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.