Shrugging it up

Over the summer I sewed a lot. Clothing items, from commercial patterns – each of those somewhat rare for me (aside from boxer shorts). Specifically, I made myself a collection of lightweight shrugs and jackets to keep in my desk drawer for when I’m just a little cool at work. Once the weather got cool enough that a heavier cardigan was part of my all-day outfit, I brought the jackets home for a wash and a fashion show. Then it rained every single weekend until winter, so here we are.

The first one I made may seem familiar – or not, since it was five and a half years ago that I blogged a photo of some lovely embroidered fabric, matching thread, and tiny matching buttons, with the announced intention of making myself a summer hat with them (and that was more than two years after I posted that photo on Facebook, before I ever had this blog!). I did give an update on the project, but that was still four and a half years ago. In June I came back to it, made another muslin, and realized the probability of getting something worth the very large amount of effort remaining was exceedingly low. I have a wide-brimmed straw hat, and while it’s a bit of a sail when the wind picks up, it’s probable that any other hat that shades me as much as I’d like would also have that problem. Anyway, without further ado:

yellow coverup-style jacket

The pattern was for a swimsuit cover-up (Simplicity 4192); I changed the front tie to a hidden hook and eye. It’s not terribly “me”, to be honest, and after the photo it went into a bag for donation, but no matter.

The second one, this and the first both sewn in July, has given me a good bit of use: a shrug out of very lightweight navy fabric I picked up at the Sew-op. There was a ton of that fabric and I had first made a shrug of the simplest type: essentially a tube with a lengthwise slit down the middle for your shoulders. That was pretty sloppy-looking on, though; I think that sort of shrug is better made of stretchy fabric so it can be smaller around. This second one was assembled from multiple pieces of fabric and has much more shape.

navy shrug-style jacket

Third – I was cooking! – was also made from Sew-op fabric. Unfortunately the fabric had many flaws, tiny pinholes to big tears, and I didn’t notice all of them before cutting out, but I adore it and its funny little birds. Believe it or not, this jacket was out of the same pattern as the navy shrug (Butterick 5529). I made it in August.

black and brown bird fabric jacket

I have yet a third Sew-op fabric to make into a jacket, from a third pattern, but the jacket’s structure and the limited amount of fabric will require me making a muslin to adjust the pattern ahead of time. That would merit a separate post even if I had already made it. Later!

Narwhal!

At work we use the program Asana for project management, and one of the extra features you can activate is “celebrations” – occasionally, when you check off a task, a creature will shoot across the screen diagonally, Superman-style. There are a unicorn, narwhal, phoenix, and yeti.

One of my coworkers just had a birthday, and I thought it would be fun to find him a magnet of one of those creatures. Striking out of suitable magnets, I thought maybe I could glue a magnet onto the back of a small toy. Striking out on suitable small toys, I decided to needle felt one: the narwhal. 90 minutes later…

needle felted narwhal magnet

The magnet is embedded in the back side, and there is a doubled length of light wire running from the tip of the horn to the tips of the tailfins.

needle felted narwhal magnet

I have some other projects pending photos, so there will probably be a flurry of posts here eventually. Meanwhile I added a big batch of new photos to the Fun with Vintage Patterns album on Facebook.

Mop covers

Long ago I made crochet covers for my Swiffer sweeper, but I never got much use out of them. They were not as thorough at sweeping as I would have liked, and the normal Swiffer sheets are terrific at their job. That sweeper finally kicked the bucket and I got a Swiffer Wet Jet, unaware that it would not be able to hold the sweeper sheets. Well, for sweeping I’ve gone back to a broom and dustpan.

For mopping, though, I’d been using the Swiffer pads. They are much less good at their job than the sweeping sheets, but my regular sponge mop, which was supposed to squeeze out by folding shut like an alligator mouth, was no better and a lot more aggravating. What to do? Make new pads for the new Swiffer. I thought a smooth flat cotton pad with some acrylic slip-stitch stripes for scrub would work well. I also used acrylic for the upper part to hold it on to the Swiffer, though that choice was more to use up acrylic than anything else. The pad is also held by the velcro on the bottom of the mop.

photo of two crochet mop covers

I started by making two of slightly different size for testing: one that was the full 10.5″ by 4.5″ of the Swiffer itself, and one that was a scant 10″ by 4″. After testing I went with the larger size pattern but dropped a hook size. Size isn’t as crucial as with the sweeper because of the velcro on the bottom.

I soon realized they work much better after multiple washings, so for the remainder (I wanted 5 for the five rooms I mop, plus two spares) I made the cotton panel, put it in the laundry, added the acrylic stripes and upper sleeve, put it in the laundry again, and then put it into service.

My pattern

Your needs may be different depending on gauge! I use a G/4.25mm hook, but also seem to crochet more loosely than average. You may want to change hook sizes, stitch counts, or both.

I make the panel in cotton and the slip-stitches and upper in acrylic. This is mostly to use up acrylic, so if you want to use all cotton, go ahead.

Cotton panel:
Chain 31; make 14 rows of 30 sc. Wash this panel.

Scrub stripes:
Slip-stitch across in the valley between rows 3 and 4, 5 and 6, 9 and 10, and 11 and 12.
After a couple of panels I started slip-stitching from one row end to the next instead of stopping and starting each time.
If you run out of yarn slightly before the end of a row, don’t worry about finishing it. It’s not that important. I do find, however, that these stripes successfully catch gunk, so I wouldn’t leave them off.

Upper cuff:
Starting in the middle of a long edge, join yarn with a sl st, ch 1, and sc around the entire panel.
Join your round when you get back to your starting point and chain up for another. Make four rounds in which you decrease by 2 stitches in each corner. I accomplish this with what I call sk-dec, “skip decrease”: make a regular sc dec but skip a stitch in between the two loops you pull up at the beginning. This takes out two stitches at once with less bulk than sc3tog.
Join your final round and finish off. Wash again!