Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Getting A Jump On Tulips

Even here in the California southland, it is too early to see tulips available in abundance.  But I've got a jump on the little bulbs.

The pattern is Lapis Wrap published in Interweave Crochet or check it out on Ravelry.  Note the word 'lapis' and compare to my work.  Clearly this is not lapis blue yarn.  Whilst quizzing the staff at my LYS concerning the amount of sport weight in stock, another customer joined the conversation with a sentiment that caused me to pause.

Reds, offered she, are the most versatile shades.  The thinking behind that pronouncement is thus:  red fits with Valentines, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day and Christmas and looks great during the Olympics.  That is a whole heap of holiday celebrations during which red can be worn successfully.  (Mardi Gras, St. Paddy's & Halloween are of course excepted)

And there was this in the red section of the store - twelve balls of Frog Tree Alpaca, sport in color #204.

Oh, yes.

Tulips. The point of this post.  Almost forgot.

The Lapis Wrap pattern includes several inserts of openwork  that is referred to as tulip panel.  Three puff stitches arise from one space and simulate the petals of a tulip blossom.

At this point, I'm not quite half way done with the wrap.  But Valentine's Day is weeks (and a whole new year) away.  That gives me
plenty of time to get all of the tulips growing throughout this wrap!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Slipping For Effect

What follows is a review of playing around with a crochet hook and Trendsetter Bodega fluffery.  
Yours truly with a boa made from Bodega.  This version is created by using said crochet hook to slip stitch along the edge.  Each insertion of the hook was about 3/4 inch apart.  But that varied.  

Precision of stitch placement is not required.  That is important as this yarn makes a great beginner project.

And, might I note that if one does not like the resulting fluff or twist, it is extremely easy to pull out the slip work and start over.  Love that.

This is the same yarn with the slip stitch moved to the center of the yarn.  Again, precision is not required.  I did try very hard to place the hook at a fairly consistent distance from one stitch to the next.  The result is totally different.

More narrow & more twisted this scarf version is well suited to a smaller frame.  It still has that artistic wow, so that is not lost.

Side by side comparison of the two techniques.

On the left is the version with the crochet slip stitches placed along the edge.

On the right is the version with with crochet slip stitches moved to the center.

Check out the close up of each.


The Specifics:  Trendsetter Yarn Bodega in colorway 414 - Mardi Gras.  Surely you sensed that coming.  You had to see this Cajun getting all excited about those colors! 

Monday, December 19, 2011


This is a story of tired fingers.  It is brief as my digits don't even want to stay on the keyboard very long.

The "suddenly I need one more hat" is completed.  As in ready to go.  So ready that immediately upon the photo opportunity, it was sealed safely in festive wrapping and set under the tree.

And - quite the surprise to my early morning brain - I even remembered to insert the yarn band with the washing instructions!  Often I have forgotten that little luxury. 

This is Berroco Vintage which is a machine washable blend.  Of course I'll probably get a little focused on the recipient and point out way too many times that it is machine washable.  NOT to be tossed in a hot dryer.  But, 'tis blue as was requested.  Plain old fashioned navy blue. 

It turns out that I have some blocking still to accomplish.  This is a second Dragon's Tail scarf.  That's all I have to say about it.  Anything else can be tracked, guessed or otherwise figured out. 

Yep, my fingers are tired.  But it is a good tired.  Know what I mean?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Brief Shining Moment

For one brief shining moment of time, I was caught up.  The time line was under control.  You hear that, Madame Fate.  I was in control!  And then. 

And then. 

And then. . .

opportunity came my way and all semblance of calm control vanished as though it were smoke up the chimney.

It seems that my hat knitting days are not over.  Unfortunately, the blue stash was used up for the hats that where shipped away.  What is it with blue this year?   I thought grey was the new black, but maybe it is blue that is the new black.  Oh, well.  I was forced (Forced, I tell you.  'Twas not my fault) to go shopping for more yarn.  And, what does "blue" mean when standing in the midst of temptation.  Weaker women will state that it only takes one skein to make a hat.  But, I am a woman of strength and I know that the odds are strong that more than one skein of blue yarn will be needed in my knitterly life.  That's all I'm saying on that topic.

 So, the black scarf and a second dragon scarf are on hold while I whip out another hat.  This makes the top of the coffee table look rather disorganized. 

It is organized in my own special fashion.  The black alpaca is in a bag and contained in a bowl on top of pattern that one day will be cast on.  The second dragon scarf is under the beginnings of the necessary blue hat (work order - finish the blue and discover the dragon).  Off to the side is a new phone sock that still needs a button.  And placed just so is the ball 'o blue and the dragon cone with beads at the ready. 

But that is not all!   Nay, Madame Fate has dropped another in my lap.  Under the table at my feet and surrounded by potato chip crumbs (late night energy) is a bag of organic cotton that wants to become a donation of  wash cloths for an activity in early 2012.

I love knitting or crocheting for moi.  But I adore making items for others.  Maybe the job of Madame Fate is to prevent narcissism and keep me looking outward to the needs of others.

Oh, that Madame Fate - - she is one smart cookie.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Maggie Mae - a free pattern for you

Maggie Mae
Lenora François Stewart
François Stewart DesignsTM
Maggie Mae is a simple sleeveless pullover with a deep neckline.   The top is worked in one piece beginning at the arm opening and continuing across the front then around the back and ending with a simple kitchener stitch join.  Short shoulder seams complete the construction.  Neck edge and arm openings are finished with reverse single crochet.  

NOTICE:  Pattern fit is easily adjustable.  To add to circumference you may add two rows of stockinette under each arm, add two rows of seed stitch to each front side or/and add and even number of seed stitch rows to the back.  For every four rows added, the blocked width is increased by 1 inch.

Size:  S (M, L)
Chest:   32” (34”, 37”) pattern is sized for a close fit and to accommodate stretch inherent in cotton garments. 
Length:  20.5 (20.5, 23)  NOTE:  Blocked length is actually determined by your stitch gauge.  Cotton will give.

Yarn:  Noro Taiyo (40% cotton, 30 % silk, 15% wool, 15% nylon, 100 g/ 201m), 3 balls
Needles:  size #10 (6mm) circular, 24”.  Use needle size to get gauge or knit loosely 
Hook:   size I (5.5mm) crochet hook
Notions: tapestry needle, stitch marker, waste yarn (used for provisional cast on)
Gauge:  16 sts = 4” (10 cm) Because the entire top is worked side to side, this gauge does not indicate the final length of the garment.  The cotton content of the suggested yarn, the weight and the downward pull all combine to make the final length after blocking approximately 20.5 – 23 “

CO 32 (32, 36) stitches plus provisional CO 41 (41, 45) additional stitches. 73(73, 81) TOTAL stitches cast on.  If using a different yarn, increase the provisional CO stitches based upon your gauge.

Front Side
WS  Seed Stitch
RS  Seed Stitch  (place stitch marker to indicate right side)
Repeat Seed Stitch as established for 4.5” (5”, 5.5”)
End on WS row

Begin Neck Shaping
RS  BO 3 stitches at beginning (neck edge) and continue in seed stitch
WS  Seed stitch
Repeat these two rows 9 more times (Total of 30 stitches bound off)

RS  CO 3 stitches then work RS row in seed stitch.  Be careful to work the 3 new cast on stitches in pattern!
WS  Seed Stitch
Repeat these two rows 9 more times (total of 30 stitches cast on = 73 ((73,81)) total stitches)

Front Side
Working on stitches as established, continue in seed stitch until this side measures 4.5” (5”, 5.5”).  Measure from beginning of 73 (73, 81) stitches after completing neck.

Arm Hole
RS  Loosely BO 32 (32, 36) stitches, k across remaining 41 (41, 45)
WS  p 41 (41, 45)
RS  k 41 (41, 45)
WS  p 41 (41, 45)
RS k 41 (41, 45))
Large Size Only work four more rows: 
WS    p 45
RS    k 45
WS    p 45
RS    k 45

WS  seed stitch across 41 (41, 45) stitches
RS  CO 32 (32, 36) stitches then work entire row in seed stitch pattern  73 (73, 81) stitches after completing cast on
Continue in seed stitch for 15 (16, 17) inches ending with a WS row
RS   BO 32 (32, 36)  stitches, k across remaining 41 (41, 45)
WS  p 41 (41, 45)
RS  k 41 (41, 45)
WS  p 41 (41, 45)

Large Size Only work four more rows: 
RS    p 45
WS    k 45
RS    p 45
WS    k 45

Remove provisional cast on and return stitches to other end of circular needles (or use a spare needle)
Graft (kitchener stitch) 41 (41, 45) stitches together.

Sew shoulders
Weave in all ends
Beginning at right shoulder seam, work reverse single crochet around entire neck edge.
Work reverse single crochet around arm holes.

©2010 François Stewart Designs, Lenora François Stewart
All rights reserved
This pattern is for your personal, non-commercial use only.
You are not allowed to make garments from this pattern for sale anywhere.
You are not allowed to mass produce this pattern or garments made from this pattern.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I've Got A Dragon By The Tail

Looky here!  A dragon's tail made from linen and beads.  Yippie.   Each little point along the top spine has one bead at the tip.  And then the long straight edge has beads added in during the bind off.   

Now, I readily admit that taken from this overhead view it does not look like much.  And I could have taken more care and placed the lower curve just so.   Given my poor photo skills, perhaps this next view will be more pleasing.  Just look at the scarf and ignore the model.


A few notes for those who might score the pattern and consider grabbing this dragon by the tail.

I added two extra points to give more wrapping length.

The last four points were expanded to ten rows rather than the eight row repeat of the pattern directions

This linen went through the dryer in two separate fifteen minute cycles:  wet, dryer, lay out points, finish drying whilst flat.  Repeat.

And then it still was not wanting to begin to soften up. 

So. . . . 

Tossed it in the dryer with NO HEAT for 45 minutes and beat the softness into it.  

That did the trick as now it feels worn.  Not as comfortable as it will be with time, but soft enough to drape well.

Did I already say Yippie? 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Joyous Class

It was with eager anticipation that we showed up for a scarf class.  Nothing fancy was on the agenda, nothing wild and untried was expected.  What was on tap was a group experience of two dozen knitters of all skill levels coming together to start knitting along on a linen scarf.

Yes, linen.  In the winter.  Perhaps linen is not high on the winter fibers if you live in a cold and snowy climate.  However, for three reasons, linen was the perfect choice for this December class.

First, linen is the yarn preferred by the designer.  The scarf pattern is Dragon's Tail Scarf by Jane Tea-Hajosy from Two Sisters and Ewe.  Her suggestion is Louet Euroflax.  Many of us (including moi) took that suggestion and interpreted it with a Claudia Hand Painted colorway.

Second reason why linen is a perfect choice is physical.  While I did not snap a photo of the over crowded tables, one look at the average age and any informed woman would also opt for the coolest possible string to twirl about the neck.  Our aim in life is to reduce heat surges!

The third reason that I am convinced linen is a perfect winter knit is pragmatic.  Even if we get all caught up in holiday celebrations and the new year, surely we will all have this beaded swath completed by spring time.

 During our group knit-a-long class I managed to complete seven points.  Today, armed with a spiced tea I set my self to getting much farther along. 

This scarf is a simple eight row repeat.  Once you go through the increase, bead, bind off series a few times, it becomes very zen and repetitive.

This is color is Ocean Depth and filled with undulating greens and purples.  This hank has been front and center in the stash because I love the shades so very much.

Each point - as in the blades of a dragon tail - has one bead.  Then, when it is time to bind off, more beads are added.  The final result will be asymmetrical.  The neck edge is filled with increases so that it will wrap around the neck and let the beaded points be the focus.

One pot of tea and much progress later, the scarf is already half way completed.  Now the real time sink begins because each row get progressively longer.  In looking at my personal calendar, there should be time enough available to have this one completed by the end of the weekend. 

So, what is the moral to the story?  When you work your tail off getting all the gifts knitted and shipped by December 7th, you can work on a new tail (scarf) for yourself.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fluff 'N Stuff

Happy Fluffy Day!  Finally a fresh shipment of Katia Triana Lux arrived down at my go to source for string.   Weeks ago I scored a ball of the grey/blackish/ecrulike stuff for moi.  And it is a hit every time I wear it now that sparkle season has arrived.

Unfortunately, that  colorway was not in this latest shipment and I was forced to choose new festive shades for gifting.  The deep dark blue (there in the background) really dresses up an old pair of jeans.  The golden swath is right in tune with this December holiday season.

And, it turns out, the gold also looks fabulous with jeans and makes an evening at home into a very special occasion.

The folks that I know are all knitting this specialty yarn.  It took a while, but I did figure out how best to turn it into a neck fluff with a crochet hook.  The final effect is not the same as when knit, but it does work and holds up well.

Here is the method that worked best.  It is based on Tunisian Simple Stitch if you get lost.

Fold in the end as for knitting and pick up four "stitches" on the hook.

YO and pull through two "stitches"

Repeat back until there is only one stitch (loop) on the hook.

Pick up three new "stitches" on the hook (for a total of four) and repeat the YO, pull through two process.

Need a better explanation?  Leave a comment and I'll be working on a better description to send out.