Crochet

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And with it my Lace cardigan pattern (Ravelry link here):

And I even made the cover — it just doesn’t get any more gratifying than that.  It really doesn’t.  This is my first crochet pattern, and now that it has all worked out okay I can admit it, the first thing I have crocheted in almost ten years.

If you would like to purchase the electronic version of the magazine you can get it here:

And to think I thought I was tired today.

I have been reading and considering the viewpoints of the members of the Crochet Designers’ Group on Ravelry in this discussion thread.  They are discussing ways to help change the mindset of many crocheters who don’t like crocheting garments, but prefer to crochet housewares and other items.  I have been considering the discussion for several days, and while I completely understand how this could be frustrating for designers who would like to design other things, I think we should examine what we define as a successful design.

Specifically, I think we should examine the purpose of publishing fancy garments in fine yarns in magazines: in one of my jobs several years ago I used to manage a craft gift shop. The previous manager had focussed heavily on smaller items as those were what tended to sell, but I found that without the bigger expensive items the cheaper items didn’t sell as well — the big pieces sold the small pieces.

I haunt the local book and yarn stores searching for crafting magazines and books, and I will buy a magazine or a book for the masterpiece project that would take months to complete, and I will read it again and again. I may not make it, in fact I probably won’t, as I have more things to knit and crochet than I fear I will ever finish, but it sold the magazine – is that a failure of the design? Does every pattern written for publication need to be made over and over? There are so many other measures of success: it may improve your reputation, or make a fan, or sell the magazine that will sell yarn and help you get more business in the future, because you made that fabulous thing that people remember. All of these things are important and help your career, and I wouldn’t consider that outcome a failure, even if only two people ever make it.

Those designs are kind of like the wedding dress at the end of a fashion show — not many people are in the market for a wedding dress, but it can be over the top and designed for the most special day in a person’s life (whether the day is in fact the most special day is beside the point — the dress is designed for the most special day — I suspect that most most special days happen when you are naked, or in a hospital gown, or jeans, or pajamas, etc.).  Some designs are like that — they are designed to be masterpieces of the crafter’s art, and they will likely be made less than something more approachable that requires less expense, time, and thought — but that doesn’t mean they are not successes.

Yesterday I sent off my very first crochet pattern submission.  It feels like such a plunge.  It is also my first submission in hard copy — it had a swatch attached and everything. If any of you have any understanding of how you are supposed to attach your name and contact information to a swatch without pasting or stapling it, I would be most grateful to be enlightened.

I am so proud of myself to have my application put together and mailed on time.  I consider every submission to be a great personal triumph against the demons of self doubt and procrastination.

It doesn’t matter at this point if my design gets accepted or not, I have won in the battle against myself.

All the same, if you have a chance, put down your knitting or crochet or whatever you have in your busy hands, and cross your fingers a moment for me, because I am pleased as punch with my design and the thought of getting it published in the unnamed venue.

I could sit around and watch TV and crochet pseudospheres all day long. Here is my second one:

pseudosphere-1

These are fun: they are intellectual without actually requiring concentration while you do them. This one used the last of the Noro Taiyo yarn I had lying around and the same hook as the last one (here).

I started with one stitch in the middle and crocheted two stitches into every three stitches.

I am now working on a hyperbolic plane.

Well it seems that one has to come up with names for everything when you blog so this is my “dark magma heart”:

hyperbolicplane-1

It is a pseudosphere: a hyperbolic version of a cone. I read A Field Guide to Hyperbolic Space (as as I wrote about here) and of course rushed out to my stash and grabbed some yarn I had left over from a secret project (I wrote about this yarn already here).

So this is the result.

hyperbolicplane-2

These are fun. It is constructed by crocheting one stitch at the centre then working in the round, increasing into every second stitch. It starts out as if it were nothing special and getting more exciting every round. I left the tail at the centre as the centre of a pseudosphere as the centre point reaches infinity; you could also hang it from something.

I have listed it on my Etsy account here.  You can also see my project page on Ravelry here.

I have been meaning to try a few new techniques for a while and yesterday I did! Yes, instead of working on any of the multitude of active projects, or even mending the sweater in my knitting basket with a hole, I tried two new things.

New technique #1: broomstick lace

broomsticklace-1

I tried a few crochet stitches for the gathering part and a few different numbers of loops being gathered. I can see how this could work, and I think I could start working with it now. It would probably be a scarf or shawl, but I can see the logic of it.

I have some nice alpaca/silk lace weight that would be just the ticket.

I used this nice tutorial from the January issue of Yarn Forward for instructions:

broomsticklace-2

As someone who likes learning things from written instructions, I appreciated this article for its comprehensibleness.

New technique #2: hairpin lace

The other new thing was hairpin lace:

hairpinlace-2

This one was harder to get my mind around. There is something about the twisting the hook around to the back part that did not immediately make sense to me from the still pictures, but after a few fits and starts I made a base strip.

I used this tutorial from the Spring 2006 issue of Interweave Crochet:

hairpinlace-1

Though it made my head hurt a little, the instructions were comprehensible enough for me to figure out, so no complains there — and I think the technique is more difficult to conceptualize than the other, but don’t the Stitch Diva designs make it all seem worth it? The instructions were much better than the ones that came on the back of the package the frame came in — go figure.

For this I definately need to work a pattern or two from someone else. I just don’t quite get the logic of it yet, but there are lots of beautiful patterns in the world that people would be happy to give or sell me. I was considering this one.

Here some more scrumbles I have completed for my freeform shawl:

The second one is not really flat, and it is boring, but the first one seems okay.

I wanted it to be all wonderful like all the freeform projects that I so admire an Ravelry and in books. It may still be: it can be difficult to tell before it’s done. I also suppose that it also may not be realistic of me to expect to be really good at something the first time I try it, but who said I had to be realistic?

Freeform heaven

I am completely smitten with freeform lace crochet (see this book).

I was hesitant, as I am not really that good at crochet, but I don’t need to know what any of the names of the stitches for this, so I am fine.

(I swear the same stitches have different names in different places, and they don’t all define everything, but don’t listen to me I am just bitter)

The other exciting thing is that I am not sure I could come up with a better combination of yarn and technique than Noro kureyon sock yarn and this, and just look at it:

I am liking this so much; it is much more fun than counting and reading patterns.

I think I may like to stay in this newly discovered crafty country for a while and see where the randomness takes me.

Back in February I decided to embark on an adventure in crafting, crochet particularly. I ordered a crochet and knitting book with patterns for slippers, leg warmers, and a couple blankets in Japanese and decided I would see what I could do. I got busy with other things and that didn’t happen when planned, but I have gotten quite sick and am not able to do much in the way of much this weekend, so I have decided that crocheting myself some slippers in Japanese might be just the ticket.

Originally, I was trying to work out the yardage and weight per length of the yarn used and needle size etc., and if I understand correctly, the pattern calls for wool at 83m to 50g, but working out everything else seemed like more effort than it was worth, so at this point, I just took out some likely looking yarn and a likely looking crochet hook from my very small collection of hooks and started swatching.

The 5mm hook was too large, so I ran off to get another (4mm). It cost $2.29 — apparently the crochet hook manufacturers have not attained the same level of premiumisation as the knitting needle manufacturers, because I don’t think I ever paid anything near that little for needles.

The new swatch seemed more or less okay and crochet is stretchy, so I just started. They went like a whiz and here they are:

My feet aren’t actually that blue — my camera was trying to help by stopping me from taking an overly orange photo, and I can’t be bothered to get out the manual and figure out how to turn off the automatic colour adjust.

I am quite smitten with the slippers. I think I would have all my shoes be Mary Janes or at least have ankle straps if I could. Somehow it just makes them feel more like mine.

The pattern is available in this book:

ISBN: 4529042952.

Crochet me

I have joined Crochet Me, so I can attain a new level of competence and think in crochet. I realize that is akin to joining FaceBook so I can have friends, but I never said that nothing I would ever do would be ironic.

I want to be able to bring the crocheted things in my head into the world.

On Crochet Me, I am S-Sutherland; I would love to have some crochet friends.

I made these snowflakes some time ago when I was experimenting with crocheting lace, and they are certainly one of the most successful crochet projects I have done so far. Originally I intended to use them as Christmas decorations, but they are so pretty against my orange walls, that I have left them up for a year and a half.

All the patterns came from Glittering Snowflakes in Thread Crochet by Jo Ann Maxwell, published by the American School of Needlework. It doesn’t appear to be readily available, but there are other places with patterns for snowflakes.

They are wonderfully satisfying, and one can be completed in an evening. I would like to make more big ones for real Christmas or at least winter. There is something appealing in thinking of masses of yarn snow falling, which really shouldn’t need any further excuse than season or whim.

lyrascoat-buttons1.jpg

Sometimes you don’t have those perfect buttons to complete the project you are working on and sometimes you don’t want to go out to get any, or you live in Saskatchewan and today is Sunday and nowhere likely to sell buttons is open. Or maybe, just maybe you are aesthetically opposed to spending money on this project, but you still have yarn left over — then you can crochet yourself buttons.

I started with cotton yarn in a colour that coordinates with my project. an appropriately sized crochet hook, something to stuff the buttons, and a tapestry needle:

lyrascoat-buttons2.jpg

I started with the loops for button holes:

Loop the yarn twice around something that will give you the approximate length you want — I used the palm of my hand and bring a loop of yarn from the back and then loop around the hook and pull through, this will start your crochet. This is a little difficult to explain, just try it until it makes sense.

lyrascoat-buttons3.jpg

Next, work single crochet, bringing the hook to the back of the yarn circle to bind it.

lyrascoat-buttons4.jpg

Continue until the end of the loop and make sure the stitches aren’t twisted. Cut the yarn leaving about a 4″[10cm] tail. Put the tail on the tapestry needle, thread through the first crochet stitch to secure it, and draw through some stitches to secure the end

lyrascoat-buttons5.jpg

For the buttons themselves, wrap the yarn two times around your little finger.

lyrascoat-buttons6.jpg

Put your hook to the back of the loop and wrap the yarn around it and pull back to the front, wrap the yarn around the hook and pull through first loop.

lyrascoat-buttons7.jpg

Now crochet about 6 single crochet stitches onto the loop.

lyrascoat-buttons9.jpg

Pull the loose thread from the yarn you wrapped around your finger to pull tight and close the hole in the middle. Do a slip stitch in the first single crochet to complete the circle. Chain one, work a single crochet stitch in the next stitch and two in the following one. Continue working one single crochet and two single crochets in each stitch for about two rounds or until you think your button is almost big enough. Switch to working one single crochet in each stitch for one round.

lyrascoat-buttons11.jpg

Slip hook through next stitch from the previous round and wrap yarn, pull through, repeat for next stitch, wrap yarn around hook and pull through the three loops on the hook. Single crochet in next stitch. Repeat the previous two stitches until the hole starts to close.

lyrascoat-buttons12.jpg

Take a small amount of stuffing about the size of your button when compressed

lyrascoat-buttons13.jpg

and stuff it in your button.

lyrascoat-buttons14.jpg

Continue working as established until the hole is almost closed. Cut the yarn, leaving about a 6 inch[15cm] tail. Using your tapestry needle, darn the hole closed and stitch through several stitches to secure the end. Draw through the button and cut the thread.

lyrascoat-buttons15.jpg

Here is one of my finished buttons:

lyrascoat-buttons16.jpg

Here is what the button and loop look like on my project (Lyra’s coat, instructions are available here). I made five altogether as I was originally going to make four, but since living in China I am superstitious about the number four and try to avoid it.

lyrascoat-buttons17.jpg

I have ordered a Japanese craft book off Ebay, well knitting/crochet book, the sewing book will be tackled later. I am not exactly sure how this will work, but they have graphs, so I should be able to make this happen.

Ponder this for a moment:

japanesecraftbook1.jpg

I especially want these:

japanesecraftbook2.jpg

Here is a selection from the instructions page:

japanesecraftbook4.jpg

I will try to make these, all as part of the cause of improving my crochet. It may be a little difficult to figure out, but I have checked Google and this (ウール) means wool, so there you go. I am practically there!

japanesecraftbook5.jpg

If you read enough Japanese to do it, or you want to live dangerously, you could buy it from Amazon Japan.

On crochet

I think I learned to crochet and knit at the same time, which was probably more than 20 years ago now. I remember I was about 8 and after knitting a few Barbie scarves I started making a mitten. I made it half way through the first one.

The only thing I remember crocheting as a child was an afghan, but surely I didn’t learn to crochet on an afghan — if for no other reason, who would give a child who had never crocheted anything before that much yarn? I afghan was not a great success — the edges were kind of ripply.

But though I started the two crafts so equally, I only started knitting again about 6 years ago, but I didn’t crochet as much.

Now I find that because I have done it so much more, I think in knitting. I can look at yarn and see a finished object — a finished knitted object, but every time I want to crochet something still I need to look up exactly what they mean by dc — I never have to look up what k2tog means. I can’t see what something crocheted will look like before it is done or without a pattern with a picture.

I just don’t think in crochet, but I wish I had the facility to do it. Here is a picture of the first thing I ever made in crochet without seeing a picture or model of first, the motifs are from Norah Gaughan:

crochetpillow.jpg

Here is my original post on it: Other uses I have put my stash to.

In crochet I am reduced to salvaging my results when I try to make a rug as cushion appliqués.

I think I will persevere, maybe I will make something Loop-d-Loop Crochet by Teva Durham. She makes it look so . . . so . . . fresh/exciting/fashionable/quirky/elegant/fun — I just don’t think I can come up with a better word for it than that. I also have Crochet Me by Kim Werker, which is also fabulous.

One day crochet will speak to me too.

I made this cushion last weekend:

crochetpillow.jpg

The motifs are from a Norah Gaughan Hemp Flower Necklace from Interweave Crochet, Summer 2005, and the fabric is corduroy for a skirt that never materialized.

I had this rug yarn from my granny, and I thought maybe I could make an area rug out of it with motifs, but there was not enough and it seemed like a tripping hazard, so it sat and sat, and then I had the idea, so now I have this nice new floor cushion.

crochetpillow2.jpg

I am so pleased with myself – I used only materials I already had. This may just mean my stash has reached critical mass.

It has occurred to me that I have so many more ideas for knitting projects than I will ever be able to complete that perhaps I should share them and others can carry them out if they feel so inclined.

One of the most pressing design challenges I have at the moment is how to make a throw blanket using every weird scrap of yarn I possess, but making it look good and be warm. I both want a throw and space for more yarn in my back closet. This may be a lost cause, but imagine how proud of myself I would be! I am contemplating the Catherine’s wheel crochet stitch from Teva Durham’s, Loop-d-Loop Crochet, if I made it on a big enough hook could it be made of different weights of yarn and still be right?

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