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 --

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Happy FO dance

I just love it when things work out!

  • Araucania Nature Wool (body) and Classic Elite Poet (collar)
  • Pattern from Sept. 2007 Crochet! magazine
  • Modifications: none
  • Ease above actual body measurements: 0

Since I had issues with the overall largeness of the Sandy cardigan I just finished, I decided to try going with a lot less ease for this cardigan. It is meant to be a close-fitting style, and I made it to have a finished measurement equaling my bust measurement. Although I rarely button cardigans, this one does close without pulling or straining. If I were to crochet another cardigan of this type I would probably tweak the shoulder width just a bit more (I have narrow shoulders), but they're not bad.

I think this is the first pattern that I've actually managed to follow when making something crocheted(other than a scarf). So, I'd have to say it's an easy pattern - although I think there may be an error in the size hook that the pattern calls for when doing the front/neck edging. As printed it's calling for the same size used for the body - I ended up using one two sizes smaller for a non-ruffly edging. Of course, your mileage may vary.

All in all a pleasant project - I look forward to cooler weather so I can wear it! How do models manage to wear woolly garments when it's blazing hot outside?