Monday, March 05, 2012

Musings, but no yarn

I've been telling myself since last week to get this blog post done, had it written up in my head, but just sitting down and actually doing it, that is another story.

You see, I haven't been doing much crocheting, which is mainly what this site is about.  Well, that and other fiber arts, but mainly about crocheting.  The reason I haven't blogged is because, well for me, January and February are just those tortuous months you have to get through to get to the kind of okay month of March, which then leads to April, which opens the door to warmer weather and summer and summer is when I thrive. November and December, you have the holidays coming up, so it's kind of like you have something to look forward to, but then January hits you (well, it does me) like a ton of bricks. I shouldn't be complaining, compared the past few years, it's been mild. For me, it's always cold. I wear those cute little "texting gloves" (what all the boutiques are calling hand warmers or wrist warmers now), layer my clothing, wear wool socks with Uggs and dream of summertime.

Now, with that being said, this post can go on. Technically, I HAVE been crocheting, but it's very slow as I found out this year that I have issues with big hooks and bulky yarn, especially when it's doubled. I learned in November, when just using Wool Ease Bulky to make my winter hat pattern and had shooting pains and sudden swelling in my hand and wrist. I wore a wrist brace for a week, used Voltaren gel and it basically knocked me out of commission. I then made another, same thing happened so I focused my time on other crafty endeavors. I also made that felted hat, but it was with a standard hook and didn't bother me as much. So, here I am, I have a swap project to send out and the person picked my Felted Carry-All Crocheted Tote. The original one was done using Knit Picks WOA Bulky, but I had stash yarn of Lambs Pride Bulky and those were the colors she preferred, so I am going with that, however, it is a bit bulkier than the WOA and I wondered if I needed to double it, but I always stick to the pattern, so I did. It's killing my wrist (which now has arthritis, as well as left shoulder, right knee and neck-oh the joys of aging). I can only do little bits at a time, however did make my swap partner (she doesn't know) something else also using a smaller hook and finer yarn without any issues as an apology for taking so long. So my big hook/bulky yarn days are over once this bag is done. I did sketch out a pattern design for Knit Picks using their new Brava line, but haven't started it, but it's finally figured out and should be smooth sailing once I get started.

So what have I been doing? Not much craft wise, but between my husband and I, we've been cooking like mad and I finally gained the 15 lbs I was told I had to or they wanted me to drink Ensure. I also have become addicted to Words with Friends on my i-Pad, as well as Pinterest.

While going through some pins people did, I stumbled across that cork mat. The one I figured I would never get to until the Chi-Town cowl was made (which will be, but guilt over the tote is only allowing me that crochet-wise). My girlfriend whipped up her cork mat within a few weeks of finding it, made it using fishing line (no metal, no corrosion) and is using it. Meanwhile, I had that bag of corks staring at me since November. To make this project you need a drill press, something I don't have and don't know what else I would use it for, but my friend had it and she graciously allowed me to play last week. I arrived with my DSW bag of corks only to find out I needed about 100 more to make the large mat, I had 100 corks, so I probably will be making either hot pads, or perhaps a small mat, perfect for the camper, but more than likely it'll be a large hot pad. I received most of the corks from someone who worked banquets and if I like this project, will have to contact either wineries or perhaps even buy corks off of e-Bay, because even though the Trader Joe's in Princeton carries wine now (Two buck Chuck, although it's $3 and up here), I would never collect enough corks to make that mat. My friend had been saving wine corks for years (and yes, I noticed lots of people started saving them for various DIY projects), so I don't expect to be able to just have someone hand me 200 corks). I could also use the metal wire, as the original mat had, since it won't be getting wet, but I haven't decided yet and may use some La Espiga Nylon I have here. However the drilling part is done. First up, the pattern design. I am not as visual as my friend, we were both playing around and she whipped it up in about two seconds as I was still trying to figure out how to keep the sides even and have a woven look.
She then gave me a quick tutorial on how to put it all together (strips, then attach strips and yes, I wrote it down, because with me, I HAVE to have some written instruction and diagram, as you can see how detail oriented the notes are *snort*).
Then I went to work. Drill down the middle and then two holes in the side.

And no, you would not believe the mess drilling through a simple cork makes. They aren't that big, but the piles of cork dust were amazing.
Now, once I finish that swap bag, I swear, while it's all fresh, I will get that cowl done and I will get the design done and I will get that cork put all together. For summer,I plan on some bead and wire crocheting, but let's just get through March first.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I should be designing, but ...

I should be sketching, working out the pattern and reading up on Modular Crochet, however, I'm not. One good thing, as of yesterday, I changed the whole design in my head and am geared up to writing and working it out.

Here's my problem; I joined Pinterest. Before that, I bought this terrific pattern I wanted to make as a gift for someone for Christmas, but never got to it and I want to make it. Then, there was the last of the beautiful Patons SWS in two colors and some leftover Chroma that keep begging to be made into Brain Bands. Then I keep seeing stuff on Pinterest-food, patterns and well, now I want to make the Chi-Town Cowl with some yummy Malabrigo screaming out to be used.  I also, cleaned out my entire email folder (which was not easy and I owe a few emails to some people and will be replying shortly), READ and even commented on the blogs I follow on Google Reader.  This is big!

Technically, I am designing. It took two weeks and suddenly it just came to me. I will work on it within the next few weeks (it's for Knit-Picks using their new Brava line), but I have three (or four) little projects I wanna knock out, get them out of my system, get the yarn used up and then move on to the design.

Ah, but then there was this:   The Recycled Wine Cork mat. Alas, this one will have to wait til the pattern is written up.

Source: via Deneen on Pinterest

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Anatomy of a Crocheted Felted Hat

How many of you have felted or fulled (and why do these terms confuse me so?) an item? The pattern I bought from Fiber Trends calls it a Crocheted Felt hat, yet other have said when you felt wool, it's fulled. In any case, felting is a bit of a fun way to play around with wool and also make a wonderful fabric using crocheting or knitting.
As you may know, I haven't been crocheting much, concentrating on other things, craft and non-craft wise. The conundrum was I had a bug about making some items, I bought some patterns, yada-yada-yada, I got sick and felt compelled to make a hat for someone special who I mentioned I would make a hat for ages ago. I also got sick again. After 7 years of thinking things were behind me, maybe they are, maybe they aren't, we don't know and I guess after the beginning of the year we shall start trying to figure it out.

In any event, I am kind of stuck in the house, feeling sick, feverish and achy and decide I must do this hat come hell or high water. I've used Bev's pattern before and I love it. It also is seamless, another love, but it involves a lot of counting, which I don't love too much. My feverish brain lost count too many times and after many frogging episodes it was completed to my satisfaction. I will say, the front loader felts great, however you have no control about stopping it mid-cycle so a lot of pacing and wondering happens during the process.

First off, I used Plymouth Wool Outback Yarn (100% wool, a must for felting, although the SWS felts nicely, this was plain wool) in a colorway I don't even remember the name of, just had a number. These are giant skeins, 370 yards, a little lighter than suggested, but I took my chances.

I have made the brimmed hat at the very top, but decided for this one, I would make the one on the right-sort of semi-brimmed (darker navy one) for this design and off I went. I crocheted, counted, frogged, crocheted, counted, frogged, cursed and finally, it was done. Now these "things" look kind of like the character on the cartoon "Fat Albert" from when I was a kid (really aging myself here), but sort of like this:
They are huge and I took pics using my phone of the actual hat on the man head mannequin head I have (sorry, they aren't so great)

But, you get my drift. Now comes the fun. I know it's for someone who has a larger head than myself, so I worry about the sizing. I toss it in the washing machine with two pair of old jeans and a little soap, put the water temp on hot wash/cold rinse and normal setting and leave the room. I check 1/2 hour later and it felted well, however I wanted it a little tighter, so I switched the washer to the "quick" cycle and repeated. I checked, rather hesitantly and it seemed to be the size I needed. I bought the big "mans" size mannequin head specifically for blocking felted hats because of the size and because when making chemo caps I can adjust for size using that head. I would love the millinery hat blockers, but between cost and all the sizes, this works out great. Okay, back to the hat-I stretched it to shape, formed the brim and let it dry.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Some fiber art, but not with a hook

Again, I admit, I haven't been hooking much, although I did make a few chemo caps, have two bigger project queue. From not crocheting much, one of the projects I did, using a large hook/bulk yarn (My chunky winter brimmed hat)and hurt my hand and ended up wearing a support brace for a few days. My punishment for abandoning the hook!

However, I have been doing other fiber arts. My latest phase is dyeing silk scarves. I love dyeing the silk scarves because you can use the same colorways, hand paint 10 scarves and every one will come out differently. All end up being a one of a kind original. Plus, you get that added surprise of when you are done, after I unband them (the ones I roll and band and paint) or unwrap the steamed ones, of being surprised myself.

I made three sizes: 14" x 72", 8" x 72" and 8" x 54" and ordered my dye and more silk blanks, so I must be enjoying the whole process.

You can see by the pictures, the order they are hanging on the rack, the colorways are matched up by the first, second and third of each scarf and you can see the differences.

For today, back to the hook!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Let's talk pattern writing, multiples and yarns substitiution/hook changes

This morning when I woke up and logged online, I was startled to see how many "hits" my site had already and tracked it back to and my Bubbles Blanket. The person who posted it did link it to my site, but kinda (IMHO) made it seem like her design, but that's neither here nor there. The pattern is available for quick download right at the top bar of this post and it will open to a Docstoc document for easy printing, as well as available on Ravelry (member or not)where you can download the pattern, as well as see the 391 other blankets made from this pattern using different yarns, single strands, lots of edgings and other simple, yet unique touches people added to make it their own.

However, since writing this pattern in 2005, I have learned an awful lot about how to write patterns. I try my hardest to write all patterns out so that anyone can understand it, from beginner to advanced. The original pattern just listed the hook by the letter, me not realizing that Bates and Boye and others had different mm, as well as if you were in England or Australia, it could cause confusion. With this in mind, I rewrote the pattern listing the mm.

Many have made the pattern and then my inbox began to get questions asking about "multiples", "yarn substitution", "Hook sizes with yarn subbing" and even one person asked me to rewrite the entire pattern for her particular yarn and hook size she wanted to use (sorry, did not do this and she was awfully nasty about it) even though I full explained how she could do it.

I'll try and break it down here: Use any yarn you would like and if using a single strand, you will have to go down to a hook size that works best, but change the length of the starting chain. If using bulkier yarn, you may have to go up a hook size. If you are a tight crocheter, same thing. I did the original in Lion Brand "Pound of Love", two strands and later realized, although it's listed as worsted, it's more of an aran weight. I then turned to Caron Simply Soft, double stranded and was happy with the results and wonderful color choices and stayed with that.

Sizing: I made this so it would fit well in a stroller, as not to drag on the ground and get caught in the wheels and also for the baby car seat, so it didn't hit the floor. It's also thick enough to use as a changing pad when in a crunch. I then found others making it as lapghans for those in nursing homes for their wheelchairs or for people who wanted a ghan for their lap while in a chair without the bulk of a full sized afghan. I also made a full sized afghan using this pattern as a gift, using a single strand of yarn throughout. The sizing for this is STARTING CHAIN OF MULTIPLES OF 3 PLUS 2. This means the following-decide how wide or long you want your blanket/ghan and start making the chain and count as you go along. As long as the chain is divisible by 3 (chain of 93 would be 31 x 3, chain of 120 would be 40 x 3, etc) and add 2 more stitches for that FIRST row as the turning chain. In all actuality, you really would just need a chain 1, but I chose chain 2 because it gave it a more outlined edge. After the starting chain, you would work every row as it states and just chain 2 at the end until it's the size you want. This is what makes it so versatile, it can be any size you want.

I didn't think this up, many patterns, especially clothing with sizing, use multiples for different sizes.

In a nutshell, multiples of something is just making sure it's divisible by the number given and then you add the additional chains for the turning chain, depending on the stitch you are making.

I hope this answers any questions and clears up and helps those who are beginners. However, if you have any questions, I am always happy to help, but please just don't ask me to rewrite an entire pattern with a yarn I never heard of and for a size you specifically want :)

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