Friday, December 28, 2007

A Look Back in Time

Just in time for the new year -- a retro crocheted pullover from w-a-a-a-ay back in 1965!

Pattern modifications were minimal. I lowered the neckline (in the front) just a bit, and also made the armhole deeper. The original pattern had sleeves worked separately, from the bottom up. I decided to work them from the top down so that I would know exactly how wide they needed to be for the newly deepened armhole. Seemed to work just fine, although I did need to re-work my sleeve decreases a couple of times in order to have them be as smooth as possible. Ripping and re-doing are never a waste of time if you end up with the look you want.

Here's a close up of the neckline:

Yarn used was Jaeger Baby Merino 4-ply, purchased from Webs as a closeout (the Jaeger line has been discontinued by Rowan). It's a nice enough yarn, but seems rather loosely plied, so the strands separate more than I like. I'm hoping it will wear reasonably well, as I envision this as an 'knock-about' type of sweater. Since it's merino I may not get my wish -- the price I paid, plus the color, make it all worthwhile to me though.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Stash Diving

You may have too much yarn when... overlook (for several years) a very nice yarn like Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted. Purchased in a kit for a baby's sweater. We won't mention how old the baby is now. In any case, two such nice skeins of yarn should be put to good use, so how about a crocheted cap?

With a size "I" hook I chained 66 and joined them with a slip stitch. Crocheted a couple of rounds of hdc over those 66 stitches, joining each round with a slip stitch and chaining 2 to start the next round. After two rounds I started with dc stitches, still working the same number of stitches and joining each round with a slip stitch. Because I was adding a separate turned up cuff, I did the first few rounds in just plain dc, but when the hat was about 2" I started the fpdc (front post double crochet) ridges -- there's 6 of them, so work *10 dc, l fpdc, around. Frankly, I'm not sure it made much difference (leaving the bottom layer nice and flat), so you could work *10 dc, 1 fpdc around right after the initial 2 hdc rounds.

Why start at the bottom and work your way up the hat you may ask? Well, crocheters choice, I guess, but I find that when working the usual way of starting at the top of the hat and working successively larger rounds outward I have lots of trouble getting just the right fit -- snug, but not too tight. Working from the bottom up I can make sure that I have the fit I want before I invest a lot of time and effort. In any event, I worked even until the body of the hat was 4" from the beginning.

Now the fun part -- the hat gets smaller and smaller as you decrease for the crown. I decided on a decrease rate of 6 stitches per round and I decreased on each round. Since I very happily had a hat with six segments, I simply decreased 1 stitch from each segment, until I finally had a round with only 12 stitches. I stopped doing the fpdc ridge stitches for the next round, because it was making my head hurt to try to figure out how to do a decrease and make it a fpdc, but perhaps you are more clever than I. Pull your yarn through that last stitch, then snug up the little hole on the top by running the tail end through those last stitches on the inside of the hat.

For the contrast cuff, I started from the wrong side of the hat, since it will be turned to the outside when done. Working into the original beginning chain, work sc, skip 1 chain, *(sc, ch2, sc) in next chain space, skip 2 chains**. Continue around, working from * to ** and end [skip 1 chain, sc ch 2 and join with slip stitch to beginning sc]. Round 2: Ch 1 (counts as first sc), *(sc, ch 2, sc) in chain 2 space of previous row**, and repeat from * to ** around -- end with sc, ch2, slip stitch to beginning ch 1. I worked the contrast cuff for 2 1/2" , but 3" would probably look good too.

So, a simple little cap from some long forgotten yarn -- not bad, eh? There's still some yarn left though. Wonder if I can squeeze a little "Could It Be Any Easier" neck cozy from the rest?

Friday, December 14, 2007

C is for Cookie...

Need something chocolate for your holiday cookie platter? Here's a favorite from our house. While there are plenty of recipes out there for no-bake cookie balls, I think this is one of the better ones -- and I say that based on years of sacrificing my waistline in the quest for tasty treats. Resist the urge to eat these until they have 'aged' overnight. It takes a bit of time for that fudge-like consistency to develop.


  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate morsels (chips)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 3 Tablespoons rum
  • 1 package (9 oz.) chocolate wafers, thoroughly and finely crushed
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (divided)
  • 1 cup finely chopped nuts
  • 1 container (about 8 oz.) chocolate sprinkles
  • small container candied cherries for decoration, if desired

In a large bowl, mix cookie crumbs, 2 cups of powdered sugar and nuts. Being careful not to scorch, melt chocolate morsels in either the microwave, or in the top of a double boiler. Pour melted chocolate into crumb mixture, then add orange juice and rum. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or even overnight.

To shape: roll dough into small balls and then roll them in the sprinkles. When all the balls are rolled, chill them for a bit until they are firm enough to easily handle. Blend the remaining sugar with enough water to make a rather thick glaze. Dip each ball halfway into glaze. If desired, decorate the top of each ball with a sliver of candied cherry.

NOTES: I use Nabisco chocolate wafers for these. They come in the right sized packet and they're nice and thin and crush easily. However, any plain chocolate wafer that you find pleasant to eat will work. In fact (and I'm not too proud to admit this) in an emergency Oreos (with the middle 'goop' scraped away) has been used to no ill effect -- but trust me, the wafers are easier! They can often be found in the ice cream 'accessories' (cones, fudge sauce, etc.) section of the supermarket, rather than in the cookie aisle -- go figure.

In some parts of the US, chocolate sprinkles are known as "jimmies" -- call them what you will, but they are the little chocolate rod-shaped thingies used as an ice cream, cookie, or cupcake garnish. FWIW, you can find real chocolate sprinkles in The Baker's Catalog, but regular supermarket ones work just fine.

Powdered sugar also uses the alias of 10X, or confectioner's sugar.

Over the years I've refined my technique for rolling these: take a small scoop of dough, gently roll it in your hands until it 'just' softens. Now, put some sprinkles in your hand and continue rolling gently until the sprinkles (mostly) cover the ball. Works much better, and uses less sprinkles, than trying to roll them around on a flat surface or in a bowl.

No need to refrigerate cookies after they have been rolled and decorated. Frankly, around here, they just don't last that long!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Blast from the Past...

Here's another vintage crochet pattern -- this one from a 1965 Vogue Knitting magazine. And here's a sneak peek at how it's working up in some discontinued Jaeger Baby Merino:

Gosh Karen, do you even have any yarn that isn't orange?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Drum roll, please!

J'ai fini de tricoter Plissé, or words to that effect.

I am enormously happy to have finished, and quite happy that it actually fits!

Specs: Plissé by Hanne Falkenberg - purchased from Kangaroo . Color is apricot, and I used the instructions for the largest size. The only deviation from pattern was to make the sleeves a shorter length. Despite saving a wee bit of yarn on the sleeves, I ran out of yarn while half way through the final binding off. Fortunately, I have the same shade in another kit (Tivoli) in stash, so robbing Peter to pay Paul, I managed to finish. I'll worry about running out of yarn with Tivoli another day. (I'm guessing I won't be starting Tivoli any time soon.)

I wasn't willing to 'borrow' any more yarn from Tivoli, so I won't be adding the I-cord button loop at the present time. Instead, I'll use a nice little shawl pin I got from here . I've enjoyed using it with shawls, and it will work nicely for this too.

Now the big question is - what next?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Got needles?

I think I mentioned not showing another photo of Plissé until it's finished, but who knows when that will be? Looks closer though, right? At any rate, this isn't about you, Miss Plissé, this is all about the needles.

I've written before about Knit Picks Harmony (wooden) needles. For this project I'm using the interchangeable Options.

The specs: nickel-plated, available in US sizes 4 - 11, cables available in lengths of 24" - 60". Prices range from (US) 4.99 - 7.00 for the needle tips (larger needle = larger price) and the cables are (US) 3.99 regardless of length. You get two cables, end caps and a tightener tool in the cable package. Also sold as a set -- which contains all sizes needles, two cable lengths, 8 end caps, tightener and storage -- cost, (US) 59.99.

I purchased the two smallest needle tips and two different cable lengths for purposes of testing them out. My usual choice when I select a metal needle is Addi Turbo. I find I most often reach for a bamboo needle though, as the lighter weight and comparative warmth are easier on my hands,

As compared to Addi, the Options needles have a similar nickel-plated, slick finish and slightly pointier tips, which I like. What really pleases me about the Options though is the cord -- it's flexible and pliable, and is ready to go right from the package. No worries about removing kinks before use, and no fighting against a cord with a mind of its own while using them -- bravo!

The joins are smooth, and the screw seems a bit longer for added security against coming apart with use. I did experience some loosening of the joins while working. Never to the point of actual separation, and easily fixed, so I didn't find it excessively annoying. Your mileage may vary. I should also point out that I didn't use the little tightening tool -- which may have had an effect. I was switching out cables as the work got bigger, and because I have hand strength issues I didn't want the cables too tight for easy removal. Thinking about it, I realize I'm an idiot -- I could have used the little tool for loosening too. Next time! I should also say that I knit "English" style -- not sure if that increases, or decreases the likelihood of loosening the joins. I've heard reports that some folks have had full separation of needles from cables while in use. That may be, but I find it very hard to understand how they wouldn't have noticed the yarn catching on a loose connection long before the needle would have come apart. In any event, my guess is that loosening would be an issue with any interchangeable set, but as I mentioned, I didn't find it a huge problem.

I liked these needles, and I'll use them again. Loved the flexible cable -- which I believe is also the cable used for the Knit Picks fixed length circular needles. It's nice to have the option of changing points/cables, especially if you haven't (yet) built up an extensive needle collection. I'll plead the Fifth on how many I have. The wooden Harmony interchangeable needles can be used with the same Options cables, which is nice.

So, are they perfect, one size fits all? Nope, but I don't think any needle is right for every yarn or project. Different jobs -- different tools. They are, however, a very nice interchangeable metal needle at a very attractive price. If you're looking for that, you may want to give one a test drive.

Monday, November 26, 2007

"Shine on Me Tonight, Allegheny Moon"...

...or maybe we should wait until later for some shine, as today is rainy and foggy. Didn't want to wait to post a photo, though, so here it is --

The specs: Allegheny Moon Mobius by Doris Chan, from her book Amazing Crochet Lace. The yarn is Ritratto by S.Charles Collezione, color s85, the pattern calls for 3 skeins. I made the mobius a bit longer than called for in the pattern so that it would drape a bit lower on the bodice, and had plenty of yarn left in the third skein to do so.

This is certainly not an everyday item of apparel, but I had wanted to work with Ritratto, and this seemed like a nice, simple project. It worked up easily, almost mindlessly, and I probably will wear it at some point, as I really like the colors. What I don't care for is the scratchiness of the metallic strand in the Ritratto. Now granted, this isn't meant for next-to-skin wear, but it was harsh on my hands while working with it, and I wouldn't want to use it for anything that might rub up against the skin -- say, like a muffler. A pity really, because the colors are lovely. Here's a closer look, which may be a little more 'color true' than the foggy view above:

Next up? Well, I'm thinking about doing an update of a vintage pattern if I can find a suitable yarn in the stash. And Plissé? I am about 7 cm from the end of the knitting, and since I just started the last ball of yarn I'm feeling pretty confident that I will not only have enough yarn, but enough to lengthen it just a bit. Which means that I will not actually be just 7 cm from the end -- oh please, just stab me with some sharp pointed needles, it would be a lot less painful!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A trip down Nostalgia Lane...

I love to collect old needlework patterns, most are knitting, but there are some for crochet scattered throughout the years. Let's take a look at a few. (Apologies for the lack of clarity -- old photos plus my poor skills do not a sharply focused photo make. Clicking 'should' make the images larger, which may help.)

First up, a filet nightgown. This is from 1918 - Royal Society Book 12. This is actually just three sections of filet work in the cup and under bust area of the nightgown -- the rest is fabric, no instructions for sewing. I suppose there was greater general knowledge of such things back then!

Next, another filet garment, this time a tunic from Bear Brand's Blue Book (1920). It's worked in Shetland Floss, with a size 2 bone or amber (?) crochet hook. Gauge is listed only as 3 rows = 1 inch. It's worked in one piece from the front bottom hem, increase for sleeves, up across shoulders, and then down to the back bottom hem. Sleeve cuffs are added later. The filet motif (on both front and back) is a butterfly.

Another Royal Society pattern, this one an infant's saque from 1943.
Worked in Royal Society Six Cord Cordichet size 30 -- steel hook size 10. Gauge: 9 loops make 4 inches; 5 rows make 1 inch.

Jumping ahead to 1954, we have a couple of Vogue Knitting Book patterns. Details are hard to make out, even on the original, but notice the soft folds on the sleeve of the "Soft, lightweight cardigan." It does indeed appear to have a nice, soft drape. It's worked in Bear Brand or Fleisher's Wonderized DeLuxe Sock and Sport Yarn (that's a mouthful!), Bucilla plastic No. 2 hook, and is trimmed with over 400 4mm beads and 90 rhinestones (sewn on later). Gauge is 14 stitches = 2 inches and 11 rows = 2 inches.

Or, how about a crocheted ribbon dress in shell stitch from the same issue? Thirty plus spools of Unger's Gossamer Silk Organdy Ribbon is worked with a No. 3 plastic hook. There are 5 covered buttons plus a side zipper to insert. Dress is to be lined with nylon tulle, but you're on your own as to how! Gauge is 1 shell pattern = 1 inch and 2 rows = 1 inch. I wonder how much each spool of silk ribbon cost back then?

Our last stop is Vogue Knitting Fall/Winter 1965. A two-piece dress made from Unger's Les Coraux (translation, anyone?) and an F hook. Gauge is 4 stitches = 1 inch and 8 rows = 3 inches. You'll need some tulle to make facings for the blouse, which is worked in separate pieces. The skirt is worked from the waist down in one piece, and is later stitched to a purchased (tailored) slip.

(Editted to add -- babelfish translates Les Coraux as coral(s), and the nifty discontinued yarn guide at list Unger's Les Coraux as a wool, mohair, vinyon blend. Now we know.)

That's all for now -- hope you enjoyed the trip!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sneak Peek

  • Allegheny Moon Mobius
  • S. Charles Collezione Ritratto
  • Amazing Crochet Lace by Doris Chan

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Another fine Mesh...

...Mesh Peplum, that is. A Lily Chin design from the current issue of Interweave Crochet. Made using Filatura di Crosa Zara yarn. Changes: Made sleeves longer, left out front/side decrease darts, but kept them in the back. After making the bottom mesh section according to pattern directions, I thought there was not enough flare -- so, I increased the hook size (as per directions) but also increased the size of the mesh, as was done in the mesh bodice section.

As for the yarn -- I absolutely LOVE this stuff, and wish I had much, much more. Given the prices I have seen for it at various sites online, that probably isn't going to happen. I certainly will be keeping my eyes open for any closeouts (which is how I bought it originally, at Elann). In any event, I highly recommend it -- I think it would do very nicely for textured knits, too.

Are you all sick of hearing about Plissé? Yup, me too. I think I will wait to show another progress shot -- perhaps when it's done? Please, no breath holding.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Autumn color

A few short weeks ago it felt as if summer's heat would never leave. Now, a hint of winter is in the air. So save them quickly before they're gone -- some random bursts of color from around the yard.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Paying the piper

Fun always comes with a price tag, doesn't it? And payment has come due for my little fling with crocheted floozies -- Plissé is not pleased.

The problem with cheating on your main WIP (work in progress) is that you need a good memory to keep your facts straight. And this week my memory went walkabout as far as Plissé was concerned.

I was blithely knitting away on the second sleeve, almost to the part where I needed to start the "pleated" inset. In other words, very near the end of the "takes forever to knit *&^#* second sleeve." And then it hit me -- I had altered the length of the first sleeve, making it considerably shorter. And guess what happens to your rate of decrease when you shorten a sleeve? That's right, you need to decrease more frequently. As in -- much more frequently than I had done. Please, take a moment to feel my pain as I ripped out days of work -- improperly done work, but lots of work nonetheless. Each stitch pulled out was a stab to the heart, but rip we must.

I offer myself up as an example of cheating love gone wrong in earnest hopes that you can profit from my pain. I've learned an important lesson my friends -- don't cheat on your projects. Or, put another way -- don't stray until you've finished the part that has to match another part.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

No tricks, a couple of treats

Our fourth Halloween here, and once again no little ghouls and goblins knocking at the door. Guess the long driveways and lack of street lights is just too daunting. Oh well, off to make another sacrifice on the altar of Snickers.

This little number is quite the treat though:

Sera Lace Top, by Doris Chan, in the current issue of Interweave Crochet. I used OnLine Linie 199 metallic yarn instead of the Sera, and did one less repeat on the body. The sleeves were shortened to three-quarter length, I think that was two repeats less (or fewer -- I can never remember that grammar rule!) The top is worked in one piece from the top down -- my first time doing any garment like that. Actually it was easier than I thought it would be. I made this a smaller size than I would normally make, the pattern stitch is v-e-r-y stretchy; pattern notes describe it as growing in length -- my experience is that it is fairly forgiving in width too.

So, you would expect that now I have loads of free time to devote to poor neglected Plissé, no? Not exactly, here's what jumped on the hook immediately after I finished Sera:
It's from the same issue of Interweave Crochet -- Mesh Peplum something something, by Lily Chin. Also worked in one piece from the top down (see, I'm reinforcing recently learned skills!). I'm using Filatura di Crosa Zara from the stash, and boy am I loving this yarn. Here's a close up of the neckline detail:

Oh Plissé, will you ever be done?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Something's Gotta Give...

...too many projects, too little time, equals not much blogging.

I've also been spending some time learning my way around this little beauty:
A surprise birthday gift from the spouse (yes, he's a keeper). Unfortunately, it took some time to get it perfectly balanced for sewing/embroidery (creative souls can insert their own version of the ranting I did about lousy customer service -- I'm too tired thinking about it to do it myself), but it's humming along nicely now.

Meanwhile, the Sera lace top from Interweave Crochet is finished and drying on my blocking foam squares and it actually fits. Photo coming soon.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Back Street WIP

Still in progress, but this is the little hussy that has been stealing time from Plissé. The specs are, Pattern: Sera Lace Top from current issue of Interweave Crochet. Designed by Doris Chan. Yarn: ONline linie 199 - metallic. Since I'm using a slightly heavier yarn I'll probably be doing fewer repeats on the body. I'll be attempting to make the sleeves three-quarter length instead of the full length of the pattern.

Not to worry, I'm still working on Plissé every day, but when it's just a couple of rows -- well, it's difficult to even notice any progress. Still, every stitch completed is just that much closer to the finish line.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Crawling Along...

...and heading towards my second long, dark night of the soul (talking 'bout sleevage, my friends).

Of course, if I actually devoted myself to Plissé it just might go a bit faster. I must confess though -- I've been unfaithful. To Plissé that is -- rest assured if I'm ever tempted spousal-ly you absolutely won't read about it here! Salacious details to follow --

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Twice As Cozy

I liked the way my prototype neck cozy turned out, so I decided to see how it would look in another yarn choice. I had some Berroco Foliage on hand, so went with that.

This particular yarn has long runs of color, and I like the way that the 'woven' stitch works with the color variegation. I departed from the previously published instructions by working more rows (17) and placing the buttonholes on rows 5 and 13 -- the pattern is worked with one strand of Foliage. Instead of working sc along the short (outermost) end, I did some simple picots. Here's a shot that may show the stitch pattern a bit better:

The thick and thin nature of the yarn gives the longer edges a somewhat scalloped effect, which also works to the cozy's advantage, I think. I used just a bit more than one ball for the cozy, and will have enough of the second ball left to do the brim of a hat. Although I didn't find any olive wood buttons (like the $297 retail scarf this pattern is designed to mimic), and the Berroco Foliage is certainly not bulky cashmere, it's a fun little accessory. I could see this being a nice, quick gift for those to whom you'd like to give a little something during the holiday season.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Fall Fiber Festival

I think I'm losing it. We took a little trip out to the Fall Fiber Festival at James Madison's Montpelier and I came back with -- absolutely nothing! Not even any photos. It was dusty, hot and humid, and I couldn't even bear to touch the camera with my lemonade sticky hands. Oh well, it's not like I don't have any yarn, fiber, or other goodies at home already. Still, I did notice lots of lovely alpaca -- in the "fluff" and as spun yarn.

Since there are no festival photos, I suppose I should distract you with an update of the Falkenberg Plissé. Here you go:

What you are seeing is one half of the upper bodice heading out to the sleeve. That's lots (and lots) of knitting folks! For some reason I keep hearing Pete Seeger's voice singing "Inch by inch, row by row..." OK, it's a song about gardening, but it still resonates. Bonus points to everyone who knows who Pete Seeger is (without googling). What scares me, more than a little, is the rate of yarn usage. Kits be very nervous making indeed. (I know, bad grammar, but imagine it said in a pirate accent, arghhh.)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Harvest Time

I absolutely love autumn -- the days are warm, but the night brings a refreshing coolness and there's a hint of wood smoke in the air.

Especially nice though, is that with the fall season comes the apple harvest. When the kids were small we always had at least one visit to a pick-your-own orchard, but now we have the room to plant a few trees of our own. The trees are young, so small harvests for now, but so far we've enjoyed Jonagolds and Cortlands, and are eagerly anticipating the ripening of our Arkansas Blacks (pictured). We hope to branch out (groan!) to include more heirloom varieties in addition to the Albemarle Pippin (which didn't set fruit this year) and the Grimes Golden we also have. Anyone in the central VA region looking for interesting varieties should check out Vintage Virginia Apples -- they're just down the road a piece from us, and are a pleasure to deal with.

Here's a simple, but favorite, recipe for using up some of those luscious apples -- your own, or from a local farm stand/orchard!

Amaretto Apples
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup amaretto (almond liqueur)
  • grated rind and juice of 1 orange
  • 4 large, firm apples

Combine sugar, amaretto, orange rind and juice in a heavy saucepan. Heat slowly to bubbling. Meanwhile, peel, core and thickly slice apples. As they are sliced, add them to the pan. Simmer until apples are tender and the liquid has reduced.

Chill and serve plain, with crème fraîche, or with whipped cream.

This recipe is perfect for when you want something a little sweet, but not too heavy. It's from the book Keep It Simple by Marion Burros ©1981.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Could It Be Any Easier? Neck Cozy

If you'd like to keep the chill from your neck but don't want to shell out $297 -- here's a crochet version of a little item that's been getting some attention lately. It's a rectangle, it's two buttons and corresponding buttonholes, so we're not talking rocket science here. You could really go wild with yarns, stitch patterns or decorative effects, but here's my simple, no-frills version:

Could It Be Any Easier? Neck Cozy

Materials: Elann Peruvian Collection Pure Alpaca, 2 balls (100% pure alpaca, 109 yards per 50 gr. ball)

Hooks: size 6.5 mm (K) and size 6 mm (J)

2 large buttons

Pattern Stitch: Woven Stitch, worked over an even number of stitches

Set Up Row: SC in second chain from hook, *chain 1, skip 1 chain, 1 SC in next chain, repeat from * to end. Turn.

Pattern Row: Chain 1, skip first SC, *1 SC in chain-1 space, Chain 1, skip 1 SC, repeat from *, ending by making SC in chain 1, turn.

With double strand of yarn, and larger hook, chain 92. Change to smaller (J) hook and work Set-Up Row of pattern across chain.
Rows 2 & 3: Work Pattern Row across stitches.
Row 4: (buttonhole row) Work 4 stitches (ch 1, sc, ch 1, sc), chain 3, skip 3 stitches (these three skipped stitches are: sc, ch 1, sc) and continue in pattern to end of row.
Row 5: Work Pattern Row as established, but when you come to the chain 3 space of the previous row, work (sc, ch 1, sc) in that space.
Rows 6 - 9: Work Pattern Row as established
Row 10: Work Buttonhole Row as before
Row 11: Work Pattern Row as established, and when you come to chain 3 space of the previous row, work (sc, ch 1, sc) in that space.
Row 12: Work Pattern Row as established. End off, turn, and work a row of sc across the short end of the neck cozy.

For proper placement of buttons, fold neck cozy as it is to be worn, and mark placement of buttons. Buttons are placed side-to-side lengthwise, not across short end of cozy.

Cozy worked in this gauge measures 4 x 28 inches. For a tighter fit around neck, work over fewer stitches. Work more rows if you prefer a higher cozy (there should be enough yarn to do several more rows). You may want to change the buttonholes to different rows if you make the cozy higher.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A little tabbed scarf

Lots of talk lately on an on-line knitting list about the scarf on this site. Mostly due to the price they're asking for a simple rectangle/two button/knit on a frame (although it is bulky cashmere!) scarf. It got me to thinking about short little scarves -- sometimes you want a luxurious length to wrap around and around, and sometimes -- not so much. I'm thinking maybe you're running to catch the Metro or the T and don't want to be tripped up or get caught in an automatic door by your scarf, but you still want a little something to keep out the chill. So, I decided to try making a crochet version of a knitting pattern for a short, tabbed scarf.

I have an old (1968) Fleisher/Bear Brand/Botany booklet with an angora knit version of the scarf, but the design is a vintage classic, and probably pops up in many places in different variations.

So, here's mine:

  • Materials: 2 balls Valley Yarns Amherst, 100% merino yarn, 109 yards per 50 gr. Ball
  • Hook: size 4.5 mm (G) or size to achieve gauge
  • Gauge: 4 stitches per inch, 3 rows per inch
  • Stitches used: (American terminology) hdc - half double crochet, crab stitch (also known as reverse sc) - single crochet, but worked in the reverse direction, from left to right
  • Increase (Inc.) by working two stitches in the first and last hdc of an increase row.
  • Decrease (Dec.) by working two stitches into one. Example: yo, insert hook in first stitch and draw up one loop (there are now 3 loops on hook). Yo again and insert hook into second stitch and draw up another loop - there are now 5 loops on the hook. Yo and draw yarn through all 5 loops.
  • Additional abbreviation: f & l - first and last stitch
  • Every row ends with a chain 2 for a turning chain.

  • Chain 4, hdc in second chain from hook and each remaining chain. 3 stitches
  • Row 2: Increase in first and last stitch of row - 5 stitches
  • Row 3: Increase in first and last stitch of row - 7 stitches
  • Row 4: Inc. in f & l, - 9 stitches Work next row even over 9 stitches.
  • Row 6: Inc. in f & l - 11 sts
  • Row 7: Inc. in f & l - 13 sts Work one row even
  • Row 9: Inc. in f & l - 15 sts Work one row even
  • Row 11: Inc. in f & l - 17 sts Work 5 additional rows even.
  • Row 17: Decrease (see above technique) at beginning and end of row - 15 stitches Work 2 additional rows of 15 sts.
  • Row 20: Decrease at beginning and end of row - 13 sts Work 3 additional rows even.
  • Row 24: Dec. row - 11 sts Work 1 row even.
  • Row 26: Dec. row - 9 sts Work 7 rows even.
  • Row 33: Increase row - work 2 stitches in first and last stitch of the row - 11 sts Work 3 rows even.
  • Row 37: Inc. in f & l - 13 sts Work 3 rows even
  • Row 41: Inc. in f & l - 15 sts Work 3 rows even.
  • Row 45: Inc. in f & l - 17 sts Work even on these 17 sts for 8 1/2“, then begin shaping for opposite scarf tail.

  • Next row: Dec. to 15 sts. Work 3 additional rows of 15 sts.
  • Next: Dec. to 13 sts. Work 3 additional rows of 13 sts.
  • Next: Dec. to 11 sts. Work 3 rows even.
  • Next: Dec. to 9 sts. Work 7 rows even.
  • Next: Increase in first and last stitch of the row - 11 sts. Work 1 row even.
  • Next: Inc. in f & l - 13 sts Work 3 more rows even.
  • Next: Inc. in f & l - 15 sts Work 2 more rows even.
  • Next: Inc. in f & l - 17 sts Work 5 rows even.
  • Next: Decrease at both ends of the row - 15 sts Work 1 additional 15 st row.
  • Next: Dec. to 13 sts Work 1 additional row.
  • Next: Dec. to 11 sts.
  • Next: Dec. to 9 sts. Work 1 more row of 9 sts.
  • Next: Dec. to 7 sts
  • Next: Dec. to 5 sts
  • Next: Dec. to 3 stitches -- end off, and work crab stitch (reverse sc) around outside edge of scarf. End off, and work in ends.

Tab: make 1. Chain 6, leaving a tail of about 10” (for sewing tab to scarf). Hdc in second chain from hook and in each chain across - 5 st. Remembering to chain 2 at end of each row for turning chain, work these 5 sts for 7 rows. End off, leaving another long tail.

Sew each end of the tab to the narrowest (9 st) section of one end of the scarf; centering it evenly between the stitches. I used a backstitch, and went over each end twice. Fasten off on wrong side and run in excess ends.

Notes: the original vintage knit scarf used angora yarn -- not sure I would want tickle-y, fly-away fibers so close to mouth/nose, so I went with merino (plus, I had it on hand). The key to yarn substitution is soft and cozy. Certainly other weights of yarn could be used for this simple shape, but you will need to re-figure the proportions, i.e. stitch and row count. Finishing with a picot edging instead of reverse sc would be nice too, I think. And for lace fans, what if one end was worked in a pineapple shape instead of plain? Food for thought.

To adjust the total length -- work less rows in the 17 stitch center back section. Scarf is pictured worn somewhat loosely on an average size neck.

Directions are as accurate and clear as I could manage. Please let me know if you try it -- I always like feedback, both pro and con. And, even though this simple scarf has existed in shape and concept for quite a while -- these particular words and photos are mine. Please respect the effort, and ask before using them in any way other than making a scarf for personal use.

Monday, September 24, 2007

I LOVE a quick project!

I wanted to try a new (to me) yarn from Elann, Luxury Merino Superwash, so I went with a quick crocheted hat. The hat pattern is from Crochet Hats! by Candi Jensen, and is meant to be a child's size. I fussed about with the gauge/stitches/rows to get something to fit me.

It was a pleasure to work with the yarn -- it's soft, and feels delightful. I noticed a few pills as I was working with it, so I'm not sure I would want to use it for something subjected to heavy abrasion, but then that's kind of the nature of merino. Each skein has 122 yards (112 metres) per 50 grams, which I think puts it in the range of a DK/light worsted weight yarn. Label lists it as 'superwash', and the care is stated as machine wash - cold, lay flat to dry. Worth checking out if you're in the market for a reasonably priced merino, but do keep in mind that you may get pills with wear. For me, the softness is worth it -- this is a definite 'wear next to the skin' yarn, but your needs/wants may vary.

Also in progress is a pair of socks made in the August selection of The Yarn Yard's sock club yarn. Pattern is Waving Lace by Evelyn Clark from the Interweave book - Favorite Socks. I think it's turning out quite nice.

Progress continues on the Falkenberg Plissé, but it photographs as an orange-y blob, so we'll wait until it has a more recognizable shape. At any rate, one ball of yarn down -- many more to go!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A journey of a thousand miles begins with...

...cast on 12 stitches.

Yes, it's time for a new project, and this one just jumped on the needles -- hurdling over several other older contenders.

I'm a big fan of Hanne Falkenberg, and this is a (relatively) new design of hers - Plissé. What you're seeing in the photo is the center of the back neck, working out in one direction towards the shoulder. Yes, it will take some time to knit, but fortunately it's usually enjoyable. The color is "apricot", if what you mean by apricot is "carrot", and it's one of, if not the only, Falkenberg cardigan knit in one color.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Well, it's an alien concept, but since the lovely lesalicious has tagged me with 8 Random Things About Me, I'll play along -- understand though, I much prefer being an international woman of mystery!

We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.

  • Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  • People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
  • At the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
  • Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

8 Things
  • People are usually surprised to learn I was born (and spent my formative years) in Arkansas. So here's a shout out to anyone else from Hot Springs!
  • I attended four different schools, on two different continents, during fifth grade.
  • I can not be trusted in the same room with milk chocolate.
  • I learned to knit at the age of 10, and my first project was a pair of heavy wool socks for my (step)grandfather -- they were too tight, but he gamely "made it work".
  • At age 6, my favorite possession was a bright red metal "Handy Andy" tool kit -- never made a thing, but used the little hammer to crack nuts.
  • My current philosophy: Life is short, eat dessert first.
  • If there is one thing I wouldn't want to live without, it would be books.
  • And finally, my favorite outdoor pasttime is playing in the mud (otherwise known as vegetable gardening!).

Now, I'm probably one of the last 5 people in blogland who has answered this, so how about I tag everyone who hasn't answered yet, but would like to?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Well, well, look what came in the mail...

I couldn't help myself, when I saw that Knitpicks had new wooden needles I just had to try some. I ordered the 6" dpn set and sizes 4-7 of the circular tips that will fit the interchangeable Options cables. I haven't had a chance to test drive the circulars, so let's talk double-pointed.

The first thing you notice with these needles is the color. They're made from laminated birch wood, and each layer is a different color. Unlike the longer 8" dpns and the circular needles, the colors in the smaller sizes run lengthwise. What this means is that you pretty much only see one color, depending on how you're holding the needle. Keep this in mind if you think you might find swirly colors distracting. To my eyes, the multi-hues are not that distinct, and the needles 'read' as a medium/dark wood.

What do I like about them? Let's start with the point -- these are nicely tapered, pointed enough for lacy stitch maneuvers, but not so sharp that you'll worry constantly about impaling a finger. Here's a photo of the Harmony dpn and one of my Crystal Palace bamboos:

The finish is smooth, but still has some drag -- you'll get speed, but no worries about stitches escaping off the needles. I personally like a shorter dpn, so the 6" length is good for me. Those of you who prefer something longer will not find it in the smaller sizes -- only sizes 4-11 are available in 8" lengths (and only that length).

Needles in the set come in metric sizes 2mm, 2.25, 2.5, 2.75, 3.0 and 3.25mm -- a nice range that should make fine tuning gauge that much easier. For those who only speak "American", the sizes in the set range from 0 - 3, with size 1 and 2 having two different metric equivalents. (And why are we still dragging our feet over the metric system? Are we really too freakin' dumb to learn what little primary school children the world over have apparently very little trouble learning?) Oops, was that out loud? Sorry, that's a rant for another day. OK, focus...

There are 6 needles for each size, which will be handy when one invariably goes walkabout -- and at $6.79US (for the smaller sizes) that's a very attractive price indeed. Compare to $8.50US I last spent for Crystal Palace bamboo, my usual needle.

In short, I found much to like and (so far) nothing to dislike about the Harmony dpns. Others may take issue with their length or color, but to me they're fine. I doubt I'll invest in the larger sizes. I don't use them that often, and I already have most sizes in other materials/brands.

One thing that may prove annoying is that there is no size imprint on the needles. Now, I store my dpns in separate pouches by metric sizing, so not much of an issue for me.
And, in truth, I'm always annoyed by how yarn catches on the size markings on needles that have the size pressed into the needles a la Brittany. Most of my bamboo needles are inked with their size, but of course with use that can fade or rub off. Others may not like the lack of size imprint though.

As always, your mileage may vary, but if your needle requirements mesh with what Harmony needles offer I think they're well worth a look.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

One less daily chore... that I've gotten my Ravelry invite I won't need to be constantly checking to see where I am in the queue. What a birthday surprise! Look for me under user name karendeane, if you've a mind to.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Saturday, September 8, 2007

A little exercise... color theory, or more specifically -- adequate contrast with two-color knitting.

Despite my issues with the fit of my Sandy cardigan, I really liked the colors I used. I thought the rich, chocolate brown really set off the Noro Kureyon variations. So, when I found a hat pattern Fake Isle at Mag Knits I thought I'd found the perfect way to use up that leftover ball of Kureyon. For contrast, the pattern uses Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted, which I just happened to have in stash in a slightly darker brown than I used for the cardigan. "Perfect" I thought, "the darker shade will frame the Kureyon even better." Well, maybe not so much. The brown which provides such a nice frame for the variegated yarn in the jacket doesn't do nearly as well when interspersed with the Noro in a Fair Isle pattern. Colorists could explain it better, but basically when used this way there is simply not enough contrast between the brown and the rest of the colors -- they are much too similar in value and the patterning is indistinct. (Note: the photo was taken outside in the blazing sunshine -- in average light, with average eyes, there is less contrast than apparent here.)

I could tell early on that this particular combo would not be a great success, but continued on anyway. It was good practice for two-handed, two-color knitting, and it was meant to be a hat for me, and would probably only be worn (and thus seen) around the homestead. Plus, I really didn't have anything better to use with the Noro and it pleased me to use up the yarn for a warm, useful item -- even if it wasn't a stunning example of colorwork.

The pattern itself was easily worked. I ended up with a bit of a "nipple" effect at the very top -- not so noticeable after washing, but the next one I make I'll leave out the final two non-decreasing rows to see how that looks. I may also take out one plain (non-decreasing) row from between each decrease row of the crown in order to make it just a bit shallower in depth. I changed the bottom, ribbed rows to the contrasting (Brown Sheep) yarn rather than the Noro. I find the Brown Sheep to be a bit softer on bare, forehead skin, and thought it would be more comfortable to wear.

And here's an in-process photo of the same hat, but with a higher contrast between the two yarns --