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.