Thursday, April 21, 2016

One-Skein Baby Projects by Sharon Silverman

When I was growing up, I remember my mother used to sit on the couch in the living room after she came home from work, and crochet or knit. What did she crochet or knit? Gifts for her children, her nieces and nephews, her grandchildren, her children's friends, her children's friends' children. In other words, nothing for herself. That was the way she was. There was always someone who needed a present. She even crocheted and knit baby gifts in advance - when there were no new babies. But she stored the gifts away, for those times when she would need them. She had a "baby gift storage" closet. Between her crocheting, and my grandmother's knitting and crocheting baby gifts, I never had to worry when I started needing to give baby gifts! I learned a lot from my mother and grandmother about gifting. Years later, I started crocheting baby gifts when my niece had her first child. I remember my mother had passed away and I was the only one in our family who could crochet the official baby afghan (it was a granny square one), so I put hook to yarn and I did it! I designed my own version of the afghan, but it was still the "official" family baby gift. Since then, I have made many, many more of them - for relatives, friends, family, etc. There seems to always be someone who needs a baby gift. It doesn't necessarily have to be an afghan. It can be a bib, booties, a hat, a rattle, a toy, washcloths, and yes, a little afghan (I like to call them "shlep-along" afghans, because they're perfect size for the baby to drag with him/her.) I keep trying to fill my baby gift storage closet, and this new book - One-Skein Baby Projects - Quick and Thrifty Gifts to Welcome New Arrivals - by Sharon Silverman - (published by Leisure Arts) will help with this. 

What's in this book? There are 9 projects. Each one uses one skein or a few "mini-skeins". These are the 9 projects:

Note what is written in the red rectangle - "LOOK FOR THE CAMERA in our instructions and watch our technique videos made just for you!"

In other words, not only can you add projects to your Baby Gift Storage Closet (you do have one, don't you?), you can learn some new techniques while you're at it. What techniques? How to work front and back post stitches, how to whipstitch motifs together, how to work a Foundation Double Crochet, how to make a pom-pom, how to crochet evenly spaced stitches across ends of rows, how to crochet in the back loop only, how to sew a backstitch, how to work split single crochet stitches, how to work a Foundation Half Double Crochet, how to join yarn with a single crochet, how to work a cluster stitch, and more. And the projects don't use much yarn. I like the baby bibs, and the rattle, and the hat, and the bouncy block, and the booties for cuties.... I guess I like all the patterns in the book!

Oh, another thing that's a positive for this book - they print the instructions for different sizes in different colors - so the patterns are easy for you to use. And they have pictures of how to make the stitches, when necessary. And stitch pattern templates when needed. 

The book is available as a digital download, or a paperback. And here is the website where you can order it from:
Leisure Arts

I would love to see your crocheted baby projects from this book. Be sure to post a picture! And I hope you're Baby Gift Storage Closet gets full to overflowing!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Cloudborn Yarn from Craftsy

Craftsy, the awesome online site that offers courses in just about everything you've ever wanted (like crochet, knitting, drawing, painting, sewing, quilting, cooking, photography, and more!) has just started offering an exclusive line of yarns, for all of us yarnies (some people might call us yarn addicts) out there. The yarn is called Cloudborn, and it comes in weights from sock yarn to bulky roving yarn. And colors - just take a look at a picture of just some of the colors:
 Craftsy reached out to some of their instructors (my class on Craftsy is Mastering Foundation Crochet Stitches, and if you click on the title, you'll get a 50% off coupon to purchase the class, if you haven't done it yet) to review the yarn, and I eagerly accepted. I asked Craftsy if they could send me a skein in worsted weight, to swatch with. They did better than that - they sent me three skeins - one, a Wool Bulky Twist in Charcoal Heather - 228 yds in a skein, two - a Superwash Merino Worsted Twist in Oatmeal Heather - 221 yds in a skein, and three - one Highland Worsted in the color Storm Front - 220 yds in a skein. Here's a picture of the 3 skeins:

Lots of yardage in each skein, as you can see. And the yarn was so soft - not scratchy like wool often is. So now I had a problem. While I was waiting for the yarn to arrive, I was thinking that I would just swatch with the yarn - do different stitch patterns, make small squares and rectangles - just see how the yarn looked and felt and worked up. But when I actually received the yarn, got to touch it, got to look at it, I decided to do something else. I had about 660 yards of super soft yarn, in 3 colors that looked good together. I didn't want to just swatch with it, I wanted to crochet something that I could use. Something I could wear. A sweater, perhaps, or maybe a shawl. I had to pick a stitch pattern that would show off the yarn, and would be easy to modify if I ran out of yarn before I finished the sweater. So - I picked one of my favorite stitch patterns - a Granny Rectangle. And I got started. (You can find the pattern to a Granny Rectangle in my above-mentioned class.)

First, I had to wind the yarn. I usually do that by hand - and this was super easy. No tangles at all. Then, I had to decide what size hook I would use. I wanted the stitches to be light and lacy, but not too lacy. I had 2 different weights of yarn - bulky and worsted - so I had to be careful that the hook I picked worked with both weights. Luckily, the bulky yarn is not that much different from the worsted. So I thought either a J-10 (6mm), a K-10.5 (6.5mm) or an L-11 (8mm). I went for the middle size, tried it, and I liked the way it felt and worked up. I also tried the L hook - the stitches were too loose. And the J hook - the hook caught on the yarn. So K-10.5 it was. These were Susan Bates in-line hooks, in case you're wondering.

Second, I had to figure out how long and how wide I wanted my 2 front panels. And how many rectangles across I would have. I decided 2 rectangles across each side of the front, and 2 rectangles down. I know how loose I like my sweaters (my friends call them Marty Cardis, because I make so many of them) so I divided the width of one front panel in two, to get the width of each of the two Granny Rectangles on one side of the front. I know how long I like my sweaters - so I divided that measurement in two, to get the length of each of the two Granny Rectangles that are in the column. Then, I figured out the size of the center starting row of my Granny Rectangles. (How to figure it out - length of finished rectangle minus width of finished rectangle is how long your starting center row should be. More information is in my Craftsy class - link is above.)

Then, after all these preliminaries, I got started. I finished one front, and took a picture. It's going to be a "join-as-you-go" sweater, and I'm one-quarter finished. But, when I took the picture of the finished front, I noticed that I joined one part of one of the rectangles in the wrong place. (That's what happens when you watch a tension-filled NetFlix series while you're working!) So I had to fix it before I went any further.
Here's a picture of my sweater with the mistake in the joining:

 In case you were wondering - the two rectangles on the bottom, the bottom corner join that joins the two rectangles is the one that's not joined in the right place. 
Here's a picture of the corrected joining:

Can you see how much better it looks? It's important to check every thing you do, as you do it! Also, the picture shows the columns on their side. Imagine them rotated 90 degrees, and you'll get an idea of what one side of the front will look like. 

And look at the colors - the dark gray is the Charcoal Heather Bulky Twist, the lighter gray is the Highland Worsted Storm Front, and the lightest color is the Superwash Merino Worsted Oatmeal Heather. I think the colors look great together! And even though there are two different weights of yarn (bulky and worsted) the rectangles still fit together nicely. 

Now here's some really good news! This yarn is on sale from now until Wednesday, April 20, 2016.  And you can buy skeins or kits with patterns included. And here's the link:
Cloudborn Yarn
 But wait - there's more! There's free shipping for $99.00 or more, for orders to the US.

Here is what Craftsy says about their Cloudborn yarns:

"For fiber addicts, Cloudborn Fibers is the brand of affordable indulgence that’s so stunning, you’ll want to use for all of your projects. Other yarns can’t compare to the luxe hand and exceptional, innovative color of Cloudborn, especially at such a great value."

And they are absolutely right! 

Meanwhile, keep checking back here - I'll post a picture as soon as I'm finished with my Marty Cardi!