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Category Archives: crochet

I’m So Skewed!

Strictly Elemental

Elem1

I’ve been eyeing up this jacket for a few years now.  I noticed it for the first time when I got a digital subscription to Crochet! Magazine with a promotional offer.  I have never been a fan of this magazine but there was a time when it was the only game in town.

Piccante Cardigan

Piccante Cardigan

I had made the Piccante Cardigan by Ann E. Smith which was a similar design.  But what I liked about Strictly Elemental was the shawl collar.  I had purchased a pretty shade called Coffee Filter in Vicki Howell’s Cotton-ish and thought that I finally knew what this yarn wanted to become!

The Piccante Cardigan pattern had had a few design problems.  I managed to correct them all after working the project the way the pattern was written and then ripping it out to make the changes.  I had a feeling that I was in for the same type of process with this sweater since it was designed by the same person.

1.   Right away I did not like the fact that the chain at the beginning of a row did not count as a stitch.  This had the effect of making every second row look like it had an extra stitch at the edge.  When you design a geometric pattern like this one, it is important to be sure that the two front pieces match exactly.

2.  But the main problem was the leftward skewing that was a result of working a row of open stitches in the same direction every time.  By the time I had completed my sweater sections they were virtually unrecognizable.  The left armhole was small and tight-looking while the right armhole yawned open as the shoulder pulled to the left.  I wet-blocked each piece, pushing sections together here and pulling them apart there until everything was straight.

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3.  The sleeve pieces bore no relationship whatsoever to the armhole opening and required that I try to incorporate a sharp corner into the rounded edge.  The armhole had been designed for a fitted sleeve but the sleeve cap was designed for a drop-shoulder sweater.  I ditched the sleeves completely and decided to go with the vest instead.

End Result

Elem7Elem8

Here is the vest and it is totally unwearable!  The collar sections were worked with precisely the same number of stitches and rows yet they look uneven because one is pulling to the left.  The right armhole is gaping at the back and pulling to the left.  In fact the whole vest pulls to the left!  I laid it out on the ironing board and tried to steam the acrylic in this cotton blend so that it would “freeze” into shape.  No luck.

Back to Square One

Elem4a

So I decided to try again in this new shade of plum, this time making the corrections I need to make to end up with an attractive and wearable spring sweater.

1.  I am working two rows of single crochet after the openwork row.  This has the effect of pushing that row back into place once the second single crochet row is worked, thus no skewing.

2.  I am making the beginning chain count as a stitch so that the center fronts will be even.

3.  I am eliminating the fitted armhole shaping and making it and the sleeve a drop-shoulder design.

4.  I am omitting the front band, gold buttons, and lapped sleeve hem.

Stay tuned…

Staying Warm and Nourished

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The trauma of the recent power outage is still with me.  In fact, a few days after the ice storm, we had a huge snow storm.  I had a real craving for some good old comfort food.  Years ago, my mother was very cognizant of feeding our family on a strict budget.  Every once in a while she would serve “Milch Reis” (milk rice) to us for dinner. It was this milk rice that I was longing for one morning when the temperatures were in the single digits.  My mother had written down some of my favorite recipes and luckily Milch Reis was one of them!

Milk Rice1

Milk Rice2Milk Rice 4

I followed the instructions of my mom’s recipe and added a teaspoon of vanilla.  I poured the finished rice into the beautiful pottery dish that my friend Rose had given me.  Then I placed it into the refrigerator to chill overnight and to mingle the flavors.  The next morning, most of the liquid had been absorbed.  Paul and I each heated a small bowl in the microwave for a minute and sprinkled the top with cinnamon and sugar.  Yum!

Milk Rice 5a

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2014 in crochet, Projects

 

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My Multi-Colored Jacket

So here is the jacket that I was working on with frozen fingers while our power was out last week.  I had started making the “Suits Me Jacket” by Lily Chin but after completing nearly the whole thing, I realized that it did not fit or hang well.

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Suits Me Jacket

So I switched to one of my favorites, the One Stitch Cardigan.  I simply scattered the little dashes of color randomly across the body of my work.

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Then I enlarged the neck opening and added a nice chunky ribbed cowl collar.  The pattern left the edges raw, but I found that the fronts were stretching along the edges and did not have a nice finished appearance so I ran a row of slip stitches all along the fronts and bottom.

Multi1

Of course it took me two days to weave in all the tails! But by the time the power came back on, I was finishing up with the collar and the buttons.

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I am enormously pleased with this jacket.  The dolmen sleeves give me enough room to move even when I am wearing a bulky sweater underneath.  The Wool of the Andes that I used for this project is super warm. And I really love a jacket that is easy to drape over a chair back or just hold in your lap at a restaurant or at the movies.

Remnants of Christmas

Pointsettas

The poinsettias from Christmas are still so beautiful in my kitchen window.  Each morning I enjoy looking at them as I drink my coffee.  Despite the frigid temperatures this winter, I never once moved them from their place in the bay window.  I keep them watered and they seem to like the morning sun that warms that spot just a little each day before noon.  I know they are messy but I am willing to put up with them just a little longer through this very long season.  We are expecting another winter storm in two days.  Paul and I are mobilizing ourselves for another outage…

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2014 in crochet, Projects, This 'N That

 

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Aftermath

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My goodness what devastation!  We’ve had ice storms in the past here in Southern PA but this one was a real doozy.  A heavy blanket of wet snow-covered all the trees and power lines, weighing them down.  Then a fine freezing mist began to fall, gradually coating everything with a thick glaze.  The tiniest twigs were the size of my thumb.

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I awoke at  5 am last Wednesday.  It was dark outside but as I drank my coffee I could hear the repeated ominous cracking and crash of trees and limbs falling.  I got out the candles, lighters, and flashlights.  Ten minutes later I saw a transformer explode outside the French doors leading to the back yard.  With a loud bang all the power went out.

Met Ed, our power company, communicated that we would be up and running by Thursday at 4 pm.  So Paul and I decided that we would be able to stand a few days of cold.  We have no fireplace or wood stove but we got out all the blankets and hunkered down.

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As the day wore on, trees and limbs continued to fall.  Our neighbor’s Birch tree fell and barely missed our house.  The tall pine trees that afforded us privacy across the back of our property were decimated. One huge limb had narrowly missed our shed.  The new firs that we had planted last spring were bent to the ground and the azaleas in front of them were destroyed.

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And it was getting colder in the house.  By Friday morning the temperature inside had dropped to 46 degrees.  I was trying to keep busy by working on a crochet project, a multi-color jacket that was nice and warm on my lap.  Finally, however, I had to give it up.  My hands were simply too cold and stiff to crochet.

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We had a couple of saving graces. Our gas stove enabled us to make hot meals and our gas hot water heater allowed us to wash dishes and take hot showers.  We stored our hot soup out in the snow because we had already lost everything in the fridge. Throughout the storm we were worried about bursting pipes.  The outside temperature went down each night into the low teens.  Paul and I wrapped blankets around all the faucets and pipes in the garage.  Thursday 4 pm came and went with no power recovery. The only way to charge my phone was with the car charger so we packed up Frazier and drove around in a warm car until it was charged.

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Met Ed sent a text update giving us a new time for restoration: midnight Saturday night.  By this time we were freezing.  Family, friends and neighbors offered to have us spend the night in their homes.  We decided to wait another night before draining the water from the pipes and moving out.

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On Friday our library finally regained power so Paul took the computer, the phone, and the Kindles there to recharge the electronics.  He had been gone for about a half hour when the power came on.

Thoughtful Conclusion

I learned a few things about myself as a result of the power outage.  While I hate to admit it, the sense of adventure I had as a young woman is no longer part of me.  I was extremely uncomfortable throughout the entire ordeal.  My philosophy is that life is best lived by accepting adversity,detaching from it, and observing it dispassionately.  I was not able to do this.  There were over 137,000 homes without power in Southern York County.  Some are still without power as I write this post.  I’m ashamed to say that I was a wimp.  Next time, we will be better prepared.

 
16 Comments

Posted by on February 9, 2014 in Projects

 

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Pietra Shrug: A New Free Pattern From Wolf Crochet

In yesterday’s post I gave you a hint of things to come with my new pattern.  Developing the stitch design was fun and proved that you can sometimes think out of the box when working with crochet.  The long “vines”  that run up and down the shrug are slip stitch rows that are worked through both loops of the row below.  What makes them three-dimensional is the row after the slip stitches.  You choose a vertical loop behind your slip stitch row and work into that instead of into the slip stitches.  This is a nice way to make the “vines” stand out without having to go back later to slip stitch on top of your fabric.  Very easy.

The shrug design is a simple rectangle.  You can change the size up or down by working a few more or a few less stitches.  When deciding which yarn to use for this pattern, consider how it will drape.  If you enjoy a bulky, cozy garment, then by all means go for worsted weight but if you are after a lighter wrap, then stick to sport, DK, or fingering yarn.

I hope that you enjoy this free pattern: Pietra Shrug a

 
16 Comments

Posted by on January 30, 2014 in crochet, Projects

 

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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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