Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Yarn Tales Tuesday






Time For the Holidays:




  Okay, everybody, it's that time of year again! Time for joy, cheer, pumpkin pie, and running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Many of you are finished with your holiday crochet projects, and many of you are probably buried in yarn and to-do lists. I'll make this week a "quickie" in respect of this busy time.




  Psst...Can I let you in on a secret? I'm not done with my projects!




  Why does it sometimes seem like the time of year that's emphasized for joy and good wishes usually leave us ragged and worn out? I'm glad I don't have to deal with the extra hassle of living in the snow, but in my area, we do suffer some fallout from the weather: Snowbirds! No, not the feathered kind that sing at your window in the morning, the shorts-and-tee-shirt-wearing kind that invade town every year telling us that the 50-degree weather is wonderful. 




  These are the same people that invade shopping centers and streets, slowing down checkout lines and traffic. The same people that add hundreds of people an hour to Walmart on Black Friday, while Walmart still only has 3 registers open. The same people that...help our economy?




  That's right! It's popular for the locals to complain about our migrating residents upsetting the normal rhythm of life, but we have to remember the benefits of having some new faces around. Sales increase at local stores, the flea market explodes, and cars line the streets at yard sales.




  People spend more money during the holidays and when traveling. That means if you want to sell your crochet and crafts, this can be a very beneficial time of year for you, too. You may not live in an area that has to deal with "Snowbirds", but consider the amount of people who travel out of town (and into yours) to visit friends and family. There's bound to be some vacationers around who haven't seen your work before, and may be interested in purchasing your goods. Whether it's through impulse buying or for gift-giving, you can take advantage of the season. Craft fairs, local shops and flea markets are all great places to sell your handmade goods. I find that it's more difficult to push the sale of one expensive item, while I see frequent sales of smaller, less expensive gifts.




  Even if you don't sell your goods, do you deal with "Snowbirds" in your area? Do the locals always complain about them? The stores get more crowded and the traffic gets heavier, but I tell people to "grin and bear it". Our seasonal visitors may seem like a nuisance, but they provide support for local businesses and contribute to the pockets of artists, designers and inventors.




  Like with other migrating species, I often find if you stop complaining and look at the brighter side, you might hear a beautiful song and find some entertainment. Many of our visitors have led fascinating lives, and have interesting stories to tell. You may find something in common with one of them if you just smile and stop to say "Happy Holidays". They're not so bad after all, because at the least, they usually have a smile in return to brighten your day.
  


No matter what you celebrate, enjoy the season and remember to spread some cheer! 

   


Friday, November 21, 2014

How to: Make delicate Thread-Weight Plarn





  For most plarn (plastic yarn) projects you'll see, the plarn used is about the same weight as DK to worsted, or even bulky yarn. The material is fairly strong and reasonably easy to work with. I wanted to create plarn for more delicate projects, but had some difficulty working with it while joining strips. Follow along to learn a little bit about my trials with plarn, then get familiar with how to prepare the material for a thread-weight project.



  There are two main techniques for cutting plastic bags for plarn. Although I prefer to use the spiral method, many people use the loop method, which doubles the thickness of the plarn. With the loop method, loops are cut from the body of the bag, then ran through each other to create a knot. Because the loop method tends to be stronger, I tried it after cutting the plastic as thin as possible for a lighter weight plarn. The material is so weak this way, sometimes it breaks when you try to tighten a knot, no matter how gentle you are with it. And then I discovered that the knots, which are usually unnoticeable in a heavier weight project, are very noticeable in a thread weight project, and they catch on smaller steel hooks.



  I went back to my preferred spiral method. Although there's nothing you can do to avoid the weakness of the plarn at this stage, you can cut it 1/2" to 3/4" (1.2 to 1.9 cm) wide, and try to avoid breaks when joining by being gentle with it. It can be worked with as-is, but if anything causes the slightest tug, the material will stretch or break. It's also very easy to accidentally push smaller hooks right through the plastic.



  The answer to the problem was a drop spindle. I've always been interested in spinning my own yarn, but can't spin much of anything except for cotton, because of sensitive skin. Now I can avoid allergies and irritation by getting my spinning fix in with plarn. Plastic yarn is fun and easy to spin, because you don't have as much of a problem with slubs or having fiber everywhere. The only thing you really have to worry about is not over-spinning the plarn, because it will snap quickly.



  *A warning: This may sound silly, but I actually got hurt a little the first time I tried doing this. Maybe I'm just clumsy. I was sitting in a chair to spin, and had the spindle raised above head level. I over-spun the plarn, and it snapped right next to my face. The end of the broken plarn slapped me right in the eye, and it had quite a bit of velocity when it hit me. I didn't poke my eye out or cause major injury, but it was painful, and could have been worse. To top it off, the spindle landed on my bare foot when it fell, giving me a nasty bruise. It's not like this is the most dangerous activity, but maybe I got hurt because I wasn't expecting any danger. So...like, don't poke your eye out or break your foot or anything, okay? Pay attention to what you're doing, and keep it away from your face.



  *Don't worry if you don't have a drop spindle, I'll show you how to use a few simple household items to create one, when we get to that step.  

Okay, so you've been prepared and warned! Now, follow along with these step-by-step pictures to learn how to make crochet thread for size 10 thread projects.



Materials:
Grocery bags
Scissors or rotary cutter and cutting mat, or both

*It's difficult for me to use scissors because of a hand disability. I purchased a rotary cutter, and it has saved me so much time and effort! It took some time to get used to cutting bags with the cutter, but it was well worth it. A rotary cutter can at least save you some time with cutting off the tops and bottoms of the bags, even if you still use scissors for the spiral cutting. Having to keep the loops out from underneath the bag while cutting is a bit of a pain until you get the hang of it.



Directions:





For thicker plarn projects, it's okay to be a bit sloppy when cutting. Jagged edges or uneven spots blend in  once worked up. When cutting bags for thread weight plarn, you need to be more careful. Try to get the bag smooth and cut as straight as possible. Pull the bottom seam straight, run the inside seams flat with your finger, and straighten the handles as best as you can.
*Tip: Most grocery bag handles turn inside out once filled and carried. If you handles aren't straight, they probably need to be turned in. Then you can perfectly line up the seams of the bag.





Cut off the top and bottom of the bag.





Unfold the seams, so the remaining body of the bag forms a tube. Flatten the bag out again.





The open ends should be on the sides, and the side seams will be the top and bottom. Fold up the bag from the bottom. Leave about 2" (5 cm) unfolded at the top. This unfolded section will be referred to as the "spine".





Starting from the bottom, cut a 1/2" (1 cm) strip, stopping once you are through the folded portion. Make sure you cut all the way through the fold, but do not cut through the spine.





Continue cutting strips of the same size until you reach the end of the bag. If there isn't enough, or too much material at the end to make an even strip, cut all the way through to the top to remove the final portion.





Unfold and straighten the strips. You will have a bunch of loose strips and the uncut spine at the top.





*Here is the difficult part if you use a rotary cutter. It isn't clear in this photo, but you will see how the strips are located underneath the spine. You will need to move them before every cut to avoid cutting through the material. Position the bag as shown in the photo, with the spine in the middle and the cut portions to each side.
If using scissors, you will be able to hold the bag in one hand while cutting with the other, so that the strips are open and there is no risk of cutting through them. Hold with the spine at the top, but slightly towards you, and the strips hanging down.





Follow the line in the photo for your first cut here. It will be a diagonal cut from the outer edge of the bag where the bottom strip meets the spine, to the inside of the first strip at the top of the spine.





Once the first cut is made, you will be able to "unravel" this strip from the body. It will now become part of the next strip at the bottom.





From this point on, no cuts will be made from the outer edge of strips. Cut from the inside of the bottom strip to the inside of the top strip.





This cut strip can be "unraveled" like the first. If you are using a rotary cutter, note how in this picture, you can somewhat see the outline of the bottom of the strips underneath the spine. Remember to pay attention! Move them out of the way by pushing them towards the uncut portion, or pull the next few strips out past where you are cutting.




Continue cutting in the same manner to the last strip. For the end strip, run your cut at the same angle as the rest, there just isn't another strip to cut into.





Now you have a big pile of plarn! With the material cut this thin, the plarn is very delicate, so try to keep it organized, and don't move it around too much. It's a real pain having to untangle the pile when it gets knotted up.





To spin the plarn, you can just twist it in your fingers while rolling it into a ball. This takes quite a long time to accomplish, though.  A drop spindle can be very helpful.





If you don't have a drop spindle, follow this link to learn how to make one from simple household items, like the one I'm using.





Now, follow along to spin your material. Make a leader yarn out of some scrap plarn. Simply tie the material into a loop. This loop needs to be long enough to go from the under the round piece to over the hook.





Insert the shaft of the spindle into the leader yarn. Twist the leader one time, loop it over the spindle shaft for a slip knot.





Bring the other end of the leader yarn up behind the hook, then through it. You want to have at least one inch (2.5 cm) of a loop after the hook.





 Run the end of the plarn you will be spinning through the loop of the leader yarn.






Twist the spindle counterclockwise to spin the plarn.





When the plarn has enough of a twist, remove it from the hook and wrap around the shaft of the spindle. Place the material back in the hook again; keep spinning.





If it twists tightly around itself (like shown) when you remove the plarn from the hook, you are spinning it too tightly. Let go of the spindle, holding the plarn, and let it untwist itself slightly until the kink is removed.





Roll it up into a ball, and you're done!





Well, almost done... It's really important to work up a gauge swatch before you go cutting up a bunch of bags. Grocery bags vary in thickness, so you can't guarantee that your plarn will match my plarn's weight.





Thread-weight crochet plarn is great for jewelry projects.
Check out these patterns using the same material:


Poinsettia Flower Brooch:
The bags used for this project were delicate boutique-style bags which were much thinner than the average grocery bag. You will see how it was necessary to cut the bags into 3/4" (2 cm) wide strips to obtain the same gauge.

Sunswirl Earrings
This pattern was made with plain ol' grocery bag plarn. The gauge is exactly equal to #10 crochet thread with the bag cut into 1/2" (1 cm) strips.




  It's been a long time since my first tutorial for How to Make Plarn! Check it out so you can let me know which tutorial you think is better. The original version includes instructions for joining using the splice method.


  As a bonus, you can hop on over to Guidecentral to check out my awesome guide teaching you how to join strips of plarn so that they'll never come loose!





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Friday, November 14, 2014

Free Pattern: Fall Napkin Ring Revise






  When I designed the original Beaded Fall Napkin Rings, I tried to make an easy pattern that didn't require assembling separate pieces. After I posted the pattern, I started to make another set of them with larger beads. During the process, I realized that the original pattern isn't symmetrical. It doesn't affect the functionality of the finished piece, but it does cause the beads to sit slightly off-center.




  This bothered me, so I set about re-designing the rings, and rushed to publish the new version. Forgetting my dislike of weaving in any extra ends, I decided to make the pattern in pieces. It only took me about ten minutes to make the two separate pieces, then maybe another five minutes to join them together. I have to admit that it was much easier than the first design.




  The new and improved pattern is so much easier to follow, works up faster, and has symmetrical beads. The original version is pictured on the right in the following photo:




You can see that with the tiny seed beads I used, the piece looks symmetrical, but it's not. The following new pattern works better with the larger beads. View the original pattern here or check out the step by step tutorial if you would like to compare the differences.





Skill Level:
Easy





Materials:
Worsted weight (4) acrylic yarn
- I used Red Heart Super Saver in "SH Browns". After looking on their website, it appears to be discontinued. Worsted cotton is interchangeable, just check your gauge.
Hook size I/9-5.50MM or size needed to obtain gauge
Yarn needle or smaller hook to weave in ends
Beads - 5 per piece




Gauge:
4" x "4 (10 cm by 10 cm) =
14 rows of 14 single crochet



Notes:
To use smaller beads on worsted weight yarn, use a drop of glue on the tail of the yarn. Twist tightly and allow to dry. Thread all of your beads before beginning.




Stitches and abbreviations:
Chain (ch)
Slip stitch (sl st)
Single crochet (sc)

Beginning (beg)
Repeat (rep)
Space/s (sp/s)
Yarn over (y/o)



Directions:

Strip A (3 beads):




Row 1:
Ch 3, make 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in last ch. (3 sc)


Row 2:
Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), turn. 1 sc in each of the remaining 2 sc.


Row 3:
Repeat Row 2.


Row 4:
Ch 1, turn. Insert hook in next sc, pull up a loop. Slide a bead up to the stitch, y/o, pull through both loops on hook. 1 sc in last st.


Rows 5 - 7:
Rep Row 2.


Row 8:
Rep Row 4.


Rows 9 through 12:
Rep Rows 5 through 8.


Rows 13 through 15:
Rep Row 2.


Border:
*(Ch 1, sl st in the next available post sp) 14 times. Rotate to work across bottom. (Ch 1, sl st) in each of the next 3 sc.* Rotate. Repeat from * to *. Ch 1, join with a sl st to beg ch-1. Bind off, weave in ends.


Strip B (2 beads):




Row 1:
Ch 3, make 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in last ch. (3 sc)


Row 2:
Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), turn. 1 sc in each of the remaining 2 sc.


Row 3:
Ch 1, turn. Insert hook in next sc, pull up a loop. Slide a bead up to the stitch, y/o, pull through both loops on hook. 1 sc in last st.


Rows 4 through 12:
Repeat Row 2.


Row 13:
Repeat Row 3.


Rows 14 and 15:
Repeat Row 2.


Border:
Ch 1, turn. (Sl st, ch 1) in each of the next 2 sc, in each of the next 14 side post sps, in each of the following 3 sc, and in the remaining 14 side post sps. Join with a sl st to beg ch-1. Bind off, weave in ends.


Joining:
*I have to apologize for not knowing the correct term for my seam. I always thought it was another version of the whip stitch, but a true whip stitch is brought back over the stitch. This seam is woven back and forth. Please, leave a comment (and a link to your blog if you have one) if you can give us the name of this stitch.

Pin the pieces together in an "X" shape before joining the ends. Strip A should be on top of Strip B, with the beads facing you.



Thread about 8" (20 cm) of yarn on a yarn needle. Start by folding so that the ends of the strips meet, with the beads on the inside. Weave the yarn through the back loops only of the first corresponding stitches of each strip. Pull the yarn through, leaving about a 6" (15 cm) tail. From the current side you are on, insert needle in the back loops of the next sts, pull through. Continue to the end of this strip.




Holding the next strip ends together, weave back and forth through the back loops of the sts.




Pull both ends to tighten and settle the stitches. You want to make sure there isn't a gap between the strips, or you'll have a big space and a single thread dangling in between them.




While weaving in the ends, work towards the center of the strip, where the middle bead is. Secure the strips together by weaving the yarn through the middle bead stitch.




Finish weaving in the ends. Turn right side out.




As I stated in the original pattern, I would love to see these starched to stiffen them, but I still haven't solved the problem of the beads becoming cloudy, and it shows even worse on these larger beads. I'm still open for suggestions if anyone has one.

So far, I've tried store-bought fabric stiffener, home-made liquid starch, and diluted craft glue. The glue dried clear on the beads, but with bumps, bubbles, and bare spots, so then I had to take the time to peel it all off of each bead.

Again, maybe they're better left as-is.




Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Yarn Tales Tuesday






Crochet Inspiration





  The designing part of my brain has become blocked again...I guess sometimes I just get burned out and need a break. The extra-busy time of the holidays is fast approaching, and I might as well take a bit of time to unwind while I still can.




  When I say "unwind", I don't mean stop. I can't stop crocheting...I think I begin to suffer symptoms of withdrawal if I'm away from yarn and a hook for too long. What I mean by "unwind" is to change things up a little. Aside from designing some new things outside of my comfort zone, I have some yarn-oriented cleaning and organizing to do, plus some yarn-related crafts I've had on hold.




  Of course, this means there could be a few less free crochet patterns being posted for a few weeks, but I'm focusing creating better projects in the meantime. While I'll be backing off of posting patterns, I'm going to be adding some new tutorials, tips, and ideas.




  Now, let's dive into my new motivation:







  One of my other biggest hobbies is gardening. You'll find me outside when I'm not buried under a pile of yarn. I have 5 acres of plants to take care of, so there's no such thing as a true "break" in my life, there's just something else to do. Whenever I develop another case of "designer's block", quitting is never the answer for me. It only means it's time do do something else!




  I often rediscover my creativity when I'm taking care of everyday life tasks. The Fmelted Plarn Toothbrush Holder was invented when my wall-mounted toothbrush holder fell off while I was cleaning it. My Deca-stitch Cowl 2.0 was created in the favorite color of a dear friend who passed, and these Men's Fingerless Mitts were designed in the middle of a cold winter for my other half. Life usually jumps in and provides a reason for me to create something new.




  But lately, Life has stepped back and given me the time to design what I want to design. I've been experimenting with flowers, headbands, and some jewelry. Until now...I only have one project in design queue, but it's something very large that I can't begin until I can afford all of the material at one time. Hopefully I can create some new stuff before I finish posting my recent group of patterns.




  So as I mentioned, it's time to go do something else. Winter is on it's way, and I need to be taking care of my plants and making sure the animals will be cozy. I often carry my camera with me when I'm out on the property, and I've been snapping some great photos of nature in my backyard.







  Coincidentally, I've found my inspiration after all. What better muse is there for creativity than Mother Nature? The bold, beautiful colors and many fascinating shapes found outdoors often lend their influence to design. Why not use them in my crochet?





  I'm not talking about recreating plants and animals; I've already covered that. I'm thinking something more along the lines of an afghan with stitches and colors revolving around the interesting image of this recent thunderstorm:







  I love the contrast of the blue/gray sky against the rich green of the grass and the dramatic lines in the clouds. Unfortunately, the spiderweb-like orange and yellow lightning streaking across the sky wasn't captured in the picture, but I'd like to find a way to also work it into the design.




  And if that's not inspiring enough, I've have plans for the following photo, too. I'd like to create a garment of some kind, I just haven't made up my mind over what it will be.







    Perhaps you can give me some hints about what you'd like to see. Why not take some inspiration from my readers, too? I can't make everything for everybody, but I sure could use a jump-start right now.




  Use the comments section to leave a suggestion for what you think I should make next. Would you like to see a tutorial for something? I'm up for a challenge, so don't hesitate!




  Has something in nature ever inspired you to design your own crochet pattern? Do you get the motivation to create from everyday life situations? Let us know about it with a comment or by sharing a link to your own post.





Saturday, November 8, 2014

Free Pattern: Beaded Fall Napkin Rings






  Make some napkin rings that will make an elegant addition to your fall table. With subtle beading and an eye-catching crossover, your guests might think these came from an expensive designer collection. The truth is, they only cost pennies a piece to create. Simple and quick to work up, you can customize yours with your own choice of beads or color.




  The pattern uses single crochet, slip stitches and chains. The crossover looks complicated, but don't worry, it's simple! The finished piece has an inner circumference of 4" (10 cm) and is 2" (5 cm) tall at the back. Where the crossover is at the front, the height is 1 1/2" (3.8 cm).



Be sure to check out the revised version of this pattern here!

If you prefer the original pattern, here's a step by step tutorial that may help.






Skill Level:
Easy





Materials:
Worsted weight (4) acrylic yarn
- I used Red Heart Super Saver in "SH Browns". After looking on their website, it appears to be discontinued. Worsted cotton is interchangeable, just check your gauge.
Hook size I/9-5.50MM or size needed to obtain gauge
Yarn needle or smaller hook to weave in ends
Beads - 5 per piece




Gauge:
4" x "4 (10 cm by 10 cm) =
14 rows of 14 single crochet



Notes:
To use small beads on worsted weight yarn, use a drop of glue on the tail of the yarn. Twist tightly and allow to dry. Thread beads.




Stitches and abbreviations:
Chain (ch)
Slip stitch (sl st)
Single crochet (sc)

Beginning (beg)
Repeat (rep)
Skip (sk)
Space/s (sp/s)
Yarn over (y/o)


Directions:

Thread your beads on the yarn before you begin. Use 5 beads for each piece you wish to make.


Row 1:
To begin, ch 7. Make 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of the remaining 5 chs. (7 sc).


Row 2.
Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), turn. 1 sc in each of the remaining 6 sc. (7 sc)


Row 3.
Rep Row 2.


Work first strip:

Row 1: 
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 2 sc.


Rows 2 and 3:
Rep Row 1.


Row 4:
Ch 1, turn. Insert hook in next st, pull up a loop (2 loops on hook). Bring a bead up to hook, y/o, pull through both loops on hook. 1 sc in last st.


Rows 5 through 7:
Rep Row 1.


Row 8:
Rep Row 5.


Rows 9 through 15:
(Rep Row 1 three times. Rep Row 4) twice.


Row 16:
Turn. Sl st in each of the next 2 sc. Rotate to work down side. (Ch 1, sl st) in each of 15 side post sps.


Working into body:
Ch 1, sl st in next sc. Ch 1, 1 sc in each of remaining 3 sc.


Second strip:

Row 1:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of remaining 2 sc.


Rows 2 and 3:
Rep Row 1.


Row 4:
Ch 1, turn. Insert hook in next st, pull up a loop (2 loops on hook). Bring a bead up to hook, y/o, pull through both loops on hook. 1 sc in last st.


Rows 5 through 10:
Rep Row 1.


Row 11:
Rep Row 4.


Rows 12 through 14:
Rep Row 1.


Row 15:
Turn. Sl st in next 2 sc. Rotate to work down side. (Ch 1, sl st ) in each of 16 side post sps.


Work across bottom:
Ch 1, 1 sc in each of 7 sc.


Working up other side:
(Ch 1, sl st in each of 17 side post sps.



Work across strip again:
Sl st in each of the 3 sts.



Joining:
Bring strip around to bottom end of pattern. Cross over so current st meets end st of bottom.


Hold together and turn. Insert hook in first st of bottom end and into same st of strip. Sl st. (Sl st next sts of bottom end and strip together) twice. Ch 1, sk 1 st of bottom end. Bring next strip up to bottom end. (Sl st next sts of bottom end and strip together) 3 times.


Turn to work down strip. Ch 1, sl st in each of next 8 side post sps. Find middle bead of other strip. Sl st in the ch-1 sp at the edge of this row.



Bind off, weave in ends.

Turn right side out.


*I though these would look better starched, but it left residue on the beads. You can wipe the starch off of the beads, but it takes a lot of time. I also tried to harden them with craft glue, but had the same result. In hindsight, maybe they're better left alone. Please leave a comment if you have a solution for this problem.






Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Yarn Tales Tuesday




Crochet for our Furry Friends





  The days are getting shorter, and so is my time frame for finishing projects. My work days get more hectic during the winter months, because I don't have as much natural light for taking photos. Combine that with getting the plants and animals taken care of before the sun goes down, plus the upcoming holidays, this time of year just gets busy!




  Speaking of taking care of animals, I must be crazy. I've got something new eating up more of my time:



Awwww, right?

  So, I'm a sucker for a cute kitten. I rescue various cats from time to time because my neighborhood is overrun with them. They always manage to show up at my door. There's a great vet in my town that will spay and neuter them for whatever you can donate. These new little guys are the latest rejects I've taken on. 


  I always hope to adopt them out, because I already have these two ladies:



  I don't want a house full of cats, and I already have a group living outside keeping the mouse population down around our acres. However, I think I'm stuck with both of my new charges. My adorable little buddy Gilligan here is blind in his left eye:


  He had an infection when he was born and the eye didn't recover. It looks pretty gross, so nobody wants him. Sad.


  And then I have this little firecracker:


   There's nothing wrong with Jump Steady, except for his attitude. He doesn't make a good house pet for a family with kids, or an elderly person, or anyone who likes their ankles intact. He attacks anything that moves, and he likes to try to claw your eyeballs out. If you let him outside, his favorite game is "see how high we can get in the tree". Hopefully I can calm him down and eventually find him a home. 




  So, it's not really fun to work with yarn all day in a house with two kittens. It's cute at first when they start to play, but when they unravel half of your project, or in Jump Steady's case, end up hanging by their claws from your leg after chasing a yarn tail, it gets old quick. Distracting them with toys usually works for a while. 




  I realized I haven't crocheted any toys for my furry friends lately. The oldest cat has always been too cool to play with anything at all, so she doesn't really care. But I used to work up quick plarn rings for my calico, because she would play fetch with them like a dog. When Cornelius Peanutbutterus decided she didn't like that game anymore, I stopped making them. 




  I've never crocheted anything for my dog. He doesn't play fetch, he plays "take and destroy". I always wanted to design a doggy sweater for him, because I've never found a pattern for one that fits a dog this big. But...

  Have you ever seen those super-tough dog toys sold in stores? You know, the ones that advertise a lifetime warranty, impossible to destroy? The ones with $25 and up price tags?


  Tater Salad eats them in 20 minutes. I've never thought it would be safe to give him a crocheted item. I have premonitions of choking and intestinal compaction at the thought. It would surely be wasted work, at least. He crushed a doorknob once, and damaged another. Have you ever had to replace a doorknob and locks because of a dog? 

  He destroyed an entire wall...twice. After the first time, we bought new drywall and insulation, rebuilt the wall, and had it taped and spackled, ready for paint. A WHOLE WALL, from floor to ceiling. We replaced over two sheets of drywall, plus had to buy the rest of the supplies to repair it. At least we hadn't painted it yet before he tore it up again. A crocheted sweater, lovey or toy could be a great gift for a smaller, well behaved dog. But I don't have one of those. 




  He just gets plain old T-shirts cut up and tied into a sweater. 


  He manages to shred them in 20 minutes, too. Maybe he just doesn't want a sweater. I guess he doesn't like walls or doorknobs, either.



Seriously, though, he's a pretty well behaved dog, until I leave him alone.



  That's what's important to remember when creating crocheted items for animals. A cute little crocheted mouse makes a great toy for a kitten, but the owner needs to be responsible when providing such toys to our furry friends. Ends can come loose, animals can chew through fabric, and material and stuffing might be consumed. 

If you create items for animals, remember:

  • Secure your ends very well. I like to use some thread to sew through the strands of yarn, even after weaving in the ends.
 
  • For character toys, it is better to embroider features onto the item, rather than sewing on buttons or eyes. These can come loose and become a choking hazard. For something such as a mouse, embroider whiskers on it instead of having bits of yarn sticking out. Cats can quickly chew through loose yarn.


  • Animal fiber yarns can be an additional hazard. Not all of them do it, but I've seen some cats go nuts and try to eat (not just chew: EAT) items made with animal fiber.


  • I don't like to use loose fiber stuffing in any animal toy. Not only is it a hazard to the animal if it comes out, it's also a big mess to clean up. I use bunched up scraps of fabric. Old T-shirts or denim, worn out washcloths, and larger sewing scraps are great to roll up for stuffing. For cat toys, you can tie up some catnip in a scrap of fabric to use for filling.





  Finally, remember to warn the pet owner of these hazards if the toy you create is not for your own. You might be friends with your friends' pets, but you might not know of that animal's destruction level behind closed doors. Some pets seem well behaved, but they'll do odd things like eat your hair while you sleep. Make it clear to the pet owner that this should be an interactive toy for pet and owner to play with together, and the toy should be removed when the pet is not supervised. Outfits and accessories should also be removed from the pet when the owner is not present.




  I feel a bit guilty now that I realize I've been forgetting my furry friends while creating crochet projects. I'm planning on devoting some of my time to designing some pet-friendly patterns and perhaps making some extra to donate to the local overpopulated shelter. The temperatures are dropping, and many homeless pets could use a warm blanket or bed. It's just so hard to go the the shelter to drop something off, and not come back with something cute and furry...