Monday, April 30, 2007

Looks innocent enough, doesn't it?

A simple little allover floral pattern. And here's how much I got done before running screaming from the room --

In all fairness, the screaming may have had something to do with the fingering weight, splitty, black yarn (Brown Sheep Cotton Fine), but really, I thought I was better than that. I would like to use the pattern at some point, so I'll try again later on -- right now a cool, refreshing drink is calling my name.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Stringin' along

There are few things I dislike as much as those flimsy plastic bags we get our groceries in these days. They are barely strong enough to get things home from the market without tearing, and even if you do re-use them they still are going to end up in a landfill somewhere. And there's no getting around the fact that as an American (US variety) I'm already using way too much of the earth's resources. What to do? Well, lots of things, but it would help to be more mindful of how disposable our lives have become and try to change that. Here's one baby step...

The pattern is available here. The yarn is leftover Tahki Cotton Classic, perhaps a bit nicer than the yarn called for in the pattern, but using what I had works better than running out to buy more, yes? The little facecloth underneath the string bag isn't going to cut down on using a disposable product, but it is finding a use for a subscription "freebie" (yeah, right!) from the folks at Rowan. And for those who use such things -- the Rowan 'handknit cotton' makes an attractive little facecloth. The rest of it will most likely go towards another string bag.

In the interest of journalistic fairness -- it has been pointed out to me that I may have exaggerated the level of eyerolling indulged in by the spouse when confronted by PlasticFoot Model. (And no, I'm not missing the irony of blogging about string bags right after purchasing a plastic foot.) Anyway, it wasn't "serious" eyerolling, OK? He may have twitched a little though.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

America's Next Top Model?

Joining hard working DressForm Model at Mingling Yarn is -- PlasticFoot.

She comes to us from Gershel Bros. and looks forward to a long career modeling socks. Truth be told, I really was hoping to book FullLeg Model, but common sense (and some serious eye rolling from the spouse) resulted in my hiring PF. I still think FullLeg would be an excellent addition to my sewing room decor though.

Right now PF is showing off the first sock (of two, hopefully) from The Yarn Yard's hand-dyed sock yarn in Marmalade Swoop. A slipped stitch cable runs down the upper leg and partially over the top of the foot. Trying to be clever, I thought to have the individual cables end at different points on the foot -- forming a Vee-shaped design -- but frankly it doesn't show that well, so I needn't have bothered. Worked top down, with a standard heel flap/gusset/Dutch (or square) heel. For those interested, the stitch pattern is a multiple of 5 stitches -- worked over 4 rounds, with the stitch count changing on round 1. Because every fourth round has fewer stitches, the pattern will be slightly snugger than a comparable plain rib. I also make sure to divide for the heel flap on a row that has the full complement of stitches.

  • Round 1 -- *P2, slip 1, k2, pass slipped stitch over K2; repeat from *
  • Round 2 -- *P2, k1, yo, k1; repeat from *
  • Round 3 -- *P2, k3, repeat from *
  • Round 4 -- repeat round 3
Repeat rounds 1-4.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Just a few yards left...

Of course, you'll notice the full cone of yarn right behind the one I was using. I had a little panic attack after finishing the first piece, so I ordered another cone to be sure I would have enough yarn to complete the cardigan. Hopefully as I become more experienced at crochet I will be better able to estimate my yarn needs -- but as for now, looks like there'll be another little something made from this yarn.

And here's the "finished project on a dress form" shot --

And a closeup of the neckline --

Project Details:
  • Yarn -- Silk City Bounce, cotton/nylon blend
  • Hook size - 3.5mm, Am.F
  • Style -- one button cardigan, vee-necked with 3/4 length sleeves
  • Stitches used -- sleeves alternate fan stitch panels with square mesh panels Body is a combination of double crochet with a lace stitch pattern from a Japanese stitch compendium Neck trim is an adaptation of a large shell edging

This design is one of my own, inspired by a crocheted shawl-collared cardigan available this season from J.Jill. Because I thought the shawl collar would be too warm for a spring/summer sweater, I tried to give the illusion of that detail by the shaped neckline trim. The body of the J.Jill sweater was solid double crochet, and there too I tried to lighten (and ventilate) by using a lace pattern on the bottom of the body pieces. I liked the insets of square mesh stitch on the sleeves, so I kept that, but used a simple fan stitch for the rest of the sleeve to make it easier (for me) to work my sleeve increases. The sweater was worked in separate pieces, from the bottom up. At this point I feel more confident working separate pieces (less to rip back when I mess up!), but later on I plan to try some "in the round" designs.

With each new piece that I complete I learn a little bit more. I was happy with the outcome of this design -- everything worked together the way that I originally envisioned it would. I was especially pleased with the lightness and drape of it -- although working with fingering weight yarn may seem to take longer to work, the reality is that it gives me much better fabric than using heavier yarns. I just wish that there were more choices available for that weight on cones in natural fibers, but somehow I seem to find quite a few anyway.

Next up? Well, you'll just have to wait and see!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

HeartBeat/HeartBreak Revisited

I finally bit the bullet and decided to fix the neck edging on my HeartBeat sweater so that if I wanted to ever wear it (highly doubtful now, because I am thoroughly sick of looking at it) I could.

When last we saw this sweater it had a neckline that was still too wide -- despite having four complete repeats of the neckline edging. I wasn't keen on the look of that many repeats, to me it looked more like a yoke than an edging, but in for a penny...I undid the bound off edge and put it back on the needles for a final (fifth) repeat. This time around instead of doing just one decrease round (out of a four row repeat) I did two decrease rounds. The thought occurred to me that if I had done that from the beginning I might not have had to do so many repeats, but I firmly pushed it out of my mind before I got too depressed to continue. And here's the end result --

Yeah, I know, it's on the dress form, not me -- what can I say, I was having a bad body day. I think though, that it is apparent that the neckline is now smaller. I could (hypothetically) wear it without exposing that which I do not care to expose -- even if I were to actually move about.

So, stick a fork in it or drive a stake through it, but it is done. I did learn some things from the experience, so it's not a total loss. I would have preferred to have a wearable top to learning stuff, but hey -- we take our victories where we can.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The little swatch that grew

I had an idea for a summer crocheted cardigan, so pulled out my yarn and hooks and started swatching.

Now lately I've become a big fan of the "photocopy a large swatch as an aid in shaping intricate stitch patterns" method (described previously -- it's a technique from Lily Chin's Couture Crochet book) so I try to make a fairly big swatch. My first attempt at matching yarn, hook size and pattern was pleasing to me (and don't you just LOVE when that happens?) so I stitched merrily away at my large swatch. And then the penny dropped.

This particular design that I'm imagining will have no shaping in the lace part. As in -- I won't need to photocopy it. As in -- I don't need quite as large a swatch. Now, swatching is a valuable thing, and never is a waste of time, but still...I could have been working on the actual sweater instead of (such) a large swatch.

Dame Fortune was smiling on me that day though -- lo and behold when I blocked then started measuring my hefty swatch I was pleased to discover that it was just the right size to be a front piece. So that's just what it became --

Aren't happy endings wonderful? And here's a close up of the lace pattern --

This time I'm using the Knitware sweater design program from Great Knit Designs to give me basic stitch and row counts. In the past I've been a fan of Sweater Wizard, but it doesn't accept typical crochet gauges (in other words, rows taller than stitches are wide) and it isn't always easy to use "work arounds" to fool the program when you're using intricate stitch patterns or shapings. So, we'll see how this other program works out for what I need.

Other pattern specifics: I'm using Silk City Bounce yarn -- it's a fingering weight cotton/nylon blend that has a crepe texture. It's not the easiest yarn to hook (due mostly to that very texture, I think), but I like how it's working up. I'm working with a size F hook (4.0mm), which may be a bit larger than usual for such light weight yarn, but I want a nice drapey effect, and it seems to work. As always, time will tell.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

It just might work...

...but then again, it might not. I wanted to crochet a lacy swimsuit wrap, but couldn't find a pattern that I thought might work. What I really liked was the Salsa Scarf from the Anna Kosturova collection. I didn't want to spend forever crocheting such a seasonal item, so I needed to find something at a larger gauge.

What I found that might work was a shoulder shawl pattern from Moda Dea. It's the Crochet Scallop Wrap by Gayle Bunn (LM0258)-- available in the free patterns section (

My version will need to be lengthened, but I think I can handle that. I'll also be adding a narrow waistband, and a little extra width on either side edge. I had some ribbon-y yarn in the stash -- OnLine Linie 15 "Orlando" that seems to be working up OK --

The photo shows only about 9 rows, so time will tell - fingers crossed!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

This has been a test...

...there will be no actual wearing -- by this writer, at any rate!

In my continuing quest to attain crochet shaping skills I decided to try this pattern. I already had one of the recommended yarns on hand, so off we go!

In the past I've had difficulties with following written crochet instructions, but this pattern is very clearly written and has numerous photos. I especially appreciated the inclusion of a stitch count for every row -- no getting lost when you know exactly how many stitches you should end up with. Sizing for this model is determined by cup size -- since my dress form is well endowed I went with a C cup sample. Although for purposes of this exercise I only made the top, looking through the directions for the bikini bottom it would appear to be equally well written.

The yarn used was Elann's Esprit -- a cotton/elastic blend that has 186 yards (stretched) or 100 yards unstretched. When using yarns of this type I always try not to add additional stretch when working with them. It molded over curves very nicely, but I did notice quite a lot of waviness in the ties. I think this was due to the nature of the yarn, rather than how I worked with it.

If I had been making this to wear myself I think I might have tried replacing the neck ties with a one-piece halter strap. The ties are quite long, and I would expect that they could be a bit annoying when lying down while sunbathing. Could you swim in it? Well, just how brave are you? In any event, for those who are looking for a well-written bikini pattern, this could be the pattern for you.