Jan 30, 2011

Off the Hook

January has been productive.  I filed my taxes.  We removed the carpet from the living room (love the hardwood floors).   I  even managed to complete a few projects:

Terra Cotta Elise Shawl by Evan Plevinski.  Worked in Louet's Gems Fingering, this little gem (no pun intended) was fun to work.  Featuring a 2-row pattern repeat, I was able to take this along on my daily commute to work.  After the first six rows, the easily memorized pattern is relatively mindless.  This shawl is reserved.  Don't ask me to change my mind or name names.

Two Plum Delight Sun Ray Slouch Berets designed by moi.  Both lacy tams were hooked in Garnstudios Drops Delight, a sock wool yarn with a handspun texture.  Although billed as "luxurious and super soft," I don't think it stands up to this billing.  Despite this letdown, I love the yarn and its extraordinarily long, well matched color transitions results in striping that Garnstudios has dubbed "magic-print."   The pattern results in a beret with a touch of hexagon in the shaping.  Solution?  Block the hat on a 12-inch round melamine plate purchased at the local dollar store. 

While visiting relatives for the Christmas holidays, I made a hat for my twin sister.  She loves it but wanted another one to match her new coat.  Of course I promised.  She picked out the yarn and I made her this tam worked in double strands of Loops & Threads Impeccable.  

I frogged the Ostrich Fan Fandango shawl (lovely but complex pattern) because the gauge was too tight and I realized I would run out of yarn way too early.  I plan to redo with a larger hook in a different yarn.  I will keep you posted.

Almost off my hook
Likely to be completed first is a Denim and Navy Blue Winter Watch Cap.  With only about 5 rows to go, this one is reserved for my father.  My father's the type who will wear the same hat or pair of shoes until they wear completely out.  So, count me as surprised when he asked me to crochet him a hat when he has a perfectly serviceable winter hat to keep his gray head warm.  I'm not speaking out of school when I say he has more salt than pepper but he is quite happy he has a full head of hair at his age.  Paton's Classic Wool Merino yarn will ensure relatively easy felting to shrink this slightly oversized cap to fit my father's head.
Second up is a Half-Granny Square Shawl designed by Anastacia Zittel.  A one-row repeat has this cute little shawl flying off the hook and is just made for commuting.   Worked in Knit Picks Bare 100% Merino Fingering Wool that I tea-dyed some time ago, I may re-dye it in a bold evergreen.  This one likely will go out as one of my Pay It Forward commitments.  I'm not saying to who, though.

Okay, February.  Bring it on.

Jan 17, 2011

Paying it Forward 2011

Scattered around Facebook are posts about passing along our crafty goodness.  Called Pay It Forward 2011, folks like me have committed to making handcrafted items for the first five people who respond to my post.  Each person in turn is supposed to post her/his commitment to make handcrafted items for the first five people who respond to their post, and so forth and so forth.  What a great way to work off our bloated stashes.  I committed to six (don't ask) projects, five of which will hopefully will eat away at my yarn stash.  What I love about this commitment is that I get to choose the yarn and the project.

Just today, I completed the second of six handcrafted items which have eaten up two skeins in my stash.  Both completed projects are hats crocheted from the Garnstudio's Drops Delight, a 75% soft superwash wool/polyamid blend that features long yet smooth color transitions.  Nice yarn with great stitch definition and a slight tendency to split when knit, but I was crocheting.  Both hats use my Sun Ray Slouch pattern, slightly modified for a fingering weight yarn.  The first hat followed the pattern with few modifications.  For kicks, I decided to knit a ribbed brim to the second beret.  Easier said than done.  

Without thinking, I dove into my US 5 [3.75 mm] 30 inch circular needles and quickly picked up the horizontal bar created by the half double crochet stitches I used to make the body of the hat.  As I struggled with the first row of knit stitches, it dawned on me that I needed shorter circular needles.  I moved on to my US 3 [3.25 mm] 24 inch circular needles and managed to work a few rows of k2p2 ribbing before I had to move down to my Addi Turbo US 2 [2.75 mm] 12 inch circulars.  Picking up stitches was smooth and fast.  However, I realized that the ribbing I was knitting would fit a preemie rather than the intended adult recipient.   Stupidly, I had not taken into account that knitting stitches are skinnier than crochet stitches and so had forgotten to add stitches when I first cast on!  I frogged back to the last crocheted row and added a stitch for every four I was picking up.  Working from a base of five stitches, I chose a k3p2 ribbing.  One inch later, the ribbing still looked a bit smallish.  Time to take gauge.  Several measurements later, I found I should have added a stitch for every two I picked up.  I frogged again and bought a set of Hiya Hiya US 3 [3.25 mm] 16 inch circular needles before beginning anew with a k2p2 rib.

As they say, the third time's the charm.   The yarn ran out, the stitches bound off, but the hat fit.  It was tough going [7 hours to work a two-inch ribbed brim!] but I am happy with the results.   My neck is killing me.

All of this effort reminded me of the recent furor over crochet/knit combo patterns.  When the Fall 2010 Interweave Crochet (IC)  issue hit newsstands, the inclusion of seven knit-crochet combination patterns (out of 24 total patterns) created quite a stir.  Some dedicated crocheters announced they would cancel their subscription.  Others were pissed that they their subscription included the primarily knit with crochet embellishment patterns while the crochet-laden special IC Accessories Issue was not included in the basic subscription.  Most felt betrayed by the publishers of Interweave Crochet.

My complaint was less about the inclusion of knit/crochet combo patterns but more with the fact that the beautiful patterns were better suited to a knitting magazine showing how crochet can embellish knitting.  A crochet magazine should illustrate how knitting can embellish crochet, which is exactly what a cross-over pattern generally means for a crocheter. For a knitter, crossover is about how crochet can embellish knitting. Instead, what we got were patterns that showcased knit patterns (many of them at the intermediate or advance level) with a bit of crochet thrown in.

I knit a little but crochet a lot.  Although I prefer crochet, I would still like to practice my knitting skills. For me, given the demands on my time, adding knit to my crochet would help enhance my skills.  Unfortunately, there are few patterns that are primarily crochet with some knitting. However, encouraging the development of such patterns is what the intention of such a special section should have been. If crochet traditionally has been an embellishment for knit, let’s turn the tables. For example:

  • knit ribbing on a crochet sweater/tank/hat/socks
  • knit i-cord and other embellishments for a crochet tote/drawstring bag/etc.
  • knit lace sleeves on a crochet sweater
After this weekend, I could have used a few educational articles about (1) how best to pick up crochet stitches to begin knitting (perhaps it is better to knit first and then pick up stitches to crochet), (2) tips to better seam crochet and knit pieces, and (3) how to choose the right hooks and needles to work in combination with a yarn (we know that crochet stitches are wider than knit ones using the same mm hook/needle).

Next time I attempt to embellish my crochet with a bit of knit I hope to be better prepared.  BTW, pay it forward has hit the blogosphere as well.  So, I repeat my my 2011 pledge here:

"I promise to make something handmade for the first five people who comment to this post.  Each must in turn post this pledge on their blog and make something for the first five who comment on their status.  The rules are simple:  all items must be handmade by the poster, and they must be received before 2011 ends."

So, if this sounds like something that you'd like to be a part of:
  • Be one of the first five to comment to this post.
  • Please leave your e-mail address so I can contact you directly.
  • Be sure to repost this pledge to your own blog if you do comment, since that is the whole point of Paying It Forward! :)

Help me to bust some stash.

Jan 15, 2011

[Insert Post Name Here]

Defying all fabric capabilities, this laced Crochet table is from Marcel Wanders,
a Dutch designer who was one of the first droog designers. I would have loved to be
one of the crocheters commissioned to make this table or the limited edition Crochet Chair.

Sometimes we don't realize how much family and friends appreciate our fiber craft.  Just the other day, my Mother called me to tell me that she had a co-worker who needed some crochet done (her words).  No "hi" or "how-dee-do" just So-and-So needs some crochet done and to give her a call.  When my Mother says to call someone, you do.  Right then.  Not later.  So I did.

I didn't think my Mother ever gave any thought to my crochet.  Although I have gifted family and friends with all manner of handcrafted accessories, I've only made my Mother a few items - a cap, a shawl.  I wasn't sure how she felt about handcrafted gifts; all communication about the things I have made her came through my sister.  Needless to say, I was surprised that she called me herself to say that she had offered my services to her co-worker.  My mother -- pimping my crochet. 

I was going to call this post, "Getting Pimped," but apparently it doesn't mean what I thought it did.  According to the Urban Dictionnary, getting pimped now means writing or drawing on someone [who] is passed out due to intoxication.  Shudder.  When you get pimped in medicine (the Socratic method or as some interns call it, shame-based learning), it means that your upper level, attending, or your professor basically tears you a new arsehole in front of your peers by firing off a million questions designed to put you on the spot and make you look like a dumb ass in front of everyone.  Makes no sense.  I thought getting pimped was when someone puts you "into the game" for some form of consideration.  Progress.  Sigh.

So, I did as my Mother said and called her co-worker.  We talked briefly about her 6-year old daughter's desire to have a green and red and pink sweater "just like the one she saw on TV."  She's not quite sure exactly what her daughter saw or wants but is working on it.  Hopefully, in a month or so, she will let me know what she wants made.  Although we have exchanged contact information, I'm not worried about us keeping in touch.  We both know where my mother works.

Now, I am stuck without a name for this post. Any suggestions?