Friday, November 23, 2012

Quick diagonal scarf in my new favorite stitch

I just finished this scarf for local yarn shop, Golden Fleece, using a new yarn they have:

Schoppel Gradient scarf to crochet

1 ball Schoppel Gradient (280 yards, worsted weight yarn)           
8mm crochet hook

Chain (ch) 3. 

Part I - Increasing:
Row (r) 1:  (Single crochet (sc) 1, ch1, sc1) all in 3rd ch from hook.
R2 (Increase Row):  ch2, turn (turning chain made).  Sc in last sc of previous row (pr r).  (ch1, sc1 in next ch space) across row, ending with (ch1, sc1) in turning chain space of pr r.

Repeat Increase Row until there are 15 sc across row (13 rows total).

Part II - Holding steady:
Next row (Decrease Row):  ch1, turn (turning chain made).  Skip 2 sc from previous row, sc in next ch space.  (ch1, sc1 in next ch space) across row, ending with (ch1, sc1) in turning chain space of pr r. (14 sc across row.)

Repeat Increase and Decrease rows until the piece is about 66 inches long.  There should be a few yards of yarn left.

Part III - Decreasing:
Ending the scarf:  From here on, do only the Decrease row, until there is 1sc in the last row.  Finish off.

Tuck in loose ends.  Enjoy.

Geek notes:
1.      The sample scarf came out to be about 67 inches long and 5.5 inches wide, for a total of 368 square inches, with a few yards left over.  Theoretically, then, I could have made:
          *  An 8’ wide scarf or cowl that would be 46 inches long/around by having the rows be 22/21 sc across, or
          *   Two short (36” long) scarves that are 5 inches wide each (13/12 sc across row).

2.     To figure how much yarn you need to decrease to finish, figure out how much yarn makes 1 row – stitch 1 increase row, then carefully take it out and measure how much yarn you used in that row.  Multiply that by HALF the number of sc in that row.  Then tie a little knot at that point.  When you get to the knot, undo it, and start decreasing for Part III.

3.     To figure out how far a skein can go, you can do a little figuring at the end of Part I if you have a food scale.  Figure the square inches of the triangle you have (short side x short side) divided by 2, _____ (A).  Weigh the triangle you have, _____ (B).  Notice the total weight of the ball of yarn (100 grams or 3.5 ounces).  Then solve for X:

B/A = 100 or 3.5/X

For a narrow scarf, with just a few stitches and such a big gauge, the numbers can be a little squishy, so don’t bet your life on it in this case.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Double-Pointed Needles

I love working with double-pointed needles.  Recently, one of my size 3 (3.25 mm) needles broke.  I loved that set, but it only had four needles, so a broken needle was a serious problem.  It was a vintage celluloid set, probably made in the 1930's--similar to plastic.  Since I was in the middle of a project, replacing those needles was a priority.

I generally don't like modern plastic needles, because I haven't had very good experiences with their points.  Either the tapered part is too long, or the points are too blunt.  Bamboo is nice, but it's expensive, and you run a fairly high risk of buying needles that snag.  With larger needles you can just sand down any rough spots, but that doesn't work very well on small sizes.  I've had similar problems with other woods.  Metal is usually slippery and heavy and falls out of one's project easily.  Really, I didn't want to put a lot of money into something unless I was sure I'd like it.

The other problem was that going to the yarn store is an out-of-the-way trip for me to a part of town that has horrible parking and a lot of traffic during the day.  With two small children in tow, I was not looking forward to it.

Ultimately, I decided to go to Walmart first (I needed to go there anyway for a couple other things) and see if they had some cheap needles that would get me through the rest of the project.

To my surprise, they did!  The needles were metal needles from Boye, and I anticipated that they would try to fall out of my work, but they would at least get the job done.  I could always buy something nicer later.

Imagine my pleasure when I started using the needles and they were almost as light as my old celluloid ones!  Boye's needles are aluminum coated in paint, making them very light-weight and not at all slick. My previous experience had been with steel needles that were coated in paint or nickel to make them extra slippery.  I love my new needles!

Sometimes the cheap option is also the best choice.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Crochet Repair

Repairing handmade fabric can be very satisfying because the results can seem miraculous, which is very cool.  How you repair a fabric depends on how it is made, including the scale, intricacy, and fiber content.  Here are some thoughts about repairing crochet-thread pieces.

Not that long ago, a large doily (about 36" across) came to me with some damage caused by a candle that fell over.  It looked pretty scary, and its owner was afraid that repair was impossible.

1.  This piece was made from very standard #10 crochet cotton, so matching material was easy to find.

2.  The first thing is to clean it, to make sure the color of the piece really is what I thought it was.  Boiling it in water for a few minutes removed the wax that was in the fibers.  Then I soaked it overnight in Biz to clean it. That did not remove the stains, but about half an hour in a weak bleach solution did the trick so the whole piece was its original white when the project was done.

These are all things you can do with cotton that is stitched at a fairly firm gauge.  Not recommended for other fibers or very loosely stitched fabrics.

3.  Crochet patterns are fairly easy to read, once you train your eye to see the stitches.  Doilies are almost always repeats of patterns.  This one is a combination of pineapples and Solomon's Knot stitches, with 11 repeats around.  With so much of it intact, recreating the bits where the holes are was fairly simple.

4.  This pattern is worked in the round, so here is the question:  the damage is over a number of rounds of stitching.  Is it better to take out all the rounds, or just restitch the bits where the holes are?  Restitching the whole thing is a lot of work, but it can be done with a single strand of yarn, minimizing loose ends to tuck in.  Restitching just where the holes are involves making short rows of stitches and tucking in the loose ends for each row.

The nice thing about thread-work is that the fabric is so visually complex that some tucked in loose ends here and there, especially in the small scale of thread (even #10), don't show up.  So working short rows and tucking in the loose ends was the way to go.

This project went fairly quickly, once I had the time to sit down and focus on it.  It came out fairly well, and its owner was pleased.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


If you are thinking about learning to use double-pointed needles (dpns), but intimidated by the prospect of socks, consider mittens.

Mittens are very easy to make, and take much less time than socks.  I prefer knitted mittens to store-bought because they are more flexible than the poofy, padded kind and don't snag they way commercial knitted mittens do.  Mittens for children are especially convenient and useful.

Many people first experience dpns when decreasing at the top of a hat, but I don't think that use is a very good preparation for projects made entirely on dpns.  Like so many things in knitting, the easiest way to learn is simply to jump in and try.  Hats are usually knit out of heavier yarns than socks, mittens, or gloves, which means they use larger needles.  Those larger needles are naturally heavier than the needles used for most dpn projects, and that weight is inconvenient.

Really, any needle larger than a US 8 (5mm) will want to slide out of your stitches when you use dpns. Mittens are perfect for getting comfortable with smaller yarns and needles, as well as the accompanying smaller gauge.

As cool weather approaches (not to mention opportunities for gift-giving!), consider making a pair of mittens for yourself or a child you know.


When I worked in a yarn shop, there was a young mom who came in occasionally to buy yarn and a pattern.  She always made something for her little daughter.  There was one visit that was longer than usual, because we had difficulty finding the pattern she wanted:  a child's vest.

She wanted to make a pullover sweater vest for her little girl to wear to preschool.  The lady explained that she had recently discovered what a practical garment vests are for small children.  In the fall and winter, children need a sweater or some such to keep them warm as they play or work outside, but play and "work" (for a preschooler) are messy propositions.  Children have difficulty rolling up their sleeves effectively, and playing in dirt or doing finger-painting are recipes for messy sleeves.  This lady's practical solution was to have her daughter wear a vest to school.

She had been able to find a couple vests at the store, but such garments are not particularly fashionable, especially for girls.  Naturally, she turned to making a few vests herself--if she could find a pattern.  We did, eventually, find a suitable pattern, and she went home happy.  But the practicality of this customer's thought stuck with me, and I tucked the idea away in my mind for the future.

This fall, I'm making vests for my boys.  I've finished one for DS1, and he loves it.  I'll start one for DS2 in a few days.

In the meantime, if you're looking for something to make for a little person, give a vest a try.  It's practical and easy, and it's a lot faster than making a full sweater.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Recent stitchings

Oh dear, it has been over two months since the last post.  Sometimes life is like that.  But I have been stitching quite a bit lately.  And my most satisfying versatile stitch right now is a basic pattern stitch using single crochet and chain stitches.

As an aside:  Many knitters know that (k1, p1) is a really handy combination:  it makes a good ribbing (that looks like stockinette on both sides and lies flat) if you "knit the knits and purl the purls."  The same combination also makes Seed Stitch, which also lies flat and is a pleasant change from the flatness of stockinette, and looks the same on both sides, where you "knit the purls and purl the knits."

Back to topic:  (sc1, ch1, skip1) is a handy combination.  If you single into the singles and chain over the chains, you end up with what I call Light Single Crochet.  If you single into the chain spaces and chain over the single crochets, you have a Chain One Net Stitch.  Now gauge can vary quite a bit from one crocheter to another because crochet is fairly complex at a basic level.  But for me, this stitch has a fairly square gauge.  That means I can use it to explore some of the ideas that Elizabeth Zimmerman explored with garter stitch (like the Baby Surprise Jacket).  Either way, the fabric is a bit open - you don't want to wear it with nothing underneath (unless you are making a statement, but that is another issue), but it also has a lot of 'give' to it - almost like it stretches.  With a fairly square gauge, it also means I can work it on the diagonal to make a rectangle -- increasing or decreasing one pattern stitch each row.

 This sample shows the ch-1 net stitch on the diagonal, making a nice square, and then edged in plain single crochet, working 1 stitch per row end.

This is the stitch I am using to make a rectangle-based sweater like the ones currently popular being knitted in a 1x1 rib.  Theoretically, it should work.

Explicit details about this stitch:

Ch-1 Net Stitch, on the diagonal:  Ch3, slip st to form a ring.  Ch2, sc in ring, ch1, sc in same space.  Row 2 (Increase row):  Ch2 to turn (you might want to ch1, depending on how firm or loose you want the edge to be.  If you tend to make tight chain stitches, you might prefer to ch2.).  Sc in last sc of pr row.  (ch1, sc in next ch space) across, ending with sc in turning ch from previous row.  Repeat this row for pattern.  When you want to start decreasing, make the Decrease Row like this:  ch1, turn.  Skip 2sc, sc in next ch space.  (ch1, sc in next ch space) across, ending with sc in turning chain space of pr row.

To make a rectangle:  Work increase rows only until the piece is as wide as the short edge of the rectangle along the row ends.  Then alternate between Increase and Decrease rows until the longer row-end side is as long as you want.  Then work only Decrease rows until all stitches are worked off.

So that is my favorite stitch for right now.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Flower and Leaf

Computer card games can be really addictive.  I have managed to go almost two weeks without playing, with the result that I am crocheting a lot more - washcloths, sweaters, shawls, and even some fiddly stuff, like this carnation and leaf.  The card games are still on my desktop, and I can see them, but now I have to make a conscious choice about what I want to spend my time doing.  As almost anyone knows, this is not as simple as it looks. The flower and leaf, on the other hand, are remarkably easy to make, look clever, and take not very much yarn at all.  Whatever yarn you use, it is good to use a hook that will make a fairly firm stitch, and not too loose.  The crisp definition of the leaf, especially, wants a firm gauge.  A loose gauge makes a more frilly flower, where the loopiness of the stitch competes with the loopiness of the gauge.

About the flower:  This is made from a hank of embroidery floss, using a 3.5mm hook.  Ch3, slip stitch in the last ch to form a ring.  (ch3, sc in the ring) at least 6 times, or as many times as you can squeeze in.  I did 11 in this case and had enough in the one hank of embroidery floss.  The fatter the yarn, the fewer chain loops you will have.  

Continuing in a coil, *ch3, sc in next ch space, (ch3, sc in same space) 5 times.  Repeat from * around one time.  Ch3, slip stitch in the starting ring on the underside to position your yarn to use in sewing the flower in place.  Finish off.  A friend of mine made these instead of pompoms on hats for her granddaughters.

Now to go with that flower, you might want a leaf, especially if you happen to have some non-flower color, like green or black (as in this case), and not enough to make a flower.  The easiest way, for me, is to use foundation stitches.  That way, I can make the leaf as long as I want without having to plan ahead.  One version: Ch2, fsc, fhdc, fdc, ftr, fdc, fhdc, fsc.  Ch1 (optional: sl st in same base ch, ch1) and rotate piece to work back along the bottom of the stitches just made.  Sc in base of last fsc made.  Hdc, dc, tr, dc, hdc, sc all along the row, ending up where you started. Sl st in starting chain to finish off.  Leave a tail of a few inches to sew leaf in place.  For a short, stubby leaf, skip the dc, tr parts.

If you really don't like foundation stitches, ch6.  Sc in the 2nd chain from the hook.  Working along the chain row, hdc1, dc1, hdc1, sc1.  That should get you to the end of the row.  Ch1, sl st in the same st, ch1, and rotate the piece to continue along the remaining loops back to the beginning:  sc1, hdc1, dc1, hdc1, and sc1 in the last st.  Slip st into the chain at the end to have a little closure to finish off.  Leave a tail of a few inches to sew the leaf in place.  For a longer leaf, ch8, and work up to a treble before going back down to a single. Of course, there are lots of variations, but it can be satisfying to find something simple that does the trick just fine.

When I run across a little more of a flower color that looks good with this bright red, I will add one or two more flowers to fill out the pin - that way the pin backing won't show.  It is just so easy to do.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Variations on a Rectangle

Suddenly I have seen several sweater designs based on rectangles.  

This one, for example, is
a 6-foot scarf, about 20 inches wide,
worked in a lacy-kind-of-entrelac stitch.
The short ends were sewn together to make a tube,
then ribbing was added on one side to make a neck,
and on the other side to make two cuffs and the lower edge ribbing.
I saw it in a store for about $30.  The pattern stitch and the concept both seems really cool, so I bought it (and took the ribbing all undone).  The shape was not particularly wearable - there is no underarm sleeve length, but we're talking about the idea, here.

Then recently, a friend described another sweater made from a similar rectangular tube:  on one open side, mark a space for an arm opening,
then sew a bit for a shoulder,
leaving an opening for the neck.
On the other open side, mark a space for the other arm opening on the opposite side,
then sew a bit for a side seam,
leaving an opening for the lower edge.
Using the undone ribbing yarn from the store-bought sweater, I crocheted in a ch-2 net stitch to add to the two open sides to add width, and ended up with this:

And finally, a local yarn shop offered a kit for a rectangle pullover with dolman sleeves.  The pattern calls for knitting it in a 1x1 rib, but I will most likely crochet it in a ch-2 net stitch.  The kit should come in in a couple of weeks.

I like the idea of making things from simple shapes, especially if they work.  But even if they don't work, starting with a simple shape leads to understanding how shaping can make really good sense.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Kitchen Kloths

Interesting that the subject should turn to boring stitching.  I happened to have a skein of worsted weight acrylic left over from mending an afghan.  Being acrylic, it is a little scratchy, so I made some of my favorite scrubby things for washing dishes.  Each is rather small (5-7 inches across), so it can be squeezed dry with one hand -- wringing out acrylic can be uncomfortably squeaky.  I'd make them bigger if I were using cotton.    Used a 5mm hook.

1.  SC Circle.  Ch3, sl st to join in a ring.  Rnd 1: Sc6 into the ring.  Place marker in last sc to mark the end of the round.  Rnd 2: Continuing in a coil:  sc2 in each st around (12 sc).  Move marker up each round.  Rnd 3:  sc2 in each st around (24 sc).  Rnd 4:  sc 1 in each st around.  Rnd 5:  sc2 in each st around (48 sts).  Rnds 6-8:  work even - sc1 in each st around.

For a smaller circle: Rnd 9: (sc in next st, sk1, 5dc in next st, sk1) around.  End with sl st in first sc of round.  This is an increase round, working 6 stitches in the current round over 4 stitches in the previous round.  Rnd 10:  ch2, dc2 in same st (half shell made).  (sk 2dc, sc in next dc, sk 2 dc, 5dc in next sc) around, ending with 2dc in same stitch as starting half shell, sl st in top of ch2.  Fasten off.  Remove marker.  Tuck in loose ends.
For a larger circle:  Rnd 9: (sc2 in each st around (96 sts).  Work even for 7 more rounds.  Sl st in the next 2 stitches to smooth the edge.  Fasten off.  Remove marker.  Tuck in loose ends.

2.  Heavy SC Hexagon.  Ch3, sl st to join in a ring.  Rnd 1: (ch1, sc1 in ring) 6 times.  Place marker in last st to mark end of round. Rnd 2: Continuing in a coil, (sc, ch, sc) in each sc around (skipping the chain stitches).  This sets up the 6 corners.  Move marker to last stitch made in marked stitch each round.  Rnd 3:  *(sc, ch, sc) in next sc (this is an increase, and you do this 6 times each round, always in the first sc of the increase of the previous round), skip the ch, sc in next sc, ch1. Repeat from * around.  Rnd 4: *(sc, ch sc) in next sc, skip the ch, sc in next sc, ch1, sc in next sc, skip the next ch.  Repeat from * around (6 times total).  Rnd 5:  *(sc, ch sc) in next sc, skip the ch, sc in next sc, ch1, sc in next 2 sc, skipping the ch in between, ch1.  Repeat from * around (6 times total).

This sounds really complex.  The stitch is (sc2, ch1), but staggering the stitches in each round so the ch1 is between the 2 sc in the current row.  Always sc into a sc.  Never stitch into a chain (except for the corner/increases).  It makes a dense fabric that is basically single crochet but does not stretch the way sc usually does -- the chain stitches keep the single crochets in place.  Start each side with (sc, ch, sc) to increase in the first sc of the increase in the round before.  Each side ends with either ch1 or sc, and that is just fine.  This sample has 9 rounds all together.  When yours is as big as you want, slip stitch in the next 2 stitches to smooth the edge, fasten off and tuck in the loose ends.

3.  Bag stitch Triangle.  Ch3, sl sto to join in a ring.  Rnd 1: (ch1, sc1 in ring) 6 times.  Place marker in last st to mark end of round.  Rnd 2:  continuing in a coil, (ch1, sc1 in next ch1 space) 6 times.  Do not move marker just yet.  Rnd 3: *Ch1, (sc, ch1, sc - 1 increase made) in sc below next ch. Ch1, sc in sc below next ch.  Repeat from * around - 3 increase points made.  Move marker from rnd 1 to last st made into that sc.  Rnd 4: ch1, (sc, ch, sc) into middle ch of increase in previous row, then (ch1, sc into sc below next ch) across the side to next increase point.  Repeat rnd 4 for pattern for desired size of cloth (4-6 inches across is a good size, but that is just a suggestion, moving the marker every 2nd round, when you stitch into the marked stitch.  Finish off with 2 slip stitches, cut yarn, remove marker, and tuck in loose ends.

4.  Crazy stitch Square.  This is worked on the diagonal, starting at a corner (lower left in this case) and ending at the opposite corner.  To start, increase:  Row 1: Ch5.  Sk 2 ch, dc in next 3 ch to end row.  Row 2: ch5, turn.  Sk 2 ch, dc in next 3 ch. Sl st in ch2 space of pr row.  Ch2, dc3 in same ch2 space.  Row 3:  ch5, turn.  Sk 2 ch, dc in next 3 ch. *Sl st in next ch2 space of pr row.  Ch2, dc3 in same ch2 space.  Repeat from * across.  Repeat row 3 for pattern until the 2 sides are desired size of square - the sample has 7 rows before starting to decrease.  Then decrease:  Row 1: ch1, turn.  Sl st to next ch-2 space.  *Ch2, dc3 in same space.  Sl st in next ch2 space of pr row.  Repeat from * across, ending up with one less block than in previous row.  Repeat this row until only 1 block remains.  Ch1, turn, sl st to the corner.  Fasten off and tuck in loose ends.

Washcloths or dishcloths or coasters are portable, no-stress ways to meditate on some nice stitches, keep your hands busy for a few minutes without having to think too hard.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Boring Stitching

As you've probably noticed, there isn't much going on here in terms of posting.  One of the main reasons for that is that my needlework really is boring.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my knitting and crocheting, but most of it is based on what my household needs rather than experimenting with design ideas.

I make socks when my boys need socks (need to get on that soon for the little one--he needs socks for winter!).  Right now, I'm making a lot of blankets.  My older son needs an additional blanket for the winter, and my younger son will also need a blanket when he switches from his crib to a real bed.  And my charity project is currently a full-sized afghan.  Eventually, I'll need to make some tops for myself.  I had several that never fit right and several more that were getting threadbare.  So now my functional wardrobe is down to a minimum.  I also need to darn my knit socks before I need them this winter.  If I actually get the hang of making those repairs I might even post on it!

The point is that there often isn't much to say about needlework when it is based on function.  That's not to say that it's boring (ok, making an endless succession of squares is boring, but that's beside the point).  The interest, however, lies in the execution.  Maybe I'll use a new yarn or stitch, or I'll experiment with a different technique in constructing my project.  That's how I keep the work interesting, but it still all boils down to making a blanket or socks or a top; and when you focus on the satisfaction of filling a need, those details pale in comparison.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Customizing Patterns

One of the biggest and most satisfying leaps in both knitting and crocheting is that from pattern following to pattern creating.  It's also the most challenging for most needleworkers.  But, as with most things in knitting and crochet, making your own patterns is not all that hard.  The hard part is the change in perspective that makes this transition possible.

One of the first steps in the transition from pattern to improv is learning how to alter a pattern--specifically, how to alter the pattern stitch or type of yarn.  In other words, learning how to take a basic pattern and adapt it to other gauges. 

Your gauge is how many stitches and rows you have per inch (or 10 centimeters).  Those numbers (which are used in the pattern to decide how many stitches you start and end with and when and where you increase or decrease) depend on a wide variety of factors:
  • Pattern stitch
  • Needle/Hook size
  • Yarn
  • Personality and stress level of the knitter/crocheter
  • And sometimes even the material the hook or needle is made of!
With so many variables, it can sometimes be impossible to achieve the gauge called for in the pattern, so learning to compensate for differences is just as important a skill for pattern following as it is for varying the pattern.  Here's how:
  1.  Find the gauge information in the pattern you want to use.  I'd recommend learning how to do this with a basic pattern--no fancy textures or shapes.  As an example, we'll pretend that the pattern's gauge is 5 stitches per inch.
  2. Make a swatch of the yarn and stitch you want to use and find your gauge.  Again, as an example, we'll say your gauge is 4 stitches per inch.
  3. Calculate how many inches across the starting row will be when worked according to the written pattern.  For example, if you start with 100 stitches at 5 stitches per inch, then the starting measurement is 20 inches (100/5=20)
  4. Multiply the number of inches in the starting row by the stitch gauge you want to use.  In this case, that would be 20x4=80.  Your starting number of stitches is going to be somewhere around 80 (you may have to add a few stitches for it to work with your pattern stitch).
  5. If your pattern has multiple sizes, look for a size that starts with the number of stitches you want.  If so, you can follow instructions for that other size. If not, you will have to proceed according to measurements (which you can calculate as you go).
This process can also be useful for changing the ultimate size of the pattern you want to use.  For example, if I want to follow a sweater pattern that calls for 5 stitches per inch, but I want to make a size larger than any of the instructions given, I can use a larger yarn (say 4 stitches per inch) and instructions for one of the given sizes--changing vertical measurements as needed.

In general, row gauge is less important than stitch gauge.  Usually shaping will occur at regular intervals or when the piece measures a specific length, meaning that you can account for differences in row gauge without as much math as stitch gauge.  For example, if a pattern tells you to decrease every third row and calls for a row gauge of 6 rows per inch, you know that you need to decrease every half inch.

Whether you are trying to account for a personal difference in gauge that you can't overcome or trying to follow a pattern in a different yarn or pattern stitch, playing with the numbers is an important part of learning how to participate in the design process.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sources of Inspiration

Filet crochet is a fun and simple way to create designs and pictures in crochet--especially in lace. If you enjoy or want to try a filet pattern, but are having trouble finding a design you like, any design expressed as a graph will work.

Fair isle patterns for knitting are a good resource for abstract and geometric designs. Practical Crocheter has done lovely things with argyle patterns!

Bicolor cross stitch charts are another good resource.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Thinking about crocheted socks a little more

Recently, Interweave Crochet has featured crocheted socks, especially a design very similar to the Better Mousetrap Sock that was in their Knits magazine a few years ago. That pattern intrigued me when it came out, and not long ago, I made one sock each out of the same yarn using the Better Mousetrap concept and my own toe-up standard pattern. I rather like the look of the vertical one better. While I prefer the look of the vertical sock, I do not like the process of making it so much -- I had to restart the sock three times before getting the gauge right. Working a sock vertically requires having the gauge right, from the start, or the heel won’t be in the right place. Working the sock from the toe up is much more forgiving because you simply measure and make the hole for the afterthought heel when you get there. Both socks are made with a chain-2 net stitch, using a 3mm hook and Patons sock yarn. On the toe-up sock, I use a more solid stitch for the heel and toe: alternating single and double crochets, working the single into the double of the previous round, and the double into the single. The fabric for the two socks looks different because the toe-up is worked in rounds, and the vertical sock is worked in rows.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Standard Body Measurements

Following a pattern for a crocheted garment can be tricky because gauge is tricky in crochet. You might match the stitch gauge but not the row gauge. You might want the fabric to be looser or more firm than what you are getting by following the pattern. You might very well be using a different yarn than the pattern indicates. There are lots of factors.

So, knowing what kinds of measurements are involved can be really useful. And it turns out that there are size charts out there that include a lot more information than just the bust/chest measurement that we usually depend on when buying ready-made garments. The Craft Yarn Council has pages on their website with this information. Here are some links:

The kinds of information shown on this page and listed in the body charts


and there are charts for women and men, too)

give you a clue of what kinds of measurements to look for, for example, with making doll clothes, too.

These charts are handy tools in my information kit.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Flat tube purse idea

Being a girl, I am always searching for the perfect purse concept. For a while, I really liked an origami-style structure, starting with a flat piece that I folded and stitched into a tube, then added gussets and straps. The bottom of the purse was not as sturdy as I would like, though. Then I noticed that a number of interesting designs are basically some manipulation of a flat tube, or envelope.

I started with a sample with a kit for a felted purse. The yarn is worsted weight, and I used a 5mm hook.

Once I had a flat tube (stitched in a coil, in what I call bag stitch because it is sturdy and not stretchy, which also works for plackets on sweaters), I formed a base by seaming the bottom corners. This base is asymmetrical.

This left an open tube that was a bit goofy, so I basted that shut on the outside and inside before running it through the washer and dryer for felting.

I wanted to see how much the wool would shrink/felt, and the answer turned out to be, “A lot.” Now I know. But it is really sturdy and essentially waterproof.

Made a couple of flowers from the leftover yarn and added the zipper that came with the original kit, and the result is both useful in my everyday purse and also a meditation of what I want to try next.
For my next variation, I am using a DK weight yarn and a 4mm hook for an everyday purse.