Category Archives: Crochet

Crochet

Project Update: Super Bulky Crocheted Cat Bed with Bernat Blanket Big Yarn

Project Update: Super Bulky Crocheted Cat Bed with Bernat Blanket Big Yarn

Remember when I made that super bulky crocheted cat bed tutorial a few years ago, and my cats absolutely fell in love with it? (The bed, that is. Not the tutorial. Cats almost certainly can’t read!) Well, it was such a big hit that I had to revisit the project. But, this time, I used the fluffiest, most ridiculous yarn I could find: Bernat Blanket Big yarn.

Project Update: Super Bulky Crocheted Cat Bed with Bernat Blanket Big Yarn

The Yarn:

Okay. Let’s talk about this yarn, and what a pain in the ass it is to work with, and how shockingly good it ended up looking, despite the fact that it’s basically crocheting with a tube of not-quite-shag carpeting, only softer. (Yes, those are knitting needles in the photo above. But I gave up on knitting with this yarn almost immediately, so onward with the crochet!)

Here’s the story:
I was wandering around my local Michaels with Kim Werker, who was visiting NYC at the time, and we were on the prowl for one of those over-the-top instant-gratification craft kits. You know, the kind where you can drink a bottle of wine with your friends while you’re making things, then dissolve into fits of laughter at how bad/amazing said things came out? Yeah, those. (What? This is how pro makers blow off steam!) Alas, search as we might, the gods of DIY did not see fit to bestow the Perfect Kit upon us. But, on the way out the door, we laid eyes on this glorious puke green monstrosity of a jumbo yarn—on sale for $4.99 per 32 yard skein—and became immediately convinced, for reasons unclear, that a couple of skeins needed to come back to my apartment. The rest, as they say, is cat bed history.

Here’s the catch:
The only problem with this project update is that Bernat Blanket Big yarn seems to have joined the sad ranks of mythical discontinued crafting creatures. Or, at the very least, it doesn’t actually seem to exist anywhere right now. So, if you love how this update turned out and want to try it for yourself, here’s what I do know: I found it at a Michaels in Brooklyn in February, but I can’t find a current link for where one might acquire it now. So, if you want some, maybe check the sale areas at your own local Michaels? (I did find it listed in an archived project on the Michael’s website, so at least I know I didn’t conjure it up in my dreams or something.)

Note: It is NOT the same yarn as regular Bernat Blanket, which is widely available, and much smaller in weight.

Yarn details, in case you want to track some down:

Yarn: Bernat Blanket Big Yarn
Colorway: Moss Green
Yardage: 32 yards per skein

Yarn Weight Category: 7 (Jumbo)
Gauge: 2.5 sts for 4"x4" square
Needle size: 25mm, 50US
Hook size: 25mm, US U
Materials: 100% polyester

Yarn feedback: Knitting with it is an exercise in frustration, no matter how loose your cast-on is. Crocheting with it isn’t much better, but at least there’s only one active stitch at a time, and you can use your fingers to help when it gets stuck on itself. (That said, I like the finished cat bed so much that I’d totally make another one with the same yarn. It was worth it.)

Another strange thing about this yarn: It completely camouflages cat hair. Simon Cat—who, at 14.5-years-old is cranky and decidedly NOT gentle with his belongings—had been sleeping in the bed for weeks before I got around to photographing it, and I didn’t even hit it with a vacuum before snapping a few pics.

Yarn info on Ravelry: Bernat Blanket Big Yarn

Project Update: Super Bulky Crocheted Cat Bed with Bernat Blanket Big Yarn

Project adjustments:

The Bernat Blanket Big yarn was so bulky that I only needed my cat bed to be 24 crochet stitches around.

So, if you’re following my super bulky crocheted cat bed tutorial, work up to Round 3, then stop increasing. Instead of moving on to Round 4, crochet 3 more rounds of 24 stitches, then skip ahead to the instructions in Round 13.

Tutorial: Super Bulky Crocheted Cat Bed

Quick personal note: Our sweet Pixel Cat (pictured in the original red and white crocheted cat bed above) passed away far too young from cancer a year ago this week. He was deeply loved, and is still very much missed. His cat bed—always his very favorite spot for napping in front of the radiator—was retired when he died.

Craft Tip: Keep Balls of Yarn Tidy with a Pair of Old Tights

Craft Tip: Keep Balls of Yarn Tidy with a Pair of Old Tights | The Zen of Making

I’m working on a Color Affection shawl right now, and, while the knitting is super-easy, several weeks of juggling three separate balls of a particularly cranky linen/cotton blend has been just about enough to make me cry. So, after the 23rd time or so that the center-pull ball of my main color went supernova without warning (read: collapsed, then exploded around everything else in my project bag), my fiber-addled brain started coming up with some rather elaborate yarn-containment solutions. Luckily, before I went too far down the crazy invention rabbit hole, I remembered that tights existed, and my sanity was saved.

Craft Tip: Keep Balls of Yarn Tidy with a Pair of Old Tights | The Zen of Making

Is your yarn running amok? Do you have a drawer full of old tights (or stockings or hose or nylons) that should never again see the light of day? Perfect—we’ve just solved both your yarn and your tights-hoarding problems! Because, turns out, there’s no better place for your misbehaving balls of yarn to be than nestled snugly in the toes of old [clean] hosiery.

Here’s how it’s done:

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Knitting and Crocheting with a Plan

Knitting with a Plan | The Zen of Making

When you’re knitting or crocheting in the real world (read: with all manor of kids, pets, co-workers, friends, and spouses underfoot), there are tons of opportunities for things to go terribly, terribly wrong. But, thankfully, they don’t have to.

If you’ve ever snapped at your partner for interrupting you in the middle of a row or cried as you ripped out a lace repeat for the sixth damn time because you just keep getting distracted and losing your place, this post is for you.

Note: I use knitting in my examples below, but the same tips and tricks for staying on track can also be used for crochet projects. (Obviously, this excludes the bits about counting the number of stitches on your needles. Unless, of course, you’re working on some Tunisian crochet.)

Knitting with a Plan | The Zen of Making

Know Your Rows: Make a Row and Stitch Count List:

Unless you’re knitting in the quietest, coziest, most distraction-free nook imaginable, at some point, you’re going to lose your place in your pattern. And, when you do, you’ll probably consider screaming, crying, and/or indulging in some delightfully creative swearing. (We’ve all been there, so feel free to share your favorite knitting-related expletives in the comments. In case you’re wondering, I tend to alternate between dropping a good old fashioned F-bomb and yelling something hilariously old-timey like “CONSARNIT!” when I experience an epic knitting fail.)

Continue reading Knitting and Crocheting with a Plan

Video Tutorial: Crocheted Metal Washer Pattern Weights

Video Tutorial: Crocheted Metal Washer Pattern Weights | The Zen of Making

As an especially neurotic sewer, when it comes to my studio, there’s no such thing as too many pattern weights. So, to satisfy my paper-wrangling needs—and to avoid spending ridiculous amounts of money on “real” sewing pattern weights from the fabric shop—I headed to the hardware store in search of a cheap solution. Then, once I’d plopped down a whopping $2.00 for a set of 8 fender washers, the next logical step was personalize them. And, what do huge hunks of metal need more than anything else in the world? Cozies. (Obviously.) Thus, my handy new tutorial for crocheted metal washer pattern weights was born!

Video Tutorial: Crocheted Metal Washer Pattern Weights | The Zen of Making

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that this isn’t exactly a new idea—tons of sewers use giant washers (or soup cans, or coffee cups, or beanbags, or bottles of booze) in place of more traditional sand-filled pattern weights every day. But, I’ve found that, in addition to making them look cute, adding a crocheted border around the edges prevents my washers from getting lost and keeps them from magically vanishing from my worktable.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

Please note that the links to supplies and tools that are provided below are affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you choose to make a purchase after clicking through.

Supplies:
* Large metal washers (I used ⅜" x 1½" fender washers.)
* Cotton yarn scraps, worsted weight

Tools:
* Scissors
* Darning needle
* Crochet hook, 5.5mm (US I-9)

Want to give it a try? You’ve got two tutorial choices:

Since crochet is a technique that translates really well to video, I decided to put together one of my rare (gasp!) video tutorials for this project:

(Make sure you listen for the bonus cat meows in the background!)

And, for those of you who prefer words and pictures to a how-to video (yeah, me too), here are the photo step-outs:

Continue reading Video Tutorial: Crocheted Metal Washer Pattern Weights