Monday, December 31, 2007

The Meaning Of Life is Really a Granny Square!

I belong to an online Yarn of the Month Club. Every month, I get 4 or 5 mini skeins of different yarns in colorways that are all coordinated to work well together. I have been a member for a couple of years, so you know I have lots of mini skeins of yarn around. Recently, I had to swatch some granny squares, and decided to use some of the yarns I received. This is a picture of the two squares I made.

Then, I started to think about Granny Squares, and how much I love them! I have written about them ( Hooked! A Crocheter's Stash of Wit and Wisdom, edited by Kari Cornell) designed with them (many, many projects - both published and not-yet published - more info on that later as the patterns get published) and always try out new yarns by making granny squares! My first encounter with the GS was in 8th grade, when my teacher taught her class how to make them. I already knew how to crochet, so I picked up the GS pattern quickly. We made squares, and put them together in afghans to donate to veterans. When I told my mother what I learned that day, she sat me down and asked me to teach her. (She crocheted, but didn't know the GS pattern.) I taught her, and she took off running - making GS afghans for everyone in the family, all our friends, all the new babies, and anyone else she could think of. She was a fast crocheter (that's where I probably got my speed!) and was able to finish one afghan of 140 squares in 2 weeks, working at night, after working all day at her job!

When I took over as the provider of baby afghans to our family, of course I made a GS afghan. And I haven't stopped making GS afghans and other GS designs since. I often use GSs to work out a pattern, because I can finish one quickly. After the GS version of the design is finished, I can decide whether I want to work the design using another stitch pattern. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. :-)

I am protective of the GS! The pattern I use for the basic square is simple to do, and easy to remember. And, it is the very same pattern that I taught my mother - I can see it in some of the GS afghans and sweaters that she made for me (and that I still have, of course!) I know it shouldn't bother me, but when I see square motifs called Granny Squares, I don't like it! They are motifs that happen to be square and may be worked in rounds, but they are NOT Granny Squares. At least, they are not the Granny Square that I learned oh so long ago!

So, here is the technique I use for the GS. The basic pattern usually consists of groups of 3 dc stitches separated by one chain stitch, except at the corners, where there are 2 or 3 chain stitches. This is supposedly to make a "square" corner. (When you work a corner, you usually put 3 stitches in one, to make it square!) Now, if you are familiar with my designs, you would know that I like to keep things simple and easy to remember. I like non-complicated patterns. So, in the corners of my GSs, I just work one chain. Each group of 3 double crochet stitches is now separated from the next group of 3 double crochet stitches by one chain, and you don't have to remember to add that second chain at the corner. So you can get into your "zen" crochet, and just crochet! Now, what about that rule of "3 stitches at the corner to make a square corner"? Well, you HAVE three "stitches", or groups of stitches. 1. a group of dc stitches. 2. one chain. 3. a group of dc stitches. That is three "things" - so that makes a square corner.

Another benefit of chaining only one at each corner - the granny square you make will be more "together".

Stay tuned for another discussion on how to join the ends of rounds!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Three Cotton Yarns

I am a big fan of Lily Sugar'n Cream cotton yarn, and have used it in many, many projects. When I need something sturdy, for a tote or bag, when I need something for a kitchen project - such as a dishcloth, hot pad, oven mitt, or kitchen rug, I reach for my stash of Sugar'n Cream. I have also used it for hats and kids' scarves. So, when I went to a lys and discovered some Kertzer yarn, Coolspun Cotton, that looked a lot like Sugar'n Cream, I had to buy a couple of skeins to try. And then, Coats announced that they had a cotton yarn, Creme de la Creme, and I went on a search for that. I found some on-line, and ordered some. (I do like having this blog - it gives me a great excuse for buying new yarns to blog about!) I got the Creme de la Creme a couple of days ago, and put it aside until I decided what to do with it. I had enough of one color to make a small project, and looked in some books that I had ordered and received the same day as the yarn. I'll blog more about these books, because I am going to work on an idea that I got from one of them, and I don't want to spoil the surprise! But - I decided to make a circle shape from the Creme de la Creme. I bought the color Old Bluejeans Ombre, and I wanted to see if the color "pooled". As I was crocheting the circle, I decided to work circles in the other two yarns, to compare them. When I found the CoolSpun Cotton, I discovered that I bought the same color - only it's called Faded Denim. And then I remembered that Sugar'n Cream has a Faded Denim color too, and I was sure I had a ball of that. And I did! So I crocheted circles last night, with all three yarns.

These are the circles I crocheted. From left to right - Sugar'n Cream, CoolSpun Cotton, Creme de la Creme. I used a Susan Bates H8/5.00mm Silvalume hook for all three swatches. And I worked 10 rounds in all three yarns. Same pattern. As you can see, the Sugar'n Cream and the CoolSpun Cotton worked up to the same size. The Creme de la Creme was slightly smaller. The "pooling" of the colors was similar for all three yarns. Now - for the particulars about the yarns:
Sugar'n Cream - Faded Denim, 100% cotton, 2 oz., 95 yards, machine or hand wash, dry flat. Hook: 4.5mm, US 7.
CoolSpun Cotton - Faded Denim, Soft 100% cotton, 1.5oz., 73 yds, machine wash, tumble dry. Hook: 4 - 5mm, G/6 to H/8.
Creme de la Creme - Old Bluejeans Ombre,100% Combed Cotton, 2oz., 99 yds, machine wash, tumble dry. Hook US H8/5mm.

I don't know the difference between 100% cotton, Soft cotton, and Combed cotton, but I could definitely feel a difference between the first two and the last swatch. The Creme de la Creme felt softer. But - I'm sure a lot of that was because the yarn itself is thinner, and so the stitches have more space around them.

Look at this picture of a strand of each of the yarns. From left to right: Sugar'n Cream, CoolSpun Cotton, Creme de la Creme. You can see that Creme de la Creme is slightly thinner. What I find interesting, is that Coats recommends an H8/5.00mm hook for this thinner yarn. Lily recommends a US 7, 4.5mm hook for Sugar'n Cream, and Kertzer recommends between a G/6 to and H/8, which is 4.00mm to 5.00mm. What you should know, if you don't already (and I'm sure you do), is that the smaller the hook, the more firm (rigid, stiff - whatever you want to call it) the fabric is. So with a G6, or a G7 hook, with the first two yarns, you would get a very stiff fabric. Which is okay - if that's what you want!

One other interesting fact - all three yarns say "worsted weight" on their labels. Obviously, some worsted is not like other worsteds, and if you substituted one for another in a pattern, your gauge might not be the same. If gauge were critical, this could pose a problem!

My conclusions: I like all three yarns! Sugar'n Cream has many choices, and is readily available on-line and in stores. And you know I really like the Sugar'n Cream Stripes! CoolSpun has a good start! Nice colors, but not as many choices as SnC. Creme de la Creme looks like a winner, also. Soft drape, good colors. I can't wait until it's readily available in the stores! All three are not expensive, so when you just have to have a yarn fix, or need some yarn for swatching and trying out new stitch patterns, all three are perfect!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Poncho and Sweater Patterns Available Free!

I just found out that Barnes & Noble has a new website - - that features projects from some "how-to" books. Two of my projects, from two different Lark books, are now available for free on their site! (WIth my permission, of course.) This first one, from Fabulous Crocheted Ponchos, is called "Faux Sheepskin Poncho. I made it with Berroco Suede and Berroco Softee, to get the sheepskin look.

The second project, from the book New Crochet, is the Fanciful Mesh Sweater. It's made in one piece - no seams - from the bottom up, then the sleeves are added on. And best of all, it stretches! Also, I tell how to customize it to your liking.
Check these two patterns out! And send me pictures if you make them!

Faux Sheepskin Poncho:

Fanciful Mesh Sweater:

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Susan Bates Crochet Hooks

I have HAS (hook acquisition syndrome). I collect hooks. I admit it - it's an addiction almost as bad as YAS (yarn acquisition syndrome) and PAS (pattern acquisition syndrome). Both of which I also have! It could be worse! I have old hooks, new hooks, wooden hooks, hooks with beads, hooks with my name on them, tunisian hooks, cable hooks, steel hooks from my grandmother, plastic hooks, bone hooks, lucite hooks, clear hooks, etc., etc., etc. You get the idea. But there is always another hook to buy. And I recently found some that I am in love with!

When I am crocheting something with the thought that I may propose it somewhere to get published, I always crochet with a manufactured hook, not a wooden one. And my hook of choice is a Susan Bates Silvalume. So you can imagine how excited I was when I found out that SB was producing their Silvalume hooks with a bamboo handle! Yay! A good excuse (as if I really needed one!) to buy more hooks!

I found an M hook at a yarn shop, and the others - G through N, at local craft stores. I got all sizes (except G - I usually don't use a hook smaller than an H, so I didn't buy the G - I didn't know how I'd like crocheting with these. Well, I do, so I'll wait until the next coupon and go get the G!) I crochet with a pencil grip, and these hooks are great for that! But I also tried a knife grip (I use that sometimes with "difficult" yarn), and I found I could use the hooks with that grip. They work just like the regular SB Silvalume - they have the same inline hook. The sizes are: H - 5.00mm, I - 5.50mm, J - 6.00mm, K - 6.50mm, L - 8.00mm, M - 9.00mm, N - 10.00mm. These sizes are the same as the regular Silvalume. The really nice thing is that the larger size hooks, L, M, and N, are not plastic! They are the same material as the smaller hooks. So if you don't like the plastic or the lucite, you now have a choice! And - you can find the L and the M sizes without looking all over!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

more from the Orlando Needlework Show

Even though what happens in Orlando stays in Orlando, I had to share this photo with you. Just to show you that Vashti does wear her chaps everyday, not just on the runway! This was taken on Saturday, at the CGOA/TKGA booth. We were checking out the marketplace, one more time, in case we missed anything! (And, we did find some things we missed!) We stopped at the booth to talk to some potential members of CGOA. Check out Vashti's blog ( to see her modeling these chaps in the CGOA Chain Link fashion show in New Hampshire. (If you notice the mannequin in the background - her arms make a great yarn winder, when you're desperate!)

I finally felted the entrelac crochet basket I made in Darla Fantan's class. I worked it in Noro Kureyon, so I didn't have to change colors! :-) I liked the way it turned out, and I definitely will use this technique again.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

365 Crochet Stitches a Year

This is another stitch dictionary I just got! 366 (including a day for leap year) patterns in a perpetual calendar. There are months and days listed, but no years. So this stitch calendar will last a long time. And with 366 great patterns, it will take a long time to try them all. But that's what I'm going to do. Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss are long-time crochet and knit designers, editors, etc. They have so much knowledge between them, and it shows in their books. This one is no exception. Jean said they went to lots of different sources to find patterns, and I can see that by looking through this book. They have lacy patterns - one looks like it could be a drop-stitch knit pattern - shell patterns, picot patterns, variations on scs, ripple stitch patterns, variations on filet mesh patterns and spider web patterns, and many more! They don't give hook size or gauge - you can work these patterns in any thread or yarn, and appropriate size hook. What they do give is the stitch repeat, so you can make the pattern however wide you want it.

There is only one thing missing from this book - stitch pattern diagrams. I like to look at a new stitch pattern, by looking at the directions, the photo, and the stitch diagram. All three used together help me learn the new pattern. And I have been teaching my students to use (or write for themselves) stitch diagrams. But, I will still recommend this book, because of all the new patterns that Jean and Rita present here!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Finger Crochet

Whenever a designer sees one of their patterns published in a book or magazine, it is a special thrill! I know it's that way for me, and I would imagine it's that way for every one else who designs. The only thing better than seeing YOUR design published, is seeing your granddaughter's first design published! And that's what is in the new Crochet! magazine, Jan.2008 edition. My granddaughter (11 years old at the time she designed her scarf, now 12) and I collaborated on an article and her pattern for a finger-crocheted scarf that is currently featured in Crochet! Did I tell you how proud I am of her? If you are interested in teaching a young child how to crochet, try teaching the finger crochet method first. You can make many simple things - and this scarf is just perfect for this winter! Check the magazine out at your local newsstands, and learn how to finger crochet!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Found: a "crochet friendly" yarn shop!

Last Saturday, my husband and I were driving home from the coast, and he wanted to stop at a couple of stores in Jacksonville. Because it was Saturday, I knew a local yarn shop that I wanted to visit would be open, so we stopped there, also. I know the owner from CGOA (the Crochet Guild of America), and thought that it would be fun to surprise her, and see what she has in her shop. Well, I was the one surprised! The shop, Phootsy's Yarn Cottage, is in a small house, and yarn has completely taken it over. Even in the bathroom, where the toilet seat cover is crocheted! And of course, there is a cute little crocheted toilet paper cover, and a felted basket with washcloths in it.

What I liked about Freddie's shop was that it had lots and lots of yarn, a really good selection for each brand and type she carried. She also had models that were both crocheted and knitted! So I would definitely call it a "crochet friendly" place. And I knew that I wouldn't encounter that age-old question that out-of-touch yarn shop owners ask designers: "Can you crochet with that yarn?" (A friend of mine, and I, have been making it our mission to check out the yarn shops in NC. At least the ones that are within a couple of hours drive from us. It's been a very eye-opening project - one that I'll write about at another time.)

She had some hand-dyed yarn (she has someone do it for her to her specifications), and I found a hand-dyed cotton - 100% Supina Cotton (I have to find out what "Supina" means. I forgot to ask her.) in just the colorway I love - faded denims. You can see the 4 skeins I bought. It isn't self-striping, it is just variegated, but as you can see from the circle I was swatching, it doesn't pool too much. I don't know what I'll make with the yarn - each skein has 155 yards, so I have plenty to work with. I think I'll just wait until it tells me what it wants to be.

Oh - by the way, the yarn is soft, and doesn't split. It's worsted weight, but there is no gauge or recommended hook size on the ball band. I used a Susan Bates US H-8/5 mm Silvalume hook, and liked the way it worked up. The yarn is called Phootsy's Phyber.

Check out her web site:

Crochet Border Designs

If you didn't realize it, I am a book collector. I haunt the bookstores, looking for new crochet and knitting books. I search Amazon constantly, looking to see what new books are coming. Sometimes I'm disappointed in them, when they finally do get published, but most of the time I'm pleased. And I usually buy them.

I have been waiting anxiously for Linda Schapper's new book, The Complete Book of Crochet Border Designs, and was surprised this morning when I went to the bookstore and saw it - it wasn't supposed to be published until January. Of course, I had to buy it! I waited until I was home, having lunch, before I even opened it.

I read the introduction - it was very informative about the layout of the book. Three ways to look at the patterns are included: the picture (very clear, worked in white yarn/thread, and photographed on a colored background - easy to "read"), the stitch diagram, and the written directions. Schapper says to work from the diagram, if you can read stitch symbols (which she provides), or work from the written pattern, and look at the stitch diagram and the picture if you have problems with the written pattern. She also suggests that it would be a good idea to learn how to read stitch diagrams. Then you can "read" Japanese, French, and Russian patterns. In the front of the book she includes basic (and not so basic) stitch directions, with great diagrams by Karen Manthey.

So, I was really anticipating wonderful things when I opened the book to Chapter One. (There are 17 chapters.) I scanned the first two chapters, and liked the patterns I saw. Then, I turned to Chapter 3, Double Crochet, Single Crochet, Chains, & Picots. I saw the first pattern, #28, and it seemed like something that I was looking for, for a project I am doing. So, of course, I looked at it closer. And closer. Something seemed wrong. I read the directions, I looked at the stitch diagram. And then I looked at the photo of the stitches. The directions matched the stitch diagram, but the photo was another pattern. Similar, but not the same. This could be confusing if someone looked at the picture for clarification of the stitch diagram or the written directions. Now, I promise, I was not looking for errors. But I must be cursed, because when I read a book, or look at a pattern book, the mistakes just jump out at me. Except my own! :-)

I finished looking at the rest of the book, without really studying the patterns (there are 342!). I was impressed with the variety, and saw many of them that could be used as fabric patterns, not just edging patterns. So - I do highly recommend this book. And no, this is not one that I was disappointed with, even with that error. I think it will be an important addition to anyone's library of stitch dictionaries. (One can never have too many of those!) But remember to look carefully at the photos and the stitch diagrams, and read the directions.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Crochet Hot Spot!

What, you may ask, is this bunch of yarn doing, just lying on my couch? I just unpacked it, and thought I'd show you what you missed by not going to the Orlando Needlework Show this past weekend! It was a fun, relaxing weekend. I didn't teach any classes - I TOOK classes. I took two of Darla Fanton's classes on Tunisian Crochet. One was basic Tunisian, and I finally learned how to do a Tunisian Purl Stitch so it will stick with me. The other class was Tunisian Entrelac, and I made a small basket which I'm going to felt. It was a fun technique, and I have a couple of projects planned for it. Then, there was the Market floor, with a lot of scrapbook, beads, and quilting vendors. There were just a few yarn vendors, (2 stores and one yarn company), and the CGOA/TKGA booth. I saw a lot of luscious yarn, but I tried to restrain myself. The past few weeks, a friend and I have been checking out yarn shops in North Carolina that are within a couple hours of us, and I have added a great deal to my stash. (And I wasn't sure I could fit everything in my suitcase!) I did buy a lot, but I think Vashti won this time! One thing I found interesting - I was sure I would be able to find a lot of cotton yarn. This was Florida, after all, and it was HOT! About 80 degrees on Friday. But, there wasn't as much cotton as I thought. Most of the yarn was wool. Gorgeous wool, but wool. And I was in the market for cotton.

The blue blob on the right of the picture is my experiment, crocheting with blue fabric. I found a quilting booth that had fabric already cut into thin strips. Since the cutting or tearing of the material is what I like the least about crocheting with fabric, I thought I would try some of these strips. I got to use my new Susan Bates Silvalume M hook with a bamboo handle that I picked up on one of my yarn shop expeditions, and I really liked the combination.

On Saturday afternoon, I sat at the CGOA/TKGA booth, and talked about crochet and CGOA with the many people who stopped by. In the two days of the show, CGOA and TKGA both got lots of new members. That was great! Florida, we decided, was a hot spot for crochet!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Self Striping Sugar 'n Cream yarn

I'm on a quest lately to find self-striping yarns. Unfortunately, I don't have to go very far to find them! All I have to do is look in my stash. And I have found a couple of different yarns to sample. So, I will be working up swatches with them in order to see just how they self-stripe. Some questions I want to answer: 1. How long are the stripes in sc, dc, and a pattern like a Granny Square? (Of course I had to use the Granny Square!) 2. Do the colors "pool" at all, as they do in variegated yarns? 3. How abrupt are the color changes? 4. Are the colors repeated in the same order?

The first yarn I worked with is Lily Sugar'n Cream Stripes. It's a 2 oz skein, with about 95 yds, and is worsted weight. It comes in many colorways, and they all appeal to me. The price varies, depending on the store and the sale, but it is approximately the same price as Lily Sugar'n Cream regular yarn. All the qualities that I liked about that yarn (see post on July 25, 2007) I like about this yarn. And more! I really like how this yarn self stripes.

1. WIth sc stitches, I was able to get between 107 and 117 stitches per color, using a Susan Bates H8 5mm hook. With dc stitches I got about 70 stitches per color. With the Granny Square swatch I didn't count the stitches, I just looked at how the square worked up. And as the square gets larger, there will be more colors per round, but there are enough stitches in each color so I don't believe the colors would "pool".

2. "Pooling" usually occurs with short lengths of colors. I would describe it as colors that are "clumped" together for just a few rows and a few stitches. The length of the colors in Sugar'n Cream Stripes is long enough so that I don't think the colors would "pool", even in long rows. However, when you need to start a new skein, you would have to be careful to start it at the same place in the sequence where the last skein ended. (This is something you need to be careful of with most variegated and some self-striping yarns.) Otherwise, the "pattern" of clumps that is set up with the first skein will not be continued, and there will be a glitch in the color.
3. The color changes are not too abrupt. When one color is going to change to the next, the second color is worked into the first color for a few stitches. It blends nicely!
4. The colors seem to be repeated in the same order - so you do have to be careful when you add skeins, to keep that pattern of colors.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Granny Square Jacket

One of the problems I find with having patterns published in magazines is that after the magazine goes off the newsstand, if someone wants that pattern, it could be difficult to find. I have this happen many times. My students see me wear a garment I designed. They want to make it. It was published in a magazine that is no longer available in the stores. I can't give them the pattern; I can just tell them which magazine it was in, and offer some suggestions about where to find it. One of my most popular patterns with my students is my "Decadent Denim Jacket" that was published in Crochet! magazine last year. I just discovered it's available at . This is as exciting as seeing the pattern in the magazine for the first time!

I have worked this jacket in lots of different yarns, and many colors. It's easy to do, (it's just different size Granny Squares) and I get so many complements when I wear one! I am thrilled that the pattern is available on-line!

Saturday, October 27, 2007


One of the most difficult aspects of being a designer is letting go of your design! It's sometimes as bad as seeing your youngest child go off to college. You go through "empty nest" feelings! Sometimes, you know the design will come back - and the feeling is only temporary. But, sometimes, the design doesn't return. The company keeps it. And you never get to see it again. That's what I went through with this design. And that's why I was pleasantly surprised when I found my "loopy" jacket up for auction for the Rwanda Knits Project ( I designed this for a fashion show, and sent it off to Caron Yarns, not knowing what would happen after that. Then I found out that the pattern was going to be published in a fall issue of Family Circle Easy Knit and Crochet magazine. It would be my first design in a magazine. Later that year, when I found the magazine in the bookstore, I looked through it, not realizing that this was the issue. So when I saw my jacket, I really screamed! Luckily, it was a slow afternoon, and not too many people were around to hear me! I bought the magazine, and when I saw it in another bookstore, I bought it again. And again! (Can't have too many copies! And I soon discovered that the picture was on the subscription card, too!) So I had pictures of the jacket, but not THE jacket.
When I discovered the auction, I knew I was going to bid on it. How could I not? And so, I did. And guess what - I won it! So now my jacket is coming home!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Filet Crochet Book review

I have to admit, I have a couple of serious addictions in relation to crochet. One of them is to books! (I won't even tell you right now about how I have satisfied my yarn addiction in the past two weeks!) I haunt the local bookstores - on the premise of getting some coffee, but you and I know it's really to look at the new crochet and knitting books. I also look on to see what new books are going to be published soon. So when I saw "Stitch Collection: Filet Crochet" by Betty Barnden on Amazon, along with "Stitch Collection: Textured Crochet" by Helen Jordan, I was intrigued. I usually like to look at a book first, so I thought I would wait until the local book stores got the books. I found the Textured Crochet book at the store, and I bought it promptly (they had just one copy). But they didn't have the Filet Crochet book. So I waited, and waited, and waited, and when they still didn't get it, I ordered it. Wow! It is a definite MUST HAVE! Even if you don't work in thread. (I don't.) If you work mesh stitches, or want to work mesh stitches, this book gives you all the info you need to do it: which stitches to use, how many chains to work between stitches, how to start and end rows with solid squares or squares that are spaces. And much more! And all this info is in an easy-to-read chart, which is worth the money for the book!
There are pictures of different size meshes, also, so that you can see what you'll have as a finished product. The mesh patterns are shown in yarn (or thread), in charts, and in easy repeats. And they are also shown with ideas on how to use the patterns in designs.
This book came just in time - I was trying to work a mesh pattern in a design I was working up, and was running into trouble with it. When I read the info in the book, I started over on my swatch, and it came out perfectly! (Sorry, I can't show it to you right now - it's a proposal for a publication.)
Also, the book is small - 6 1/2" wide x 8" high - so it's portable. I think it's going to live for awhile in my crochet tote bag.

Check it out here:

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Even More Granny Squares

I have made a lot of Granny Square afghans with Plymouth Encore Worsted, but I only used one strand of yarn. So for this sample, I decided to use two strands and a larger hook (an N 15/10mm). The square worked up really fast, and it still felt as soft and as cuddly as one strand of Encore Worsted. Using two strands is a great way to use up odd colors of stash to make a quick baby or full size afghan! (See my afghan pattern, Gramma & Grandbabies, in 50 Sensational Crochet Afghans and Throws, edited by Bobbie Matela).

This next swatch is Noro Kureyon, a yarn that is not often used for Granny Squares. I love how it self-stripes, though, and I wanted to see how it would look in Granny Squares. One neat thing about self-striping yarn when you work it in rounds. If the number of rounds you work is small enough, each separate piece you make will look different, because the colors are in different places, or they are not repeated in the next piece. This is what happened when I made more Granny Squares out of Kureyon, and you can see a small portion of the other two squares I made on the sides of the middle square. Try it for yourself. One skein of self-striping yarn is all you need, and I recommend one like Kureyon (or Plymouth Bocu). Make Granny Squares of only 3 or 4 rounds. Make at least 3 of them, and see what you get. They all look like they came from different skeins! It's a great way to get lots of color into a design!

Monday, October 15, 2007

More Granny Squares

I promised more swatches - here they are.
This first one is Crystal Palace Deco-Ribbon (70% acrylic, 30% nylon, 80 yards/50 grams, 3 stitches/inch on 10.5 US). Deco-Ribbon is one of my favorite ribbons. It's soft, easy to crochet with, comes in some dynamite colors! I've done a lot of designing with it - purses and ponchos mostly, and I wanted to see how it would work in a Granny Square. When I do purses with Deco-Ribbon, I usually use an H hook; it gives me the firm fabric I want. So I thought I would try an H with the Granny Square. Yes, the H hook made it firm, perhaps a little too firm for a garment. I probably would go up one or two hook sizes. But I like how the ribbon looks in the Granny Square!

If you have never crocheted with Rowan Summer Tweed, walk - no - run down to your local yarn shop and get yourself a skein of this yarn! Wow! I've used it before in a design with other yarns. I liked it then, I love it now! It comes in some fantastic colors, and they all look good together. Here are the particulars: Rowan Summer Tweed ( 70% silk, 30% cotton, 50 grams, 108 meters, 118 yards, 16 stitches and 23 rows/4 inches on US 8, 5 mm needles.) The squares have substance: they are soft and drapey, but not loose and unstructured. I am becoming addicted to this yarn! I want to make everything with it! And tomorrow, I'm going to be right near the yarn shop that sells it. I know I'll stop in with my checkbook!

One more yarn for tonight (I feel this urge to crochet!). This yarn, Berroco Suede, is not the type of yarn you would think would work well in a Granny Square. But guess what? It does! I used an H hook, and the stitches are well defined. The drape is good, and the structure of the square is solid, not too loose. I can see many uses for this. Here are the particulars: Berroco Suede
(100% Nylon, 1.75 oz, 50 grams, 111 meters, 120 yards, 19 stitches and 28 rows to 4 inches on US 8, 5mm needles.) And, don't worry, I'm not going to buy any tomorrow - I already ordered some today! (Did I mention all the colors that are available?)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Granny Squares

I'm home from the Knit and Crochet show in the mood to swatch! It's fun to teach classes there, but it's difficult to watch everyone crochet in class, and know that you can't! So, after I was through teaching my 5 classes, I took a class with Jennifer Hansen. What fun! It involved gigantic tunisian hooks, and after class we all rushed down to the Stitch Diva booth on the show floor to purchase one. Jennifer is a great designer, and a superb teacher, and I highly recommend her classes. (Unfortunately, although I did take my camera, I completely forgot about it, so I have NO pictures!)

When I got home from the show, I decided to experiment with Granny Squares. (Did I tell you I LOVE making Granny Squares?) Usually, everyone thinks of GSs made in acrylic, worsted weight yarns, but I wanted to try other weights and other fibers. I had a lot of different yarns left over from various projects that I thought would look interesting worked up in GSs. I went through my stash to pick out some, but of course I had to go to my local yarn stores to buy more!
For most of the samples I made, I used a Susan Bates H hook.
These are some of the samples I came up with:

This first sample is made with Classic Elite Classic Silk.(50% cotton, 30% silk, 20% nylon, 50 grams, 135 yards, 5 sts/inch, US 6 - 4mm- needles, hand wash cold, dry flat) I found this yarn in a local yarn shop, and the manager told me it was a super yarn to work with; it was soft, draped well, great hand, and came in a whole bunch of wonderful colors. She even went onto the CE web site to show me the color card. She was absolutely right! I love the way it worked up into the Granny Square. The stitches are well defined, and it feels wonderful next to my skin. I see some "Marty Cardis" in the near future!

This next sample is made with Plymouth Encore Boucle Colorspun (75% acrylic, 25% wool,100 grams, 3.5 ounces, 101 yards,2.5 sts/inch, US 11 needles). It was in my stash already from a previous project. I loved the yarn then, I love the yarn now! It's soft, cuddly, and just perfect for baby afghans. (It's the yarn I used in my previous post.) Can you tell I really like working with it? Unlike other boucles I've used, it doesn't split, the stitches are well defined, and it's not impossible to frog! I used an N (10mm) hook with it, and was able to see my stitches with no problem.

One more swatch today - made with a new yarn I found at my local yarn store (at least new to me) - Nashua Handknits April (100% cotton, 50 grams, 1.75 ounces, 90 yards, 82 meters, 18 stitches/4 inches, 4.5 - 5 mm, 7-8 US needles) I was most pleasantly surprised with this yarn. It's strong, colorful, and looks great in a Granny Square. It is really easy to crochet with, and has a good hand! I am going to get some more at the lys - I have just the project in mind!

One thing that I've noticed as I've been reading all the yarn labels to post the info about the yarns: all the gauge information is given for knitting. I know that when I try to figure out what size hook to use with a yarn that's new to me, I usually look at the knitting needle size, and go up one or two mm in crochet hook size. Then I work swatches with smaller and larger hooks, to determine which will give me the effect and look I want. If I know the yarn and have worked with it before, I usually know what size hook will work right away. So, while this knitting bias on some yarn labels really doesn't bother my crocheting practice, it does bother me. If the yarn companies want to sell yarn to the greater number of crocheters (there are many more crocheters than knitters) they should start speaking our language, and give us gauge info on their yarn labels!

I'll post more swatches tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Are you going to Oakland?

I've been trying to finish up a bunch of projects - some for publications, some for yarn companies, some for my classes at the Knit & Crochet Show in Oakland in September. I'm teaching 6 classes, and even though I've taught 5 of them before, I always try to add things to them (I call it fine-tuning), and make more samples. So I've been writing up my new class (Crochet Secrets) and getting the others fine-tuned. I heard from Offinger, recently, and was told that two of my classes in Oakland - Design Your Own Stitch Pattern, and Pattern Writing School - were in danger of being canceled if more people don't sign up for them. I premiered these two classes in New Hampshire in July, and they were well received. This is just one comment for Design Your Own Stitch Pattern "This class really encourages you to expand thinking beyond just following the given stitch pattern." And this was from Pattern Writing School - "Great information! Great attention to detail and very thorough." I enjoyed teaching these classes, and hope that more people sign up for them in advance. Don't wait until you get to Oakland!

I've also been working with some new yarns, and will take some more pictures and post the swatches very soon. I'm really excited about what I've been working with! Stay tuned!

What yarn do you think this is?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Catching Up

It seems like yesterday, and it seems like a long time ago. The last time I posted was while I was at TNNA (The National Needlearts Association Trade Show). It was a fun, tiring, exciting time! A lot has been written about it on other blogs- check out The Crochet Dude, and DesigningVashti. I forgot to bring my camera, so I couldn't take pictures, but we were in Darla's class together. And yes, Drew did finish his washcloth first! (We won't talk any more about that! :-)
After TNNA, I had family visit from Hawaii, and then I visited family in Boston. When I came home, I had projects to finish and send in to various companies, and some tech editing to work on. I also was going to be teaching 6 classes at the Knit and Crochet Show in New Hampshire in July, and I had handouts to finish writing (3 were new classes) and samples to make, gather, and pack. Lots of stuff to do in a short time. (I tend to work better on tight deadlines!) So, my blog, unfortunately, was neglected.
I thought I would be able to start blogging again while I was at the conference, but when I was finished teaching two classes a day, I didn't want to do anything but put my feet up and rest. (We won't tell WHERE I put my feet up, will we?) There were also meetings, the Yarn Market, more meetings, the Keynote Address, more meetings - all happening in the evening. So, no blogging. But check out The Crochet Dude, DesigningVashtiand Nexstitch to find out what was going on. When I came home, I had lots of stuff to catch up with - paper work, organizing, sleeping. But this past weekend, on a car trip to the beach, I was able to swatch!

This is what I did. I wanted to make some post-stitch swatches, and wanted some different yarns to work with. I went to a local Michaels, because I knew they had a good selection of Sugar 'n Cream yarn. I forgot that they were getting ready to move, though, and when I got to the yarn department, I really had to search. Most of the shelves were bare, the yarn was in carts, and all I could see was some old colors of SnC. But I was searching for the new colors. I finally found them, on sale even, at the end of an aisle, one aisle away from the rest of the yarn. I bought a whole bunch of skeins. (Which I felt was justified - I had just given away about 40 skeins of my stash of SnC in one of my classes at the Knit and Crochet Show!) You probably are thinking, why would I want to swatch with SnC, aren't you?

Right before I went to NH to teach, I read a blog post (yarnoverpullthrough)about a sweater design that I had in Interweave Crochet, Spring 2007. My sweater was made with Classic Elite Provence, a great mercerized cotton yarn, light in weight, wonderful to touch. (I promise, I'll swatch with that yarn soon, and write about it more!) The blogger posted a picture of the sweater, and it looked wonderful! It was in a deeper purple than the one I had made. She had written on a message board that she changed the yarn, so I asked her what yarn she used. Her answer? Yes, it was Lily Sugar 'n Cream. I really couldn't believe that! It was cotton, yes, but completely different than Provence, heavier and more coarse. I used SnC alot in the past - for dishcloths, totes, bags, etc. But never for a garment like my sweater. So I was intrigued, and decided to revisit the yarn. Of course, it didn't hurt that I needed to buy some more for my stash - to replace the skeins I had given to my classes! :-)

So - my post-stitch journey to the beach began!
I started with some old variations, but with the new yarn.

These swatches are worked with an H8/5.00mm Susan Bates hook in the new colors; two of them are worked in the "twists" and one is "Soft Ecru". I wanted to see if the "twist" colors would hide the stitch definition, and if the stitches would get lost in the "soft ecru" color. The post stitches that are in these swatches are clearly visible, so the new colors don't hide the stitches. When I was working these swatches, I couldn't help but notice how soft the yarn seemed - much softer than I remembered. And how easy it was to crochet. The "twists" had a little tendency to split, however. I had to be extra careful with them.

These last three swatches are worked in older colors of SnC yarn. The stitches are still plainly evident, but the variegated yarn on the left swatch pools. Sometimes that can be effective. Sometimes it can be distracting. One way to get rid of the pooling is to work with two skeins alternately. One or two rows with one skein, one or two rows with another. If you don't want a gazillion ends to weave in, work two rows of each yarn, and carry the other one up the side. The one thing that I did like, when I worked with these older colors - the yarn was soft, and not as scratchy as I remembered.

I've used Sugar 'n Cream a lot in my crochet. It's good for toys, tote bags, purses, dishcloths, and anything else that needs a firm stitch and a strong yarn. With a smaller hook, G or H, it makes a sturdy fabric. With a larger hook, it creates a drapey fabric. And it's great to swatch with and to try out new stitches and stitch patterns with, because the stitches don't get lost. The pluses - there are so many colors to try, you'll never get tired of it. And - it is inexpensive, (less than $1.50 in my area) and usually on sale somewhere. The minuses - can't think of any. Except I'm hooked on the new colors, and want some more! So - it looks like I may have to go back to Michaels and I don't have the time today! :(

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Friday, TNNA

What a day! I took a class with Darla Fanton - Illusion Crochet - lots of fun, great technique. And Darla is such a good, thorough, helpful teacher. The only problem with the class is that it was EARLY - 8 a.m. One thing that was interesting about the class - a couple of us (Drew, Vashti and I, and another class member) who finished our projects (a crocheted washcloth using the Illusion Crochet techniue) compared the sizes of the washclothes we made to each other's and to Darla's. We used the same size hook (except Drew), but all of our projects were different sizes. Just goes to show!
After class, we were able to relax a bit, have some coffee, and then some lunch, and then we helped to set up the TKGA/CGOA booth. The theme of the booth is a soda fountain, and yarn balls are used as "ice cream". The booth design got a lot of positive comments in January at the San Diego TNNA show - I'm sure it'll be the same here.
We set up the booth, then we went to help check in some of the late arriving fashions for the fashion show. After a couple of hours of oohing and aahing over the great fashions that the yarn companies were bringing in, we were finished - so we sat and relaxed and met and talked with some friends. Then it was time to see the fashion show and all those great fashions. There were 126 fashions, but only 2 1/2 crocheted fashions. That was disappointing!

Stay tuned for more tomorrow!

Friday, June 1, 2007


I just arrived at TNNA in Columbus - and can't wait to see all the new yarns that the yarn companies will be showing! I've been swatching with some new yarns lately - new to me, and new to the market - and I'll be looking for others and I'll be posting about the yarns soon.
We drove to Columbus - about 8 hours in the car - and of course I used the time to crochet. (No, I wasn't driving!) I worked on a sweater, and a couple of other little projects. Got a lot done, and the time went quickly. Once we got here, we caught up with some friends, other designers, had dinner, and talked until the wee hours. I have a class to go to tomorrow - I love taking classes when I can. I'm usually teaching classes at the CGOA conferences, and don't have time to take any there, so it's a real treat for me to take another designer's class. I always learn something!

The market opens on Saturday - so I'll be posting about the new yarns after that!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Up/Down stitch

Many years ago - I crocheted a sweater in an up/down stitch - it was worked in a soft acrylic worsted weight yarn - Dazzleaire I believe. In Denim, of course! It was my favorite sweater, until I discovered a hole in it - I don't know how it got there. I tried to fix it, but I can still see the hole. Or where it was. It's a fairly easy sweater to make, and I've been looking for the perfect yarn to rework it in. So, in my never-ending quest for that perfect yarn, I swatched Fantasy Naturale in the up/down stitch. Here is what it looks like.

I should have worked this one in denim, because, after all, that's the color I'll make the sweater in. But, it looks good in the light green, and it would probably look good in any of the colors. Even the new colors that look like tweed. I might have to make a couple of these sweaters for me!

It makes a solid fabric, but not a heavy one, and an interesting fabric - not one like a plain sc or dc. This might just have to be my next project!

I have some more projects I want to take pictures of - a couple of tapestry crochet baskets, using Fantasy Naturale. You'll see how the yarn really shows the stitches and the color changes.

I welcome any and all feedback on this yarn - if you haven't tried it, you really should. As I've said before, it's a favorite of mine! It's not expensive - and one skein will go a long way. You can swatch along with me (sal).

I'll let you know the next yarn I pick to swatch - real soon!

Loop Stitch

Usually, I work loop stitches in mohairs or chenilles. (I have done loop stitches in ribbon yarn and regular worsted weight acrylic, though.) I decided to try the loop stitch in Fantasy Naturale - I can't believe I never tried it before. Here's the result.

I just made a small swatch - but I can tell that this would be an interesting fabric. It wouldn't be as soft as mohair or chenille - but it would make an interesting scarf or shawl, or edging for a sweater or purse.

Friday, May 4, 2007

This swatch shows a rib stitch in the denim Fantasy Naturale. (Which color do you think is my favorite?) I used post stitches, one front, one back, to make the rib. I like how this looks, and it gives the fabric a little stretch.

I finally figured out how to upload pictures - so I'll do another one now. And add more later! I still have to figure out how to upload more than one picture at the same time! :-)

This swatch is of a Granny Square - one of my favorite stitch patterns. (The meaning of life is really a granny square!)
I find that the yarn tends to stretch a little at the shoulders of a sweater if there is a lot of material (weight) hanging down, when I use this pattern stitch. But, it doesn't stretch out of shape, and I don't think this detracts from the garment, or the yarn! This swatch was taken from a sweater that I made, and you can see that there is no stretching or distortion here. I will have to do a swatch using linked dc stitches, to see how that looks.

This second swatch is of dc stitches. They are easy to see, and easy to work into. These are worked in rows, so you see the slant of the stitches in each row. This makes the rows easy to count.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Fantasy Naturale by Plymouth

The first yarn that I picked to swatch with is Fantasy Naturale, by Plymouth. It's 100% mercerized cotton, and each skein is 100 grams, 140 yards. It's available at many local yarn shops, comes in lots of luscious colors, solid, varigated, and a new tweedy look. (I'm not sure what it's called.) The gauge is 4.5 stitches per inch, on US 8 needles. (They haven't started giving the crochet gauge yet.) I usually use an H 8, 5mm if I want a tight stitch, or an I 9 5,5mm hook if I want a looser stitch. It's a worsted weight yarn. And, I'll confess, it's one of my favorites.

(I have a lot of swatches worked in this yarn, because I play with it all the time.)

Swatch 1 - single crochet, worked in the round. You can see the stitches, and it was easy to work with. I used the H hook with this.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

What this blog is all about

I decided to start a blog today about some of my favorite things that have to do with crochet. I love to play with stitch patterns - finding old ones in my collection of old crochet books - and making up new ones to use in my designs. I also love swatching with yarns that are new to me, and yarns that I have used before. I thought perhaps other crocheters and yarnies would enjoy reading about my efforts, seeing pictures of my swatches, and finding out some of the characteristics about these yarns. I also thought that perhaps they would like to swatch along with me (SAL). So this is my goal - swatch, swatch, swatch. And report my efforts to this blog.

I have an ulterior motive in doing this. In July, at the Knit and Crochet Show in New Hampshire, I am teaching a couple of classes where I can use these swatches.

I will try to post some pictures and comments this weekend.