Book Review: Animal Hats

Animal Hats: 15 patterns to knit and show offAnimal Hats: 15 patterns to knit and show off by Vanessa Mooncie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was shocked to see I am not the only person around with an obsession for animal hats. I haven’t knitted any animal hats, but here are a few I crocheted.

 

 

I’m much more comfortable with a crochet hook than I am with knitting needles so I just made up these hats as I went along. But for a knitted hat, I knew I would need a pattern.

I am currently making the rabbit hat and plan to tackle the more difficult elephant hat if that goes well.

So far I’m impressed with the book and find the instructions very straightforward and easy to understand. I like that each pattern lists yarn weights (mostly chunky) along with specific brand names. I am using Lion brand Thick and Quick for the rabbit hat instead of the Rowan Chunky Felted Tweed the book has listed. I love Rowan yarns but at $12.95/skein (If you can find it) that would put this hat (the pattern calls for 5 skeins) at just under $65, which I’m not willing to pay.   I dropped a needle size to get the right size for my gauge swatch.

None of the patterns are rated for skill level, but it is pretty clear by looking at them how difficult or easy they will be. The dog and frog hats, for example, look easier than the elephant or rabbit or cow.

The patterns all include both child and adult sizes.

Stay tuned for pictures as I promise to actually take some during the process this time!

I was planning to make these as Christmas gifts, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to give them away…

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Chicken art and more

Several months ago I promised a friend I would email her pictures of my (very few) paintings. Since I still haven’t gotten around to that, I decided to just post them here.

I decided to try my hand at painting when I wanted a mural around one of our fireplaces. I decided to start with the fireplace in our kitchen, a very small kiva fireplace we use often.

 

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I didn’t want to waste a good paintbrush on my experiment, so I used a .49 cent chip brush from the hardware store. It actually worked out pretty well, in my opinion. You can see a little of the flame details in this picture (you can see the Sharpie lines on the bottom right of the drawing, where I couldn’t get the outline of the flame quite right), I thought they ended up looking very smoke-blackened and I really like it.

After that, I thought I’d try my luck with some chicken portraits. . .

Here is the first one, which is a painting of Zsa Zsa, who is a somewhat crazy bird:

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I then painted Cordelia and Bernard on these two old Adirondack chair backs:

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Here’s a better photo of the Bernard chair:

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Right now I’m working on a “barnyard” mural, but finding chickens in action are a lot more difficult to paint than my portraits…

 

The 500-hour skirt . . .

I’m a self-taught knitter and crocheter who know just enough about both to be dangerous (to myself, mostly). By dangerous I mean I frequently get into projects that are well over my head.

Last April I decided I had to have this skirt I saw on beautifulcrochetstuff.com

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If I would have stopped and thought about it for a second (I didn’t) I would have said, “No way!”

Instead, I looked online for the yarn (well, thread would be more accurate) she recommends: Alize Forever cotton. I found the product for sale in Latvia. Seriously. It cost less than $2/skein and only took a few weeks to get all the way to the mountains of Northern New Mexico.

Here is what it looks like when compared to both a spool of sewing thread and serger thread (finer than normal thread):

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Scary, huh?

I began crocheting the granny squares last April. I wish I had taken photos, but it didn’t occur to me what a monumental task this project would be (told I didn’t think things through…)

All of the squares looked wrinkly and oddly-shaped and . . . weird. But I just kept going. I made about 10 squares and then put the project away until November 2016, when I finished the squares and began to join everything together. Each row took about 2 hours, not counting the time it took me to undo mistakes I made. Since I worked on this while streaming movies with my husband, I frequently crocheted entire rows that were wrong.

It looked like the skirt wasn’t getting any bigger, even after a few months of working on it 4 or 5 evenings a week. But persistence paid off and so did the fact I wanted it finished for my conference in LA this March.

I was crocheting the frill on the bottom and feeling like it would never be quite long enough when I decided to see if I could press it with an iron and maybe “flatten” it out a bit.

Whoops!

Yes, this was exactly what the granny squares needed to become beautiful and flat. In fact, the skirt became plenty long after I pressed it. It was beautiful . I LOVED it. Unfortunately, once the fibers have been ironed it’s almost impossible to weave in all the loose ends on the garment.

So, live and learn. And also live with dozens of loose ends you are too afraid to cut and cannot weave in. . .

Anyhow, here are some pics of the finished product:

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A close up of the bottom:

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One of those pesky granny squares:

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And the waistband, which you crochet with thread and elastic thread:

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So, there is the skirt. I would make one and sell it for about a million dollars…