Saturday, July 25, 2009

Alternate edging for wrist warmers




If you are using bigger yarn -- like worsted weight, with a 5mm hook -- this version of shell stitch may make finger holes that are too big. In this case, use: (2dc, ch1, 2dc) for the shell stitch. To join on the last edge, use (2dc, sc1 in ch space of shell on opposite side, 2dc) to join.



Here is an alternate edging where it does not matter whether you have an even or odd number of rows in the square:



Ruffled edging: Ch5, sc in the middle of the block, **ch5, sc between this block and the next block, ch5, sc in the middle of the next block, repeat from ** to the corner, ending with ch5, sc in the corner. Repeat this side for 3 sides. Do pretty much the same thing on the 4th side, EXCEPT: instead of ch5, do (ch2, sc in middle of corresponding loop on opposite side, ch2).



Then finish off.



For a dressier look, try using a smaller yarn/hook, like fingering weight (baby or sock weight)and a size E hook or so. You would still be making a 6-inch square (maybe 6-1/2 inches) then edging it. The thing is that the holes created at the end by joining the shell stitches will be smaller.

Crazy Stitch, two ways

This is a stitch I first learned from Victorian Crochet by Weldon and Company, with a new introduction by Forence Weinstein, published by Dover in 1974. The entire Weldon series has since been bought by Interweave Press, the publishers of Knits magazine.

The stitch caught my eye because I remembered a shawl made using a checker-board-type stitch in the “Anne of Green Gables” series on TV (wonderful series). At first I thought the stitch was a two row repeat: [ch3 (counts as 1dc), turn, dc1, ch1, sk 1, (3dc, ch1, sk 1) across, and ending with 2dc], followed by a row of [ch1, turn, sc, ch1, (sc in the ch1 space and ch3 over the 3dc) across, ending with ch3, sc1, ch1, sc1].

That makes a nice enough fabric, but it is a two-row repeat, which involves more thinking than a one-row repeat.

Then I saw this stitch, and realized that a somewhat loose fabric in this stitch would look similar from a distance. And it is a one-row repeat. Not only that, it is easy to vary depending on the yarn you are using and on what kind of fabric you want to end up with -- lacier or thicker. Plus it works great on the diagonal, which is really good when you have a limited amount of yarn and you don’t want leftovers. And who wouldn't want to try a stitch they called 'crazy' over a hundred years ago?

What this stitch does is make a row of little blocks, kind of like micro-entrelac. Here is one way to do it, on the diagonal:

First Way - On the diagonal -- this is the stitch for the Wrist Warmers recently posted.

R1: Ch4, dc in 3rd and 4th ch from hook, leaving a ch-2 space. The two dc make a little block.
R2: Ch4, turn, dc in 3rd and 4th ch from hook to make another block. Sl st in ch-2 space from previous row -- this anchors the corner of the current block. Ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make another block. At this point it looks like a little heart, or like three little blocks.
R3: Ch4, turn, dc in 3rd and 4th ch from hook to make a new block. Sl st in last ch-2 space from previous row to anchor the block. Ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make a new block. Sl st in next ch-2 space to anchor. Ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make a new block.
Pattern Row: R4: Ch4, turn, dc in 3rd and 4th ch from hook to make a new block. Sl st in last ch-2 space from previous row to anchor the block. (Ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make a new block. Sl st in next ch-2 space to anchor) across. End with ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make a new block -- there is no place to anchor this, so this is the end of the row.

Repeat R4 until the piece is as big as you want. Makes a great triangle. Notice that the two short edges of the triangle are really straight.

If you are making an afghan on the diagonal, you can make a rectangle by keeping increasing on one side and starting to decrease on the other. If that sounds too much like math, just make a square and start decreasing when you are halfway through your yarn.

Here is how to decrease:
R1: Ch1, turn. Sl st between the 2 dc and in the ch-2 space to get to the corner of the little block. (Ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make a new block. Sl st in next ch-2 space to anchor) across. Repeat this row until only 1 block is left. Finish off, or edge as desired.

What is crazy about this stitch is that if you look at the fabric, half the stitches seem to be going one way (left to right), and the other half are going the other way (up and down).

Second Way - Rows: This way has a more traditional feel to it. You make a long chain, make each row as a bunch of blocks, each anchored with a slip stitch, and each row has the same number of little blocks. This makes a zigzag edge along all edges.


Here’s how: Loosely chain a length as long as you want the piece to be, plus about 20 percent -- the pattern stitch draws in a bit. For afghans, I usually do not count stitches, let alone chain stitches. Too easy to miscount, too easy to be off in the first row by not skipping the right number of chains at one point or another. But if you want to count, that is just fine, too. This pattern as given here is worked over a multiple of 5 stitches.

Setup row: Row 1: Dc1 in 3rd and 4th ch from hook to make 1 block. Skip 2 ch, sl st 1 in next ch to anchor this block. *Ch2. Dc1 in next 2 ch. Skip 2 ch, sl st in next ch to anchor this block.* Repeat from * to * across the chain, ending with a sl st to anchor the last block. Trim any excess chains, leaving a tail of a few inches so you can tuck in the loose end.


You may want to count how many blocks (repeats) you have in this first row, just to get oriented. That way, if things look a bit off later on, you can count repeats and see if that is the problem.


Pattern row: Row 2: Ch 4, turn. Dc2 starting in the 3rd ch from the hook to make 1 block. Sl st in the ch space of the last block of the previous row to anchor the corner of this block. *Ch2, dc2 in same ch space. Sl st in next ch space.* Repeat from * to * across, ending with sl st in last ch space. Repeat this row for the pattern.
 
Variations:
1. For a more open pattern, do SC1 instead of Slip Stitch to anchor each block.
2. If DC2 seems a bit skimpy, do DC3 instead. Working in Rows, that makes it a 7-stitch repeat and you would ch3 at the start of each block. It makes a more open fabric if you chain 3. You can also chain 2 but work 3 dc into each space. Your choice.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Wrist warmers to crochet

The stitch for this is a variation on Crazy Stitch from Victorian Crochet, published by Dover in 1974, with an introduction by Florence Weinstein. It is a handy stitch.

Wrist warmers - a basic pattern

Suggested yarn/hook: dk yarn with 4mm hook

The idea is to make a square about 6 inches on each side, then edge it in shell stitch, joining two opposite sides to make holes for fingers, and for decoration. There are different ways to wear this. But to get started:

R1: Ch4, dc in 3rd and 4th ch from hook, leaving a ch-2 space. This makes a little block.
R2: Ch4, turn, dc in 3rd and 4th ch from hook to make another block. Sl st in ch-2 space from prev row -- this anchors the corner of the current block. Ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make another block. At this point it looks like a little heart, or like three little blocks.
R3: Ch4, turn, dc in 3rd and 4th ch from hook to make a new block. Sl st in last ch-2 space from prev row to anchor the block. Ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make a new block. Sl st in next ch-2 space to anchor. Ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make a new block.
R4: Ch4, turn, dc in 3rd and 4th ch from hook to make a new block. Sl st in last ch-2 space from prev row to anchor the block. (Ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make a new block. Sl st in next ch-2 space to anchor) across. End with ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make a new block -- there is no place to anchor this, so this is the end of the row.

Repeat R4 until the piece measures about 6 inches on each side edge, ending with an even number of rows.

This size fits a lot of hands, but if you want it larger or smaller, this is where you make that decision. Make more rows if you want it bigger; fewer rows to make it smaller. Remember that the edging will add about 2 inches to the width around, so you want the square to be too small to fit around the hand.

Now start decreasing:
R1: Ch1, turn. Sl st between the 2 dc and in the ch-2 space to get to the corner. (Ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make a new block. Sl st in next ch-2 space to anchor) across. Repeat this row until only 1 block is left. Do not finish off.

Edging:
Now make a round of shell stitch around 3 sides of the outside edge. Each shell stitch spans 2 rows -- the reason for the even number of rows. The edging on the 4th side is joined to the edging on the 2nd side to make the holes.

Here is how to work this round:
A slightly different shell stitch: Starting at the point where you finished the square, and working along the outside edge of the piece, *(2dc, ch2, 2dc) in the next space between two blocks. Sc1 in the next space between two blocks to anchor the end of the shell. You should end up ready to make a sc in the corner, but don‘t. Then actually increase at the corner by making (sc, ch1, sc) in the corner. Then repeat from * until 3 sides are done, ending with an increase on the 3rd corner.

On the 4th side, do pretty much the same thing, EXCEPT: do a different shell to join this side to the opposite side: do (2dc, ch1, sc1 in ch space of shell on opposite side, ch1, 2dc) across. End with a sc in the last corner and slip stitch into the top of the first dc of the round. Finish off. Make 2nd the same.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Nothing to do with needlework

I just found this blog through Blogger. It's a craft blog, which normally doesn't interest me, but this one has some really interesting stuff. I especially like the soda pop tab bracelet an the cd photo album.

Color: part 1

I like working with color, especially in crochet. There are so many different ways in crochet to achieve an interesting color design without resorting to fancy techniques. My favorite is striping many colors to achieve an imitation of fairisle in knitting.


Because crocheted stitches dip into the previous row, they don't exactly make straight stripes, meaning that you can achieve the look of colorwork without doing anything other than striping yarns. If you use colors that are of a similar intensity or quality, the resulting stripes mimic fairisle. This is especially so when you use at least four colors, because of the possibilities that become available for color frequency.



In the case of the sample pictured above, I used what Practical Crocheter and I call "sweater stitch" because it makes a nice garment fabric. It consists of (sc 1, ch1, sk1) across in every row over an odd number of stitches (or an even number if worked in the round). In each row the singles are worked in the singles and the chains are worked over the chains. The only drawback is that it stretches significantly over time. In stripes, the rows almost make a ric rac shape.

The sample above was worked in the round, so the right side of the singles is always facing out. When this stitch is worked in stripes in rows, the right and wrong side singles change direction in each row and the wrong side singles show the row below through the stitch.

I think this way of doing it almost looks like a hounds tooth pattern. It also allows for better blending of colors if you want a graded look, because the transitions between colors are less distinct.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

process vs. product

The posting about process and product brings back memories. Someone once described how, in county fairs back in the 1950's needlework was judged by how well the product matched the original idea. A stitcher would actually lose points for adding beads or being more creative, presumably on the idea that adding fanciness was a traditional tactic to compensate for mediocre workmanship. The point of the process was to make something specific that had a place in the larger context of the world, so the quality of workmanship is really what mattered.

Then there was a cultural shift, and the products of the past just didn't hit the mark anymore. No one cared how well you made something that no one wanted or appreciated. The answers of the past did not address the questions of the present. So we started experimenting, and the process became the product ('the medium is the message' is an underlying key of the times).

So we have gone through a generation (or two) of disconnection between the process of making stuff for its own sake and the idea of making stuff with a place in the larger context of the world. (This may be a definition of hobby as opposed to craft or art, but that is subjective.) We ran the significant risk of having people look at the stuff we made and saying, "Ew, why would anyone want to do THAT?" rather than "Ooh, that's a cool concept. I wonder how I can do that better for the stuff I want to make."

And here we are, come full cycle perhaps, starting to look again at the bigger picture, connecting the dots. The knitting and crochet magazines over the past few years seem to pay more attention to techniques. Not every pattern is written for the beginner. We have played with lots of ideas over the last bunch of years, and now we are looking at results. This is a cool time.