archive for February, 2006
i never thought i’d join a crochet along.
i’m not a joiner by nature. opinions are divided over whether i’m a team player or not (my experience says nu-uh whilst my cv apparently still says hell-yeah). i never once pondered whether i’d enter the knitting olympics. it’s just not my style. which is why i’ve never yet made it to the stitch n bitch and why it still kinda freaks me out that people i’ve never met read my blog (though thankfully only one a fortnight ).
until i saw this. the sleepy eyed cat. oh how i fell in love (not in a cutesy way, in a purely aesthetic, elelvated way ). this fella is famous – all over the world there’s pics of this critter posing away. and while i can kinda crochet, i’ve never crocheted in that kinda way and there were loads of people over at glitter who were happy to talk me through it. it was bigger girls made me do it…
i’m currently in limbo awaiting various stuffage supplies. this is how far i’ve got:
there’s all kinds of things i’d do differently next time, but i’ve really enjoyed this quick project so far (i started after i finished work last night and even with much ripping i was mostly done after an hour or two this morning). oh dear, everyone who knows me, prepare for the invasion of uber-cute shite
some stand-out felty inspirations, mostly via craftster.
slice cushions: someone mentioned slicing felted balls and i instantly thought of making a long sausage shape and joining the circles together into a fabric. i love the execution of these, but i dread to think how big the inital roll must have been!
i love marijke eken’s use of texture and shape, especially in her panels (art>).
one thing i’ve learned on my mini tour of felt artists is is that i detest needle felted trolls
funny to see toast on the cover of the current issue. i once tried to buy something in their sale which turned out to be out of stock, but they’ve been sending their catalogues ever since. i’m really not inspired by the rather frumpy clothes but i save reading through the catalogue as a special treat because of the beautiful photography and styling. i can’t bear to throw them out so i cut the last one up for paper dolls and for madam to use for sticking.
again worth a trip through the archives i reckon.
edit: these colours are so so badly wrong i’m tempted to take the pictures down. i’m not utterly overjoyed about them irl but the pictures are hideous
i’ve started swatching for the Very Important blanket and i’m much becoming much happier about it as the yarns knit up. i was distinctly uninspired by the colours when they arrived, but they handle beautifully and are making a nice soft, relatively drapey (for crochet at least) fabric. i think my design choices will make or break the colours, but used boldly i think they’ll be fine.
the book was utterly unhelpful when it came to yardage, refusing to give even the vaguest guidelines – only telling you to swatch, unravel and measure. my 2 test squares weighed in at 16g and 25g for the plain and bobbled respectively, which gives me a minimum of 28 squares if i use every last scrap of each colour, up to a maximum of 40+ if i use lighter, lacier patterns.
guage-wise i seem to be working looser than the given guage, but i’m happy to stick with that and have a lighter, drapier fabric. so far the squares are miles off size-wise. the purple is 6 1/2″ x 6 1/2″, the bobbled is 6 1/2″ x 7″, both without blocking. they’re a match width-wise, but there’s 2 rows difference length-wise, even having accidentally left a row off the bobbled one. i’ll give them a good wash and see how they shape up, i’m sure i can trim here or add there to make them match. i don’t want to block the smaller one out to the larger size because it opens up the holes in the fabric more than i’m happy with.
whilst i’m happy design-wise with both blocks i’m not convinced about the practicality of either: the lacy one is absolutely as lacy as i dare go for a baby blanket – i know i wouldn’t have been happy using anything with any bigger holes for a young baby. then the bobbly one is a little heavy (though i hope the cotton will soften on washing) and a little – well – bobbly. it’s not really lumpy and would be fine as a cover but not ideal for a baby to lie on. i made a previous sample working the bobbles on the right side of the fabric rather than the reverse and wasn’t happy that they were bobbly enough, so reworked it from the reverse as instructed. now i’m thinking that we might be better with a little less relief.
(the colour still isn’t right here, but it gives a much better idea of the character of the yarns at least – quite subtle and muted – and yes, the top one is the same tricksy purple one)
and more. i decided the bobbles just aren’t going to work in the body of the blanket, though i’m holding out hope for a bobbly border. i’m going with the more flexible, lacier vibe, but i’m still vacilating about tiny fingers and holey blankets. think i’ll show the swatch to some friends with recent babies, see how they feel about it.
holiness has increased thanks to joining the blocks using the flat braid method, which i’ve been itching to try ever since i first saw it. it makes a wonderful join – virtually flat and totally double-sided. it’s not even as tricky as it looks – making sure i had an equal number of stitches on every side to start with was the hardest bit. while that’s not strictly necessary an Important Project brings out my perfectionist tendencies.
speaking of which i’m not totally happy that i’m heading for a simple patchwork of solid colour blocks, but all the blocks in the book that have interesting colour work are either very holey or worked in sc (or dc, i’m finding getting used to uk terminology a challenge, i keep mentally translating everything, since all my recent crochet has been done from us patterns). but then i don’t have a great range to work with in the first place – they’re all so similar value-wise i think any patterns would fall quite flat anyway.
so the project veers away from my initial plans, but hopefully towards something that’s workable, and (though i say it myself) is shaping up to be quietly lovely. and believe it or not all this apparently aimless rambling does help me sort through my numerous thoughts on the project quite productively.
thesilkworker.com: fantastic resource for spinning silk which, typically, i didn’t find until after my first attempt.
as mentioned previously i’m going through a turquoise phase at the moment. turquoise and hot pink is my particular favourite combination. in that spirit i ordered turquoise silk and pink wensleydale locks from fyberspates (delivered in person – now that’s what i call service!). i didn’t intend to use them together but now i think i might have to.
i’ve spun up some of the silk on the wheel. it’s come out fat, soft and fluffy, which was rather a surprise. one of the things i’m really enjoying about the wheel is that it leads me – the yarns are much looser, noticeably less dense and more fluid than the rather over-analysed, often over-spun stuff i was turning out on the spindle. i’m sure that will change with practise, but for now it’s a pleasant change of pace.
i’m not sure whether the finished yarn will actually be any use for its intended purpose (bag strap, probably crocheted), but it’s been fun to get my hands on the wheel after a long time of being too busy to play (i’m really too busy tonight too but am bunking off – shhh!).
my spinning super power has returned – i spun 2 1/4-bobbins just trying out the silk, judged by eye. it turned out they were exactly the same length – to the inch – over 68 yards (and yes, thanks, this time i’m sure it’s yards ).
oh and have i mentioned how mch i love my skeiner? have i? well not today i haven’t. i LOVE my skeiner.
oh lordy. i do not not not want to weave! but i just can’t resist sara lamb’s work. can i sub for the spinning and dyeing if i promise to just peek through my fingers at the weaving content? it’s well worth trawling through the archives here when i have a free moment.
i found woven throughts through a search for korsnäs sweaters triggered by the entry on the book “decorative crocheting” on blogdogblog (it looked like this was an ex-blog but there’s a single recent post so maybe it’s back in service). which in turn i found from a tapestry crochet search (there’s surprisingly little info out there, i seem to have found the main sources already).
i’m seriously considering ordering both the book and a fantabulous mitten kit from nordic fiber arts, if they’ll ship to me here. if i start the mittens now i might even have them finished by next winter.
the interweb has a lot to answer for…
it’s officially baltic here at the moment (i checked with helen, she’s just back from estonia, she should know) and i finally have slippers
these are version 0.2, version 0.1 having disintegrated within about 48 hours of completion the new ones have a thicker felt – dyed bfl and natural black welsh – and a leather sole. the weak point of the original design was the toe, so i’ve cut the pieces with the thickest part of the fabric at the toes. the fit gradually stretched to become too loose, so i’ve reduced the size of the upper piece.
the leather is suede side down for grip. working with it was surprisingly challenging – not to even be contemplated without a sturdy leather (gloving) needle and thimble. the work was slow and nervewracking, i was lucky to escape with a few minor grazes and no significant impalements. i found it marginally easier to work from the leather side rather than the suede side and bent both the smaller (but sharper) needles before i settled on the sturdy one. punching holes with an awl would have been another option, if more time-consuming, and i think the only one if the leather had been any thicker.
the other major problem i had was getting my handspun thread through the eye of the leather needle, which was really small. even using the very thinnest parts of the thread was virtually impossible. in the end i tapered the thread as much as i could and stiffened the end with pva glue, which worked a treat.
that said, it only took a day’s sporadic work to get them done once the felt was made. i have a little of the handspun contrast thread left and i’m contemplating some embroidery on the uppers. i’m not totally happy with the “scary crocodile” effect the blanket stitching has when turned inside-out but could minimise that in future with an even-slightly-matching-thread. i did consider using the blanket stitch on the outside, but i’m not so keen.
will update on their use-worthiness.
nikki-shell: it’s summer over there right? what use could you have for wool felt slippers??? lol, i’m on the case, as soon as i know they won’t fall to bits in the post!
i adapted this from the tapestry crochet kitty bag pattern. this only bubbled back into my consciousness because i was trying to work out how come i get so many search hits for variations of crochet hello kitty (kitty from this pattern, hello from the url). and i guess this post will prolly just compound the problem – sorry guys, no hello kitty here.
i was fascinated by the idea of tapestry crochet (aka mosaic crochet) – that you carry alternate colours of yarn within each stitch so you can create a 2-colour design without floats on the reverse of the fabric. the extra yarn makes the fabric stiff and perfectly suited to the containers i’m rather taken with, and desperately in need of – having very little storage space most of my stuff is on display.
i spiralled a base, but had to rip back a fair way to get it to sit flat. is there some kind of formula for making the increases so you get a properly flat round irrespective of the weight of the yarn?
even though i faithfully counted a hundred stitches in the final round (twice!) for a multiple of the 10-stitch pattern, i found i had loads of extra stitches once i’d completed the first pattern round. this actually worked to my advantage as it turned out i wasn’t happy that the sides were shaping up as i wanted. i had major splaying with the previous container i made, so i reduced a stich every other round between the first and last repeats, until the gap was the same as the other repeats. so now it has this fantastic gently curving shape.
the tapestry technique is a little unweildy but fairly easy to adapt to. my biggest problem was the yarns twisting together as i worked. it got more complicated when i introduced the third thread for the green eyes, especially since that thread was doubled, but since it was only for one round it didn’t get impossibly messy. i used a fairly small hook for the weight of the yarn (3.5 mm i think), and worked as tight as i could, and was heading towards blisters by the end.
there wasn’t quite enough yarn to complete the final row, but i figured the extra height was worth the not-quite-joining-up, and it would never have been perfect since it’s worked as a spiral so there would be a jog at the end no matter what.
fate stepped in when it came to blocking. i tried every round object in the house until inspiration struck – it turned out to be a perfect match for one of my saucepans. i stretched it, steamed it over the kettle for a couple of minutes then let it cool in situ.
i’m really pleased with this, especially since the final idea and execution only took an evening’s work plus a little finishing and blocking, instant project . i love how the colours work together – alone the shropshire was much browner, but given the creamy white contrast it comes over much more grey. the colour changes also really helped me come to grips with the structure of a crochet stitch, that the final loop of the previous stitch sits above the next one (if that makes any sense at all).
i’m really keen to explore the technique further, viz:
- explore interplay of colours, textures. e.g. hairy herdwick or something pouffy (coils? boucle?) with sheeny wensleydale
- empahsise spiral structure, chevrons
- random motifs and placement, pixelation
- traditional fair isle designs
- add surface embellishment, embroidery
and with two colour geometric designs in mind, with perfect (psychic!) timing whip up sent me to folkology today. i’m entranced by these, although reading urbanspinner reminds me they’re not easily translated into tapestry crochet because of the slanting structure of the fabrics (sitches placed above each other are offset). bummer.
edited to add: urbanspinner has some great posts about her work with tapestry crochet. i particularly like her use of two constrasting multicoloured yarns in this bag: a cunning way of adding more colour interplay without extra threads.
these things are like rocking horse shit – i tried to get some when they went on hush-hush-fans-only-sale (read: probably every one of the 100,000 people who bought the album on the first day got that email) and failed dismally. i reckoned my chances tonight were about 1 in a thousand.
most of the tickets from the pre-sale now appear to be on ebay, with asking prices up to and beyond Â£100 each. i’m now the proud almost-owner of 2 spare tickets, form an orderly queue who wants to be my friend they’re lined up for ceri and his partner, but haven’t actually asked if they want some since they’re in germany. my ebay finger is itching mightily.
Loop – A north London yarn boutique. i’d been here before but must have dismissed it as ‘just another expensive yarn shop’. it wasn’t until – um – somebody, don’t remember who, blogged about it today that i actually had a good root around, specifically in the designers section. there’s a host of fab handmade textiley stuff, not all of it impossibly expensive. yum. let’s face it i won’t actually be buying anything, but it’s good for inspiration and there’s plenty to read too.