Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A pair, at last

Seems like this pair has taken forever -- most likely because they got very little attention while I played around with crochet. But they're done, and I'm happy. 'Nuff said.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

S-watch Out!

Finding attractive stitch patterns to use on women's garments is fairly easy. Almost any pattern you can come up with will suit some female -- depending, of course, on their personal taste. For guys it's not so easy. Fans or shells -- not so much. Ripples -- you're skating on thin ice. Lacy openwork -- not on your life. Of course there's color work -- stripes anyone?

So, when I thought I'd like to make a crocheted pullover for the spouse I turned to the online crochet community for a little advice. I was pleased to hear from a couple of guys, and set about swatching their suggestions, plus a couple I had found myself.

My purpose here is to see if I like the patterns -- the yarn used for swatching is not what I'll be using for the garment. Hook size is the same for all swatches, and there are the same number of stitches chained -- plus or minus a stitch due to pattern requirements. Most recommendations that I've read lately suggest a larger hook than the comparable knitting needle size listed on the yarn label. This swatch yarn, Cotton Classic by Tahki, suggests a 4mm knitting needle. I used an F hook, which is also 4mm, but if I were making an actual garment from this yarn I would certainly try out a larger hook. These swatches weren't board stiff, but it would be well worth it to see if the drape improves with a looser gauge.

First up we have sc (single crochet) worked alternately in the front loop and then back loop across each row. It's a nice, nubby texture that's not too dense. I like this pattern -- it's easily worked and certainly would make a nice sweater fabric for anyone. Turning it sideways though I like it even more. In fact, it may show up in something for me later on.

Next we have another sc based pattern, this one worked on any uneven number of stitches. Chain required length -- work sc, ch 1, across row ending with sc. Repeat for each row. All sc line up on top of one another, as do the ch 1's. The contributor of this suggestion noted that this pattern has a nearly square stitch/row gauge, thus making it ideal for modular work. It has a very nice drape, even using a smaller hook.

The third pattern is a simple arrangement of (5 stitch wide) blocks of sc and dc stitches. The first 4 row shown are worked plain, but the succeeding rows show how it looks when the same block pattern is worked with rows alternating between being worked through the front loop of each stitch and then being worked through the back loop of each stitch on the next row.

And lastly we have a pattern from a Japanese stitch compendium. I really like this one -- bold pattern, but easy to work. Chain a multiple of 3, plus 2 extra.

  • Row 1 -- sc in second chain, *ch2, sc across row, ending with a sc, ch3.
  • Row 2 - *2dc in ch2 space, FPdc (front post dc) around sc, repeat from *, ending 2 dc in ch-2 space, dc in last sc, ch 1
  • repeat these 2 rows for pattern

Sadly though, I think that this is just too heavy when worked in a DK weight cotton. I will be trying it again, but with a fingering weight wool.

Now, I just have to decide which one to use -- I know which way I'm leaning, how about you?

Happy Birthday, Monty!

He's a big boy now -- one year old today.

Monday, May 21, 2007

And here it is --

Sleeve re-done, washed, blocked and ready to roll. I decided to go with no fastener -- that can change depending on the intended recipient (assuming, of course, that it actually fits -- yikes!)

  • yarn -- Cotton Fine by Brown Sheep
  • amount -- just a bit more than one cone (1/2 lb.)
  • hook -- size E

And here's a close up of the edging --

I enjoyed working with the Cotton Fine (which is a fingering weight cotton/wool blend), however there was excess dye released when I washed it. I rinsed until the water ran clear, hopefully there won't be any crocking problems (that is, dye coming off on anything worn underneath the cardigan).

I'm pleased with how this turned out -- I didn't use any particular pattern, but combined different stitch patterns in what (I thought) was a pleasing combination. Now, let's just hope it fits!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Look Ma -- No Lines!

One of the things I had hoped to check out while at MD Sheep & Wool was the sock yarn "Socks that Rock" by Blue Moon Fiber Arts. But the lines -- you would have thought that they were giving the stuff away.

I have to confess that I'm just not that patient when it comes to waiting in line -- my kids could tell you blood-curdling stories about my behavior while stuck in lines of traffic (Sunday night, Tappan Zee Bridge, thunderstorm, long drive from Cape Cod -- that's all I'm saying). Anyway, I just don't do lines if I can possibly help it. So, I resigned myself to not having any Socks That Rock yarn.

Imagine my surprise when I got home and did a little online research -- you can order the stuff right off the internet and the USPS will bring it RIGHT TO YOUR DOOR! (tongue firmly in cheek)

That's Cracked Canyon in the front, and Lemongrass in the back.

Wow, what a concept -- did all those people waiting in line (well, two lines actually -- one to see the stuff, and one to pay for it.) know about this? Sure, sure, you pay a little bit more, but really, for no lines? Totally worth it.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A tale of two containers

I had hoped to have photos of a completed cardigan today, but a sleeve re-do has pushed that back for a while.

So, let's talk stash containment--

I love the appearance of organization (keyword: appearance) so I'm always on the lookout for attractive ways to store the yarn that inevitably finds its way here, like ants find sugar. So when someone on one of my online lists mentioned fabric-covered storage boxes with clear 'windows' available at Lowe's I had to check it out. They sounded very much like boxes I had bought from holdeverything (which I understand is now kaput) but at $11.88 were much less than I paid for the originals. In fact, they appear to be a direct knock off of the holdeverything boxes -- same size, same clear window, same trim style and color.

Storage box from Lowe's on the right -- holdeverything box on the left.

Now, I expect I paid a premium just for the holdeverything brand (they were part of the Williams-Sonoma juggernaut) but they are a nicer box. Better fabric, smaller stitches, thicker plastic, firmer inner supports. However, did I mention that the boxes at Lowe's are $11.88?

So, I'll keep those nice, sturdy holdeverything closet boxes for heavy duty sweater storage, but for yarn? Well, I think the boxes from Lowe's will do just fine. Certainly they put the plastic and cardboard currently in the sewing room to shame. And did I mention that they are only $11.88? Sweeeeet.

So a couple or three may have found their way here -- you know, like ants to sugar.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Anny Blatt, who knew?

I was leafing through a vintage crochet booklet the other day -- Crocheted Blouses with a French Accent, copyright 1939 -- when I noticed several patterns were designed by Anny Blatt. I'd never given much thought to whether there was an actual person named Anny Blatt, but apparently there was.

According to the pattern leaflet, she was a contemporary of Schiaparelli and DeWar with her own Parisian design studio.

"So from Paris, in crisp, tissue paper wrappings came the models which we copied for you, and our talented young American designers took up the challenge for fresh blouse ideas, too. So it's new blouses for old, for the woman who recognizes that crocheting and fashion go hand in hand."

"pretty, pretty" size 14 - bust 33 inches, (84 cm.)

"Madame President" size 16 - bust 36 inches (91 cm.)

"Chevron" size 16 - bust 35.5 inches, (90 cm.)

For a look at more vintage crochet, both fashion and home decor, visit The Antique Pattern Library. This site has PDF downloads of many antique patterns -- lovely to view, even if you never attempt them.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Another opening, another show...

Looks like this will most definitely be the Spring/Summer of Crochet around here. I'm sure I'll knit again, but right now I think I'll concentrate on developing the crochet skills.

And here's the latest project:

And a closeup of the bottom portion:

I'm "winging it" somewhat with this particular garment -- we'll see how that works out for me! It will be an openwork cardigan with mesh sleeves. Haven't decided how to edge/fasten the fronts -- right now I'm thinking a simple tie at the lower edge of the vee neck, but I have some nice vintage buttons and I may just use one of those. I would be repeating myself with a one button closure again, but that seems like a good idea for a cover up meant for warmer weather. The yarn is Brown Sheep Cotton Fine, the hook I'm using is a US size E (3.5mm). The lower stitch pattern is from a Japanese stitch guide -- I turned it upside down so that I could have a scalloped bottom edge. The top portion is a simple shell stitch, and the three-quarter length sleeves will be mesh stitch edged with a flared version of the bottom pattern.

If the fronts seem a little lopsided in the photo -- they are. Haven't done the back yet, so had to resort to tape to keep them on the form and they're a little wonky. I didn't want to risk running afoul of Blogger by displaying only one front -- that would have exposed some white plastic boobage. Think I'm being silly? Well, I once had a photo tossed off of Webshots -- that one was a tank top "worn" by DressForm Model. Now you or I might not think that her grey fabric shell was displaying too much cleavage, but the folks at Webshots were taking no chances. In fairness, I guess she is a bit of a hussy!

At any rate, it's moving right along and I can't wait to see how it ends up. That's part of the fun of 'designing' my own stuff -- I never quite know how it's all going to work together until I'm done. I hope for the best, but I'm always ready to rip!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

A little more MSW

It's just a tote bag, but it represents a fairly large chunk of "waiting in a never ending line" time. Not my time, mind you, but time that the spouse spent waiting to purchase a tote bag (which will join a legion of other tote bags) so that I didn't have to. With only the reward of my gratitude, and the hope of some funnel cake in his future, he freely gave his time so that I could shop -- that, my friends, is true love.

So, you'd think that maybe I made good use of that time and came home with a lot of swag, yes? Well, not so much.

That's right -- sock yarn, four pairs worth -- and that's it. And all for me, I might add. The poor guy waiting in line isn't even getting a pair.

I had an enjoyable time, nonetheless, as it was kind of nice not to be running around trying to find this or that. Our youngest daughter drove up from DC to join us walking around the festival for a bit. I think it really surprised her (as she sat in a very long line of cars waiting to enter the fairgrounds) that this fiber thing her mom enjoys is so big with others too.

Afterwards, we all drove to Frederick for a late lunch. We were delighted to discover a charming Ethiopian restaurant Tajitu,where we enjoyed a tasty vegetarian meal. Then it was time to hit the road back to VA.

Monty was glad to see us, but annoyed he wasn't allowed to go too. Unbelievable as it may seem, every year you'll hear at least one announcement about "a dog in distress" while walking around the fairgrounds. Please, folks, have some compassion and leave your dogs at home.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

Just a few photos --

A couple of stylin' alpacas --

Nice set, fellas!

Some good looking goats...

...and a few adorable sheep --

People? Sure, there were people there too -- These folks were lined up to purchase Socks That Rock sock yarn. Wonder if there will be any left for tomorrow?

Yes, there was yarn there too -- and I may have bought a little, but that's a photo for another day.