Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Gratuitous Snowflake

Christmas may be over...well not quite. For some of us it lasts until Epiphany on January 6, but I digress. Whether you celebrate Christmas for one day or 12 or not at all, it's winter for all of us in the northern hemisphere. So let it snow!

This is one pattern from a set of 7 by The pattern set is available on Ravelry. These are BIG snowflakes. The one above measures over 9 inches across so you won't need many to hook your own personal blizzard.

I highly recommend MyPicot as a source for both crochet and knitting stitch patterns and motifs. Some are for sale, but many are free. I especially love the gorgeous flowers and butterflies. There are also several tutorials and instructions on how to read crochet stitch diagrams. This web site is well worth having in your virtual crochet library.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Fun with Thread or A Bit of Christmas Sparkle

I dug out my balls of crochet thread recently to make some snowflake ornaments. I could have gone with the traditional white, but I had a few bits of leftover red and gold sparkly fiber from other projects and some size 10 cotton crochet thread in silver and gold with a metallic strand. Time to play! Here's the result.

I started with this lovely snowflake pattern from my friend the talented designer Andee Graves. I added one little tweak - the gold picot edge. You can't see the metallic sparkle in the photo, but it's there.

Andee's pattern is lovely on it's own, but gosh, I have these pretty red and gold bits that are so Christmasy! I started leafing through my motif stitch dictionaries to see what I could find. This is a modified version of one of the patterns. I layered him on top of Andee's snowflake.

I like it! But it's not quite there yet. The center is too plain. How about a button.

I like this a lot. But...the gold of the button is a bit dull and antique looking. Not really what I'm after. And I wanted the center piece to be a bit bigger.  Let's try something else. I fiddled with all of these. None of them were quite right for one reason or another. But they are all saved and might go on my Christmas tree.

 I gave it one more try.

Now I've got the size and shape I want, but I need something in that center hole. What have I got in my bead stash?

A shiny gold filigree bead and bead cap. Now I'm happy. I could easily spend hours and hours leafing through stitch dictionaries and playing with snowflake or flower patterns and leftover bits of yarn, thread, beads and buttons. Dive into your own stash (you've got one, don't you?!) to see what you can find and where your creativity takes you. These are great for ornaments, package decorations, or fancy gift tags. Hang one around the neck of that gift bottle of wine. No wrapping necessary!

Thanks for stopping by, and have a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Call Me Cleo(patra)

What's your favorite project? For me, it's often the one I just finished. Right now, that's Feathers of Pharaohs by 10 Hours Or Less. I've loved this design since it was first posted on Ravelry. I got a great deal on two colors (Redwood and Honey) of Shibui Staccato yarn at Knit Purl in Portland during last spring's Rose City Yarn Crawl. This merino and silk yarn was fabulous to work with. I wanted a third color for this project so I dove into my stash for a dark teal Marion Foale wool that my sister had sent me for my birthday. The Marion Foale is a bit lighter weight than the Staccato, but it wasn't a problem. I'm thrilled with how it came out, and can't wait to wear it. 

What about you? What's your current favorite project? The one you just finished? The one you're working on? Or the one you're dreaming of?

Granny Square Creativity

It's been over a month since I've posted. I've obviously been slacking! Time to remedy that. In my continuing exploration of the possibilities of the granny cluster stitch and granny squares, here are some creative uses of the squares. First a qualifier. Many times you'll see all square crochet motifs called "granny squares," but I'm referring to the classic square using the granny cluster stitch.

Thanksgiving is past, but I love this turkey with granny square tail feathers that my sister Gina made for her table decorations. She said it was a great way to use up leftover yarn. The pattern is the Thanksgiving Turkey Amigurumi by Kara Gunza and is available on the Petals to Picots web site.  


I found quite a few jewelry patterns using granny squares. Here's one for a brooch I made. It was in the crochet mystery Knot Guilty by Betty Hechtman.

Hear are some Granny Square Earrings by Leigh Manson-Brown that are crocheted with wire. That's a technique I'm interested in trying. The gorgeous amethyst briolettes add a great pop of color.

As a tea fanatic, I love this fun tea cozy by Shari Tombs. It would brighten up anyone's tea time.

Toys are natural for granny squares and other motifs. These Granny Cats by Jen Maude made me smile. The middle one has a classic granny square belly.

Hooty the Owl lovey by Laura Tegg is a real cutie.

In anticipation of Christmas, maybe I'll make some of these Granny's Christmas Cubes by Carolyn Pfeifer.

That's it for now. I hope everyone is enjoying the run up to Christmas and the other winter holidays. Happy Hannukkah to my Jewish friends and family! I couldn't find a granny square dreidel, but this one by Marly Bird looks like it has a granny triangle in the base.


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Cast Off Chemo

As the last hours of October fade away, I want to put in a quick plug for a worthwhile charity. Many of you probably know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month otherwise known as Pinktober to some of us who have had an altercation with that disease. I'm sure those behind this campaign have good intentions, but some of us are tired of seeing pink ribbons slapped on just about anything and precious little progress toward a cure. Stage IV breast cancer is incurable and fatal. Awareness is important, but research into a cure is at least as important. 

I have found at least one breast cancer charity that I can support. It's called Cast Off Chemo and was established by a group of yarn industry professionals to support the research of Dr. David Krag. Dr. Krag is working on using the body's own immune system to fight breast cancer potentially eliminating the need for chemotherapy. This work could also help in the fight against other cancers. Many women, myself included, have already benefited from Dr. Krag's previous work in developing the sentinel node biopsy procedure. Because of that, I still have most of my axillary lymph nodes, and I don't have lymphedema in my arms. 

You can purchase crochet and knitting patterns in support of Cast Off Chemo on Ravelry. The easiest way to find all the patterns is to do a pattern search for "Cast Off Chemo," but here's a link to save you the trouble. Two of the patterns, a crocheted wrap and knitted scarf, were designed by Cari Clement for the charity. 

While at the Knit and Crochet Show in July, I purchased 2 skeins of the Wool2Dye4 yarn used in these patterns at the Cast Off Chemo booth. One skein will make the knitted scarf, and 2 skeins will make the crocheted wrap. 

Some of this yarn may still be available. There's no shopping cart on the charity's web site but it can be purchased by check. Contact Cari Clement at Cast Off Chemo, 5 Emmons St #2, Montpelier VT 05602. It's $25 for one skein plus the pattern. For two skeins, the price is $45.  All proceeds go directly to the project.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival 2015

I love fiber festivals. I can't think of anything more fun than spending time with other fiber lovers shopping for yarn, admiring beautiful yarny creations and visiting with fuzzy alpacas, llamas, bunnies, sheep and goats. The Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival is always held the last full weekend in September. Each year they have a featured craft, and this year it was, for the first time ever, crochet! 

Always In Stitches

For me and my fellow members of Always In Stitches, the local chapter of the Crochet Guild of America, the excitement started last year. We had a display at last year's festival to publicize crochet and spread the word that it would be this year's featured craft. We worked hard all year to finish lots of projects both for this year's display and for the crochet competition. The centerpiece of our display this year featured 8 versions of the Rose Trellis Shawlette by designer and teacher Darla Fanton. Darla created this pattern for last spring's Rose City Yarn Crawl in Portland. Each year in the weeks leading up to the yarn crawl, there are mystery crochet and knit alongs. Darla's shawlette was the project for the 2015 crochet along, and many stunning versions of it could be seen about the Rose City during the yarn crawl.

Here are a few other FO's from our display. The two shawls at the center were the mystery crochet along project from the 2014 Rose City Yarn Crawl - Rosaline by Laurinda Reddig.

This turkey hat by one of my fellow AIS members was a favorite of visitors to our display both last year and again this year. It's a kid magnet, but the adults love it too. So cute!


The festival features many competitions. There are shows for the different fiber animal breeds, several spinning competitions, and the fiber division competitions for crocheted, knitted, woven and felted items and skeins of handspun yarn. This year's grand prize winner in the crochet division was this lovely doily in size 20 thread.

Remember my orange pullover from an earlier post? 

It won a 3rd place as did this filet crochet shawlette that I made from Kathryn White's Eolande pattern. 

Critters and Yarn

I always have to visit the animal barns. I love seeing all the different critters that produce fiber. Here's one of the inhabitants of the bunny barn getting a blow dry. At least I think there's a rabbit under all that fluff!

Another reason the bunny barn was a favorite of mine this year was that they were having a raffle. I do love a good raffle. Especially when I win something like some hand spun merino and silk yarn.

So if you're in the neighborhood next September or can plan a trip to Oregon, put the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival on your calendar. It's well worth the visit.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Granny Stitch Project #1

Golden Granny Cardigan

I've finished the first project in my study of the granny stitch. I'm quite pleased with it. It's a casual, drapey sweater that's just what I need when the A/C in the office has been set to polar. The pattern is the Not Your Granny's Sweater #1 by Marty Miller. It was very easy to make and worked up really quickly. I used Knit Pick's Cotlin yarn. I had never used this yarn before. Although I found it a little rough on my hands, I was happy with it overall. It softened when I blocked sweater. I might make more versions of this sweater in different yarn like a wool blend for cooler weather. Any weight yarn would work since you can just work as many rounds of each square as you need for your size.

Colors: What a difference a name makes

The gold color of this yarn is called Creme Brulee. However, a friend saw me wearing the sweater and said, "That's Harvest Gold!" Yikes! The iconic '70s Harvest Gold! I did not do that on purpose. But I like it! Perhaps my next granny stitch project should be in Avocado Green. Um, maybe not. 

Speaking of my next project, I'm not sure what it will be yet, but I have an idea for a design of my own. Keep an eye on this space!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Remarkable Granny Stitch

Lately, I've been pondering the classic granny square and the stitch pattern from which it's made - 3 double crochets, chain 1. I had been looking for a comfortable casual cardigan pattern and decided on Not Your Granny's Sweater #1 by Marty Miller. The pattern is based on granny squares. I had never spent much time making granny squares before. I made one when I first started crocheting because, well, you've just got to! It's almost a crochet rite of passage. That poor square is now used to clean my bathroom sink. And that was about as far as I went with granny squares. But as I was working the first square for the sweater, I began to really like the look of this stitch pattern. I'm not sure what it is about it. Perhaps the symmetry and the balance of positive and negative space. I also like the way the first round looks like a flower and the diagonal lines of shells formed by the corners of each round.

The stitch pattern can be worked in rows as well as rounds. What is it called if worked this way? The granny stitch? The granny square stitch? I haven't found it in any of my stitch dictionaries under those names. It's a version of the shell stitch really.

I've decided it would be fun to do a series of projects using this stitch pattern both in rows and in the form of the classic square. Searching on Ravelry, I've found all sorts of patterns using this stitch pattern not just afghans which is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Here are a few:
The Concamerate Shell by Janet Brani
Granny Short Mitts by Mearacaera Designs   
Easy Crocheted Hat by Meg Kealey
Granny Shawl by Charlene Van den Brande
Granny's Got New Ears by Carol Veitch

I love those earrings. What a fun use for bits of leftover yarn!

I just remembered another pattern that I've made using the classic square - Tessellations by Tracy St. John. This is a really fun hat pattern that is another good use for yarn leftovers. I've made several. Here's one of my favorites being modeled by my pale faced friend.

I'll post a photo of my granny cardi when I finish it. I'm not sure what my next "granny" project will be after that, but I'm looking forward to exploring the uses of this versatile stitch pattern. Anybody want to join me?

Speaking of Finished Projects

Here's the finished sweater that I was swatching and calculating for in my July 7 post. Since it isn't really the original Lorelei pattern, I called it the Lora Lie.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Highlights from the Knit and Crochet Show - San Diego

I was fortunate to be able to attend the Knit and Crochet Show in San Diego July 21 - 25. This is the national show of the Crochet Guild of America and The Knitting Guild Association. If you ever have a chance to go to one of these shows, I highly recommend it. This was my third show, and I've enjoyed each one. There are wonderful classes, lots of other yarn crafting enthusiasts to socialize with, and of course, a yarn market. 


I ran into my friend designer Andee Graves in the line at the hotel registration desk. Reconnecting with friends is one of the best parts of the show.

Workshops and Classes

From Get Your Geek On to Engineered Tunisian, there were lots of opportunities to learn. The former was a workshop led by Vashti Braha, Amy Shelton, and Doris Chan where we explored some of the geeky crochet topics beloved by those of us who aren't content to always color inside the lines. For example, what are some of the unusual places in the anatomy of a crochet stitch where you can pull up a loop to make a stitch? In Engineered Tunisian taught by Jennifer Hansen, we learned how to do increases and decreases and manipulate Tunisian stitches to make cables. These are the skills needed to complete Jennifer's Tunisian Keyhole Cravat pattern. I also took Design Your Own Crochet Stitch Pattern with Marty Miller and Shell Game (an exploration of shell stitches) with Karen Klemp. I was so engrossed in learning all the new things that I totally neglected to take any photos. Oh nooooo!
I have to go to next year's show just so I can redeem myself with better photos!
Design Competition

Thursday evening we got our first look at the design competition entries that were displayed in the market are. Here are a few of the lovely entries.

   Aegean Dress by Kristin Lynn                     Blue Poppy Coat by Alla Koval (turned to                                                                             display the interesting back)


Tunica Geometrica by Susan Walsh                    Lollapalooza by Julia Bryant



What's a fiber show without a chance to buy fiber? The market opened for a preview Thursday night and ran through Saturday. I think my favorite part was the Yarnover Truck. I had heard about the truck on a podcast a few years ago but had never seen it. It's a mobile yarn shop operate by 2 women in southern California. Here it is on the floor of the market.

A few purchases from various vendors:

Fashion Show

Saturday night was the big finale with the banquet and fashion show. Many of the design competition entries were modeled as well as other garments and accessories made by attendees. Here are the models wearing the many variations of Doris Chan's Lotus Lattice top.

San Diego

Before heading home, I spent a day seeing some of the sites in San Diego. Here's the Museum of Man in Balboa Park.

Also in Balboa Park, the Botanical Garden building with its lily pond:

View of the harbor from Cabrillo National Monument:

Monday, July 20, 2015

Reversible Intarsia Crochet

I recently had the opportunity to take Laurinda Reddig's reversible intarsia crochet class. Laurinda developed this technique because she wasn't happy with the look of standard intarsia crochet. She wanted it to be reversible so that the back of a blanket or scarf looks as nice as the front, and she also wanted cleaner lines between the colors.  In the class, we made 4 coasters that taught us the basics of the technique.

Not only did Laurinda develop this technique, but she wrote a book on it - Reversible Color Crochet. The book features 28 squares  and 10 afghan projects using them. Working through the first 12 squares will teach you the reversible intarsia technique. If you're going to the Knit and Crochet show in San Diego later this week, stop by the Crochetville and Red Heart booth on Friday between 5:30 and 6 when Laurinda will be doing book signings. Her classes at this year's show are full, but look for her at future shows. Find out more about what Laurinda is up to at her web site

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Uh oh! Not enough yarn!

A lesson in stitch substitution
I've wanted to make the Lorelei Pullover by Dora Ohrenstein since I got Dora's book The New Tunisian Crochet: Contemporary Designs from Time-Honored Traditions. Dora is one of my favorite designers. Her books are more than just pattern books. They're full of great information, and I highly recommend all of them. In fact, it's from her books and online classes that I learned to do what I'm about to talk about. For more on Dora, see her Crochet Insider web site

I thought I had a suitable yarn for Lorelei. It's a silk/cotton/cashmere blend by Artisanal Yarns that I picked up at last year's Knit and Crochet Show. I checked the pattern and found it required 1410 yards of laceweight. Uh oh. I only have 1000 yards. Well, cobnuts! Maybe it really doesn't take 1410 yards.* Maybe I should just go for it and hope the amount of yardage listed is a mistake. Danger! Danger! Do not do this! Ok, scratch that thought. What are my options? The first thing that came to mind was to skip down to the local yarn shop and buy 1400 yards of yarn for this pattern. Tempting. Oh.So.Tempting. And I am easily tempted. But I've made a vow to work from stash. For a while anyway. Yes, I'm going to The Knit and Crochet Show in a couple weeks. Yes, there's going to be a yarn market, but I won't think about that. (Quit laughing! I can hear you!) 

But back to my problem. I really wanted to use the silk blend yarn. I thought it would make a great summer top. I also still wanted to make something like the Lorelei - a simple drop sleeved pullover. Maybe I could use a different stitch pattern that would require less yarn. So I started leafing through stitch dictionaries looking for prospects. The first one I found was the Stone Trellis stitch in Robyn Chachula's Crochet Stitches Visual Encyclopedia.

Not bad. It's a very pretty stitch, and I like the way it works in this yarn. But I wanted to give myself options so I also swatched another one. This is stitch number 17 from Dora's Tunisian book.

This isn't a flashy stitch, but I really like it. The photo doesn't do it justice. It's mesh-like appearance will also resemble the original Lorelei more than the Stone Trellis would. But do I have enough yarn? 

The first step in finding out is to block my swatch and measure its dimensions after blocking. So I lightly blocked the swatch by spritzing it with water and and giving it a gentle stretch to even the stitches then letting it dry. Then I measured it and found it came to 5 in x 4.5 in. Next we need to do a bit a math. Yes, the dreaded "M" word. Don't run away! I'm talking basic arithmetic not high level calculus. I need to find out how many square inches are in my swatch and how many square inches will be in the finished pullover. The first part is simple. I just need to multiply the dimensions of the swatch.

5 in x 4.5 in = 22.5 sq in

Now, how many of these swatches do I need to make the pullover? I want to stick with the approximate shape of the Lorelei so from the schematics in the pattern, I can calculate the number of square inches in the pullover. This is simple for this pattern because there's no shaping. It's all rectangles. I multiplied the length and width of each rectangle that makes up the pullover (sleeves, front, back) to calculate the square inches of each like I did with my swatch. Then I added these amounts together to get the total square inches for the finished pullover. It came to 1118 sq in. How many swatches will I need?

1118 sq in / 22.5 sq in per swatch = 50 swatches (rounded to the nearest whole number)

But how will this tell me if I have enough yarn? I could unravel the swatch and measure the number of yards in it then multiply by 50. Ugh. No thanks. There's an easier way. Or in this case an easier weigh! Simply weigh the swatch. Since yarn labels give us the weight of the skein as well as the yardage, I can use the weight of the swatch to determine if I'll have enough yarn. My swatch weighed 4 g.

4 g per swatch x 50 swatches = 200 g of yarn needed

I have 5 skeins of yarn at 50 g each so 250 g total. YES! I have enough yarn! I even have extra so I can customize my pullover if I want. I can make it longer or make the sleeves longer. If I didn't have quite enough yarn, I could make either or both of those measurements shorter. But it's always better to have more yarn than you think you'll need. Trust me. Things happen. Maybe that will be the subject of another blog post. In the meantime, here's the first half of my pullover.

I still want to make the Lorelei, but I'll need to buy yarn. And there is that yarn market at the Knit and Crochet Show coming up...

*After writing this post, I contacted Dora. She graciously calculated the amount of yarn used in the size small of the Lorelei. It came out to around 1000 yards. The pattern lists 3 skeins of yarn at 470 yards each for the small, but apparently, not much of that third skein is used.