Saturday, December 29, 2007

WIP: Purple Haze progress

Purple Haze was the third sweater I began during my infamous sweater weekend. I'm making this one for me, using Gedifra 'Cotton Merino'. Unlike the other two sweaters, this one has gone more slowly as I struggled to make sense of the pattern. Don't let that dissuade you from making this though. Lauren Irving is a great new designer. She thinks "out of the box" as they say and subsequently this sweater is just shaped a little differently. Thankfully Lauren patiently responded to my e-mails and helped me step a bit out of my comfort zone. Purple Haze can be made in a variety of sizes - you can mix and match your sizes based on waist & bust measurements. You can choose from 3 different sweater lengths (cropped, hip length, or peplum hem) and choose to add a collar, or not. Mine is going to be hip length with no collar (I think).

So finally I have significant progress to report on PH. The back panel is complete and blocking - as written except for lengthening it by 2 rows, and raising the back neckline. The front panels are complete and blocking as well (in fact I've already seamed the shoulders). In addition to lengthening them by 2 rows, I modified the front panel armhole increases so they would end at the same row as the back panel (I needed that symmetry... sorry Lauren!). The front arm hole increases still start earlier as Lauren intended.

Now for possible buttons.... I bought 3 sets of buttons at the LYS yesterday. The white ones in the middle are pretty but not for this sweater. The petals or flowers are pink - perfect for some yarn in my stash.... The other two sets are possibilities, but neither one is a winner for me yet. Are the pewter ones too ornate for this textured stitch? And although the "black ones" have a pretty purple opalesence in them, are they too stark? Any thoughts?








I'm currently crocheting the first sleeve and I'm really hoping to make significant progress in the next 3 days, because finished or not this moves to the back burner on January 1st (Robyn's project trumps PH).

Friday, December 28, 2007

FO: Easy Tweed Scarf

This was the mindless project for the car trip to NYC. I started it in Massachusetts as we began our journey south on December 22nd (after dance and piano recitals). The stitch pattern allowed me to crochet by feel in the dark, so I was able to finish it in Connecticut several hours later. I sewed in the ends when we arrived in NY. I didn't have an intended recipient, but not to worry. I wasn't even able to get a photo taken before my MIL claimed it and promptly put it away (it matches her new gloves... who knew?) Instead here's a photo of the yarn.

Easy Tweed One Skein Scarf

Project details:
Yarn: Red Heart Easy Tweed - bulky - nylon/acylic blend - 143yds
Colorway: Blue tweed
Hook: Boye K (~7.0mm) hook
Gauge: 4 st / inch
Size: Approximately 36" long x 5" wide.
Pattern: My own

Ch 146, must be an even number

  • Row 1 - sc in 2nd ch from hook, *ch 1, skip one ch, sc in next ch, repeat from * across, turn.
  • Row 2 - ch 1, sc in 1st sc, sc in ch-1 space, *ch 1, sc in next ch-1 space, repeat from * across, sc in last sc, turn.
  • Row 3 - ch 1, sc in 1st sc, *ch 1, sc in next ch-1 space, repeat from * across, sc in last sc, turn.
  • Repeat rows 2-3, until skein runs out.

FO: Balaclava

I learned a new word in making this. After our 3rd snowstorm in 8 days, with total snow accumulation of almost 3 feet, I finally took my dh's requests for a ski mask (aka 'balaclava') to heart. I searched online, came up with a basic pattern, hunted through the stash and voila - a ski mask!

Project details:
Pattern: Aunt B's Ski Mask/ Helmet Liner
Size: Adult Large
Yarn: Cascade 220 & Cascade 220 Quattro - ww - 100% wool - ~300 yds
Colorway: Navy/Black multi; Black solid
Hook: Boye K (6.5mm) hook
Gauge: none given
Pattern Changes: After 7 inches, I skipped 32 st, chained 34 for the mouth opening. Continued until I rain out of navy/black Cascade 220 Quattro . I trimmed the mouth/eye opening using black Cascade 220 and a smaller hook (H, 5.0 mm)

FO: Cluster Hooded Scarf

I began this project on a whim, as a possible teacher gift, just because it was starting on December 9th as a CAL at Yahoo crochet-a-long. The designer, Peter Franzi, aka, had graciously offered his pattern at no cost to the group to do as a CAL. I jumped in, first thinking of my ds' 2nd grade teacher (until I remembered I already had teacher gifts...) and then thinking of the wonderful lady who teaches piano to both my kids. I finished the scarf a few nights before the Holiday Ensemble/Recital, enough time to wash and dry - a must for this yarn - and delivered at the performance.

Project details:
Pattern: Cluster Hooded Scarf
Size: one size, women's
Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver - ww - 100% acrylic - ~800 yds
Colorway: Aran
Hooks: Brittany I (5.5mm) hook
Gauge: 13 st x 9 rows = 4 x 4 inches (as written, 14 st = 4")
Pattern Changes: Just one! I shortened the scarf by 20 stitches, starting chain = 247.

Another secret....

Look what I found in a box on my front steps back on December 14th. The yarn is... a secret! It came from Robyn along with the swatch shown. It's for a project for her new booklet (not to be confused with her new book) and on her blog she's decided to share her design process about the projects in this booklet, but not to tell you the yarn manufacturer or specific yarns used.

This project is a shortsleeve cardigan with a cool textured stitch in a yarn that just shines in this stitch pattern. Go check out Robyn's post on this project, and while you're at it check out all her posts on this upcoming booklet.

I'm so excited to be crocheting another piece for Robyn. I had to finish up some holiday projects (see future posts) before I could start this... that and I had to replace my lost beloved Brittany I hook (did that today - yipee - bought J and K hooks , too). Now I can finally grab my hook and start crocheting!

FO: Two-Toned Pullover

Another sweater finished in November (but not quite in time for his 8th birthday) was Alex's Two-toned Pullover. This one was also started in October, during the infamous sweater weekend, and greatly benefited from my late night hooking marathons during my beloved Red Sox' World Series romp!

Project details:
Pattern: Two-toned Pullover found at
Size: Child 8
Yarn: Caron Simply Soft - worsted weight - 100% acrylic - ~800 yds
Colorway: gray and navy
Hooks: Brittany G (4.0mm) and G7 (4.5mm) hooks
Gauge: 14 st x 14 rows = 4 x 4 inches
Pattern Changes:
  • After completing the "front" panel, I decided it wasn't as wide as needed and the neck was too high (not large enough opening). The back panel was supposed to be a simple rectangle with no neck shaping. So, the "front" panel became the back panel.
  • The new front panel was modified to be wider at the bottom (starting chain increased by 8 chains), decreasing at the armholes to match the width of the back panel (the side seams will be slightly to the back) and also to have a larger neck hole.
  • My ds is way too skinny a kid to wear sleeves that aren't tapered. So I decreased the starting chain at the cuff and increased every few rows to create tapered sleeves. I modeled these sleeves off the "Boys Geometric sweater" I made him before I started blogging - from the now defunct Solutia website.

FO: Ballet Sweater

I'm finally blogging again!! I think I've figured out that one can volunteer too much for one's sanity. Hopefully, I'll be able to better balance this in the new year.

I started this sweater during my sweater weekend and finished in early November. It was a really quick crochet project due to the chunky yarn (and the kids size!).

Project details:
Pattern: Lion Brand Ballet sweater
Size: Girls 6
Yarn: Lion Brand Chunky USA - bulky - 100% acrylic - ~500 yds
Colorway: Grape
Hook: Boye K hook (almost 7.0mm)
Gauge: 8 hdc = 4 inches (10 cm)
Pattern Changes: Made the back and sleeves as written. I was making the pullover and didn't want the thickness of a doubled ribbing as written. Following a trick I learned crocheting a secret Robyn project, I made the front ribbing and then crocheted both "panels" of the front off the same ribbing.

Monday, October 29, 2007

JCA yarn sale...oh my

Let's just say, I think I earned my own invitation to next year's pre-sale at JCA Crafts... Here's the math. I purchased 42,754 yards of yarn which included 259 50g-skeins, 20 100g-skeins and 1 cone. The 50g skeins are mostly a 100% wool, DK weight mystery yarn, some 100% cotton and a cotton/acrylic blend. The 100g skeins are sock yarn and the cone is angora/nylon.

The mystery yarn I fell in love with is pictured in the 3 columns on the right... yes, there are nine different colorways. The yarn appears to be from Romania with the brand name "Fantasia". The Romanian distributor/manufacturer is "Industria Filati Buzua SA". There's no further information about the yarn on the label. JCA staff said it was 100% wool. The consensus of the fiber enthusiasts present was that it was a DK weight. I measured 11-12 WPI here at home and I unwound 2 different skeins (twice, each) and measured the yardage at 132 yds. So, I have 36 skeins of hunter green, and 20 skeins each of red, dark brown/eggplant (in some light there's a purple tone to this yarn), navy, periwinkle, lilac/mauve (again in different light...), charcoal, taupe, cream.

In front of the Fantasia, you'll see I couldn't resist grabbing 3 more skeins of Reynolds Gypsy - 100% cotton, 82yds/50g, 5st/inch - in the Ocean blue color I used for Twyla. I had 11 skeins left over, now I have 14.

Second column from the left show 2 bags of Swizzle sock yarn (75% Superwash merino wool, 25% nylon), each with 10 skeins, in blue and black. I guess I'll be making more socks!

In front of the Swizzle is my second mystery yarn. These skeins have no labels, but the bag is labeled "Reynolds, 100% cotton yarn, 106 yds". It was soft with nice twist, and was too inexpensize to pass up. I bought 20 skeins in navy.

The left-most column, has the remaining cotton yarns and a cone of Reynolds Devotion (51% Angora, 49% Nylon, 93 yds/50g, 4st/inch) in forest green. In theory I should have 1860 yds , but Devotion comes as 2 strands, and I still think I can easily split this yarn to double the yardage of a less bulky fiber.

In front of Devotion are two boxes of Adrienne Vittadini "Miranda" (100% cotton, 87yds/50g). I have 870 yds of this woven cotton yarn in two colorways - oyster and taupe.

In front of Miranda are some Abby yarns - 10 skeins of Reynolds Fiesta (cotton/acrylic blend, DK weight, 105 yds/50g) in hot pink and another 10 skeins of Reynolds Saucy Swirl (100% mercerized cotton, 185yd/100g, 5st/inch) in a variegated colorway (dark pink, light pink, white & gray). I had 5 skeins left of Saucy Swirl (same dye lot) after making the Sweet Pea shawl, now I have 15.

Now I need some more plastic tubs!

WIP: Purple Haze

I might have thrown Purple Haze from Crochet Me in the UFO or Frog pile but for 2 reasons - 1. I love the look of the sweater too much to give up and (here's the big reason) 2. Lauren Irving (the designer) has practically held my hand while I slowly stepped OUT of my comfort box and tried something new. In the end, there is progress to report, although most of it, so far, is in my level of understanding of the pattern.

This was the third sweater I began during my sweater weekend at the beginning of the month. I'm making this one for me, using Gedifra 'Cotton Merino'. Unlike the other two sweaters, this one has gone more slowly as I struggled to understand the pattern. Now if I were one to just crochet a pattern, follow the directions and hope it works out in the end, I would probably be wearing Purple Haze right now. My passion for understanding a pattern before I make it, for having a vision of how it's going to look, and for practically memorizing the schematics usually saves me hours of heartache. I can catch the errors, see how the pattern needs to be modified to fit my body and make changes without excessive cycles of hooking and frogging. I have, on rare occasion, been able to blindly follow a pattern when I don't know the outcome exactly. This requires knowing and trusting the designer. I can do this when testing for Robyn, like on secret project 2, when even she wasn't sure how exactly it was going to turn out. (Actually I'm sure she did in her head, just not on paper.) In the future, I'll be able to do this with Lauren. Her e-mails have been insightful helping me to understand her "out of the box" approach to this sweater. It's funny, usually by the time I finished writing my e-mail to her asking questions, I had furthered my understanding so much that I would end each e-mail, with "I think I get it now". She would begin each e-mail "Yes, you get it". I'm waiting on one final e-mail back from Lauren and then I think I'm good to go. I'm going to frog back this a bit, I made the armhole too long (gauge problem) and then I think I'll be off to the races! Thank you to Lauren for answering e-mails, to Kim for creating (and re-creating) Crochet Me and to Jess & Casey for sharing their brilliant idea known as Ravelry with the world. (I first contacted Lauren through her Purple Haze project page on Ravelry.)

I will make this sweater....

WIP: Two-tone Sweater

Baseball helps crochet productivity! My World Series fiber project has been Alex's Two-toned Pullover which I'm making using Caron Simply Soft in gray and navy. I started this one during my sweater weekend as well, and thanks to my beloved RED SOX, it has been moving right along. I had just finished the front panel on 10/12 when I took this photo. Here it is, wet, on the blocking board. It wasn't quite as wide as I had intended, and the neck seemed a little high....

So, the front panel became the back panel, and the new front panel was modified to be wider at the bottom, decreasing at the armholes to match the width of the back panel (the side seams will be slightly to the back) and also to have a larger neck hole. I made it through the armhole decreases on Saturday night and then I finished the shoulder sections of the front panel and started the first sleeve while watching the Red Sox complete their SWEEP of the World Series. Of course, between the game and my infamous pattern changes, I didn't get as much done. The sleeves were supposed to be straight. I'm tapering them. As you can probably see, the back panel has been blocked, but the new front panel has not and the sleeve is just begun.

WIP: Ballet Sweater

Simply put, it's almost done... I'm talking about Abby's Ballet sweater by Lion Brand in Grape LB Chunky USA. I started it during my sweater weekend, and it really flew. I had finished all the pieces back on 10/12. Here they are on my blocking board. As you can probably see, the front and back panel had been blocked, but the sleeves were just laid out.

The pieces are assembled, and all that remains is to edge the front panels. The pattern calls for a picot on the surplice edge, dropping to simple sc on the neckline. I hope to finish that and weave in the ends at Abby's ballet class on Tuesday.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Three new projects

I couldn't decide which sweater to start the weekend after I mailed Secret Project 2 back to Robyn. It was the last weekend in September. Purple Haze from Crochet Me was starting on October 1st as a CAL at Yahoo crochet-a-long, so I could swatch this a bit but didn't feel like I could really take off on it. Besides, I felt bad that I hadn't started the kids' fall sweaters. Abby wanted the a ballet sweater in purple (of course) and Alex had chosen a two-toned sweater in navy and gray. Being indecisive as usual, I started all three.

1. Purple Haze by Crochet Me. This one's for me. I'm using Gedifra 'Cotton Merino' - 52% Merino wool, 48% cotton, 110yd/50g, 4.25st/inch. I have 20 skeins (2200 yds) in a medium purple color - which you can see in the 2nd photo of this post. Now PH calls for DK not worsted weight, so I had to work out a few gauge issues. Hence why I had to start early! I worked the two shoulder sections of the back, joined them and worked a few more rows of the back. (Actually I crocheted until the first 50g ball of yarn ran out). I stitch pattern has grown on me. At first it reminded me too much of the sideways shell baby blanket, but eventually I got over that. Now I love it!

2. Ballet sweater by Lion Brand. This is for Abby - size 6. I'm using LB Chunky USA - 100 % acrylic - 620yd of a grape colorway - seen in the 3rd photo from the bottom of this post. With a K hook this really flies (I'm actually using a 7.0 mm hook, labeled K, but not!). I stopped this one when I finished the back panel.

3. Two-toned Pullover at Free Pattern Central. I'm making a size 8 for Alex using Caron Simply Soft in gray and navy. The ribbings will all be navy then there are spike stitches to create the pattern. Here's the very beginning of this one at the end of my crochet weekend...

FO: Secret project 2

The absent blogger returns.... getting the kids and frankly all of us settled into the new school year took a little more time than I realized. All extra time was spent on this secret project. Back in the end of August I received a package of yarn from Robyn so I could crochet another piece for new book. The yarn is Lily Chin's Chelsea - a wool, cotton, acrylic blend in this beautiful shade of dusty light blue. Well a few weeks ago, I mailed the piece back to Robyn, in an almost finished state (as she requested), so she could tweak the garment to match the image in her mind! It was a bit frustrating not to hold the final garment, but I knew it would turn out amazing after the tweaking was done. I was right. So here's a mini sneak peek, but go (right now) to Robyn's blog for her sneak peek!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Shhh... it's a secret!

Look what I found in a box on my front steps, the day after we came back from vacation. The yarn is Lily Chin's Chelsea - a wool, cotton, acrylic blend in this beautiful shade of dusty light blue (which I just don't seem to be able to capture correctly tonight). It's paler than this, and oh so pretty and soft. The yarn came from Robyn along with a swatch (that's carefully draped so you can't really see it!) I'm so excited to be crocheting another piece for her new book. She's definitely one of my favorite designers. You can see I've already grabbed my Brittany hook and started crocheting!

You'll have to wait until 2008 for this book, but she has a bunch of designs shown here that are in the new Crochet Me book due out in just about 6 more weeks!

FO: Drops 88-20 Girl's Tank

I never posted progress on this project because I started it just before we left for vacation and finished it, all except for those blasted ends, before I returned. The ends are now woven in, so here's the finished product instead, being modeled by my adorable sweetie!

Project details:
Pattern: Drops 88-20 Safran Tank
Size: Girls 7/8
Yarn: Katia Mississippi 3 - fingering - 60% cotton, 40% acrylic - 430 yds
Colorway: Lilac
Hook: Addi 4.0mm F hook
Gauge: 18 dc x 11 rows= 4" x 4" (dead on!)
Pattern Changes: (Barely ONE)
I actually followed this pattern to the letter. Seriously. The only thing I did was incorporate the Peter Franzi method of removing the hole at the beginning of a row of dc: Ch 3, do not skip the first stitch, but do a dcdec in the first 2 stitches.

Monday, August 13, 2007

FO: Twyla

Two weeks ago I was all ready to post another project update for the Twyla Cardigan by Berroco. Really, I even had this photo taken July 31st. See? I was going to say that I had finished the first sleeve (modified to be tapered) and that I was starting the second one. Well life erupted with several family emergencies and frankly I'm not sure I knew what end was up for the last 2 weeks. Life has "settled" and now I'm left with just my own kids both sick with strep! So now that I can finally get online long enough to post (honest, I haven't even edited over at ravelry for the past week !!!!) I get to make an FO post instead of a WIP post!!

When I first looked at this pattern, I fell in love with the textured stitch pattern. I noted way back when that I would probably taper the sleeves. Of course I forgot this detail and crocheted about 14 rows of the sleeve before realizing I didn't want a 14" sleeve at the cuff. So I frogged that, whipped out my trusty graph paper and designed a tapered sleeve. When I got to the first increase, I realized that the body of this sweater has decreases but not increases and I also had to create a method to increase without disrupting the stitch pattern.

Project details:
Pattern: Twyla Cardigan by Berroco
Size: medium
Yarn: Reynolds Gypsy, 1577 yds (19 hanks)
Colorway: 'Ocean Blue' (my name for it)
Hook: Brittany 5.0mm H hook
My Gauge: 7.5 clusters x 13 rows= 4" x 4"
Pattern Changes: (just a few)
  1. Stated gauge was 8 clusters x 9 rows in 4"x4". I used the stitch counts for a medium (giving me slightly wider panels) but altered the row counts and crocheted the length of the pieces to the schematic measurements.
  2. Increases in stitch pattern:
    -To increase 1st half cluster at beginning of row: Ch 3 after completing cluster at end of previous row, turn, hdc in 3rd ch from hook.
    -To increase 1st half cluster at end of row: hdc into turning chain of previous row.
    -To increase 2nd half cluster at beginning of row: Ch 3 after hdc at end of previous row, turn, crochet cluster into 3rd ch from hook and hdc.
    -To increase 2nd half cluster at end of row: crochet cluster in hdc and top of turning chain of previous row.
  3. In order to taper the sleeve (and lengthen it as well):
    -ch 38, rep row 1 of back (37 sc)
    -Rows 2-5: Follow pattern from back row 2-3 (18 clusters)
    -Increase 1/2 cluster at each end of rows 6, 10, 15, 20, 25, 31, 37, 47 (26 clusters)
    -Rows 48-60: Work even (26 clusters)
  4. Sleeve cap was modified slightly to accommodate my row gauge:
    -Row 61: Sl st over 3 clusters at beg of row, leave 3 clusters unworked at end of row (20 clusters).
    -Row 62: work even (20 clusters)
    -Row 63-68: Decrease 1/2 cluster at each end of row (14 clusters)
    -Row 69: work even (14 clusters)
    -Row 70-75: Decrease 1/2 cluster at each end of row (8 clusters)
    -Row 76: work even (8 clusters)
  5. Edging on the body of the sweater was as written except:
    -I added an extra round before the button hole round
    -I made 4 button holes, each 2 sc long, separated by 10 sc
    -I added an extra round after the button hole round, except at the neckline where I replaced the sc with sl st.
  6. Sleeve edging - only 3 rows of sc (I guess I made the sleeves a tad too long!)

Ravelry, oh ravelry...

I've promised an explanation of my absence... and I promise I will still blog, but my online time is definitely being sucked by Ravelry right now. Have you been there? Do you have your invite? Go, run, sign up for an invite and then go about your life and have patience. Many, many people are waiting for invites, but rest assured, ravelry is well worth the wait. Can you imagine fiber nirvana? Then you've imagined ravelry. It is a truly amazing knitting and crocheting community. (Yes both together and Look Ma, we're NOT fighting!)

This is the place where you can have a notebook with all of your projects - WIPS & FOs, with photos (from flickr) and details (yarn, pattern, pattern modifications) and links to all of these details either within ravelry or for someone like me, links to blog posts detailing pattern modifications. A place where you can have all of your stash yarn listed with photos and details (yes, details of fiber, manufacturer, yardage, weight, how many skeins you have). A place to list a queue of pending projects and yes with details of these projects and link to the pattern and the yarn from your stash. So for an organizing nut like me, I can still blog about yarn purchases and think about what I might make with the yarn like I did here and here, but then instead of having to search for those posts and read through them to see what projects I was thinking about I can just go to my Queue on Ravelry. Oh and one of my favorite things about ravelry... searching! You can search to see what other ravelry members have made with a certain yarn OR you can search to see what yarns others have used to made a certain pattern. Isn't this just the coolest fiber-related invention ever? Can you tell I'm head over heels in love with ravelry? Here's an awesome sneak peek that explains it all better than I could and a link to Unraveled, the ravelry blog, if you want to read even more

Oh I almost forgot to tell you. With ravelry in beta testing now, Jess & Casey (the amazingly talented creators of Ravelry - who I met at in NH at the Knit & Crochet Show) need feedback on bugs etc and they need help editing the pattern and yarn info being entered by members. They allow us fiber enthusiasts to assist them in the creation of this amazing site. So I've been editing the patterns of Interweave Crochet, Drops Designs, Crochet Me and many of the books that I own in order to get ravelry ready for the big launch out for beta testing.

So, now do you understand where I've been?

Friday, July 20, 2007

CGOA Chain Link conference

I was thrilled when I heard that Chain Link was going to be in Manchester, NH this summer as I'm less than 40 minutes away! With the kids summer schedules and my dh's job demands, I wasn't able to go everyday, but I enjoyed every minute I was there. (With this years experience under my belt though, I'm already making plans to be able to go every day next year!)

I have so much to say I can't even think straight. I arrived on Friday afternoon with time to spare to browse the market place before my 2pm class. When I checked in at registration they informed me that I was among the lucky fiber enthusiasts to get a goody bag from Coats & Clark with 6 skeins of yarn. TLC Sparlke Soft ~ Mint, Moda Dea Washable Wool ~ Aqua, Red Heart Hula ~ Lemon Fizz, Red Heart Easy Tweed ~ Blue, Moda Dea Fashionista ~ Olive, and Red Heart Tweedle Dee ~ Fireside. I didn't take a group picture, just individuals, because of ravelry....ah, ravelry (that's another post to come). Of course, I only have one skein of each... I guess I need to go buy a book with one skein patterns.

At the market place, the vendors had an amazing amount of fiber everywhere you looked. Similar to many other crocheters, I was a bit disappointed by the scarcity of crochet supplies, books, pattern leaflets and crochet samples. I was looking more for pattern booklets than for yarn (due to the warehouse sales in my recent past). I was hoping to see some of the yarn companies bring their crochet booklets the LYS don't usually carry. Like the ones online at Tahki, NY Yarns, Nashua, and Rowan. I really wanted to thumb through them, but I couldn't find them. Knitting was omnipresent at the market. The attendees were largely crocheters and I'm afraid we ended up with a bit of a catch-22. Many crocheters were so angry about the lack of materials that they spoke with their wallets by not purchasing anything. Some vendors felt their belief that crocheters won't buy good yarn was proven at the show and have vowed not to return next year. The WEBS blog tells the story of their disappointment with sales. One vendor I really enjoyed was The Elegant Ewe, a shop located a little more than a hour from me in Concord, NH. They had brought their entire collection of crochet books (after all this was the National Crochet conference!). I didn't spend much time in their booth as it was packed and I figured I can always make a day trip to their shop! I did however buy the Doris Chan's book Amazing Lace from them. (Doris was on hand signing books when I was there and while she was signing mine she told me she has a new book of crocheted tops coming out in September called, Everyday Crochet . The preview looks wonderful. Before heading to class I stopped by the Creative Partners booth and introduced myself to Jean Leinhauser & Rita Weiss. They, too, were signing books and since I already owned what they were selling one said, "Well too bad you didn't bring them with you". Little did they know I was going home nightly so sure enough, I returned the next day with my books for them to sign.

Finally I headed for my Friday class, "Crochet Lite" with Karen Klemp (Almost Amy Designs). It was a cool class discussing what some of us at Yahoo CAL do all the time - reworking patterns for thinner yarns. She showed a cabled sweater from Glorious Crocheted Sweaters made in a worsted weight yarn and then another one this time made in a fingering weight yarn.... wow! Karen recommends going to thinner yarns with as big a hook as possible (while maintaining stitch definition) to increase drape. The results she showed were absolutely stunning. I was reminded of the Art of Crochet online seminar on Yarn: gauge, drape & substitutions from this past Spring.

After another spin through the marketplace, I attended the CGOA annual meeting. It was fun to see the "bigwigs" of CGOA and I won a door prize! Omega thread. I'm a yarnie not a threadie...I'm stumped. Any suggestions?

On Saturday, I took an all day class "Customizing Existing Patterns" with Lily Chin. It was a lot like her book Couture Crochet which I own, but it went a bit further with examples and explanations on each idea. Another participant said it was like the class filled in the missing pages at the end of each chapter, answering all the questions you had while reading. Lily is a hoot, truly making class entertaining and enjoyable as well as educational. She emphasizes crocheting to your shape, not the standard sizes provided in a pattern. Now, of course, I have to crochet only for the kids until I lose 20 lbs. Then, I'll take those measurements and crochet for myself!

Before I left I made one last tour through the market place. My stash is huge because of the JCA & Westminster warehouse sales but I wanted to support the show and I was looking for something that just struck me. Finally I found the shop, Just Our Yarns, whose yarns grabbed my attention. I spent the final 15 minutes, as the closing announcements rang out, choosing from the gorgeous selection and left with this beautiful 525yd skein of 5/2 100% Tencel yarn called Aziza.

OK, long enough post. Someday I'll have to tell you guys about Ravelry. Have you been there yet? Go. Run. Ask for an invite. When it comes you'll be in fiber heaven.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Twyla - WIP report

I feel like I've been neglecting poor Twlya . An awesome textured stitch design first drew me to the Twyla Cardigan by Berroco. Lot of other distractions both fiber-related and non-fiber related have kept me away, but lately she's had all my fiber-attention. One reason it's been hard to find time to crochet Twyla is that I was at the point on the front panels where there is shaping on both sides, and this requires a bit of attention. This weekend at CGOA I had one of those (DUH!) moments. Lily Chin was teaching us some details about adding shaping to existing patterns and we were using gauged graph paper. She mentioned in passing that sometimes it helps to chart out a written pattern when there's shaping on both sides (DUH!). I have used graph paper a zillion time when reworking patterns - the Caprice dress for Abby, the Drops Top sleeves, the Autumn Spice challenge, but I never thought about using it to just make life easier in a pattern without a problem. Since I graphed out the front panel my hooks have been flying.
Now I can really show off my blocking board!

Birthday goodies..

I mentioned on Yahoo crochet-a-long that my dh took my not so subtle hint (I left this website, with the best price I could find, open on the computer several days in a row) and bought me this large Sew-EZ blocking board for my birthday.

There's more info at this site (after all this is their awesome picture, so I should link to them too!) Honestly, only later did I remember that I had told him that going to and taking classes at CGOA Chain Link could be my present... ooops!

Anyway this board is amazing. Someday I'll show you the picture of Robyn's awesome piece blocking, but for now you'll just have to be patient (I'll show you Twlya blocking in a post coming to you soon!). The gridlines on the board make blocking to schematics a snap. In minutes you can have a sweater pinned and blocking.

Following tradition, my dh also took the kids shopping at the mall. He steered them away from the candle and jewery stores and they came home instead with an assortment of Godiva white chocolates (my fav) and the kids' choices in scents from Bath & Beauty including pomegranete bubble bath, pomegranete shower gel and "stress-reducing" mint hair conditioner (it actually says"breathe deeply for best results" on the bottle!).

Monday, July 16, 2007

Secret Project...

Where have I been? The absent blogger returns! So many distractions, but I'll focus on the ones relevant to fiber arts! For this post... my secret project. I've been wary to post, as I was afraid I would reveal too much, that and frankly I was just too busy!

So back in the end of April I got this e-mail from Robyn, asking me (yes, little ol' me) if I would be interested in crocheting a sample of one her designs for her new book. You can bet I was interested. I've never done contract crochet work before, but I loved the idea, was honored that she thought of me and answered a resounding "YES"! In early May, I received the pattern (of which we may not speak) and the yarn (of which we may speak) - SWTC Oasis. This yarn, 100% soysilk, is amazingly soft and creates a fabric with awesome drape. It kind of funny in that it crunches up when you crochet it, but after blocking it is a totally different creature. The resulting fabric is soft, smooth and incredibly drapey (Is that a word?... If not, it should be!)

The day after the yarn arrived by dh became severely ill with chicken pox (not fun in a 44yo), so with that mess added on my plate as well as end of school year activities for 2 kids I was glad to know the project didn't need to be completed until the end of July. Nonetheless, I started working on it in bits and pieces while finishing up the cardigan, the pillows for Abby & Alex as well as the last teacher gift, a pair of mitten I forgot to photograph! After that it became my primary at home project (I was too afraid to take it out where prying eyes may see too much) while working on poor neglected Twlya (more on her later) away from home.

As the CGOA Chain link conference was approaching I doubled up my effort to finish this so I could send it off to Robyn and still have time to do my homework before my classes at the conference. I sent this off to her last week. The yarn was a joy to work with. The finished garment is amazing. I wish I could have shown it off to friends and family before I sent it. Robyn should be proud of her awesome design. I'm proud of my work on the finished piece. Here's a tiny sneak peak. When her book comes out, run and buy it. Then look for a bolero in Oasis and crochet it!

ETA: Robyn just posted a sneak preview! Go take a look!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

FO: A L E X pillows

As I explained in my ABBY post, I started making letter pillows from the patterns by Kimberly at Woven~n~spun to spell out my kids' names way back in 2005, put the project on hold and came back to it this past month. Kimberly has now just about completed the alphabet and I was thrilled to test both Y and X patterns, and thereby complete my kids' pillow sets. Without further ado... here's the finished set for my son, and the most recently completed letter, 'X'.

Project details:
Pattern: Woven~n~spun alphabet pillows - A - L - E - X
Yarn: Red Heart SS 'Blueberry Pie, Soft Navy
Hook: Brittany 5.5mm I hook
Pattern Changes: NONE!! (can you believe it??!!)

Monday, May 21, 2007

FO: A B B Y pillows

Sometimes finishing an old WIP is impossible for reasons beyond your control. I started making letter pillows from the patterns by Kimberly at Woven~n~spun way back in 2005. My plan was to spell out each of my kids names (short versions!) for their beds. The letter A was available so first they each got their A.

Shortly thereafter, as the patterns became available, I added 2 Bs for my dd and an L and an E for my ds. This is where these two projects remained for over a year. Kimberly lost her Mom. I can imagine her grief was overwhelming (I've lost both of my parents) and understandably healing took time. Her project of designing alphabet pillows was put aside. While my kids have wondered wbout their missing letter, we took it as an opportunity to learn empathy and to understand that what is happening in others lives may be more important than what we want.

Well the remaining alphabet letter pillows are being designed as I write this and I was thrilled to test the latest letter out for Kimberly and thereby complete my daughter's pillow set.

Project details:
Pattern: Woven~n~spun alphabet pillows - A - B - Y
Yarn: Caron Perfect Match White, Pink & Red
Hook: Brittany 5.5mm I hook
Pattern Changes: NONE!! (can you believe it??!!)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

FO: Vintage Motif Cardigan

This sweater began as a CAL at both Yahoo crochet-a-long and Crochetville inspired by Artemis who was inspired by Roli, not once, but twice! My version of the Vintage Motif cardigan is finally finished, and with not a yard of yarn to spare as I desperately tried to lengthen the sleeves. I actually unraveled 2 extra squares (I nixed the gussets) and frogged the swatches I had done a year ago when I was deciding what sweater pattern to make with this yarn. There's nothing left, I even had to save the longest ends after weaving in for future repairs. Earlier stories in the saga of the motif sweater can be found here and here.

Project details:
Pattern: Crocheted cardigan aka Vintage motif cardi
Size: medium (with a slightly larger motif)
Yarn: KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in 'Mulled Wine', 1540 yds
Hook: Brittany 5.0mm H hook
Pattern Changes: (just a few)

  1. Motif - I added an extra round on the motif (total of 8) to make it just under 4.25" instead of 4.0". The back panel is 5 motifs across, this should give me the 1.0-1.25" extra width I desire.

  2. I blocked the squares before assembly and blocked the panels after assembly. Assembly was done by whipstitching across rows and down columns of the panels.

  3. I decided not to use the gusset squares as with them the sweater was just too bulky on me (see here).

  4. Sleeves: I added 4 motifs (a 3rd row) to each sleeve.
  5. Sleeve cuff/edging. I did not use motif cuff as written (where they ease 4 motifs to 2 to make a cuff). I just didn't like the look of it. Instead, after adding the extra row of 4 motifs, I joined between 2 squares on the underarm seam and began the edging of BLO sc and tapered it as follows:
  • row 1 - BLO sc in every stitch around
  • row 2 - BLO sc in every stitch with a BLO scdec at the square junctures (4 dec per round)
  • rows 3-5 - repeat row 2
  • row 6 - repeat row 1
  • row 7 - repeat row 2
  • rows 8-11 - alternate rows 1-2
  • rows 12-13 - repeat 1
  • row 14 - repeat row 2
  • rows 15-18 - repeat row 1

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

FO: Girls' Simple Openwork Shrug

We were in NC this past weekend for my niece's wedding. Abby wanted to wear her Caprice Sundress to the brunch the next morning, but she thought her shoulders might be a bit cold. Of course she could have worn her wedding sweater, but she wanted to run and play with her cousins and thought a shrug would be better (and yes, my almost 5 yo dd really voiced all these opinions on her own!). So, this Simple Openwork Shrug was born.

Girl's Simple Openwork Shrug

Project details:

Hook: Brittany 4.5mm hook
Yarn: Classic Elite Flash 'Pink Tweed'
Size: This fits my 5 yo who wears mostly sizes 5-6. It was 22 inches x 10 inches before sewing.

Pattern: My own - designed to match stitch pattern of NY Yarns Caprice Sundress.

Ch 90 , must be a multiple of 4 + 6.

Row 1: Dc in 4th chain from hook, (dc in next ch) twice, *ch 1, skip one ch, (dc in next ch) 3 times, repeat from * across.

Row 2: Ch 4 (counts as dc, ch 1), *3 dc in ch-1 space, ch 1, repeat from * across, dc in top of turning ch.

Row 3: Ch 3, 2 dc in ch-1 space, ch 1, *3 dc in ch-1 space, ch 1, repeat from * across, dc in 3rd ch of turning ch.

Repeat rows 2-3, ending with row 2, for a total of 20 rows, or as wide as you need shrug to be.

Fold in half, bringing the top of final row to the foundation chain.

Holding right sides together, sew 20 stitches in from each end to form sleeves. Weave in ends.

WIP: Twyla

I fell in love with the Twyla Cardigan by Berroco immediately because of the stitch pattern. It's different and textured and just "spoke to me". Finding the right yarn was a different story until I hit the JCA sale last fall. I saw this Reynolds 'Gypsy' - 100% cotton, 82yds/50g, 5st/inch which I bought in 3 colorways. The 'ocean blue' was calling to me across the sale floor, "Twyla, Twyla, Twyla". Well being sick and tired of assembling the motif cardi was just the impetus I needed to start this cardi. I've done a fair amount of frogging on this one as it requires more attention than I've been giving it - I think once I settle down and give it some uninterrupted time it will go fairly quickly. I have about 11 inches done on the back panel. The blue yarn is really pretty. It has 3 different shades of blue plied together.