Monthly Archives: October 2005

Another quick project.

I don’t normally do well with large projects because I want instant gratification. Luckily, I have daughters, and they provide me with many opportunities for just that. I can make them clothes or I can make them toys, or I can get really creative and make clothes for their toys. I started this last night and finished it up this morning:
Not the snazziest dress, I admit, but it was meant to be fast and easy for my 3.5-year-old to get on & off. It’s vaguely styled as a cheongsam, but doesn’t have the requisite stand-up collar or wrap front. Mainly because I couldn’t figure out, on the spur of the moment, how to crochet either one. I am certain I could have done it with a little more thought & preplanning, but that would have sort of defeated the purpose.

I like the HDC stitch. It’s stretchy and yet it’s not so big it presents you with holes. It’s about the fastest stitch I can do. I downloaded the directions for a chain-free HDC base, but I can’t quite figure them out.

I’m in the midst of a very long prodromal labor. As in, I am in my third day of irregular but very strong & painful contractions. Makes it kind of hard to concentrate on anything, but oddly enough I’m more interested in crocheting, not less. I really want to master that chainless HDC technique, because I’ve made one baby shirt that’s very stretchy except at the hem where the foundation chain is. In theory, the chainless HDC would solve that problem. I’ll try again later today; it’s kind of hard to concentrate through contractions. Bleah. At least, in theory, all this means the baby will be here soon. I’m being constantly reassured that long prodromal labor means that when the “real” thing hits, it will go quickly. One can only hope.

I’m still working on the sampler afghan. I’m not doing it 100% the way the book tells me to, of course. I don’t want any gaping holes in the afghan (I have decided to give it to Smoochie to adorn her new bed once I’m done), so a lot of the stitches in the book aren’t appropriate. So I’m utilizing all of my various stitch books to come up with the requisite number of squares…which are coming out decidedly rectangular. Ah well, a sampler afghan is a sampler afghan; I’m doing it more for the experience than anything else. I’ve got 11 squares done so far, so it’s coming along slowly but steadily. If I can just quit getting distracted by other things, I may even get it finished some time this year.

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It’s cross-stitch! No, it’s knit! No, it’s…What the heck is it?

Poor husband. Takes his crocheting to work and learns to feel my pain about no one being able to tell what the heck he’s doing. This is karmic payback for all the times he has called my crocheting knitting. The usual assumption, of course, is knitting. Because we all know how much one just-more-than-hand-sized hook looks exactly like two very long needles. But he even had one particularly clever shipmate comment upon his cross stitching.

***

I have never made an afghan. Well, I should be more honest. I have never finished an afghan. I have one I started for Robert years ago that is almost finished, but I have to find the P hook I was using on it and be actually willing to spread a blanket in my lap in Hawaii. I am so pathetic. It is a nice striped afghan and needs only one more cycle of the colors to be finished, but I’ve since used the yarn for other things, so I’d need to buy more…

Anyway, I’ve wandered off, creatively, from the girl’s sweater. I’ll finish it eventually, but I can’t keep my mind on it right now. I picked up another copy of 63 Easy to Crochet Pattern Stitches… at Wal-Mart a short time ago, & now I’m working on it. Thought it would make a nice early labor project. So of course the contractions I was having stopped. Story of the pregnancy. Sigh. I’m using the yarn from another abandoned project (which was worked from some now-forgotten pattern), and since it’s all done in squares I don’t have to worry about it being too hot to work with, though I know already I’m going to hate life when it’s time to assemble all the squares. Perhaps I’ll actually finish this one, though I have no clue what the heck to do with it when I do complete it. Not a lot of need for afghans hereabouts…



Finished the sweater.

I’m never totally happy with anything, but I’m mostly happy with this.
I cropped one of the sleeves out of the picture, but I swear they’re both there. I finished it up tonight while listening to Food Network and feeling sorry for myself for having gone through five hours of contractions that just…stopped. Had to channel the energy I’d expected to use to have a baby somewhere, LOL.

The buttons aren’t on it yet, of course. Most of my finished objects yet lack buttons. I’ll cart this to Wal-Mart when next we go and pick some out.

I’ve decided what to do for the next intarsia project. I’m putting a Chinese dragon on the back, and the Chinese pictograph for dragon on the front, and I plan to use frog closures instead of buttons. A real nice Oriental theme, in other words. I’ve actually got the graph for the dragon sketched out. I had a heck of a time finding something appropriate to use, since the only graph I could find online was horizontal & I wanted something vertical. I finally found a pretty simple dragon on a wall hanging, downloaded the photo, and outlined it in Paint Shop Pro, then transferred it freehand to some graph paper. Right now I’m writing it out so I have written directions to refer to as well as the graph. It’s tricolor instead of bicolor like this sweater, and is a much more complicated design, but I’m reasonably confident.

I’m also working on the girls’ Halloween costumes. Bobbie decided she and Linda would be kitties, and the new baby (which had better be here by then!) will be a mouse. So we went on a materials trip yesterday. I’m using Red Heart Symphony yarn, a wonderfully fuzzy creation that’s surprisingly easy to work with (and, unlike Fun Fur, it frogs quite well), some regular worsted weight yarn (to line the ears), headbands, and floral wire to make a frame for the ears. It’s actually a lot less complicated than it sounds. I’m making the headbands that will have ears on them, and then tails that will be stuffed; at least one of them will be attached temporarily to a skirt I crocheted some time ago. Bobbie’s is mostly orange (she picked it out); Linda’s is more of a brindled brown. That is really what the yarn looks like to me. The baby will have a bonnet with mouse ears crocheted out of some gray worsted weight yarn I have laying around. Depending on how energetic I get tomorrow, I may well finish both kitty costumes. I’ll have to do something to get my mind off my lack of labor (I’m due in 1 day, 23 hours, & 30 minutes!).

Still working on the sweater…

I got lazy when it came time to do the back, so it took me longer than it should have. The sweater in the book has single-row stripes of something like four or five different colors (all the colors in the sweater). I’ve tried doing single-row stripes of single crochet before. It does not turn out well. So I have two-row stripes of red and brown for my backpiece.

One advantage of doing the stripes the way I did–I didn’t have to cut and join after every stripe. Anyone who’s done something striped knows what a royal PITA that is. But since my stripes began & ended on the same side, I was able to just carry the spare yarn up the side and switch off as I went. Not too difficult at all, and many fewer ends to weave in. Not as good as it could have been, as I stupidly started out doing it the normal way, and then accidentally cut it before it was long enough, but since I have something like sixteen separate stripes before the “armhole shaping” (and I use that term loosely), it definitely could have been worse.

There are a couple more significant changes with the sleeves. In the book, they’re two different colors. Um, no. Not gonna happen over here. The other big change is that the book’s pattern calls for them to be made flat, separately, and then sewn on to the body of the sweater itself. More trouble than it’s worth, especially as they’re made in single crochet as well. So I’ve already sewn the body together, and I’m crocheting them in place in the round. Much simpler. Here’s a photo of the work so far:
I don’t know why the brown part of the sweater looks pinkish in the photo. I’m not entirely thrilled with the way the stripes on the back part are intended to sort of wrap around to the front, but that’s the way the garment is designed. Over all I am happy with it, and should have it completed within the next few days.

I’ve got plans for my next project as well. I’m going to do a similar girl’s sweater, but with the intarsia piece on the back. I’m thinking of a unicorn. I downloaded some free charts today, and it’s a manner of deciding exactly which I want to use and simplifying it enough that I only have to use two or at the most three colors. It’s somewhat tempting to do a cat, since I love cats. But cats are so…done. I’m wanting to do something more unusual. The front of the sweater I intend to make into a sort of stitch sampler, but I’m not 100% positive on that yet. I know I want to make use of some fancier stitches. I have plenty of time to think of it.

Oh for crying out loud…(Crochetville rant)

There are three fora on Crochetville.org’s message board set aside for original patterns. Now, perhaps I am naіve, but I think that if you can write a crochet pattern, chances are you can read. And this means that you should read. This is not confusing. I showed the first two of these fora to my husband a couple of weeks ago. Mind you, he does not go to message boards. He doesn’t really grasp the concept. And yet, he understood the difference in the first two fora.

To wit:

Original Patterns

Complete original patterns (most with photos) by some of Crochetville’s fabulous designers.
Original Patterns– Links
If you have an original pattern posted elsewhere (your web site, blog, etc.) please share the link with us here.

This is not confusing. Let me spell it out for anyone really dense: LINKS GO IN THE SECOND FORUM, DAMMIT. I do not want to go into Original Patterns and read “Just click the image for the pattern.” That is a link, dammit! Put it in the Links forum. Really, why isn’t this obvious to some people? Read the damned forum description before you post. If the “complete original patterns” thing confuses you, “if you have an original pattern posted elsewhere” should make it obvious.

Intarsia: Work in Progress

I’m working on the Highland Charm sweater from Candy Tots. It is a boy’s cardigan with intarsia diamonds on the front panels. Intarsia is a brand-new technique for me. I wanted to stretch my abilities some. I started out this afternoon working on Versatile Vest from the same book; it also has intarsia diamonds (in both cases, it is meant to end up an argyle pattern). Juggling multiple yarn balls (thought mini balls would work since I have no yarn bobbins; I am not convinced they would have made things easier) was just too much trouble. The sweater, if I went strictly according to the pattern, would probably not be much easier, having five different colors. Since I am just learning the technique, I decided a simplified version of the pattern would be much simpler, so I am doing it in only two colors:
Not sure how well it comes across in the photo, but the colors I am using are autumn red and bone (which is a very pale, almost metallic, tan), both Caron’s Simply Soft. I am a long-time fan of autumn red, and the bone goes surprisingly well with it. I’m not sure yet if I’m going to go ahead with the embroidery that’s supposed to criss-cross it; depends on whether I can find a third color I think works well. Dark brown, perhaps. Nothing I currently have on hand or could find at Wal-Mart tonight.

This wasn’t very hard to do. I didn’t wind mini-balls this time. Since I’m just using two colors and since the diamonds go up the center, I just carried the red along behind the bone at the necessary times. Loosely. I think it turned out rather well.

One bit of advice for anyone contemplating trying intarsia for the first time: know how, when you change colors normally, you work off all but the last two loops, then switch to the new color to complete the stitch? Be certain to do that here the stitch before you need to switch colors. This may be obvious to someone smarter than I, but it took trial-and-error to become obvious to me, so I share it in hopes it can help someone else. It’s not very clearly explained in the single paragraph Ms Jensen devotes to the topic in the back of the book.

Which leads me to another brief complaint about the book. There are six patterns, out of 25, that use this technique. The next most-common technique, a certain stitch/stripe pattern, has four patterns, so intarsia has 50% more patterns than the next most common technique. And this is the only explanation you get for the technique:

Intarsia
All the Argyle designs are worked with
separate bobbins of individual colors so
there are no long strands of yarn. When
changing color, pick up new color from
under dropped color to prevent holes.

And that’s it. Intarsia is not a common technique in crochet. To have such a relatively large portion of the book depend upon this technique and to give so little explanation for it…That’s not a good thing.

Still, I’m mostly satisfied with the way this is going so far. It is coming along surprisingly fast. I did all of what is in the picture in an hour-and-a-half, and didn’t have to frog it at all. So I should be done completely within the next few days, barring childbirth. 😉

Odds & ends…

Part One: Finally!

Finally, finally Barnes & Noble had some crochet magazines! Great haul tonight: Annie’s Favorite Crochet, Crochet Fantasy, Crochet!, Crochet World, & Interweave Knits: Crochet. I almost got the 2006 Crochet Pattern a Day calendar, but didn’t have enough money for that and the magazines, & I figured it was more important to encourage them to continue stocking the magazines by buying them.

Some thoughts:
Those hats are about the ugliest things I have seen in a while. The headline reads Kassie DePaiva: Daytime Star Crochets Hats for Charity, to which I respond: just because you’re poor doesn’t mean you should be forced to wear that!

Please, can we let the furry yarn thing go away and die peacefully now? The whole magazine is full of it, from the Falling Leaves Jacket that is almost freeform loveliness, except where the mange hasn’t taken it yet, to Glitz on the Go! (does anyone really need a fuzzy, hot pink jacket?), to the Heaven-Sent Wrap Jacket that appears to be made from a skinned Wookie. (View all the oddities on the Contents page.)

And I want to slap whoever coined the term “mancho.” I suppose it would accent one’s murse (man purse) quite well, but for the rest of us…No. Just. No.

That said, there are a couple of patterns in the magazine that I do indeed enjoy: the Purple Pizzazz Wrap, which apparently does use fuzzy yarn as one of its many textures but somehow manages to not look mangy; the Ruffled Holiday Scarf that might actually get me to wear a scarf were I in a different climate, even Sugar & Spice, a little girl’s robe I’m thinking about making for a relative for Christmas.

Crochet World is another showcase of ugly patterns. The pattern of the month winner is especially stunning (in the Seinfeldian sense):
Again, that’s just wrong. I cannot imagine any child voluntarily wearing that. I don’t know what’s the worst part, the appliqued crayons-with-scribble-paths, the huge buttons, or the appropos of nothing rainbow in the center.

I was looking through these magazines at dinner. Sure something better must lurk around the page, I turned it to find…Fingerless Cotton Bed Gloves. Nothing really wrong with them per se, they’re just another item I cannot comprehend. I wear gloves only to keep my hands warm, and my fingers get cold first. So I don’t get fingerless gloves. The description says they “will give your chapped hands a treat.” Oh-kay. So apparently they should be worn to hold in lotion, as a treatment for dry skin? Am I the only one who puts lotion on her fingers too? I’ve gotta be missing something here.

Other bad patterns include the Textured Shell (in the “Touch of Style” column; apparently we’re talking late-80s nerd style); Argyle Tote Bag for those who have “always admired the argyle pattern on socks”; the frighteningly fuzzy Kindergarten Poncho; the almost-intriguingly-abstract Crayon-Box pullover (to wear underneath the Crayon Scribbles Cardigan, perhaps, as the former is designed to be loose enough to wear as a jacket); the Hooded Riding Shawlcho, which I would hate for the name alone, even if it weren’t insanely shaped & the inexplicably hairy Girl’s Pumpkin Purse (which doesn’t look like a pumpkin and dear Lord why is it hairy?).

I will admit, I love kitschy patterns as much as the next person. I like the bespectacled Book Bag Bunny, and will probably make the Trick-or-Treat Pumpkin bags for my daughters–well, sans the hairy trim. And there are a couple of patterns there that are very nice, like the Ranch House Throw and the Boy Wrapper.

Thankfully, Crochet Fantasy and Interweave Knits: Crochet exist, though they’re not totally immune.

Crochet Fantasy has a baby sweater I’m itching to make, a fan stitch sweater (not that I get 3/4 length sleeves on sweaters though), a cute purse, an absolutely lovely cape (cape, not capelet), & a cute purple elephant (which I may well make in pink as a joke for my friend the gay Republican). There are several other patterns that are nice but not to my taste. And then…And then there’s “Sleeves”, described as ‘a little more sophisticated than a shrug.’ Indeed. It appears to be a sweater that someone got bored while making and so quit after getting it just long enough to cover her bust. To make matters more incomprehensible, it pairs this extreme-crop-top with very long sleeves. I don’t understand it and I don’t want to understand it, nor do I wish to understand “Remembering Mod,” a little girl’s outfit of a crop top and minskirt made out of fuzzy, super-bulky yarn. Not sure which is worse, how revealing this thing (apparently intended to be worn out in public) is, or how poorly the yarn lends itself to the project.

Still, it remains one of the best magazines for the serious crocheter.

I know reviews of Interweave Knits: Crochet have been rather mixed, and I have to add my own. Overall, the patterns are lovely things I itch to make, but there are a couple of oddities. Candi Jensen’s Shell Stitch Hat is one of them. It’s pretty enough, except for the yarn. It’s “shiny rayon raffia”, but it looks like someone cut up plastic bags to crochet with. Reminds me of the Family Readiness Group on the Boise soliciting colored trashbags to make the sub’s homecoming lei with (no, I’m not making that up). The truly bizarre pattern, though, is the Pirate’s Jacket. I’ve got to provide a photo of this one. You can’t understand it just by being told. You have to see it:
I know that it was designed that way on purpose. I think it’s supposed to be edgy. Perhaps done in minature on a member of Lady Linoleum’s VLA, it would be. Perhaps even done in black or scarlet and worn by a teenager with too-pale makeup and a well-developed sense of fashion irony, it would be.

But on a normal adult, as everyday wear? How do I put this properly? NO. It looks for all the world as if the maker was rather heavily into certain mind-altering substances while crocheting. Friends don’t let friends crochet drunk.

(Note that the model looks much happier wearing the South of the Border Jacket.)

I’m having a hard time picking out a favorite, though. It’s a tie amongst the Milan Dress, the Colorwaves Topper (though the link to pattern corrections kind of scares me), and the Hemp Flowers Necklace, which I’d never actually wear but love the very idea of. If you’re even later to the party than I am and haven’t seen the magazine yet, the whole list of projects can be seen here.

Part Two: Linda’s First Sentence

Linda said her first sentence today, at a little more than 20 months. And it was actually a complete sentence. Also, Linda being Linda, it was a demand. It is here because it involves crochet. She brought her dance outfit over to me, held it out, and said “Put it on me!” I about fell over. She’s not normally very articulate, and so this did sound a bit garbled. But it was a perfect sentence! Bobbie’s first sentences were two and three word things that sounded like something a caveman would say.

Part Three: Rob’s Coming Along Well

This is obviously still a work-in-progress, but it’s nice enough that I have to show it off. Rob has decided to make a toddler blanket for his first project.

I posted the problems he was initially having at Crochetville, so this is my official on-the-blog thanks. He is still insisting on using a G hook with his worsted weight yarn, but he seems to have lost the habit of purposely making things small and tighter than they have to be. The slightly warped look to this I think is more a feature of how I laid it out than anything else. It’s a very nice square, and looking at it you can’t see the total look of terrified confusion that crossed his face when I initially tried to explain the concept of double crochet to him.

He’s doing well reading symbol patterns. They make more sense to him than the written ones. Initially he was working on a normal granny square, and then I went upstairs to take a nap (pregnant women: nap when you can). Came down two hours later, and he had the beginnings of this. Found the pattern in the book I was using to try to go over the granny square with him, decided he liked it better, and started in on it. He’s a lot smarter than he gives himself credit for.

Part Four: Thrift Store Score

I’m pretty sure I mentioned this in a previous post. The thrift store we go to here has a whole rack of thread and yarn. We each bought a package the last time we were there. This is what I got for 99 cents:

The package is marked as J & P Coats Pearl LusterSheen knit & crochet yarn. I don’t see it on the Coats & Clark website, so I’m thinking it may well be discontinued. This was the only package of it they had. Not sure what I’m going to make out of it. There is neither weight nor yardage marked on the package, so I really don’t know what I’ve got enough for. But I love the metallic black.