Mar 29, 2009

Argh! Perhaps Ye Be a Pirate Parrot!

Charles Dickens to the contrary, why is it that the beautiful ones often are the most ornery?

My lovely skein of Araucania Lonco Multy fingering weight cotton yarn came in 440-yard hank that needed to be wound into a ball before it could be used. Eager to get started with turning my Parrot colored hank into a multi-hued lacy shawl, I began what I thought would be an hour-long process. Lacking a yarn swift and choosing not to use my ball winder (okay, I admit, my winder is somewhere to be found), I put the hank over the back of a tall chair and started the wind up Friday evening. The process was slow and then grew laborious as realization dawned that the skein was twisted upon itself. It appears the hank had been tied in a way different from other skeins I had wound in the past. Five hours later, I, and approximately 50 yards, was undone and I needed my bed. Saturday afternoon, I drafted the able hands and neck of my eldest and took up the chore anew. Two hours later, I excused my human yarn swift to work the the last 25 yards alone. I wanted so much to find a short cut but refused to cut the yarn. Another two hours passed before I wrapped the final length of strand around the ball.

Damn! Nine hours in total to produce the lovely ball above. I probably will spend less time crocheting the shawl than I did in making the ball! But isn't it georgous! The sheen, the strength of color. Can't wait to get started.

Mar 24, 2009

Great Minds and All That

OH. MY. GOD! I just discovered that the Triple Curve Stitch pattern I used for my Royal Lattice scarf is similar to the pattern crafted by Leigh Radford for her Blizzard Scarf (published in Scarf Style). A slightly modified version is the basis for Marianne Forrestal Airy Spring Throw profiled in the Mar/Apr 2009 issue of Crochet Today. Radford turned her scarf on its side, crocheting up the 84-inch long span to a 27-inch rise, while my scarf rises 44 inches up from an 11-inch base. Forrestal modified the vase-lie diamonds from which the curved stitches seem to spurt like a fountain by adding a v-stitch and integrating intermitten rows of double crochet in with the single crochet.

Although it appears all three scarves/shawls are based on the Triple Curve Stitch profiled in the Harmony Guide to Crocheting: Techniques and Stitches, each is finished very differently. Radford's features two rows of sc, while Forrestall goes quite fancy with a lacy scalloped edging. I opted for something in between with a mosaic border from a simple dc, ch1, 4dc cluster, ch1 repeat.

I'm generally satisfied happy with how my scarf turned out, despite the fact that blocking opens up the stitch pattern but looses the texture and springyness inherent in Paton's 70% bamboo/30% sik blend. It's just that 11 inches by 43 inches is just an awkward size for an open pattern stitch. I'm going to have to put it back among my works in progress until I can double it's size. More later about how I do that.

Mar 15, 2009


I'm into vintage patterns these days. They seem to have so much more to offer in crochet, particularly when it comes to wearable fashion. Although not a fan of doilies -- using or making -- I see their construction as ways to improve my skills. They also can be modified to make some beautiful lace shawls. I also think I was hooked by the film noir look of the photos. The draw you right into the photo and straight to the item being featured. Today's photographers of contemporary crochet magazines should take a cue from vintage patterns such as these.

Here are a couple of my recent acquisitions:

Some pretty cool patterns include this Star-Stitch Crocheted Vest made from 990 yards of cotton thread size 5 and a #7 steel crochet hook.

Although I doubt I would make the acorn gadget as pictured, the acorns themselves are quite cute and would make interesting embellishments to a hat, or as buttons on a child's sweater.
These crochet gloves look quite snazzy and use about 320 yards of No 5 cotton crochet thread. I think I will add two columns of cables up the back for a little variety.

This Kids Sweaters booklet feature both knit and crochet patterns.

And of course I could not resist this little gem, as I look for ways to improve my basic knitting skills.
These patterns serve to reinforce what a crochet instructor taught me -- that crochet fabric can be quite supple when the right yarn and right hook are used. In this case, a fine gauge yarn (or thread) and a larger hook.

Mar 13, 2009

Bad to the Bone?!

Today, I was bad. Very bad.

I went to my favorite LYS to buy yarn for several swaps. I got what I came for, but also walked away with some yarn and vintage buttons I'm keeping for myself. Couldn't help myself. The little shop is chock full of the very thing a yarnaholic, no, a yarn afficianado like myself should indulge in only in measured doses.

You may remember how I gushed over Araucanía's Pategonia Nature's Cotton, a softly-textured smooth bulky yarn, spun into thin and thick plies. According to its website, Araucanía Yarns is a group of artisans and designers dedicated to the artisan dyeing of fibers for weaving and knitting located in Santiago, Chile, on the southwest corner of South America. Well, Araucania has done it again with its brand new Lonco Multi yarn, a simple 100% mercerized cotton fingering weight yarn with the most vivid and vibrant colors I've seen in a long time. The yarn called to me as soon as I walked into the store, with colors straight out of the rain forest: rusty red, ochre yellow, koolaid blue purple, and true green. Unfortunately, although quite inventive when naming yarns, Araucania seems to have assigned the naming of most of its yarn colorways to an accountant. This one is called "4002." Ridiculous -- a better name would be "Parrot." Whatever, I think this skein will be a shawl.

Oh, the reason I was at Aylin's in the first place? I have three active swaps on Ravelry, all of which require yarn. So, in addition to my little indulgence, I picked up:
  • What has got to be the most unusual source for fiber: sugar cane. Araucania's Ruca Multy, made from 100% Italian sugar cane, looks and feels like a bamboo/silk blend, so silky, so shiny, and oh so soft. Okay, okay, I'll say it -- it sure feels sweet! When I raised the skein to my nose for a sniff, the sales lady laughed, saying that everyone does that when first hearing what it is made of . . . No worries, no sugary smell.
  • What has got to be the most bizarre name for a yarn: Bris by Swedish Yarn Imports, half wool and half soy. It feels like a silk/wool blend. I was told that, in Swedish, Bris means "cold breeze between mountains" . . . Go figure.
  • What is a fine example of yarn from one of my favorite yarn companies: Berocco Ultra Alpaca Fine, an ultra soft fingering weight yarn that can be used for shawls, delicate sweaters, and scarves, as well as socks. No slouch in the color naming department, Berocco named this one Redwood Mix.
Yes, I was bad. All this yarn -- obviously I'm not making a dent in my stash. But looking at my list afresh, I wasna so bad. Almost all of this yarn is going to a home I don't call my own. Even the yarn I bought for myself will be used to make something for one of my spoilees. But hey, I get to use it first.

Mar 3, 2009

Update: Janetta lady's collar

Recently I was asked what knitting/ crochet pattern that I've worked that I could see myself making over and over and never get tired of. Well, I can see myself making Janetta's Lady's Collar again, because it is easily memorized, produces something that looks more complicated than it is, and dresses up an outfit with little effort. Here is a close-up of my third version of the collar, done up in a cashmere/silk blend that is luxuriously soft. I love how it feels against the skin and the solid cocoa brown is just the perfect accent with a light colored shirt (perhaps yellow ochre) and a brown suit. This one is a keeper for me. More photos of the collar can be found on Ravelry.

But could I make it over and over and over again, to the exclusino of anyting else? In a word, no. But I don't think that is the question. I would answer that there are several patterns I can see myself making repeatedly and actually do -- simple cloches adorned with buttons [my trademark], baby bibs, neck warmers, and perhaps one day, socks.