Sunday, December 20, 2015
I hope you all have a fantastic holiday. I'm taking a break from the blog for two weeks to spend time with my family and will post next on January 10th in the New Year. I hope you have the best time with your family too and Santa brings you many craft-related gifts!
Sunday, December 13, 2015
- What is the difference between the lama and the alpaca?
- What is alpaca yarn actually like?
- Is alpaca yarn on trend?
Alpaca Frequently Asked Questions by Hill Country Alpacas This farm is just up the road from me in Texas Hill County so I'm putting it on my list to visit.
Ireland's thriving alpaca industry on Olann and This is a brand new just launched online fiber and craft magazine and already a firm favorite.
A definitive guide to raising alpacas in the Modern Farmer I think I'm going to stick to reading this vicariously for now!
Sunday, December 6, 2015
I downloaded the app on a whim a while ago and then forgot about it. Then two weeks ago while I was at my desk, my phone gave a cute little whistle and I started watching Sara Duggan virtual pa from Five In Sac with her magical productivity tip of the day. Sara is a Twitter friend since in a former life she was the super crochet designer momwithahook! I loved seeing her in person and sensing the warmth of her personality in the live broadcast. I found that I could interact too with comments and tap the screen to form little love hearts when I liked something. What an adorable user interface!
Then I discovered that Ravelry has a Periscope group Crafty Periscopers and of course I joined. I went though the thread "periscope usernames - introduce yourself", followed all that I could find and ever since then my phone has been whistling away alerting me to crafty folk's scopes. It's a fantastic distraction. I have discovered a new way to weave in my ends, seen yarn being dyed, learnt about new KALs, seen beautiful project bags, a review of sock knitting pattern books.... etc etc.
The people I'm following can also invite me to live scopes that they are watching so in a snowball fashion I am getting alerts for these too. When will all this fun end? Replays are only available for 24 hours and I'd love to go back and watch some of the more memorable scopes but it's a "live in the moment" kind of app which is no bad thing.
I must admit to having not plucked up the courage to scope myself yet and so my profile page only displays a number 1 by my love heart. (Periscope measures your viewers' hearts and then ranks you.) But I am feeling encouraged by the topic suggestions on the Ravelry group "Weekly prompts". This week's is "how to get out of a creative rut". I certainly feel like this is something I could chatter on about to an audience!
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Last month I followed Vicky Howell's advice to "think small, go big" hooking up a flurry of scarfs and cowls in chunky yarn from my stash for family and friends in the UK. Then I got a little off task with other crochet projects and life in general. Getting side-tracked is inevitable so that's why it's best to start your Christmas crafting very early.
Since I cannot resist a challenge I HAD to crochet a cardigan for National Crochet Cardigan Month responding to a call from a new Ravelry group I've joined Crochet on Ravelry which has almost 27,000 members. Wow! I'm not sure why I hadn't noticed the group before. ON a sidenote, I wonder how many fellow yarn lovers have found themselves sucked down the rabbit hole of pleasant Ravelry diversions?
Of course, given my penchant for granny squares, my cardigan choice was the Granny shrug by Kirsty of KooToYoo cleverly constructed from two granny hexagons. Easy, quick and size as you go - my kind of pattern! I didn't even have time to block it before it's first outing. Anyway, time to go. My poinsettia petals are calling me...
Sunday, November 22, 2015
My theory is that the beauty of the granny square blanket is all about the join. I have chosen a wonderful technique taken from one of my all time favorite books: Connect the Shapes crochet motifs by Edie Eckman. It's a join as you go continuous final round with a flat slip stitch connecting in the adjoining seam and best of all it's incredibly inconspicuous. I enjoy doing it. I never thought I'd say that about joining squares. There is an ever so cute flower in the corner of each join. It's fantastic.
I can date my obsession with granny squares back to two books I received for Christmas a few years ago: Crochet Motifs by Edie Eckman and The Granny Square book by Margaret Hubert. I also had a voucher for yarn that year so I remember buying Cascade 220 in a dozen odd non-matching colors and making huge numbers motifs from the books (there are 219 patterns in total). Looking back now I find this behavior slightly insane because the colors don't match and the sizes vary massively and they have been added to my large bag of "random crochet pieces to make into an amazing freeform creation one day." I wonder if anyone else out there has a bag like this?
Anyway I am happy to report that the group are really enjoying the granny squares mainly because they work up so quickly. One thing we are finding is that the size of the granny squares varies massively depending on each individual's tension so we are combatting this to a small extent by changing the hook size up or down. We cannot readily alter stitches or rows with granny squares as we did with the single crochet squares of our first project. So we are sorting our squares into different size piles at the pre-join stage. It's all fun!
Sunday, November 15, 2015
I didn't actually manage to order part #1 in time or get the limited-issue handcrafted crochet hook but it didn't really matter because I ended up loving #2 Cadha's Celtic Capelet. I was dubious at first about using worsted weight yarn since I prefer lighter-weight accessories but it's just right, cheerful and cute and I am delighted by it. The capelet is worked in one continuous piece from the point of the hood down with an Eternal Knot cable pattern on the back. The knot took me a few attempts to perfect but I did enjoy the challenge.
I can just imagine wearing my red capelet in January in Texas and when I visit family in the UK. The wool, hand-dyed by DragynKnyts Fiber and Dyeworks, is Targhee which is a new one for me. According to the US Targhee Sheep Association, founded in 1951 in Dubois, Idaho these range-raised sheep require minimal human intervention and are hearty enough to withstand the elements while producing high quality wool for market. It's soft enough (I don't like itchy wool) and the semi-tones are just gorgeous. The photo just doesn't do justice to the colorways.
Laurinda's website is ReCrochetions and the two other fiber friends behind this quarterly kit club are Monica Lowe of Craftwich Creations (handcrafted items for fiber lovers) and fiber fiction writer C. Jane Reid. The book is very well written and a real page-turner. It was just the right length - not long enough to distract from working on the pattern. I'm certainly going to be looking out for future crochet kits from these wonderfully talented crafty ladies.
Sunday, November 8, 2015
I recognized two crochet industry rockstars among the contributors which is always a good sign when reading a magazine that you're unfamiliar with. Doris Chan and Carol Ventura are widely renown respectively for their lace and tapestry crochet techniques. I've had a little foray into both in recent years.
My Craft Yarn Council master teacher and mentor Barbara Van Elsen, who I'm always talking about, suggested I look into Irish Lace. The first section consists of SEVEN articles all about Irish Lace - what joy! Just look at this exquisite Irish Crochet Butterfly by Nancy Nehring. The tiny size of the hook and size 10 thread are a little daunting but I certainly can appreciate the level of skill involved in undertaking such a project.
The digital version is available at the Interweave Store. The projects are definitely for the more proficient but I guarantee that even if some of these patterns are beyond your skill level you will definitely enjoy reading about them as I did. This one will stay on my shelf ad infinitum.
Sunday, November 1, 2015
I found a super video of the founder of Anzula, Sabrina, describing how everything began. Discovering how craft entrepreneurs start out always fascinates me. I haven't inserted a video into a blog post before but nothing ventured nothing gained ...perhaps it will work for some of you!
Variegated (multicolored) yarn is a huge temptation. It always looks the most visually appealing to me but then I struggle to find a crochet pattern that works well since the lovely stitch definition just gets lost. I was extremely happy with my Esther Shawl by Lana Holden though made from Anzula Dreamy and I think it worked because the pattern was very open.
However there is hope, I have just found a wonderful blog post by The Verdant Griffin, an independent textile and dyeworks company aptly entitled "What the bleep should I make". The title alone makes me chuckle! The post gives a whole host of suggestions and gorgeous photos for variegated yarn. I am going to try combining it with a solid or semi-solid in a contrasting or matching color. Let's go shopping!
Sunday, October 25, 2015
Sometimes the pattern will specify the type of yarn e.g. DK weight. If this isn't given I look at the recommended needle/hook size and also the gauge for knitting patterns (i.e. a certain number of stitches per 4 inches / 10 cm) which often appears on yarn labels.
For further reading on matching yarn beyond gauge see this fantastic guidance on how to substitute from newish website Yarnsub. And you've guessed it, they provide a really useful tool to look for yarn substitutions on their site so if you're not in the yarn store but at home you could take a gander at this. I could spend quite a few hours typing in different yarns and looking at the substitutions "wow, how fascinating - I never knew those two were a 93% match". It's almost like dating for yarn, but perhaps that's just me!
Sunday, October 18, 2015
Sunday, October 11, 2015
About The Community ClothThe Community Cloth is a microenterprise initiative empowering refugee women in Houston. It targets economic, educational and social goals through the provision of seed grants, training, and peer support, and by expanding market opportunities for refugee women artisans. It supports them in creating and selling handmade, indigenous arts and crafts such as woven bags, knitted scarves, household items and more. Through producing and selling their wares, the women have an opportunity to express their culture and heritage, learn new skills that will assist them in transitioning to life in the US, and obtain much-needed supplemental income. All of the proceeds go directly to the artisans and the program. Most of the women involved to date are mothers; some are widows or are the only working member of their families. Purchases of The Community Cloth products help refugee women provide for the basic needs of their families as they work to establish new lives in Houston.
Sunday, October 4, 2015
Rather remarkably lapghan #13 originates from Indiana (yes - Y&Y has gone national!). One of our daytime members taught her mom how to make our square while visiting and returned recently to find her mom had completed 63 squares, enough for our blanket. Love this story. It just warms my heart! And I am finishing up the joining of lapghan #14. It's a patchwork design this time since I have the final squares in many different colors.
We still have worsted weight yarn left over so we are making scarfs for the homeless using this rather nifty pattern I found online by Evelyn Mayfield on her blog Prayersncrafts. The half double crochet stitch is sturdy but hooking into the back of the loop gives the scarf a pleasing stretchiness. Simple but effective - my favorite kind of pattern.
And our next project (#3) will be baby blankets comprised of classic granny squares in a lighter sport weight yarn using a 4mm hook. I have written out the pattern since there isn't an original designer I can attribute the first granny square to. I am a big fan of the humble but versatile granny square.
Sunday, September 27, 2015
There is something wonderful about crafting with others, getting out of your house and enjoying the fellowship of other gentle yarny folk. My first experience of this was back in Bristol in the UK in the winter of 2011. My local pub, the Victoria, a short stroll from my house, hosted a first Sunday of the month "Knit and Natter". The kids, younger then, were in bed and my husband happily watching Top Gear. There were eight of us knitting and I realized at that first meeting that I had been crafting in a silo up until then. We sat in the railway tunnel part of the pub (maybe it actually was a disused railway tunnel) - from a silo to a tunnel - and I enjoyed a pint of cider as you do in the West Country while we chattered about nothing in particular while our fingers were busy. Bliss.
And then shortly after moving to Houston in the spring of 2012 I signed my kids up to swimming lessons and was delighted to discover a fellow knitter doing her stuff in public with children occupied at the same time as mine. And so an impromptu group began of four of us knitting together and it was the BEST part of my week. But after a year or so the children's activities changed and our happy yarny meet ups ended.
My master teacher asked me during my assessment if I was crafting with a group (the workshop doesn't count) and encouraged me to find one. Well now I have Yarn People at my public library each week (following my original knitting swim mom), a fortnightly craft group at church which has just started and my own monthly Yak and Yarn meet up at a local café which I started after attending a day long craft retreat in January this year. That's probably more than sufficient.
Sunday, September 20, 2015
I have been taking photos of each one before delivery to the ladies but I lost photos clearing my cellphone so I am missing some. I thought they were on the cloud but alas no. I lost photos of the two quilts made of fantastic African material by one of our talented Y&Y members. Technology can be a tad annoying at times!
Anyway, here are the photos I managed to salvage of early lapghans and the most recent beauties we have made. We made single crochet 5 inch squares using a cardboard template and for the majority of the lapghans added an edging of single crochet and single crochet joined the squares together.
Sunday, September 13, 2015
Sunday, September 6, 2015
I have made two of her blankets: the neat ripple and the cosy which I am immensely pleased with. This summer I found "boyish" colors of Ella Rae in sufficient quantities in the sale bin at work so started her coast blanket for my son. However, the ripples were looking a little feminine and I'd been warned not to embarass him. (I fully intend for him to take this blanket to college). So a geometric design came to mind and because I am somewhat scarred by six months of joining charity blanket squares it has to be in the round.
I have just reread my published post on what I did and they make no sense whatsoever. I do apologize. Please just skip the next paragraph and carry on reading at "I may well...."
Squares: My starting square is 30 stitches wide by 24 hdc rows tall. Edging the square with single crochet: Once I finished a color I put hdc, 2 sc in the corner and carried on around the corner with one sc stitches per row for two rows then two sc in the third row so that I had an even 30 sc for my next color block. Then I rejoined the yarn to the opposite side and followed the same pattern one sc per row for two rows then two sc in the third row then 3 sc in the corner and sc all along the top.
Joining the new color yarn: Once I got to the end I did 3 sc in the corner and then joined the new yarn color for a new block at right angles to the last. I started one stitch in and stopped one stitch from the end so that I had space for the edging to go all the way around.
I may well get around to writing out the pattern properly once I figure out how I make it into a rectangle rather than a square but I'm one color block away from making a decision on that. I'm thinking seven block wide one block high rectangles at the moment above and below the main rotating pattern but will see what I think up!
Here is the blanket so far. I am enjoy this so much and the hdc are extremely relaxing - an easy watching-TV-with-my-husband kind of project.
Sunday, August 30, 2015
Sunday, August 23, 2015
She tells my her friend loves elephants. A quick search on Ravelry brought up ANOTHER Lucy Ravenscar pattern. This is my third free pattern (#1 witch's cat, #2 little lucky pig). I think it's high time I actually purchased something from her. It's going to have to be her Star Wars Crochet Kit which is available on Amazon.
One of my workshop students has bought the kit, on my recommendation already, and is making a baby mobile with each character for her latest grandson. But I know these are going to be BIG with the new Star Wars movie coming out later this year and I need to get a head start.
I really really like Lucy's patterns so much: the way she uses bobbles for feet and how her patterns are in one piece with no seaming and sewing on of fiddly individual little parts. I am bad at putting my projects on Ravelry but I will get around to it because I want to let Lucy know how much I love them. Here is the elephant link on Ravelry. I feel that my elephant will be the first of a herd.
Sunday, August 16, 2015
Anyway, searched on Ravelry for ladybirds and found this cute pattern. It's knitting again by the wonderful @deadlyknitshade http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/lovely-knitted-ladybird But then I had to embellish it with crochet eyes and my husband said "where are it's legs?" so ta dah my ladybird also has legs.
And the recipient of the ladybird built her a home. Here it is. Sweet!
Sunday, August 9, 2015
Sunday, August 2, 2015
Sunday, July 26, 2015
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Sunday, July 12, 2015
Saturday, July 11, 2015
Sunday, July 5, 2015
Sunday, June 28, 2015
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Escaped from the family for a fleeting visit to Pop Shop Houston at Silver Street Studios on June 13th. Obviously I was scoping out crochet for sale!
Mostly excited about meeting Jess aka @cultgrrrl http://www.cultgrrrl.com She designs amazingly edgy pieces and I couldn't resist this day of the dead skull. She told me her grandmother taught her to crochet and complained that her tension was too tight but then Jess found her calling with amigurumi - fantastic!
Another exhibitor http://www.shopwithasha.com had cute crochet key chain characters and this awesome change purse. Of course he will hold my stitch markers! Mia told me she made the easier creations and her friend the more tricky ones (my purse is one of those!)
I also spotted a huge display of crochet mounted taxidermy critters by http://www.nothingbutapigeon.com but the stand was unmanned so walked on by....next time! There is another Pop Shop scheduled for November.