Saturday, November 30, 2013

Crochet Underway

Spending some quiet days at the in-laws' over this long holiday weekend has granted me time I needed to get familiar with this new Tunisian crochet thing. I do think I'm getting the hang of it -- mostly. I'm at the point where I'm alternating between two types of rows, so it's basically an endurance exercise at this point. I hope my thumb holds out.

There are some quirks I've picked up about this entrelac pattern. The bind-off row for each square works better when I go up a hook size. You can see these rows folded over a bit on the upper right of the pale green (Silver Sage) squares in the photograph. Before I started going up a size, I could barely get the hook through the stitches to start new squares. That problem seems solved.

I also can't for the life of me figure out why the triangles in the first row are all based on 10-row motifs, while the rest is all based on 11 rows. Is this why I was having such bad tension issues earlier? This strange mismatch had me doubling up on stitches that we're picked up in some sections. Everything is 11-to-11 now, but I wonder what will happen at the far edge? I suppose I could read ahead and find out, but I think I'd rather just enjoy the mystery of anticipation at this point. In the meantime, I soldier on.

The picture of the American Beautyberries is here merely because they're gorgeous. My father-in-laws' are always so beautiful -- ours are rather anemic and rangy by comparison. I read in a book that we recently acquired at my library about edible garden plants that, while not particularly flavorful, Beautyberries are edible. I thought they might make a nice jam or jelly, and the book says you can, but the color disappears. Pity.

Hope all enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving weekend. I sure did.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Boye Bands

My yarn arrived this week along with a new set of Boye crochet hooks, and I was able to get started on the Squared Away Throw. In fact, I was able to start it three times.

I'm new to this crochet thing, and it shows. I knew my sample swatch was curved, showing that the cast on was too tight, so I followed the instructions and went up two sizes. Still too tight -- allthough the curve was more gradual that time. But because it was more gradual, I was already working back on the second band before I noticed it. So I started again, on a hook three sizes larger, but I managed to get the chain twisted. On the third try, I was careful about not twisting, and made my cast on chain (is that the correct phrase-ology?) extra loose. After single crocheting back along the chain, I had an edge that was about 57" inches long. The pattern calls for 60". I don't know if that includes the fringe or not (leaning toward not), so I decided to call it a success and crochet on already.

I've ended up using an alphabet soup of hooks. I cast on with a K (6.5mm), did the first band of triangles (color:seraphim) with an I (5.5mm), and am currently doing the first band of squares (color: whisker) on the pattern's called-for H (5mm). You can see that the stitches in the triangles are larger than the stitches in the squares, but everything is lying relatively flat and the edge isn't curling. So far so good. I may have to write up notes about which hook to use with which color.

It was a strangely quiet weekend for the fall, but perfect for hunkering down and playing with yarn. Jeff was out of town at a conference, and it was just me and the dogs and the wintry weather. It's been in the 30s the whole time. I'm really looking forward to Jeff's arrival and settling down with some homemade chicken stew. Hope everyone is staying warm, or cool in the case of my antipodal friends!




Sunday, November 17, 2013

Night in Tunisia

I saw a pattern for a throw the other day, and based solely on the colors, I wanted to make it. It's yarn I've worked with before, so the only thing that might pose a problem is that it's not a knitting project. It's crochet.

I'm not one of those knitters who looks down his nose at other fiber crafts. I pretty much think they're all awesome. Okay -- I'm not all that fond of macramé, but I suppose it does have a place in this world. My main issue is that I'm just not that familiar with the skills and vocabulary of crochet, despite all the crocheters in my pedigree. I've never really done a serious crochet project. But I want to make this one.

It's the Squared Away Throw by Beth Major, made with four different grayish colors, and created with th Tunisian crochet method. Staci at Very Pink has a useful tutorial on Tunisian crochet, and I found one from Webs that describes using it in an entrelac pattern. I've done a bit of practicing and swatching, and I've already learned a few things.

First, my foundation chain was way too tight. See the curviness? Yeah, that's supposed to be a straight line. The instructions suggested chaining the foundation with a hook a size or two larger. Will do. Also, I got very frustrated at not getting anywhere close to the gauge in my squares -- until I realized the measurement was diagonal. Staci helped me figure that out. I also need to just relax in general -- I hold everything way too tightly, and I'm going to be in orthopedic gloves if I don't relax my grip a bit. I realize crocheting uses a different set of muscles than knitting, but just after swatching I was close to a diagnosis of crochet tunnel syndrome.

I've ordered the yarn and eagerly await its arrival. All of this planning and thinking of Tunisian crochet has this amazing tune spinning through my head. Sarah Vaughan certainly does it justice.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sing All A Blue-Green Willow

Janelle has lamented this often, and living in more northerly latitudes has more to complain about than I do, but it's just so hard to get photos of knitting during the work week this time of year. With FO photography in mind, I started racing home on my bike today, only to meet some cross-country bicyclists with questions about my fair city as they rode into town. They were way more energetic after a day of riding than I would have been. I can't imagine riding one's bike from Virginia or Quebec to Austin as these two did, but I suppose they were happy to be a bit further south these days. After exchanging pleasantries and saying goodbye, I got home just as the sun was disappearing. Drat.

The shawl turned out fine and knit up way faster than I'd imagined. I made the large size, but it's 6" shorter than it's supposed to be. However, the likely recipient will find it just right, I'm sure. The pattern describes it as a shawl. But I envision it being worn more like a scarf, with extra fabric for around the back of the neck. It's a bit heavy for a shawl, to my way of thinking, but then I don't normally wear them. Whenever I think of men and shawls, my mind wanders to elderly Dickensian men in their dotage. Or Dick Vandyke as Mr. Dawes, Sr. in Mary Poppins. Despite having recently added another year to the total, I'm not there yet.

This yarn is a real delight to knit with. The stitch definition it achieves is rather amazing. And I was surprised at it's density and heaviness, despite being labeled as sport weight. It must be on the heavy side of sport -- maybe full-contact sport weight? I only used a little over one and a half of the three skeins I bought. I should have enough to make a nice hat down the road. Now, to think of some more things to knit before the holidays. I may find myself racing APO shipping deadlines if I don't watch it.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Willow River,Take My Mind

I started a new project this weekend -- a possible Christmas gift. It's for someone who may read my blog, so I'll try to play my cards close. This is the Willow River Shawl by Katie White, and I'm using some 80-10-10 Madeline Tosh yarn I got last week in Fort Worth in a beautiful seafoam green color called Mineral.

It's such a delight to knit with -- it just flows through my fingers. And the pattern is fun, too. I'm about halfway through the 11 32-row repeats that form the horizontal willow leaf pattern. Later, hundreds of stitches will be picked up along the part that can be seen in the right-hand part of the photo to form a vertical section with lots of short-row shaping. I'm making the long version, which I think puts this somewhere between a shawl and a scarf. A sharf? A scawl?

I also spent a part of the day removing and reattaching one of the sleeves of my Redford Sweater. I'd clearly sewn it on all cattywampus, and I could tell when wearing it that the corresponding side didn't fit right. It went fairly smoothly, if you don't count the fact that my first seam line snip was on the body of the sweater. Thank goodness for grabby Targhee-Columbia wool. I did some fixes and all is well. And it does fit better, so I'm glad I tackled it. Still, for my nerves' sake, I think the Redford Sweater and I are going to take a little time off from each other for the time being.