Sunday, August 2, 2009

MAKE A TOY HAMMOCK FOR YOUR YARN

[HANDICRAFT SKILLS - 4]

Make a toy hammock for your yarn.Since we live in a very small house, we are short on closet space. This has posed numerous challenges. The situation that I refer to today is a problem I have with too much leftover yarn. Even though I have a long list of projects to use up extra yarn, I almost always end up buying more to finish one of the projects that I started with the idea of using up my leftovers. So, the process begins again, and where do I put all that yarn? Well, I have two large clear plastic bags where I keep yarn. One bag houses leftovers and the other has my current handicraft projects. Both plastic bags of yarn are almost full right now, but that isn’t the problem I’m writing about today.

My dilemma is that I don’t have any more space in my closet to put the two plastic bags of yarn. The bag of leftovers is stashed, but not in the most organized way. The bag for current projects is in a basket on the floor. So, I recently remembered something that I read somewhere. It said that excess yarn can be kept hanging in a toy hammock in a corner on the wall. I liked that idea and looked at pictures of toy hammocks on the Internet. I also looked at blogs that showed instructions for making them using several different handicraft methods, including knitting, crochet, and macramé

After looking at the price tag of commercial toy hammocks, I knew what to do. Instead of purchasing one, I decided to crochet one. I am by no means a crochet expert, but I looked at several examples in pictures on the Internet. From the pictures that I reviewed, I realized that special skills weren’t necessary for this project.

Actually, the plan I have is for two hammocks. I needed two sizes, large and small, to be hung in different corners of my bedroom. I plan to put a larger one in a corner away from the bed for the bulk of extra yarn, and the other in the corner where the bed is, for current projects. I only have one or at most two hours per day to devote to these projects. (I never find days, not even a weekend in which I can dedicate my full attention to a handicraft project.) So, I’m usually tired when I begin to work on my project and end up falling asleep, throwing the project at the basket I leave on the floor (and often missing the basket). Worse yet, I sometimes just push the work to one side of the bed and sleep with it. That’s not a recommended procedure because more than once I’ve awakened with a knitting needle or a crochet hook sticking me in the back or in the ribs.

I decided to crochet the smaller hammock first. It’s also the one I need most right now. Here is my plan for myself, as the tired ‘handcrafter” -- I'll crochet until I can’t keep my eyes open and then throw the project at the hammock in the corner above the bed. Under these circumstances, I believe that the project is more likely to be successfully stowed in the corner, than thrown at a basket in the floor.

I decided to do some research and experiment a bit to see if I could come up with what I wanted. I looked at two different examples on the Internet and came up with my own pattern for a mesh hammock -- a loose and open design. I used an F-size crochet hook and some red fingering-weight cotton thread that I already had. It looks a lot like string. I doubled the thread because I wanted the project to be strong.

After some trial and error attempts, I arrived at a pattern for the smaller hammock, which is about 18 inches across. Here is a brief description of the hammock that I’m making now.

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UPDATE: 8/4/2009
My hammock reached 18 inches, but it's way too small for my needs. I chose 18 inches because that was the size of a toy hammock that I saw on the Internet. I don't think very many toys would fit in a hammock that size -- maybe 2 or 3 Barbie dolls or one medium-sized stuffed animal! The 18 inch triangle that I crocheted would only hold the out-going mail on a busy day, and certainly wouldn't hold any of my handicraft projects. So, I'm still crocheting, and this project will be the 36-inch hammock that I thought would hold my extra yarn (see below). I guess I'll need to crochet a 50-inch hammock for leftover yarn.
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The hammock is a crocheted regular triangle. It has chains of stitches to make “loops” on each of the three points of the triangle. The loops will hold the hammock to the walls in the corner of the room. It will hang from 3 sturdy cup hooks, two on the walls at the same height and the third exactly in the corner, a few inches higher than the other two. I’ll be using wall anchors, as well, to be sure that the hammock doesn’t fall down. The bag that is formed in this way will hold my projects and yarn.

I began last night, and it's going pretty fast. From the progress I see right now, I think it will take me less than a week – about 8 hours -- to finish the project. The bigger hammock that I'll make later will be three feet long and will follow the same pattern. I’ll just keep on adding rows until it measures 36 inches. (I'll probably use heavier yarn, a larger hook, and make four chains to form the loops for the mesh -- that way it will go even faster.)

The only stitches I’m using are double crochet and chains -- I use three -- to form the mesh loops. I started with the point of the triangle at the first loop and am increasing one stitch in each row. I increase in the next to last mesh loop of each row so that the sides of the triangle stay fairly even. I’ll stop making rows when the hammock measures 18 inches. Actually, this is the reverse of what I read in the pattern– supposedly you can start with 18 inches worth of stitches and decrease until you reach the point. I guess it doesn’t make any difference when you are producing a mesh. Also gauge isn’t very important, so don’t worry about that. That’s the beauty of a mesh project – it’s very forgiving of small errors. So, you can proceed confidently, even if there are some small irregularities in your work. That’s a blessing.

I hope that you will be motivated to make a hammock for your yarn, or for the toys of a special youngster, as it was originally intended for, or for some other purpose that you can imagine. The only limitation I can think of is weight. These hammocks are meant to hold only a few pounds of items, so please don’t plan to put the baby in this hammock. You would need different material and probably different crochet stitches, along with a lot stronger support system to make a safe hammock for a baby.

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