also discovered at that point that 70 stitches was about 5 stitches too long for my pillow form.  So I folded the bottom edge over the pillow and stitched it down.  I then stitched the pillow down on the other side, catching the folded edge in that seam too.   That left me with a poufy pillow part and a long flat blanket-y piece to wrap around the seat belt.

I thought about buttons and velcro to close my car pillow, but ultimately, I was worried about choking (buttons) and about scratching little faces (velcro).  I needed to come up with something else.  Something soft, something easy, something removable since I wasn't sure how many people would be into sewing the pillow into their car permanently. I finally decided that weaving a doubled-over length of ribbon through both sides would be easy enough to remove if it got gross, but not easy for a little guy (or gal) to pull off in the middle of a car trip.  I tied a bow at the top because it looked cute that way.  For a little boy, I might tie a small knot at the base of the pillow instead.  I suppose it would depend on the kid...

Mims likes her new cover a lot.  She has always hated seat belts, ever since the one horrible incident where I pulled her belt out too quickly and she got a rope burn from it.  Would that be a belt burn?  Anyway, I still feel awful about it, and this in no way makes up for my accident, but it does make it so that she will allow the belt to be next to her neck, which is much safer than her holding it away from her body.

The pillow didn't fold around the belt like I had hoped.  I would make it even narrower next time, I think.  Maybe 6".  And I would save myself the crochet and only use 65 stitches for the length of the cover.  I love the ribbon closure.

Do you have an opinion?  Should I have waited until this idea was perfected before I shared it?  Or does this spark your own ideas on how to improve upon my design?  I would love to hear what you think.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

More Stars!

Another commission, for the end of the school year.

Mims really, really wanted to keep this one! 

The free pattern is here!


Sunday, June 10, 2012

National Iced Tea Day!

My morning iced tea, because it's National Iced Tea Day, Dynamos!

What? You did not know that iced tea is the official beverage of  It's true.  I'm obsessed with it.  

The cool part about my obsession is that I want you to be obsessed too!  So I made you a present!

Hemp Mason Jar Cover 

A ball of Fine Hemp Twine (I bought mine at Joanns in the beading section. It's with the macrame stuff. )
Size D crochet hook
1/8" Ribbon (I used turquoise, but you can use any color that makes your heart sing! I used about 30 inches, because it's easier to tie a bow with too long ribbon, then cut it too short to begin with and have a too-small, weird-looking bow...)

R1: 13 sc in a magic loop, pull tight and sl st into first sc to close round (13 st)
R2: ch 1, (2 sc in next st, sc) 6 times, 2 sc in next st, sl st into first sc to close round (20 st)
R3: ch 1, (2 sc in next st, 2 sc) 6 times, 2 sc in next st, sc, sl st into first sc to close round (27 st)
R4: ch 1, (2 sc in next st, 3 sc) 6 times, 2 sc in next st, sc, 2 sc in next st, sl st into first sc to close round (35 st)
R5: ch 1, (2 hdc in next st, 4 hdc) 7 times, sl st into first hdc to close round (42 st)
R6: ch 1, (2 hdc in next st, 5 hdc) 7 times, sl st into first hdc to close round (49 st)
R7: ch 1, (2 hdc in next st, 6 hdc) 7 times, sl st into first hdc to close round (56 st)
R8-12: ch 1, hdc in each st around, sl st into first hdc to close round (56 st)
R13: ch 2, dc in each st around, sl st into first dc to close round (56 st)
R14-15: ch 1, hdc in each st around, sl st into first hdc to close round (56 st)
Fasten off.  Weave in ends.

Fold the ribbon in half, and use your crochet hook to weave the doubled ribbon through the posts of the dc row (R13). Tie in a bow!  Trim the ends so that they look cute.  You can run a match, or lighter, over the cut edges to seal them so that they won't fray.

A brief observation about working with hemp fibers:
Crocheting with hemp is not like crocheting with cotton or bamboo fibers.  It's rough.  Your stitches won't be even.  The thread/cord itself isn't smooth and even.  It smells like hay.  It's really stiff.

BUT, it looks super cool.  The uneven stitches make it look handcrafted and expensive.  It smells like summertime.  Just use some hand lotion afterwards and you will be good to go. 

I have made a lot of mason jar covers.  I think this one turned out just perfect.  I am in love...  


Perfect Mason Jar Iced Tea (updated 1/7/13 to make it even better! )
Using a quart sized mason jar, add 3 tea bags to 2 cups of water, plus a pinch of baking soda (! I know, right?!  The baking soda keeps it from tasting bitter!  But only use a tiny pinch, a little goes a long way. Try it, it's amazing) .  Microwave on high for 2 minutes.  Let it sit an additional 2 minutes in the microwave to steep, so you don't burn your fingers.  Pull it out very carefully. Discard the tea bags.  Add ice to fill the mason jar. Add additional water to fill jar to the top if necessary.  Put your lid and your jar cover on, and you're good to go for the day!  

Have a really, really awesome Iced Tea Day!!


Saturday, June 9, 2012

For The Sake Of The Blog, I Baked Brownies

I spent a year and a half going to cooking school to become a pastry chef.  I adored every minute of it.  I can talk gluten windows, and hydroscopic properties of sweeteners, and mallard browning effect for HOURS.  Literally.  I love, love, love that it takes science and art and math to create deliciousness.

My best friend at cooking school, Amy, gave me the raddest (yes, that's a word I actually use) potholders for Christmas one year.  She had found a company that made these huge potholders that were amazing.  I wore those things OUT!!!  Because, although it's a rite of passage to get burned so badly it scars, it's not fun to actually do it.  Amy and I were lucky, we never made it into the "stitched my finger back on" crew (shout out to Christian!!).

So, when I say I make the best brownies in the world, you have to know that it's no joke.  They are the best brownies in the world.  You also have to know that I am desperate to share my recipes with the world, but I had to figure out a way to combine my passion for cooking with my passion for crochet.  Otherwise, I should have named this, Jaime Bakes (and crafts a little).

But, no, dear Dynamos, a day without crochet is like a day without sunshine! I couldn't betray my blog with a post that had nothing to do with crochet.  So, I set out to make my own version of those awesome huge potholders.  That way, I would have to bake my brownies to show off how well they worked! Win, win!!

Here is where I ran into a bit of a problem, though.  See, Jake has homemade potholder rules.  To be fair, they have come from actual experiences that have led to him getting burned/maimed/dropping hot pans of food on the floor.  Homemade potholders don't bother me, but Jake doesn't have what he lovingly refers to as "my asbestos fingers." I had to make sure that any potholders I made would pass the Jake test...

Jake's Homemade Potholder Rules:
1. No holes. No spaces that a finger can poke through, get caught, and then get burned.
2. Use appropriate fire resistant materials. Nothing that could melt as he's pulling a pan out of the oven.
3. It must use as many layers as needed to keep the heat away from his hand. Two pieces of quilting fabric, with a thin layer of batting between them, has fooled him often enough that he now makes me use potholders on their inaugural run.
4. It must be large enough to actually fit his hand. This one is a little ridiculous to me, since he's got the hands of a giant (he's 6'5"), but I go with it.

I was pretty sure that I could create a potholder that would meet Jake's specifications, yet satisfy my own design requirements.  Oversized, cotton, heavy duty, cooking-school-worthy!  This one will keep you out of the "burn scar club," but I will give you points towards your Crochet Cooking Badge!!

The Cooking School Potholder

1 skein Lion Brand Cotton (or other 100% cotton worsted weight yarn)
Size G crochet hook
Yarn Needle
100% cotton batting - 9"x11"

Potholder Sides:
(make 2)
ch 41
R1: sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc in each ch space across, ch 1, turn (40 st)
R2-31: sc in each st across, ch 1, turn (40 st)
R32: sc in each st across (40 st) 
Fasten off. Weave in ends. Or don't weave in ends and just crochet over them in the final step. 

Potholder Tab:
(just make 1)
ch 10
R1: sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc in each ch space across
Fasten off. Don't bother weaving in ends. Lazy crochet at its finest!

Match potholder sides so that the stitches line up with each other. Attach yarn into one of the corners that will make it so you can crochet along one of the long sides first. 40 sc along the first side, add 2 more sc into the corner (3 all together), 30 sc evenly spaced along the short side, slip the tab piece into corner and sl st it into place (tucking in any loose ends as you go), 38 sc along the other long side (matching stitches together), now pause:

Slide the piece of cotton quilter's batting inside the potholder. Cut it down if it's too big or it doesn't fit right.  Flatten it out and make sure that it's not lumpy.

Now: put 2 more sc in the corner, 30 sc across bottom of potholder to close it, 2 sc in the final/beginning corner. Fasten off. Weave in ends. Hang your potholder up to admire it!  Doesn't it look good?!  Heck yeah it does!  You should pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees to test that baby out!  Seriously, pre-heat the oven.  My world famous brownie recipe is coming...

The World's Best Brownies
(disclaimer: These are the world's best brownies.  You will want to eat the whole pan. Have a plan in place for what you're going to tell your family when that happens.  Good lies include: Dropped the pan on the floor, gave them to the homeless, although perhaps the it's-none-of-your-business-where-the-brownies-are approach is better.  Keep it simple.)
(Also, using box mixes is not a cooking school technique.  It's a super busy mom technique.  I apologize to any cooking purists who are disappointed in this recipe, and I will refer them to the Cooks Illustrated website to find a homemade brownie recipe more to their sensibilities. The rest of us will be enjoying our brownies in peace now.)

Get a box of Ghiradelli's Chocolate Supreme brownie mix (you'll know it's the right one because it's got the packet of chocolate syrup inside)
Now, look at the back of the box.  Where it says 1/4 c Water, actually get out 1/4 c Whole Milk.  Where it says 1/3 c Oil, actually get out 1/3 c Melted Butter.  Okay, get out a stick of butter, cut it to the 1/3 c measurement, unwrap it and put it into a microwave safe bowl. Then melt it in the microwave.  It's okay.  We'll wait... In fact, get out a bowl and a whisk and an egg while you're waiting around.  Look in the cupboard for the vanilla you use for your Christmas cookies.  Get that out too.

Now that you've got all your stuff ready (nice mise en place, btw!), crack the egg into your mixing bowl.  Whisk it around until it's nice and scrambled. Add the milk and whisk it in too.  Add about 1 Tbsp Vanilla to the egg/milk mixture.  While you're at it, whisk the contents of that chocolate sauce packet into your mixture as well.  It will NOT be chocolate milk smooth.  That's okay.  

Now add about 1/4 of the dry brownie mix to the wet mixture.  Whisk it a little.  This is mostly to keep your hot melted butter from scrambling the egg when you add it next.  Go ahead, add the melted butter now.  Whisk it around.  Now add the rest of the dry brownie mix.  Do Not Whisk It!  Grab a fork and slowly mix it into the wet ingredients.  Don't stir it any more than you absolutely have to.  There may still be some dry lumps when you are done.  That's good.  It means you did it right.  Now set your bowl aside for a moment.

Line a baking pan (I use a 9x9) with parchment paper.  Use plenty of it so that it comes up over the sides, so you don't have to scrub dry, crusty brownie off your pan later. Pour your brownie mix into the pan and smooth it out with a spatula. Pop it into the oven and set your timer.

A note about brownie baking times:
My dear sister-in-law is an excellent brownie baker.  She uses a formula that has worked for her for years, which is, prepare the brownies the way they say on the box, but under-cook them by about 5 minutes.  This creates moist, fudgy brownies that are very delicious.  But we're not going for merely very delicious brownies here!  We're going for WORLD WIDE FAME!!!!! Yes, I yelled it, and it echoed dramatically.  So here's the deal, with the extra substitutions that we've made to modify our brownie mix, you can't under-cook them and have them turn out like brownies.  I've tried.  They turn out like hot, fudgy goo.  Delicious, but goo.  They will set up in the fridge, but they will taste more like fudge than like a brownie.  So, bake the brownie the full time recommended on the back of the box for your pan size.  I bake mine for 40 minutes.

When they come out of the oven you need to let them sit and rest for at least 15 minutes.  This will let them cool a little and allow the structure of the brownie to set up.  Trust me, it's worth the wait. Then you can slice them up and serve them!  Your mouth can send me a thank you note after it's done chewing... LOL!!!!


Same Bat Time, Different Bat Channel!

Woot! I'm movin' on up to the big leagues.  I bought my domain name today!  So, if you will please re-bookmark your pages so that you now visit me at:

Yeah, I'm no longer a mere blogspot, I am a dot com!

Thank you for your generosity and support.  This is just the coolest thing that has ever happened to me.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Ikea score!

I found a bin of wooden artist mannequin dolls for super cheap at Ikea (is there an official name for these things? I never took a figure drawing class, I liked sculpture and ceramics...).  I just couldn't leave this one behind.  It needed a scarf...


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Crochet Poppies

I have been seeing a lot of beautiful crochet roses rockin' the crochet blog world lately.  I love roses, but it's easy to love roses.  Roses are a symbol of love.  Poppies on the other hand are a symbol of drug addiction and wicked witches... I don't know why, but that makes poppies even more appealing to me.  Not that I identify with either of those groups...
I wanted to make something to put my poppy on, something that would be fun and happy, something worthy of my poppy!  I decided on a makeup bag. (If you'd like the pattern, it's here.)  It's a great size, 9" x 7", so of course, I immediately threw a bunch of crochet supplies inside it, and it's now been folded into my tools.  Ah well, I guess I will have to make another one to hold my makeup... Make that two more, since day and evening need their own bags... LOL!!!

And my soap bottle cover needed a new poppy too!!

They're just so cheerful.  I want to make a few to go on headbands.  And a few more to put on a scarf.  And a few more to decorate a pillow, since 'poppies, poppies, poppies, will make you sleep'.  Ah!  Okay, that's the one!!! The pillow is next on the list.  Send me a link if you make one before I can.  I've got a few projects qued up before I can get to it... I believe in you, Dynamos!!!

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