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!