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You Want me to Cast on WHAT?! (Test of Counting That High)

10 Jan

Casting on has is an art all it’s own. There are books dedicated to just this technique alone and depending on what you’re making/doing, you should know at least five at all times.

I dislike trying to use long-tail cast on for large projects (and I try to use other methods because this one is a little ugly for an edge). I know the whole trick about leaving a tail, wrapping the yarn, counting the wraps, then multiplying that length of yarn to the number I need. But you know what? It doesn’t always work. There, I wrote it! I find that method is a better measurement then eyeballing the amount of yarn you need, but I either end up with WAY too much yarn (usually the bigger the needs, the more yarn) or just missed the mark (converse issue of the former).

I figured out why this happens, it depends on how tightly you wind the yarn around the need and how tightly you actually make the cast on stitch. See how this doesn’t work out so well? Wind too tight, but cast on even a little loosely, there goes your measurement.

Also, don’t use the backwards loop cast on. Why? Because of the structure of the stitch when cast on (super stretchy), you end up with WAY too much yarn. This method is best for a handful of stitches, not for 100+.

I like to use the lace cast on method (and I stick to this one when I’m using smaller needles, but not necessarily lace. Like for a shawl, scarf, or cowl). Eunny Jang has an AWESOME page about this lace cast ons and I’m really linking it here for me to remember where the heck it is (oh, yeah, and you too. Sharing and all that).

But remember, when you have a project, look up a few cast on methods for the type of project you’re doing and chose accordingly. Not all projects need a long tail.

Working my crafty, old lady Friday night (Judge me, I dare you), -Stacy C

Re-Construction for a Man Sock – Size 12

21 Sep

Hello Knitters,

My 2012 Sock Put Ravellenics Winner

Have you ever seen a sock pattern and wanted to make it for the manly man in your life? Have you looked at the pattern only to see that it goes to a woman’s size 9 and you think, “WHAT?! How the heck am I going to make it the right size? Forget it.”?
I was almost that way, but decided, uh uh, guys need socks too, let’s DO this. Of course, the sock pattern I chose just HAD to be a pain in the butt and a little complicated to construct. But you know what? Victory was mine and I lived to tell the tale! (See blurry man-taken photo of the finished product).

Let’s begin. I took the pattern for the “Half ‘n Half” socks by Patons. I was careful to keep to the same needle and yarn size for my first man sock test drive. I casted on using the German Twisted Cast on and highly recommend it. (DO NOT use a long tail cast on for socks, you need a stretchy edge. It’s a whole other post for why, but heed this advice.) It does a great job stretching, but isn’t so loose on the first row that you lose close stitch construction.

Blurry Man Sock, but proof it fit.

To figure out the man re-construction, I was directed to Cabin Fever “Need a Sock?” book. It took me a while to find ANY literature with information on the construction of a man sock. While I only borrowed it, I’m definitely going to buy it. It’s a little pricey, but it helps you break down every section of a sock to figure out how to custom design/alter patterns for any foot size. From this handy guide, I was able to figure out that casting on for a Size 12 man sock needed 80-84 stitches (those man calves, they’re a killer). Be sure to take into account the cuff because, just like women, if you can’t get their man foot through the hole or the sock up enough the leg, no one is wearing that baby.

The first sock I casted on was with a size 2 needle, but I thought that was a tad tighter than I wanted, I went up to 2.5 and it was better. For the cuff, I would go up . 5 or 1 whole need from the pattern size to be sure the cuff is stretchy enough. Because of the pattern needs I was working with, I casted 81 stitches.

After casting on 81 stitches I did the cuff with a ribbing of P1, K1 for 2 inches. Then I followed the leg pattern for a total of 7 inches for the cuff and leg. You might need to repeat a section of the leg to get the size proper size. For the foot I knitted 8 inches then shaped the toe for another 2.5 inches. Cabin Fever suggests a total foot length of 10.5-11.5 inches for the entire foot of this size.

For the heel, I had 41 stitches and followed the pattern’s “flap heel” construction directions for 2.5 inches before the shaping. For the sole I picked up 67 stitches (22 stitches for each side and 23 for the bottom). You can follow the directions for the heel, because the heel shaping will give you the extra (or shorter) length you need for the right foot size.

I didn’t delve too much into the specifics of the pattern, because I’m trying to give an understanding of dimensions for a “man sock,” not copy a pattern and call it a man sock. Also, these particular socks were very different from most sock projects because I had to do them flat, then sew them up at specific points (of course my first time out with a full set of socks was not kindergarten but advanced calculus). That being written, you can still use these general measurements and tips for the sock pattern you are trying to modify. I was quite upset that I couldn’t find anything on the internet about how to figure out man socks! I’m setting about to shatter the silence 😉

Finishing up my killer sweater,
-Stacy C. Cervantes

Kitchener Stitch Made Easy!

1 Aug

I am in the middle of Ravellenics 2012 so this post will be brief, but helpful. I have tried to understand how to do Kitchener stitch before, but I ended up doing my own thing in a weird fusion of the stitch. Well, I’m making these socks by Patons and I not only want to medal for making them, but I want them to look medal-worthy. I searched for a better tutorial (again) and of course, Very Pink Knits came to my rescue. SO EASY!

Just remember:

(bottom needle) Knit, off, purl
(top needle) Purl, off, knit
Repeat

My socks are going to blow the “judges” away!

Back to work!
-Stacy C.

Giveaway and the Springtime Bandit Finale!

12 Jun

The time has come my knitting peeps, to talk of many things – but I’m done on the Springtime Bandit! Almost. This is the last installment about this pattern and my adventures in advanced lace knitting.

Let me start off by pointing out the edge chart shows both RS and WS rows, which means you have to pay attention to EACH row. (Really, you get the hang of it after a couple of WS rows. Just don’t  get lazy!) The reading of the pattern is still the right side only before you have to go “backward” once you get to the middle (green) square. Let’s take a look at the chart, shall we?

The mighty third and ending chart

Doesn’t look intimidating AT ALL. I decided from the beginning of this chart to show it who’s boss and I took some strategy methods to make this crazy chart portion one of the least mistake and problem sections of this project. How did I do this? So glad you asked.

First, I wrote on every row of the chart and marked the K stitches so I wouldn’t count incorrectly in the “moment” of the row. Look closely at the first few rows (you can click on it for a closer look):

“Write” out the pattern

You will see that I wrote a number in the center of the K stitches and ran a line through the rest. This helped me know that I had to do so many K stitches before moving on to the next type of stitch. When you do this, be sure to use a non-black ink pen (pencil runs when highlighted and is hard to see), ensuring you don’t confusion your K shorthand with the actual pattern. Then, I wrote on the side of the main chart how many stitches are in each section before and after the pattern repeat (sill 14 stitches for repeat). This helped me know when I was getting to the end of repeating and needed to have enough stitches for the last portion of the row. I did all of these notations before I even started this chart because I knew I would get overwhelmed and wouldn’t want to start and stop between knitting rows.

Another helpful tip was to use a two color highlighter system. I highlighted the row I was on alternating colors making sure I didn’t confuse what row I was on by accidentally looking at the one below. One color was for the RS and one was for the WS. Of course after I did this chart I found out about a new discovery – highlighter tape. I was floored! You can put down this piece of tape, then pick it up and move it up a line. I really want to try this for next time.

To finish out, I steam ironed it which worked wonders with the cotton. I’ve washed it since I’ve ironed it and it really maintained its shape. Look in awe at the end result!

FINISHED!

The Prize

(GIVEAWAY!) To celebrate the end and for my loyal readers, I have a giveaway! I’m giving away a large skein of Lily Cotton, Sugar ‘n Cream Twists. This skein is 603 yards of cotton possibilities and with this size you can make a shawlette or scarf and still have enough left over for a washcloth! This giveaway is open until July 9, 2012, at 11:59 p.m. To enter leave a comment telling me your favorite lace pattern and whether you love or hate lace. For extra entries, follow me on twitter or retweet a post (leave another comment letting me know your Twitter handle). I will announce the winner on July 10, 2012.

Loving my lace fever,
-Stacy C.

Tackling Lace (and the Springtime Bandit) Part 2

5 Jun

Hello again boys and girls,

I hope my last post helped you with basic lace chart knowledge and/or the tricky Springtime Bandit. In this post I’m going to cover the second chart (aka body chart). This is where the fun happens and where it starts to get a little harder. (How could it get harder?! It does, simmer down, you can do this.) I will say, for a three charter, at least it gets incrementally tougher and not all in your face at once.

At this point, I suggest placing a stitch marker after the green square (halfway point of the row). This let me know if I had properly done the row to that point. There’s nothing more frustrating than pulling out 100+ stitches when you get to the end of a row verses 50. Another way to help with pulling out stitches is a lifeline. There’s a lot of different ways to use/place a lifeline and this video from verypinkknits and article from knittingdaily.com should help. I’m not a big fan for many reasons and prefer the stitch marker method; but I offer all options to my readers to keep down murder rates of  lace and/or others with needles.

Look at the progress!

The body chart starts off with 67 stitches and repeat the chart (12 rows) four times. Once again, this chart reads right side only, go backward at the mid-row point, and only shows RS rows. The first round of the chart is simple because there isn’t a pattern repeat. When you get to the 14 stitch repeat portion, you will read it this way:

Row 1: k2, yo, *k5, vov, k5, sk2togp, repeat from * until the last 12 stitches, this brings you to the midpoint. Going “backward”, yo, k5, vov, k5, *sk2togp, k5, vov, k5, repeat from * until the last 2 stitches

Remember, as you are doing this chart, you will increase the number of repeats for each pattern round. By the time you get to the last chart repeat you will be doing the pattern repeat five times before you continue to the middle stitch. This is the way it’s supposed to work because it needs to grow to fan out for the triangle shape.

One other thing, If you look at the left-hand side of the picture, you can see my chart is marked up. It might seem overwhelming, but it really helps you keep on task. As I (and another reader) found out, going over the chart with this kind of intense care helps you see where you might be reading the chart wrong. I never like to mark things up, books, handouts, worksheets, etc. (I know, that’s what they’re there for, duh!). I like to keep my stuff look nice and new for as long as possible; however, I decided this was for the greater good. Once I marked the pattern in my own secret code, it was as if the pattern came alive and took root in my brain! Using a charts only pattern really leaves a lot of room for the reader to skim over the right way to read the project or misread a key element. An extra “tip,” if you’re working from a book, take a photocopy and mark the duplicate up. Your book still stays nice and spiffy – ta da! (Geeky, I know.)

At the end of this section you should have 167 stitches – no arguments. It’s a requirement to go to the next phase.

Finishing up the Father’s Day Gifts,
-Stacy C.

Tackling Lace (and the Springtime Bandit), Part 1

24 May

I have been taken over by lace. It started out as an interest, quickly escalated to a war, then became an obsession of wills. The plus side of living in the Northeast is that you can wear scarves, “shawlettes” and bandanas and not melt after five minutes in the middle of Spring/Summer. I came to the conclusion my wardrobe needs these additions and, of course, I would make them. I decided to use my Plymouth Covington 2035 Yarn for the Springtime Bandit.

The pattern lists that it’s intermediate. Let me tell you, it’s ALL LIES! Don’t get me wrong, I love this pattern now, but it’s very advanced. Here are my reasons, it’s a chart only pattern – actually, it’s THREE charts, four sections, no written instructions for the body and the cast on is tricky. I wasn’t able to find a pattern tutorial all in one place and spent hours researching and figuring out the best way to get the desired result. I felt I owed it to others who follow to make an FAQ and a lace tutorial (of sorts). Don’t be scared away, I’ve done the hard part, figuring it out.

To give you my lace credentials, You might remember my wrap from the Juliet Scarf pattern or my Skinny Lace Scarf from the Cashsilk Fern Scarf pattern. “I’ve done lace before, nothing to worry about,” I assured myself. When I put this pattern in my queue I didn’t worry about going over the instructions. After frogging a different project, I turned to this one and the nightmare began…

It’s the baby start of a Springtime Bandit bandana!

Let’s start at casting on (it really does have to start here). The cast on is called Provisional (or invisible, or loop) Cast on. I chose to do the crochet chain method and found the tutorial from Jimmy Bean’s Wool extremely helpful and very easy. You can also do the method where using a knitting needle (check out Knittinghelp.com‘s video). Either way doesn’t matter, as long as you do it consistently and end up taking out the extra yarn.

When you get near the end of casting on, it reads, “K2, rotate work and pick up 1 st in each of 3 garter ridges,” You pick up from the left side on the garter ridge “knots.” The work goes from vertical to horizontal. The reason you have to cast on this way is because the edging of the bandit looks similar to the way this cast on looks. It keeps the shawl looking the same all the way around.

Now that you’ve got that down, let’s go on to the first chart. (If you never read a chart only pattern before, the best way to describe what you’re doing is reading a map. You have a legend, symbols/pictures and a distinct way of reading them. For more on how to read them, check out this Knitty post or Wendy knits ‘ post). These chart pattern read more advanced than tutorial charts you typically find. You read from right to left and when you get to the little green box, you read the same line from left to right, working “backwards.”

Example, line 1 reads: K2, yo, K1, yo, K1 (you still have three stitches left, now you go backwards), yo, K1, yo, K2

You only do the middle stitch once before you start working backwards. This chart only shows the right side rows, read page 2 “Notes on the Chart” section. Once you finish this chart, congratulations! You’ve finished a quarter of the way of the project. Keep going!

Cooking up part 2,
-Stacy C.

Taking Basic Crochet Slippers a Notch Above the Rest

2 Apr

Hello readers, I was hoping to squeeze this last post in March to close out Crochet Month. Well, we’re ending it on April 1, around here! This doesn’t mean the last of crochet on this blog, not by a long shot, but I’ll stop mentioning the featured style for another 11 months! 😀

Spring into the season with these babies!

Today, is another highlight on a relatively easy crochet project, Crochet Slippers by Zoom Yummy, that I made in Red Heart’s Stitch Nation Bamboo Ewe in Beach Glass and Caron Simply Soft in Chocolate. (Of course the final project is available for purchase in my Etsy store… :-D)

Let me just prefice this post by saying the original blog post is very helpful with all the pictures for the different steps; however, I’m the kind of person who see it all in one place when I’m actually in the middle of the project and understand how the rounds are supposed to look. I decided to condense it all in this post before I go on to giving any tips and modifications. Please note, I didn’t change her pattern at all, this is exactly from the original post and all credit is due Zoom Yummy for the following:

Round 1: ch 5, join with sl st

Round 2: 3 ch, 7 dc into center of ring, join sl st

Round 3: 3 ch, 1 dc into 1st st, 2 dc each stitch after, join sl

Round 4: 3 ch, 1 dc into 1st st, 2 dc into each stitch after

Round 5-13: continue crocheting in spiral, 1 dc into each dc

Round 14: TURN, 3 ch, 1 dc into second stitch frm hook, make 20 dc (1 dc into each following dc)

Round 15-21: turn, 3 ch, 1 dc into second stitch frm hook, continue 20 dc (same as 14)

Round 22: turn, 3 ch, 1 dc into first stitch frm hook, continue 21 dc (1 dc into each next dc), another 1 dc into last stitch

Round 23-25: turn, 3 ch, 1 dc into second stitch frm hook, continue 22 dc (1 dc into each next dc)

Round 26: turn, 3 ch, 1 dc into first stitch frm hook, continue 23 dc (1 dc into each next dc), another 1 dc into last stitch

Round 27-28: turn, 3 ch, 1 dc into second stitch frm hook, continue 24 dc (1 dc into each next dc)

Finish off and weave in ends

Fold end in half and see it together. Make sure it’s turned out, then face seam facing forward.

Edging: tie yarn to the edge of the slipper, this counts as the first stitch.

2 ch

Then make 1 sc into the next bigger “hole”, make 1 ch, repeat

Finally make 1 sl st to join with the 1st

Finish off and weave in ends
###

Of course these are available in my Etsy shop!

Hope this abbreviated version helps the cliff noters, like me. Now on to my assessment and modifications: You’ll note the pattern doesn’t tell you what weight yarn or hook to use – even what size this final product makes.* This was hard, because I really had to look at multiple finished projects on ravelry.com to get an idea of where to even start. I made this first pair by using a yarn weight of 4 (or worsted), size H (or 5 mm) hook and ended up with a 8/9 in women’s sizes.

Additionally, to make this size, I jumped from round 10 to 14, cut out round 25 and 28 and still ended up with this bigger size. If you want to follow the pattern to a T, I suggest you use a yarn weight of 3 or even a 2 (DK or Sport weight) and possibly a smaller hook. My stitches are in the middle of tight and loose, they might slightly lean toward a little lose when I’m tired, if that helps you better gauge my assessment.

A couple of style modifications: I noticed that after Round 4, when you start another round and ch, using more than 1 or 2 ch stitches made the round more hole-y. I like my slippers to be tight for a little more warmth and only ch 1 before each row until Round 14. For the edging, I noticed the ch, in between sc stitches made the top wider. Except for the beginning pair of ch, I only sc stitch around the top.

Real classy

Pattern clarification: there was only one part where I got hung up on the pattern and that was how to start the edging. This is

where the pictures came in very handy, I threaded the yarn through, with the tail inside the slipper. Then, I made a slip not making sure the loop wrapped around the slipper. If you look closely at the slipper, that is how the loop counts as the first stitch, by wrapping around the edge stitch.

This is a great pattern, I know I pointed out a lot of hang ups and problems, but the pattern is a base – a starting point. What makes vague patterns great is you can make the finished product your own. But if you’re like me and want to know how to start; or pattern watchers who need to follow every step, this post was to help you own the slippers you make.

Working my Fancy Foot Style,

-Stacy C.

*I have since seen an adjustment with pertinent information to the pattern size. “(Oh, one important thing! These slippers were made to fit my feet, which are size 40 – Europe / 6.5 – UK / 9 – US. To adjust the size of these slippers to your feet you may need to change the number of rounds between the round 5 and 13 and the number or rows between the row 15 – 21 of this post. AND… I used worsted weight yarn and G – 4 mm hook to make the slippers.)”

Felt it up! (No, it’s not Feeling up)

30 Mar

It’s National Cleavage day and I couldn’t resist the title! Spring is right around the corner, this seems to be the PERFECT season to felt. We have eggs, flowers, purses, bowls, etc., the list goes on and is cute. Felting is one of those yarn projects that both knitting and crochet can do, so why not share a post for this month? There are different types of felting, felting sheets, rove felting and wet felting. We’re going to focus on wet wool felting (because that’s how it works for knitting and crocheting, we’ll talk other animal fibers later) and will refer to it from now on as “felting” – I hear by decree.

Through hours of trial and error, and following the scientific method (in the yarn world), I have come to the conclusion that four things, in order of importance, are necessary for proper felting: wool content, agitation, soap and hot water. You might think it interesting that hot water is at the end of the list. Let’s go through some of my felting projects to further explain:

Not the best picture, you get the idea

Mocassins for Him: I made these slippers for my dad last year, and they were the first thing I ever felted. I used Patons Classic Wool in deep olive and I can tell you, putting something I knit into the wash for the first time was so nerve racking! I used my top loading washer, some detergent, a couple pairs of dark colored pants, and went through two small loaded washes to get them to the size I wanted. When they came out, I was afraid they were too small and was worried about maintaining the shape. I had shoe forms to put into the slippers but they were too big and wouldn’t fit into my felted slipper. I decided to put them on the outside of my boots to get them to a bigger man size and it worked! My dad likes them and wears them to this day. Making sure to shape your felted item while it dries is important to remember, don’t go through all that trouble just to let it shrink dry.

Felted Fortune Cookies: I don’t yet have a picture for these because I still have to sew them into cookies. I didn’t get around to it before this post because I’ve been so annoyed with this project! I used the same wool as the slippers and tried the stove top method because I had two cookies and didn’t want to put them into the washer (I was trying to be eco). Let me tell you just stick to the washing machine method, it IS more eco.

Let’s begin this sage, I brought a large pot to a rolling boil and stuck my wool into it, then stood there and stirred it for twenty minutes and not much happened. The water got darker and the wool kind of got a little fuzzy. By fuzzy, I mean the look wool gets when it’s splashed with cold water. I decided to see if the rolling boil would help the wool, maybe my spoon was getting in the way. After 45 minutes, several gallons of water and maybe a millimeter of felting later, I decided to ramp this puppy up. I added some dish soap (the water was “pure” up until this point) got out my potato masher and went to town (as much as you can in boiling water) and I started to see some results!

After another 30 minutes the cookies had gotten smaller – by about .25 inches… I quickly realized, it was the agitation but I couldn’t produce enough to make it go faster without burning myself. Stirring isn’t enough agitation – mashing was the trick – I had to physically beat up the wool in hot water which isn’t really good for the skin, you know? I finally put my cookies into the washing machine and saw that it does more than stir, it is a hurricane of water movement. THAT is why you get such fantastic results in the washing machine – some times too good if you’re not careful. By the time I got to this point, I was tired of even looking at those cookies, just like you are of reading about this drama.

Al Green's "So in Love with You" keeps playing in my head

Fine Feather Cap: Yes, THE hat! This story begins with using the Lion Brand Yarn Wool-Ease, a wonderful acrylic and wool blend, but NOT made for felting. I knew there was a chance it wouldn’t work and I read the care instructions. But it has wool in it, I thought it might be possible. I did some research online and read how other people were told it doesn’t felt either, but it did for them. This is what I discovered – it doesn’t work for brand new, non-beat up wool. When I went back to these LIARS (it’s what it felt like after five failed felted loads, but I did get my too big jeans down to a wearable size!) I realized these ladies wore their favorite items almost daily by the time it went into the wash and felted. This causes me to believe if you beat the CRAP out of a low wool blend, you might have a shot of getting it to felt eons later. There’s more to this story in the last post, but to save time I will skip to the end.

Gonna shake these peacock feathers!

I finally got wonderful results using Patons Classic Wool in Aran; Red Heart’s Stitch Nation Full O’ Sheep in Passion Fruit, Mediterranean and Thyme; and this mystery yellow wool I got from a fellow yarn maker. I stuck to my tried and true method and as you can see, it was well worth all the hard work. I was so in love with the end result, I let the cap felt dry on my head! When I had to take it off for bed, I let it further dry on a plastic playground ball.

Even though some of my stories might seem daunting and appear to make felting not worth the effort, I’ve taken some of the tears out of it for you. If you haven’t ever tried it, think of this as a tutorial in what to avoid, and what to pay attention to, with your projects. I found a great tutorial by Lion Brand Yarn in the basics of this method (that reaffirms some of my follies too!). Also, for sticking with this post, I’m doing a giveaway! One luck reader will get a skein of Lion Brand Yarn Fisherman’s Wool in Natural Brown, with over 450 yds you’re sure to get a good project (or two!) out of it. To enter this great contest, leave a comment – for an extra entry, follow me on twitter (leave an additional comment to alert me that is why you followed me.) Entries must be received by Friday, April 20, 2012 and I will randomly select and announce the winner on Saturday, April 21, 2012.

Yes, I’m buying friends, but you’re ok with that because you might get more yarn, :-p
Stacy C.

Chain, Chain, Chaaaain. Crochet Chains Made to Wear

3 Mar

March is National Crochet Month, so here at theyarnfix, we’re kicking things off right with this fundamentals piece. What better way to start of a big month of fiber crafting then at the basics? Chaining is the starting point for Crochet and then you move to SCs, HDCs, DC, and TCs (click here for your crochet stitch helper guide), which can get very confusing and hard really fast. While re-learning crochet, I went back to fundamentals and started looking at pictures with simple chaining as the basis for patterns. You can actually make a lot of chic jewelry simply by using chaining. Below are some pictures of my chain necklaces (Shameless plug, also available for purchase in my Etsy store!):

This is really something any seasoned or un-seasoned crocheter can do and actually use. If you want to try making your own fiber accessories, here are some tips:

1) Have fun. Let your imagination run wild. It might “just” be changing, but as you can see, I tried my hand at multiple looks with this simple technique.

2) You can chain multiple necklaces separately and sew the ends together; or you can SC or sl st a couple of stitches at each end to keep them whole. But you can always just wear multiple chain necklaces at once and have fun color pairing.

3) If you want a smaller, tighter necklace use 100 stitches as your base number. If you want one that falls a little lower on your breast bone use 120 stitches, and for one even lower use 140-160. To make a multiples necklace with two or more chains, increase the next necklace by five to seven stitches. This means 120 for the first one, 125 for the second, etc., that way you get a little bit of gap between them.

4) Add embellishments. Whether it’s a flower, buttons or an anchor strap, test out some looks to make your neck piece a little more snazzy.

It only takes me about one to three hours to make a necklace, depending on my design. A three-tiered number, sans embellishment takes me about an hour. Accents take a little more time, maybe 20 minutes to an hour. So, if you’ve made all the hats and scarves you could give a person, try thinking of creating one of these beauties that can be worn in any season. Now’s the time to refine technique, make it unique and create your own patterns. So, the next time you make a crack at how you can “only” make really long chains there’s actually something cute you can do with them!

If you have any questions about how I made specific necklaces shown above leave a comment and I will be glad to impart some of my design secrets.

Back to my creativity zone,
-Stacy C.

Flower Power! Basic Crochet Flowers – Pattern and Tutorial

27 Feb

If you’ve caught on from the last couple of posts, I’ve rediscovered crochet. Somehow, after diligent knitting, I’m having no trouble working my hook! I would be a professional hooker if I could be – pun intended!

Check out this beautiful necklace with a flower accent. (For sale in my Etsy Shop.)

But I’m having a blast making gifts and adding to my Etsy Shop.

While designing my crochet necklaces, I also discovered how to create my own crochet flowers using some basic steps I’ve seen repeated in patterns.

There are a bazillion patterns and ways to make crochet flowers making it confusing as a beginner, or just looking for a simple design. I tried looking at videos but didn’t get how to make them until someone broke down a pattern for me. After a couple tries, with several patterns, I’ve found it’s really fun to make them any way I want. I know this is just one way to make a crochet flower but it is the most popular way. If you want to create your own, below are basic pattern tutorials on how whip up your own accent piece:

Small Crochet Flower 

The smaller flower

For the Center: Chain 3-4 stitches
Slip stitch into the first stitch (making a loop)
SC 5-6 times into the center of the the loop
Slip stitch into the front stitch of the first SC

For the petals: (this is where you can have fun)
All steps done in one repeat occur inside the same stitch
*slip stitch or sc into the next stitch
(if you slip stitch, you can sc next for extra petal definition)
chain 1-2 stitches
SC or HDC 2-3 times
chain again (same number as the first chain)
slip or sc (again, what you did at the beginning of the petal)
repeat from * to the last loop
slip stitch into the original first stitch tie off

Large Crochet Flower 

Small and large buddies

For the Center: Start similar to the small flower, but add 1-2 stitches more for a larger size

Outer Loop Section: this section builds the height for your bigger flower
After you slip stitch into the first SC, *chain 1-2 stitches
Skip a stitch then SC into the next stitch, repeat from * to the end
Slip stitch into the first stitch of the chained row

For the petals: very similar to the smaller version, but you use bigger stitches, again for height
All steps done in one repeat occur inside the same stitch
*slip stitch or sc into the next stitch
(if you slip stitch, you can sc next for extra petal definition)
chain 2-3 stitches
HDC, DC  or TC 2-3 times
chain again (same number as the first chain)
slip or sc (again, what you did at the beginning of the petal)
repeat from * to the last loop
slip stitch into the original first stitch tie off

Extra Notes and Tips:
Don’t worry about gauge or hook size, use what’s comfortable for you. But, if you want a really small crochet flower, the smaller the needle, the smaller the result. The same goes in reverse for large flowers and needle size. I typically use a G (4mm) for the small and a 7 (4.5mm) for a large.

The thing that really got me, was making the petals in the same stitch. You will have 4-7 stitches made inside the stitch from a previous row. Don’t worry, that’s what gives the petals their shape.

This is my practice before moving on to needle tatting! I might start with crochet tatting first…

Yarn Dreaming up a Storm,
-Stacy C.

The Eternal Yarn Project – More Like Purgatory, Less Like Heaven

7 Feb

I’m not big on waiting, never have been. I’m a child of my generation and waiting sucks. I’m much better than I used to be, more patient, understanding in the value of a slow process. Knitting has helped me understand that I can be useful in waiting. What gets me is when I’m waiting on my waiting, I mean, knitting.

Hundreds of yarn tucking and one more panel to make!

You see, I have this beautiful blanket that I’m trying to finish for over a year now. Meet the technicolor Sweet Dreams Throw pattern I found from KnitPicks’ Design Team (not knocking this perfectly lovely pattern, please continue reading for the full effect of my ramblings). I could not WAIT to get my suri dreams yarn. Plus, I decided I wanted a thicker, warmer blanket and bought skeins of Debbie Stoller’s Full O’ Sheep yarn to match for two stranded knitting! What I didn’t expect to curb my enthusiasm, and make my blanket take longer than the waiting list time for the latest Hermes bag, is the endless repetition of such a large project. This pattern is easy, so easy it’s sad I’m not done. I thought with a project being simple I would be done in no time. What I wasn’t expecting was all the “hidden” work. You know those threads or “Irish Pennents” that come with changing colors? Yeah, I have about 100 of those and last night it took me over an hour to nicely hide most them from one panel… I think I just threw up a little at that memory.

Try something smaller, Stacy, duh. Ok, let’s try a sweater! (That moan you heard was from the experienced yarn crafters.)

One sleeve down... Does a sweater really need two sleeves?

This story does get a little better, I’ve only been knitting this project for three months – using every spare moment trying to get it done before winter’s over. Once again, I’m using a simple pattern, this time by Lion Brand Yarn called the Sketchbook Cardigan using a wonderful Superwash Merino in Wild Berry. It’s great practice in making a sweater – except it’s knit on chopsticks (size six needles) for most of it (size five for the edging and a little technical hardship variety) and SS 14 inches, just for the body! I’m starting to get that crazy, wild-eyed look typing out my descriptions and thinking with a little panicked internal voice.

It’s so sad that even in my knitting/crochet I can be this instant, self-gratifying yarn crafter. I even find binding off on some projects annoying and unusual punishment. When I’m done with a pattern I tend to just want to be DONE. Spending about 40 hours on a blanket and it’s only 75% done, 30 hours on a sweater and about the same amount finished… I just wanna cuddle and wear my stuffs!!!!!

Now that I’ve rambled about my torturous yarn projects, what’s a girl to do? Well, here are some suggestions I’ve been given and some things I’ve discovered for my impatient self. Hope these help you too in your quest for large yarn project finishes:

1) Reward yourself with knitting/crocheting: A girl from my knitting/crochet group told me she rewards herself with knitting projects in between house work. She will clean counters, do the dishes, vacuum a room, etc., and in between allows herself to knit a set amount of rows. This way she not only gets her work done faster, but the repetitive knitting is a reward not an obligation.

No threads to be had and I'm still trucking!

2) Finish as you go along. This goes with the teaching my mother drilled into me when I started cooking and loved/just happened to make a big mess and when I was done cooking I still had to clean! She would tell me to clean as I went along and put things away and when I was done, there was hardly anything to do. I’m currently making a baby blanket, the Moderne Baby Blanket, (I know – you still have one unfinished blanket, what are you doing?! Relax, I’ve got it handled) and I’m tucking in ends before and after I finish a panel. Right now, I’m sitting on no lose threads and I’m pretty excited to keep the blanket going! Granted, it’s only been a week; but usually after this amount of time, I’m annoyed. Progress comes in small doses.

3) It’s ok to make a smaller project when your larger one is still a WIP (work in progress). There is a blog post here on not having too many WIPs. There is something to be said of WIPs still on needles from the ’70’s (I know of someone who really does have this going on) – they’re just dead, let’s stop pretending. BUT go ahead and make those gloves, make that hat – when you come back to the eternal project, it’s like a fresh start. Just be sure you properly note where where you left off on the pattern.

Tell me how you complete your big projects, how you keep the spark going. I know I can add to this post and maybe help others who want to live with half a sweater.

Trying to stave off carpal tunnel,

-Stacy C.

Are you a Picker or a Thrower? (Not talking about noses)

10 May

Well ladies/gents,

I have been ignoring you, but not on purpose – life has gotten in the way, but I’m not going to let it stop me from the knitting scene! I have to talk about this topic and it’s all about how you knit. I’m not talking how you learn to knit, but your style of knitting.

We have two basic camps, like two basic stitches, picking and throwing. No matter what style you work English, Continental, Portuguese or some weird alien child variation, you throw the yarn or pick it up.

If you don’t get what I’m talking about look at these pictures below courtesy of my lovely sausage hands (no laughing at the pictures. I had to figure out how to take them with my iPhone using my mouth – multi-talented)

Picking

20110510-112611.jpg

Throwing

20110510-112619.jpg

Videos for more visual aid:
Picking
Throwing

I’ve done some individual, non-scientific research and found picking is the faster mode of knitting. If you want to be lightening fast, get-five-projects-done-in-a-blink, kind of knitter (like moi) become a picker. Kathleen Cubley (Knitting Daily), also points out in her blog some stitches, you just have to be a picker to do without taking 50 granny years to finish.

You can become pretty adept at throwing in the speed department but you will probably need to adjust your technique.

This pattern-knit blog entry is filled with ways to improve your knitting style.

I’ve also heard (lame) people say, “I can’t learn another way to knit!” Untrue, you learned how to knit when you didn’t know, you can learn to knit better! Don’t limit your knitting power, try something new in knitting.

I found some awesome videos and additional blogs on this thought of improving your style.

If you want to google this topic “knitting style” is a great search combination. Why am I even bringing this up? What does it matter? It matters how you knit because it effects how you interpret stitching help when you look it up. Maybe, just maybe, you could be a better knitter by adjusting your style – alright?!

For example, I’m a Continental picker and I know when I look up something in the stitch dictionary not to get confused by how the example illustration holds the yarn – we do things way differently. I just look at the needles and the stitch progression as my guide and I don’t trip up.

I’ve adjusted my style a couple of times and sometimes get hand cramps when I purl. But I’m switching to Portuguese style for purling, I’m gonna be able to fly through stitches painlessly!

Getting better on my style,
-Stacy C

Wait, What am I Supposed to do?!

6 Feb

Scenario: You’re knitting along, trying to get your pattern done. But wait, what’s this?! What is this kfb? How does it look and how do I do it? And it’s 10 p.m. What am I supposed to do????!!!!

Yeah, that’s been me, many times. Honestly, if I didn’t figure out ways to get over these knitting humps, I wouldn’t have stayed with knitting. If you’re anything like me, and it’s 2 a.m., and you’re trying to find answers, I hope this helps.

What should you do? Here are a couple of suggestions for resources.

Find other knitters – Go ahead, bond with knitters that are complete strangers. Don’t be afraid to say something to a stranger who is brave enough to knit in public. Just be sure you’re not scary when you introduce yourself to a knitting comrade ;-).

Also, look for a community to become a part of, find a knitting group to join. Ravelry.com is a great place to find groups in your area if you don’t already know some people. The groups that you find located in your area are usually groups that get together in person. I’ve had a great time getting really involved in a couple and I have definitely been encouraged, tutored and praised along my knitting route.

One resource that doesn’t always come to mind is YouTube. I read the way to do a stitch and sometimes I don’t always get it. When it’s a stitch with a lot of steps I have to see it. My favorite YouTube knitting guru is Staci from Very Pink Knits. She’s a certified master knitter who has the best angles, explanations and stitch speed.

Simply type in the knitting and the stitch shorthand (ex. knitting + kfb) and videos will pop up giving you different vantage shots and advice.

Last, but not least, don’t be afraid to ask people who know more than you. Check out your local non-chain yarn store, many have classes, group and all have knowledgeable staff. I highly recommend the small businesses over the chains because I’ve made the rookie mistake of asking for help on knowing the difference between yarn weights and no one knew what I was asking. (One woman said she was a crocheter and not a knitter, that makes no difference when it comes to yarn weight.)

Don’t be afraid what time of day it is when you need help, it’s always at your finger tips and no excuse not to keep knitting on!

-Stacy

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