Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Branching Out

Another project is off the hook and in the final moments of drying after a soak and a shaping.  But that is for another day.

Normally, I don't make jewelry.  Oh, there has been dabbling in the past.  And like those efforts, this is probably a one-off thing while I caught up on useless television watching. 

The original plan was to incorporate this mélange of shells and beads into that which is now complete (more to come on that).  After sewing and trying on the new CAL top, it became obvious that it did not need a fringe of dangling bits about the neckline.  So, I strung up a bunch of things and chained up a necklace.

I love it!   Instructions:

String a whole heap of beads, bits and spare parts onto fingering weight yarn.  Put on way more than you think is needed.

Chain a few stitches, pull up object, chain it into place tightly, repeat the chain/object sequence until the length makes you happy.

That's it folks.  Fancy people and those who know how to do such things will smartly add some type of crimp bead and closure and be really uptown with the finished necklace.  I'm in a very mellow mood and chose to tie a knot.  That's right.  I put a good old fashioned K  N  O  T  in the yarn and declared it done.

"Don't sweat the small stuff. . . . "

Friday, April 18, 2014

Walking Pretty

Summer is not far away.  Plans are being made for vacation and cotton linen blends are quickly replacing alpaca or wool.  Time to yarn bomb the feet.

Understand that I do not advocating sneaking up on unsuspecting family members whilst they slumber and wrapping their tootsies with fiber.  That would not be cool.  Fun.  But not cool.

Rather, I suggest that you jazz up the summer flip flops with yarn covered straps and then add embellishments as you desire.

I found a deal ($2.99) on these spongy basic flips and used leftover acrylic to cover the straps.  The process is simple enough for any beginner.  Frankly, except for the hook and string thing, potential makers might think that this is just crafting and not realize that they have learned to crochet.

Perhaps you want a pair for yourself or maybe you have a sudden desire teach a group how to make these fun and fast to complete summer sandals.

There is a great video over here.  This one is clear and detailed enough for everyone.  Get out there and yarn bomb your feet - - with style.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

So Happy Together

When the Spring issue of Interweave Crochet hit the store shelves, several of us drooled.  Don't worry.  We did not drool on the yarn in the store.  We drooled over the cover and the Convergence top.

Short rows mean that the Noro stripes are not quite horizontal which is a very good thing for those of us who provide our own horizontal-ness around the mid section.

We bought, we planned, we made a pact to all make this cotton summer top.   We even share our progress through the Facebook group for customers of The Knitting Tree, LA.

It is apparent that even though we are all doing the same pattern, the final result of each project will reflect the personal hand of the maker.  Switching yarn, moving to worsted weight, not getting gauge (and fudging just a little) and interpreting the look are providing great interest as our own little CAL moves along.

Here is my beginning.  This is the back.  Because I am between sizes (per the pattern, but my gauge is off*), I am making the back a smaller size - stitch count - than the front.  The front will be larger and that should make it converge on my body just fine. 

We are all learning & strengthening skills. 
  • Foundation double crochet
  • Linked double crochet at the beginning of a row
  • Short Rows
  • Counting
Yes, counting.  It turns out that working short rows that contain holes requires one to pay attention and to count accurately.  Notice that the word "accurately" is emphasized.  I can count.  I can count higher than the average person.  But counting stitches accurately is a skill that is several steps above counting to ten before yelling, "ready or not, here I come."  

Hey, Summer.  Ready or not, here come a whole bunch of women who Converge to crochet!

* My friends are not allowed to laugh hysterically about the public confession that "my gauge is off". 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Two Day Hat

If you happen to be anywhere near
this blog or Los Angeles you know that the great Yarn Crawl LA was last week.  One of the thrills is that the shop owners are all so generous.  Great samples - either worked in house or from a designer trunk show - are there for the viewing.  Absolutely free entertainment even if the budget is blown and you can't buy two skeins of cashmere.

Most of the shops that I visited had free patterns for the "crawlers."  Well, look here at the free hat pattern that Annette of The Knitting Tree, LA designed and made available. 

It is a jaunty crochet hat.  I chose to make it in Madelinetosh Vintage because I bought that from the Tree as well.   But really, folks.  Two days is all it took to make this hat.  It is part of my determination to branch out and explore new colorways.  You know what?  I could get used to "not teal or jade or merlot." 

I'm so happy with this one that I actually changed my Facebook profile pix to be this hat.  That's a whole lot of happy.  Thank You, Annette!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sleeve-to-sleeve Sideways Construction

Perhaps you'll enjoy seeing the sideways construction of my new cardigan.  This one is knit in one swoop from the cast on of the right sleeve ribbing all the way to the left sleeve ribbing bind off.  That makes for a large swath of fabric in the lap once the end is in sight.

Part of the brilliance of working this cardigan in one piece is the use of two provisional rows at the center front.  The arrow points to the bright yellow that is holding live stitches on the right and left fronts.  Use of this technique lets the color flow across the (eventual) opening and the row count flow across the front through to the back.

That big hole in the middle is the neck.  At first the written pattern for this section confused me greatly.  Luckily daughter who crochets knows how to read a pattern and visualize what must happen.  She explained it to me in different words than the designer used.  'Twas like a Stewart Light Bulb turned on at 150 watts. 

This one piece construction means that only two seams are required.  One for each side.  It was impossible to mess this up.  The alternating bands of stockinette and garter made it so easy to see how it all lined up.  I chose to work each side with two threads.  First from cuff ribbing up to underarm.  Then from the body side edge up to the underarm. 

After the seams were worked, the pattern directs that the provisional rows at the center front are removed.  That leaves the following for the edging:  pick up live stitches on one front, pick up and knit stitches around the neck, pick up the live stitches on the other front side and then pick up and knit stitches around the whole bottom.  That was a whole heap of stitches on a 40" needle, but 6 - 8 rounds and the thing was done. 

And I am still happy.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Seaside Colors

Try as I might with the 2014 determination to expand my colorway choices, this Tangier was too luscious to resist.  It is so me that it practically jumped onto the needles and demanded to get clicking.

Enter Seaside, my interpretation of this pattern over here.  Because the yarn changes shades throughout, working two colors per the pattern was not necessary.   It turns out that the colorway I chose is #12 aka Seascape.  It is filled with shades of the deep ocean and goes quite well with my preference for the jewel tones ranging from teal to almost jade and lightening up with a sunny blue and deepening with grey.

I just let the yarn do its thing and enjoyed watching the colors of the sea come to life.  Even the stormy grey color - initially not my favorite - showed up occasionally like the wild weather that can generate freshness.   That stormy shade had me thinking throughout the knit that something was missing.  The pattern does not call for buttons, but I flirted with the thought just to add the missing "thing that isn't right about this."  It bothered me through about two-thirds of the work.

Then it hit me like sun rays peaking out from a thunderhead.  Every cloud - especially those dark and stormy ones - has a silver lining!   And now my Seaside cardigan has a silver lining too.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Don't bother me, I'm crawling.  As in driving at a crawl whilst getting from store to store during the Yarn Crawl.  My plan is to hit my local area on the first day, then branch out on the next three days.  Sunday will find me checking out a few stores that I've never visited.

The list is made and daughter - she who crochets - has added a few items of her own.  That pesky job has her unable to crawl on the first two days and I'll be at stores that might have just what she needs.

The list is not all yarn.  It includes such wonders as buttons, needles and beads.  I will pick up my tote bag and get my first stamp at The Knitting Tree, LA where friends await.  Then it is off to the south bay shops and a hop over to the Long Beach area to round out Thursday.

That's about as much info as I can divulge.  Somewhere out there in Los Angeles county is a yarn shop with 1200 yards of teal/grey sock weight all in the same dye lot, and I'm going to find it!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Put Down The Knitting. . . .

the book and the broom.  Life is a Caberet!

Thought you might need a little color inspiration from Mother Nature.