Snowed In, Cat toys out

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Since we have been snowed in it seems like a good time to share the blizzard of cat toys I made last week.

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These very cute “flat” mice are popular with my cats. They’re made from worsted weight acrylic yarn. The pattern, My Cat’s Favorite Mouse is free on NayanPon’s blog.

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My cats also love these catnip mice made by holding two strands of cotton yarn together. I used Peaches & Creme and Lion Cotton, but Sugar and Cream would also work well. The pattern Catnip Fishies by Susan Morishita is available free on her blog Amigurumi Friends.

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The Kitty Tweets pattern by Vicki Mikulak is available as a free download from Ravelry. I am not so happy with the beak. If I made another one I’d experiment to see if I could make it look a little better. But it’s a cat toy and I don’t think the cats will care.

Looks like the pattern Catnip Mouse Toy by Stephanie Garcia is no longer available. As a substitute I suggest trying the Easy Peasy Catnip Mouse available free on tubachingching’s blog.

The less than realistic, but cat attractive, octopuses are made from worsted and DK weight yarn using my free Octo Octo pattern. Here’s McDuff with his paw guarding Octo Octo.

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And here’s some snow. The photo was taken early on in the storm, we got a lot more!

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Octo Octo free cat toy pattern

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In the 1980’s my sister made a cat toy for my first cat K.C. He loved the toy and we called him Octo Octo. We were unable to find the original source of the pattern. I have made a few changes and written the instructions so you can make one for your cat. Yes, I know, he only has 4 legs, but since he’s a cat toy he reserves the right to be as he is.

Materials
Yarn
DK weight, I used about 10 grams Patons Astra for the yellow Octo.
Size E 3.5 mm hook for DK weight yarn
OR
Aran weight, I used about 20 grams  Red Heart Super Saver for the blue Octo.
Size 7, 4.5 mm hook for Aran or Worsted weight yarn.
Catnip
Old nylon stockings
You can use your old stockings with runs in them or if you don’t wear them you can buy the short kind at a drugstore, cheap is fine for this purpose.
Yarn needle to sew on legs
Embroidery thread and needle or scrap yarn To make eyes.

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Some nylon stockings I purchased at a drug store.

Abbreviations
ch = chain, sc = single crochet, sl st = slip stitch, st = stitch, sts = stitches

Special Stitches

Join: at the end of each round slip stitch into first sc of round to join.

Invisible Decrease: Worked over 2 stitches. Insert hook into front loop only of sc, without yarning over insert hook into front loop of next sc (3 loops on hook). Yarn over and pull through 2 loops (2 loops left on hook), yarn over again and pull through 2 loops. Invisible decrease made.
Rather than reinvent the wheel I will direct you to this excellent video to see how this stitch is made.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZ575_ZklWk

Instructions

Head
                                                                                                                                             You will be working in joined rounds. to help keep your place mark the first sc of each row with a locking stitch marker. You will not work into the ch 1 that begins each row. 
Starting at the top of the head, leave a very long tail, about 36”.

Round 1: Make a slip knot, ch 2, make 4 sc in 2nd ch from hook. Join.

Round 2: Ch 1, starting in next st make 2 sc in each st around (don’t forget to mark the first sc of the round with a stitch marker). Join. (8 sc)

Round 3: Ch 1, starting in next st work 2 sc in each st around. Join. (16 sc)

Round 4: Ch 1, (make 2 sc in next st, 1 sc in next st) repeat around. Join. (24 sc)

Round 5: Ch 1, sc in next sc and in each st around. Join (24 sc)

Rounds 6-9: Repeat round 5.

Stop here but do not cut yarn. Remove hook from working loop and secure with a safety pin or locking stitch marker.

Pull String
To make a pull string for the top of Octo’s head, insert hook into top center of head and pull the long yarn tail to outside of head. Insert hook into one of the stitches at top center of head, yarn over and pull up a loop. Ch until you run out of yarn or the pull string is as long as you like. Fasten off.

Stuff Head
Put the toe of a nylon stocking into the Octo head. Stuff with catnip, or a combination catnip and fiberfil or yarn scraps. Stuff fairly tightly. Then tie a knot in the stocking and cut off excess fabric.

Finish Head
Going back to the loop from round 9, insert hook and begin round 10.
Round 10: Ch 1, Work the invisible decrease around (see special stitches). Join. (12 sts).
Round 11: Ch 1, work invisible decrease around. Join. (6 sc). Fasten off leaving a long tail to sew legs. Note that you will have a small hole in the bottom of head.

Legs
You will make two lengths of leg curls that will be folded in half to make 4 legs.
Step 1: Ch 60 for Sport Weight yarn, or ch 70 for Worsted or Aran weight yarn.
Step 2: In second ch from hook make 3 sc, continue making 3 sc in each chain. Fasten off and weave in ends.
Repeat steps 1 & 2.

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A photo of the pieces of Octo.

Sew Legs
Fold one of the leg curls in half and insert part of it into the hole in bottom of head. Use the long tail to sew a few stitches to secure it in place. Then fold the other leg curl and insert it into hole and sew a few stitches. Continue to sew a few more stitches in each leg curl to make the legs secure. Fasten off.

Eyes
Use embroidery thread or yarn scraps to sew on eyes. Mouth?? It’s up to you!
Throw Octo Octo to your cat and see what happens.

Octo, Octo © 2015 Kathy Kelly All rights reserved
For personal use only. Please do not copy but feel free to link to my blog.

Hey! I’m participating in the Hookin’ on Hump Day blog party at Moogly and Petals to Picots. Check it out!

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Snowflake roundup, my favorite flakes to make without using stiffener

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Here is a review of my favorite snowflakes to make when you don’t want to use starch or glue as a stiffener.

This year I am all excited about re-imagining the traditional crochet snowflake. Rather than use cotton thread, I decided on Loops and Threads Payette yarn from Michaels. It’s an acrylic sport weight yarn with metallic threads and tiny sequins strung on a fine thread running through the yarn. After some experimenting I found that a size C, 2.75 mm, hook was the smallest I could use with this yarn without hanging up on the sequins. Notice that I picked the “sterling silver” color just to mix things up.

Using spray starch did not improve the look of the yarn, so I decided not to stiffen them. After scouring Ravelry for snowflake patterns I tried out a bunch that I thought would work well with this yarn. I avoided patterns that had a lot of chains and tried to find ones that had more structure so the flakes would hold their shape without stiffening.  I steam blocked all of the flakes using a steam iron held above, but not touching, the yarn.

TIP: To make weaving in the ends easier, take a small scissors and carefully cut in half the sequins on the tails to be woven in. Be careful not to cut the thread that the sequins are strung on, just cut open the sequin and pull it off the thread.

After trying many patterns here are my favorites. All of these patterns are available free at the links provided.

First, a collection of well written patterns for snowflakes, including good charts. I  recommend Assorted Snowflakes  designed to be made with Lily Sugar & Cream yarn. These work well with the Payette yarn. This is “snowflake C” in the collection (not a traditional snowflake since it’s 5 sided).

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If you are comfortable reading charts, I would recommend Snow flake motif by Chinami Horiba. This is a Japanese site, there is a photo and partial chart. It holds it’s shape pretty well and is fancy looking . I did this one in white (icicle color).

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Next is another pattern with charts. I don’t even know what language this site is in, but the patterns are quite attractive. I really like the 1st and 8th pattern on the webpage because they have a lot of structure and hold up well without stiffening. There are also some pretty ones that would need to be stiffened to hold their shape. I will call these the Klubka snowflakes. This is the first snowflake on the web page.

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Special shout out to the Crochet Snowflakes Group on Ravelry. I enjoyed seeing the snowflakes group members made and also their links to snowflake patterns on the web. It’s a good resource if you’re looking for information about flakes.

Another site to check out is snowflakepatterns.wordpress.com. This blogger has many interesting snowflake patterns with clear written instructions, no charts.

And although the patterns weren’t appropriate for the yarn I was working with, check out the Snowflakes by Sally V. George from the botherthebirds blog. If you scroll down the page you’ll eventually find the link for snowflakes, click to download the pdf. Her patterns feature beautiful hand drawn illustrations, so retro! The written instructions are clear, no charts included.

This is Sally’s snowflake #4, beautiful, but I will need to use it as an applique rather than a hanging ornament.

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You can see the rest of my snowflakes, including the ones that didn’t work as well, on my Ravelry project pages.

I hope you’ll try making a few flakes this winter, just for the fun of it. They make a great take along project and you can hand one to a friend as a sweet gift.

 

 

 

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In Love with Color

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As winter approaches I find the need to add more color to my life. With one skein of Misti Alpaca Handpaint Sock yarn on hand, and a 3.75 mm hook, I decided to revisit an old pattern of mine, the Shawlini. This is more of a scarf with a point than a shawl. The variegation of the yarn obscures the stitch pattern in the body of the scarf. But the stitch pattern adds depth to the yarn and you can sense that something is going on there, even if you can’t quite pick out what’s happening.

If you’d like to try your own version of the Shawlini, the pattern is available as a free download on Ravelry.

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I recently tested a pattern for designer Adrienne Lash. For this one I pulled out some leftovers of Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn. Talk about beautiful colors, this yarn really complimented her new Diamonds Adrift Scarf Pattern. The pattern is available on Ravelry for $3.95,  just click the link and you can support an indie designer. By the way, she liked my scarf so much that she included a photo of if on her pattern!

I added fringe to tie the colors together. If you need help making fringe here’s a  youtube video  with Judy Graham demonstrating how to do it.

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I really enjoyed making this scarf and was able to use up some odds and ends of my Noro yarn.

I’m participating in the Hookin On Hump Day blog party on Moogly. Check it out if you’re interested.

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End of Summer crafting, scarves

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I recently finished a couple of cute scarves that were fun and easy to make.

The scarf above is made from a free pattern called Windowpane Scarf by Adrienne Lash. The pattern is available for free on Ravelry. My scarf is dedicated to the memory of my mom, Lu, who passed away in August. It uses one skein of sock yarn. As usual you can find technical details on my Ravelry project page.

Here’s another scarf that was super easy to make. It would make a great project for a beginning crocheter.

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The pattern is called Arugula scarf by Jennifer Dickerson. It’s also available free on her Fiber Flux blog. It really does look like lettuce! Ha. Here’s the link to my project page on Ravelry.

Just a reminder that Ravelry is a great site where you can find inspiration and an amazing database of crochet patterns, both free and for sale. It’s free to join Ravelry and the community there is wonderful. I highly recommend it.

 

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Summer crafting: record coasters

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I saw a cute pattern for some retro chic record coasters. What fun! I was surprised that I had some DK weight black yarn on hand to make these with. You could also used worsted weight yarn and easily work these up in an evening. If you want to see yarn and hook details check my Ravelry project page.

The pattern is designed by Amy van de Laar. On the Record, is available free on Baroque Purls’ blog. I highly recommend this for a fun little summer diversion.

BTW, joining the Hookin’ on Hump Day party hosted by Moogly
and My Messy Life blogs. You can join the blog party here.

Some onions from the farmer’s market, so beautiful I had to take a photo.

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Summer crafting, Pattern: Felted Noro Eyeglass Case

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Lately I’ve made some felted eyeglass cases using Noro Kureyon yarn.

Felting is an adventure I enjoy. Since I never know exactly how a crocheted item will look after felting I have to take a deep breath before I sacrifice a crocheted item to the washing machine. This adventure requires one to accept some lack of control. You may not get the exact result you expect, but if you take your time and check your progress as you go the results can be beautiful and surprising. Why not give it a try?

Here are my instructions to make the felted eyeglass case shown above. You will need a top loading washing machine for felting.

Felted Noro Eyeglass case
by Kathy Kelly

Materials:
1 skein Noro Kureyon (50 grams, 110 yards)
size J, 6.0 mm,  crochet hook
stitch marker
oval cord elastic
button
lingerie bag
wool wash
finished size: 7” long, 4 “ wide
pre-felting size: 8” long, 5” wide

Abbreviations:
ch: chain
sc: single crochet
sc 2 tog: (single crochet 2 together) Insert hook into stitch, yarn over and pull through stitch, (2 loops remain on hook), insert hook into next stitch, yarn over and pull through stitch (3 loops on hook), yarn over and pull through all loops on hook.

Instructions for case:
case is worked in the round, do not join at ends of rounds
ch 16
First round: Starting in second ch, sc in one loop of each ch across to last ch. Make 2 sc in last ch. Turn work to continue around other side of the chain, make one sc in each free loop of the ch, ending with 2 sc in last ch.16 stitches per side (32 stitches in one round)
Place a marker in last stitch of this first round. It is easy to accidentally add stitches when going around the edges of the case. Be sure you maintain 16 stitches per side and 32 stitches in each round.
Continuing rounds:
Continue to sc around the bag, placing one sc in each sc from previous round. Do not turn and do not chain at the beginning of new rounds.
Work in this manner until case is 8” tall.
Make flap:
Row 1: sc in each of next 16 sc of previous round. TURN
Row 2: ch 1, sc in each sc of previous row (16 sc) Turn.
Rows 3 & 4: Repeat Row 2.
Row 5: ch 1, sc in first st, sc 2 tog in second st, sc in each st across until you reach the last 3 sts. Then sc 2 tog, sc in last st. (14 sts)
Rows 6-12: Repeat instructions for Row 5 seven times until you have 6 sc across.
Fasten off.

Unwind the remaining yarn until you reach a contrasting color of yarn for the edging of the flap and cut to begin there.

With the back of the case facing you, re-attach the contrasting color section of your yarn to the right side of flap where it extends from the main part of the case.  (In photo below hook points to the section of case where you will start your stitches. Sorry, I took this photo after felting but you can see where to start the sc edging from this photo.)

Ch 1 and sc in the edge of each row until you reach the center, then sc in each of 6 sc, then continue with 1 sc in each edge row of flap until you reach the body of the case.

Fasten off and weave in ends.

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Felting:
Felting Noro may take a long time so be patient. Be sure to check the progress of the felting frequently as results may vary depending on your machine.

Instructions for felting in a top load washer:
Put the case in a zippered lingerie bag. Add some tennis balls and/or a pair of jeans for friction. Set the washer on small load and hot wash/cold rinse. Add a small amount of wool wash.

After starting the wash let it run through the agitation cycle and then stop the cycle. This is 8 minutes on my washer. Pull out the bag and check the progress (checking to be sure it isn’t sticking to itself or getting creased), then reset it to wash again (without emptying the water) and continue the agitation cycle. (I did this three times). Then let the cycle finish with a cold rinse. The cold rinse seems to aid in felting. Check the progress of the case again.

If necessary, repeat the whole process with new water another time. Mine took over an hour total. The length of time needed to felt the piece will vary with water temperature. You may also add a kettle of boiling water to the wash if you wish. Handle boiling water with caution to avoid burning yourself.

If it looks like it’s not felting in the first half hour don’t panic. Mine took quite a while to start to shrink and then once it started to shrink it proceeded quickly.
When you’re done take the case and pull it into shape. You can pull out any uneven parts and pull the flap so that it makes a nice curve in front. Pin it to an ironing board, or blocking mat, and leave to dry. Using a fan in the room will speed up the drying process.

After it’s dry you can add a button to fasten. I like to use oval cord elastic to make a loop for the button closure. Cut off a length of elastic big enough to fit snugly around your button and sew this on to the back side of the flap. 

Sew a button onto the front of the case and you’re done.

A photo showing the underside of flap with the elastic attached.

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© 2014 Kathy Kelly For your personal use, please do no copy or distribute. Feel free to link back to this blog.

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