Jane's Hooked on Crochet

A place to write about my crocheting, things I'm learning, book reviews, ideas, projects in mind, works in progress, patterns, photos, fair entries, whatever...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Yarn Review - NaturallyCaron Spa

NaturallyCaron Spa

This is a blend of 75% microdenier acrylic, and 25% bamboo. The bamboo adds a light sheen to the fabric, and it’s super soft!
This fiber is listed as a #3, light worsted or DK weight. I got about 14 wraps per inch. The label recommends a G hook (4mm) and a gauge of 22 stitches and 30 rows in a 4 x 4 inch swatch.
It comes in a 3 oz (85 g) ball, with 251 yards (290m). The label says “12 ply cable Superior 3-D stitches Shape Control Softness”
This yarn is machine washable on warm, gentle; and machine dry on low, delicate. That’s a super plus as far as I’m concerned.
I tried several stitches and stitch combinations, of course including some Tunisian stitches. It has great stitch definition. The crocheting is super smooth, no splitting, pilling or lint. And I tested it by pulling everything out, and restitching the yarn. The yarn “frogs” as nicely as it stitches, and yarn used over several times for swatches still looked great.
I originally planned to buy one or two skeins of this just to play with, swatch and write a review; then talked myself into buying 6 skeins with no plans for a project.
The yarn arrived yesterday, but I didn’t open the package until this afternoon. The super softness grabbed me, and I had to start swatching immediately. Tonight at Borders I was flipping through several new crochet magazines, and was attracted to several shawls in Crochet Today and Interweave Crochet, they would have looked beautiful in this fiber. But then I found it! In the Interweave Crochet Spring 2008issue and it’s called Ring Around the Posies by Tammy Hildebrand. It is made up of 4inch motifs that are joined as you go, short cap sleeves, and you wear it over a cami. Perfect! I made two motifs this evening.
I'm super excited by this yarn and this project.

Yarn Review - Queensland Collection Bebe Cotsoy

Queensland Collection Bebe Cotsoy is a blend of 50% cotton and 50% soy. 50 grams, 100 meters, 110 yards. 5 sts = 1"/ US 7.

Yarndex lists this as a worsted weight yarn, but that is totally inaccurate. Several other websites that have the yarn for sale have it listed as a DK weight, and some even list it as a fingering weight. Cotsoy is a 4 ply yarn, with about 16 wraps per inch, putting it in the fingering weight category.
I did a full swatching session with this yarn, starting with chains, then progressing to single crochet, half-doubles and doubles, then some shells, and then several Tunisian stitches. All of them look beautiful and work up easily. Also, I tried pulling out stitches, and reusing the yarn. The stitches pull out as easily as they go in! And the reused yarn looks as nice as the new yarn. I didn’t notice any splitting, pilling or lint.
I think this yarn would be great as a spring top, and definitely baby clothes.
There is no laundering information on the label, but several of the sale sites recommended cold water handwash, with a lay flat dry. I filled the sink up with cold water, and tossed the swatch in, it floated without absorbing any water. I poked it under a few times, and it popped back to the surface. So I decided to wait and see how long it took to soak up water, an hour later it was still floating. So I turned on the water and moved the swatch under the running water, it still did not absorb any water, so I pushed it under and held it until it got saturated. I think that this means that if you go caught in a spring shower, the top would not soak up water and become heavy. After a gentle washing, I laid it out on a towel to air dry. When it was almost dry, I used clothespins and hung it up. After letting it completely dry, I laid it on the paper and compared it to the outline I drew of the dry swatch. The swatch did not shrink, however, it did “square up” nicely.
The swatch is even softer than before washing, and looks just as nice.
I highly recommend this yarn!

Monday, April 28, 2008

New "How to" website

I read an article in today's New York Times about a new "how to" website called
"Quamut" So I thought that I'd check it out, find out what they have to say about how to crochet. The home page has a series of columns to divide things into categories; red for House and Home, gold for Hobbies & Leisure, green for Money & Business, etc. Under Hobbies & Leisure they have a list of sub-categories - baseball, beading, blackjack, calligraphy, chess, harmonica, horses,... they skipped right over crochet :-( . There is also a scrolling picture above the lists, and when the hobbies and leisure section comes up, the picture is a close up of a set of hands crocheting!
Click and go to the Hobbies and Leisure page and you find another tabbed section of sub-categories - arts & crafts, games, music, outdoors, etc. Then in each of these sub-categories there are lists of links. Under Arts & Crafts they start with another list, beading, calligraphy, embroidery,...this list includes knitting, but not crochet. Under this short list of sub-topics, is the list of links again divided into sub-topics. Finally there is a list of "crochet projects". I'm going to go take a look at several of the projects. BRB.
Wow! I love, love, love the way they've set up the patterns. There is a boatload of information - stitch how to's - written and diagrams, a chart of measurements for different sizes, diagrams with measurements, photos. I looked at the Baby dress, and this will go on my "to do" list for sometime in the future. It's adorable. I was less impress with some others - specifically the "tunic sweater", very disappointing to discover that it's not a tunic, or a sweater, it's a poncho. Very overdone. Possibly it was selected for the new site because a poncho is so much easier to do than a sweater. But they did such a fantastic job of the baby sweater including 5 sizes from newborn up to 9-12 months. Surely they could have made a simple sweater with at least 3 sizes S-L.
Further investigation shows me that under the knitting category they have some useful things for crochet, such as understanding yarn. They have information about different kinds of nature fibers and pros and cons of knitting with them; yarn weights chart, and reading a yarn label. They also tell you how to wind a hank into a ball.
Check out this new site, and see what information you find. I'm adding it to my favorite sites.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Working behind a chain 2 loop

Earth Day/Week/Month & new fibers

While you're on that Jimmy Beans Wool newsletter, be sure to scroll down and check out the entry on Earth Month and "Knit Green". Follow the links to some great new yarns, this falls right into place with my focus for this week on new non-wool yarns. I'm looking at the Cascade Pima Tencel with that "I'd love to have just one ball of that to play with and swatch" feeling. No wait, Rowan 100% bamboo in a DK/fingering weight! I like the Nashua Ecologie cotton, the fibers are not dyed, the cotton grows in these lovely colors. I read a magazine article about that some time ago. What about the Crystal Palace Panda cotton, a cotton/bamboo/elastic blend.

I love the way they've put together their color cards. Some websites just show a block of color, others show the fiber in the skein. This site shows some in the skein, some just strands, and others knitted up, it gives more of an idea of what a project might look like. Have you ever selected a variegated fiber that looks great in the skein but when you started crocheting the colors blotched instead of striping nicely? It helps to see the fibers knitted, but it would be helpful if some of those fibers were also crocheted. It's easy enough to make a small swatch in single crochet.

Back to dreaming about buying new yarns!

Crocheting without Crocheting

Crocheting without Crocheting is the title of this article in the April Newsletter of Jimmy Beans Wool. And I don't have any idea what they're talking about. Oh, I do know what they're doing, they're crocheting. Adding a single crochet edge to a knit square, to be exact. But what are they Talking about? They're crocheting! Why do they say without crocheting? How do they think they're crocheting without crocheting? Is this some kind of magical wording so that knitters who despise crochet won't have to admit that that is what they're doing? Is it to keep these same knitters calm? "Just relax, you can do it, it's not really that impossible craft of crocheting that's too difficult for you as a knitter".
If you have any inside knowledge about the title of this article, please comment!
In the meantime, I'm leaving the computer to do some crocheting with crocheting, using crochet hooks.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

There's a new book coming out in September, with all the clothing patterns based on symbol crochet and diagrams. I'm fascinated because the author has done a tremendous job of writing about the process of creating the swatches, garments and books, on "her blog". She also has a cool labeling feature on her blog so that you can click labels: book progress and read only the posts about the book. I found that helped keep my focus on the book, and the whole creating, writing process. I'll go back now and read the rest of the blog.
Here's a link to the "book information on Amazon". Look at how cool is this book information on Amazon. They include a post from Robin's blog, and a link to read all of her blog.
I can't wait to actually see the book at Borders this fall. I'll enjoy looking at all the projects, and drooling over one's that I'd like to make. But,...I probably won't buy the book. I'm totally Not a visual learner. I wonder if she'd also write the patterns in standard form for those of us who are Linguistic learners?

Friday, April 25, 2008

It's Spring! Think Flowers!

Today I'm thinking spring and flowers. I'm planning for the topic of the May CGOA Chapter meeting to be flowers. I was thinking of browsing the web, finding great flower patterns, and sending a list to the group in advance of the meeting so they had time to print and patterns and maybe make a few flowers to bring with them to the meeting. Well, I ran across these pictures of flicr.com and had to post the link to the group immediately. You really have to see the work that this lady accomplishes: "Flowers"

Thursday, April 24, 2008

It's not a Yarn stash - it's a Collection

Monday I received a newsletter from "Knitting Daily". It had an interesting article, the author says she doesn't have a yarn stash, she has a collection and should display it like artifacts in a museum. She doesn't purchase yarn in bulk with projects in mind, but purchases one or two balls or skeins because they appeal to her. I love the article! I frequently buy one or two balls, "because they're pretty". Frequently I find that I pull out one of these balls and swatch a new stitch pattern, or try it for a new design, and usually decided not to use it. That stitch pattern isn't perfect enough to show off this beautiful yarn to it's fullest. So I save it, making sure that it's not wasted on an inferior project.

I also recently received the March Yarn Market News, it has a review of cotton yarns. There are some yummy looking fibers, I need to get reading.
Then, last night at our Border's Crochet in Public night, I decided to check out what new magazines they had. All the crochet magazines,..I had already bought. But I found two new knit magazines with some yarn reviews. Knit'N Style is thinking spring and summer, most of the fibers are cotton, cotton blends, with some linen and bamboo, very little wool. Interweave Knits focuses on linen and linen blends. I brought home both magazines, so I've lined up a lot of fiber reading.

Tonight I got off work very early, and had a chance to stop at the new local yarn shop "Yarn-Love" for a skein of Berroco Comfort DK to add a little contrast to the final items in the baby layette (a sweet pair of booties). There were shelves of new summer fibers in cotton, bamboo, soy and blends. I couldn't resist selecting a few to swatch and review. Here's what I bought:

Louisa Harding Yarns, Jasmine 48% cotton, 39% bamboo, 10% silk, 3% polyester.
50 grams, 98 meters, 107 yards. Handwash, lay flat dry. "suggested tension 22 sts x 30 rows" on suggested needles US 6 (4mm)
I selected a light mauve with silver flecks. Soft, lovely. $6.95

Queensland Bebe Cotsoy Collection, 50% cotton, 50% soy. 50 grams, 100 meters, 110 yards. There are no laundering instructions on the ball band. 5 sts = 1"/ US 7.
I selected a steel blue. Extremely soft! $6.50
Both of these yarns were made in China, surprising, America still grows cotton.

Hopefully, I'll get some reviews written soon. Right now I think I'll go read, and swatch.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Getting Loopy

Today I got information about a new talk show about Crochet! It's called Getting Loopy.
The host is Mary Beth Temple, and today's guest was Amy O'Neill Houck, author of The Color Book of Felted Crochet. The topic was the ecology of the craft. They discussed buying yarn with attention to the environment, also new books, new patterns in magazines, how to do stitches etc.
The show airs on Tuesday at 1:00 pm, but it is archived so you can listen to it at any time.
"Getting Loopy"
Next week's show is with Dee Stanziano; founder of the Connecticut CGOA chapter, designer, teacher, and "Crochet Cheerleader". Dee writes my favorite blog, "CrochetwithDee", it should be plenty of fun.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tunisian baby blankets

I finished the Tunisian baby blanket that I was making, and immediately went out and bought yarn and started another one. This one is slightly different, I'm trying out the double hook technique. Basically, it's Tunisian, except you have a hook on each end of your hook. You attach a skein of yarn at each end, and you turn at the end of each "picking up" row. In regular Tunisian, you don't turn your work. So, this is a little bit of a challenge. I have to remember which direction I'm working, and I have to remember to turn. I'm trying a striping technique, so I actually have one variegated skein on one end, and three colors on the other. It's looking pretty cool. I'm also swatching colors for the next idea, so there are skeins of yarn all over my working couch. Very colorful!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Songs in my head

There are two songs playing in my head this evening. It starts off with the Beach Boys "After 8 hours of school, I've had enough for the day. I hit the radio dial and turn it up all the way. I wanna dance!" Right about then, the other voice chimes in with "School's out for Summer".
That's right, today was my last day teaching. This evening we had Student Recognition Night, where we gave awards to the top students. Now I'm finished for this school year. The students aren't. We're a private education group that supplements & supports families that home school. The families will be finishing up lessons, projects, testing, and evaluations. But our classes are finished.
I'll miss the kids, but it's nice to have a looong summer. I have so many things to do in my other jobs.

Tomorrow, back to crocheting. I've worked a little on a Tunisian baby afghan this week, but not as much as I'd like.
"I wanna dance!" Sing along,...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Review of Sew Grip Gloves

I received a pair of Sew Grip Gloves from Jean at the Yahoo group RA_Yarnsandmore. She has them available for sewers for extra grip of pins, needles, and fine thread. She offered two pair for use and review by knitters and crocheters. I got to try these out, and wrote the following review that I posted to the group:

I’m an avid thread crocheter, and work in #10 and sometimes #20 thread. I also hold my thread in an unusual manner, I don’t wind it around all my fingers like shown in all the how to guides. The thread just flows between my pointer and index finger of my left hand, that’s all the “tensioning” that I use. Some days I have limited “squeeze” and can only spend a short time working, especially if using #20 thread.
I tried the Sew Grip gloves while working with #20 thread. I did have to take off the right hand glove, it wasn’t helping the grip on the hook for me. I think that some people who have a small amount of trouble with holding small hooks might find some benefit.
I really loved the extra “grip” the glove had on the cotton thread. It added just enough friction that the thread stayed taut in my fingers and I worked 3 small motifs.
I don’t think this will help with most yarns, as there would be too much friction. But it might be just the thing for those slippery, ribbon type yarns, and definitely thread.

I did get some satisfying swatching done.

Last night at Borders I did some more swatching on the Tunisian baby afghan, and finally found a stitch and color combination that satisfy me. After finishing the swatch, I started on the full afghan. I started using an M double ended hook, it was about 9 inches long. This first one I was using was a commemorative hook from a Chain Link conference. Several people were amazed by how many stitches I managed to squash onto that hook. I was doing a stitch that uses a yarn over before the stitch, so I had 160 loops on the hook. It was working, but I knew I couldn't do the entire project on this hook. Where do all my Easy Tunisian M hooks go, anyway? I have 2 L's, 2 N's and 2 P's, shouldn't I have 2 M's? or at least I should be able to find 1 of them. This has been going on so long, that I have purchased several M's in wooden hooks!
When I got home I switched the project onto a Crochenit plastic M hook. This hook was about 14 inches long. Boy was that unsatisfactory. The yarn just didn't slide nicely, and the tension seemed tight, the whole project felt tight, instead of my loose, relaxing Tunisian. So I moved up to the beautiful double ended hook that I bought from ? somewhere online. (I wonder if I have a record of where I bought this hook. I could buy more of these!) This hook is about 25 inches long, I don't usually like to work with that length, I'd rather squash a lot of stitches on the ET 14" hooks. But I'm loving the way the yarn slides on this hook, and the fact that I can spread the stitches and look at the entire project even while it's on the hook. I finished about 14 rows last night. With focus, I should finish this up in no time.

What did I do with this book?

Last night I found the missing book. Yeah, that's right, it was in a place that I checked at least 2 or 3 times and didn't find it. It was in the rolling suitcase that's chocked full of Tunisian books and samples for the Tunisian classes that I was teaching. I had set the suitcase aside so that I can sort the books and get them onto the bookcase, and get the samples organized so that I can set up new classes.
The Essential Crochet Techniques book has in the center of a stack of Tunisian books, why did I put it there? Why didn't I find it when I looked in the suitcase? Another crochet mystery!

Crochet in Public (CIP) at Borders

Last night I walked into Borders for our Crochet in Public, and there were three tables pushed together and filled with crochet patterns, books, yarn and thread; and a sign that said "Reserved for Needles and Hooks Group". The tables were surrounded with ladies working on all kinds of projects, and looking at the new crochet books and magazines that Borders has now. Wow, we've come a long way from the days that two or three of us decided to get together at Borders on the Tuesdays that we weren't over at Michaels. We had decided that twice a month was just not enough Crocheting in Public. We've been joined by a knitters group that gets together once a month, and expanded by word of mouth, and people who happen to see us crocheting, talking and laughing. Now we've got reserved tables, and mention in the Borders newsletter.
What a great time we had. There were stacks of new crocheting, knitting, cross-stitch magazines, and new crocheting books. I just did a short browse through a stack of magazines, but still bought Crochet Today and Crochet World.
Crochet Today has some colorful summer projects, I love the kids tote bag/backpack, the sampler pillows, and the colorful tote bag. I bought the Crochet World for the fabulous shoulder bag in blue ombre nylon, the "Kids Marble Bag", and the bright table set. They have a feature "Make it in a Day" if you're looking for a quick project, instant gratification!
I think that I did more socializing, show and tell, and book looking than crocheting; but I did get some satisfying swatching done. That'll be a separate post.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Whole lotta swatching going on...

For the past week I've been busy swatching some new ideas for Tunisian projects. Some have been deemed "not up to interesting", and have gone to the great frog pond! Others have some potential, and I've kept a swatch and notes and hope to get to them soon.
I have several swatches that I've made from the Essential Crochet Techniques that I really love, I've made several swatches this week from different colors, but what I thought was exactly the same stitch (from memory, not from the book). They are not exactly the same, the fronts are identical, but the backs aren't. So I have to go back to the book and find out what I'm doing differently. But remember that I said I was going to start pulling books off a book shelf, sorting books and organizing them on the newly available shelf. I'm in the middle of that project, and I can't find the book that I want.
Now, last week after searching a day or two for a Tunisian book I finally remembered that it's one of the books in the library display. Since the display was dismantled on Thursday, I will get those books back this week, but I don't think that this book was in the display. I have a rolling suitcase full of Tunisian books that I was taking to the classes I taught, but it shouldn't be in there, either. What did I do with this book?

updating an old post - Monday's Bad News

I started this entry back on March 5th, and threw it into the draft folder. I plan to get back to those in a resonable time frame and finish, then post. But sometimes they slip through the cracks never to be seen as an entry. What a sad story.
The entry name was Monday's Bad News, and it had to do with the fact that on Monday of that week we were called in to a meeting at Michaels. As of March 30th, Michaels was discontinuing all their classes except for the Wilton Cake Decorating.
Wait! I feel like I did already post this information, but I don't see anything. hmmm
Anyway, at least temporarily I'm not teaching at Michaels, they said they may start up the classes again later. I really need to find time to put together class briefs, and start marketing my teaching. I have 2 weeks left of teaching math for this year, then I have some projects with due dates, and then get ready for the Conference. I would love to have some new crocheted wearables, would like to get something into the design contest, and of course join in the fun of the gift exchange.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Perfect buttons for the baby sweater

Tonight at Crochet in Public at Borders, I started to put the little white pearl buttons on the baby sweater. But Faith had a gift for me, she had found the cutest buttons at a thrift store & bought me for me. They're little stars that look like gummy candy, in purple, red, yellow, green and orange. I actually cut off the 3 pearl buttons that I had sewn on so that I could change to these buttons.

Aren't those the perfect buttons! Click on the picture for a larger view.