Saturday, December 27, 2014

Mother's Christmas Slippers

Grandma (“Mother” to my dad and his siblings) has become a bit difficult to gift for. She has been working for a few years on disposing of some of the piles of stuff she had taken to hoarding over the last twenty years. While the project is slow-going she is serious about it and about not wanting more stuff that she doesn’t really need coming into her house, so any gifts for her need to be of the use-it-up or wear-it-out variety. I didn’t want to just give her a gift card, but I only had a couple of days to produce a gift for her. What to do?


This is a simple single-crochet pattern that makes up in just a few hours. Each slipper is worked in one piece with just a short seam at the back of the heel. Rounds are not joined; the toe boxes are crocheted in a spiral.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

How Did I Miss This?

In my last blog post I talked about how much I hate trying to work that first row of crochet into the starting chain, and contemplated starting with a knitting cast on in place of that traditional crocheted chain. I haven't gotten around to trying that just yet, because I discovered the Foundation Crochet in single, half double, and double heights. I stumbled across them completely by accident while perusing patterns on Ravelry.

No more starting chains for me! :D

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Yarn Noodles

This post rambles a bit. Whatever; it's craftemplation. :)

I've been working on three different knitting projects lately, which I'm loving, but I'm also starting to get the itch to do something different. This happens to me all the time. I'll get hooked on a particular craft, go at it like mad for a while, then get bored and want to do something else. Eventually I circle back to the first craft; it goes in cycles.

One of the knitting projects I've been doing is Slither, and I love it! It's the first thing I've knitted that wasn't just flat, and there are different kinds of increases and decreases, so I get to see how they work and why they matter. You can find my notes on my progress at my Ravelry project page (though you will need to have a [free] Ravelry account to see it.)

So, I'm nearly done with my Slither gloves, and I'm already wanting to plan another project, but I'm thinking crochet, which I've been doing far longer than I've been knitting. I started surfing the patterns available through Ravelry, and Oh My Gods, so many beautiful patterns, and so many of them available for free! There are some crocheted shawls and stoles I would love to try, but they look like the beginning chains are sooooo long!

The hardest, most frustrating part of any crochet project for me is working that first row into the stitches of the starting chain. I crochet with a really tight tension, so much so that I usually have to go up at least two hook sizes to match gauge on someone else's pattern. This means that while my work may come out the right size, I still have a hard time working the hook into those tight chain stitches. If I make the chain with a larger hook, this might give me the room to move that I need to not go crazy, though I would need to make sure doing that wouldn't adversely affect the project.

But what if, instead of crocheting a starting chain, I cast on the required number of stitches as for knitting, using a long-tail cast-on on a convertible circular needle? If I use a needle size to match the hook size, I'll end up with perfect little loops that stand up free from the bulk of the cast-on, resting loosely along a thin cable. If I take one needle off after casting, insert the hook in the first stitch, pull up a loop from the working yarn and start crocheting into each stitch while it still sits on the cable, the cable should slip out easily enough once the first row is done.


I'll let you know how it comes out.

Image borrowed from Patricia at Knitting for the Soul.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Getting Good Gauge

New knitters and crocheters usually start with projects that are small, flat, and rectangular, like dishcloths and winter scarves. Usually these projects completely ignore the issue of gauge, as it just doesn't matter. You knit or crochet until it's the size you want, and you're done. And that's fine, as long as you never want to make anything else.

Yarnologue posted an excellent explanation of knitting gauge, why it matters, and how to adjust to get the correct gauge. This information applies to crochet as well.

Gauge IS Your Friend.

There, now that you understand gauge, go forth and drown your parents in socks, gloves, and hats. Heap piles of plushies upon your nieces and nephews. Stop your sister's shivering with shawls.

Just don't knit a sweater for your boyfriend.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pressing Matters

Just a quick link post this month, to an article I wrote some time ago for the AntiCraft. It's just a simple why-to/how-to about preparing your fabric for sewing, before it ever sees the cutting table.

Ironing Sucks!


Friday, July 8, 2011

Want-to vs. Ought-to

In May, I was gifted with two hanks of Ullcentrum one-ply yarn (the website's in Swedish, but your browser may be able to translate it), one in Denim, the other in Heather. Lovely stuff. I've finally decided what to do with one of them.

I plan to make the Fall Silver Shawl, available for purchase from Ravelry (you'll need a Ravelry account to visit that link, but the account is free.) I have the pattern downloaded, I have the yarn, and my fingers have been itching to start for days, but I need to buy needles for this small yarn, and I have a custom order crochet project that's waaaay overdue, and I owe blanket blocks to seven or eight people from last year's swap, and I have multiple projects to finish for the AntiCraft, and flutter sleeves to make for my formal dress, and and and....


Someone kick me in the ass, please?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Count-free Flat Round Crochet

There are lots of tutorials on the web that show you how to crochet a flat circle, working in joined rounds or in spirals. The problems I have with these tutorials is that they're either too vague ("keep adding stitches on each round" - how many, how often?) or too rigid, requiring careful counting that's hard to follow, especially on spiral work where it's hard to keep track of what round you're working on. When I'm designing my own project, I want to be able to pick up the work and just go, without a lot of confusing counting and fiddling with stitch markers.

Through experience, I have learned that my stitches will tell me when it's time to increase. Once you can read your stitches, you never have to count again to make your own free-handed flat circles. (If you're following someone else's pattern, you'll still want to match their directions, of course, to make sure the stitch count comes out right.)

So, here's what single and double crochet stitches look like, worked in straight rows. I show this as a base comparison:

I know, the single crochet doesn't look like a straight row, but that's just because I wasn't careful enough laying the piece out for the photograph.

Here's what the same stitches look like worked in a flat round, between two increases. See how the single crochet stitch looks like a V at the bottom, and the double crochet stands up straight?

And here are the stitches telling me it's time to increase. See how the left arm of the V in the single crochet is straight up now, and the double crochet visibly leans to the right? If you're working left handed, your stitches will lean toward the left, instead.

When you see that lean, add another stitch in the same place.

Then continue on, placing one stitch in each stitch of the previous round until you see the lean again.

That's it, no more counting stitches to keep your work flat, and no more frogging to fix unwanted curling or cupping. If you need to end up with a certain number of stitches (say, to add a shell stitch edging, or somesuch) just count up how many stitches around you have at the moment, figure out how many more you need, and stop stitching when you've added enough increases to get to that number.

Everybody gets hot pads for Christmas! :D