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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.

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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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It was not to be.

I fell in love with this pattern when it first appeared on Ravelry, so you can imagine my joy when it came up for testing. No matter that I’d never done stranded colour work before or duplicate stitching, I jumped to volunteer for testing. I sent up a desperate appeal for India’s only cotton yarn (we’ve never heard of any other than threads) and a friend kindly volunteered to send me some. Which she duly did to me in Hyderabad and I set out to make the dress.

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As you can see, the idea was a good one. Only, in the execution, user error crept in and the project was a fail. For several reasons, including: my first colour work, and it shows; it ended up too small even though I made it 6-months and Chandra was around 5 months old then and she is a small baby; I’m mortal afraid the red/maroon will run, so I’ve not even washed it; I don’t like the long floats from the duplicate stitch.

Pattern: Paisley Baby Dress by Mimi Kezer of Pastiche Knitwear (a Ravelry shop). There’s a matching hat. In addition to colour work and stranding and duplicate stitching, I also did my first picot edge hem.

Needles: 3.5mm

Yarn: Laura (the only cotton yarn sold in India for handknitting, as opposed to thread). It’s DK-ish. It’s fine, but not a luxury cotton, while not quite a dishcloth one either.

Time: About eight days, so it’s fairly easy, considering I’d never done a colourwork pattern before.

Size: Too small for Chandra

I have this now and don’t quite know what to do with it. For one, it’s small, for two, the colour might run (I know I should have tested for fastness before I used it, but I needed it in a hurry and was getting it from another city sight unseen, plus I needed it in a hurry!), for three I don’t like the long floats and finish of my duplicate stitching on the bodice and for four the stranding and the cotton make it a dense thing. I’m half tempted to sew up the bottom and turn it into a bag. Or maybe when my doll has a doll of her own she will use it for her wardrobe.

I’m thinking I might make it in acrylic, which would make it lighter and the elasticity of the yarn would make better looking stranding.

I knit both colours with my right hand for this project, but have since started using the left for one strand and knitting it continental, scooping the yarn with the RH needle in a motion which is very similar to crochet and therefore quite quick. I haven’t purled with it yet, so I cannot say how fast I’d be that way. I do not appear to have tension issues either. Much happier with the two strands kept apart than forever having to detangle (disentangle?) them.

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Lace (whew).

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.