Crocheted hat square motifs made into a sweater!

I’ve been a crochet-a-holic for a little over four years and now that I’m in the groove, I like to switch things up a bit. Last year I discovered a hat pattern on the Lion Brand site that incorporates the prettiest square motifs, so I made this hat.hat & scarf_grey beige copy

The motif was so much fun to make that I decided I wanted to do more with it. The image of a sweater popped into my mind, so I chose a larger hook and set about making a bunch of squares that I could lay out into some semblance of a basic sweater. Below, you’ll see the results as well as some step-by-step info in case you want to try making your own version.
Donna’s Hat Motif Sweater
Here’s the link to the original Squares Hat pattern at the Red Heart website, but I’ve also repeated the square pattern below for your convenience: https://www.redheart.com/files/patterns/pdf/WR1621.pdf

yarn

Materials:

✗ Lion Brand’s Vanna’s Choice yarn, 2 balls of 860-400 Oatmeal and 5 balls of 860-403 Barley

✗ P/10.00 mm crochet hook; yarn needle

✗ Each square measures approx. 7 inches x 7 inches

✗ Make 28 squares in total: 9 squares for sweater front, 9 for sweater back, 1 for each shoulder, 4 for each sleeve.

✗Sweater is about a medium size fit. (To enlarge, use rows of four squares for the body instead of rows of three, and use rows of three squares for the sleeves instead of rows of two.)

SQUARE:

Using Oatmeal: Ch 8; join with a sl st to form a ring.

Rnd 1: Ch 1, 16 sc in ring; join with a sl st in first sc.

Rnd 2: Ch 4, [dc in next sc, ch 1] 15 times; join with a sl st in 3rd ch of ch-4. Fasten off and attach Barley yarn.

Rnd 3: Ch 1, sc in same st as joining, * 2 sc in next sp, ch 3, skip next dc, 2 sc in next sp **, sc in next dc; rep from * around, end at **; join in first sc.

Rnd 4: Ch 1, * 9 dc in next ch-3 sp, skip next 2 sc, sl st in next sc, (4 dc, ch 3, 4 dc) all in next ch-3 sp, skip next 2 sc **, sl st in next sc; rep from * around, end at **; join in first ch-1.

Rnd 5: Sl st in first 4 dc, [sl st in 5th dc of 9-dc group, ch 5, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc, ch 3, 2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) all in next ch-3 sp, ch 5, skip next 9 sts] 4 times, join in 5th sl st. Fasten off.

Once you have made 28 squares, follow the construction layout as shown in photos below.

(1) Working with 18 squares, use a yarn needle to fasten the squares side-by-side into rows of three (see red box). (Make sure you are working on the wrong side of the sweater during construction. Note: To fasten squares I used a plain sewing stitch and just did my best to match up and stitch the chains together.)

(2) A block of nine squares make up the front (see purple box below) and another block of nine makes up the back. So sew together each row of three, one row at a time until you’ve made a block of nine. This is your front. Repeat the same process with your other three rows of three to make another block of nine, which is your back.

(3) You will use your two shoulder squares to attach the front block to the back block (see green boxes below). Still working on the wrong side, sew a shoulder square to either side of the top row of your front block. Then fasten the other end of each shoulder square to the back block. The middle opening is your neckline.sweater sample1

(4) As you can see in the photo below, I finished the neckline with one row of single crochet in oatmeal, then because I found it to be a little bit too wide for me, I gathered it slightly by weaving a length of oatmeal yarn around the stitches and then pulling it and tying a small bow.neckline

(5) Now, it’s time to work on the sleeves. Each sleeve is comprised of a block of four squares fastened together into two rows of two. So using your batch of eight squares, stitch together two squares at a time so you end up with a stack of four rows of two.

(6) Then take two of your rows of two and fasten them together into a block of four squares. This is your first sleeve. Repeat again using your other stack of two rows to make your second sleeve.

(7) The photo below left shows where you will attach the first sleeve (again, always working on the wrong side of the project). Take one of your sleeves (see red box) and line up the center (midpoint between the two sleeve squares) with the center of the shoulder motif (see green line). Use either markers or safety pins to attach securely, then stitch the sleeve to the body. Repeat the exact process by attaching your second sleeve to the other side of your sweater body.sweater sample2

(8) The photo below right is what the sweater will look like after both sleeves have been attached. The red line indicates where you will fold the sweater to match up where the blue lines are shown. The blue lines indicate where you will sew the body and sleeves together to complete the sweater.sweater sample3

(9) The photo below shows the sleeves and sides stitched together. The red lines show the areas that were sewn together. I left an opening on either side where the green lines are. I wanted it to fit tightly to the waist and then have a “tunic” effect at the bottom, with the slits on either side. To finish the edges, I single crocheted in unblocked sweateroatmeal around the entire bottom, including up and down each slit.

(10) I also finished both sleeve edges with one round of single crochet in oatmsleeve edging2eal.sleeve edging1

 

 
(11) I used the steam setting on my iron to gently press it. Here are some photos of the finished sweater. Not great pictures—hubby wasn’t around and it’s not easy taking full-length selfies!!!sweater_brown motifs2 copysweater_brown motifs1 copysweater_brown motifs3 copy

 

 

 

 

Last but not least—my colour inspiration: my best pal, Otis!

my color inspiration otis

The bottom line is that you can make a sweater out of pretty much any motif you like. It’s just a matter of making as many of them as you need to fit a basic layout in your size and then attaching them together. Squares are the easiest but you can also use hexagons and even circles. There are no boundaries to your imagination.

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What the world needs now is love tweet love…

Has there ever been a time in history when our world hasn’t needed more of this?

acrylic on canvas_love tweet love copy

My painting is acrylic on canvas—some spring birdies and blossoms—both of which I’m yearning to see again someday. (Here I go again. Stuff a sock in my mouth. I can’t stop bitching about the cold weather. You’d think I lived in the Antarctic. Look for me in the dictionary under Broken Record.)

acrylic on ceramic_love birds copyHere are more birdies and blossoms, this time painted on a plain ceramic tile.

Here’s to a world where good will always triumph over evil, where love will always rise up to eradicate hatred, and where all militant evildoers will fade away to become a vague memory in our past.

 

 

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If malice or envy were tangible and had a shape, it would be the shape of a boomerang.” ~Charley Reese

Has the red carpet become a bit too orange?

While watching the Golden Globes the other night, I noticed that a lot more people than usual were sporting a carrot tinge to their skin. I guessed that either (a) jaundice is in vogue this year on the red carpet or (b) someone on Rodeo Drive is offering one helluva clearance on spray tans.

creamsicleRegardless, seeing so many fake tans triggered a sudden craving for Creamsicle ice cream, which really pissed me off since I’m still trying to lose my stuffing-and-plum-pudding weight. The bottom line: In my opinion, the most au naturel celebs (oxymoron?) looked most beautiful.

During the Hollywood awards season, I do enjoy jlowatching the parade of absolute perfection on the red carpet…perfectly styled coifs; perfectly made up faces; perfectly enhanced cleavage; perfectly Spanxed waistlines, hips and asses; perfect celeb-trainer-shaped legs; perfect spa manis and pedis; perfectly fitted designer gowns. No creases, no bulges, no split seams. What’s it like having to be so perfect? How does it feel to be examined under a microscope and judged by millions every time you go out your front door?

My guess is that it’s positively exhausting.

Every year, by the time the Academy Awards are over, I really am happy to be boring old me. I’ll take my plump ass and my roly poly abs and my bloodless
(as-a-dead-fish-because-I-live-in-Canada-where-I-can’t-remember-what-sunshine-looks-like-anymore) skin and my (tossed-up-in-a-lopsided-ponytail-every-day-because-I-can’t-be-bothered-to-go-and-get-it-cut) hair, and my nice comfy sweats that disguise the fact that I haven’t bothered to shave my legs in the past month. And especially my anonymity. Give me my paparazzi-free life any day.

Yes I know that they’ve got more money than I could ever fathom. But I’ve got normal. And you know what? That’s a fair enough trade-off for me.

While I’m on the subject of celebs and the alien world they live in, here’s a short story you might enjoy. 

Mama Mia!

When David Letterman announces her name, the audience goes ballistic for their beloved golden girl. Applause erupts with the force of a volcano as she ducks out from behind the curtain, strolling gracefully across the stage toward him.

Her lustrous hair has been carelessly (carefully) gathered into a ponytail by her personal hairstylist and her expertly made up face is fresh and youthful.
She glows.

A slip of gossamer champagne fabric hugs the toned curves of her body, shimmering under the hot studio lights so that she appears nude, almost ethereal. The delighted gasp of the male portion of the audience is audible while the females among them excrete a fusion of longing and loathing as their eyes track the subtle sway of her hips.

She transports a designer-clad toddler in the crook of one arm while maneuvering a towheaded preschooler, who stumbles along while peering down at the floor. The roar of applause persists as she settles into the guest chair, plunking the toddler onto one crossed knee while directing the elder child to climb up onto the chair beside her. She beams at the audience, sweeping them with her lilac blue eyes, then directs a dimpled smile at Dave.

“Nanny out on the town tonight?” Dave quips and the applause morphs into laughter.

“No nannies for me, Dave,” she purrs. “I insist on taking care of my precious babies all on my own, thank you very much.”

She punctuates her statement by warmly embracing her toddler, who squirms and whimpers. The audience laughs and applauds. Her knee begins to bounce as she tries to distract the fussing toddler. The preschooler continues to stare at the floor, sucking quietly on three fingers.

The very beautiful very bankable major motion picture star turns to Dave, bending forward slightly so that one can’t help but notice the luscious, surgically perfected globes not quite hidden behind the chubby toddler. She proceeds to dish openly about her quite average but exhausting daily routine: getting the kids up and dressed every morning, preparing their meals, ferrying them to play dates, all while having to get to the set on time…you know, just the normal working mommy stuff. As a matter of fact, just this morning, she and her very handsome, also very bankable motion picture star husband discussed their desire to begin work on baby number three as soon as they have both wrapped up their latest films.

The audience roars their approval and she smiles at them, draping her arms around both of her children. The toddler stiffens and his quiet mewling swells into a shriek. In a soothing tone, she shushes him while nuzzling his neck with her perfect nose. The assistant director signals a commercial break and Dave angles his body toward camera number two.

“We’ll be right back with the delightful _____ right after this message.”

The instant the camera pans away, a stout woman with a furrowed unibrow darts from behind the curtain and scrambles across the stage toward the children. Dave takes a generous sip of scotch from his mug while appreciating a perfect side view of his distracted guest’s left breast as her dress strap slips down on her shoulder. The grimacing star holds a now kicking and screaming toddler out and away from her.

“Hurry the hell up, Consuela,” she snarls from behind a tight grin. “And get this little prick off of me before he destroys my Versace!”

The preschooler shimmies from his chair and dashes to the clucking woman, throwing his arms around her legs. His mother’s stunning violet eyes shoot icicles in his direction, then glare up at the nanny. “And what in Christ’s name have you been doing with Jonathan? He just sits there like a mute. Make an appointment for him next week with my therapist.”

She turns away from the retreating nanny and children with an air of dismissal, smooths her dress over her thighs, re-crosses a ten-million-dollar leg, and leans in toward Dave.

“Effing kids,” she snorts. “Thank God I’m flying back to Rome tonight.”

The busy assistant director signals the countdown. Dave clears his throat, sets his mug down and grins.

Three, two, one…“And we’re back with everyone’s favourite movie star mom!

star

I’m ready for a little warm & fuzzy about now

Had enough of winter yet?

As I posted on my Facebook page last week, whenever I start bitching about this cold weather (something I’m guilty of doing way too often) I am assaulted by visions of the early pioneers dragging their frozen asses outside at dawn every morning to manually milk their herd…Which makes me pause to thank God I was born during an era of high-efficiency furnaces and indoor desk jobs.

Being the ungrateful person that I am, it’s not long before I push the visions out of my head and launch into a fresh torrent of bitching because dang it! my hands are frozen and my three layers of socks just aren’t cutting it.

I’m a reincarnated Hawaiian trapped in a Canadian’s body. Definitely.

I’ve heard that a lot of body heat escapes from the top of an uncovered head, so I got busy crocheting myself a warm & fuzzy hat. I love it so much I’ve been wearing it inside the house (a protestation of my husband’s refusal to crank the thermostat). Frozen wife = short fuse.

This basic hat is ideal for beginning crocheters. Here’s how:

hat_brown2

Warm & Fuzzy Hat

9 mm hook; Bernat Soft Boucle in Earth Shades

Ch 4; sl st to make a ring.

Rnd 1: Ch 1; single crochet (sc) 8 times into ring (do not join; use a marker and continue to crochet in spirals).

Rnd 2: 2 sc in each stitch around (16 sc)

Rnd 3: *1 sc in next stitch; 2 sc in next stitch; repeat from * around.

Rnd 4: *1 sc in each of next 2 stitches; 2 sc in next stitch; repeat from * around.

Rnd 5: *1 sc in each of next 3 stitches; 2 sc in next stitch; repeat from * around.

Rnd 6: *1 sc in each of next 4 stitches; 2 sc in next stitch; repeat from * around.

Rnd 7: *1 sc in each of next 11 stitches; 2 sc in next stitch; repeat from * around.

Rnd 8-21: 1 sc in each stitch around.

Rnd 22: Ch 2 (counts as dc); 1 dc in each stitch around; join with a slip stitch to close.

Rnd 23: Repeat round 22.

Rnd 24: Ch 1; 1 sc in each stitch around; join with a slip stitch to close. Fasten off.

Roll up the brim and enjoy!

hat_brown1

 

 

Wearing my new hat in the basement.

Another year, another promise to self

It’s 2015. Already.

It seems like only yesterday, humankind scurried to prepare for the ominous approach of December 31, 1999…panic loomed as computers worldwide were expected to self-destruct at the stroke of midnight—the launch of a new millennium—sending civilization spiraling backward to such cobwebbed practices as having to write longhand with a pen (which sure beats having to chisel out your novel in stone like our poor cave-bro writing kin had to).

Well, whaddayaknow? 2000 came. And then it went. Our beloved computers had the last laugh as we wiped the sweat from our brows. Now here we are 15 years later, still happily tapping away at our keyboards and storing our stuff on TB instead of GB. (MB? What’s that?)

Where has the time gone? And what have I accomplished? Um…

Rather than sitting here, beating myself over the head because I’ve allowed another decade-and-a-half to slip by without launching my New York Times best-selling series of novels, I’ll do something a little more constructive. I’m not going to yada yada yada about New Year’s resolutions either. We all know by now exactly what we have to do to achieve our goals.

Instead, I’d like to take this moment to agitate the creative fire that boils deep down inside the right portion of our brains like molten lava, just waiting for permission to explode from our minds and onto a publisher’s desk.

Your imagination is the lava—“what if?” is the earthquake. Just think about an everyday event in your life and shake it up with a “what if?”

…It’s the week before Christmas. Your decorations are up, your shopping is done, and you’ve just settled down on the couch with a carton of eggnog and the TV remote all to yourself for the first time in ages. Spouse is away on business; kids are at the mall (it took a whole fifty bucks to get rid of them)…(what if?)…a huge puff of soot suddenly belches from your fireplace and a big old fat man in red velour tights kerplunks onto your clean hardwood floor?

…Your cat climbs onto your lap and as you stroke its fur and chit chat to it in your high-pitched “cat-talk” voice, he turns his head and…(what if?)…he stares you in the eye and replies in the Queen’s English?

…You’re parking your car. You’ve never been that great at backing into a space. Maybe that’s why you’ve just heard a scary crunching noise. Uh oh. A cute little foreign sports car is now affixed to your back bumper. You stumble out of your car and the other driver’s door swings open at the same time…(what if?)…OMG! It’s Ryan Gosling!

Get my drift? Good. Now get writing! (Or get doing whatever your “someday I’m going to” might be.)

Do kids build snowmen (or shall we say snowpersons) anymore?

Where have all the kids gone? It’s been eons since I’ve seen a snowman on a front lawn.

snowman_finishing_touchWhen I was a kid, there was an entire clan of snowmen in my front yard from November until April. (Yes we had lonnnggg winters. That’s life when you live in Sudbury. When we stood at our living room window, we couldn’t see anything but snow banks. It was almost summer vacation before the rest of the street materialized once again.)

I recently took a drive through my neighborhood the day after a big honkin’ snowstorm and I did not see one snowman. I didn’t even see any kids. Now I know that scientists claim we’re in the midst of a whole whack of mass extinctions, but I’m pretty sure that kids aren’t one of the species on the list (though snowmen seem to be).

The modern decline in snowmen really concerns me and after that drive through the neighborhood, I was moved to write a short story on the subject.

If you have nothing better to do with your time right now, you can read it below.

 

EXTINCT

It is blessedly quiet in the car.

After spending the morning chiseling her three children away from their new 110-inch flat-screen TV, Jane has treated them to an afternoon at the Razor’s Edge Electronic Indoor Play Park. Now Jane’s head feels like it is being split in two by a lumberjack. The pinging, the zinging, the sirens, the shrieking. The place makes a casino sound like a yoga studio.

Not to mention the cost. She could have bought all the latest video games for them with the amount she’d spent on admission for four. Jane’s head spasms again at the thought. I suppose that’s the price of fun these days, she says aloud to herself, glancing in the rearview mirror at the three towheads bowed over their softly clicking PlayStations.

The windshield wipers swish away the thick flakes falling gently as Jane slowly guides the car through snow-blanketed streets. As they round a corner, she gasps at the sudden sight that meets her eyes in the front yard of one of the houses ahead. The car fishtails then rights itself as she pulls to a stop alongside the curb.

The clicking continues from the back seat as the car idles. “Well, will you look at that,” Jane says with a giddy chuckle. “I haven’t seen one of those since I was a kid.”

She wipes away the condensation left by her breath against the glass. “Boys! Take a look at that. It’s a real snowman!”

“You want me to bring up a snowman on my gamer, mom?” the middle boy asks.

“No!” Jane says, frowning. “Look out the window! Someone actually built a snowman on their lawn! Right there! See?”

The oldest boy scratches his head. “How’d they do that?”

“We used to build them when we were kids.” Jane smiles at the memory. “The first snowfall, we’d be SO excited. We could barely wait to get outside and build a snowman, or a fort, or have a snowball fight…”

“But wasn’t it too cold to go out back then?” the youngest asked.

Jane turns her head to look at them in disbelief. “Grandma bundled us up in snowsuits and sent us out right after breakfast. We were warm as ovens. We didn’t go back inside again till lunch.”

The oldest boy snorts. “Sounds like abuse to me. Being abandoned out in the freezing cold and all.”

“Look, mom,” yells the middle boy, shoving his handheld over the front seat. “I built a snowman too! I used white pixels!”

Jane groans, slumps in her seat, and regards the towering Frosty outside. It has a carrot nose, pebble eyes, and tree-branch hands. Exactly like the ones she used to build. She smiles. The memories warm her heart. She is about to turn around and tell the boys about the time she and her sister dressed their snowman up in grandpa’s expensive hat and scarf when she hears a fresh round of clicking resume in the back seat. All three heads are bowed once again.

Jane narrows her eyes, puts the car in drive and makes a U-turn.
“There’s been a change in plans, boys! We’re going to the mall right this minute to buy snowsuits. And then we are going to bring snowmen out of extinction.”

donna on snowman

 

That’s me—many many moons ago—sitting on what appears to be the carcass of a snowman.

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