Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Yarn Corral

That's right.  A Yarn Corral.  I invented it all by myself.    This is not a bit of panty hose.  This is not a yarn bra.  This is using what came with the yarn to advantage and not spending a dime.

The yarn is from Katia and is a slippy slippy viscose, polyamid, polyester blend that has been in the stash for a long time.  When purchased, it came wound on the cardboard sleeve and had a rubber band around it (placed by the LYS) to hold the label and yarn in place. 

This is one of those yarns that becomes a tangle at even the slightest breeze.  But I corralled it.  Yes I did.

First, check out the arrow at the bottom of the photo.  That is the rubber band (free with purchase) and it is on the outside of the plastic bag.  The top arrow points to the yarn tail coming out of the bag at the precise point where I stopped the "zip".

Free Instructions:

1.  Rewind (with great patience) the yarn into an old fashioned ball. 
2.  Place cardboard tube (from inside yarn) into a zip top plastic bag.
3.  Put yarn label into bag for good measure.
4.  Using rubber band (on outside of bag) wrap and grip bag to cardboard so tube does not move and there is no give at the bottom.   Make it tight.
5.  Chase down escaping ball of slippy yarn and rewind as necessary.
6.  Place ball of yarn into cardboard tube and feed end up past zip top of bag.  Yarn might be tight at the beginning.   Never fear.  Barely moving slippy yarn is better than having the stuff roll around under the sofa and come out as a tangled mass of unidentifiable string type item.
7.  Zip closure of bag so that yarn ball can't escape but one little string can be used.
8.  Pray.  Breathe.  Pray.

As it happens, this slippy Katia yarn is being crocheted.  Every time I put the hook down, the yarn started slipping the wrong way and horrid things happened.

To solve the issue, I vowed to never stop until one round of crochet was completed.  That made it easy to use the moveable marker (indicating the start of a new round) to also grasp the yarn loop and prevent anything untoward from happening.

I fought the yarn and I won. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Itty Bitty Bag

Sadly, after years of wear, tear and travel, my trusty suitcase has been laid to rest (aka taken down and left near the recycle bin just on the off chance that....).  As much as I loved every pocket, pouch and zipper, it had to be done.  The thing barely arrived home from the Ecuador/Peru excursion. 

After searching high and low priced retail establishments and searching online extensively, I finally decided to change my packing profile.  I have two new rolling bags.  One is similiar to my beloved old one.  The second is a smaller rolling case that is bigger than a tote but less than a "suitcase."  Alas, the interior of neither has as many pockets and hiding spots as my beloved.

Necessity is the mother of invention.  Or in this case, the mother of crochet.  This took almost ninety minutes to visualize and hook up.  It is just an itty bitty bag for holding itty bitty stuff.  Stuff like spare ear buds or lip balm or stitch markers or whatever I might need on a trip.

The only pattern is experience.  My favorite pattern of all time.

The bottom is single crochet and is worked like a basic crochet hat.  All that I did was work five-or maybe six-single crochets into a magic circle and tighten it up.  Then the typical 2 sc in each for the first round and 2 sc in one + 1 sc in each x sc on successive rounds until the diameter matches the desire of one's heart. 

I did carry the single crochet upward a bit so that nothing falls out of the bottom.  Prudence does has a place - even in the world of no pattern yarn work.

Double crochet rounds make the sides more flexible.  And because I tend to like a bit of fluff now and then, I worked chain stitch loops around the top followed by single crochets in the loops.  This produced nice holes for the drawstring and a little ruff at the top when closed.

This was a quick and practical project.  That it only took a small bit of the afternoon is even better.  I just might have to churn out more and have a whole collection at my disposal.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Geaux Time!

College football is on the horizon.  There are favorite teams here at Maison Francois Stewart.  We live in southern California and are proud to support THE southern California team.  The DH has two degrees from Baylor and his blood tends to run green and gold - especially with the recent success of both football and women's basketball.

And then there is heritage.  You can move the Cajuns from Louisiana, but they don't loose their roots.  This year, I am ready for football! 

All I have to say is  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Going On Vacation

Vacation is on the horizon.  This is a vacation that is familiar to many knitters.  Those who crochet also know about this vacation.  I will enjoy the vacation.  The vacationer will not even know what is happening.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the one going on vacation.

The vacation will take place on the far reaches of Upper Shelf which is on the north side of Closet - far from Active Projects and even farther from Yarn In Good Standing.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Just Knittin'

It has been over a month since my joyous attempt at dyeing yarn.  At the time, I was thinking about combining my rainbow tints with black for another stained glass looking project.  A deep dive into the stash brought one (and only one) skein of blue to light.

Look!   I can knit stripes.   Nothing fancy at this point.  This started as just fifty stitches (sport weight) worked in garter.  I have even remembered to slip the edge stitches, which is a huge accomplishment for me.

Do I have a pattern?  No

Have I thought about what to do when the blue is all used up?  Yes

What is the plan? It is a bit loose and flexible at this point

I have begun to decrease on one side every now and then.  If the blue holds out, I have a plan to keep decreasing down to thirty or fewer stitches.   At that point, I'm thinking of knitting to some length that will wrap around my neck and add an edging to two sides.   The result will be a striped base shape with a knitted (or crocheted) edge of just the dyed yarn.

That's the flexible plan.  But for now - I'm just knittin'

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Successful Test!

My opportunity to test a friend's short row crochet work has come to an end.  I'm a bit sad to see this one finished and blocked.  It was a joy to make and it provided the opportunity to learn a new little twist on the single crochet stitch.

This is my interpretation of How Deep Is The Ocean.  The stash did not include a skein of "ocean" shades, so I made do with this Lang wool that hints at sunset on the water.

Here is a close up of the short row work.  Crocheting the sections makes this pattern fun.   Since crochet is so quick to stitch (at least it is for me) the sections work up very fast.  Each short row section is a perfect stopping point.  And that makes this scarf pattern an easy travel project when interruptions are anticipated.

I love the way that stitching straight rows appears to make a curve.  I have mentioned this for knit projects in prior posts.  The illusion just makes me happy.

Congrats, Leo, on a great pattern!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dyeing To Learn Something New

Yarn on four feet with a head and tail.  Somewhere under all this natural-state-fiber is a real life alpaca having a snack. 

Awana Kancha, located outside of Cusco, Peru is a fabulous location for learning about the Andean weavers and  South America's four camelids (alpaca, llama, vicuña, and guanaco).

Naturally, I loved feeding the animals and they love the constant influx of alfalfa offered from the hands of tourists.  There is much education to be had at this learning center.
The examples of natural dyes were fascinating.

Click on the photos and check out the colors that result from dyeing with grasses and other flora.  When I have time, there is research to be done so that I understand more about the ways of the Andean weavers and how to get the vibrancy of color without harsh chemicals.

I will start with the info to be had here and then move onward further learning.  For instance, the skin of the chapi plant  produces orange.
Kinsacucho  makes shades from blue to teal and naturally I was drawn to what my family considers "mom's color."

I did not take a photo of the educational part of the actual dyeing which seems to involve a yarn swimming in pot of solution and slowly simmering over a dung fire for hours. 

All in all, Awana Kancha is a great stop with lots of education and fun.  If the fates allow you a visit to Peru, be sure to include this on a day trip.

PS - there is shopping!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Yarn That Binds

Oh, what thrills there are to enjoy when one takes off on a "bucket list" trip.  These last weeks took me to South America and included time in Ecuador and Peru.  For a yarn-a-holic such as yours truly, there was bliss.  I'll spare you an extended tale of talking to the llamas munching grasses at Machu Picchu and instead share some of what followed me home.
Whilst in Ecuador, wandering through the market at Otavalo, I saw many versions of leather bits crocheted together into motifs reminiscent of the "cathedral window" quilt pattern.  Scarfs and ponchos were everywhere.  My initial thought was to skip right over what appeared to be mass produced.  And I stuck to my conviction for about an hour.

Then, at a booth on the far edge of this sprawling market, shading herself from the sun, sat a woman of indeterminate age weilding a crochet hook with speed and grace such that little bits of leather were joined together to make squares.   It was obvious that the squares would be joined into wearable art. 

Not mass production at all.  Just a skilled artisan working daily to produce beauty.  A woman just like me. 

In that moment, I discovered a truth and absorbed it into my soul.  This yarn thing has staying power and is a great equalizer. 

Spin it,
dye it,
work it,
buy it,
wear it,
gift it. . .

. . .blessed be the yarn that binds.