Sunday, September 23, 2012

Stuffing: poly fill vs. natural fiber fill (corn), and yarn for tight spaces

When you're making a stuffed toy, pillow or amigurumi (ami) you have options for your stuffing material.  For tight spaces like narrow arms and legs, I like to use yarn.  It is easy to slip/stuff some yarn, the same color as the arm/leg, into the tube and be done with it.  The benefit of that is:

a) you've got the yarn on hand;   and
b) it doesn't show through the stitches (for instance if your work is black, white poly fill can and show through).

With more than a tiny space to fill, your options are fill, such as polyester fill (polyfill/polyfil) or eco-friendly fiber fill made from corn.   Mountain Mist brand makes both of these, but there other polyester fill brands on the market.

Unfortunately, Mountain Mist Fiberfill, while boosting that it is eco-friendly, is a mess to work with.  It is very fiber-y.  After using it once, I decided against it.  Small fibers were all over my immediate workspace, my table and my project.  A thin dusting of it went everywhere.  Worse, it went into my nose and I suspect into my lungs.  After using it, I was sneezing it out!  I cannot imagine it is good for the lungs, regardless of how it might be good for the environment.  Also, it was crumbling out through the stitches of my project!  Imagine giving a stuffed animal to a baby who is going to hug and love it and be sniffing out those fibers.  Not good.

It has the feel and look of cotton candy--when you break a piece off, it literally breaks off.   Also, I wondered how it would stand up to repeated washings, since it also reminded me of cotton balls.  No one would intentionally use cotton balls to stuff a crochet/knit project unless they were desperate and never intended the item to be washed.  Once washed, the item would likely stay flat and never "bounce back" into shape.    So, the eco-friendly FIBER fill gets a thumbs down from me.

Conversely, this product from the same manufacturer gets a thumbs up:

Notice the "100% Polyester" on the bottom.  The fibers are long spun strands that keep their shape, pull apart (not break apart) nicely, and when washed it will bounce back into shape.  There is a reason this has been used for decades to stuff pillows and such.

By no means is Mountain Mist the only manufacturer of polyfill either, here are a two others:

You have to love it when a product, such as polyfill - goes by the brand name poly-fil.  That pretty much says it all!!!!

Lastly, the polyester fill is cheaper than the eco-friendly-corn-fill.

I've heard some very frugal crafty people will use scrap fabrics and scrap yarn to stuff their stuffies.  I haven't done this, and I can't speak to it one way or the other, but its an option I thought I'd mention.

However you choose to stuff your projects, happy stuffing to you all.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Easy crochet blanket, made to whatever size you desire


Easy "striped" blanket, worked from side to side, then turned 1/4.  Sides become top and bottom, add fringe. Make in solid one color, 2 or 3 colors.  Finished size depends on how many chains you start with (which determines the HEIGHT) of the blanket.  See notes about changing colors.

I make this often and is so simple and basic that anyone could have, and may have, come up with the same idea.  Feel free to make and sell finished blankets.

Supplies:  Worsted weight yarn, G or H hook.   Gauge unimportant.

Make enough chains to represent the desired HEIGHT you want the blanket to be.

Row 1:  1 Double Crochet into 4th chain from hook. 1 Double Crochet into each chain to end.  Turn.

Row 2:  Chain 3 (represents 1st DC now and throughout).  1 DC into 2nd stitch.  Chain 1, skip 1 stitch in previous row, make 1 DC into next stitch.*  Repeat * to * across until you reach the last 3 stitches. See below Special Instructions to finish this row.

SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS.  IF your 4th stitch from the end of the row contains 1 DC, then you will chain 1, skip the next stitch, make 1DC into the 2nd to last stitch, make 1 DC into the last stitch.  Your row will be complete. Turn.... HOWEVER.......

IF your 4th stitch from the end of the row is an unworked/skipped stitch, make 1 DC in the 3rd stitch from the end, chain 1, skip 1 stitch and make TWO DC in the last stitch.  Your row will be complete.

Remaining “holey” rows of skipped stitches and chains always begin with chain 3, 1 DC in 2nd stitch (followed by chain 1 and skipped stitches across) and end 1 DC into each of the last 2 stitches (preceded by the 3rd stitch from the row’s end having been skipped/ch 1). 

ROW 3:  Chain 3, 1DC into 2nd stitch, 1DC into each stitch to end.

ROW 4:  Ch 3, 1DC into 2nd stitch.  *Ch 1, skip 1 stitch, make 1 DC into next stitch.*  Continue across to last 3 stitches. Ch 1, skip one stitch, make 1DC in 2nd from last stitch, and 1DC in last stitch.

ROW 5 and 6, etc.  Repeat Rows 3 and 4 until blanket is desired width.  

Turn so the stripes are now vertical and add fringe to the ends in the natural loops created at the sides (now top and bottom) using 3 or 4 strands of yarn.

IF YOU WISH TO MAKE THIS BLANKET ALL ONE COLOR, continue repeating Rows 3 and 4 in pattern until you reach the desired width, fringe the ends. Done.

IF YOU WISH TO ADD DIFFERENT COLORED STRIPES, at the end of a row of continuous DC (as in Row 3) fasten off old color and leave the tail be as long as you want your fringe to be (the tail can be incorporated into the fringing process). DO NOT TURN.  GO TO THE BEGINNING OF THIS ROW AND add new color AND START AGAIN WITH ROW 3 (all DC across) with next row being Row 4 (the “holey” row).  As such, all color change rows start and end with Row 3, continuous DC all the way across.

The reason for not turning when changing colors is to keep the "front" and the "back" uniform.

NOTE:  on the above pictured example, I had started and ended with pink, but because it was so much pink and so little multi, when it was “done” I decided to add 2 rows of multi color in all DC on each side for balance.

^worked from side to side like this ^
...when desired WIDTH is reached, finish off.... give piece a 1/4 turn so the side margins become the top and bottom and stripes now run top to bottom, vertical (instead of side to side, horizontal), and add fringe through the loops now that the stitches run sideways.