Quick and Dirty Saffron Shawl, or How I Became Seamstress for the Band (part 3)

One final costume project from Firefly: The Musical

Saffron, one of the lead characters, was supposed to have a lovely red shawl, something that looked like it was hand-knit either by herself or one of her “sisteren” in the backwater maiden house from which she came.

Our Saffron had a really lovely, not-at-all-handcrafted crimson wrap.

It didn’t kill the backwater farm peasant costume, but it didn’t really help. The shawl is also one of those memorable costume pieces that a lot of fans would just expect to see. So in my last act as impromptu costume mistress, I took on the task of making a proper shawl.

Now, the shawl from the original show is pretty clearly knit, and it’s a fairly intricate lace pattern, making an accurate replica well out of my reach because (a) I never learned to knit lace, and (b) I didn’t have the time to learn just then. So I took the most obvious course of action: I faked it.

Using Caron’s Simply Soft in Garnet, and a size N hook, I crocheted a pretty slick shawl.

The pattern is pretty simple:
Ch 3
DC 4 in first ch
Then repeat this pattern for as long as you can stand:
Three rows of spaced Treble Crochet:
Ch 4, TC 1 in last st of previous row, skip 1 ch 1 to the middle stitch of the previous row, TC 1 ch 1 TC 1 ch 1 TC 1 in middle stitch, skip 1 ch 1 to the last stitch of previous row, TC 2
One row of solid Double Crochet:
Ch 3, DC 1 in last st of previous row, DC 1 in each st to the middle stitch of the previous row, DC 5 in the middle stitch, DC 1 in each st to the last stitch of the previous row, DC 2
End with a spaced Treble row.
Add fringe to your heart’s content.

I completed the shawl in time for the third show, and our Saffron gleefully tied it over her shoulders, and fiddled with the long fringe when she got nervous on stage, and enjoyed having her arms free for the action scenes.

(For more adventurous knitters, this is far and away the best-looking pattern I was able to find before giving up my search.)

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Tiny Basketball Cap!

I have a cousin who has managed to mold a lifelong hobby into a legitimate career.  He has lived and breathed basketball, as far as I can tell, for his entire life, and now he’s a sports writer who follows all his favorite NBA teams, watches every game, and interviews the players and coaches for a living.  (Obviously, lately he’s been following more legal shenanigans than actual games, but… that’s really not relevant to the post.)

It seemed only natural, when I learned he and his wife were expecting a little girl, to make something special and basketball-ish.

Possibly I was a little too literal?

In all seriousness, I actually put a good bit of thought into the design.  I could have gone for the plain old beanie design, thrown some stripes on and called it a day.

“Hey, cuz!  Check it out!  Now your kid’s head is a basketball!”

But baby beanies are just so… common.

Furthermore, I wanted to add some element of fashion, because my tiny victim’s mother is a dance teacher who somehow even manages to add some style to her slouching-around-the-house clothes.

Clearly, I needed some kitsch.  Something hip.  Something that says, “I look at fashion trends at least once a year… y’know… when I’m bored.”  Clearly, a newsboy cap was the way to go.

As an added bonus, I knew the smaller size of the hat would drastically reduce the problem I usually encounter with brimmed hats.  Specifically, the brims tend to get… floppy. It’s a simple matter of physics, really.  The kind of yarn I want to make a hat out of tends to be very flexible, and then the design of an adult-sized hat would call for a brim that is a good six to eight inches long, and more than an inch wide, at which point the flexibility of the yarn will cause the piece to droop.  Since I am generally far too lazy to do something as involved as conjuring plastic inserts, I just very rarely make brimmed hats.

This is especially sad because I love brimmed hats.

As usual, any excuse will do, and I made a tiny brimmed hat with a tiny brim for my tiny new cousin!

 

Two Shawls!

By the time my fellow tech-monkeys and I started attending rehearsals for Charles Dickens Unleashed, the cast was mostly done assembling their costumes.  I asked if there was anything else they needed, and a call came back for accessories.  Specifically, there was a shortage of shawls.

Well, do I ever need more than a half-baked excuse to crochet something?

A few short weeks later (I have a day job, people), I give you two shawls!

(Please forgive the awful photo editing.  Turns out it’s tricky taking good pictures of large things that blend in with all my usual backdrops.  Go figure.)

Both are made with I Love This Yarn sport weight that I just happened to have in my stash.  The black shawl is made using an increasing treble stitch pattern.  Needless to say, it took both skeins of my sport weight, half a ball of a medium weight (also I Love This Yarn), and at least three times as long to complete as the white shawl.

I’m not entirely sure what the proper name is for the method I used to make Whitey.  It is basically a netting technique used most commonly in market bags.  It took only a skein and a half, and maybe a whole three hours to complete.

This the kind of project I live for.  It’s quick and easy, and when it’s done I have something pretty to show off.

Happy Mirth Day?

Mother’s Day and Birthday, rolled into one!  Get it?

Heh.

Yeah.

So I was in the midst of the Great Moving Marathon for both Mother’s Day and my mom’s birthday, and used that as an excuse not was sadly unable to get her anything.  I mean, she’s impossible to shop for anyway, and doesn’t like just stuff, so in a way, I was giving her what she wanted.

(Yes, I am the worst daughter ever.)

Then she came to visit, and asked me – point blank, “Can you make me one of those purses?”

I was so thrilled, I nearly started work right away.  I asked what color she wanted, and pulled out the big box-o-nylon thread.  She pulled out this lovely red and peach variegated.

She noticed I had less than one full spool and expressed concern that I might not have enough to finish the purse, but I assured her that I could always buy more.  After all, who am I to pass up a good excuse for a trip to Hobby Lobby?

Funny story.  I couldn’t buy more.

That’s right.  That nylon thread I spent three months looking for?  Yeah, this was why I needed it.

I didn’t find it.

After a couple dozen unsuccessful trips to every store within 20 miles (and a few very generous expeditions by friends in other cities), I gave up and improvised a match, and I’m pretty sure I like it better:

The main body of the purse is a 4×4 basket weave texture, in a clever mix of two shades of red, off-white, and a ridiculously bright pink variegated I never thought I’d use for anything.  The color pattern actually got slightly complicated.  I had to switch colors every row to get the color variation I was aiming for.  Each row incorporates two threads, and I switched out one color at the end of each row:

Row 1:  Light Red/White
Row 2:  Light Red/Pink
Row 3:  Dark Red/Pink
Row 4:  Dark Red/White

At the end, I had a loose end on every single row that had to be tied off, trimmed, and fused.  Needless to say, finishing the bag was… time consuming.

But now, finally, I can show you a finished product!  Mom’s Red Purse:

This final picture is for Uncle Mike, in loving gratitude for his color commentary while I foolishly tried to finish anything while hanging out with my extended family.

Windmill Bag – now with handles!

Hey, remember that fabulous windmill-pattern bag I made for Dear Roomie last Christmas?  The one made from fabulous hand-dyed wool purchased from the fabulous little yarn shop in my parents’ fabulous little hometown in the NC mountains?  The one that was all done save the handles?  Welllll guess what I finally purchased, 8 months later!

Yes, the amazing little red bag has handles!  I was back in the mountains for the annual Mt. Mitchell Crafts Fair a few weeks ago, and nabbed these red leather handles at – you guessed it – the Yummi Yarns shop.  Of course, they had these same handles a year ago when I purchased the yarn, but I foolishly thought I’d be able to find something comparable closer to home.

Lesson learned, handles acquired.  The bag is complete!

…now I just have to get it to Dear Roomie, who is no longer actually my roomie.

I Like This Alot

For the uninitiated, Hyperbole and a Half is one of my very favorite blogs.  Dear Roomie and I have spent many an hour reading and re-reading her stories aloud to each other, sobbing with laughter.

One of my very favorite posts is “The Alot is Better Than You At Everything.”

I’ve been looking for a good excuse to make an Alot, and now I have one.

One of my cousins is beginning his third year of teaching high school English, and I just introduced him to the Alot this summer.  Obviously, he needs one for his classroom.

I’ve been hanging on to this I Love This Yarn brown tweed for a while, and I am unbelievably pleased with the touch of whimsy it lends while saving me from the pain and suffering of crocheting eyelash yarn.
It’s fairly simple amigurumi construction otherwise – doll eyes, yarn stitching, and felt accents.  This may be my first project involving felt, and I kind of love it.  Anchoring the horns and tooth was a little troublesome, but I’ve always liked the boldness and simplicity of felt in other projects, and that still holds here.