May 21, 2009

It's Easy to be Green (or Blue or Red or Yellow or . . . )

Who says market bags have to be boring? Who says they have to be bland to be eco-friendly? With just the right yarn, one can turn vanilla beige into a Sinfully Beautiful Vintage Shopping Bag in a deep royal blue.

The original vintage pattern (Bestway Leaflet 1240) calls for this round market bag to be made of double stranded 4-ply string. Not finding any string, I chose to soften things up a bit with Omega's Sinfonia 100% mercerized cotton sport weight yarn, which I also worked in a double strand. Surprisingly, I was able to make the same guage as called for in the pattern.

The resulting pattern is quite stretchy: I easily stuffed eight 7-oz skeins of Red Heart yarn in it with no problems whatsoever. Imagine the groceries you can stuff in this little bag.

May 16, 2009

Not Your Granny's Crochet

As I embark on my journey from an intermediate crocheter to one with more advanced skills, I have been searching for whatever information I can absorb that will help me create the kind of crochet fabric that is supple, drapes well, and refutes the commonly held perception that crochet is all about the granny square (no insult intended to granny squares).

My journey is to produce the handmade, not the homemade, which is why I love the designs of Julia Vaconsin, a German crochet designer living in France. Her work epitomizes the beauty that is crochet. Take for example, her Malabrigo top published in the Spring 2009 issue of Interweave Crochet. Can you believe that ribbing is crocheted?! Check out this crocheted Fair Isle sweater. Sweet! And these delicate hand warmers -- not clunky at all.

Although my love lies first with crochet (I do knit a bit), lessons can be found even among the knitters. Take for example, TechKnitter from Wisconsin, whose blog is dedicated to retrieving "25 years of knitting tricks want out of my mind, and into yours." Her quicktips are full of gems for any fiber artist (want to get rid of the fishy smell of silk? Read this post). Her well-written discourses on negative/positive ease, among a host of topics, stand as testaments to the knowlege of this woman. Here is a link to an alphabetical list of her posts.

So I plan to keep on learning. Wish me luck in the journey. For links to other inspirational and educational sites, check out the lists to the right.

May 14, 2009

Thy name is . . .

Call me a glutton for punishment. After all I have said about Araucania's Lonco Multy, about how difficult, how tiresome, how tedious it was to wind each skein into a ball, I went out and bought four more skeins! True, the yarn produces a lovely drape and the colors are brilliant, but, I hadn't planned on buying more Lonco until after the manufacturer fixed the skein problem. But the best laid plans of mice and [wo]men . . .

You see, I have two sisters who, as enablers of my crochet passion, convinced me to make them each a Bird of Paradise shawl. Both called asking for the shawl within hours after my posting the pictures to the blog. Of course, any old yarn would not do; it had to be Lonco in the unnamed colorway 4002. So, I will be at it again during the next two months. Actually, it won't be so bad as I will be take this opportunity to actually WRITE down my pattern. I've even recruited another tester.

Did I tell you? I wrote Araucania Yarns about the problems with Lonco. I sent my message late one afternoon and got this response back early the next morning:

"We have had problems with Lonco because the supplier have not used our indications. The idea is that every yarn we worked with should tied up as Patagonia [Nature Cotton] but he sent a totally different kind of ties, which has bring us a lot of troubles. We are working now in an idea to make the untyed proccess easier. I really appreciate your comments."

So, you see, I think this yarn deserves a second chance. At least, that is what I will keep saying to myself as I unwind my new skeins.