Winter Project Updates

Hi there! It’s not necessarily been crickets around here, but I do feel its time for some project updates of things I’ve recently completed. I haven’t had a whole lot of new things to show in the crochet category since many of the things I’ve had on the hook have been larger, longer projects that I’ve toiled at slowly in my spare time over the course of last semester. After the New Year I made it a priority to finish some of these things up so that I could MOVE. ON. FINALLY.

And so today I present two new project variations on two of my personal favorite original patterns, plus a skirt that I’d been hacking away at (literally). Prepare for photogenic twirling. There will be twirling.

Eyeball Sweater

I bought the yarn for this pattern, Yarn Bee Soft and Sleek in six different multi colorways, with some legwarmer project vaguely in mind. Well, that project was just not exciting enough to me, and so I started a chaotically rainbow version of my Spiral Sweater pattern.

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I worked it in size Small, but decreased every other stitch across the armholes to tighten up the front collar of the sweater (and also conserve yarn, which turns out was very necessary). I also skipped the Linked Double Crochet reinforcement across the back of the collar. Because I forgot. πŸ˜›

eyeball4Because I started with a central circle of solid navy leftovers that I had from a different Spiral Sweater, the middle part of the back started to look like the pupil of an eye, so I ran with that. After finishing everything on the sweater, I took some more spare yarn and slip stitched some crazy squiggles into the “iris” of the eye.

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I’ve always loved the nazar, a Middle Eastern charm symbol representing an eye, which used to ward off the evil eye.Β  This sweater is watching your back! Har har har.

You can find the project page, which also links to my original pattern in the righthand sidebar, here on Ravelry.Β  That bitchin’ tree man necklace I am wearing is from my friend Wendy’s polymer clay art shop, Dark Pony Arts – check her out, she is amazing!

 

Fairy Shawl

Though the Ida Shawl was originally designed to be multicolored, I’ve found that I really love doing them in monochromatic yarns, especially neutrals. This one is done with a DK weight acrylic yarn, Premier Everyday Baby in White, which used up all of three skeins once the fringe was finished. I really had fun plotting an outfit to go with this one.

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That’s really the only reason I do this. Excuse to dress up! Just kidding. Kind of.

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The Ida Shawl, as finicky as it was to get right during the designing process, is all the more worth it for the struggle. I still love that central design, which represents the seeds that form a star when you cut an apple in half horizontally.

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You can see this project on Ravelry too, with all of the pictures and a link to the original pattern. The leafy headwrap I am wearing is also a pattern of mine, the FREE Ivy Crown tutorial.

 

Jewel Skirt

This is the 5th skirt I’ve produced using Wendy Kay’s No-Gathers Gypsy Skirt pattern that I bought from her shop on Etsy, and this pattern has been WELL worth my money. Just chop out blocks and sew them together, no measuring (well, not much measuring) and you’ve got a beautiful dancing skirt to twirl in. Easy.. and fun!!

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I made this one from mostly upcycled fabrics, including some curtains from Goodwill and several yards of fabric I had had tucked away for YEARS that I got from a thrift market outside of the Portland Indiana Tractor and Engine show. It’s funny sometimes, when your craft supplies remind you of the places you’ve been and the other lives that you’ve lived.

I think sometimes that’s part of the appeal, for people who handmake things. It certainly is for me.

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The other skirts I’ve made I’ve given away or sold, but I think I’m keeping this one for myself. The jewel tones and floral print match nearly everything in my closet πŸ˜€

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I don’t put ALL of my sewing and refashion projects here on Morale Fiber blog, since I want the main focus here to be on crochet techniques, patterns and designs – but I do run a more personal side blog on Tumblr which I use for sewing and fashion stuff. Check me out there: Howling Mouse on Tumblr.

 

I do have more projects from over the winter that remain unfinished, plus some exciting new things budding! So I’m gonna go hustle that. As always, thank you for visiting!

-MF

P.S – I’ve gotten a lot of photo submissions of people’s projects that they have made from my designs lately – please keep that up! I love that so much! ❀ ❀ ❀ I hope you all have loved it too!

 

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Winter Projects and Rambling

While I was pretty darn productive over my holiday break, most of my projects are long-term/unfinished pieces as of right now, or future patterns ineligible for viewing until the pattern is released. Therefore, I don’t have many things to share in this little update post – d’oh!

I’m not totally without content though, since I hadn’t mentioned my Ida Shawl project on here on the blog yet:

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I included an update on the Ida Shawl pattern during this project, so that there are specific instructions on working the piece in one color:Β  alternative starting/joining instructions are now given where different from the multicolored instructions.

I posted about this one a few weeks ago on my Facebook page hadn’t done it here. I don’t always post on the blog for every pattern update/sale/coupon code, so if you like my offerings you should definitely follow me on FacebookΒ to get the most up-to-date info πŸ™‚ Plus, silly memes sometimes!

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Don’t you love it with fringe? I sure as heck do. I wanted to do more of a witchy woman vibe with this one, or… as my sister put it… wiggy woman. ‘Cause I’m wearing a wig, get it? πŸ˜‰ We are a pun-loving people, the Weisses.

I’ve also been experimenting with darker colors on the Cecilia Skirt Belt, my little ragamuffin crochet accessory that I released last summer.

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While organizing my work space I needed to clear out some of my silk scraps, so I made a quick version of the Cecilia belt that skipped the bell loops and opted for a contrasting trim on the crocodile stitch scales instead. Ripping silk is extremely satisfying, ditto the cotton and gauze I use for my lighter colored belts. Using the more brightly colored silks makes these look more similar to my freeform pixie pocket belts.

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I’d like to do a few quick tutorials for pockets on the blog sometime in the future! Hopefully I can find time this semester πŸ™‚ Until then, the Cecilia Belt pdf pattern is a great start if you’re interested in doing something similar.

Ehhhh… lets see, what else? How about a sneak peek at my UPCOMING SWEATER PATTERN?

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That’s it! Just a hint. Nothing else to see here.

I’ve also done a lot of sewing over break, making more big dance-y patchwork hippie skirts from the no-gathers skirt pattern by Wendy Kay on Etsy.

There’s a fine cotton crochet top I made to coordinate in the middle photo. In all of the photos, there is a lady who is addicted to wigs.

-MF

 

Hairpin Lace Refashion

When it comes to hobbies, I push myself to try new things. I’m not sure if this is due to my hyperactive Pinterest-ing disorder, an excess of caffeine, or possibly some sort of mania. Fast forward to the point: something I’ve been experimenting with recently is hairpin lace.

Ellie13Hairpin lace is a technique that wraps and crochets long loops around a tool and then uses those loops to make decorative stitches and weaves. Traditionally one used a literal hair pin, I’m assuming, but nowadays they make specialty craft tools that look like you could low-key use it to torture somebody.

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Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

I took a pretty freeform approach to learning this technique – the first strip of hairpin lace I made was for attaching two pieces of upcycled clothing together, using reclaimed sweater yarn for the strip. A list of things I learned from this:

  1. Do not try to learn this technique with a yarn that splits like crazy.
  2. That trick with threading the spare yarn through a finished strip to keep the loops together? It’s way more trouble than it is worth unless you are storing the strips together for later.
  3. Even with the aforementioned splitting yarn, hairpin lace is WAY LESS complex and intimidating than I thought. After the first few shaky loops, I got comfortable with it very quickly.

I learned from this excellent video from Stitch Diva Studios (who also sell great hairpin lace crochet patterns) and this video from Knitting Daily to supplement my technique.Β  Now for the refashion part!

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I’ve been ogling pretty fiber artsy styles like mori kei and shabby/chic, clothes that maximize texture and variety and emphasize the handmade look. The ragamuffin style is especially attractive to me because it lends itself well to experimentation in short bursts, which is about as much as I have time for during the semester.

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The two fabric pieces that went into this forest girl dress were a soft green top that I liked but didn’t wear (too short), and an earthy colored skirt that I picked up thrifting. Both are 100% rayon, and oh man, I really love rayon. It’s so so soft. Hard to believe it is manufactured from wood pulp.

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Long story short, I chopped the bottom off of the top and the top off of the skirt, then serged the cut edge on both pieces. Using #10 mercerized cotton crochet thread, I embroidered a blanket stitch over the serged hem.

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I then counted the blanket stitches. My hairpin lace strip would need as many loops as the largest amount of stitches (which is on the skirt’s hem). Having done this part late at night months ago, I now have no idea what that number was. Lets say it’s 150. It was actually way more than that, but just pretend. And for the sake of clean math, lets say the smaller numberΒ  (the amount of blanket stitches on the top hem) was 125.

So I need a hairpin lace strip with at least 150 loops. ONE LOOP of the strip will get crocheted to one blanket stitch on the hem of the skirt. Since the top hem has a smaller number, 25 sts less than the larger number, I would need to double up on some of the stitches on the top hem. 125 / 25 = 5. This means when I was attaching the hairpin lace strip to the hem on the top (in fictional pretty-math world) I attached TWO loops every 5th stitch.

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Using that strategy and a small hook, I worked a single crochet around the garment, inserting the hook through the top of the blanket stitch and through the hairpin loops simultaneously to attach the fabric pieces. Don’t forget to weave in the ends through both of the middle seams of the hairpin lace strip where the two ends of the strip meet!

Time for the patchy part. With the same upcycled sweater yarn, I made two big doilies using one of the many graphs on my Pinterest crochet board, as well as another hairpin strip for the collar. I sewed these in place with a sewing machine and threaded the loops in the doily with velvet cord to create an adjustable criss-cross tie in the back.

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Velvet leggings, thrifted cowgirl boots, ridiculously large hat? Yes please.

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I loved melding pretty fabrics with crochet, and using all reclaimed/upcycled materials was a big bonus. I have a feeling I’ll be doing more of this in the future!

-MF

Summer Wrap Up!

Woah – tomorrow is already the start of the new fall semester, so I’m squeaking this year’s end-of-summer post in tonight so I can talk about a few projects I hadn’t mentioned/photographed/finished previous to now.

First, probably one of my favorite things I’ve ever made:

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That’s an ultra-floral retro fringed keyhole collar poncho of awesomeness right there in case you were wondering I started by making a longer version of the Freewheelin’ Poncho, a paid pattern I designed last fall. My goal started as just using up odds and ends yarn, but I’ve been wanting to make a floral poncho and the scarlet reds seemed so pretty next to the navy blue I couldn’t resist! The retro roses are stitched directly onto the mesh using post stitch and slip stitching techniques.

Plus, that keyhole collar doubles as a shoulder cut-out if you wear the poncho lengthwise.

Also: This amazing patchwork skirt patternΒ from Wendy Kay on Etsy. I bought an assortment of cotton lawn, a lightweight fabric perfect for summer skirts, in paisley prints and floral (are you noticing a pattern here)..

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That one was fun to make (and spin around in). Β In fact, it was so fun to make that I immediately started another patchwork project, using a modified version of the patchwork template from Wendy’s pattern.

A little background here – One fiber art fashion hero of mine is the lady behind Majik Horse & the 7 Magicians Clothing Company.Β I always fall in love with any picture I see of her amazing work. I’ve been dying to create a patchwork coat in that style, and I’ve had a sweet little jacket tucked away waiting, and happened to have some fabrics that would match… and some GIANT vintage fur cuffs and collar that I rescued from an otherwise ugly coat.

So this was born.

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I’ve been calling it the Frankencoat but I think it needs a better name πŸ˜‰ These photos are sorta blurry, but they’ll have to do for now. I added my favorite GIANT belt and a 25-yd skirt underneath. Kind of calls for a tophat and goggles, I think.

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And some without the skirt underneath – it’s still pretty full!
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I like to squeeze in “unscripted” projects periodically – things that I hadn’t planned for or decided exactly what I wanted them to be. This Starry sweater was originally just stashbusting, but then I was inspired by the floral poncho to try another crochet applique piece.

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My favorite free-form, unplanned exercise of course is the pixie pocket belts with the tattered skirts – this one I finished up recently using handdyed handspun wool/silk blend yarn, knit into a sash then crocheted at the edges.

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You’ll have to forgive the photo quality for this post – I was mid organizational spree so I only had time for this little blurb! πŸ™‚ As always, more to come.

-MF

Tattered Fairy Vest

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I wind up making a lot of bright pieces because I love playing with color, but I have a personal bias for earthy tones and neutrals (like over half of the things I own are brown. I love brown). So when I was thinking about the color scheme for this Forest Fae Vest pattern I bought from the Etsy shop ForeverWanderingg, I decided to follow her example and go with pretty, soft, and earthy.

I’ve been trying to work from crochet patterns other than my own lately and I bought this one as soon as I saw it. I love the tattered aesthetic and the mandala- I never met a mandala I didn’t like. Β So here’s my version of the Forest Fae Vest πŸ™‚
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I made the main body using Premier Cotton Fair (using two strands held together) and it came out feeling soft and thick and perfect! I wanted to achieve the longer tattered bustle style of the last model picture on the Etsy listing, so I searched through my collection of magical garbage. Which you can see a little of in the background here πŸ˜‰

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I came up with an old lacy scarf that had gotten accidentally dyed in the wash and a big piece of crochet lace I had salvaged from a dress I found at Goodwill. Time to dye those puppies to match!

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I used some Rit dye that I have had foreverΒ – can you believe I used dark brown and tan for this? Well, if you’ve dyed with Rit before you might, because it does tend to be a little bit of a crapshoot for color accuracy if you’re not careful. However, I prefer the lovely muted purple and am super glad that it didn’t come out dark brown. I even dyed that jersey cotton cowl to match!

Sewing it on took some psyching up, because taking something you’ve lovingly crocheted by hand and sticking it in a machine to punch a bunch of tiny thread into it is SCARY. But it went smooth as butter and before I knew it this sweet fairy vest was ready to rock!

Maybe you can tell I had a lot of fun making this? My favorite projects have always been based around upcycling – giving new life to old things, rediscovering their beauty. This project definitely fit that category.

-MF

Tights to Top Refashion

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Refashionistas… we’ve all seen it. That tutorial about how cutting the crotch out of your old tights makes a killer long-sleeve crop top. But does this really work? It can’t be that easy, can it?

Well, yes. It can. Almost.

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I have my victim lined up – an awesome print on a warm knit pair of tights that are just slightly too small to function as they were originally intended.

And of course I have my idea, which came from this youtube videoΒ I found on Pinterest. The creator of the video uses sheer nylon type tights, but the idea is the same, no?

Yes and no. We’ll get to that.

FIRST you cut out the crotch. I went with a wide V-neck type of neckline, but you could pretty much do anything here as long as your head fits through.

Then you STICK YOUR HEAD THROUGH THE HOLE. I think maybe your arms go down the legs too.

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Are we done? Is it that easy? Kind of. This very much works as a finishing point, especially if you are working with tights that have a lot more elasticity. But mine, which were more knit leggings than tights, were too saggy in the arms, with too much bunching of the material under the armpits. But the boob-holding department was on point (ha)!

So I used the very advanced and technical sewing equipment known as a plate and a Sharpie to fix the arm problem.

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Measuring about 7 inches from the bottom of the top (that is the waistband of the leggings), I used a plate to evenly mark out a dip in the fabric for the armpit.

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And then measured a short straight line from the crest of the plate marking toward the waistband, to taper the otherwise sudden change in the cut of the garment. I also measured off a long tapering line from the other side of the crescent all the way down to the cuff of the sleeve/leg to slim down the fit of the arm. I did this for both arms, of course.

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I pinned it and sewed it all up with a zigzag stitch BEFORE cutting the extra fabric, just in case I was unhappy with the result. I wasn’t!

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Hooray! I had successfully eliminated most of that saggage. I proceeded to cut off the extra fabric and finish all the edges with an overcasting stitch (I don’t own a serger yet, but my Brother HS-2000Β does a decent job sewing knits on “08” stitch setting. Β Time for the fashion show!

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That’s it!

 

-MF