Crochet Photography 101

Crochet without a hook and yarn.

Kitty on crocheted blanket, Shells of Love pattern by Darleen Hopkins

My kitty with Shells of Love baby blanket.

It’s mid-March.  Wow! Have you heard time goes by faster the older you get? It is so true.  It is hard to believe 2015 is almost 1/4 over.  Not only is this year flying by but I’ve hardly had any crocheting time in 2015.  I’ve been busy, really busy, just not with crochet.  The beginning of the year is always hectic.  Because I do all the bookkeeping and tax filing for my husband’s business, the first couple of months of the year are full of year-end processing and payroll, corporate and personal tax filing.  On top of this more than average work-at-home paperwork, my real job had significant deadlines last month and just to make it all a little more crazy, Mother Nature threw in an ice storm (no power for far too long), and some snow to the mix.  Add two active boys and a husband and it’s been hectic.  Last, and because I believe I’m superwoman, I decided to take a photography class.  All my free time has been dedicated to this class and I’m loving it.

I purchased my first DSLR camera last fall.  It was time to step up from the point and shoot as I just wasn’t getting the photos I wanted for my crochet patterns.  Yup, that’s right.  I bought a camera for my crochet.  Sounds like another “you know you are addicted to crochet when…” but it is true.

The Nikon D3200 is great.  It’s an entry-level DSLR and so far I’ve been really pleased.  Up until this photography class, camera operations were a mystery to me.  I stuck to the pre-programmed settings as aperture, f-stop, ISO and shutter speeds were recognizable words but were so confusing to me.   But why have a camera that can do all sorts of tricks and not use them?  So I enrolled in a beginner photography class and when it completed last week, enrolled in the intermediate class.  I’m hoping to continue on to the advanced class.  If not next month, maybe this summer.

Because I purchased the camera to take photos of my crochet, I decided to have all my class photos crochet related.  THIS is how I’m working on my crochet.   Not with a hook and yarn but with a camera.  In the beginning this wasn’t too bad.  The assignments were basic; use your shutter speed to show motion or adjust the aperture to vary your depth of field.  But the homework is getting a little harder and a little more abstract in the intermediate class.  It might be a little easier for me if I took photos of flowers or scenic landscapes.  Having to work crochet into each photo is starting to prove a bit of a challenge.  However, this is a challenge I welcome.  Although I don’t have any current hats or other designs to share with you, I’d like to share some of my favorite photos from the beginner class.

Shells of Love Baby Blanket Crochet Pattern by Darleen Hopkins

Shells of Love Baby Blanket Crochet Pattern modeled by my kitten 🙂

Piranha Monster Fish Crochet Hat Pattern by Darleen Hopkins

Black Piranha Monster Fish Hat modeled by my oldest 🙂

Charmed Shawl Crochet Pattern by Darleen Hopkins

Charmed Shawl Crochet Pattern

Cubed Slouch Hat Crochet Pattern by Darleen Hopkins

Cubed Hat modeled by my husband 🙂

Picture Perfect Crochet Baby Banket Pattern by Darleen Hopkins

Picture Perfect Crochet Baby Blanket Pattern

Glacier Crochet Hat Pattern by Darleen Hopkins

Glacier Crochet Hat Pattern modeled by my youngest 🙂

I’m taking the class at the local university through the continuing education program.  The instructor is great and it is a great group of students-even a couple of crocheters in the bunch!  I’ve learned a lot but have so much more to learn.  If you have any interest in photography or have a DSLR camera but haven’t made it beyond full green auto, check out a class.  You will be glad you did.  I know I am.

Black Raspberry Shawl Crochet Pattern by Darleen Hopkins

Enough Snow Already

 Seriously? More snowy yuckiness?

Crochet Flapper Hat by Darleen Hopkins http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/waiting-for-spring-flapper-hat-with-roseI had just stepped out of the shower when I received the call that my boys’ school had a two-hour delay, what?  Thor (is that the name of the latest winter storm?) was only supposed to bring us some nighttime lows.  Shortly after that call, I received a text that my job, the local university, had a one hour delay.  Universities aren’t so quick to close or delay, so I figured that warranted a look outside and sure enough, there was snow on the ground.  It was only a dusting and I can’t really complain as I know other southern areas got a lot of snow and northern areas will receive even more, but still, enough is enough!

Spring will be here in TWO WEEKS! so in celebration of warmer days ahead, I’m offering my Waiting for Spring, Flapper Hat at 50% off for the next week.  Use coupon code EnoughSnow2015 at checkout, Ravelry purchases only, expires 3/15/2015 midnight EST.  This is an awesome hat for young ladies in sizes to fit American Girl doll/preemie to small teen/preteen (approx. 12.25-20.5″ head circumference).  Crochet yours in aran/heavy worsted cotton for warmer days ahead or acrylic or wool for the colder days that continue to linger.

Why delay school with only a dusting?  Georgia isn’t equipped to handle snow or ice.  Our best winter mess removal tool is the sun.  See this post for more info on the lack of snow preparedness in Georgia.

Whispers, Crochet by Darleen Hopkins http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/whispers-shawl-shawlette-or-scarf

Cubed Hat Crochet Pattern by Darleen Hopkins

Snow in Georgia and Warm Crocheted Hats

Bentley and Glacier Crochet Hat Paterns

Bentley and Glacier, Crocheted Hats for Young Men

Old Man Winter is Back in Georgia

This winter has been unreal.  The northeastern US has really been hit with insane amounts of snow.  Up until about 2 weeks ago, I thought the southeast was going to escape the wrath of the multiple winter storms.  Nope, no way.  Mother Nature wasn’t going to let The South get off easy.  We were hit with an ice storm on 2/16 and as a result, we went without power for 4 very long days.  Temperatures sunk to single digits during the time we had no heat and no water.  (This is something I learned the hard way.  When you have well water, once the power goes out, so does all water!) Although we had a generator to keep the freezer going, a few lights, an occasional TV show and the microwave to heat up hot chocolate, we were still pretty cold.  There’s just so much space heaters can do.  But we survived and we were lucky to have no damage to our water pipes.
Bentley Crochet Hat Pattern
Then more snow came on 2/23 and once again on 2/25.  Thankfully, we didn’t lose our power with the arrival of the last storm.  This last batch of snow brought us about 3 inches.  I used to live in upstate New York and up there 3 inches is nothing.  But here in Georgia we don’t have snow plows and only a couple salt trucks for the entire county.  Three inches of snow cripples all transportation.  In fact, my boys have only been to school one day in the last two weeks and I’m sure they will have another snow day tomorrow.  Temperatures are reaching into the 40s today and the sun is shining brightly.  Lots of the snowy mess is melting but what remains will freeze again tonight.  But before the sun melted it all away, my boys, my husband and myself got out and enjoyed this rarely seen winter wonderland.  And to keep them warm, I thought it would be fun for each of them to wear a different hat.  They modeled and I snapped pictures-Enjoy.Glacier Crochet Hat Pattern by Darleen HopkinsCubed Hat Crochet Pattern by Darleen HopkinsBentley Crochet Hat Pattern by Darleen HopkinsGlacier Crochet Hat Pattern

Glacier, Cubed and Bentley Crocheted Hat Patterns

Glacier, Cubed and Bentley Crocheted Hats

 

From February ILIkeCrochet.com. Click photo to subscribe.

Review-I Like Crochet February 2015 Issue

Live. Love. Crochet. is Spot On!

Owl Always Love You crochet amigurumi pattern by Darleen Hopkins

Now available for instant download.

ILikeCrochet.com’s slogan is Live. Love. Crochet. Not only is this true for everyday life but it is perfect for the February 2015 issue.  February is the month we celebrate those in our lives that we love with lots of pinks and reds and hearts and – in this issue – lots of owls!  If you have followed my blog, you know I like to make hats, particularly silly hats for the little ones.  This issue has an adorable Little Hootie hat that I will be making in the very, very near future.  Another owl themed pattern in this issue is a cute owl candy holder.  This is a great way to dress up a candy bar for your sweetie.  And when the candy is gone, I bet the candy holder would make a great bookmark!  The last owl, and personally, my favorite, is the amigurumi Owl Always Love You.  I’m a little partial to this cutie as he is my design-shameless plug, I know.  But, he is adorable and really, who can resist an adorable owl?

Whispers, Crochet by Darleen Hopkins http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/whispers-shawl-shawlette-or-scarf

2015 Stash Bust for Charity, Early February update

Fun Fur Silliness, Phase One

Fun fur crochet hat for donation  https://crochetbydarleenhopkins.com/category/2015-chemo-hat-challenge/My last post stated  “I’ve got some funky fun fur that needs to used…” and this is the result of the first fun fur hat in 2015.   It’s pretty stretchy and should fit most about 8 years old and up.  I’m hopeful it will find a home to someone with a unique sense of humor. This hat weights 2.25 ounces.

Total hats made in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 4

Total weight of yarn used in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date:
8.25 ounces

 

Blocking Acrylic Yarn-Yes You Can!

Patchwork Kitty BlanketOne of my favorite 100% acrylic yarns to use is Lion Brand’s Vanna’s Choice, a great aran/heavy worsted weight yarn.  With its bright colors and easy care wash-ability, it is often my yarn of choice for baby blankets, throws and hat and scarf sets.  Even my kitty loves Vanna’s Choice!  Not everything you make with this yarn will need blocking.  However, when you do make an acrylic item that would benefit from blocking, don’t fear.

Blocking acrylic can be done and is easy.   To block acrylic, you must subject the fiber to heat in the form of steam.  Some call it KILLING ACRYLIC, and in many ways, this is accurate in that you do permanently alter the fabric.  The heat “melts” the fibers together to create the blocked shape.  If this is done properly and accurately, you will not notice anything more than a beautifully finished item.   So how do you do this?

First, what do you need?What you need to block acrylic yarn

  • Steam  I choose to use a garment steamer.  Some use an iron with a steam setting.  If you use an iron, it is important that the iron NEVER touches the fabric.  If it does, it will burn and you will end up with a shiny, flattened item with loss of stitch definition.  There are times when this may be the desired effect, but usually it isn’t.
  • Blocking boards
  • Blocking pins-no rust
  • Your item.  I’m using the scarf from the pattern Glacier.  The stitch pattern creates a knit look ribbing on one side and a beautiful texture on the other.  It also causes the scarf to curl.  Blocking is necessary to remove the curl.

how to block acrylic yarn step 1Step One

Pin the item to the blocking boards.  This is the time to stretch it to shape, open up lace and even out the edges.  For this scarf, I just want to remove the curl.  I’m not interested in stretching or opening up the stitches.  I like the ribbing and want to keep it as is.

how to block acrylic yarn step 2Step Two

Attack with steam.  Keep the iron or the garment steamer head about 1/4 to 1/2 inch away from the fabric.  Work the steam over the entire item and use your fingers to make adjustments if necessary (do not place your fingers in direct steam, it will burn you).  I found it is NOT necessary to soak the garment.  Just damp is fine.  For this scarf, I steamed the entire scarf but spent additional time on the edges as that is my area of concern.

how to block acrylic yarn step 3Step Three

Allow to dry, mostly, then repeat on the other side.  I had a couple of sections that did get soaked.  I didn’t worry about them drying.  When the damp parts were mostly dry, about 20 minutes or so, I flipped it over and repeated.  As you can see by the photos, the scarf is laying pretty flat and there was no need to pin.  Giving it a second attack of steam on the other side will finalize the blocking.  Now allow it to fully dry and you are done!

Your finished product will now look like a polished and beautiful handmade work of art!

Glacier scaf before blocking acrylic

Glacier scarf before blocking

Glacier scarf after blocking

Remember, blocking or killing acrylic is permanent.  There will be items you don’t want to block as you wont want them to lose their stretch-ability. You won’t want to do this on something that is crocheted with negative ease.  The sample scarf has a ribbing stitch pattern.  It is purely decorative and not necessary for stretching.  The coordinating hat also uses a similar ribbing stitch pattern however it is necessary for the hat to have give and stretch for proper fit.  I would not want to block the hat as I would not want to remove this necessary design feature of the hat.

Blocking shouldn’t be something to fear but you do need to be aware that it does permanently change the crocheted item.  Therefore, go slow.  You can always block some more but if you do too much, you could end up with something you hadn’t planned for.

Glacier

Happy Puppy Hat, crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins

2015 Stash Bust for Charity, Mid-January update

New Challenge for 2015

It’s a new year and therefore time for a new challenge.  A couple of years ago I decided I was going to work on busting out some of my stash yarn and make hats for chemo donation.  My 2013 Stash Bust Challenge was focused on a box full of Bernat CottonTots yarn.  I ended up crocheting 5 pounds, 15.5 ounces of it into 32 hats for Halos of Hope or other charitable donation.  I had also crocheted other hats for donation in different yarn that I didn’t include in the count.  I was pretty busy with hats that year.  Last year’s challenge didn’t focus on any yarn in particular, just random yarn in my stash.  Last year I made 24 hats out of 5 pounds, 4.25 ounces!  I must have made some pretty heavy hats!

It would seem that most of my stash yarn would be close to gone at this point. Sadly, no.  I still have too many boxes of yarn.  So 2015 will once again be all about working from stash yarn for charitable causes. This year’s goal will be a minimum of 24 hats and 5 pounds of yarn.  I’ve got some funky fun fur that needs to used and a ton of cotton and cotton-blends that will be perfect for chemo hats.  I also hope to make a lapghan or two.

Let’s start this challenge off with the first 3 hats of 2015 completed!

Hat for Halos for Hope, crocheted by Darleen HopkinsThe first is called End’s Swell.  I won this pattern in the Gift-A-Long on Ravelry last month.  It is stitched with slip stitches which was totally new to me.  The final result is adorable.  The pattern is a great way to use up smaller leftovers without having to work in a million ends.  I can see making more of these in random stripes as leftovers come available.

Divine Hat for Halos of Hope, crocheted by Darleen HopkinsNext is another Divine Hat.  This is a great pattern and my third one.  I used Caron Simply Soft for this one.  It looks great but, going forward, I’ll use thinner yarns when making this pattern.  I loved it in Caron Spa.

Happy Puppy Hat, crochet pattern by Darleen HopkinsLast is a Happy Puppy.  Last month I re-worked the pattern in Vanna’s Choice by Lion Brand.  I also re-formatted the pattern and took new pictures.  The pattern was originally written with Bernat  Denim Style-a great cotton/acrylic blend.  Unfortunately this yarn has been discontinued.  I (of course) have a few skeins of it in my stash and found this hat partially finished.  Because Denim Style is super soft and perfect for chemo hats, I finished it and will include it in my next batch of hats to Halos of Hope.

This 2015 challenge is on and off for a good start!

The three hats weigh 7 ounces.

Total hats made in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 3

Total weight of yarn used in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 7 ounces

CrochetForMen