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.)


On the third day of Christmas…

I have to start with another “na-na na-na boo-boo” for all my friends back in Texas:

The sky has cleared, the mountains are now visible behind the trees, and we topped off at just shy of seven inches of light, fluffy snow.  Local officials strongly recommend everyone stay off the roads today.  With a view like this from the warm comfort of my parents’ living room, why would I possibly want to go anywhere else?

With that out of the way, on to the crafting!

Bright and early on the morning of December 1, Dear Roommie hits me with another unusual request:

Roommie:  yo
can you crochet a squid?
me: Probably

(Why a squid?  For a Secret Santa gift.  Naturally.  That’s all I got from her.  I’ve learned to stop asking.)

me: What color?
Roommie: squid colors?

(Apparently in Roommie-world, squids are purple and blue.)

me: How big?
Roommie: ummm
maybe like 8″ with tentacles?
it would mostly be tentacles

(TENTACLES! …see, this is funny because there’s this spoof that someone did that’s Fiddler on the Roof, but about Cthulu… Yeah, that’s one’s pretty obscure, isn’t it?)

Yet again, I set to work and knocked the thing out in one night, because really what could be more fun to make than a blue and purple squid?

There was a good sale on Vanna’s Choice a while back, so I now have a sizable stash of yarn that is ideal for amigurumi.  I similarly stocked up on doll eyes and stuffing at some point last year.  The idea was that I could just make critters whenever the mood struck me, and this was an excellent proof of concept.  I didn’t have to buy any new supplies for this project.

The real trick was figuring out how to make all those legs.  I finally landed on an inspired little idea.  I made a grey base in the round, starting with 8 stitches.  The second round was 16 st (2sc in each st), and the third was 24 (2sc in one st, 1 sc in next).  The next row was where all the magic happened:
1sc in st, ch 20, turn
1 sl st in each chain back to base, 1 sc in st from the original round
1sc in st
repeat that pattern around a total of 8 times (to make 8 legs)

Then I built the rest of the body from there starting with a sc up and down the top of the legs.  The two long tentacles, purple fins, and eyes were added before I finished off the body.

Dear Roommie squee’d in delight upon first view of the unfinished bottom portion.  I actually worried briefly for her health when I presented the finished product.

I think I’ll be making some smaller versions – maybe some anatomically simpler octopi – for general sale in the new year.  We were discussing a little octopus with a tiny red bow tie for Valentine’s Day.  Adorable, yes?

On Purple Purses

I have been in need for some time of a bag that finds the happy medium between my wallet-and-phone-only clutch and my over-sized messenger bag. I had such a bag once, but the straps have all but disintegrated.

Thus, last week I created this:

I am immensely pleased with myself.

It is purple.  It is adorable.  And I shall call it… “Penny.”
(Obviously, I was catching up on The Big Bang Theory while I worked on it, and I created an association, as happens when multitasking.)

The buttons really make it, but I have to give credit for that selection to my dear roommate.

There is not much to the design.

-two strands of no. 2 nylon thread (in this case, purple and black for the body, black and black for the strap)
-size E hook

Make a solid panel about 9″ x 15″ (big enough to hold my 8.5″ x 5.5″ sketchbook, obviously).

The first and last 3-4 inches are just alternating rows of single, half-double, and double crochet. The middle is the “Allover Color Blending” texture (minus the contrasting color for blending) from Helen Jordan’s Textured Crochet.  Each row is 2dc followed by a front-post quadruple treble stitch, repeated to the end of the row.

Once the desired length is achieved, sc two rows of border all the way around. On the first pass, make two button holes at the “top” end; ch 2, skip 2, resume sc across. After the second pass, stitch up the sides using a slip stitch on the inside. Sew buttons onto front and side.

The strap is five long rows:
(row 1) chain desired length
(row 2) sc across
(row 3) dc across (loose enough for buttons!)
(row 4) sc across
(row 5) sc across
Use a slip stitch to connect the end of the strap to the top side of the bag, then sc a border around the whole strap one more time.

Button the loose end of the strap down the side, et voila! Purple bag!

On Birthday Jewelry

Roommie’s birthday was in March, so obviously, I had to make her jewelry!

The necklace is a variation on a super-simple design I dreamed up at some point last year.

6/0 seed beads (or other beads with similarly sized hole)
No. 2 nylon thread
2 jump rings
Clasp of choice
Size C crochet hook


  • String as many beads as you want to use on the thread.
  • Start crocheting a simple chain, leaving several inches of extra thread at the beginning.
  • Every few stitches, pull a bead up next to the hook and chain around it like it isn’t there.

  • Continue this process until the chain is some multiple of the length you want the necklace.  (If you want three strands, make the chain three times the length of the necklace, etc.)  Odd number is recommended, as it makes finishing easier.
  • Finish the chain, leaving several inches of extra thread when you cut it.
  • Now fold over the chain and string it between the two jump rings, like so:

    You can always make more than three strands with more turns between rings.
  • Take those nice long loose ends and use them to tie down the chains over the jump ring, like so:
    That’s a series of half-hitch knots I use to tie up the ends.  If you’ve ever made friendship bracelets or done any boating, you know what I’m talking about.
  • Pull the loose end back through the series of knots, trim it short and (carefully!) fuse it (but only if you’re using synthetic thread; natural fibers will not melt – just burn)

  • Attach your clasp of choice to the jump rings, and now you have a crocheted necklace!