31 January 2007

drumroll please.....

it is finished!
and now the specs, to go with my brag pictures!

Shawl-Collared Wrap Cardigan
by Katherine Lee
Published in Sweaterbabe.com's Fabulous & Flirty Crochet

crocheted in Caron Simply Soft Shadows 100% acrylic with a size "J" hook. yes, yes, i know it is a shame to make such a fabulous sweater out of acrylic, but the special gal getting it as a gift can't have fuzzy animal fibers against her skin. this is also a nice yarn for acrylic. it doesn't squeak when you work with it or smell like plastic. it has a pretty satiny finish and feels very smooth and dare i say it... cuddly.

the pattern is classified as "advanced" despite the simple lace pattern repeat, and i think this is an accurate classification. the shaping is beautiful, but it requires focusing on each row to juggle the very subtle decreases and increases that are spread across several rows to complete. the sheer quantity of finishing also makes this a more advanced project. if you hate to sew seams or weave in ends, steer clear.

i made a few changes to the pattern. the original has tall split cuffs and a pocket, but i thought they looked heavy in crocheted ribbing. the collar is one thing because it should be cozy around the neck, but the cuffs look unflatteringly bulky in the shadow stripe yarn. and i just didn't want to do the pocket. not for the lady getting it.

i know i have been very secretive about the recipients of the gifts i have posted, but this one will be revealed soon. (what can i say? i like to plan ahead when i can!) perhaps she will even let me post a picture of her modeling it.



Sleeve detail--note the foxy super-flat seams and perfectly matched color chevroning! go me. ha.

Fabric detail

this was pretty intense. i think i need to go back to some quickly gratifying snowflakes!

30 January 2007

the knitty gritty

panda...  the supermodelone with powerful skills of observation may note that i have spoken of making knitting needle cases, but i have devoted no space to the act of knitting. it has been entirely overshadowed by crochet goodies. there is a reason for this.

i am only just now really teaching myself to knit. i have taken it up twice before (just as i had two half-hearted attempts at crocheting under my belt before i really learned) and i think i am now ready to do it seriously. pictured to the left is the most serious thing i made prior to this renewed interest. yes, that is a garter stitch scarf made of super chunky weight yarn and fun fur. i have made several of these for people in my life. they appreciated them, but i didn't kid myself that i was a knitter.

in case you were wondering, the ravishing model in that photo is Panda. he and i have been together a long time, gone on many adventures, and he has been a good sport through it all. clearly. i mean, fun fur. seriously.

eventually, i'll introduce his buddy Baby Panda. anyway!

technically, i was a knitter. i could knit. i could not purl. so it is safe to say i really was a half-assed knitter! i could not purl because i was trying to teach myself from a book, and the books i was using were not as helpful as the fantastic original by debbie stoller... Stitch'n Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook. i know i have sung her praises a lot, but this book did something revolutionary for me. i had no idea why i was messing up my stitches when they seemed to match the pictures in the books. i mean, i'm an artist and a fairly visual learner, so what gives? then i bought this book and....
she includes the hands (not just the needle tips) in the illustrations of technique. and what did i learn? i was trying to knit english style (right-handed) with a continental hold (left-handed). it was the second biggest duh, dumbass moment in my needlecraft life. second only to figuring out how to tunisian crochet.

now that i have ironed out my knitting problems, i have settled down to practice projects. needless to say, i am a little sick of scarves, so i have challenged myself to find things non-scarf to build skills. the little blue and purple capelet was all about me practicing sockinette stitch and learning to decrease. the pattern is from Moda Dea, but i used some old stash yarn, Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick and whipped it up on US size 19 (15mm) needles. i don't like giant needles and thick yarn. i have tiny hands. but they found it educational.

i have another educational project on the sticks right now. this one to practice 2x2 rib, and incorporate crochet into knitting. hopefully i will be able to post a progress photo soon--that would mean i picked it back up, AND the sweater is done.

29 January 2007

so, she does sew.

after making the knitting needle case as a gift, i decided i needed to move on to organizing my own supplies. i started with my crochet hooks because i have more of them, and frankly, they are a mess.

unlike the knitting needle case, this one is designed to hold the containers my hooks came in, rather than the hooks loose. i like having the packages because they have the sizes written on them. i have four packages (one pictured, the others are below the pocket line), hence four pockets. the loosey-goosey hooks you see are my tunisian crochet hooks (double ended) and a huge size S "speed hook"--perfect for making a 30 minute hat.

i also sort of like the book fold style. i still like the roll and tie knitting case, but this is nice to show off the pretty leafy exterior fabric.


ps- don't mock my cheap plastic and aluminum hooks. i don't yet have the $$$$ resources for bamboo or rosewood.

28 January 2007

the well at the edge of the world....

pine marten
that's me wearing an animal head. i made that animal head, along with several others for my latest job. saturday Journey to the World's Edge opened at imagination stage. this is a short play performed by their nationally recognized teen Deaf Access company. it is a blended company of hearing, hard or hearing, and deaf young adults. the shows are performed in sign and voiced by the actors. actors who cannot voice for themselves (there was only one in this show) have a buddy who voices for them.

the gazette ran an article about the show. read it here.

oh, yes... the creature i am wearing is a pine marten. google them--those little suckers are cute.

the road to hell

my good intentions
i must complete this project. by friday. that is the deadline i have set for myself.

what is it, you may ask? what, my dear kittything, is that heap of yarn? it is a sweater--specifically a cardigan. or at least it is 2/3 of a sweater, perhaps more. i still have one sleeve and the right front side to complete, which sounds like a lot, but i have passed the hump by making the back, left side, one sleeve, both sides of the big shawl collar, and the belt. i decided not to save the belt for last because i knew i would poop out on doing it and the damn thing would never be finished. that would mean a certain someone would never get their gift.

it will be complete by the weekend. and then i will post the full details on pattern, yarn, etc. oh, yeah. and pictures that actually look like a sweater!

25 January 2007

she sews, so she says.

i designed this needle case after seeing one in a store and deciding i had better things to spend $50 on. especially since i could make one myself! i had wanted to make one for awhile, but i was inspired today when i found some fat quarters in my stash that looked pretty together and will suit the taste of a knitting friend.

quilting never really stuck for me.
these tiny bits of fabric have met a much better fate than mouldering in the attic thanks to my cheap ways. i have enough other fun fabrics to make a needle case for myself and a modified version for my crochet hooks as well. i'll post them once i get around to making them. i don't sew for myself very often because it seems too much like everyday "real" work.

i'll also try to post directions so you can make your own!



needle case!

23 January 2007

Cotton Conclusion: Pretty Pictures

to conclude my feature on the yumminess of cotton yarn, i give you another project torn from the pages of the happy hooker.

by Kacy Fallon

stitched in one ball each black and purple Lion Brand Lion Cotton on a size "I" hook. i think i completed them in late september (06) while i was at a designer run for a show. this was the project that sealed the deal for me on the happy hooker, and i had to have the book. i marched right out and bought the yarn the same day i bought the book.

this was my first intarsia or "tapestry" crochet project. i'm hooked (pun intended). making pictures is a lot of fun, and it is way easier when crocheting than knitting. one day i will be ballsy enough to do it in knit work, but right now i am loving me some ease.
because crochet stitches are little independent units stacked on top of each other, you can sandwich your yarn between the rows rather than carrying it behind the way you must when doing pictures in knitting. i think this is just swell--no float threads! it also serves to make this nifty pair of potholders extra thick in the middle, which is a good thing. when i use these puppies, i barely feel the warmth of the pan i am touching.
the only drawback to this technique is that you will see tiny bits of the yarn color you are carrying behind the one you are working. if your yarns contrast greatly in color, this can be unsightly, but in the instance of purple and black it is no big thing. if you don't want this shadow color, you can carry the unworked strand loosely behind your work the way you would with intarsia knitting. you will have float threads, but if you are lining your project, they will never be seen.

charts are a little easier in crochet than knitting as well. because single crochet stitches are the same height and width, you can create your own graphs very easily on standard graph paper. knitting is taller than it is wide, so you need fancy math to make it work out.
a work in progress

i liked this particular chart so much that i started a small handbag i intend to felt. it was inspired by a project i saw on hello yarn. i need to pick it up again, but i want to determine the side panels and type of handle i want before i cross over to the second chart. the yarn i am using is blue sky 100% alpaca. i have never felted alpaca before, but the gal at the LYS i bought this from says it felts beautifully and stays softer than sheep fibers. we shall see. i just want a cutie mini bag that doesn't need a lining. i'll post a picture of the final product.

22 January 2007

Cotton Chronicles II: Let It Snow

outside my window
sunday night it started to snow. this is the view out one of my windows. i knew snow would happen eventually, but i was happy for it to hold off this long; i could have gone longer. i come from a land of bitter freezing winters and sweltering 100% humidity summers, so the relatively mild climate of our nation's capital is appealing.

fittingly, i was crocheting a snowflake when it all began. these flakes are part of a gift for a close friend who will currently remain nameless. (they are a surprise.) i have a while to get them done, but i want to make a lot of them, so i am getting started. i plan to put them on either colored threads or hangers so they can be used as holiday ornaments.

this set is being made in DMC Cebelia #10 crochet cotton with a 2.75mm hook. aren't they pretty? they look sort of wonky while they are being made, but they come out fantastic once they are blocked. i think that's my favourite part, the blocking. they start as small crumpled bits of thread and with a little starch and pulling, they become pretty snowflakes.

i found all of these patterns for free online. the cutie in the upper left of the picture was designed by Chloe Nightingale and can be found over at crochet me. the two larger flakes were designed by Aly Hymel. they can be found on dainty crochet. the other little guy is an orphan--i lost his mama.

this is my first jaunt into thread crochet, and so far so good. have no fear: i don't see doilies in my future. i can't rule out a tasteful vintage pattern table runner or lace edgings on a camisole, however. if i were more ambitious i would aim for the same goal my mother has set for herself: a table cloth. i'm a little too instant gratification oriented, however.

21 January 2007

cotton + lace = love

back in september my mum came out for a visit, and in our shopping travels, i finally picked up Debbie Stoller's lovely volume for crocheters stitch 'n bitch crochet: the happy hooker. it is really fantastic, and i credit it with reviving my interest in crocheting. fresh new patterns, coupled with the fact that i am no longer in grad school, has had me fiber crazy. i went on a short cotton yarn kick this fall and these are two of the projects i made from ye olde happy hooker.

short 'n sweet!
first we have a cropped bolero.
Short 'n Sweet
by Angela "La Vonne" Best

i made this one up in 5 hanks of Tahki Cotton Classic 100% mercerized cotton in a lovely aubergine shade on a size I hook. i'm sure the stitch work would have shown up better in a lighter color, but i don't really do light colors for myself. the yarn world should just be happy that i have moved beyond making everything in black.
this was my first lace project, and i think it turned out pretty well. i had to do a little improvising on the left front side to make it identical to the right front, but i think it stems from unpublished pattern errors. i did all of the published patterns corrections, which were super helpful.
there is one kittythin(g) error--i accidentally worked two extra stitch on one side of the front border. as the cotton stretches out (and it will stretch out) that side tries to slide off my shoulder. it doesn't happen until the 3rd or 4th time i wear it before washing and blocking.
lovely lace
this was the first project i made in mercerized cotton, and i loved it! i thought i hated cotton yarn, but that was because i had only made things out of kitchen cotton before. that's fine for dishcloths, but it is not representative of cotton's lovely possibilities. speaking of those possibilities...

Violet Beauregard
by Heather Dixon

skirty!  skirty!
crocheted with a size G hook in Tahki Cotton Cassic 100% mercerized cotton: 5 hanks black, 2 hanks magenta, 2 hanks hot pink. tahki doesn't list color names, so you get my best approximations. the name for this project makes little sense because the designer named it for her original color scheme: violet body with orchid and magenta accents. my colors are a little crazy in a 1980s sort of way, but i'll wear them more than a blueish purple. i intend to make another similar cotton skirt from sweaterbabe.com's fabulous and flirty crochet in more "sedate" or "mature" (ha!) colors some time this year. i like to make skirts because i wear a lot of them and they tend to be worked in the round, so they have very little finishing.
lovely lacy detail
the downside of a crocheted skirt is that they stretch out a lot. i have to reblock this one every time i wear it. i think the fact that it is cotton does not help. we will see how my next skirt shapes up. i already have the yarn to make the citrine skirt from the fall 2006 interweave crochet. it is a wool-acrylic blend, so we shall see. (yes, that is correct. i have the other cotton skirt planned, but there is another friend that needs to be finished first. believe it or not, i have a "to do list")

time to sign off. coming soon: more Cotton Chronicles and a little taste of Real Work.

17 January 2007

testing... 1... 2...


things will pick up here soon. i'm still ironing out the kinks and gathering my photos. the plan is to mostly use this space as a way of keeping Important Folks updated on what i'm doing. Important Folk #1 is--of course--my mum.

i also hope i will remain motivated to finish my personal projects so i can share them. professional projects (and the things i create for them) will also pop up here and there.

but first i must study photo features!