Friday, September 30, 2011

Photo Friday Plus

With the beginning of Fall, my 3rd grade lovely had an assignment to make a scarecrow. She worked very hard, and decided that this crow would be a rabbit instead. Everyone knows that all scare-rabbits need a carrot!

I had hoped that the Lovely would crochet this carrot. She tried, and tried. She is a lefty. I've tried to teach her to crochet left-handed, abandoned that and tried to teach her to do it right-handed. It's just not her "thing". I settled for teaching her pattern-reading. I found a pattern on Ravelry by Nicki Engle. The Lovely was in charge of gathering all the materials that we would need. Next, we read the Pattern Notes, and then moved onto the instructions. She would read the instructions to me and I would crochet, that way she was learning the "language" of pattern-reading.

I've been asked often whether it is easier to knit or to crochet. I usually shrug my shoulders and say it's all a matter of personal preference. Crochet would seem to be simpler because there is one less "thing" to keep up with--1 hook, the yarn and the work, while knitting requires 2 needles, the yarn and the work. And knitting has many live stitches while crochet usually has only 1 loop in play at a time.

But logic isn't always the best means to judge. The Lovely above can knit. She struggled less with the learning to knit than with the crochet. I taught her to knit right-handed and to "throw" so the left-handedness doesn't seem to be a factor.

I worked with a client to teach her to knit about a year ago. Every week, we spent most of our time taking out her work and re-doing. While I was ripping back one day, I showed her how to crochet and asked her to practice while I ripped and she "got" it. She decided to crochet the blanket rather than to knit it.

I love both arts. I love the process of both, the movements of the hands, and both create beautiful fabrics. One is my favorite . . . and so is the other.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

New Design!

Crochet! Magazine has created Best Ever Afghans and my Cables and Bouquets Afghan is included. Panels of popcorn-flower bouquets alternate with cables.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Grandparent's Day

Today is Grandparent's Day--the day when Grandparents go to breakfast with grandchildren and maybe back to the classroom to read a story or two. I never remember when the day is because we have one grandparent and he lives in another state.

Papa came to stay with us for a little while this summer. The first words from my oldest lovely was "Can he come to Grandparent's Day?". The first thing she said to him when he arrived was "Can you come to Grandparent's Day?". When she found out that he was going home in July, she cried because he wouldn't be here for Grandparent's Day.

We made big promises. We would make the 8-hour drive (one way) and bring Papa here so he could go to Grandparent's Day. She stopped crying, but didn't quite make it to Happy on that subject.

My heart plummeted on Wednesday when I saw the notice about Grandparent's Day come out of the backpack. Foul language sprang to my lips (I squelched it in the presence of the young). There was no way either me or doc could make the drive and keep that promise.

Was there a Plan B or even C? In hindsight, I should have gone to or called 1-800-GrandparentalRental.

Grandparent's Day has dawned bright and early to lots of tears. Neither me or doc (who is the  master) were able to calm the Lovely.  I was reminded of a line from a movie (Tootsie)--"I'm just going to feel this way until I don't feel this way."

It doesn't have to be Grandparent's Day for me to miss my mother and mother-in-law. Both have been gone 11 years. The first thing I wanted to do after we received both girls was to call them. When they do something that is too-cute-for-words, I want to tell them about it.

When a new design comes out, I know that both would bust their buttons with pride. When I've been working on a design problem and the light comes on, I want to call them and share that rush of success.

When I teach my own girls to sew--one using Grandma's sewing machine and the other using Grandmother's--I am thankful that I had a mother and a mother-in-law who loved me fully, taught me how to be crafty, and shared the need to create things.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Gauged Graph Paper

One more thing I learned at Chain Link 2011 . . .

Again, from Lily Chin (yes, you are the master!) I learned how to use gauged graph paper.  I knew it existed and I have even searched for it on the internet and printed out a few pages.

And I've used the standard grid graph paper for all sorts of things--graphing out color work, stitch patterns, and shaping for necklines and armholes in pattern grading. The last was to verify mathematical calculations for increases and decreases, but didn't mimic the actual shape of the item.

First, I swatched (we all do, don't we?!). Then I measured my gauge on that swatch. Next, I took out my notes and went to the first website Lily had mentioned ( and entered the # of rows and stitches over 4" in my swatch.  This website creates a pdf file with the grids. I printed a few pages, but I also saved the pdf for future use. 

The project I'm working on requires quite a bit of shaping, both increasing and decreasing. I took out a colored pencil and set to work. This first picture shows my 1st attempt with the stitch pattern and the increasing.

That worked pretty well, but I wondered what would happen if I stitched the item in a different direction.  I have a template of the shape. After I graphed out the stitch pattern, I put the template on the grids and traced around it. As you can see in this picture, I've got some major problems!

Today, I went back to the drawing board, printed out more pages of the graph paper (so glad I had saved that file!). I taped several together, and traced the entire template and started over, plotting out the increases and decreases. This graph helped me realize that I needed a double increase on some rows. After I had plotted out about 30 rows, I began to swatch again, testing my graph. I am also able to put the swatch on the graph paper to make sure the shaping and sizing actually does what I want it too.

Now I am a happy stitcher . . .

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Circular Tunisian Tapestry Fabric

As promised, I've got a few pictures of fabric that I've created using the technique I learned at Chain Link 2011 -- Lily Chin's class Circlular Tunisian Tapestry Crochet.  This is a fun technique that combines Tunisian crochet with Tapestry crochet, and my muse has been overwhelmed with design ideas!

This swatch plays on the contrasting colors of black and grey and utilizes the Tunisian Knit stitch and the Tunisian Reverse stitch.

This swatch is similar, but places the Tunisian knit and reverse stitches in a zigzag pattern.

And finally, this swatch combines the zigzag pattern with the Tunisian Simple stitch.

Tunisian and color play, all in one technique. I couldn't be happier!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Photo Friday

Just a little something fun today . . .

Here are my lovelies on the first morning of school -- 3rd and 5th grade (recognize that earring?)

And one must have fashionable feet to start school:

I sent a model out today, and I've been working on ideas inspired by the new technique using the double-ended crochet hook that I learned while at Chain Link 2011.  Check back and I will show you some of the various fabrics that I've come up with using this technique.

I hope this weekend is a great one for all!  Enjoy the holiday!