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Why are they called goldfish? I’d call them orangefish myself, but then I’m too literal and prosaic. Not that they aren’t charming, as “What’s in a name” and all that. Yes, I’m now the owner of a small aquarium, with a pair of fantailed  (or is it veiltailed) goldfish. I’d also got a pair of cute tiger barbs and (I think) platies, but they were hassling the goldfish, so I’ve changed them over for a pair each of balloon mollies and sharkfish. (Don’t mind me if I’m calling all the fish by the wrong names, I’m a fishkeeping novice). And then on Sunday we went to an aquarium expo and I picked up two pearlscaled goldfish.

Actually, I’ve been wanting a change in the colour spectrum, but I ended up coming home with those gold (orange) creatures once again. Ah well. Maybe one day I shall get my wish and end up with some nice blue and green ones. Or purple. And I definitely fell in love with those platies or whatever, bright orange with black tails and fins. Perhaps I should just have taken the smaller fish and not the large goldfish, because these are heavy eaters, and just as heavy in their, er…you know.

I haven’t got any good pictures of the fish. I have enough difficulty managing passable pictures of stationary objects in sunlight so you can imagine how troublesome it is to get any of flashing, flashy live creatures in a moving medium. I might one day. So until then I’ve decided to divert your attention with some other orange stuff. I’m quite kicked about this. Find my Rav page here.

Turiya's dress

This was a birthday present for the daughter of a friend back in December. And since I like to be pedantic, here are the details in my usual format.

Yarn: Some yarn that I think Heide sent me. I suppose it is some kind of acrylic, because there was no label, and a burn test made it melt. It’s about fingering weight and I have oodles left over.

Hook: 4.00mm

Pattern: I grafted the yoke from the Sweet Pea Dress (Rav link) by Sue Childress (from Crochet World Magazine, April 2008, available here from as a PDF) on to a skirt that I sewed myself. I was very happy with the skirt bit, because for once I sewed reasonably straight lines on the sewing machine. But of course I couldn’t quite trust myself to sew the yoke to the skirt using the machine, what with it being a mix of media, yarn and cloth, so that bit I did by hand. The gathers came out fine, too. I actually tried to find a ready pattern in knit or crochet which would have all the instructions, but I didn’t find one I liked enough or was simple enough.

I didn’t want to make a full acrylic dress either, and anyway I’d had problems with the pattern when I tried making it. So this incarnation is much better.

Size: It fit a new three-year-old quite nicely, and I hope it will fit her for some time.

Time: About 4 days, and I did the sewing in one day.

Extra: It’s orange! Should have been pink, perhaps, since the recipient loves that colour, but I thought this was bright enough, wouldn’t you say? Initially my friend said she found it too hot, but apparently later went through a phase, as children do, of refusing to wear anything else to the park every evening. Made me happy. I hope that was true.

I know I’m not blogging frequently enough, but I find that all the bits and pieces of information I find it necessary to note down I do on Rav, leaving me with little to add elsewhere. Somehow I’m not confortable any longer blogging without a knit or crochet project to write about. The rest of my day is too dull to blog. It does make the blog monotonous, and intermittent, so I’m really grateful to you, my readers for sticking with me.

More Marquise

More posing. You can tell I hate being photographed. But I love this top and for those I love, I can do anything. Well, most things. I’d loved the design when it first entered the Ravelry database, so when the designer said she was going to release it as a separate pattern and wanted people to test it, I jumped at the chance. Not to divert from tradition, I give you all the gory details.

Yarn: Schachenmayr nomotta Catania that a certain someone gave me. It has a nice shiny finish, and it was the same weight as the design recommends. However, I had to go down a few hook sizes to make gauge. I used about 5 skeins.

Hook: 3.25mm

Pattern: Marquise by Julia Vaconsin. It’s a Ravelry download. It was originally published in Yarn Forward magazine, Spring 2008. My project page is here. The stitches used are simple. The key is an ability to count stitches and remember those counts, because those are what make the shape. The darts are cleverly done, and the neck insert lace is lacy without being indecent, and the shells give a nice contrast to the ribbed structure of the rest of the body. Oh, and this pattern is available in child sizes as well.

Time: It took me about 6 weeks, however this was because we went to Europe for 3 of those weeks, and while I did carry the pattern and the project with me, understandably nothing got done on it, although I showed it to Carla.

Size: Small. I chose this size since Julia suggested it would look better with negative ease for someone who has curves.

Extra #1 This was my first ever top in either knit or crochet. I love the result, but I haven’t yet worn it out to an event. Nothing seems festive enough while allowing western wear, but we shall see.

#2 I loved the chance to work with a versatile designer (Julia designs both knit and crochet items and speaks at least 3 different languages). It gives me the shivers 🙂

Excuse that Bollywood pose. I wasn’t quite sure how a circular shawl is used and the designer suggested it should be folded in half. And I’d written this post before, only to have it disappear on me when I clicked on “Save Draft”.  So here we go again in the time-honoured fashion. Because I’m dull and predictable that way.

Yarn: The Unique Sheep Tinsel Toes. A merino/tencel blend meant for socks, I presume. I was hazy about tencel, apparently it’s a manmade plant-based fibre. I used just over one skein. I’m wary about multicoloured yarns in crochet but this pattern being open, the effect was of an eerie spiral. Besides, it was a new experience for me, working with the yarn that the pattern was designed for. Jen was kind enough to have the yarniste mail me the yarn so I could use it.

Hook: 3.25mm

Pattern: Miss Austen by Jennifer Benson (queenmamajen on Ravelry). It’s a Ravelry download. My project page is here.

Time: About a month. It took me that long not because of any difficulty with the pattern, but because of my short attention span. I think it’s funny that I should be making so many shawls with my propensity to wander.

Size: 65″. It barely fit on the guest bed for blocking.

Extra #1 The highlight for me was learning how to make neater bullions with the help of a trick learnt from this video.

#2 I’ve sent it off in a swap and hope the recipient likes it. She did say she did, but then she would, wouldn’t she? She might not even be a shawl person.

Warning! Blue funk alert!

I don’t know why, but I’m increasingly convinced my knitting/crochet is pointless. Don’t misunderstand me, I enjoy the process, but I’m not so sure the product I produce is worthwhile. Perhaps it’s just a phase. I make these things and none of them are adapted to where or how I live. There’s no theme to my doilies, for example, and I don’t use shawls. Few of my friends with babies live in cold places…Let’s see. In the past few weeks I’ve heard: the block and offset shells blanket I made with so much expectation for a friend never made it to her. It might still be there with her mom, but I’m not hopeful. The kid I made it for will outgrow it soon. Then there is the crochet cable hat I made and gave my husband, who carries it whenever we visit a cold place, but he wouldn’t like to be seen wearing it. There’s a doily I gave a friend who clearly cherishes it as a gift, but can only drape it over her dressing table mirror because it’s such a useless piece of work. A baby dress I made and was quite proud of…the child didn’t like it, although the mother said she did. Then I volunteer to test patterns but my work never lives up to the designer’s intentions. Quite dispiriting actually.

Nevermind. It keeps me busy and has given me new friends. This wasn’t intended as a whine, just a record, ok? My next post will be all bright and cheery :p Upward spiral, ok? Honest!

I didn’t realise I hadn’t blogged for the whole of December. I have become quite sloppy with my blogging and must be grateful to have any readers left!
So scrambling to fill the gaps, here are a couple of doilies I crocheted in that month.
First up is this one, an oval doily. Ravelry project page here.

I made this because someone on Ravelry was having a problem with some of the instructions and I had the pattern, so I decided to try and see where the problem might be. In the end, I had only two places where something was fishy. I do wish they’d convert patterns like this to charts, because trying to read and follow long written instructions makes me cross-eyed. Anyway, here goes.

Thread: Some of the Jyoti brand thread I got on my last visit to Hyderabad. Since it was white, there wasn’t a problem about whether the colour would run. About half a 50gm skein. Very good value.

Hook: 1.25mm

Pattern: Oval Doily #3 by Lucille LaFlamme from Leisure Arts #2791, Oval Doilies to Crochet. The Rav page for the pattern is here. I had the following points to note:

  1. In Rnd 3, I fell one stitch short, but I fudged that.
  2. In Rnd 13, the third Ch4 should read Ch5, but that is obvious when you come to that point.

Time: 4 days.

Size: 15.5″ x 10″ Despite using smaller thread and hook than recommended, I got the recommended size. Funny. I wouldn’t have thought I was a loose crocheter.

Extra #1 I hated the picots in the last row. I’m never happy with them. I try using beads in some cases.

Then Jaishree came visiting one weekend. We’d been talking when I visited her about which of us was a tighter or looser crocheter, because we found we use different size hooks for the same size thread. We’d even begun a doily to check how much bigger or smaller our final doilies would end up, but that pattern somehow got shelved. So this time, when I stumbled across some doily patterns at the non-English websites of Coats and Clark, we picked another, smaller pattern and began that. I picked up what remained of the Jyoti skein and she used a pink skein of Jyoti. Here’s mine. Ravelry project page here.

And here are the details.

Thread: Would you believe there is still some thread left from the Jyoti skein? If you believe the yardage requirements given in the patterns, this 50gm skein has amazing length…either the cardboard cores in the recommended thread account for a lot of the ball weight, or this thread is lighter, or something.

Hook: 1.25mm. I apparently have a death grip on my hooks, because towards the end of this doily I broke the handle on this one. It was quite upsetting because although I heard the crack, I foolishly believed it wouldn’t break completely immediately. But it did, and I finally resorted to reinforcing it with packing tape and pins to finish the doily. Very kindly, however, Jaishree brought me a spare for future use. I really love these hooks and haven’t used any others for thread since getting them.

Pattern: Tulpe (Tulips) from Coats and Clark GmbH (Germany). The Rav page for the pattern is here. I went looking for the non-English patterns, becuase I knew they’d have doilies. And I love the European doilies for several reasons, including the fact that they are charted, and they have unusual designs and motifs and shapes, plus it isn’t all pineapples. I found this one and a couple more, including one on the French site.

Time: 3 days.

Size: 15.25″ I still don’t know what size Jaishree’s ended up, but possibly it would be larger, since it was already larger at a comparative stage before she’d finished it.

Extra #1 Nothing much. Nice elegant pattern, quick results…

So. These two FOs of mine are not in the order they ought to have been (there’s a whole block missing after that shawl I blogged about last time) but these were handy to link to and write about.

Sometimes I just get an irresistible itch to make something with thread and hook. And then I can’t resist scratching.

I’ve made a separate page for my notes for my crocheted version of the BSJ. You can find my notes here. (Also listed in sidebar).

Oh dear! I hadn’t realised that I haven’t blogged in ages! It’s a good thing most of my online friends see me around on Ravelry and the mailing lists, else someone might have been worried. No? Which raises the valid question, what good is this blog? What purpose does it serve (aside of occupying cyberspace)?

Luckily for you, it is not a question I am not going to answer in this post. Instead, I’m going to smother you in a flutter of doilies (what is the collective noun for doilies?).

Here’s #1, Kaleidoscope and its specs.
Kaleidoscope Doily

Thread: One strand each of a plain yellow-orange and an ombre, both in size 30, of Coats Mercer.

Hook: My current favourite size, 1.00mm Pony (the grey handle)

Pattern: Kaleidoscope doily by Julie Bolduc from JPF Crochet Club (it’s a free pattern). Here’s the Ravelry page for it, and my project page. I’d made it before, in a pale blue baby yarn and found it cupping, which I thought might be a gauge problem. I really enjoy the different patterns created with filet and net stitches.

Time: Overnight

Size: 9″ across

Extra #1 As I said, it’s a pattern I made before, but I had the inexplicable urge to make it again, perhaps to see how my skills have progressed since the last time I made it. At least my tastes haven’t changed in the patterns I like.

Moving on, here’s doily #2.
Crystal Fan doily

Thread: One of my thread finds in Hyderabad, Jyoti thread. This is size 20-ish and liable to fade. It’s locally made but what impressed me is that the wrapper has washing instructions and a pattern for an edging on the reverse! That’s the first time I’ve seen something like that on an Indian product for sale in India. The fading is disappointing, though. To work with, the thread is quite good. It didn’t chafe my fingers or leave colour on my hands. The next time I spotted it, I picked up cream and pale pink and white, since these are less likely to be dramatically affected. I saw some skeins which had faded just from being on the shelves.

Hook: 1.25mm Pony (the blue handle)

Pattern: Crystal Fan Doily by Linda Mershon from The Ultimate Doily Book by ASN, #1185. Here’s the Ravelry page for it, and my project page. I was attracted by the unusual shape. Blocking it was a bit tough, but then I’m finishing-challenged in any case. The beads were my own touch, in a desperate ploy to escape the picot curse :p Actually I picked up beads as well in Hyderabad and was in a “bead-y” phase.

Time: 4 days. We had a lot of power cuts while I was in Hyderabad and there was little else to do until I got a new battery for my laptop which replaced the one which kept dying after 30 minutes.

Size: 15.5″ across

Extra #1 Hmm. I  liked the shape.

#2 Oh, and now I have this one and a few other doilies on my dining table, sandwiched between the protective plastic cover and the cloth underneath. The husband thinks I’ve gone overboard, but I’m basking in my own brilliance at thinking of the idea, and so have added variously-coloured motifs as well to the melange.

This one’s gone far, far away to live…
Bruges lace doily

Well, not that far, actually, just about 4 hours away by train. It’s gone to live with Jaishree who drew the short straw and landed me as a partner in a swap. This is the first time I’m showing a Bruges lace crochet piece on this blog, but let’s follow the established pattern, shall we?

Thread: Red ombre rayon (sold as “silk” or “art silk”) just under one cone.

Hook: 1.25mm Pony (the blue handle), which seems to be usurping the place of favourite.

Pattern: Nameless square Bruges lace sample from a German book I have in the English translation, called simply Crochet. Published by Verlag für die Frau in the erstwhile East Germany. I bought the book along with a companion book on knitting/crochet at a book sale in JNU sometime in 1997 or so. Most of the patterns are charted, with some rudimentary written instructions. This book was actually how I learnt symbol crochet, teaching myself. I’ve made other pieces from this, I shall save them for later, since I don’t have too many details on any of them. Somehow I’ve never had the confusion over US/Rest of the World terminology, perhaps because I intermingled patterns from both sources willy-nilly. Also, at that point, I was not aware I had to be afraid of symbols…alas, perhaps I should have been introduced to socks as well at that vulnerable juncture.

I chose this pattern for two reasons. One, I wanted to give Jaishree a doily which she wouldn’t have in her formidable library (or photographic memory). As you can imagine, that was a challenge, because she appears to have almost every pattern ever published in the Western hemisphere (only half-kidding…). I knew she didn’t have this book, though, so that narrowed my choices between one of the patterns here or in a Finnish book I have.

The other reason for choosing this doily was that I wanted to make an entire piece of Bruges lace (well, the crochet imitation, at any rate). I’d tried it a few years ago and there’s evidence of it at my parents’ house, but that used a granny centre, so it wasn’t wholly Bruges crochet. Now that technique is something I can cross off my list. Whew.

You only use double (UK treble) crochet and chains, besides longer length stitches for the “spiders” at the centres and turns. Good fun, though you need to keep close track of where to turn. Here’s my Ravelry page.

Time: 4 days. I had to do it quick, because I’d almost forgotten that I had to swap it! Luckily Jaishree reminded me so I only waited till I got back to Cochin and could access the book again.

Size: 12″ across

Extra #1 I think I’ve said it all up there. This would be my debunking doily, I think, as a fellow crocheter has now seen it close-up and while she wouldn’t be rude enough to tell me what she thinks of my skills and finishing, I can well imagine!

Leaving you a-flutter…

Everybody in the crochet world seems to have made this one, and caught by my bagmaking bug, I finally did, too. The yarn was again the same Russian cotton, and of a much smaller gauge, I think, than the recommended yarn, so this is a bit small. But no matter.

Fat Bottom Bag

Yes it’s the fat bottom bag.

Yarn: Kamteks Khlopok from Russia (Khlopok = cotton), just over half a skein. (Each skein had 250m yarn).

Hook: Size 3.50mm

Pattern: Fat Bottom Bag (Ravelry link) by Julie Holetz from Stitch’n Bitch Crochet: the Happy Hooker.

Time: 2 days. Much faster than I thought it would be.

Size: 9.5″ x 5″

Extra #1 I didn’t think it was this easy to make.

#2 I was lucky to find a bag lining tutorial before I finished and sewed it together, so I was able to sew the lining first and then finish the crochet part. My sewing was pretty bad as usual, but you are all used to that by now aren’t you?! I used an old favourite top to line.

#3 I’m ok with the yellow plastic handles (though the husband thought they were cheap – which they are). But I normally prefer shoulder bags to handheld ones. Might make the next one with some modifications. I have other ideas for the pattern in my head as well.

Just to make sure there’s no doubt of my sewing skills, I’ll leave you with a closeup of the inside of the bag.

Fat Bottom Bag

A year ago, a friend of ours was returning from Russia and made the mistake of asking whether I’d like something from there. Well obviously, I asked for yarn. After seeking advice online, I asked for cotton and wool yarn in sweater quantities. He more than delivered on his assignment. Since then I’ve tried to do several things with the cotton yarn, but unfortunately, it is not a glossy kind and my usual demon of Garment-Fear® kept me from actually using the yarn for its stated purpose.

A few weeks ago, however, someone on one of my mailing lists sent a link for a new free pattern at which looked innocuous enough, but was quietly screaming my name!!! I hastened to add it to my Ravelry queue and found it had me so mesmerised that I was upset there was no photo to represent it. Well, there was no answer for it but to make it myself. The world had to know the pattern existed.

Here it is, the Chakra bag.

Chakra bag

And since you’d like to know, here are the details.

Yarn: Kamteks Khlopok from Russia (Khlopok = cotton), about one-and-a-half skeins. (Each skein had 250m yarn).

Hook: Size 3.00mm

Pattern: Chakra Bag from (and here’s the Ravelry pattern page, and my project page).

Time: 3 days from start to finish. Seriously quick.

Size: 11″ x 7″ x 2″

Extra #1 As I said, it was screaming to me :p

#2 I love the textured stitch, and the pattern it forms. The shape of the finished bag is also interesting, only my poor finishing makes it not stand out. Next time, I will not take any shortcuts, but I shall sew a proper lining (the story of my experiences with lining a bag will follow later).

#3 The said lining is cut from a length of Vietnamese silk my father brought back for me in December 2006. I still have enough left to line another bag perhaps. I was hoarding it for something special, but decided enough was enough. Here’s a glimpse of the inside (not much more, because my finishing is really sad).

Chakra bag

#4 There is a slight error in the strap instructions, which have you start off with Ch 10 and then begin the first row with Ch 2 and hdc (US) across to give 8hdc, but obviously, either you ch 8 to begin, or you omit the ch 2 at the beginning of Row 1.

#5 I drastically shortened the length of the strap because I know it would stretch anyway. I took it out into the wilds of Bangalore last weekend, and I’m gratified to report the stretching was minimal (or not noticeable enough for discomfort at any rate). Perhaps it was because of the rigidity given by the reverse sc edging. On the other hand, the width of the strap and the cotton yarn made it one of the most comfortable bag handles I’ve ever misused. I was carrying my camera, my cell phone, the iPod, extra camera batteries, a packet of wet tissues (which despite being touted as containing aloe vera and having no alcohol still left my face dry), pen, address book, small diary, wallet and sundry other necessities for a weekend away.

However, next time, I’d prefer to make the strap width wise rather than lengthwise, because I read on one of the Ravelry forums (fora?) that that would reduce the stretching. Which seems logical enough, wouldn’t you say? It would also have the added (and much required) benefit of making it easier to sew the edges to the sides, because we could then do one joining stitch in each stitch of the strap. Row-wise, I can *never* pick up the same number of stitches on both sides of something, so this one has lopsided er, sides. Also, the strap has an odd slant, which puzzles me. Perhaps the nature of the hdc makes it bias?

#6 The pattern would have you use needle and yarn to sew the pieces together, but I relied on my trusty hook instead, and have no complaints. I also loved the definition given to the edges by the reverse sc.

#7 My poor bag has no fastening yet. I’ve been saved by the overlapping flap, but I need to find (a) a good fastening (b) a purselet for small things inside. I tried looking for magnetic buttons in Bangalore, but the fellow, despite me talking to him in Telugu which he knew, would have me buy a packet of 100 magnetic buttons for Rs 1,200. That would see me giving out magnetic buttons as hostess gifts for the rest of my active life.

#8 The original yarn appears to have a sheen, which mine doesn’t but that’s ok. Hey!!!!! That reminds me of the sparkly stuff I picked up in B’lore. It’s meant for a bag anyway, so why not use it with this pattern? Huh, huh? Brilliant! Cindy, isn’t that a brilliant idea?

I enjoyed making this bag. Apparently it’s been added to 28 queues on Ravelry, but no one else has begun making it yet. Why not??? Go get your hooks!

Jaishree's Doily #1

This one is #1 in Jaishree‘s doilies. So called because she gave me the thread and the pattern. I only have the pattern, so I’m not sure where it came from. Let me know if you recognise it. It is also in my Ravelry notebook, but that doesn’t have any other information.

I made it with a 1.25mm hook and just over one skein of the local ‘DMC’ cotton, which looked too small, but Jaishree assured me would make a 15″ or so doily. I’ve never seen this thread before but have worked with similar stuff earlier. It has an unmercerised appearance and has a picture of what looks like Shivaji on it, but is mysteriously named “Sultan Supreme”. It is apparently priced at Rs 3.00 and is made by Dass Thread Mills, who are (or have) “Regular users in India” (?!) How economical! A whole doily for just three rupees.

I was attracted by the unusual shape and the fact that it doesn’t require fastening off anywhere to achieve it. Badly blocked as usual. It is about 11.5″ from edge to edge. (not 15″) I had to frog the later rows a bit because I didn’t look at the chart properly (I usually work from my laptop, rather than printing out a copy.

This does not affect my stock inventory of doilies, however, since I gave away my -Along doily (crochet version, I’m keeping the knit one since it was my first knit doily) to a friend who’s been transferred and is leaving for Port Blair.

I have a couple of projects I need to be testing, but cannot get up the desire. Sigh.

Oh, did I tell you, I was away for a week with some girlfriends on a tour of Kerala and ended the trip by staying over at Jaishree’s place and raiding and looting her stash of thread and patterns. That last bit was definitely the highlight. I also stole from her a skein of “Baroque” thread (I suspect they used to supply the original DMC earlier but no longer do so, perhaps), which has 400m of mercerised cotton. I’m really lusting after these and wondering how I never saw any of them before. Jaishree and I are doing a sort of test-along, because my current favourite hook is 1mm, while she uses 1.whatever, and also crochets slightly looser than I do. So we’re making the same pattern with the same thread to see what difference that makes in size. I madly crocheted on the Inter-city express from Trivandrum to Cochin and finished about 15 rows. Need to pick it up again. Sometimes the mojo needs a good kick.

As you would imagine, Jaishree’s place has crochet covering every imaginable surface. She does lovely work.

Drop everything now. Your hooks, needles, thread, yarn, and run over to Drew’s blog. His gorgeous, gorgeous lacy stole is available as a free download now and it’s what I’ve been waiting for. Only, look at Drew’s version first, not the picture on the pattern page. His appears to be made of a lighter, thinner yarn, while the modelled one looks much lumpier thicker, and not as appealing. I don’t know what the story is behind that, but my vote goes to the one on The Crochet Dude’s blog. I’m swatching madly.

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