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!