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Category Archives: crochet

I’m Swatching, I’m Swatching, I’m Swatching All Day

Pebbles

After the fiasco with the Summer Breeze Cardi, I was casting about for a different project for my Pebbles yarn and decided to make up my own design.  Since the pebbles is a DK weight cotton, in order to get any drape at all, I needed to go for an openwork garment.  I’m not much of a fan of lace stitch patterns but I do like openwork crochet that has more of a modern, geometrical look.  I was inspired by the Blue Waves Vest on the cover of the November 2010 Issue of Crochet Today.

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But I really, really love the simple construction of the Crocodile Stitch Cardigan that I had just completed. There are many of that type of shrug on-line and they are all made by crocheting a rectangle and then sewing the ends together.  What could be easier?  And the results are fantastic!  An optional border all the way around the neck and front can dress up this easy design.

croc2a

I swatched the Crossbill Stitch and the SC2tog,CH 1 Stitch as well as several others and none of them were giving me the drape that I was after.  Since I was working with cotton, I wanted this garment to be for the Spring and Fall so it had to be light and airy.

I experimented with the Blue Waves Vest stitch pattern but was not thrilled with the lack of texture.  I wanted my vertical lines to stand out more so I tried slip stitching into the front stitch and then working the next row behind the row of slip stitches in the remaining unworked stitches from the previous row.  This made the vertical lines stand out but they were much too prominent now.  Luckily, my granddaughter Erika requested that I make her the Bamboo Hooded Scarf, one of my early designs.  Voila!  Here was the stitch pattern I was looking for!

Pattern for Pebble

I made a few modifications so that the textured rows would always ride on the right side.  They now look as if they were slip-stitched onto the top of the fabric after the project was finished.  This is exactly what I was after but by working each slip stitch row into the body of the fabric, you eliminate the laborious extra work.

Pietra4

So there you have it my friends.  The photo above is of my new pattern on the blocking wires.  I just have to take a few photos and re-read the instructions for errors and then I will post it to my blog.  Stay tuned for the Pietra Shrug!

 
5 Comments

Posted by on January 29, 2014 in crochet, Projects

 

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Tying Up Loose Ends On A Snowy Day

 snow

Pebble Cardigan

Pebbles

This is some great yarn!  Classic Elite Pebbles (75% Cotton, 25% Acrylic) is perfect for Spring.  I chose a pale green that will go with several short-sleeved tops that I have.  The texture of Pebbles is not soft, there is more of a rough baby boucle feel to it.  Therefore I thought that a nice simple stitch would do it justice.  I chose the Summer Breeze Cardigan.

Summer Breeze6

As I was working the double- triple stitches on the bottom edge of the back, I started to have doubts.  The long stitches made the bottom floppy, I switched to triples on the yoke and the sleeves but the whole sweater ended up a disaster.

First of all, it was designed like a top-down sweater but worked from the bottom up.  The sides and back should have been made as one continuous piece to avoid the ugly seams that later resulted along the double-triple stitches.  I had my reservations about the bobbles but recognized that the sweater needed a transition from long stitches to the shorter double crochet that made up the body.  When it was finished, I tried it on.  It fit but I did not like it at all. It took me at least an hour to rip the whole thing back out!  Back to the drawing board on this one…

Christmas Sweater

I was a bit frustrated this last season when I went shopping for a red sweater to wear for the holidays.  Nothing I encountered in the department stores seemed to be the right thing.  I was kicking myself because I knew I had some red Naturally Caron.com Country in my stash and had not made the effort to crochet a sweater for Christmas.  So I went in search for a pattern on Ravelry and hit on the Roundabout Cardi.  I had mentioned that I didn’t like the pattern stitch so I completely redesigned the whole sweater for the Seed Stitch.  When it came time to add the curved border, I spent a long time making the ribbed trim.  I needed 94″ to go completely around the sweater.  Once I had it finished, I didn’t like that either!

Rounda2a

It just never looked very polished because it had to be sewn to the curved edge.  So I just decided to go down a couple of hook sizes to an H and began to work half-double crochet stitches all around.  I kept working until the border was 2″ wide and then fastened off and blocked.  It turned out great!  I was quite surprised to have finished such a nice project after completely changing the pattern!  Everyone needs a red sweater in their wardrobe!

Christmas2

Sweet Guy To The Rescue!

I am here to tell you that blocking wires are wonderful.  Before blocking wires, I was painstakingly pinning my completed crochet pieces to the bed with straight pins.  While this worked fairly well, the pain from stooping over the bed for such a long time was not pleasant. Also, the fabric was not coming out precisely even and had little bumps however a pin had been located.  After blocking wires, I took my completed pieces to the kitchen counter and threaded the wires through the edges.  Then I carried each piece to the bed and pinned the wires down at the corners and in a few strategic spots.  Much better.  The edges were even and my back was only mildly stressed.

However, there was a drawback.  The wires I had purchased  had blunt points that had been cut straight across.  They also had a flattened stamp at each end.  Every time I tried to thread my wires through my project I encountered resistance and snagged yarn.

Blocking wiresBlocking Wires2

Sweet Guy was nice enough to take the wires out to the garage and to grind each end to a rounded point.  This was better but still did not solve the problem completely.  Off he went to Home Depot and returned with this product.  He arranged the wires on a board and dipped each end into the plastic coating.  A trial blocking confirmed that the solution had finally been found!  Paul tells me that the plastic coating was about $7 so all in all, this process was much cheaper than buying deluxe wires for over $50.Plasti Dip

 
14 Comments

Posted by on January 21, 2014 in crochet, Projects

 

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The Seed Stitch Dilemma And How To Solve It

Seed Stitch2

Ah, the Seed Stitch–such a pretty pattern stitch. It makes a fabric that is beautifully textured and yet somewhat geometrical and firm.  Using a small hook makes it look bumpy and using a larger hook makes it appear lacy.  Another thing I like about the Seed Stitch is that the measurements of your fabric rarely deviate from the measurements of the first row.  Somehow it keeps its shape beautifully, making it easier to do shaping and to end up with a symmetrical item.

Defining the Problem

There is a problem with this stitch pattern, however, that I have never heard anyone mention.  Since it is composed of alternating single and double crochet stitches, the stitches at the very edge of your work on alternating rows are either a single crochet stitch or a chain 3, the chain 3 counting as the double crochet. There is no problem with the single crochet stitch.  It provides a nice firm edge and gives you a good stitch into which you can place your last stitch on your next row.

The chain 3, however, is another matter completely.  As you finish your last row with the single crochet stitch, you turn your work and chain 3.  This chain 3 is now the first stitch of your new row and functions as a double crochet. You skip the first single crochet from the row below and single crochet into the top of the next double crochet stitch, leaving a very loose and baggy chain 3 to make up the edge of your new row.  Eventually this loose chain 3 begins to bow the edges of your fabric outward.

Seed1

I have tried to solve this problem by working a chain 2 instead of a chain 3 at the beginning of the row.  Surprisingly, the edge still bowed outward and I had the additional problem of trying to find a good place to put my last stitch on the next row.  Working into a chain 2 is not very easy since it is hard to locate that tiny loop that has now tightened up a bit.  My edges were always baggy looking and still bigger than my middle.

Attaching trim to the edges of my project was also a problem.  Whether I was making a button band, front trim, or a neck-band, I had to crochet into the ends of  rows. I ended up with gaping holes in the areas where the chain 3 began a row and where the double crochet ended a row.

Two Solutions

A.   When I was designing the Alder Buckthorn Jacket, I knew that I needed to find a fix for the problem.  In this pattern, I decided not to count the chain 3 as a stitch, rather to work a single crochet stitch at the beginning and end of each row before I began the Seed Stitch pattern.  This not only gave me a very neat edge, but also solved the problem of having a proper stitch in which to place my last stitch of the  next row.  If you are doing shaping, you must keep your wits about you and make sure that you are doing your increase and decrease stitches in the proper order, once you have worked the single crochet for the edge.  This is not rocket science but it does require a bit of attention.

Gold1

As you can see in the samples above and below, this method ensures that you will have a beautifully even edge when you are finished.

Seed2

B.   I am now working on the Roundabout Cardigan.  I did not like the stitch pattern that was in the design so decided to use the Seed Stitch instead.  Once I had figured out my gauge, I didn’t want to add extra stitches to the edges so I decided to do something different this time.  Whenever I was faced with having to place a chain 3 or a double crochet as a first or last stitch, I simply substituted a half-double crochet stitch.  I chained 1 at the beginning of my row and worked the half-double crochet stitch into the single crochet stitch below.  This is working beautifully.  The half-double crochet stitch is much more substantial than a chain, it has the correct height so that your edges do not bow outwards, and you never have to hunt and peck to find a place to put the last stitch of your next row!  Again, you must pay attention.  It is very easy to just continue making half-double crochet stitches when you should be making double crochet stitches.  Just use the half double crochet stitch at the beginning and at the end of each row that is supposed to begin or end with a double crochet stitch.  In the sample below, you’ll see how this method also allows you to end up with a beautiful and sturdy edge.

Seed2

I hope that this little explanation has been helpful to some of you.  When I make a project, it is very important for me to have the fabric look symmetrical and neat and to set up the edges so that they will accept trim without looking ragged.

Roundabout Cardigan

Sweater

As I mentioned, I did not like the stitch pattern in this sweater so I changed it.  Changing the stitch pattern required rewriting the entire design!  I went to a much larger hook (K) and had to re-work all the shaping for the curved fronts, armholes, neck and sleeves.  I had not done this type of designing for quite a while so I was a bit rusty.  I also didn’t like the way the ribbing was made in the pattern.  It was very dense and thick.  So I simply made the traditional crocheted ribbing.  Only problem is…it must be 84 inches long!  I’m working on the ribbing while the sweater is being blocked and is completely dry.

Rounda2a

 
11 Comments

Posted by on January 12, 2014 in crochet, Projects

 

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Assessing Projects

Calliope Shawl

Calliope1a

My shawl turned out beautiful!  This little slip of wool is so lightweight that it can be used as a scarf when worn with a coat.  I believe that my version of this pretty project is just a little bit narrower than the original.  As usual, I find that my row gauge is much tighter than is generally called for in patterns.  Not a problem with shawls but definitely a problem with top-down sweaters!

Julie designs the most gorgeous shawls.  Each time she puts out a new pattern, I have to control myself lest I immediately begin another lacy shawl that I will probably never wear!  The Calliope Shawl was a delight to work.  From the small eyelets near the neckline to the pendant edging, it kept me interested the entire time. Working with lace yarn presents its own challenges however.

I’ve noticed that as I age, my fingers no longer have the dexterity that they once had.  The tiny precise movements that are required when crocheting lace are becoming more difficult.  There were days when I could hardly make my hands work!  This is a sad state of affairs indeed.

Calliope3a_3Calliope_2a

Crocodile Stitch Cardigan

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Whew!  I actually made 363 of those little “scales” that you see in the photo!  Each scale is composed of 10 double crochet stitches so you do the math.  And that doesn’t include the ribbed body!  But from the minute I started this cardigan, I was hooked.  The ribbing on the body has a beautiful drape and the crocodile edging is truly spectacular.  I put a lot of hours into this project but it was well worth the trouble.  The only tiny complaint I have is that the shrug is slightly too long in the back.  If I ever make another one ( which I won’t! ) I will make it shorter.

And don’t you simply love that color?  This yarn is the recently discontinued Naturally Caron.com Country in the deliciously named Plum Pudding.  The  purple is so muted that it goes with absolutely everything.  I used 10 skeins because my row gauge was, once again, off by a mile.  As a result I had to make about 1/3 more scales than called for in the pattern.

And again, as with the Calliope Shawl, my fingers were sore.  This time it wasn’t because the yarn was tiny.  After all, Caron Country is a worsted weight blend of merino wool and acrylic.  No, this time it was because making the second half of each “scale” required that I pinch the fibers together and crochet into the second “leg” of the V-stitch from an unnatural angle.  And this, my friends, is the only reason I would not make this project again.  Aside from that, it was a resounding success!

Croc1aCrocodile3

 
21 Comments

Posted by on January 3, 2014 in crochet, Projects

 

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And A Merry Christmas It Was!

FrazierSanta

The girls and their families came over to our house on Christmas Eve.  We exchanged gifts, played games, enjoyed good food, and generally had a great time.  Santa came to the neighborhood on his fire truck so all the children ran outside in the freezing weather without their coats on!   Frazier couldn’t wait to rip into his gift.  He had been sniffing around under the tree all week and was finally able to enjoy his new toy.  Unfortunately I had been nursing a severe cold for several days and was worried that I wouldn’t be unable to participate. Only some strong cold medicine kept me going.

Keeping A Low Profile

Once all the Christmas festivities were over, I really crashed.  I had started the Calliope Shawl so I installed myself on the sofa with a blanket and some hot tea and mindlessly spent a few days resting and crocheting.  Working with lace yarn is perhaps not the best activity when one is muddle-headed from cold medicine.  My fingers were clumsy and cold as I labored over rows that contained over 200 stitches.  When I finally finished the shawl yesterday morning, I didn’t have the energy to block it.  Sometimes blocking is as much work as making the project!  Each point of the edging had to be pinned individually.

Calliope2

This morning I was feeling much better and set to the task.  The shawl virtually covers the twin bed in the guest room!  So after a lot of stooping and several cricks in my back, I finally got the whole thing pinned out.  Once it dries, I’ll take another photo of the completed project.

Calliope1

New Project

Several months ago, Caron Yarns discontinued their Naturally Caron Country line.  I loved this yarn!  It has a wonderful sheen and works up with beautiful stitch definition.  At the time, I scarfed up 13 skeins in a color called Plum Pudding, a muted deep eggplant.  Ever since then I have wondered what to make with this yarn.  So I jumped on Ravelry, did a search for projects using large amounts of worsted weight, and came up with the Crocodile Stitch Cardigan by LIanka Azulay. This is the perfect thing!  I needed something that would keep the chill off at home.  We set our thermostat to 70 F but the actual temperature indoors in always 68 F.  This is just a teeny bit too cold for me in the winter.  The Crocodile Stitch Cardigan features a nice new stitch that I have wanted to learn and it will keep me snug once it is completed.

Croc1

I really love the wide double crochet ribbing and the way that the loose stitch and the softness of the yarn makes the fabric drape.  This has been a very popular pattern and I was able to see many examples of this cardigan that my fellow Ravelers have already made.  So now I am diligently making the body of the cardigan (shrug really) which requires working 57 rows in a rectangular shape.  It is only after this section has been completed that I finally get to try that crocodile stitch!

Afterthought

Fruitcake1Fruit Cake1

Remember the dried fruitcake that I made before Christmas?  Well, we finally unwrapped it from its bourbon-soaked cheesecloth on Christmas Eve and it completely crumbled into dry pieces!  The cake was loaded with bourbon on the bottom but the top was strangely dry, almost like sand!  A taste told us that it was inedible so it was quickly dumped into the trash.  Next year I will try a different recipe!

Happy New Year To All My Dear Friends And Readers!

New Year

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 29, 2013 in crochet, Projects, This 'N That

 

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So What’s With All The Snow?

Snow House3

Here it is, early December and we have already had snow three times!  The last two snowfalls were significant resulting in a total of 11 inches.  Now it appears that we will be facing another one today, Winter Storm Electra.  We have plans to attend a wonderful Christmas Show at the Pullo Center in York where we will be seeing the neighbor girls and their Dad dancing the father/daughter dance.  I sure would hate to miss this!

Snow House2

Christmas Baking

Paul usually bakes the Christmas Stollen but this year I wanted to try something new.  I had discovered a dried fruit cake recipe that I wanted to make instead.  After the cake has been baked, it must be wrapped in bourbon-soaked cheesecloth and stored in the fridge for a week.  We’ll see how that turns out.  Paul has been adding bourbon to the cheesecloth every day!

Fruitcake1Fruit Cake1

Cookie Baking is also in full swing.  We have made seven different kinds of cookies so far and are planning to supplement these goodies with treats from GermanDeli.com for the “Bunte Teller”.  German Deli does such a beautiful job of packing.  Each candy or chocolate item is wrapped in bubble wrap and then packed snugly in a large box. A cardboard plaque with the logo covers the merchandise and each box contains several free candy items as gifts.  We have been dealing with German Deli for three years now and are very pleased with the quality of their chocolates.

Cookies1

German Deli

So Many Catalogs!

I must admit that I rarely do any catalog shopping anymore.  While the photos in catalogs can be very enticing, I find that you can get even better information about the same product on-line.  In addition, you can then comparison shop to get the best price.  I have to assume that catalogs are intended for the impulse buyer.  One day we got a stack of catalogs 6 inches high!

Catalogs1

And Last But Not Least…

Calliope2

Above you see my Calliope Shawl by Julie Blagojevich taking shape.  Julie has some incredibly gorgeous shawl patterns.  I am using Scrumptious yarn once again because I just love this lace-weight yarn for its jewel colors and its drape.  You get over 1000 yards for about $20.  This is quite a value!  I don’t really wear shawls that often but the patterns that are out there are just too pretty to pass up!  This particular one is quite interesting to work and I’m enjoying every minute of it.  Thanks Julie!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on December 14, 2013 in Projects, This 'N That

 

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Free Pattern-December Shawl

December Shawl 4

December Shawl 1December Shawl 2

I had so much of the Berroco Vintage yarn left over from the Lisdoonvarna Shawl that I decided to work up a quick little project that can still be finished by Christmas.  This shawl is very light and smaller than the usual size.  It measures just 17 inches by 57 inches.  This makes it perfect for a shoulder wrap as well as a scarf or cowl worn over a coat.  The stitches are very easy, all single and double crochet.  The same two rows are worked over and over and then an easy border is added.  It took me about 3 evenings to finish it.  I call this pattern the December Shawl.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on December 8, 2013 in crochet, Projects

 

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