30 October 2009

Yarns and Needles!

I know I kind of write with the presumption that my readers know what I'm talking about, so here is a beginner's post!

What you need to crochet:

A hook:
Hooks are tricky--weird numbers and letters and metal or bamboo? I was lucky and inherited most of my needles from my late Great Grandmother, but I have dabbled with different kinds. Lets talk size first. They are "lettered" from A-Q(I think q is the biggest I've seen) so that A is the smallest and Q would be the biggest. I find a J hook to be ideal for starting out (what I started with), but my personal favorite now is the G hook. Its small enough so I can make really tight stitches if I need to, but big enough to still grab large yarn and look like I'm getting somewhere! That is huge for me. I need to see progress!

The other important thing to look at is what kind? I have been pretty loyal to the Boye brand metal hooks. I was told by the woman who taught me to knit that plastic needles can bend with the heat of your hand and tend to break. I have honestly never used any sorts of wood hooks, but I would imagine they would be just fine. I prefer my metal hooks because they keep my hand cool :) Hooks run around $5 or less and they last for life; I have had mine for 15 years, so if you're going to stick with it, metal is the way to go!

Next question is yarn? What yarn do I get? That's tricky. I started out with cheap $2/skein (roll of yarn) Red Heart Super Saver:

You can get it at Walmart, Hobby Lobby, Michael's--basically everywhere (not at high end yarneries). If you are unsure if you are going to stick with this crocheting thing, this is the way to go. I find it to be a bit scratchy, but affordable. It is an acrylic yarn. My favorite acrylic yarn is what I buy at Hobby Lobby and it is called: I Love This Yarn!

It is a little more pricey--maybe $2.89 a skein, but well worth it. It is so soft and lovely to work with. They also make cotton and wool that I will talk about now!

My favorite cotton is Sugar n' Cream and I get it at Hobby Lobby as well. You have to be careful with this kind, because they have what is called a dye lot. Dye lots are numbers found on the label that indicate the lot that this skein belongs to. If you are making a large piece, it is important to buy all yarn at once, from the same dye lot because the differences between dye lots are noticeable and striking! Red Heart has no dye lot, which is definitely a benefit.

I have not dabbled too much into other fibers, but I have used wool. It is difficult to wash, so that is a disadvantage, and it can be scratchy--particularly for children. The main benefit is that it is WARM! Alpaca is even warmer. If you're making mittens, or a hat or something similar, wool or alpaca is the way to go. You can also investigate wool blends, which tend to be less scratchy and less expensive.

And that's all you need to get started! Summary--get a metal J hook and start with a cheap acrylic yarn. Work your way into more expensive yarns as you get the hang of it!

I would love to field any questions anyone may have, so just let me know!

25 October 2009

The hat that took forever...

It's done!!

The hat that took forever is finally complete! Its made of a gorgeous soft wool in olive green :) I originally bought it to make a dinosaur with. I made the dino, but had a ton leftover, so voila! New hat for G-money.

I really liked working with this wool, but I started to get impatient with single crocheting around, sooo I started to double crochet around and it went a bit faster. I'm not used to working with smaller weight yarn. My friend works with a lot of fingering and floss and I just can't do it voluntarily. I like to see quick progress, which one would think would wear off after almost 15 years of crocheting.

I finished the hat last night because my lovely neighbor came over to knit with me! I wasn't knitting, of course, but I was working on my hat and managed to complete another, which I will post soon! My neighbor is quite the gifted knitter. Bless her heart, she was trying to explain cableing and all the crazy things knitters do, but I can't wrap my mind around it unless I'm doing it. I can only think about crocheting in the abstract because my knitting is terrible!

It was really nice, though to sit and hang out and work together on our projects. Its tough to find people who can sit and crochet for 4 hours like me.

24 October 2009

Its the weekend!

I have a lot of homework to do, but I also have a lot of hats to do! I'm going to the yarnery today! WOOT!

I AM going to finish Gracen's hat this weekend. There is no other option. It WILL get done and I WILL post a pic of him in it! I can't procrastinate on it anymore. Like I said, I switched to doing dc, so it should go faster now. For some reason this wool is really fine and takes forever to build up. Its really the first time I've really worked with 100% wool before. Shocking, I know.

As I wrote in another post, I'd love to become a yarn snob, but I haven't quite realized that dream. I would love to buy hand dyed yarn, but I just can't bring myself to spend $30 a skein just yet. I also haven't found a colorway that I'm in love with, so it has been easy to turn them down. If you have a colorway to recommend I'd love to see it!

I have the bad habit of talking myself out of buying things, even if I really need them. I was telling my mom that I was going to make some pasta from scratch and she literally reached through the phone and shook me and said "JUST BUY SOME SPAGHETTI!!" I made the pasta anyway because I'm a nerd like that, but she's right. Sometimes you just have to go for it and stop nickel and diming yourself all the time.

Maybe if I find some hand dyed I love, I will get it for my birthday in January!

22 October 2009

Why I haven't been crocheting

I think I will tell you about what I'm studying, to explain why it is that I haven't been blogging or crocheting!

I'm currently working on my thesis at the University of Kansas. I'm getting ready to run a study where I will record a speaker in an anechoic chamber (a chamber that doesn't echo) speaking a passage in English, a passage in Korean, and a list of target words in English. A photo of an anechoic chamber is above, but ours doesn't have the foam inside, because it isn't necessary. The building was built around it and it is basically suspended in midair. Its almost like a big walk in freezer, but not cold. Anyway, you can make pure high quality recordings. Its amazing.

I will then combine the word list over the English "background noise" and the Korean "background noise". My participants will listen to either one of these mashups and will try to remember the 9 words in order. At the end of the trial, the listeners will write down as many words as possible. Then I will analyze their data to see if Korean is more or less distracting than the English background (English will be the native language of all listeners). My pilot study suggests that English is, in fact, more distracting!

So I'm at the stage of finding a speaker, developing a word list and getting approval from the human subjects committee. These stages are all almost complete. Then I will run my participants and hopefully get writing next spring!

I am teaching Language and the Mind discussion sections as well, which keeps me quite busy. This is probably the most boring blog I've ever written (that's what you're thinking :))

I have actually been working on my son's hat a bit more. I've switched from single crocheting it to double to make it go faster! I do have to get cracking on the hats for my MIL so I can have them ready for her by Thanksgiving.

I also want to make some sort of basket for my son's toys. The current set up we have looks junky. I'm thinking about using my t-shirt yarn that I've been getting ready to make (oh face it its going to be a long while before its done).

18 October 2009

Ok I HAVE to do better!

I'm going to start updating again, I swear! I'm working on a wool hat for my son. I've been making about an item a week for other people and will be making something like 12 hats for family this year and for some reason I can do them quickly. My son's hat--not so much. I can't figure out why it takes me so darn long to make things for myself.

It must be the sense of urgency. When I was an undergrad, I always had at least 2 jobs and took overload. I NEED the pressure in order to get things done. Now as a graduate student, I get things done because I have a toddler and a limited time to study. So I get things done during my office hours, and while I'm on campus in the mornings. I really need to get better about blogging and about crocheting for myself and my family. I need to make it a priority! That is my goal!!

Anyway, I have made a bazillion of the brown ribbed newsboys, they've been selling like hotcakes:

I gave my 6 month old neice, Kyla, this cherry blossom beanie I made last summer (my son modeling it :) :

My mom purchased (despite my protests) this hat for a coworkers baby:

So basically, I've been giving away my back stock of things and I now have room to make new things! Hold me to that!