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A year’s work.

On Ravelry there is a group which began in 2010 for people wanting to make 10 shawls in 2010. I’ve bee a member since then, but never have managed to make 10 in ’10, 11 in ’11 and so on. I did have a narrow miss last year, when I achieved 11 in ’12. That was disappointing. The rules are strict, you can’t pass off a scarf no matter how complicated or yarn-consuming as a shawl or stole.

Continue reading A year’s work.

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Hello there!

Yes, I know. I last posted here on the last day of the last year. And to be perfectly frank, I was considering whether to mark this blog as dead. I have too little to say which I haven’t already said on Ravelry.

However, this is by way of being a test post. A friend was asking why her blog posts aren’t showing up on the South Asian Crafters group page on Ravelry and I had to confess I hadn’t blogged this year at all. As moderator of said group, I thought I would post here and see if my post shows up.

One of the small projects I finished this year was a set for a friend with a new baby. I tested the frock pattern for the designer and then made the booties to match. Wool sock yarn, since the things were for a London baby. And the yarn (squooshy!) was from a sock yarn club I (bought? took? participated in?) as one of those “Try everything once” things.

IMAG0245

The dress happened to be the 300th project I’ve entered into Ravelry. The designer has cute girls of her own, so I get to try out lots of girly stuff when testing for her. They’re usually quick projects, plus she lets me use whatever yarn I have on hand.

The booties were in my queue for a long time. I’m always attracted to things with brioche stitch in them. I entirely forgot to send the leftover yarn to my friend, though. I’m told the baby liked them.

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A case of two blocks.

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).

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Chuffed.

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.

Continue reading Chuffed.

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Not right at all!

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.

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Bags full

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.
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Vicissitudes

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.

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A false Fall

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

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More lace

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.