Sunday, July 11, 2010

Taking shape

Hey, this is actually starting to look like part of one side of a garment instead of a shapeless blob. That's progress!

The photo didn't come out that great today since we're having another dreary (!?!) July day here in Venice and my camera prefers full sun, but I think you still get the idea.

Probably taking the rest of the day off to go loft bed shopping for E. We need to update his room a bit to accommodate his new teenage-ness. Our friend George (shameless promotion - watch the new season of The Colony on Discovery starting July 27!) is going to build shelves for the reptile cages and E's computer will go under the loft bed. Hopefully this will somehow make room for the big TV E's mom is long-term-loaning to him. I wonder if we'll ever see E again once all this is done.

Friday, July 9, 2010

New Blue

Here are the socks I've started on my new sock needle of happiness. I really like this colorway, think I'll be keeping this pair. Sadly there were several knots in this skein which is something I've never run into in a skein of Tofutsies before. I guess there's a first time for everything. When my LYS went out of business last year (sad) I was able to pick up a gazillion skeins of Tofutsies at a vast discount, so I'm not going to complain about a couple of knots.

In the next two photos I've stretched the toe over a darning egg to show the details of cast on and increases.

My favorite cast on for my toe-ups is Turkish. I used magic cast on for a while, but Turkish is easier and gives you the same seamless look. I've also used it for purses and even my little camera sock.

The toe increases I use are the paired lifted increases that Cat Bordhi demonstrates here. To my eye they're an improvement over other types of increases I've used and certainly an improvement over a generic m1.
Can't wait to wear 'em!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sock needle smackdown

I love knitting socks - they're highly portable, mostly mindless and very practical. My favorite way to knit socks is magic loop, 2-at-a-time, toe-up, on a size 0 needle with a long cable. The needle I’ve been using (pictured here - no idea what brand it is) has joins that are pretty rough. You can see the little lip in the photo. It's a problem, so I've been looking for something with a smoother join. I was also looking for sharp-ish tips because my favorite sock yarn (Tofutsies) is very splitty. I find it less frustrating to use needles with nice, sharp tips (which my old needle here has). Not that I've looked that hard, but I’ve never been able to find both a smooth join and a sharp tip in the same needle.

When browsing the Knit Picks site recently, the photos and descriptions of their fixed circulars convinced me to give them a try. I ordered 2 new pairs of size 0 circulars with 40” cables. I got one Harmony and one Nickel-Plated so that I could see which I liked better. The center, Nickel-Plated, needle looks like it has a finer tip here, but it really doesn't - the sides of it just blend into the background in the photo. In reality all three tips are equally sharp, which is great!

After admiring my new needles, I got out a skein of Tofutsies and cast on, Turkish-style, with high hopes.

Harmony - At size 0 you don’t get much of the typical “Harmony” color effect (it’s mostly brown), but it's still lovely and I do love wooden and bamboo needles so I really wanted to love this one. It has a nice, springy feel, smooth join, soft cable and a pleasingly sharp tip. A few stitches in, however, I realized that the needles were feeling more “sticky” than what I’m used to with sock needles, so I started over with the...

Nickel-Plated - Again, smooth join, sharp tips, soft cable. Loved it immediately. The yarn glides so nicely over the needles. I didn't even realize it before, but obviously glide is another important feature for me with sock needles.

Winner: Nickel-Plated.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Mae Flower Necklace

Size 10 crochet cotton
1.65mm steel crochet hook
Approx. ½” shank button
Sewing needle
Beads and findings (optional)

Special stitch
Petal cluster: sl st in next sc, ch 3, dc in same sc, holding back last lp on hook (2 lps on hook), dc in next sc, holding back last lp on hook (3 lps on hook), yo, pull through 3 lps on hook, ch 3, sl st in same sc

Large flower (make 1)
Rnd 1: Ch 6, sl st in first ch to form ring, ch 1, 12 sc in ring, join with sl st in beg sc, ch 1
Rnd 2: 2 sc in each of next 12 sc, join with sl st into beg sc (24 sc)
Rnd 3: 12 petal clusters around, fasten off, leaving at least a 6” tail

Small flower (make 2)
Rnd 1: Ch 6, sl st in first ch to form ring, ch 1, 12 sc in ring, join with sl st in beg sc, ch 1 (12 sc)
Rnd 2: 6 petal clusters around, fasten off, leaving a tail of at least 6”

Ring (make 33)
Rnd 1: Ch 6, sl st in first ch to form ring, ch 1, 12 sc in ring, join with sl st in beg sc, ch 1, fasten off, leaving a tail of at least a 6”

Large ring* (make 1)
Rnd 1: Ch 10, sl st in first ch to form ring, ch 1, 20 sc in ring, join with sl st in beg sc, ch 1, fasten off, leaving a tail of at least a 6”

Using yarn tails, connect (sew) one ring to each side of the large flower, then connect one small flower to each ring as shown in the photos

Connect 16 rings to each small flower, using the large ring as the final ring on one side, sew button onto center of last ring on other side (not too tightly – leave enough room so that when buttoned, the large ring is sandwiched between the button and the small ring)

Attach bead(s) to large flower if desired

*If you have a very small button, you can make a 34th small ring instead of the large ring. Just make sure you can push the button through one of the small rings.

Side Project

I made a couple of these flowers as an experiment, but they really didn't work with my freeform project. I offered them to Miss Mae who is great at embellishing clothes and things and she said she'd like to make a necklace out of them. After I thought about it for a while I had a light bulb moment and this project was the result.

The "chain" of crochet rings was inspired by Tatyana Mirer's Sweet and Simple Bracelets in the July 2010 issue of Crochet!, but the construction is different. This chain is made up of individual crochet rings that are connected (sewn) together. It doesn't take as long as you'd think - the sewing can be completed in a couple of hours. Pattern coming!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Medium Flower

Here's another one of the flowers I've been using in my freeform project.

Medium Flower
Rnd 1: Ch 6, sl st in first ch to form ring, ch 1, 12 sc in ring, join with sl st in beg sc, ch 1
Rnd 2: 2 dc in each of next 12 sc, join with sl st into beg sc
Rnd 3: Ch 5, (dc in next sc, ch 1) around, join with sl st in 3rd ch of beg ch-5
Rnd 4: Ch 6, (sk [ch1-dc-ch1], sc in next dc, ch 4) around, join with sl st in 2d chain of beg ch-6
Rnd 5: ([sc, 2 dc, sc] into next ch sp, sl st into next sc) around, join with sl st in first sc, fasten off

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Small Flower

When I started this top I searched the Internet far and wide for simple flower patterns. But wherever I went, it seemed like most of the patterns for crochet flowers were for bigger yarn and were often more textural, having multiple layers like Irish crochet roses. I love Irish crochet roses, but I wanted flat things for this garment. When I couldn't find anything I just dove in and started creating my own. After all, I wanted simple, very round, wheel-like flowers, so how hard could it be? Not too hard, it turns out.

Here's one design that I like quite a bit. With size 10 cotton and a 1.65mm hook, it's about 1.5" across when finished.

Small Flower
Rnd 1: Ch 6, sl st in first ch to form ring, ch 1, 12 sc in ring, join with sl st in beg sc, ch 1
Rnd 2: 2 dc in each of next 12 sc, join with sl st into beg sc
Rnd 3: Ch 6, (sk 1 sc, sc in next sc, ch 3) around, join with sl st into 3rd ch of beg ch-6
Rnd 4: (Hdc, dc, hdc in next ch space, sl st into next dc) around, fasten off

The petals tend to curl in on themselves while I work, but since this is cotton I just pull on each petal when I'm done to make them look like the photo. I love that about cotton. It's so "blockable."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Freeform/Irish Crochet Project

I’ve decided to try making a freeform crochet tank/sleeveless top based on Irish crochet techniques, but more in the style of Russian crocheters. The thing is, I don’t know what I’m doing. We’ll see how it goes. It theoretically starts with crochet motifs which are then connected either (a) directly to each other or (b) by crochet webbing. I like the amount of color the Russians use so I'm using color too. I’m using the “direct” method of connection, though if I ever do this again, I might try the webbing technique.

The thread is size 10 crochet cotton and the hook is 1.65mm steel. The colors I had in my stash were mauve/rose, light pink and white, so that’s what I decided to start with. I’m not sure about the look of the white next to the other two color so I may not be using white at all.

Here's what I've got so far.

I think most people must plan out what will go where beforehand, but I’m not that well organized so I’m just sort of using the stick-on-as-you-go method. I make a bunch of motifs, then sew them on to the existing piece wherever they fit. The result so far looks more freeform and less well-planned than most of the things I’ve seen, but I still like it!