Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Quick Gift

I know, broomstick lace got a bad rap in the 1970's, when it was combined with worsted weight acrylic in garish colors. For example:

But it doesn't have to be that way. Broomstick lace, when used with crochet cotton makes a quick, easy, and lovely lace:

It also makes a simple, sort of Art Deco edging. As a quick and easy gift, it makes an excellent bookmark.

Use size 5 crochet cotton and a hook to match, and make a chain that's about 7 inches long and a multiple of 5 (60 or 65 work well). Work one row of single crochet. Then, using a size 13 knitting needle, draw up a loop in each stitch across. Inserting your hook into 5 loops at a time, work 5 single crochets into each set of loops across. You'll end up with the same number of stitches you started with. Then work in crab stitch around the whole thing. To make the bookmark look really finished, weave a piece of half-inch ribbon through the lace.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Baby socks

Baby feet get cold really easily, so it's important to keep them covered. Besides baby socks are a really easy and inexpensive gift that's also stinkin' cute. Unfortunately, babies excel at kicking them off--usually within five minutes of having had them put on. But I have two pairs of socks I made for my little guy that stay on pretty reliably, and they both have cuffs.

The trick is to have a cuff that folds over the ribbing to prevent it from stretching out of shape. The easiest thing to do is to start the sock with the ribbing, follow it with a round of purling to create a crease where the cuff will fold, and then do stockinette for the same number of rounds as the ribbing. Once the sock is complete, fold the ribbing down into the cuff and tack it in place.

You can also start with the stockinette tube (or any other pattern stitch, for that matter), do a round of purling, and then do the ribbing. This way you don't have to sew anything, because the cuff folds out. You just have to do the cuff inside out.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Stitches West

Practical Crocheter and I went to the Stitches West market on the 28th. While we didn't get there until the afternoon, it was nice to walk around the market, see vendors we look forward to seeing every year and a few new faces as well.

We always enjoy looking at the unusual offerings of Habu. I particularly enjoy working with their Silk and Steel blend. It adds a beautiful, if subtle, texture to lace weight mohair, and gives thin yarns some substance and weight. While a lot of Habu's yarns are just silk, they also specialize in unusual fibers, such as kenaf and pineapple. It's always fun to see what new things they are experimenting with this year.

We also make a point of going to the Newton's Yarn Country booth. They carry mill ends of a wide variety of yarns, so one can always find a good deal.

But what really makes stitches fun is seeing all of the hand dye companies. The colors are almost overwhelming, and you get to see small companies represented that you don't usually find at your lys.