Sunday, February 26, 2017

Ten Tunisian Crochet tips

In preparation for the Crochet Circle Podcast's CAL starting March 3rd I've been reading up on the technique. I was lucky enough to find FOUR Tunisian Crochet books in my public library. Houston is a huge city and our library downtown has over 90 individual titles on crochet. Wow! Although I do love a YouTube video for the specifics of a stitch I prefer to read a comprehensive overview of a technique.


Here are some tips I found useful as a relative newcomer to Tunisian Crochet gleaned from my reading this week. I thought you might find these useful if you're a newbie too.
  1. Hook length: Your hook can hold a project width three times its length.  For wider projects select a hook with a flexible cable attached.
  2. In Tunisian Crochet the front is always facing you so you don't need to turn. 
  3. Count the stitches on your hook after the forward row. I know from experience that it's easy to lose a stitch! 
  4. In Tunisian Simple Stitch there are the same number of stitches on your hook as on your starting chain.
  5. Pull the yarn tight at the start of each forward row to prevent a loose stitch.
  6. Work into the vertical AND horizontal bars of the last stitch of the forward row to stabilize the row. I wish I'd known this when I was doing my CYC swatch (see below)!
  7. To prevent curl: Work into the back bump of your chain.
  8. To prevent curl: Go up a hook size.
  9. To prevent curl: At the beginning of your work, crochet a row of Tunisian purl stitch to redistribute the weight.
  10. To prevent curl: Block your work.
Making a swatch for my second Craft Yarn Council certificate I remember really struggling with the placement of the last stitch of the forward row of my Tunisian Crochet square. I just couldn't figure it out and the swatch was frogged over and over. I was NOT enjoying myself AT ALL and didn't feel like EVER doing Tunisian Crochet again. But I changed my mind after discovering Entrelac last year. One of my current WIPs is the Tunisian Entrelac Yoga Top and I'm so looking forward to the upcoming CAL!

I had heard of Tunisan knit and purl stitch but there is a whole world of Tunisian crochet stitches and stitch patterns out there. The Honeycomb skirt by Sharon Hernes Silverman  is made in a variegated yarn and is simply stunning! Have a look at the project page on Ravelry.

Anyway, before I get carried away I will start with a simple project for the CAL which is the fantastic looking 
Cobbled Street Cowl. If you're interested in joining in check out the Ravelry group/thread and use #tccTunisianCAL to see the fun on Instagram!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Book Review: Top Down Crochet Sweaters

It took me the longest time to get around to ordering Top Down Crochet Sweaters by Dora Ohrenstein but finally I did, it arrived and I've read it! It's just as good as I'd hoped. Back in December, I read a super review of the book by the wonderful designer Susan Lowman on her Crochet Architect blog and more recently I've been chatting about it on Ravelry on the Crochet Circle Podcast Group Forum. 

January I was in a spend nothing / feeling frugal phase. All that traveling and inevitable gift-buying had taken its toll on our budget.  Thank goodness for Christmas gift vouchers! My sweet sister-in-law gave me one from Knit Picks, they had a book sale and I obviously I had to add yarn to bring my order up to get free shipping. Free shipping is such a motivator for me!
The book focuses on top down seamless construction. Top down sweaters appeal to me for the same reason as toe up socks - you can try on your item as you go. And I'm just not fond of sewing seams. I know I'm not alone in feeling this way.

Part 1, pages 10 to 55, covers technique and was an absolute revelation. I hadn't really thought about patterns I've previously made as having raglan or circular yokes or given a lot of attention to the calculations. The book explains the principles of sweater design in a very simple and comprehensive language. It's been incredibly helpful for clarifying different aspects of sweater design in my mind such as: neckline and yoke shaping, underarm adjustments, stitch count fixes, meeting gauge, blocking, measurement and alterations. I'm not sure if I'll go so far as to design a sweater from scratch. I have a great respect for designers and the huge amount of time they spend creating patterns but I feel far more comfortable now about modifying an existing pattern for a better fit.
And of course I just love the expert tips such as to only use fingering to DK weight yarns for sweaters. (That's 2ply to DK weight if you're in the UK reading this.) Lighter weight yarn moves more fluidly over your body. Of course it does!

The second part includes fourteen original patterns (see them on Ravelry here) with seven different yoke concepts of varying difficulty. The garment pairs differ by yarn choice, gauge and other details. Now I just need to finish some of my current WIPs, choose a pattern and get going! Can't wait!


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Getting a wriggle on with my Tunisian Crochet project

Here is my progress on garment number 1 of the year - the Tunisian Entrelac yoga top. It has been slow going. Tunisian crochet is rather time consuming and I've been so distracted by my charity crochet bobble blanket project. The additional wool that I ordered online from Jimmy Beans Wool, taking advantage of their free standard postage in February, arrived far quicker than expected. I just kept making those little bobbles.


I listened to Fay on the latest Crochet Circle podcast episode just before the Super Bowl game began and found out that March 3rd is the start of their Tunisian Crochet Along. How exciting!! I've been a big fan of the Crochet Circle podcast ever since I reviewed it back in May last year. 

There are three different categories for the CAL which will be hosted by Sol. And my yoga top does not qualify. Boo! I need to start the project on March 3rd not beforehand. Sharing will take place on Instagram and Ravelry. Check out the show notes for further details here if you fancy taking part. It's going to be fun!

This gives me a few days rest between the current Instagram challenge I'm currently taking part in: #yarnlovechallenge It's great to search for the hashtag and scroll through the loveliness and read the accompanying stories. I am particularly drawn to crochet items as well as doggy crafting companions. The challenge has been organised by @maryheatherb and @oharethey More details can be found on their blogs here and Being a little part of this is really brightening my day. Thank you ladies!!

Hope February is going well for you too lovely readers!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Mainly hooking bobbles

All week I've been working on my new woollen diagonal bobble blanket inspired by Tamara Kelly's Blackberry Salad Striped Baby Blanket. The repetitive hooking of little bobbles is just what I need right now. The bumpy texture under my fingers is wonderful and the color combo pleases me so much! It's going to be hard to send away but I will remind myself it is for a good cause

As you can see though, I am definitely going to run out of yarn. I am woefully short of the required 36 inch height. I am down to two colors and the darker fingering weight wool I am having to double up. I'm adding rows to both top and bottom to keep the middle stripes as symmetrical as possible. I'm only going to get halfway with what I've got.

I visited (SUCH a helpful site) and found out that my main bright colored yarn is discontinued and am currently working out suitable substitutes. The super online store Jimmy Beans Wool has free U.S. Flat Rate and First Class International shipping during February and a great selection. What great timing! I will return to my crochet garment-making (the Tunisian Entrelac crochet top) while I wait for more yarn to arrive...or perhaps read my latest book Top Down Crochet Sweaters by Dora Ohrenstein which came in the post this week. Yes, I ordered it at last. How exciting!

Anyway until next week, craft on my friends x