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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.

We had some unseasonal rain here in Hyderabad (where I’ve been visiting for the past few weeks). What I made will not protect against that. It’s entirely decorative, with very little practical application. Only the “Ooh” factor.

Knit lace parasol

Doily on a frame

I’ve long been watching all the gorgeous crochet parasol patterns whenever I come across them, and been wanting to make one myself. I didn’t think I ever would. Then inspiration struck. I’ve been using this modified shawl as a tablecloth on the coffee table in Kochi. I removed it after Chandra began “cruising” (walking with support), because I was afraid she’d pull it off and fall. Not too many eyes view it anyway, or appreciate it. So I thought I’d put it on an umbrella frame a la crochet parasols.

I thought about finding a large enough empty frame, but didn’t. After coming here, though, I saw an old grandfatherly type of umbrella my father had, its original silk slightly moth-eaten, and it struck me as ideal for the purpose. From the thought to the deed took only as long as it took to sew the lace to the spokes, after ripping the silk from the frame. The central cast-on was sloppy enough to allow me to simply poke the top through. I wondered if I should let the excess lace droop around the spokes, but then decided against it.

Instead I ran some spare yarn through, tightened it, knotted it and wove the ends through. And there you have it.

Something I made that actually looks like art! I wish I could get a larger audience for it, though! I think not enough people noticed it in Chandra’s birthday party, stuck as it was over a light above the mouthwatering dinner spread. Plus I was too busy hostessing to point it out to people who’d appreciate it. I think I shall tell my mother to carry it around when she goes out in the summer. She was after all, partly responsible for me doing this, by asking if I could make a crochet parasol like one she saw at a saree exhibition once.

See the frame

Side on

ETA: I only realised now that I haven’t linked to my Ravelry project page on this post. Remedying that right away.

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

White Atlantic

Sometimes I surprise myself with how deluded I can be. Something told me I’d be able to do this, despite having a fairly recently born baby and my natural indolence. So when the designer posted looking for testers, I jumped right in with both feet. I finished a week over schedule, but the designer was understanding.

Pattern: White Atlantic (Rav link) (well, mine is pink, but it was the only fingering weight I had in enough quantity) by Julia Riede. I can’t see if you can buy it outside Ravelry, I’m not sure how it works.

Yarn: Unbranded fingering weight acrylic, about 150 gms. The part I like about acrylic (in addition to its ubiquity) is that I can kill it once and for all after the piece is done. We aren’t looking for warmth, after all.

Needles: 2.75mm

Size: While the pattern is for a stole-width object, I ended up more scarf-ish. I could perhaps have gone up a needle size or two.

Time: About 4 weeks, but I wasn’t full time at it.

Extras: My first time making something which had a central provisional cast-on which you later undo and work the second half from. I used a crochet cast-on, of course. The improved method shown here. It’s become quite my favourite method when dealing with a larger number of stitches. It was also the first time I did the popular feather and fan pattern.

White Atlantic

I found the body pattern slightly challenging, in the sense that I couldn’t work without a chart. I was also doubtful about the borders and edging, but a chat with Julia cleared that up.

I like to learn something with every project I make, so the working from the centre and the new stitch patterns in this made it worthwhile.

I must mention that being at home with my mom means I have no work to do, hence all the knitting I do. Just so you don’t think I’m superwoman or anything close.

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.

My blog stats software tells me I still have visitors to this blog. Despite my lackadaisical attitude to posting. Thank you, all of you.

I recently went on a small bag binge (the binge was small, not the bags) and produced two violently coloured samples of knit bags with cables. One was a quick knit and the other had to suffer from my neglect for a while, but both came out fine. So I’m clubbing them together to present to you.

Brea bag

Here’s a very popular pattern.

Pattern: Brea by Norah Gaughan, free on the Berroco website (Rav link here). The sides went very quickly, as they start along the long edge and every other row is a decrease row. I almost confused myself with the moss stitch in the interstices, before realising it was double moss stitch. The gusset took a while longer, but the handle the longest. The pattern has you use a leather belt, but I didn’t have a suitable one. Although I got some D rings, the belt I had wouldn’t fit through and even if it did, how would I fasten it? After much agonising, I decided to do a knit handle, a simple 9-stitch cable from one of the Harmony Guides. That worked fine as far as it goes, but I think I shall have to unknit one or two repeats, as it has predictably stretched and I’m much happier with shoulder bags rather than long ones. Attaching the gusset to the sides was also difficult. I’m never happy making the horizontal knit match the vertical one. This one I managed with stitch markers, and starting and ending the seams at several places. Getting the lining to fit was another problem, as my cutting and sewing skills are absolutely zero. But it’s been finally done. My Rav project page is here.

Yarn: Woolcraft New Fashion Double Knitting, which a friend from the UK sent me, worked with two strands held together. Generic acrylic, I wouldn’t want it next to my skin.

Needles: 5.5mm

Time: The bag went by in a flash, the sewing up and lining took ages.

Size: 13″ x 7″

Extras: Loved the ingenuity of the side pattern, could have done without the separate gusset. I used 3 magnetic closures to close the top, my first time using the technology.

And here’s the second bag.

Quinn

This one went on my Rav queue as soon as it entered the database, and I even cast on for it a few months ago. Then it went into hibernation, for reasons I discovered when I picked it up again to finish it.

Pattern: Quinn Cabled Bag by Yvonne Kao (Rav link here). It’s got plenty of cables, as you can see. Though there are some very interesting projects on Rav which modified it to work without the central panel or a different body. Those are on my favourites list, but obviously I haven’t got the ingenuity to make any such modifications. I’d made the top loop quickly enough, and then miraculously picked up stitches for the body without any undesired pleats. And then I took the needle tips off (I was using Denise circulars), placed the bag on stoppers and dumped it. As I discovered when I picked it up again, this wasn’t because of a problem with the pattern, but with my materials. The acrylic yarn on the Denise cables and the tight fit of the stitches on the needle made each row a struggle, not helped by the cables wanting to come off every time I tugged the stitches around. With a circular needle that has a thinner cable, you shouldn’t have a problem. There is a slight discrepancy between the top loop pattern as charted and the one that is shown in the pattern picture, but that isn’t something that makes a difference. It’s just a matter of whether the cables are crossing over or under. I bound off the body using a three needle bindoff, having no grafting ability to speak of. Also, I was in no mood to make 4×4 feet of 2-stitch I-cord, so I chose a slipped moss stitch pattern for the handle instead. It does curl a bit, but I’m ignoring that. Lining was mostly straightforward, as there was no gusset to worry about, but I had to think a bit to figure out how to attach the handle and sew the lining over it. I used a single magnetic closure, but I think I am going to add a zip so things don’t fall out. My Rav page here.

Yarn: Generic acrylic, the same that I swiped from Jaishree and made the Lambe bag with. I don’t know about wearables, but it’s good for bags, especially when held two stranded and worked at a slightly tighter gauge than usual. I still have two skeins left. Another bag perhaps.

Needles: 4mm. That at least was the size I ended the bag on, having forgotten completely what size I began with. Perhaps it was a different size, which might explain why the body seems to swell rather than remaining square. I think also that I am falling out of love with my resinous needles. Having the sizes all in one box is neat, but the cables are too thick.

Size: I haven’t measured it at all, but I should think about 13″ long and a few inches less wide. Whatever, the thing fits even my bulky sunglasses case and a book or a project quite nicely.

Time: The knitting itself didn’t take too long, but the effort of pushing the stitches round on the thick cable will stay with me for a while and made me push the project into hibernation for a few months. I think I actually thought that as the body went on, it would become easier, but it didn’t. Did I mention that I found the cable too thick?

Extra: The husband actually approves of this bag, which must make it unique among all my projects so far. It’s become my regular bag, which leaves the Brea free for me to give away perhaps. Let’s see.

I used iron-on interfacing for lining both these bags, a thicker version for Brea and a lighter one for Quinn. It does add structure to the bags, although it also adds time and effort to the cutting of the lining.

I haven’t got a third bag to show you, but a metaphoric bag went empty this morning when I got a cryptic email from a company I freelance for saying “Please don’t do any more edits.” Just that. You notice there are no specifics about whether they are talking about this day, this month or this life. So, it appears I have no career. Hence, only two bags full šŸ˜‰

Oh, and I wanted to add, I tried a swatch with the small amount of stripey Sugar’n’Cream I’ve got left, and it wouldn’t work for the Ten Stitch Blanket. Let alone that these kitchen cottons don’t wash well, the colour lengths are too long. So that’s that. At least I seem to have inspired a few of my friends to add the pattern to their queues!

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. šŸ˜¦ 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. Iā€™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 Iā€™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.

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