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Movember is all about moustaches and raising awareness about prostate cancer. My friends have been growing their moustache for several weeks, sporting their facial pilosity with pride. But how could I participate? Crocheting one, of course.

My all-time favorite composer and guitarist is Frank Zappa. He is one of the most prolific musician I know, releasing over 60 albums during his 33 years of musical carrier. He is also well known for his iconic moustache. Here it is :

frank-zappa.jpgSadly enough, he died from prostate cancer at the young age of 52. I felt I had to pay a tribute to him for our annual moustache contest (the JIMM : Journée Internationale de la Moustache Montréalaise, not originally related to Movember, but we moved it to November to show our support).

This year, we had a props category for the persons who can't biologically grow a moustache (mostly girls, in our case), and guess what... I won! Here is the picture from the competition.

This is not much of a pattern, but more some kind of guideline to explain what I did. I hope you get inspired by it.

My Zappa moustache is crocheted from natural (undyed) brown single-ply wool, which incidentally matches my hair color. It was easy to do : I chained until it was long enough to cover my upper lip and go down on both sides of my mouth. Then, I singled-crochet 2 rows. Holding the moustache-to-be over my face in the mirror, I decided where I wanted the angle to be. That happened to be 4 stitches from each ends.  I slipped-stitched 4 stitches, skipped 2-3 stitches, and single-crocheted tightly so it would pull the end of the moustache at a right angle. I single-crocheted until I was 6-7 stitches from the other end of the moustache, skipped 2-3 stitches and slip-stitched tightly to form the other angle. The key here is to be symmetrical. I finished it my slip-stitching some more to make sure the angle will stay put and weaved in the ends.

Then, I made a square for the pinch. Soaked everything in water and blocked it overnight. You can felt it if you feel like it.

On the big day, I used regular scotch tape to adhere it to my face, but I think double side tape would have been better. I tried to eat soup while wearing it, and I tell you it's a real challenge!

Here are some great hand crafted moustaches resources I took my inspiration from :


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champagne_model1.jpgI designed this neckwarmer last year for my friend's birthday. Within 48 hours, I had spun and  knitted it. I could not find a decent set of buttons in my stash, so I figured out how to make a set of buttons out of Champagne cork stoppers. By the way, after a year of wear, the buttons never failed, so unless you pull on them deliberately, they're solid and there to stay. For your pleasure, here is how to do it and how it all happened.

Big chunky snowflakes were slowly falling as I was trying my hands at a new hobby : spinning. I was turning mountains of big fluffy Corriedale top into soft, chunky yarn with the humble help of a drop spindle. I was plying it using my own two hands with the Andean ply technique. It was low-tech. It was awesome.

I soon had a big ball of bulky, bumpy, slubby, thick-and-thin yarn. The natural wool color was asking for another natural companion : wood. A couple of cork stoppers turned themselves into buttons, the yarn was tamed with a simple stockinette stitch and in an evening I had a new cozy neckwarmer for my friend's birthday.

This is a great neophyte spinner project that showcases your very own bumpy handspun yarn. This neckwarmer keeps you warm while the upcycled cork buttons make both an environmental and a fashion statement. It also makes a quick and sophisticated gift : after all, you had to drink four bottles of Champagne to make it!

champagne_model5.jpgFinished measurements
Width: approx. 7.5 inches
Length: approx. 19 inches

  • 1 set(s) US #11/8mm straight needles
  • Fiber: Louet [100% corriedale wool; top]; color: natural white; 3.5 ounces.
Spin it using a drop spindle and the Andean ply technique.

Or use a commercial alternative yarn, like :
Cascade Jewel [100% Peruvian wool; 142yd/130m per 100g skein]; color: 8010; 1 skein

The idea is to have a yarn with 7 wraps/inches that knits with a gauge of 9 sts/12 rows for a 4'' square.

For making the buttons
  • 4 champagne (or sparkling wine) cork stoppers
  • 4 two-holes buttons
  • 2 two inches long safety pins
  • wire cutters
  • a sharp knife
CO 20 stitches.
Rows 1,3,5 : *K2, p2 * to the last 2 sts, k2.
Rows 2,4 : *P2, k2* to the last 2 sts, p2.
Row 6 (WS) : K3, p14, k3
Row 7 (RS) : K all sts.

Repeat rows 6 and 7 until work measures 16.5 inches. Finish on WS.

Next row (RS) : *K2, p2 * to the last 2 sts, k2.
Next row (WS): *P2, k2* to the last 2 sts, p2.
Button holes row 1: *k2, p, bo1 * 4 time,  k2
Button holes row 2 : *P2, co1, k1* 4 times, p2.
Next row : *K2, p2 * to the last 2 sts, k2.
BO all sts in pattern.

Weave in loose ends. Block to size.

To make the buttons :
Step 1 : Using a sharp knife, cut the champagne cork stoppers in order to have four 0.5 inches thick slices.

champagne_butt1.jpgStep 2 : Cut the two safety pins with the wire cutters in order to have four straight pieces of metal.
champagne_butt2.jpgStep 3 : Bend each piece in two.
champagne_butt3.jpgStep 4 : Insert a bent piece of metal into a 2-holes button.

champagne_butt4.jpgStep 5 : On the wrong side of the work, place the button. The metal should be poking out on the right side.

champagne_butt5.jpgStep 6 : Center a cork slice on the metal pokes and press firmly.  Tip : It's better if the metal pokes are not parallel. In other words, they must flare a little. That way, once it's inserted into the cork, it will not come out easily.

champagne_butt6.jpgRepeat steps 4-6 to secure the remaining buttons.

Baby booties

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Three of my friends are pregnant. Three! A couple of years ago, we were wild party animals (well, sort of) and now we are all settled down, serious and well-behaved. I suppose that it's a side effect of aging. Anyway, all this baby frenzy is just an excuse for me to indulge into baby knitting. (I'll get some practice before it's my turn)

sartjee_booties.jpgThese irresistibly spherical booties are Saartje's pattern. I've tried other baby booties patterns (notably one of Debbie Bliss), but these beats them all, for they are super easy to make (almost fool-proof) and absolutely cute. They will be perfect shower gifts, and I will knit spare ones for charity. Hey, even babies I don't know deserve a special something knitted with love.

They are supposed to have buttons to keep the straps closed, but I didn't chose them yet. I guess white ones would do great, but button-shopping is not high on my priority list this week.

Mom's mitts

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My favorite hand-warmers for everyday use is an hybrid between mittens and fingerless gloves. The fingerless part is useful to manipulate my keys, bus pass, etc. while the flap keeps my fingers rather warm when I don't need much dexterity. I already have a pair of them knitted in a gorgeous alpaca yarn by Peruvian women - so soft, so warm! (Well, when the wind doesn't get through. They should make them in double-knit - that would be the ultimate hand-warmers.) I love them so much that I wanted to use their clever design to make a pair of mitts for my mom that also matches her favorite scarf. Here is the result :

mom_gloves2.jpgIt is knitted in superwash Norwegian wool (warm, soft enough, great selection of colors, washable). I used the Knucks pattern by ) to make the fingerless gloves, fiddling with the color scheme of her scarf to customize it. Plus, the double stranding of Fair Isle gives the fabric more thickness, which is appropriate for winter wear. I made a matching flap separately and sew it unto the glove. This flap starts with 1/1 ribbing to ensure a snug fit around the palm. Then, it is worked in stockinette and finishes with decreases that fit the form of a hand (duh). There is a small loop at the top of the flap so it can be attached to the cuff by a button.

mom_gloves3.jpgI gave them to her for Christmas last year and she wears them almost everyday in winter. That makes me smile every time I see them. It's nice to knit for the woman who has knitted me tons of things when I was younger.

Le robot

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What was this yarn I bought yesterday for? Hmmm... I'll give you clue :

LEDs.JPGDon't get it yet? OK, this one is very obscure. It takes a twisted mind like mine to see the connection yarn + flashing LEDs = plush robot! I already made one for my boyfriend's birthday. Please meet Le Robot :
le_robot1_600px.jpgIsn't he adorable? And his switch works for real, see :

le_robot2_600px.jpgI'm not completely satisfied with the outcome of the electronic part (I wish I had used more LEDs) but it's not bad at all for a novice like me. No soldering involved : I just twisted wires together and sealed them with electrician tape. But my boyfriend is really good in electronics and I thought that if we put our hobbies together, we could create the ultimate knitted robot with cool flashing lights. And of course, seeking perfection, we decided to make it a female robot. ;-) She is actually taking form on my needles right now, so more on that later.

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