Monday, February 23, 2015

Graph Crochet

First things first: what is graph crochet?

It is following a picture that looks like this:

Courtesy of Crochetpoet.

Every box in the graph represents one stitch; you choose which colors to do.  

Now, typically this sort of thing is done with knitting, but I've heard claims that you can do it with crochet, too.

These claims are lies.

Most crocheters understand that when you do a stitch, the rows are not stacked one on top of the other neatly, like in the chart above.  (In knitting, they are.)

So what you end up with is something like this:

Front of sample.

Back of sample.

Mind you, the primary use I have for these charts is to make an afghan, which means that the back of the square can't have wandering ends (so you have to keep the yarn tucked inside with the tapestry stitch).

I did this swatch for my History of Magic homework at the HPKCHC Ravelry group.  My exact Ravelry notations:

I loved looking up all of the designs for the Geek-Along afghan challenge. I’d never tried following a graph before…and now I never will again.
I gave up on an original GAL square, instead choosing to find a simpler image through a random Google image search.
Clearly graph designs are meant for knitted squares, not crocheted. The stitches are too off-set and messy for any sort of precise design, so here is where I abandon my attempts to use graphs as a 1x1 representation.
(This is the reason my Minecraft plushies are 3x3 stitches per pixel--they just look too derpy otherwise!)
This brave attempt at following a graph qualifies as my February 2015 History of Magic homework assignment.

In the end, I did earn this badge:

And I'm pleased to inform you that over the weekend, I completed everything on my original February task list from Feb. 5th.

(So of course I made an even longer task list that should take me through the end of April.)

Craft on!

Friday, February 20, 2015

First Giveaway!

To date, Baby Groot has been my most viewed post on my Facebook page.  He's pretty easy to make (the only hassle is sewing on all the tiny leaves), and doesn't require tons of yarn.

The prompt for February's Defense Against the Dark Arts homework was to use the Legilimency spell and craft an item that a friend or relative would love.

My post on the Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup was:

With a look of intense concentration on her face, VelvetKey enters the DADA classroom, balancing a mug full of…a dancing sapling? She glances up briefly at the professors and offers them a sheepish grin.
Um, good evening. As you can see, this one’s a bit…feisty. But when I tried the Legilimency spell, all I got was an image of a tree branch…
She trails off as if realizing something, and her face falls.
I probably shouldn’t have cast the spell near the Forbidden Forest. Um, well…Professor Sprout might like it?

The finished product:

Be sure to enter if you see this post!

I chose not to paint a smile this time, in order to more emulate the PopVinyl Groot figurine.

And the badge for completing the homework:

I'm excited for the weekend; I've got a dalek to finish and then we'll officially be done with the specific February tasks!  Whee!

Craft on, my friends!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Starfleet's Newest Cadet!

That would be myself: Cadet VelvetKey!

I've been talking about the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup group on Ravelry.  One of the other NQFY (Not Quite First Year) students named Becktrek also mentioned that there was a similar Star Trek group!

Their current tour of duty is also underway, so folks like me that join up but miss the enlistment period are taken on as cadets at Starfleet Academy.  We post all of our missions in a single, different thread, and we don't earn points for our ships.

But we do get assigned to ships for role-play and funsies!

Thus, I am Cadet VelvetKey of the U.S.S. Zimmermann!

(That's the header I have to put at the top of all of missions.)

The very first project I did for the SFAC was my "Brig" challenge, which is just like Detention at Hogwarts: finishing an older project you didn't start in the current month.

I had to have it done for a weekend vacation coming up in early March, so I wouldn't have to pay shipping.  However, every time you turn in a mission (just like Hogwarts) you have to provide an explanation of how it fits the prompt (or just tell an amusing story that would totally take place in the Star Trek universe).

Here's the posts I did for the Brig:

VelvetKey does her best to straighten to attention in front of the commodore, with her writing utensil still in her mouth.
Commodore, might I ask a question? Are prisoners in the Brig only eligible for rehabilitation if they were originally part of a mission? You see, I have this little side study I was working on before I enrolled at the Academy…a study of probability theory and the significance of the number twenty…and I thought I might see if some time in the cooler would help its…uhm…propensity to fall apart?
Thank you for your time!
She blushes and sticks her stylus in the messy bun atop her head.

 Followed by:

Good morning instructors! I am turning in a Brig request.
Cadet VelvetKey, U.S.S. Zimmermann
As part of a study prior to my enrollment in Starfleet Academy, I was studying probabilities, the form of the icosahedron, and the significance of the number twenty. I thought to do so by obtaining twenty of the alien lifeform triangulus crocheticus and synthesizing the exact conditions it needed to achieve cellular bonding into the icosahedron form. However, I was unprepared for the mischievous nature of these lifeforms, and several escaped before I could complete the final twenty-sided form. I confined the ones I had to the brig, while rounding up the others. Finally, I recovered the remaining creatures yesterday and was able to finish my experiment:

Now that the lifeforms have stabilized in their new configuration, I am requesting their release from the Brig; I have a technician friend in Virginia who is looking forward to the second phase of this study, so I will forward the icosahedron to him with permission.
Thank you for your time, instructors.
Now, there are no badges for the Starfleet Fiber Arts Corps, but I'd get to advance in rank if I got enough projects done.  I should have the opportunity in May to sign up to be on a ship, but for now, I'll keep working on the list!  

(Number 23 and counting down!  I'm gonna need a new list!)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Commission: Guude Boulderfist

Last year (what seems like a very long time ago!) I got a message on my Facebook page from a lovely lady named Elizabeth (Lilly Love on Twitter) inquiring about the first-ever Guude Boulderfist Mindcrack plushie.

I agreed to make him, and as most know, he took me a veeeery long time.  He hit me over the holidays and I had too many other things going on.  I had promised to make him in time for her to take the plushie to meet the real Guude at PAX South in Texas...and then completely forgot that it was my goal.

I hit some snafus along the way...such as attaching Guude's hands/arms backwards:

Guude (Jason) favorited the tweet!

Mini-Fangirl Fiesta!

Through a few trials and tribulations, I finally managed to finish the plushie and turn him in at Hogwarts for "Detention".  Detention applies to any project that was not started in the target month (in this case, February) but was completed during that month.

Here's Guude's official shiny portrait:

Doesn't he look just dapper?

I earned the Goblin Defiance Award:

There is a warning that there is a power struggle at Gringotts and that because many goblins recognize no wizarding master, they will not stand for any such control over their bank, regardless of what Fudge wants. Create a project that was diffiuclt for you to finish, or that seemed to want to rebel from you, causing a longer time to finish it and you’ll earn the Goblin Defiance Award.
And then of course I couldn't resist a little photo shoot to liven things up a little bit.  I thought my Pause plushie could show Guude how to vacay it up a little bit:

Why yes, those are coconut cups and that's a real ukulele.

And my favorite photo:

No favorite or retweet from Guude this time, but he did favorite when Elizabeth/Lilly Love tweeted him about the arrival of her brand new plushie:

And of course, I did post the picture up on DeviantArt and Reddit (but my timing was very horrible, and it didn't get as many views as the other plushies--oh well!).

I've made great progress on that list from two weeks ago (a couple of snow days will do that to you); I'll be sure to share more pictures and badges with you soon!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ollivander's Wand Pattern

This weekend is Hogsmeade Weekend at the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup group on Ravelry!

One of the places to visit is Ollivander's Wand shop.  There are badges available for taking the wand quiz on Pottermore, crafting your own wand from an Instructable...and of course, making your wand out of yarn!


I may have decided to make my own pattern for a wand.  Here's the finished product:

Forgive the quality; the lighting in my house is awful at night.

Disclaimer:  This pattern is untested, highly improvised, and utilizes amigurumi techniques.  Caution and common sense is advised!

Ollivander's Wand

  • chopstick, wooden skewer (anything that could be the core structure of a wand)
  • small amount of worsted weight yarn in desired brown color
  • 3.75mm (F) hook, 5.00mm (H) hook
  • yarn needle
  • handful of stuffing
  • a dash of magic!


This pattern is amigurumi (meaning continuous rounds, not joined rounds) and worked in two parts: the handle and the shaft.

(It's also my very first amigurumi pattern and I made the wand as I wrote this pattern.)

Handle     (Begin with F hook.)

Rnd 1:  Sc 6 into magic ring OR ch 2 and sc 6 into first ch. (6)

Rnd 2:  Sc around. (6)

Rnd 3:  Sc 2 in each st. (12)

Rnd 4:  FLO sl st in each st (12)

Note:  You will be working in back loop in the next round; when you begin Rnd. 4 you might want to put a stitch marker in the back loop to help you easily identify it for Rnd. 5.

Rnd 5:  Sc in BLO (in the unused back loop from the sc's in Rnd 3). (12)

Note:  Begin to stuff bottom of handle lightly; enough of a cushion for your chopstick to sit on.

Rnd 6:  *Decrease in BLO, sc in next 2.  Repeat from * twice. (9)

Rnd 7-17:  Sc around to form the grip of the handle (9).

Note:  Continue with rounds until grip is long enough for you.

Rnd 18-20:  Sl st in FLO.  (9)  Cut yarn, but do not weave in end yet.

Note:  Time to stuff!  Insert the chopstick into the handle.  Take small amounts of stuffing and pat them into strips (or roll them).  With the handle of your F-hook, tamp the stuffing strips down evenly, winding them around the core, until you are satisfied. 

Weave in the end with your yarn needle.

Shaft     (Begin with F hook.)

Note:  Leave an 8" long tail at your slip knot.

Rnd 1:  Sc 4 into magic ring OR ch 4 and join to first ch with a sl st.  Sc 4 in the loop you just made.

Note:  Do not tighten the magic ring or the loop closed!  This will slip over the end of the chopstick and sit right on top of the handle.

Rnd 2-22:  Sc around in each stitch.  

Note: Continue until shaft is long enough to cover the rest of the chopstick.

Rnd 3:  Sc2tog, sl st.  Cut yarn and sew open end into whatever point is desired.  FO and weave in end.

Using tail from Rnd 1, sew shaft to handle.  Weave in end.

Optional Vine Detail for Handle  (Begin with H hook.)

Ch a 6-8" chain, with a 10-12" tail.  Cut  yarn and knot.  Place one end at base of handle and wrap around in desired pattern.  Use yarn needle and the 10-12" tail to tack the vine into place as desired.  FO and weave in all ends.


Please make any suggestions to me about this pattern; it's free and you may share it as such.  Per copyright, however, please do not sell these as "Harry Potter" wands or anything.  Let's not get me in to trouble!  Give them as gifts, and if people ask, tell them where you found the pattern!

Here are the badges I earned for my wand:

My results from Pottermore:

Length: 13 3/4 inches 
Wood: Hornbeam 
Core: Unicorn 
Flexibility: Surprisingly swishy

For making my wand of yarn!

And for laughing at my own cleverness in achieving
another written pattern (almost) on my own!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Blue Wristlets for Arithmancy

Yesterday I wrote about participating in the Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup challenge!

Today's featured project comes from the same challenge, only the class is Arithmancy.

The gist of the prompt was to partner up with somebody else at Hogwarts and make complementary projects.  I found a partner in the Arithmancy thread; her name is Pat (costumer47 on Ravelry) and we did cold weather gear:

Pat's basket weave hat!

And my coordinating blue wristlets, using leftover
yarn from the Gaithersburg stole!

We had fun, and now we're friends on Ravelry!  Here's the badge I earned for completing the homework:

And this weekend is a special one: Hogsmeade weekend!   I can't wait to do some of the craft prompts over there!  (They're not worth any points, but if what you make can fit into one of the homework categories (such as the purple slippers I'm making that qualify for Charms) then you can turn them in elsewhere.

Should be fun!  Check it out, my fellow crafters!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Wizarding World

In case you're wondering how I'm coming on that list from last week...I'm on #14!


Let me tell you where that list came from.

A long, long time ago...I did a forum search on Ravelry...

Okay, seriously.  I did do a search on others who had done the Gaithersburg stole I finished in January, and I found:

Or, the HPKCHC for short.

It's a Ravely group!  I've joined a few others, but never been terribly involved.  This group has some close similarities to the old-fashioned YahooGroups RPGs (from way back in the early days of the Internet).

What's the goal?  

You are a student at Hogwarts, and there are 8 typical classes to participate in each 'year'.  A 'year' or a 'term' is 3 months, with a month off in between so that the admins and mods can plan for the next year.

There are also other challenges you can participate in, such as Quidditch, OWLs, NEWTs, the Headmistress' Challenge...the list goes on!  This weekend is a Hogsmeade weekend, so tomorrow they'll be announcing the project prompts that we can participate in for points.

So Velvet, what house are you in?

I'm not!  I arrived after the current term had begun, so I am currently on the 'waiting list'--we are a group called NQFY (Not Quite First Years).  By completing homework assignments and other challenges, I am given a certain priority when sorting comes around at the end of this term, which ends March 31st.

Well then, why are you bothering?

Because this is totally motivating me to finish some of my old projects, and create new ones!

For example, the hangout spot for NQFYs is the Leaky Cauldron (the B&B in Diagon Alley for you Potterheads out there).  The challenge?

Challenge: Craft a cup cozy for Tom. Any crafting method will be accepted. Please tag your posts with ForTom. We mentors encourage you to also use your cozy as a class project, or if it fits into quidditch, you may use it for that as well!

Disclaimer: I'd never made a cozy in my life!  I wasn't even sure where to start, but I figured it couldn't hurt, and I could combine it with a class prompt.  Reading through the different classes, I settled on Herbology:

As you walk into the greenhouse you notice that there are some rather pretty white flowers in a planter at the front, near the professors. Professor elekanahmen greets you as you sit down: “Welcome back to Herbology class! Today we will be discussing Hemlock. It isn’t used much for potions brewing, but it is very poisonous and grows very commonly in Britain; it’s native to Europe but has been taken to the Americas as well.”
Professor momofpeg continues: “Consuming Hemlock in small amounts can cause a feeling of vertigo that has been described as a spinning or whirling sensation, as well as paralysis, but can easily be deadly in what are still relatively small amounts. This is especially true if the seeds are consumed.”
Professor AuroraSelene gestures toward the various parts of the plant as she explains: “Being able to identify this plant is very helpful in avoiding accidental poisonings. It has delicate fern-like leaves that are richly green and have an almost waxy shine, and its small white flowers grow in broad clusters much like other related plants, such as the wild carrot, which is commonly known in North America as Queen Anne’s Lace. Hemlock has distinctive dark red mottling on the lower half of the stem that separates it from its family members, so this is the most important thing to watch for.”
Your assignment this month is to craft something inspired by the Hemlock plant, either its physical characteristics or its effects e.g. spinning/whirling sensation. 

So here's the mug cozy I made based on the hemlock plant:

Tom's Hemlock Mug Cozy

And...I was marked complete!

I earned this badge:

And that was the minimum qualification needed for the month.  But I didn't stop there, I promise!  That's where the list comes in.  You can only submit homework for six of the classes for actual credit, and for the purposes of my Etsy business, I don't need to do a bunch of larger projects for no good reason.

So, I set up a list that would encourage me to finish VintageBeef VII in smaller chunks, while working on smaller assignments in between.  It's been going really well!

Next time, I'll share the Arithmancy homework assignment, and also tell you about the Star Trek group that does almost the same thing, but instead of "classes and homework", it's "missions"!

It's tons of fun, and I think this really will help me catch up!

'Til later, craft on!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

February Crochet Task List

In case you're wondering what my month looks like...

For my future reference:

1)  Finish Guude I Plushie - Commission

2)  Complete all leg panels for VintageBeef VII Plushie - Commission

3)  Finish Tirian's D20 before I go to Lynchburg, VA.

4)  Sew leg panels for both legs of VintageBeef VII together.

5)  Make hat for Diane's hat and poncho set (refer to The Posey Collection for details.)

6)  Make all chest panels for VintageBeef VII.

7)  Make all flowers (4) and leaves (4) for Diane's hat and poncho set.

8)  Sew chest panels for VintageBeef VII together.

9)  Make a Baby Groot for my first giveaway ever!

10)  Make arm panels for one arm of VintageBeef VII.

11)  Make charted mug cozy.

12)  Sew arm panels of VintageBeef VII together.

13)  Plan and purchase yarn for Spring in Illinois collection.

14)  Make arm panels for other arm of VintageBeef VII.

15)  Crochet Tabitha's hat from the Spring in Illinois collection within 24 hours.

16)  Sew arm panels of VintageBeef VII together.

17)  Crochet Savannah's hat from the Spring in Illinois collection within 24 hours.

18)  Make 3 of VintageBeef VII's head panels.

19)  Crochet Becky's cowl from the Spring in Illinois collection.

20)  Make the other 3 head panels for VintageBeef VII.

21)  Crochet Aaliyah's scarf for Shadowmoor, referring to the Red & Black Scarf.

22)  Sew VintageBeef VII's head panels together.

23)  Crochet DSCA's classic dalek as part of the Facebook Art Trade 2015 challenge.

24)  Finish VintageBeef VII in time to turn him in for Detention at Hogwarts.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Hat for Mother

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but in case I haven't (or you're new!) I'll recap:

When I first attended college in 2002, the only crafting to my name was some bead crafting.  I wouldn't even go so far as to call it jewelry, because it was really hit-and-miss.  Sometimes I finished a project; other times I just strung beads and never did anything with them.

My freshman year, I had a roommate who taught me how to knit.  I would take a skein of yarn and my needles to the language lab every week, to give my hands something to do while I listened to French conversations, songs, and news broadcasts.  It was slow going--I was making a blanket for my bestie (you know her as April) and one little square seemed to take forever.

Then I went home for some break (I fail to recall which) and my mother saw what I was attempting to do.

"Why aren't you crocheting?" she asked me.

I'm sure I must have stared at her, dumb-founded.  The obvious answer was that my roommate hadn't taught me crochet, she'd taught me knitting.

"If you crochet those squares, you can change color and make the blanket in strips," my mother continued.  "Then you can just sew the strips together."

Thus began my crochet career.  At first, my mother did all the crochet, while I was in charge of stitching the blanket strips together.  And she was right--she could crank out at least a strip a day, while I would labor over one simple square for three or four days.

And then she taught me how to crochet.  Mind you, it was a little more difficult for me to learn from her, because she is left-handed.

I started with scarves.  And chunky yarn.  (Not a bright idea.)  I progressed to color-block scarves, for friends who enjoyed Harry Potter.  At the time, I didn't know much about the significance of yarn weight or hook size.  I just wanted to give gifts that made people happy, and Gryffindor and Slytherin scarves did that.

After a short dalliance in the world of crochet, my craft focus moved on to other things, like hand-sewn teddy bears and serious jewelry-making.  Then it was t-shirt printing/stenciling, embroidery, and other things.

Finally, after April introduced me to the web comic Worsted for Wear, I discovered Ravelry and fast-forward to today.

All that to say: my mother is the one that taught me the basics of crochet.

When she and my father visited last month, she saw the Gaithersburg stole I was working on, and loved the cabled pattern.  She asked me to teach her to crochet.

How the tables have turned.

I think I probably stared at her again.  "But taught me to crochet."

I knew that somewhere in the back of her mind, she already knew the basics.  She might need to brush up on American crochet terms, but tension, chaining, and single crochet were not going to be a problem.

We started with a test swatch of the cabled pattern, so that we could establish the different stitches needed: slip stitch, single crochet, etc.

Then I knew she was ready to learn something a little different: amigurumi.

See, she said she wanted a hat that would cover her ears.  (The one I crocheted for her two Christmases ago was apparently not long enough.)  I handed her some red yarn and informed her that she knew all the stitches she needed to know in order to start a hat.  Through some explanation of circular construction and multiples of six, she made the base of the hat all by herself.

Unfortunately, she didn't have enough time during her visit to complete the final section of the hat: the cabled brim.  So she left that with me, and that's the project I share with you today:

Look at that beautiful single crochet!

I'll be bringing the hat with me when I visit New York for spring break this year, since it's unlikely I'll remember to mail it first!

Later this week, I'll get to tell you about the new Ravelry group I joined!  You Potterheads out there will get a kick out of it!