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Last time I wrote about my Honeymeade shawl, in Tunisian lace. The project I am writing about today preceded it but I was somewhat disappointed with it and so I didn’t feel like blogging it.

The thing was, it was made in Knit Picks Palette, a 100% wool yarn. I liked the colour a lot, but had two issues with the yarn itself. First, it is listed in the Ravelry database as a fingering yarn, which I find hard to believe; second, being wool, it needs blocking and reblocking, which daunts the lazy in me.

Anyhow. What you see above is what it looked like after my first attempt at blocking. I was quite unhappy that the eyelets hadn’t opened up to be lacy enough. The shawl is dense. I did love the technique, though, which uses linked stitches turned sideways (making them Tunisian short rows) and decreases and yarnovers to make it lacy. Quite a lot of fun to do. As I doubtless mentioned in my post about the Honeymeade.

See? No holes, Ma!

So I grumbled. But then a friend suggested I should soak the thing overnight so the wool absorbed water and then block it again. Look now.

Better holes

Look! Holes.

I’m a convert. To the extent that soaking and blocking does seem to be effective. But I have a sneaking doubt, given the humid climate I live in, how long before the shawl shrinks back?

Oh, and just see what a difference the right model makes. I found a natural model in my neighbour, who showed off the shawl much better than I could have.

That's how it's done.

That's how it's done.

This is the Dublin Bay Shawl pattern from Aiobhe Ni Shuilleabhain (Rav page).

I’m feeling very chuffed with myself just right now. I finished my latest test crochet, which involved a sideways (pun intended) way of looking at regular crochet. It’s a lovely shawl using lacy interlinked stitches, plus the colour, for once, is harmonious. Take a look.

Doing its thing on the lawn.

Read the rest of this entry »

With a shock I realised I last blogged at the end of January. Shameful! Do I even have any readers left? In my defence, much of what I made since then has been on commission for others, which, while not secret, hasn’t had any modelled pictures forthcoming. I’d been waiting for those. But they never do materialise. Sad but true. Ah well.

Anyway, here are two easy but elegant shawls in crochet I made to test the patterns for the designer. I love how fast crochet shawls work up (though since I used laceweight for the second one, it did take a while). The first is the V-front shawl, which I used acrylic 4-ply yarn for. The design is slightly unusual and fun to do. It sped by. Details on my Ravelry project page. This one has gone into my “giftables” stash.

Artsy shot of V-front shawl

The second was Viva, and used the remainder of a skein of wool laceweight yarn I made a knit shawl from for someone on Ravelry, details of which are below. Because of the fineness of the yarn, this one took a while. Also, as per usual, I was working on the edge of my seat, in not knowing how far the yarn would go, and obviously I had no way of getting more (I could have, probably, but only with some effort). So I decided to work the two halves from either end of the skein, which had luckily been wound into a cake by the giver. The construction of the shawl was clever and helped in this, since the centre is worked first and then the two halves. So once I’d decided the centre was large enough, I simply burrowed in for the second end of the skein and just worked on the other half while using the outer end to continue on the first half without cutting. To make sure I made the two halves equal, I did two rows on one half and then two on the other. This worked excellently and I was able to finely balance the yarn to its fullest use. Win! The shawl has been given away since. A modelled pic and others in my project page.

Artsy shot of Viva

The other shawl (the fraternal twin of this one) was knit from the popular Multnomah pattern, on commission from the giver of the yarn, on Ravelry. Plain and serviceable, I’d call it, since the yarn was monotone and therefore not very exciting visually. But warm, I should think. Details, again, on my project page.

Yes, artsy shot of Multnomah

Interesting to compare how the yarn works with knit vs. crochet, yes?

I hope to be less dilatory with my next post.

For someone who hates most change and resists changing handbags for fear of forgetting to transfer something essential, I do love making bags, both knit and crochet. Then I give most of them away.

This one I made last year for a friend on Ravelry. No, I lie. I actually made it to test the pattern for the designer, and then the friend said she liked it. So we swapped. I hope she’s getting use out of it.

The yarn was Lion Brand Kitchen Cotton someone sent me in a RAK, with a 3.75 mm hook. I find the kitchen cotton sort of yarn is best suited for bags. It’s too thick for dishcloths and not nice enough for wearables. But it makes nice sturdy bags and purses.

The handles were a gift, too, and what makes me happiest about this bag, since I crocheted them in while making the bag, rather than sewing them in later. So no fiddling with needle and yarn after the fact!

Since it is styled as a Sunny Summer Tote, I suppose that would have been enough, but I decided to line it with some silk I bought. I added a pocket as well.

The pattern is simple enough and seamless, and works up quickly too. Here’s a close-up of what I did for the handles. I held the handles in position, and then made the sc inserting the hook into the hole meant for attachment (does it have a special name?) and around it into the row below and then finishing the sc in the usual way.

The primary reason I like bags is that they finish fast, I think. But somehow I usually make them with colours which mean I cannot use them like regular purses. Most of my accessories are black or brown so I don’t have to worry about matching them!

Next up is a pattern which has become very popular, being a knockoff of a designer bag, I believe. Yes, the Nordstrom bag. Another quick and easy pattern and easy to modify. That explains why it is so popular. I made several of these, with kitchen cotton, and some of the Russian cotton that saw me through many projects. The handles were gifts again. I haven’t found sources for anything other than bamboo handles here.

The one modification I made was to made the 4-dc shell into the space between the second and third dcs, rather than into the third dc as the pattern recommends, because somehow I didn’t feel that would be symmetrical. Again, I sc’d the handles into place, having to redo them a few times to get it right. I lined all three and they went to three sisters. Blessed if I can figure out why the text is not wrapping around this image.

Here’s my project page. I need to make more bags.

Update: I don’t know why I didn’t add this one earlier, but perhaps I didn’t because it was supposed to be a surprise for my friend who got the tote. So here is a picture, and more details in my Ravelry notebook.

The one that started it all.

A blog post from me after almost 6 months! Hope you’ve picked yourself up from the floor and haven’t hurt anything seriously. Things just got away from me, I’m afraid, and I just settled for recording my crochet/knitting progress on Ravelry, not that there was much to record, in any case. A combination of a growing baby and trying to do as many work assignments as possible (first, to replace my poor old iBook, and next to try and make enough for a trip to Malta next summer) meant I had little enthusiasm left for updating my blog.

What you see here is one of the few crochet projects I did complete, though I took a bit longer than I should have. It’s a test project for the designer, with yarn I bought in a destash from a friend.

The stitch pattern is fairly easy and you could memorise it in two repeats. What makes the (Rav link) Ashley Sweater (I wouldn’t call it a sweater, but then I’m not American – it’s a top) interesting is the neck detail of the folded back flap in a contrast colour.
Ashley top

Points of interest:
1. If I were to do it over, I’d choose to make it in the round and then split for the yoke, to save on the seaming of the sides. Even with the pattern repeat clearly marking the way, I wasn’t sure the seams wouldn’t pucker when I’d finished. Thankfully it didn’t but I don’t think that’s a reflection on my seaming skills, only a mad fluke.

2. Despite what the design says, I don’t think there is a “right side” and a “wrong side” to this pattern. Both look equally presentable, so doing it in the round wouldn’t make a difference to the appearance.

3. Trying to get the gauge specified in the pattern almost killed me, and where the original recommends a 4 mm hook, I used a 2.5 mm Clover. Only to have the actual garment gauge shrink compared to the swatch (doesn’t it always?). So I used the stitch counts for the 38″ finished bust size to suit my width (34″), and added one extra pattern repeat on the front before starting the sleeves, one extra repeat in the sleeves, one in the neck region and one more on the back after ending the sleeve section.

Even with all that, it shouldn’t have taken me so long, except I was demoralised by the gauge problem and couldn’t bear to take it up to finish. I have very little staying power or determination. In anything. Outside of staying up far too long to finish reading a pulpy novel.

4. The yarn (Rowan Linen Drape, now discontinued), came on those huge cardboard cones which lull you into thinking you have a mountain of yarn, when it’s mostly air. Good for my stashbusting, since using 9.5 skeins meant there’s a nice large hole in the stash. No knots in all those skeins. A trifle splitty, but not annoyingly so. A subtle shade, too. The only problem is the top weighs almost half a kilo. Perhaps wool would be lighter for the yardage, but then a holey woollen top would be impractical for all sorts of reasons. Acrylic might be a better bet (Indian acrylic, though, not the stiff and rough and thick foreign kind).

As always with crochet, I find it to give me a dense heavy fabric (though to be fair even my Crest of the Wave knit top is heavy – I never blogged that one!). So (a) I should rethink my instinct to use cotton or related heavy yarns (b) go down to no more than sportweight for crochet projects. Acrylic fingering weight, here I come!

I’d have loved to see how this yarn would work in a knit project, though.

5. I smartly bought a grey slip to wear under this, since I don’t want to be accused of obscenity again or prevented from wearing it in public (which both happened to me thanks to the husband and his mother for the abovementioned Crest of the Wave despite teaming it with a slip).

Which brings me to the other grievance, that having to wear so many layers makes this a difficult top to wear in the Cochin weather, where the temptation is to take as much off as possible, for as long through the year as possible. The same for the other top, making the whole rationale of choosing cotton (or linen-blend in this case) irrelevant.

So perhaps my next crochet wearable for me or Chandra will be acrylic. We shall see.

Orange covers

I’ve never seen Fall (Autumn) myself, though we are supposed to have, in Indian tradition, 6 seasons (Vasant, Grishm, Varsha, Sharad, Hemant and Sisir), it’s usually only, mild, hot and hotter. Or damp, damper and dampest if you live in Kerala.

However, I do believe the colours I just chose for two projects are Fall colours, the colours of the foliage as it prepares to drop. I’ve wanted to break out of my comfort zone of inoffensive pastels and typical choices, so when I decided to make a couple of covers for the new TV at my parents’ home and the DVD player, I took my courage in my hands and chose these. I wasn’t sure how they’d work, but I think they do fine. (My mother did tease me though, “Would you wear a saree in these colours?” The answer to that I think would still be NO.)

I also took the opportunity to try two patterns I’ve had my eyes on for a while. The first of those was the diagonal box stitch (also called crazy stitch, I think). I found a good tutorial at Crochet Cabana here. Then there was the popular Wooleater blanket from Sarah London (who always has such gorgeous colours on her blog).

Orange covers

Yarn: Unnamed acrylic in sport weight, 5 different colours, about a hank each. The whole batch cost me Rs 88/-. Cheap!

Patterns: The Diagonal Box Stitch for the TV cover (above) and the Wooleater pattern for the smaller DVD player cover. I can now tick both of them off my list of crochet-to-do. Both are easier than they look and once you ‘get’ them, you don’t have to look at the instructions again.

Hook: 4.00mm

Time: The pieces themselves were quick, but the ends, oh my. There were around a 100 ends on the TV cover which I finally wove in while watching the Winter Olympic coverage. The DVD player cover had a few less, mainly because I used less yarn (the leftovers from the TV cover). The DVD cover ended up scrappy since I focused on using up the yarn rather than making sure the rows had only one colour. No problem, I wanted to use up all the yarn anyway. Great value for money.

Size: Didn’t really measure, but they are good for the purposes they were meant to serve.

Extra: Had teeny amounts of yarn left, some of which ended up in this:

IMG_7132

It’s a hairband I made up in an hour, and it is adjustable. And yes, the baby is wearing a handknit, more of which later. Let me leave you with a link to Rima’s blog. Her use of colour inspires and amazes me.

Orange covers

Between my last post and this one, there’s been a long gap, and the one I’m showing in this didn’t follow that one in chronology, but has a similar theme (Lace! Shawl!). I tested this for a friend I’ve tested for before, and funnily enough, this was my first lace weight project in crochet.

Wings of the Valkyrie

Yarn: Elann Peruvian Baby Lace Merino, about 2 skeins

Hook: 2.5mm

Size: 42″ deep. The batwing, from the centre-out construction meant I ended up with a shawl that is twice as wide as it was deep. I love how straightforward geometry is.

Wings of the Valkyrie

Sorry I haven’t got better photographs to show you, but I never seem to, somehow.

Time: Took me just under 4 weeks, which it oughtn’t to have, except I think I began doing something else in the meantime.

Pattern: Wings of the Valkyrie by Elizabeth Nicole Designs (queenmamajen on Rav). The etsy link to buy the pattern is here. I’ve made Miss Austen by her before, and one or two others, which apparently I didn’t blog.

Only the foundation is different, once you get beyond that, it’s a straightforward 2-row repeat. Plus the bonus, it’s charted! Long written instructions for crochet make me go cross-eyed trying to figure out where I was. I wish every pattern were charted!

Extra: As I said, my first lace weight project in crochet (I’ve made stuff in thread, but that’s different, no?)

I’m half tempted to keep this for myself, perhaps for use in theatres and restaurants, where they tend to have the AC on too high (or should that be too low? Whatever…I’m always looking for the table at the furthest distance from the AC vents in dining rooms, or asking waiters to have the thing turned down (up?))

Or send it away to the friend who gifted me the yarn. Or something.

I sometimes wonder if I’m going to become a semi-split crafter. Most of the time the only thing that appeals to me in crochet increasingly is thin thread and therefore mostly doilies and lace, while with knitting  I can still manage the bulky cables.  I think of a pattern in crochet and run through the yarns in my stash mentally, and then I shudder at the bulk and density of the probable result. Many projects get shelved even before I take hook to yarn. But doilies – no problem. The lacier the better and any thread will do.

My mind is prejudiced for knitting as being thinner in general than crochet, so it feels as though yarn = knitting. Perhaps it is the general climate of where I live. I can’t really say. Can’t feel it matters, even.

So what’s my point? Nothing. Just thought I’d record what I’ve been thinking for a while now.

Now I’m going to drown you in crochet lace. Doilies, four of them. Run now if you can’t stand the things. Two are filet, and two non. I really enjoy filet, especially in the round.

Japanese filet pattern

This first one is from a Japanese publication, Living with Beautiful Crochet, published by Nihon Vogue. European and Asian crochet lace is always entertaining. Here is my Rav project page for it. And the Rav pattern page. Apart from the fact that this one begins in the centre and is worked outward, I loved that the final row is smooth, picot-less and with no jagged edges. The steps usually formed in filet patterns are my downfall, because I can never quite get them crisp, while picots anyway are a bugbear. This worked up at 24″ with a 1.5mm hook and the thread is a nameless lachha (hank) that has amazing yardage (@Rs 15). I raided Jaishree’s stash for this, since I was visiting her when the itch struck and I believe I hadn’t taken any of my WIPs with me. To ensure I had enough thread, I may have grabbed rather more than I should have, so naturally I had to find another project for the rest of the thread.

Stardust filet doily

This one appealed to me immediately for its unusual shape. I just love how filet uses filled-in and vacant blocks and lacet stitches to create the illusion of shading in just one colour. This is the nearest I’ll ever get to painting or any other creative endeavour. Here are my Rav project page and pattern page. Filet also apparently goes quicker for me than other charted patterns, since you get into a groove counting off the blocks and rows. I enjoyed the bilateral symmetry of this design, which I believe is a vintage pattern and has several sources, including a free download at Freepatterns.com (you need to register at the site, also free). With the same 1.5mm hook, this one’s 18.75″ x 21.75″.

Both these have gone under the plastic on my dining table. I have a vision of making enough different doilies in white and then crocheting them together to make a tablecloth. No idea if it will ever come to fruition.

The next couple were sort of commissioned. A friend wanted a doily in beige or cream, so I made this one.

Clockwork white (cream)

It’s actually called Clockwork White, and is from Magic Crochet magazine #60, June 1989, designed by Chantal Chevalier. As you can see, it has the dreaded picots.  I used a 1.5mm hook with Jyoti thread for a finished size of 20″, but possibly could have used a 1.25mm one for better density. My project page is here, and the pattern page here. Unfortunately one of the stitches caught some colour from something else that ran, so I put this aside to make another one.

Starflower

I chose this one for the unusual design, this time from Decorative Crochet #5 and it’s called Starflower, by Mayumi Sato (see, Japanese again). My project here and the pattern page on Rav here. The petals at the centre were made by a technique new to me, and the doily overall took longer than I anticipated to make. I used the advice of a fellow Raveller, and used a measuring tape pinned to the centre to make the circle mostly uniform in diameter (25.5″ with a 1.25mm hook, density of stitches much better).

We were chatting about blocking and decided we need to have bedsheets pre-printed with concentric circles and squares so blocking becomes easier 🙂 I use my spare bedroom bed for all my blocking. Failing pre-printed bedsheets, we could always mobilise an old plain sheet and use tailors’ chalk to make the shapes. This doily’s gone to its recipient now.

So there you have them, my last four doilies. The filet ones remain my favourites. How about you?

I’ve had my eye on the Ten Stitch Blanket (Rav link) (or the Ten Stitch Twist) by Frankie Brown (also Rav link) for a while now (and received a free copy of the magazine it was published in when I asked, although it is now free on Rav), but I want to make it in cotton, rather than wool. I’ve been looking to see if there are any nice cotton yarns with long enough colour lengths for it not to look weird too busy. There’s one yarn I found called Ty-Dy, but it retails at almost $16 per ball, which, if I buy 4 balls and then ship them to India, I’d end up with a really pricey baby blanket.

I didn’t particularly want to use kitchen cotton as I had the last time I made a knit blanket, but I realised on making a Rav search that most variegated/ombre yarns seem to be kitchen ones. Finally this evening I remembered I had a giant skein of Lily Sugar’n’Cream Confectionary Colors in various shades of brown (a RAK from a kind Raveller)…and went stash diving for it. Oh the tragedy. I’d totally forgotten that I used most of it to make this:

Boxy lady bag

Which, while it scratched the itch I had to make the bag and use the yarn, totally devastates me now. I feel sure that the yarn would have been ideal for the baby blanket. Sighhhhhhh.

Anyway, since I’m here now, let me give you the details.

Pattern: Boxy Lady by Dawne Evans (pdxWoman on Rav). I don’t think this is available elsewhere, sorry. This is one of those patterns which draw you in with their photographs and prototypes. The original orange appealed to me immensely and the bag has been on my queue since it was published. It was only after I made it that I realised it is a shape I wouldn’t really use. 😦 My crochet/knitting life is full of such inappropriate choices. Ah well.

Yarn: The aforementioned (and now sorely lamented) Sugar’n’Cream Confectionary Colors. The skein had some 340gm, I think of which a third or so is left. Perhaps I can use it to swatch and see if my idea for the blanket will actually work. Then I might look for it on an ISO group or the RAK forum.

Hook: 4.5mm. Despite the fairly tight gauge, the bag is floppy. The stiffness comes from the lining, I suppose. Which, if you read further, you will see was a flop in mine.

Size: About 9″ square and high.

Time: About a week. I took longer to attach the lining (such as it is) than to make the bag itself.

Extra (from my Rav notes):

Easy to make, I almost took longer to sew the lining than the bag itself. I did 33 rows on the bottom and 33 rnds on the sides. A bit floppier than I expected. I intend adding a magnetic closure and seeing how well it will serve me as a handbag. I’m not very confident of the shape. Even the small pocket I made inside is flopping. Ah well, what can you expect from a satin nightie?
I used two sheets of plastic canvas and a sheet of sponge taken from a shirt insert for the bottom, but it is still quite floppy.
I had to rip about 8 rnds on the sides when I realised I was going around in a spiral when I should have joined and turned each time.

For the handle I used a parallel chain cord instruction and made miles of it. I initially thought I’d use it doubled, but even that seemed flimsy so I made enough to create a 4-ply length. I held the yarn doubled, with one strand from inside and one from outside the skein and though I took the trouble to match the colours, after a bit they went out of synch anyway.

—-

Recently I was sent some magnetic closures by a friend, and interfacing as well. I’m wondering if I should unsew the lining and fuse the interfacing and put in the closures. Then maybe I can find someone who’ll like it better than I do.

The funny thing is, just the other day I was thinking I had made a crochet cord for something but couldn’t for the life of me remember what! The mind, it is going.

This particular pattern is very popular and I see that Ravelry alone has 647 projects made from it. My customisation was to make it a shoulder bag and add a knit thingummy.

Beutling

Details:

Yarn: Acrylic that Yasmin sent me and I used for my Tunisian baby jacket a while ago. It’s squeaky and fuzzy, but works fine for a bag. Plus the colours go well together. I used up the pink completely, but have amounts of the white and purple left over.

Pattern: Haekelbeutel (PDF link, German also available), of course, by Inga Joana Mertens. The Rav page is here. Instead of making the 16 squares, I made 6 squares and 4 triangles, because it was fairly obvious that the number of rows I chose to make them would give me a huge sack and also, I was feeling too lazy to make so many of them. Since I had an even number of pieces and an odd number (3) of colours, I did my best to randomise the order of the colour changes, and then make two of each so the opposite sides of the bag would match. You could choose any square pattern, solid or not, as you wished, which is the beauty of this pattern. And the size of the square would determine how big your bag is. Nothing would stop you from knitting the squares, either. Although then it would be a Strickebeutel, I suppose. (Mine is just a Beutling, should have been a Beutchen).

Hook: 3.00mm

Size: About 13″ x 8″

Time: About 4 days to finish the bag and as many weeks months to actually line it. No, about 2 months to line it. Seriously, I’m terrified of sewing, whether by hand or machine.

Extra #1. I used the polka dot fabric from the dress I blogged about almost a month ago. Nobody could ever accuse me of having an eye for colour or taste. (Polka dots with stripes! In non-matching colours!) Luckily, my revulsion of feeling after the lining was done was not matched by everyone and I gave the bag away to the MIL who took a shine to it. I also made a tiny pouch for a cell phone with the leftover bits of fabric. More pics on either my Flickr page ( click through from that photo) or my Rav project page.

#2. Even with such a simple construction, I confused myself when crocheting the pieces together and had to frog once not to end up with an unidentifiable 3D object like one of those hyperbolic art pieces.

#3. My favourite part of the bag though is the two-colour thingummy I made at the top. Due entirely to my tight gauge with two yarns, the thingummy (is a technical term, I swear) drew in on itself, thus making an opening smaller than the actual bag body. Neat, what? I went around on a circular needle after picking up stitches around the top, knit in stockinette for as long as I wanted the thingummy to be high, then purled one row with a contrast colour, knit for the same number of rows again. Folded it over at the purl row (which forms a natural hinge) and knit the final row together with the back of the first row. Voila, a nice neat thingummy. Makes me proud, it does. The actual knitting involved knitting the stitches of one colour on one pass while slipping the stitches of the other colour, and then doing the reverse on the second pass. I must strand very tightly, hence the thing drew together to become smaller than it began its life. On the inside I just used the white and left the purple out. Perhaps I slipped stitches again…how did the inside end up as small as the outside? Maybe a different size needle. Hmm.

#4. The handle was a lengthwise chain followed by sort of tapestry crocheting (crocheting over the unused colour), attached to curtain rings with their hooks broken off and crocheted over.

That’s it, really. And I don’t even have to carry it around.

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