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April 28, 2010

Anne II .:. The White Version

Newest Anne Scarf
Details are the same as the previous Anne, except for yarn choice
[View Ravelry public page]

Kim, of Chronic Ennui, crocheted a lovely cream-colored wool version of this scarf, so I was compelled upon seeing hers to go forward with my plans to crochet a 100% cotton Anne for myself. I'm so glad I did - I love this one even more than my first Anne and can wear this comfortably all summer.

Initially, I started mine with a 5.00 mm hook. I wasn't getting the result I wanted -- which was a really dense and stiff motif -- so I switched to a 4.00 mm hook. Although it turned out exactly how I had envisioned it, my left arm's a bit sore today.

The yarn is Blue Sky Alpacas Cotton - this particular one isn't one of the dyed cottons, however, so it's 100% organic. There's some shedding, but not a substantial amount. It's actually very soft -- and that makes up for any difficulties I had with it. One skein yielded about 54". While it's not as long as other scarves I own, by the time I crocheted the last motif, I was ready to be done anyway. In that respect, it's just the right length.

When I was reading Kim's Ravelry page for her scarf, I noticed that she used a free pattern. The patterns we each used are very similar, but the MK Caroll version I purchased has excellent diagrams in the format I like the best -- the diagram is next to the written instructions. That way, if I don't understand the written instructions, I can refer to the diagram to check myself:

Anne_Chart_CAN-US-2.pdf (page 1 of 4)
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!


If you're inspired to make one of your own, consider this a nudge -- it's easier than it looks!

April 13, 2010

Anne .:. A little crochet in my day

Occasionally, there are those days when, if you're really tense and anxious, picking up knitting needles might not be a good idea. But crochet? That's altogether a different thing . . . you can channel that nervous energy into a quick little something to make you feel happy and accomplished, and ultimately, a bit more relaxed. And happy. Did I mention happy?

Janet's "Anne"
[View Ravelry public page]

From start to finish, this scarf took less than 3 hours. Included in that time were some false starts while I figured out the pattern. Crochet is fast, y'all! And with the exception of reading and eating, I'm not fast at much.

Janet's "Anne"

This is an awesome pattern - it looks quite intricate, but it's actually a lot of "chain x then turn" and while it's possible I did these motifs incorrectly, at least I was consistent. The next photo shows the actual color of the yarn -- more of a teal blue than it appears in the first two photos:

Janet's "Anne"

I now want to crochet one in ALL my favorite colors -- and perhaps a few of your favorite colors too!

PS Go check out Chica's blog entry with the cherry blossom photos. AWESOME!

February 05, 2010

Hearts

Inspired by this and this, I made this:

Heart

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will find them gradually, without noticing it, and live along some distant day into the answer. (Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet)

January 29, 2010

Ripple the second

Jayne's Soft Waves Ripple in Progress
[Ravelry]

When I finished the first Ripple blanket in July, my sister mentioned that she wanted one in pink and brown, so I made plans to start one for her in the Fall. I fully expected to finish in time to give it to her for Christmas, but the shop ran out of one of the colors I was using. When the yarn arrived, I finished the afghan -- another "lap" size of about 38" x 52". It's the same yarn as the previous Ripple - Cascade 220 Superwash - and I actually washed this one in the washing machine and dried it on the lowest setting in my dryer and it fared very well, becoming noticeably softer. I love this yarn, but as much as I enjoyed it, I think I'm definitely rippled out for a while.

Pink and Brown Soft Waves Ripple

It's in her hands now and she loves it!

There have been other projects on the needles (rather than just the hook) and I'll be happy to share them the first chance I get.

January 18, 2010

My favorite accomplishments of 2009

My 2009 Favorites

1. Knitting a sock monkey
2. Achieving some personal goals
3. Learning how to crochet*

Since getting some new books, I'm tempted to experiment with crocheting some garments first:

Crochet Adorned by Linda Perman
Crochet Adorned, by Linda Perman


2010EverydayCrochet.jpg

Everyday Crochet, by Doris Chan

From the introduction in Doris Chan's book:

If you would love to wear your own creations, but struggle with the crocheting because you have fitting or sizing issues, then dive in here. From sleek camisoles to pullovers, cardigans, and coats, the designs in this book contain the elements and guidance to help you make well-fitting, attractive crocheted clothes that you will be proud to wear.

Hers is an interesting approach - crocheting top down with shell stitches. The shells expand down and out rather than up and out, which allows for some natural shaping. And, similar to knitting, top-down construction allows you to try on the garment in progress so you can revise as you go. I'm anxious to try it out but a little bit uncertain about choosing yarn for these projects. I'm not as confident in deviating from the yarns recommended by crochet designers.

Meanwhile, I have plans to knit a sweater for Paul this year as well. I decided on a pattern from Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. He prefers a looser fit, so I'm going to knit him a Drop Shoulder-style sweater with turned up, hemmed sleeves. Swatching has already begun:

Cascade 220 Swatch Color 1913

This should be an interesting year.

Continue reading "My favorite accomplishments of 2009" »

November 15, 2009

November knitting, crochet, and more

The things I want to finish . . .

currently in progress

. . . so I can start these:

Ravelry Queue

I've had a difficult month trying to figure things out and rearrange some priorities. However, knitting and crocheting have been among the few calming things I get to do -- when I get to do them. One of the milestones I've hit is that as of the first of November, I've worked at Twisted Yarns for 5 years. In a month, I'll have been knitting 6 years. In the scheme of things, I've not been knitting very long at all, so it surprises me when non-knitters make assumptions about me based on my hobbies. There's still a lot more to me than my claim to knitting as just one of my many passions. I challenge you to get to know the person behind the knitter. I think I've tried writing about this before -- about all these assumptions one can make about people when they don't make an effort to get to know them beyond their hobbies.

I'm grateful for the diversity among knitters and fiber enthusiasts and the opportunity I have to spend my time working with friends who are among the women I admire the most. I get to meet people who enrich my life beyond a simple sales transaction. I get to teach a skill and end up learning more in the process. I get to support an industry comprised of many women-owned businesses and business cooperatives in developing countries. You do know that there are excellent alternatives to yarn purchased in big-box stores and craft chains, right? I hope so. I hope that if it's your desire to support small businesses in your communities that you're spending your hard-earned dollars in places that matter - places that put money and time back into your community.

That's what this knitter is about . . . in case you were wondering.

August 04, 2009

Susan B's Ripple Afghan Pattern

Although my favorite crocheted ripple pattern is the Soft Waves Ripple, I've had several people contact me requesting free patterns and I found Susan B's appears to be one of the most popular. It's slightly different than the Soft Waves Ripple -- it features pointed peaks rather than a softly rippling pattern. There are a few great examples on Flickr here and here. The Ravelry pattern page is here: Easy Ripple Afghan by SusanB.

FREE Pattern - Susan B's Ripple Afghan

For the basic stitch repeat, I created this .jpg with notes to help you visualize how the pattern works.

Another great free ripple pattern is the one found here at Attic 24. Be prepared to spend some time viewing her awesome projects! She has excellent step-by-step photos and uses the conventional UK crochet instructions in which a Treble (tr) crochet is equivalent to the US Double (dc).

Do you have a favorite crocheted ripple pattern? If so, please share!

I'll be teaching a 2-hour class in September and October based on the Soft Waves Ripple in Jan Eaton's book, 200 Ripple Stitch Patterns: Exciting Patterns to Knit & Crochet for Afghans, Blankets & Throws. If you're local and you already know how to crochet, call the shop and sign up!

July 09, 2009

The Fast and the Finished

Meet "Georgia," the cheeky monkey interpreted as a knit (and crocheted) coffee cup cozy:

Sock monkey cup cozy based on a free pattern on Ravelry
[Flickr] [Ravelry]

As soon as I finished (!), washed and blocked my Soft Waves Ripple, Jr., I grabbed the yarn and pattern for this quick project fix. From start to finish (if you already have the yarn and buttons) the cup cozy can be completed in about two hours. I had so much fun making this. A few months ago, a co-worker of mine at the yarn shop shared the free pattern she found on Ravelry (designer: Alejandra Quiroz) and we each bought a skein of the Manos Wool Clasica "Naturals" and split it three ways. I loved knitting with the yarn -- especially the lighter-colored one that I used for the monkey face. In the skein, it's lightly marled; you don't really see the potential until it's knit. It looks a little bit rustic and wild, and it makes a perfectly cute monkey.

And did I mention I was finished with the Ripple?! I have to admit that I was really sick of it towards the end and so glad I chose to make a smaller version of the blanket. To recap for those who haven't seen my notes on Ravelry, I used Cascade 220 Superwash (about 15 different colors). I started with a Boye 4.25mm (G) crochet hook but lost it (probably somewhere in the sofa) and finished with a Susan Bates 4.25mm (G) hook. Each stripe was 2 rows of the ripple pattern, all double crochet stitches. As I've shared before, this ripple was one of my motivations for wanting to learn how to crochet in the first place, so I'm pleased I stuck with it and finished it. I'm already planning at least one more, slightly wider and longer, for my sister Jayne who requested a pink / brown / white color scheme.

Finished_Ripple_jr.jpg


Finished_Ripple_jr2.jpg

For those of you who are local, the blanket will be at Twisted Yarns for a while. Feel free to squish it.



June 23, 2009

Ripples resumed recently

Soft Waves Ripple - Crochet
[Flickr] [Ravelry]

I finally had a chance to work on my Ripple blanket last week. It had been so long that I was sure I'd forgotten how to do it. However, I picked up my hook and was able to continue where I left off. I love that about crochet -- it seems to be more forgiving of being put aside for a while. The only downside to the project is having several pounds of wool in my lap while I work on each new row. Our heat index has been in the low- to mid-100's and while I know I'll appreciate the Ripple's warmth during the chill of the fall and winter, it's not so comfortable right now. I also catch myself daydreaming about other ripple color combos while I'm crocheting this very random and unplanned one.

Soft Waves Ripple - Crochet

Crochet continues to be what's inspiring me lately -- yet I do intend to pick up knitting needles and complete some projects . . . eventually. Twisted Yarns will be getting the Spud & Chloƫ yarns and patterns and I'm very excited about it. I love that the yarn is a wool/cotton blend and the colors seem so vibrant. See more at Leslie's blog entry regarding the TNNA show - you'll get excited too! And don't miss Susan B. Anderson's introduction and background information.

Thank you all for the kind birthday wishes. I had a great birthday and I'm still enjoying my new Kindle. I know there are those who are skeptical about ebooks, and for me it's a way to read current fiction bestsellers as well as classic literature. But rest assured -- I'm still buying knitting (and now crochet) books!

May 17, 2009

Lacy crochet and the state of things

Allhemp 3 Sprout Green Crochet Lacy Flower
Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts!: Lacy Crochet

I haven't had much of an opportunity to do much of anything, much less knit or crochet, although I think about it all the time. One of the things I want time to do more of is thread crochet. Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts!: Lacy Crochet is an excellent source for thread crochet patterns that go beyond doilies and into functional and useful accessories. My friend Chica in Japan saw what I was up to and sent a care package that included another Japanese crochet book, some Japanese yarn, accessories, and edible goodies.

Care Package from Chica

I was able to try out some of the yarn she sent to make a simple tawashi - tawashi are basically Japanese "scrubbies." It was enough of a project to help me feel slightly more relaxed and less anxious - focused on what was right in front of me instead of things that haven't even happened yet.

Through the force of sheer will, I've been trying to decrease the anxious feelings I've been having for the past several months. I'm finally acknowledging that I probably need to check with my doctor about some of what I'm experiencing, so thank you to those of you who've gently reminded me to do so. Part of what I'm panicky and anxious about is the fact that my dad (currently in a nursing home in Washington state) is in the final stages of Alzheimer's and we've had to make some decisions regarding next steps. I'm conflicted about so many things because of geographical distance and my plans to either travel at all, travel alone, or travel with my family. Then there are the decisions regarding how much to share with my younger children and whether their going along would be upsetting to them in any way.

For those of you who've gone through this process and care to comment, please know that although your comments are welcome and appreciated, I'm a wee bit fragile right now. This is a process that could take weeks or months for my dad and I'm already dealing with some negativity from others about some of the things I'm considering with regard to travel and timing. I have peace about my dad and awesome memories of him -- his creativity and sense of humor, his love of gardening, the joy he got from fishing, and how much he loved all the stray cats he was forced to adopt. There's so much more of course - but those things immediately come to mind. I wish I knew whether he was disappointed he only had four daughters and no sons. I wish I could ask him about his childhood and about his parents and grandparents. I wish I could tell him one more time that he had the most beautiful handwriting I've ever seen.

But you know what? I had a dream about him last night and in it, he was jovial and happy. He was getting ready to do yard work. He was just as I wanted to see him. Selfishly, I don't know that I want the images of how he is now to replace the ones I have or the man I see in photos like this one:

My Dad the Airman - in Japan, 1949

I assume my mom took this photo because she was in other photos taken by him on the same day. I love his wistful look and the jaunty air he had about him. At 22 years old, he had his whole life ahead of him and I truly believe that sixty years later, he would say he's had a good ride.

March 30, 2009

You can come home again

I had to take a short blog sabbatical while Erica moved back home again after living in Florida for two years. We're all adjusting to the new rhythm of the household, but we're delighted she's back with us for a while. So, that's the reason for my serious lack of knitting during the month of March. The crochet project - the Ripple - is something I pick up and work on whenever I have a spot of time.

Rumpled Soft Ripple Crochet Blanket

My best decision about this blanket was to keep it on the small side -- it's a junior-size afghan. The decision I most regret is including the "Aran" or white yarn. But since this is the first of what will be many softly-rippled crochet blankets, my next one(s) will be planned better and I'll be trying cotton or cotton-blends.

Anybody else notice the crochet resurgence? Now's a great time to jump in and start crocheting -- whether it's for the first time or the first time in a long time. Check out Flickr if you need a dose of crochet inspiration. I also made a mosaic this morning that includes colorful crochet visuals and some other random images that made me smile.

Finally, this is my week to Fix, Frog, or Finish my fiber projects. It's also time to de-stash, donate and declutter. Watch this space for more information. You might score some cool fibers.


February 16, 2009

Crochet and cupcakes

Crocheting is such a treat for me -- I can finish something cute in less than 20 minutes and use my bits of leftover yarn (I never throw away any yarn that's at least 24" long). I first saw these Tawashi flowers on Ravelry and then Stacey made her own version of them as well. I conquered the magic ring with the help of the instructions in Stitch 'N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker (the instructions in the book are much more intuitive for me than the directions here, but your mileage may vary) and made a few of these flowers last night while watching a movie.

Tawashi Flower

And yesterday morning, I made the crocheted cupcake I've been obsessed with since seeing a few of them around blogs and Ravelry:

Crocheted Cupcake
Cupcake from Amigurumi World: Seriously Cute Crochet and free cupcake pattern on the author's blog

It's lopsided and I didn't quite understand the instructions for the base at first, but I think I understand it now. I'll have to crochet another cupcake to be sure. I was in such a hurry to put it together that I didn't do a great job seaming it, but I still love it. I enjoyed working with the yarn I chose -- it's Cascade 220 Superwash. Now I totally understand the rave reviews about it. It's my yarn of choice for my future crocheted ripple blanket.

And the real thing -- a coconut cupcake from the Twisted Yarns 5th Anniversary celebration this past Saturday:

Coconut Cupcakes from Sweeties in The Woodlands

"Sweeties" will be opening soon in The Woodlands and I can't wait to have a place to go to get my favorite coconut cupcakes.