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...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Short and Sweet

I finally selected a pattern and yarn from the stash and started on a sweater. The pattern is Short and Sweet Bolero from Stitch n'Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker, and the design is by Angela Best. I selected the Kraemer Yarn Little Lehigh Pebbles, it's made right here in Pennsylvania. The fiber is a DK weight in a cotton and acrylic blend. The colorway that I have is called It's A Boy. It's a baby blue with little flecks of green and fuchsia, the flecks are small and not tightly woven. Someone tried to pick the lint off the yarn on Tuesday evening, then realized that it belonged there!
First, selecting the size - the large has a finished bust of 45" and the extra large 50 1/2", to fit bust size 45 and 54, because the extra large is to have a 3" gap in the front. I need a to fit a 48, with a little ease to wear over a tank top or shell. I definitely don't want a 3" gap in the front, in fact the model in the photo looks like the top has an 8 or 9" gap. So I selected the Extra Large. Once I get the edging on, I think that it will just meet at the front. But I will have to block the lace out a little.
I started on Sunday evening, and allowing that I did lesson plans and graded papers on Monday, tutored Monday, taught on Tuesday, worked Wednesday, and led the Guild meeting Thursday evening; I think that I'm making great progress. I'm lengthening the body, and the body is about 3/4th of the length that I want. I stopped at this point to add the sleeves, so that I can better gauge how much yarn to leave for the edging, and then finish the body.

I'm now thinking that this pattern would be lovely in NaturallyCaron Spa, bamboo and acrylic blend. Maybe the Green Sheen or Berry Frappe!

The #3 fashion thread arrived for the next project, the Shallow V Overblouse from Crochet Fantasy. I'm still searching for the perfect pattern for the soy blend. Originally it was going to be my own design, possibly a sampler with some Tunisian, broomstick lace and/or hairpin lace. But I'm also in love with the Silk Sampler from the Readers' Digest book.

Patterns, yarns, threads, decisions,...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More on Classes

I started my spreadsheet, and I've narrowed it down to 21 classes. Not bad, but I've only got 8 time slots! And I've learned from previous years that it's good to take one or two of those off to relax, sleep late, visit the market, chat with friends, etc.
I'm taking a break, then I need to seriously assess 1) what I already know 2) what I can learn on my own from a book, magazine or website 3) what I need NOW in my professional life 4) what sounds so exciting that I have to take it now! 5) what will be offered again next year.

It's Time! CGOA Conference Class Preview

It's time!
The Classes for the Summer Conference were posted yesterday. I did a quick review of the classes while I was printing them out yesterday afternoon. I was a little late arriving to our informal crocheting in public, I had to wait for all 30 pages to print. Today, I want to spend some serious time with the print-out, a pencil, a set of highlighters and maybe an Excel spreadsheet to help with the final selection of classes.
I have one, and maybe two ladies who are going to drive with me. Road Trip! Road Trip with Crochet and fiber!! The plans are coming together and I'm excited!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Knit or Crochet

There are a lot of people in the world who don't know the difference between the techniques of knitting and crocheting, and a lot who can't tell the difference in the fabric created by the two techniques. And then, I've heard that in places in Europe they use the terms knit or hand-knitted to cover knitting, crocheting, Tunisian, etc.
I think that most of us who are involved in one and/or both techniques do differentiate. If we see that the fiber artist is using two pointy sticks, we ask about their knitting; if we see that the have one short hook we ask about their crochet; some but not all of us know what to ask if they have one long knitting needle with a crochet hook on the end; but we'd be right if we asked about their Tunisian, their shepard's knitting, or about their afghan crochet (or many other names).
What seems to bother a lot of us, though, is when we're crocheting and someone asks about our knitting; or an obvious crocheted garment being listed as "hand knitted". I was reading my Berrocco newsletter today and saw a picture of a lovely red beret-type hat listed as "Knit in Pure Merino DK" (The Pure is capitalized because it's the Berrocco brand name of this Merino fiber). Well, I was admiring the little thumbnail shot of the hat and thinking how nicely this pattern would translate into crochet, ...start with several rows of half-doubles, then some rows utilizing front post doubles for that nice texture,... So I clicked on the picture which opened another window and a much larger photo and said "That hat is crocheted! What's with the Berrocco people?" The Berrocco newsletter is usually about 99.5% knitting, so I'll bet they get complaints from knitters who love the hat, click on the link to get the pattern,...only to find that it's crocheted! But me, I'm very happy to get the unexpected lovely crochet pattern from Berrocco. Hmmmm, now what fiber do I want to use instead of that Merino?

Sorting through patterns, swatching and sweaters/tops

This morning I woke up writing a blog entry in my head. Now, that's not how I normally wake up,...it's more like cotton balls in the brain space until the caffeine kicks in. So I thought that maybe I should just "go with it".

One of the sweaters in my list of possible projects is the Silk Sampler Jacket from Reader's Digest Crochet in No Time: A Simple, Stylish Collection of 52 Quick-Crochet Projects, by Melody Griffiths. Here's a link to "the book at Amazon"
The sweater on the cover is the project that I was contemplating. It would look fabulous in the Bernat Natural Blends Soy that I purchased so long ago. The sweater starts at a very unusual place, I don't think I've seen this construction before...You start with the bottom edging. Start by making a circle, crocheting into it about half-way around, and then making the next circle. After completing enough circles to get across the width of the back, you go around the last circle and start crocheting across the other "side" of the circles for the first row of the body of the sweater.
The worsted weight soy was not going to give me the correct gauge, and I didn't have enough, so I started another swatch in Royale #3 fashion thread. Beautiful! Here's a Little Peek:

I tried several patterns in NaturallyCaron Soy. I love this fiber, it's shiny and soft, I think it's officially listed as a worsted #4, but it's a little light, similar to Caron Simply Soft. I found a lot of projects that I'd like to do in this fiber, but I'd have to order some, not use up some stash. Here's a swatch made from sc foundation stitch, and 2 rows of dc:

Then I found another pattern that I really love, it's a thread tunic-style top. It's called Shallow V Overblouse and is in the Summer 2005 issue of Crochet Fantasy. I swatched a little of this pattern in the Royale #3 fashion thread, and love it. This thread is very economical, so I did order enough for this top. It will probably be my next large project. Here's a peek at the swatch:

I've also found the pattern that I want to use for the mercerized cotton that was "gifted" at a Guild meeting. It's a beautiful jade, but not enough to make the Silk Sampler Jacket, so I spent more time with the magazines and books, and with my legal pad of information. I found the Tall Latte (I've had my eye on that pattern, anyway) in Doris Chan's book Everyday Crochet to fit well with the yardage I have in the cotton. There is no way to get more... I will need to search out a small amount of a comparable fiber to make the contrasting sleeve and neck band. I'm thinking maybe a white or soft cream. My next step then is to wash and dry the cotton, it's mercerized and shouldn't shrink, but it is a deep saturation of color. If there's any chance of the color running (again mercerized, I don't think that it will), I want to get the excess color out before adding the light-colored bands.
Okay, enough writing, it's time to launder and swatch!

Reading and swatching

Right now, I'm re-reading "No Sheep for You". I guess researching for the library display got me in the mood for playing with the yummy - no wool fibers. I have some new balls of #10 thread in bamboo, it's incredibly soft. It would be a shame to work this up tight in a doily, and then starch it. I purchased a pattern for a sweet baby dress in #10 thread and I've ordered more of this fiber in a pretty pink. But I'm also thinking about a light summer top. I think that I've got the pattern selected.

I recently took time to look through the stash with a legal pad & pencil in hand, and wrote down information about the yarns that I've purchased for sweaters (with only a general idea in mind). I wrote down fiber content, # of skeins/balls/hanks and # of yards per skein. Then I calculated the total yardage of the fibers.
Next I started through stacks of Crochet! and Crochet Fantasy Magazines, and books; and made notes of garments that I really liked - sweater title, what book it's in, page number, fiber used, weight, and yardage. Next I started swatching sections of different patterns with different fibers. I should scan some of the swatches!
I think that I've selected two different patterns that will go with fiber that's in the stash, and one more that I couldn't resist and I've ordered some Royale #3 fashion thread for that project. I've purchased one ball of about 7 different colors just to play with. I really love the texture and the sheen. I was very glad to find this lovely lace overblouse using the #3 thread.

What else is happening in my crochet world? Yesterday's mail brought the brouchure for the Spring Knit & Crochet Show in Portland, Oregon in May! Fun reading for this weekend!

Reading that's related to my crochet, and yet not about crochet

I hope that title whets your appetite. I started this post at the beginning of February, and hadn't gotten around to actually clicking the "publish post" button.

I'm reading some interesting books and magazine articles right now. They're not crochet books, or anything about crochet; and yet, they are relating to my crochet life.
I mentioned the audio that I'm listening to right now, "How to Prepare a Winning Proposal" by Pat Cramer. That's related to the class that I'm taking. I'm also reading a book titled "How to Write Irresistible Query Letters", by Lisa Collier Cool. What's a Query Letter you ask? Good question! A query letter is when you write to a publication, editor, etc and say "I have this great idea, it's great because.., I think you'd be interested, and I think that I'm the perfect person to implement this great idea because...".
I recently read "You can Write and Publish a Book" by John Bond. By the Way, the little "quizzy thing" said "Go for It!" Before that I read a great book called "How to Toot your Own Horn without Blowing it". That's about marketing yourself and your ideas. I really enjoyed reading that and working the little "think abouts" and activities.
I have pages of notes on these books, along with several notebooks of other notes. I'm hoping that I can make all these ideas come together the way I'm thinking.

Readers - is there anything that you're reading that's related to your crochet, and yet is not a crochet book? I'm interested in hearing all about it.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Designers - where do the models go after the photo session?

Just this past week someone ask me about the crocheted and knitted models. What happens to them after the photo session? My easy and immediate answer was: it depends on what it says in the contract that you signed.
Here's an interesting article on the NatuallyCaron website that explains what they do with the models used for the Caron yarn company. Scroll down to the title: Recycle, Reuse, Re-wear.
I love the fact that afghans and baby items are donated to local hospitals.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Library Display

We just barely got home with our boxes of display items after the Gathering of the Guild and it was time to start packing boxes of items to take to the library for a display.

2009 is the International Year of Natural Fibres and March is National Crochet Month, so our theme combined both those ideas - natural fibers, crochet, and then going green and recycling. Four chapter members met at the East Shore Area Library in Colonial Park (Harrisburg, PA) and had great fun organizing our skeins of yarn, items made from natural fibers, items made from scrap yarn and recycled plastic bags; along with books, magazines and leaflets.

I forgot to take my camera, so I need to go back to the library some time soon and take some photos. If you're in the Harrisburg area, please stop in at the library and check out our display, and pick up a flyer about our Guild chapter.

Next major project - clean up, sort & put away everything that came home from the Gathering, things that weren't used in the library display, yarn I'm finished with temporarily,...then I can get back to selecting patterns to go with the yarns in my stash...the ones purchased specifically for light-weight sweaters and summer tops.

Update on Special Olympics Scarves

The scarf project for the Special Olympics Winter Games was a rousing success! Hoping for 5,000 scarves for athletes and visiting dignitaries, the Special Olympics received over 60,000 scarves! The athletes, coaches, parents, neighbors, community members,...everyone was encouraged to wear a scarf in support of the athletes and the Games. Scarves were seen at Obama's Inaguration when athletes marched in the Inagural Parade, VP Biden & his wife were photographed wearing scarves.
Click on the link above if you're interested in seeing photos, the last one shows huge boxes stacked high, and one open with bags of scarves spilling out. Pretty impressive what volunteer crocheters and knitters can accomplish. We really make a difference.

Now I'm looking for similar photos of the baby hats made for Save the Children/Warm Up America's Knit One/Save One program.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Missing in Action...Again?

I haven't really been missing in action in the crochet world, I just haven't found time to post new entries to my blog. What have I been up to then?
Our local CGOA Chapter has been very busy with some large projects. This past Saturday we participated in the Harrisburg "Gathering of the Guilds".
With contributions of swatches and samples from other chapter members I created a display of "Types of Crochet". I didn't cover the 100 or so that Dee Stanziano has on her website, just some basics - classic or traditional, filet, delta, Tunisian, hairpin lace. We also had handouts with our chapter information, lists of crochet websites, benefits of CGOA membership, and applications for membership.

We also had a lot of crochet items on display, and a table full of items for sale. In addition, we had created small items for door prizes.

Here's a little view of the Gathering, on the right is someone reading the information about Tunisian that's posted with a Tunisian dishcloth.

The theme of the Gathering this year was Under the Sea. Faith made a scarf with the center of blue waves, and the ends in sandy color and a pebbly stitch. Then she added a starfish and shell. I don't think that I got a picture of that. Justine has been busy making shells. She brought along some real shells from her collection, and her crocheted shells looked great with them.

Margie brought along some cell phone holders in fab yarns! She sold several. Also, several of us made dishcloths and they sold well.

Saturday was a long day, we arrived at 7 am to set up, the Gathering opened to the public at 9 am. We spent the day crocheting, and talking to people about crochet, about our Guild Chapter, and about the CGOA. We also took turns shopping from the items offered by the various guilds. I bought a nice, hard-cover crochet book that I've checked out of the library several times. It was a definite bargain at $5! Several of us also took turns taking some short Make It and Take It Classes. Justine made a polymer clay covered pen, with seashell designs. Margi made a needle felted flower, and Crystal & I made a small fish in bobbin lace. Several chapter members, and crochet friends from our Michaels' days stopped by to chat and crochet. At 4 pm we started packing up. We were tired, but I think everyone had a great day.

I can tell that the holidays are over...

People have finished the cleaning, decorating, planning, cooking, baking, shopping, wrapping, more cleaning, etc and they've settled down to their crochet again.
How do I know this? I answer crochet questions on "AllExperts", as an instructor and moderator on "Ravelry's Learn Crochet" group, and as one of the email Correspondents for the CGOA. After several months of only occasional questions, I'm getting several emails every day. There's a lot of work involved, but I love to research, and I love to help others learn more about my favorite craft, and I'm learning some interesting things, also.
I've been answering questions about abbreviations in patterns, starting chains, turning chains and free loops, I've explained how to do post stitches, and located clear & correct videos of the stitches. I've hunted down information about the history of crochet, Bosnian crochet and Tunisian. I've made recommendations of good learn to crochet books and my favorite crochet magazines.
Now to get back to my crochet projects, searching for the perfect summer top pattern, looking for new natural fiber yarns, and making items for a library display.

Here's a blog that I just discovered and Swatching

I enjoyed reading the latest blog entry by Copperscaledragon. I think she's on one of the same Ravely groups that I am, I'll have to double check.
Anyway, She wrote a great entry about taking the time to swatch. There has been a lot of discussion about swatching on the CrochetPartners group. Several people have said that they "don't have time to swatch". Well, personally I'd rather spend 15-20 minutes swatching than spend hours crocheting, hours frogging, and then hours redoing! It reminds me of a home ec teacher that I had back in the late 60's, early 70's when I was seriously into sewing and tailoring. She told us "If you don't have time to do it right the first time, you certainly don't have time to do it over!"

Swatching is so much more than just getting the gauge. When I first learned to crochet I didn't swatch either. But I was always running out of yarn before the project was finished, and I'd have to go buy more,...of course I had to start with searching out the same brand, color, try to match dye lot,... I learned that I'm a very loose crocheter, and to match most other people in gauge, I need to drop down one or two hook sizes. I was running out of yarn because I was using more in each and every stitch in the project!

In the various groups that I belong to, there is always someone looking for just one ball of some yarn. They started a project and ran out, the yarn has been discontinued, does anyone have any in their stash, they won't worry about dye lot, they'll pay for the yarn and shipping,... And it's not usually a simple everyday project, it was to be a baby shower gift & the baby's almost a year old or it was to be an anniversary present... Who needs that kind of fuss, worry, stress? Make a gauge swatch, and buy all the yarn you need before starting the project!

Along with getting the proper gauge so that you don't run out of yarn, it's important to make sure that the item, if clothing, is actually going to fit. Don't you hate to spend a month or so making a gorgeous top in your favorite color, and the softest yarn and then have to give it to your sister, mom, friend,...because it didn't fit. I have a friend who's laughing at this right now,...owner of my beautiful, green, short-sleeved top... I made a swatch, measured, washed and dried, calculated the percent of shrinking, and made adjustments to the pattern. Then crocheted this beautiful garment, only to find that the large, completed project didn't shrink at the same percentage as the small swatch. Next time, I'm making a larger swatch. The larger swatch is also important in garments made with natural fibers. Many of these fibers have a fabulous drape, but the weight of the fiber pulls on the garment, and it "grows' longer. Make a large swatch, measure it, pin it to your dress form or hang it on a hanger, and leave it for several days. Then measure it again. Did it grow? By how much? You'll need to take that into consideration when you decide how long to crochet the top, sweater or skirt.

The swatching process is also important for checking out the laundering effect on the fiber. Why spend weeks (or longer) making a beautiful garment, then find that the first time you wash it, it pills or fades or shrinks. Find that out before you spend all that time on the project. You may decide you can live with it, or you may decide that a different fiber will be better for your project.

The swatching is also a great time to check how your colors look together. Those two looked great together while in the skein, and in the artificial lighting of the store. Now that you've stitched them together and have the swatch in the sunlight...you wouldn't wear them in public! Better to find that out before you do all the work.

Remember -"If you don't have time to do it right the first time, you certainly don't have time to do it over!"