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!