Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December Goals - How did I do?

Here it is, the last day of December. Time to check in on how well I did with December goals:

Progress Report:
1) 31 days / no yarn purchase DONE! 

2) Orders Hat  Hat  Scarf  Cup Cozy  Finished other custom orders that came in, but didn't get started on the scarf. The customer said, "Whenever", so I kept pushing it down the priority list.

3) Listing items... DONE!

4) 2 Big Ticket Items Done!

5) Stalled WIP  (still need to work on this) DONE! - Finished a scarf that I started back in July!

I set some goals for 2015, regarding sales, clearing out my yarn stash, and trying new things. Hopefully there will be at least 8 new patterns on my blog in 2015, as I develop the ideas I have on paper.

I had fun with the bucket list idea last year... so I definitely plan on doing that again!

Friday, December 26, 2014

"Snow King" Mask

On Christmas Day, I had time to just sit and work on projects.

One project that had been sitting on my to-do list for a while was a ski-mask for my husband. He wanted something "very warm" that would cover not just his face, but his neck. My daughter had given me gray yarn in a acrylic/wool blend, so I grabbed that and designed as I went along. I think I called my husband over three times to try things on and measure. I was trying to figure out what to call it, and decided that since I made so many "Snow Queen" hats this year, I would call this one "Snow King." It certainly is warm!

Here is the final product:

I couldn't talk my husband or daughter into modeling it... so I got the job.

Worsted weight yarn  - approximately 9 ounces (2 strands are held together throughout project)
Size N crochet hook

Gauge: 4 LDC = 2"
3 rows = 2.5"

Stitch: LDC (Linked Double Crochet)
Here is a video on how to do linked double crochet. Basically, instead of doing a yarn over, you pull up a loop through the horizontal bar of the previous double crochet. It eliminates the holes between your stitches.

At the end of each round, join to the initial LDC by drawing up a loop from the horizontal bar, and then drawing up another loop from the top of the stitch, then pull through all (like joining with a slip stitch, but you're pulling up one more loop so you don't end up with gaps at your seam)

Round 1: 7 LDC in magic ring (If you're not a fan of magic ring, you can chain 3, join with a slip stitch, and  work your LDC into that circle)
Round 2: 2 LDC in each stitch (14)
Round 3: 2 LDC in first st, LDC in next stitch, repeat around (21)
Round 4: 2 LDC in first st, LDC in next two stitches, repeat around (28)
Round 5: 2 LDC in first st, LDC in next three stitches, repeat around (35)
Round 6: 2 LDC in first st, LDC in next four stitches, repeat around (42)
Rounds 7 - 11: LDC around
Round 12: LDC in first 15 stitches. Chain 6, skip 6 stitches and make a DC in next stitch. Chain 6. Skip 6 stitches and finish row with LDC. (Eyeholes made)

Rounds 13-15: LDC around.
Round 16: LDC in first 18 stitches. Chain 7. Skip 7 stitches, LDC in remaining stitches. (mouth hole made)
Rounds 17 & 18: LDC around
Round 19: LDC in first 7 stitches, 3 LDC in next stitch (corner made), LDC in next 4 stitches, 3 LDC in next stitch, LDC in next 14 stitches,  LDC in next stitch, LDC in next 4 stitches, 3 LDC in next stitch, LDC in next 7 stitches
Rounds 20-23: LDC around, doing a corner in the center stitch of the previous row's corner

If you would like more of a "bib" around the bottom of the hood, you can work more rows. My husband just wanted enough to tuck into his coat.

I think the mouth hole could have been made one row earlier. You can try the mask on as you're working to see where the best place is for eyes and mouth.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Making progress...

Progress Report:
1) 31 days / no yarn purchase ... Still hanging in there!
2) Orders Hat  Hat  Scarf  Cup Cozy
3) Listing items... 3 down, 12 to go (No progress here - but now that craft shows are done, I hope to make more progress!)
4) 2 Big Ticket Items Done!
5) Stalled WIP  (still need to work on this)

Progress Report for Tuesday, 12/16
1) 31 days / no yarn purchase ...  Still staying away from yarn stores!
2) Orders Hat  Hat  Scarf  Cup Cozy
3) Listing items... 11 down, 4 to go (And should have this done as soon as a friend helps me with pictures)
4) 2 Big Ticket Items Done!
5) Stalled WIP  (still need to work on this)

Progress Report for Wednesday, 12/17
1) 17 days down, 14 to go with no yarn purchases!
2) Orders Hat  Hat  Scarf  Cup Cozy New orders came in... Gloves Gloves Gloves
3) Listing items...Done! I now have 60 items in my shop! (And about 60 more I hope to list in the next month. Stop in and take a look around! 
Penguin Place Storenvy Shop
4) 2 Big Ticket Items Done!
5) Stalled WIP  (still need to work on this)
6) Done! Finished off the scrap yarn bag, between Kooky Owls and a scrap yarn wrap I'm making for myself! 

Progress Report for Wednesday, 12/25
We had out-of-town company and I didn't make much progress at all! The good news is that I was so busy, it was easy to stick to my yarn diet. 
1) 24 days down, 7 to go with no yarn purchases!
2) Orders Hat  Hat  Scarf  Cup Cozy New orders came in... Gloves Gloves Gloves (stopped work on these until I get a deposit. Customer is playing hide & seek.)
3) Listing items...Done! I now have 60 items in my shop! (And about 60 more I hope to list in the next month. Stop in and take a look around! 
Penguin Place Storenvy Shop
4) 2 Big Ticket Items Done!
5) Stalled WIP  (still need to work on this)
6) Done! Finished off the scrap yarn bag, between Kooky Owls and a scrap yarn wrap I'm making for myself! 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Four down, twenty-seven to go...

Here is a sign of progress...

Last night I finished this striped giraffe. It helped with the progress of my December goals in three ways... 

1) It cut down on the yarn in my bag of scrap yarn that I want to finish off. The bag had 20 ounces when I filled it. It's down to 15 ounces. 

2) It sells for $20, so it counts as one of the "big ticket items" I wanted to finish.

3) I already have it listed for sale on Storenvy

Still no yarn purchases... holding strong to the yarn diet!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

December Goals

It's hard to believe that December is just around the corner.

I already know it will be a busy month: basketball season has started, so Mom's Taxi Service will be back for practices & games. I have two craft shows and four custom orders on deck. I need to do Christmas shopping and figure out how/where to store my inventory until spring craft shows start up again.

With all that being said, I feel like I need to set some goals for December to wrap up the year with a sense of accomplishment. Sometimes I look at my piles of patterns, my work area, and my yarn "treasury" that has spread through three rooms of the house (oops, make that four. I just remembered there's an under-bed storage bin in the master bedroom),  and feel overwhelmed. So many ideas, so little time. So much yarn, so little storage space!

So, here are the goals I am setting for myself for the month of December:

1) Stick to the yarn diet! No shopping for yarn, no matter how good the sale, unless I receive a very specific custom order and need to purchase yarn to complete it. Considering the fact that I have about ten totes full of yarn, that scenario seems highly unlikely!

2) Finish all four of the above-mentioned custom orders. One needs to be completed this week, two by Christmas, and the other is open-ended, but I would like to have it done this month.

3) List all of my "big ticket" items ($20 or higher price) in my Storenvy shop. 
     At this point, there are only 15 items that fit that description, and three of them are already listed.

4) Finish two more "big ticket" items. I already have one about 25% done and another at 95% done (just need to sew on buttons).

5) Finish one of the stalled WIPs in my craft corner (WIP = work in progress). Will it be the Star Scarf started back in July or the Reversible Boot Cuffs started in October? Or that pink and brown swatch in the bottom of the basket that's been there so long I forgot what I was going to do with it?

6) Fill a gallon Ziploc bag with scrap yarn, and finish it all off with projects like Kooky Owls and Striped Giraffes.
Bag is filled. I think it's a two-gallon size.

First project from the scrap yarn bag...

Okay, that's the plan! I will update occasionally and add some pictures

Progress Report:
1) 31 days / no yarn purchase ...
2) Orders Hat  Hat  Scarf  Cup Cozy
3) Listing items... 3 down, 12 to go
4) 2 Big Ticket Items
5) Stalled WIP
I made myself a spreadsheet to keep myself on track... let's see if it works!

December 3rd update...
Three days in...
Progress Report:
1) 31 days / no yarn purchase ... Still standing firm, despite being inundated with yarn sales, coupon flyers and e-mails about new yarns.

2) Orders Hat  Hat  Scarf  Cup Cozy- Finished the cup cozy, but got orders for three more items.
3) Listing items... 3 down, 12 to go - no progress here.
4) 2 Big Ticket Items - I have one at 95% completion, another at about 75%...
5) Stalled progress here.

Snow-vember Wrap

I got snowed in last week. The Buffalo, NY area got hit with "Lake Effect Snow" that dropped about three feet of snow on us overnight, and then two days later, we got hit again... another three feet.

I had plenty to keep me busy...lots of yarn, lots of orders, lots of ideas. Over the course of my seven-day "Snowcation", I finished up about twenty projects.

One of them was a design project that I'm calling "Snow-vember Wrap." The idea for this started when the second Hunger Games movie, "Catching Fire," came out. My daughter saw it, and texted me, saying "Katniss wears a knit poncho in the movie. I can see you making one." I was intrigued, and looked around for patterns, but none of them appealed to me. They had a stiffness in the neck (one pattern called for rope loops wrapped in duct tape) that just didn't look comfortable to me.

Then I saw Olympic skier Mikaela Shiffrin on the Today Show in an asymmetrical poncho with an armhole on one side. It looked comfy and stylish at the same time.

So, during my week of staying warm and cozy by the woodstove, I made up my own design. Here is how it turned out.

First, I will give basic "any yarn with appropriate size needles" directions. I made up this wrap with Lion Brand Homespun yarn and size 11 needles. I have a second wrap on my needles, using two strands of "I Love This Yarn" and size 13 needles. The pattern is easy to adjust to different yarns and needle sizes, since the sizing is determined by the center section.

Step 1: Measure around the chest and arms. For my model, the measurement was 42".  Make a strip about 8" wide and the measurement you just took plus 2" for a little extra room. The strip for the pictured wrap was 19 stitches across. I made up a ribbing pattern with different widths (K2, P2, K1, P3, K4, P3, K2, P2). For the next wrap, currently on the needles, I'm putting a cable in the center. You could do a K2 P2 ribbing, or get fancier. Slip the first stitch of each row for  a neater edge. When you cast off, don't cut your yarn... you will go right on to the next step.

Step 2: Pick up stitches along one edge of the strip. Make a note of how many stitches you pick up. You'll need that number later. I worked this section in the round on circular needles, but if you only have straight needles, you could knit back and forth, seaming it later.
Alternate three rows of stockingnet stitch, then three rows of reverse stockingnet stitch. If you are using circular needles and knitting in the round, this translates to three rows of  knitting / three rows of purling. For the first row of each "stripe", you will do a decrease row. I started with a decrease every 8th stitch for the first stripe (knit), then every 7th stitch for the purl stripe, every 6th stitch for the next knit stripe, etc. Do three knit stripes and two purl stripes. Cast off with the last row of the third knit stripe.

Step 3:
Cast one quarter as many stitches as you picked up around the neck. Work in ribbing pattern of your choice, decreasing along one edge every other row  until one stitch remains. Leave a long tail, and sew longest edge of triangle to the bottom of the wrap. Make another piece that is a mirror image of the first one (if you did your decreases on the right side for the first piece, do them on the left this time).  Sew to the bottom of the other side of the wrap, and then sew the bases of both triangles together.

So, here are my more exact directions for the poncho shown above.
Lion Brand Homespun Yarn (used a skein and a half, about 8 ounces)
Size 11 needles

Center portion:
Cast on 19 Stitches
Row 1: K2, P2, K1, P3, K4, P3, K2, P2
Row 2: K2, P2, K3, P4, K3, P1, K2, P2  (for this and each following row, slip first stitch)
Repeat rows 1 & 2 until length is 44". Cast off, but don't cut yarn.

Top Portion:
Pick up 100 stitches along long edge of strip.
Row 1: Knit around, doing a decrease every 8th stitch.
Row 2 & 3: Knit around
Row 4: Purl around, doing a decrease every 7th stitch
Rows 5 & 6: Purl around
Row 7: Knit around, doing a decrease every 6th stitch
Rows 8 & 9: Knit around
Row 10: Purl around, doing a decrease every 5th stitch
Rows 11 & 12: purl around
Row 13: Knit around, doing a decrease every 4th stitch
Row 14: knit around
Row 15: Cast off.

Bottom Portion: 
Cast on 25 stitches
Row 1: (Right side)
K1, P3, K3, P1, K1, P3, K2, P1, K3, P1, K1, P3, K2
Row 2: (wrong side)
P2, K3, P1, K1, P3, K1, P2, K3, P1, K1, P4, K3, P1
Repeat rows 1 & 2  ribbing pattern, but decrease one stitch on the right side of each row 1
Continue until 1 stitch remains. End off, leaving a tail long enough to sew long side to bottom of wrap at front.
Make another bottom portion, but make your decreases on the left side of each row 1 of pattern. Sew to bottom of wrap at back, match up base of triangle to other base. Sew bases of triangle together.

The ends of your long beginning strip are not sewn together, forming an armhole in the side of the wrap.

That's it! If you have any questions, let me know.

I will update this when I finish wrap #2.

I decided not to charge for this pattern because it's still a work in progress and a bit on the rough side (only one size, no stitch counts for decrease rows, etc.) If you would like to show your appreciation for my design work, my paypal address is philipp4v6 at, or, if you had some leftover partial skeins of yarn you wanted to send my way, you could mail them to Elaine O, P. O. Box 26, Marilla, NY 14102. Both my husband and I are hourly employees, so each of us lost a week's wages because of the storm. I also had a craft show cancelled due to the weather, so any contributions will help offset that lost income.

Update: Wrap #2
I made the second wrap with the same basic design, but used size 15 needles and two strands of knitting worsted held together. I weighed the finished wrap, and found that I used 11.4 ounces of Hobby Lobby's "I Love This Yarn".

For the beginning central strip, I cast on 18 stitches.
Here is the ribbing pattern I followed:
K 1, P 1, K 1, P 3, K 6, P 3, K 1, P 1, K 1
Every 8 rows, I did a cable on the center K6 stitches.
I made the center strip about 45" long. Then I picked up 100 stitches around one edge for the upper section. I decreased to 36 stitches at the neck.

I did the bottom portion differently: I folded the wrap in half and started at the side fold. (The right side of the picture above). I cast on one stitch, then picked up a stitch from the center strip. To make things extra easy, I did the bottom portion in garter stitch, knitting every row. Every other row, when I got back to the center strip, I picked up another stitch. When I got to the end of the center strip (the bottom of the armhole, I started to decrease a stitch at the end of each row next to the center strip (K2 together), and then I would take that stitch off the needle, slip it through the next stitch on the center strip, and put it back on the needle. (Like I was picking up a stitch, but the stitch I picked up was already on the needle.) By the time you get back to where you started the bottom section, your decreases should have you down to one stitch. Bind off and tuck in ends.

Wrap #3 is in the works... but it won't be as pretty. It's going to be a scrap yarn "for home wear only" garment for me! 

For my "Hobo Cowl" (below), I'm using size 15 needles and two strands of worsted weight yarn, very similar to #2 above. I just tied on a new ball of yarn whenever one ran out, leaving yarn ends exposed. Might tuck them in... will see when I'm done. 

Almost done... just working on bottom section.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pick a Number...

Updated with more pictures 8/31 - Done!

It happens all the time... somebody posts a picture on my Facebook page, another crafter shows off their latest work, a designer announces a new pattern...and I print off yet another pattern that I want to make, and add it to my pile.

There are just so many cute items I want to make! Trouble is, I already have several projects in the works. One of them is an afghan... 20 large squares. (Finished that in mid-August)

I get bored with big projects. I want to make little things that pop off the needles (or hook) quickly, so I usually have a number of projects going. On Sunday, I realized I had 5 projects in the works... a bit too  much, in my opinion, so I finished up a cowl I had been working on, off and on, for a few weeks. Then, after a trip to the craft store for more Fiberfill, I finished up Mike the Monster.
Down to three projects... that gave me "permission" to start another... but which one? I pulled out the stack of patterns by my chair (probably over an inch thick) and started leafing through with pen in hand. I came up with a list of 25 patterns I wanted to make... so I put a post on Facebook asking my friends to pick a number from 1-27 (because even while I was typing up that status, I thought of two more things!)

So, I will be updating this post as I finish projects. Of the 28 items on the list (yes, added another one), I have completed three, and have two more in the works. One of my Facebook friends said that she would like to see pictures of all 29 (oh, yes, added one more due to a Facebook post yesterday) finished products. So, as I finish up projects, I will add pictures by the numbers.

1. Gift  - done... So... here's the story: A few weeks ago, my friend Joanna put up a Facebook post about a squirrel getting into their house. Her response was to run outside and climb up onto a chair on their porch. The comments on her post were pretty funny, but a few days later, the squirrel saga continued, as someone (still unidentified) "squirrel-bombed" their house by making about a dozen pictures of squirrels. Some were put on paint stirrers and "planted" around their lawn. Others were taped onto the porch railing. When I saw the pictures on Facebook, I laughed so hard, I had tears rolling down my cheeks. My response was to look for a squirrel pattern. When I finished him up, I snuck him over to Joanna's house and handed him off to her husband to put somewhere in the house where Joanna would find him.

2. Tiger Hat - started 8/12, Finished 8/14

3. Unicorn - started 7/28, finished 8/10

4. I've seen all sorts of hats for little girls inspired by the movie Frozen. I decided to make one for an American Girl Doll. The crown fits over the hat, so they can be worn separately.

5.  Cowboy Booties.. finished 7/28

6. Fox stuffed animal - started 8/21

7. Chosen by fellow craft show Artisan Gail - Drowsy Owl Hat
This is already in my Storenvy Shop for $12, and will be on my craft table this fall if it doesn't sell before then.

8.Reflective Beanie
This is made with a reflective yarn. The first picture is in a dark room with a flash. Picture on the right is in daylight.

9. Chosen by my friend, co-worker and fellow craft show artisan Joanna - Loopy Love Slippers
These are Newborn size and will be on my craft table this fall for $10. 

10. Knit Sampler Hat - started and finished 8/19. I had fun with this one, just making it up as I went along. Each color is a different knit pattern: ribbing, cable, diagonal rib, reverse stockingnet, stockingnet. If this one sells this fall, I will definitely make more.

11. Minion Slippers - finished on a road trip to Michigan. Had to buy knitting needles because I only put one in my craft bag!

12. Oscar the Grouch Hat - Chosen by The Crochet Lounge - I had fun with this one! I made it in an adult size. I figure it will be something that makes people stop in their tracks at my craft shows... just need to find an adult who loves Oscar enough to wear it out in public!

13. Chosen by my niece Nicole... Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle hat...

14. Started 7/26 - Crocodile Stitch Owl - just finished 7/28

15. Nemo - This one was fun!

16. Penguin
Introducing... Pudgy Penguin

17.  Cthulu Scarf

18. Kitty - Started 8/16. I gave my husband my list and said "Pick one that isn't highlighted yet."

19. Frog - Started and finished 8/23. This didn't end up looking anything like the pattern I had printed out. I just kept making changes!

20. Pig - started 8/17, since I had pink yarn out for Miss Kitty

21. Little Turtle - started and finished 8/11. I think I need to make more of these little guys. It was fun to make, and worked up quickly.

22. Also chosen by Gail - One Skein Filet Shawl - started 7/24

23. Also chosen by Gail - Sock Monkey Baby Booties

24.  Walker Bag - started and finished 8/25 - but since I spent 6 hours in a waiting room, I had plenty of time to spend working on it!

25. Woven Scarf - started 8/17. I was working on Miss Kitty, but needed fiberfill to keep going, but my husband was sleeping in his chair between me and the closet where the fiberfill was... thought that stepping over his feet to get to the closet might wake him up.

26. Christmas Sock Monkey
About a month ago, I found a bag of Christmas yarn on my desk. No note, nobody asked if I found it. I thought it might make a cute sock monkey.

27. Mini Mikie - since I made the big Mike Wazowski (pictured above on the globe), I wanted to try my hand at making a smaller version that I could sell at my craft table for $5, since $5 crafts tend to sell more quickly. I made this little guy up as I went along.

28. My choice - needed for an upcoming sermon at church - Bronze Serpent
We are working through a series called "Story of Hope" at church, beginning in Genesis and going through the entire Bible. In a few weeks, the sermon will be on Moses and the Bronze Serpent. It doesn't look all that big in this picture, but he's nearly 4 feet long.

29. CD Coaster - A Facebook friend told me about these. I had to alter a pattern a bit to make it fit on the CD. I'll make up a few more and see if they sell at craft shows this fall.

Want to chime in on a number for my next project? There's a thread on my Facebook page where you can pick a number!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

And the winner is...

I rounded up my projects this morning for a picture. This isn't 100% accurate, since three projects were already delivered, and some of my own notes were so confusing (slippers? which slippers? I put in the camo slippers at the lower right, and afterward realized the slippers I finished in June were the flip-flop slippers I made for myself!).

I got ten guesses, from 9 to 100, averaging out to 38.5. The actual count: I finished 28 projects, using six and a half pounds of yarn (which I probably replaced in one shopping trip on June 30 - picture below).
22+ skeins of yarn for $15.23 when Savers had a 50% off day

My closest guess was 30...from my daughter Connie. Now, that doesn't seem fair...she knows me well, she is my Facebook friends as well as a fan of Penguin Place, and I e-mail or text her pictures all the time... and, she's my kid... she can come over and pick out stuff from my inventory any time! (Well, she lives about 7 hours away... maybe not any time...)

So, we go to the next closest guess, which was 23. Allison Marie is a fan of the Penguin Place Facebook page, and frequently likes my posts, so she just might have something picked out already.

What's up next for Penguin Place?

The Crochet Crowd is having a challenge, making an afghan of 20 squares of very different textures. To qualify for prizes, the afghan needs to have at least 7 colors. I picked out these colors from my stash: 
Blues, grays, purple and a pale yellow. The squares will be joined with off-white. I finished up one square last night, with yellow and gray stripes. (Sorry, forgot to take a picture!). I have until September 1st to finish up. I will be posting pictures of my progress on Penguin Place.

So, congratulations, Allison Marie!

Once I finish up this major project, I think I may run another giveaway like this! It was fun, and it kept the creative juices flowing!