Monday, March 19, 2007

Active WIPs...

So, the currently active WIPs include:
1. Vintage Motif cardigan - a CAL at both Yahoo crochet-a-long and Crochetville! Progress seemed to have slowed since my last report (too much project jumping lately), but there are a few more squares in this photo. I've completed one more since this photo was taken so I'm up to 32 out of 75. I'm using KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in Mulled Wine and my Brittany 5.0mm H hook.

2. Bob's Fall into Fall Vest from Kimane Designs. I'm using Cascade 220 wool in a dark teal colorway and my Brittany 5.5mm I and 5.0mm H hooks. Since this earlier post, I've finished crocheting the second front panel, assembled the vest and completed the edging on one armhole. Due to its size, it's an "at home" project now. I'm a bit worried about the width of this vest. My husband has a favorite pullover knit vest, size 50-52. I had measured it and decided on doing the 2X based on this vest. After completing the 2X back, I decided to make the 3X front panels (only differ in width at the bottom - not in length or shoulder width) to gain a little extra breathing room. Well, as is the vest will be tight on dh. Why? Because knit sweaters stretch... a lot. He took off his pullover vest the other day and I re-measured it (stretched from being worn all day). I was a full 2 inches wider than it was un-stretched. That's 4 inches total in circumference. Houston, we have a problem. If it were just an inch, I could hope to gain a bit of room by making wider buttonhole bands (and I still may do this). I could dissemble the side seams and try to create some sort of gusset. Or, I could hope that the 15lbs he has lost since December is a sign of things to come and that he will lose a few inches in girth before next fall.

3. Sweet Pea Shawl - a CAL at Crochetville! that I joined on a whim. The pattern is by Amie Hirtes ( and is available online or in "Stitch'n'Bitch: Happy Hooker". I had some yarn in my stash (Reynolds Saucy Swirl) that I thought would work, and I had an idea for a recipient (to be named later), so I grabbed my Brittany 5.5mm I hook and I was off. I added 3 shells (30 ch) to the beginning width for a total of 23 shells. I completed another row of shells of last night, finishing the 2nd 100g skeins. That makes 140 shells out of 276; I'm more than halfway there!

4. Spring Flowers Cardigan - by Tammy Hildebrand's in Crochet! May 2006. This is for Abby for a wedding this Spring. After swatching with my new Brittany 4.5mm hook and Gedifra 'Wellness' yarn, which I think is able to carry off the pattern stitch quite nicely, I decided on this pattern even though it is written for size 3 thread. My gauge together with the pattern as written for size 2 will give me the size 6 I need. Here's the body of the sweater (made in one piece) at about row 10 - one skein crocheted.

WIP progress... February - early March

Last I blogged a list of WIPs, they included these:
1. Peter's Jacob sweater - a CAL at Yahoo crochet-a-long using RH Medium Spruce for my dh, Bob. A gauge problem has been discovered somewhere between me & the pattern. Most likely, this will be frogged and I will try again with a reworked pattern.
2. 'Oxford Style' socks (Crocheted Socks!) - Originally meant for dh, now for me. Story & progress photo at the sock saga post. WIP turned UFO for now. Status = 40% complete.
3. Mardi Gras Carnival Socks - a crochetsocks CAL. This sock pattern and pattern stitch makes for a pretty tight sock...more info & progress photo at the sock saga. WIP turned UFO for now. Status = 15% complete.
4. Autumn Spice Cropped Cardigan - this diversion from my sock nightmare became a nightmare all of it's own. Eventually I won, even beating those blasted ends. Status = 100% complete.
5. Southbay CGOA sock - Originally seen at the sock saga post, these were completed in time for valentine's day for my dh. Status = 100% complete.

Then I sidetracked and completed these:
1. BICO, hat & booties - Status = 100% complete.
2. Comfortghan squares - Status = 100% complete.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Squares for comfortghans

Many of you know that a fellow crocheter a mom of 2 little girls, lost her dh suddenly last week. I joined with others to make some squares to send to an awesome crocheter who is assembling these squares into comfort-ghans for the mom and her girls. As of yesterday, she had received 103 squares for the mom and 86 squares to split for the girls; six more packages arrived today. I sent in 6 squares - I kept trying to use up little balls of yarn! The bottom two in this panel are Dayna's Four Heart's Granny, top left is Julie's Lady Square Variation and top right is Prescilla's Circle of Friends Square. The last two are mostly random crocheting after staring at more square patterns than you can imagine!!

FO: BICO for a baby

as opposed to my big girl! I made this BICO (and hat and booties) for my son's art teacher. She's having her first baby and well, I crochet things! As with Abby's BICO, I began this Baby It's Cold Outside on a whim as a stashbuster. I found 2 skeins of Peacock Baby Rainbow yarn in a blue/green/yellow colorway in my stash, grabbed a 6.0mm hook and started hooking (with 2 strands)! I edged the set with some bright yellow, Caron Perfect Match 'Lemon' left from Abby's ripple afghan.

For the BICO, I followed the pattern for a 12 month size in order to end up with a 6 mo size with my hook and yarn. The only exceptions to this is that I made the neck hole a tad smaller and I made a change so that the front panels would match better. If you've read the BICO CAL thread at Crochetville, then you might remember that as people made BICOs with a "non-Homespun" yarn, they noticed the rows of hdc didn't match up perfectly in front. When you join the yarn to make the left sleeve and front panel the instructions have you join at the sleeve end and crochet a RS row on top of the previous RS row. Instead, I joined at the neck edge, crocheted a WS row and continued for 3 rows to the neck opening. On the fourth row, when I get to the neck edge, I can't ch8 to add 6 hdc on the next row as that would make the neck hole too big. I needed to add these 6 hdc on to this 4th row, so I did. When I reached the neck edge on the 4th row I added 6 hdc using the chainless hdc foundation row. Then I crocheted row 5 into these added hdc and the rest of row 4, and continued for 2 more rows to complete my sleeve. Now, as I ended at the sleeve edge, I had to slip stitch in the first 19 stitchs and then begin the front panel (the lines of which now perfectly match the right panel!)

For the hat, I wanted to make it using hdc to match the BICO, but all the baby hat patterns I could find were sc. So, I winged it! I based it on the LB velvetspun hat pattern (without the top knot) and I used my daughters 22 inch "big baby" doll to size the hat. I started with 8hdc in a ring - increased so the stitch counts in rows 2-6 were 16, 24, 24, 32, and 40. I worked even rows until long enough to cover the dolls ears! Then I did two rows of yellow to match the BICO edging.

The booties were a variation on Bev's Very Easy Booties. I was using double stranded baby yarn, instead of worsted weight so I basically made them to match her measurements, not her row counts. I replaced the last row with yellow, for an edging.

Friday, March 16, 2007

FO:Autumn Spice, ends woven in!!

I thought I'd post a picture of my version of Autumn Spice, modeled, with all the ends woven in, finally! Details of the trials & tribulations of crocheting this sweater can be found in this earlier blog post. Here are the final details:
Hook: 6.5mm

Yarn: Cascade 'Lana de Oro' Tweed - worsted weight - 45% Superfine Alpaca, 45% Peruvian Highland wool and 10% Donegal (tweed) - 770yd maroon, 110 yd charcoal.

Pattern changes:

  • I crocheted the back panel of a medium, almost as written. I began with 9 shells across, for 25 rows (12 shells high). I dropped a shell on each side for the armhole inset. I wanted the back neck opening to wider, but not as deep, so I continued with 7 shells across for 14 rows (7 shells high) and then skipping the center 3 shells, did 2 more rows (1 shell high) on the outer 2 shells for each shoulder.
  • I crocheted the front panels of the small, adding in a sleeve inset. I began with a panel 4 shells across, for 25 rows (12 shells high). For the arm hole inset, I dropped 1 shell at the side edge and continued with 3 shells for only 7 more rows (4 shells high) as I wanted a lower neck at the front. Then I dropped a shell at the neck edge and continued for 9 more rows (4 shells high).
  • The sleeves were completely re-written as I made tapered sleeves to get a little more length out of my limited (discontinued) yarn yardage. I started with 5 shells across, for 12 rows (6 shells high). On row 13 I added another dc, ch2 on either side of the center shell. On row 14, I replaced the center shell with two partial shells (dc, ch2, 2dc, ch2, dc). Row 15 was worked as if there were 6 full shells below and row 16 has 6 full shells. I crocheted another 21 rows (10 shells) of 6 shells wide (when I ran out of yarn!!).
  • I crocheted the edging using the contrasting yarn. I made 4 rounds of sc on the whole piece, including sleeve cuffs.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Crochet Academy

Last night I participated in part one of a three-part online seminar offered by Josi Hannon Madera at her Crochet Academy. This Academy, along with Josi's incredibly innovative designs with her custom pattern generator, is part of her newly launched website, the Art of Crochet. The series is entitled Yarn: Gauge, Drape & Substitutions, and as you can guess, last night we covered gauge.

Our homework was to crochet 3 swatches of a DK weight yarn using 3 different hook sizes - 4.0mm, 5.0mm and 6.0mm. I used Sirdar Salsa DK, left over from my Floral Fantasy Sweater. The yarn label recommends a 4.0mm hook or knitting needle. The knitting gauge listed is 22 st x 28 rows for a 10cm (4") square swatch. So, here are my swatches. Although I ran out of yarn halfway through my 4.0mm swatch, I can extrapolate the results (not the best idea when swatching for real, but it will work for this exercise). Also, while confessing my shortcuts, I should add that I had to photo my swatches side-by-side instead of stacked in a pile because when stacked there was no edge definition with this pink fuzzy yarn.

Our intial assignment was to measure the size of 20st x 20rows inside our swatch. Then we were asked to count how many stitches and rows were contained within a 4" x 4" area. Here's my results.

20 st x 20 rows4" x 4"
HookW x HHookS x R
6.0mm6.50" x 4.75"6.0mm12 x 17
5.0mm6.00" x 4.50"5.0mm13 x 18
4.0mm5.25" x 4.25"4.0mm15 x 19

It was interesting to see the different swatch sizes result. Josi did another variation of this assignment. She made 4 swatches using a 4 mm hook with 4 different yarns DK yarns - 2 Debbie Bliss yarns, 2 KnitPicks yarns. All listed a knitting gauge of 22st/4in. Even within manufacturers the resulting swatches were different!

This class was reaffirming for me. It's no secret that I personally love the math of crochet. I make mostly garments for me & my kids (ok dh gets a few) and I almost ALWAYS swatch, measure and swatch again with mulitiple hooks and multiple yarns. The timing of this class is cool for me too, after my gauge problem with dh's sweater (and yes, for the first time in history I didn't swatch... grrrrr!), and as I've been proofreading and testing patterns for some designers lately and realizing the importance of checking the math of their gauge and final garment measurements.

On a related sidenote, I watched an Uncommon Threads episode on DVR the other day where Lily Chin recommended measuring a "hanging" gauge for garment swatches. Something to think about... I'm looking forward to the the next two classes to learn more about drape.

Felted Clutch Purse

I'm not the gal who collects purses. I use bags and totes to carry my stuff. If I don't want a big bag, I put my license and a credit card in the back pocket of my jeans. But, this time, I need a clutch. My dh has won another award and we are invited to a snazzy dinner at the Boston's Four Season's Hotel with the CEO & Board of Directors for his company. I have my sister and another babysitter lined up. I found a dress - it's a dark navy sleeveless sheath dress with a matching jacket - and minutes ago UPS delivered my shoes. I just needed a purse. So a few days ago I had an idea for a felted clutch. I hunted through my stash in search of dark navy wool, but instead found Cascade 220 Quatro Black/Blue plied yarn. I thought it might be dark enough and set out to just wing it. My goal was a clutch about 8.5-9" x 5". So what do you think?

Felted Envelope Clutch

Hook : K (closer to 7.0mm)
Yarn: Cascade 220 Quatro
Prefelting dimensions:
12" x 19" unfolded,
12" x 11.5" folded, flap open,
12" x 8" clutch
Postfelting dimensions:
8.5" x 9" flap open,
8.5" x 5.5" clutch

Ch 36 (until I had 12 inches)

Row 1: hdc in 2nd ch from hook and each ch across, ch 2, turn. (34 hdc)

Row 2-33: Repeat row 1 until fabric measures 15-16" (or desired length)

Row 34: hdc dec over first 2 stitches, hdc in next 30 st, hdc dec over last 2 stitches, ch 2, turn. (32 hdc)

Rows 35-40: repeat row 34 six more times. Fasten off. (20 hdc).

Fold bag bringing row 1 to row 31 (3 rows before the first decrease row). Whipstitch the side seams. FELT! Embellish with vintage pin. Here I use my dad's college ring given to my mom before he left for WWII and later made into a pin.

Men & Crochet

There's a new CGOA chapter forming in Oakland, CA. The Men Who Crochet Chapter of the Crochet Guild of America will focus on men's involvement in the needle arts, but the membership will be open to both genders. It's being started by Peter Franzi, a great designer I'm privileged to know (you know, "know" in the online sense). Of course I live on the other coast, but if you know of anyone in the Oakland area who might be interested, send them to Peter!

On a more local men & crochet front, dh has his socks, and he loves them (but you wouldn't know that because he hasn't commented on my blog about that! Just kidding dear!!). But I also wanted him to have a sweater and a vest.

The sweater I chose was Jacob's sweater designed by the above-mentioned Peter Franzi. A bunch of us were so thrilled to finally find a great pattern for our guys that we decided to do a CAL at Yahoo crochet-a-long the day Peter first published his worsted weight design online. Several people were interested in a lighter version made with sportweight and Peter accommodated their wishes and began to redesign the sweater sportweight (simply following the ww pattern using sw yarn would be a bit too lacey for most guys). Peter also tried to deal with the requests of annoying people like me who were interested in a V-neck version - with a wide center cable pattern? what was I thinking? Peter's was absolutely right - no V-neck on this sweater. I knew my guy would wear a heavy cabled sweater (and forego the jacket) so I began the ww version using RH Medium Spruce. I made ribbings and started the front panel of the sweater. I'm usually fanatical about swatches and doing the math to figure out if the gauge is right and if the stated gauge will result in the specified size. Of course I didn't this time and I was halfway through the front panel before I realized that it was 10 inches wider than it needed to be. Yes 10 inches! So I stopped and contacted Peter. The bad news is I will be frogging the front panel of the sweater. The good news is Peter's sportweight version has been accepted for publication and Peter is now re-working the kinks out of the ww version. I promise to double check my math and stitch gauge this time before I start crocheting cables like a madwoman!

Meanwhile, I started a vest for my dh and I'm hoping it won't be more than 2 weeks late for his b-day (last Saturday). I'm using the same design I used for my son's vest - the Fall into Fall Vest from Kimane designs. For my husband I'm using Cascade 220 wool in a dark teal colorway. I purchased this yarn for him at my LYS's 2006 Superbowl yarn sale. I've finished the back panel and part of the front panel. I need to go wind some more hanks into cakes so I can keep hooking. Bob picked out his own buttons last Friday. How'd he do?