Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Snowflake Mosaic Rug

My Snowflake Mosaic Rug is included in the October 2010 issue of Crochet World.  This rug does take some concentration, but the end result is well worth the effort!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

More on Keeping Track

In my last post, I talked about the importance of keeping track of your work in progress.  Do I always keep track?  No, of course not?!

I keep track when:

  • multiple pieces (such as a garment) are involved and all pieces will need to fit together
  • there is a row repeat that is longer than 2-3 rows
  • I make socks (Sock #1 and Sock #2 should be the same length from cuff to heel and from heel to toe)
  • I am following a graph with colorwork, or intricate stitch patterns
How do I keep track?  Hmm, let me count the ways . . .

  1. The simplist way to keep track is to make tally or hash marks on a slip of paper.  I have used small pads of paper that I can tuck into my project bag or that can sit neatly and indiscreetly on the table near my workplace.
  2. Another simple way to keep track is to purchase a counter.  I bought a package of 2 for a small amount at my local hobby store.  They are designed to fit onto knitting needles, but I put a small bit of yarn through the middle and hung it on my sock with an interlocking stitch marker.  At the end of each row or round, I turn the dial to add a row.  This also works well when knitting 2 socks at once; a recent project had a 10-row pattern repeat and I used the counter to keep track of which pattern row I'd just completed.  Because I was working on 2 socks at once, I wasn't concerned about the total number of rows I'd worked from cuff to heel or heel to toe.
  3. I love working with color and textured stitches, and I usually work those kinds of project from a graph (such as the Mosaic Diamonds Rug), so I keep a copy of the graph close by and check off each row as I complete it.
  4. I also make good use of my iPad and use the KnitMinder and Tally apps (also available for iPhone or iTouch). Both apps contain multiple counters which can be advanced (or ripped out) with a touch of my finger. 
I find that garments are more complex and thus require more complex methods of keeping track.  I'll focus on my methods of planning and keeping track next.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear about any ways that you have of keeping track of your WIP.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Keeping Track

You've selected a pattern and yarn for your next project . . . now what?  Keeping track of your work as you go is a useful habit to develop.  But, there's no denying that many of us are "seat-of-the-pants" creators, and planning and writing down "stuff" hampers our creativity and takes the joy out of the process of crochet or knitting.  I love to get my hook or needles and get that luscious yarn wrapped around my fingers and flowing through my hands. The feeling is right up there with a chocolate high.

For years, I sailed along with a small notebook or pad of paper by my side, making tally-marks after completing a row or checking off a row on a graph. I survived by looking at my work to determine where I left off in my last session or by counting rows completed.  My projects were primarily home decor or purses; items which required little shaping and were not expected to fit a body or fit to another piece. 

Eventually, I began to take on more complex projects, such as the Mosaic Diamonds Rug, the Adirondack Socks and the Honeycomb Socks.  For these types of projects, my notes were useful for making sure that I worked the same number of rounds on the cuff or foot on sock 2 that I did on sock 1. I made the Day to Evening Shrug in the May 2009 issue of Crochet! magazine, and my notes became more involved because I tracked the number of stitches that I should have after each increase or decrease row, as well as tracking the number of rows on the fronts and back. This project was worked with a 4-row repeating pattern, so I also needed to know which row I'd worked last.

 Basically, I used my notes to keep track of where I'd been so I could go to the same place on another piece.

And I was happy.  I was well-adjusted.  I was successful.

And then I began to knit more often.  Knitting did not come as easy to me as crochet.  I felt all fumbles with TWO needles and all those live stitches (but that is a post for another day).

The projects that I knitted were garments, so each piece had to fit together with more pieces.  In addition, I was not as quick to decipher the knitting language of patterns. Counting the number of rows worked was and is still harder for me with knitting than crochet.  Confusion and frustration were in abundance.

Quite by accident, I discovered the value of what I call Planning Your Project. I had decided to make a top for a second time and my notes were all ajumble. I sat down with a spiral notebook and began to put the pattern instructions into bullet form for each section of the garment.  Essentially, I built a road-map for where I needed to go.  The cool thing is that this road-map also served as my tool to keep track of where I'd been.

I see you nodding your head in agreement, but I can tell by the look in your eyes that you don't see the value in this Planning thing. 

Planning removed much of the confusion and frustration for me because I made myself really read the pattern or pattern section before I started stitching.  Like an athelete, I could visualize each section before I started it.  If there was a part I didn't get, I knew up front.  This saved me time because I could work out the kinks before I started stitching or stitch along merrily until I got to point X when I knew I needed some help. It also saved me time in ripping out work that was incorrect.  My stitching time was pleasurable again because I could really just stitch and not worry.

Planning also saved me lots of headaches on a cardigan I did this year.  I had knit the back and fronts and was ready to work on the sleeves.  As I plotted out my rows and decreases, I noted that the stitch counts were not matching those printed in the pattern.  Finally, it dawned on me that there might be an error in the written instructions, so I signed into Ravelry and found that others had had the same problem.

On another day, I'll talk about when I track and how I track. 

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Honeycomb Socks

My Honeycomb Socks are included in the Fall 2010 issue of Interweave Crochet!  Making color choices for these socks will be as fun as crocheting them. For the foot and toe, I used the split single crochet.  This technique gives a smooth texture to the sole when worn.  I used Spud & Chloe by Blue Sky Alpacas which is a blend of superwash wool and silk (yummy!).

Additional pictures are shown here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Selecting A Project

When I teach beginners, I start out with basic stitches and ask the student to focus on mastering the hand-eye coordination before moving on to making "something".  But there comes that day when it is time to make "something".  So . . . where do you start when selecting a project?  What things should you consider?

I like to start with the "something" and decide what it will be.  Do you want home decor, something useful, something pretty, something to wear? Are you ready for a large project or do you want something that will be finished quickly? 

Great first projects are scarves, dishcloths or washcloths, hot pads, placemats and/or coasters.  All these projects are relatively quick to make and don't require shaping (i.e., they can be square or rectangular or even round).  They also don't require a large quantity or fine yarn.

Once you've decided on the "something", it's time to find a pattern. There are many places to find patterns.  In my post on free online pattern resouces, I listed links for several sites that offer free patterns. Public libraries are a good source of pattern books; bookstores, as well as stores that sell yarn and your local yarn shop have many patterns to choose from.

Now that you have the pattern, what should you look for?  I always like to start with the Skill Level. If you are a beginner, choose a pattern with Beginner or Easy Skill Level.  Next, look through the Materials section and make sure that nothing out of the ordinary is called for (such as a hairpin lace loom).  Finally, scan the pattern instructions.  If you know all or most of the instructions, I'd say you are ready!

Ready to select a yarn, that is. For most of us, our hand automatically reaches for yarns with rich textures.  You guessed what I'm about to say.  Avoid boucle or nubby yarns to start with.  At this stage, you've trained your hands and brain to work together, but your eyes still need some training as well.  Smooth and light-colored yarns aid your eyes in "seeing" the stitches.