Friday, January 25, 2008

Béret Gaufré

Très chic, très Véronik.

This adorable beret is available as a free pattern here, on Véronik Avery's blog.

Mine is done in Peruvian Pure Alpaca from Elann. Just under 2 skeins (less than $10US) for a jaunty cap to keep away the winter chill.

This clever little beret is actually designed to be reversible (with even another little "stem" on the reverse side), but since I decided I prefer the side shown in the photograph, I left out the second stem and ran some elastic cording through the bottom brim to help the alpaca keep to the size I wanted. The brim is double sided, so with a little more care than I took the cording could have been threaded through invisibly. Et voila -- and there you have it -- winter warmth with style!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Saturday, January 19, 2008

BIG BLUE

The spouse has been a football fan for just about forever. His team of choice? The New York football Giants. Big Blue. The G-Men.

Now, as any true sports fan knows, there are some teams that make it more challenging to be a fan. They take you to dizzying heights one week and plunge into the abyss the next. They beat Goliaths, then lose to Goobers. They can lead by a million points, then lose in the final seconds. Want to see a grown man cry? Whisper the name "Pisarcik". Such a team needs fans with nerves of steel, a strong constitution and an unlimited supply of faith.

So, I'm knitting away last week on a new pair of socks for this guy and it hits me -- this yarn is Giants blue! Or close enough. I'll get these done in time for the big game. They can be his lucky socks!

It will be a tough challenge for Big Blue tomorrow. Skill, determination and grit will be needed, although a touch of sock-ly magic won't hurt either. But regardless of the outcome, one fan will have warm, toasty toes, and next year...?

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Sweet Scoop...

...of 'Soft Serve' from Everyday Crochet by Doris Chan. Crocheted from Classic Elite Avignon, a discontinued pima cotton/silk blend: 115 yards (106 m.) per 50 gr. skein. 8 skeins used - hook size 6.0 mm (J). Sleeves were lengthened by one repeat, and body was lengthened by three repeats.

Doris Chan's second book (the first being Amazing Crochet Lace) presents a range of garments crocheted in her signature style: top down, seamless, raglan shaping using a variety of shell stitches. If you know you like working this way I think you'll really like this book. If you're not sure, or think it's not for you, please give it a look before dismissing it out of hand. Doris may prefer working this one way, but her garments are attractive and eminently wearable.

Styles featured are camisole/tanks, pullovers, cardigans, vests, coats and even some belts. She also gives instructions for a cute button fastener she calls "In-Line Links" which is two buttons joined by beaded links which is used instead of ordinary ties or buttonbands. As a big fan of unique buttons and beads, that's a technique I'll be trying soon.

I've mentioned before that I often have problems with "any" written crochet instructions, so the fact that I've been able to make 3 of her designs speaks well for instructional clarity. I won't kid you, I sometimes have to re-do a section, but I'm sure that has more to do with my own limitations.

When you're working all (or most) of your designs within the same stylistic framework, you might expect the results to be overly similar and thus less interesting. This may prove to be true later in Ms. Chan's design career, but her effective use of shaping, garment proportions and a wide range of attractive yarns worked in drape-able gauges helps give individuality to the various designs.

I'll probably make a couple more designs from Everyday Crochet -- when you consider all the pattern books I have which haven't been used for any garments -- well, high praise indeed.

Friday, January 11, 2008

SWAP

I recently attended an ASG (American Sewing Guild) neighborhood group meeting that had SWAP (Sewing With A Plan) as the program topic.

This particular version of wardrobe planning was devised by an Australian sewing magazine -- Australian Stitches -- and was later expanded upon by a Canadian fabric retailer into a competition for sew-ists. We really do live in a global village, don't we?

The concept (greatly simplified) is to have a core wardrobe -- mostly sewn, but purchased items too -- that can ALL be worn with each other. You get the idea I'm sure: a certain number of slacks, skirts, tops, a jacket, a dress -- and any garment can be worn with any other item.

At any rate, the meeting got me thinking about doing more garment sewing, and I also started thinking about SWAP knit/crochet style, Stitching With A Plan, perhaps?

I'll admit, it's a problem for me. I see a cute pattern or an intriguing yarn and I have to do something with it, regardless of the practicality. Now, there's nothing wrong with creating just for the fun of it, but I do enjoy wearing the results of my labors too. All too often though, I'll make something I love, but find it only works with (maybe) one other item. How sad that it sits forlornly in the closet, waiting for the stars to align for that perfect moment when its clothing partner fits, is clean, and is appropriate for the weather or event!

There's no way I'll ever attempt an entirely crochet/knit wardrobe of course. Crochet trousers? What madness! But I do think I'll start to be more discerning about the wardrobe items I make in future. Frankly, I'd be thrilled if something I made went well with 2 other clothing choices, never mind everything. We'll see how this develops.

I've pulled a few fabrics from the stash (yup, got one of those too) and I'm in the process of trying to figure out what they could become and to match them up with yarns/patterns I already have to make some useful co-ordinates. Wish me luck -- and does anyone notice the latest WIP (work in progress) peeking out among the fabric? More on that later, but here's a hint -- Doris Chan.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Nothing Beats a Pair...

...of socks, that is. Pretty much everything beats a pair in poker. Luckily I was knitting, instead of at the poker table with my cutthroat kids!

So, the first FO (finished object) of 2008 -- Specs: Regia Cotton Surf sock yarn, 41% wool/34% cotton/25% polyamide. Cast on 64 stitches for ribbing, decrease to 60 for leg, standard heel flap with Dutch heel, reduce stitches to 52 for a narrower foot, knit round and round and Bob's your uncle!, a pair of socks.

And just so you don't think I'm resting on my laurels, here's the second --

From the book "Get Your Crochet On" by Afya Ibomu -- the Soldier cap. Crocheted from Paton's Classic Merino, which was on sale at JoAnn's -- modifications: cap made deeper, and brim made one row longer. It doesn't dip so far down on a human (that would be me) -- oddly enough my own noggin is a bit bigger than Styrofoam Head Guy. Although this book seems to be focused upon hip, urban youth (and I am none of those things) I found several styles that I would make. Her hint on adding thin elastic cording to the edges of the hats -- invaluable.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

With a foot in each year...

...looks like the last project of 2007 will become the first FO (finished object) of 2008.

Monty wishes everyone A HAPPY NEW YEAR 2008!

May your yarn have no knots --

May your projects be error free --

And may you enjoy each stitch that you make!