Crocheted Shawl

It turns out that if you lock the cat in the computer room with you and let mom sleep in for a couple of hours you can crochet up a Half-Granny Shawl.

IMG_0815I love this pattern simply because it is so quick to crochet up and the results are amazing.  This is with the brights wool I spun up for the Paradise Fibers spinlympics & entered into the first week of the 51 yarn challenge by Jacey Boggs Faulkner.  This is my third shawl that I have crocheted with my handspun yarn, though it is the first using just one skein.

I’m really loving my yarn and handspinning, it is a joy when things get a little too busy in my ‘real life’.

Happy Crafting!

Blooming an Idea Journal

It is already past the middle of January, ack!  I cannot believe that three weeks are gone.  Fortunately for me, these have been fairly productive weeks.  I received my January box from Paradise Fibers, it was a Breed Sampler Box!  How very exciting!  Since I am going to be teaching several classes on spinning this Spring I began thinking about the Journaling that is recommended for spinners.  At first keeping track of what you are spinning sounds like a real pain.  My excuse was “I just want to get good at spinning before I begin recording my results, it all looks bad right now.”

As a matter of fact, the ‘bad’ spinning that I didn’t like tends to get the most compliments.  Who knows, right?  Since these first heady…well okay 21 months….of spinning I have come to realize a few things:

A) I cannot just keep creating yarn, eventually I’m going to have to weave/crochet/knit it so that I can figure out what kind of yarn I (and possibly mom) like working with. (Thank You whomever came up with the ‘Half-Granny Shawl’ pattern it looks great no matter what yarn I use.)

B) If I don’t know what it looks like knitted (lace & cable) and crocheted (possibly eventually woven) then I won’t know what I want to use it for.  (My goodness, all of those people saying sample, sample sample, are on to something! *gasp*)

C) I won’t actually remember what kind of fiber that is a couple of months later when it’s in an unmarked skein and I’m trying to work with it.  (Okay, so I won’t actually remember what kind of fiber it is when I finish spinning it sometimes…did I mention I don’t have the best memory?)

D) By Gum, Journaling Might Be the Answer!  (actually journaling is the answer as well as labeling with water-proof labels.)

Given this hard won knowledge, but boy I have some really pretty skeins..if only I knew what they were made of other than ‘wool’…oh well, granny shawls here I come, I have decided to begin to journal my spinning starting with my January Paradise Fibers Box.

As of writing this post (okay last week) I had split each tube of fiber in half, keeping half in the tube so that I can have samples for myself and to show my students.  Half of each tube was spun, plied from a center pull ball, the twist was set.  I decided to spin 1/4 of my Targhee sample since I was given twice as much of that fiber and I saw something about spinning sock yarn from Targhee (I’m going to work on my consistency before tackling that).  My Targhee still has not been completely spun, I did start but work got in the way.

Before spinning each sample I took a staple of the fiber, taped it to a note card with the Breed, date, where I got it from, the wheel and settings I was using.  Then as I was spinning, usually near the end (when I remembered) I took off a sample of spun fiber, let it ply onto itself, then taped that onto the note card labeled ‘2-ply unfinished’.  *In theory if I did this when I was spinning and referred back to my ‘plyback sample’ I would be able to create a more consistent yarn, maybe in the next two years.*  Since finishing the yarns I have managed to Knit and Crochet two of them as well as blocking these pieces.

Okay, in all honesty I had to wash and block them twice.  The Paradise Fibers Box came with a sample of Unicorn Power Wash, I was really excited since I have been wanting to order from them but I didn’t want to invest a lot in case I didn’t like it (boy am I glad I waited).  When I washed and blocked my samples the first time, I was really excited with how they looked, but I started getting a headache which was odd for me.  After a bit of thought, especially with how sudden the headache was, I realized that it was the Unicorn Power Wash that was causing the headache.  I gave the samples a thorough scrub with Dawn and hot water, then rinsed them again.  There was still too much scent.  I wound up soaking them overnight with a lemon scented handsoap I had on hand, they are fine now.  However all of this washing caused one of my samples to ‘bloom’ a bit more than I would like but the halo effect is really pretty.

Once these samples are dry I intend to tape them onto a piece of paper, along with the sample card I made earlier, and put these into a sleeve to go in a three-ring binder (thanks mom for that Idea!).  I do plan on knitting *lace and cable* and crocheting each of the samples, so that I have a comprehensive journal of these fiber samples that I can refer back to in the future.  Okay, so I’m mostly crocheting to use up the last of each of my little skeins, I am better at crochet so I can make that sample fit any size I need it to.  I will also say that this sampling is a great way for me to up my knitting game, I was terrified of cables and lace before I realized that plain knit-one-side-purl-the-other wasn’t going to cut it.  I am almost positive that my ‘lace’ stinks but until I let a knitter see it I’ll live in ignorance.

This entire experience has been an absolute blast.  While I know it will be harder to find crafting time while I’m working I still like knowing that I have a specific project I am crafting toward, and a deadline really…April will be here before you know it!

Happy Crafting!

 

Working with my Spinzilla Yarn

Half Granny Shawl.jpg

I decided that my second big project of the year, or third depending on whether I am counting Spinzilla or not, was to make a half-granny shawl for my mother from my Spinzilla yarn. I remain completely amazed at how well my chaotic riot of colors works together.  This was started while I was waiting for my mother to have a minor surgery, it was supposed to be half and hour and wound up taking two hours, thank goodness I had my crochet with me.  Fortunately mom came out with flying colors.  I enjoy the ruffled edge (alright it wasn’t supposed to ruffle but it’s cute anyway) seems to tie the entire piece together.

Happy Crafting!

Always Learning

IMG_0740

Life is a series of funny adventures.  A neighbor offered to teach my mother to ‘Crochenit’ or ‘Cro-Hook’, my mother reassured my neighbor that she learned the technique as an ‘Afghan Stitch’ but thanked her kindly anyway.  Mom then looked at me and said, “They are the same thing right?”  knowing full well this would be a challenge I could not resist as a librarian.

As it turns out, mom was wrong.  What she learned as the Afghan stitch is also known as Scottish crochet, Tunisian crochet, etc.  It is created using a crochet hook with a long shaft and an end that looks like a knitting needle.  The results can be found above, as you can see from the curled edge on the bottom (this tends to curl a bit) the ‘wrong side’ looks like the purl side of knitting while the ‘right side’ has beautiful bars that have been used in the past to embroider onto solid colored pieces.

The fun part is that the other form, Cro-Hook or Crochenit is essentially the tunisian crochet with a color change every row using a double ended hook.

As you can see, I have another new obsession all thanks to my neighbor.  I have a book on Crochenit stitches waiting for me at home and 101 tunisian stitches will be ordered later today using my Amazon Rebate!

Happy Crafting!

Still Crocheting

Crocheted washcloth

Look at each one of those weird structures.  Each stitch looks like this little weird star like knot of 4 strands of yarn that shouldn’t cooperate, should certainly not stay together, and yet they not only stay together but you can build on them and eventually create clothing (if you want) or a toy. Depending on your yarn and hook they can be huge and loose, small and tight, etc. One of my colleagues at the Community College at which I work stated that a stuffed bunny my mother crocheted (named bunbun) looked water-tight.  (He is former Navy).

That’s my philosophy for the day.  A hook and some fiber and you can conquer the world, right after I finish this next row.

Crochet with Handspun

Crochet with handspun yarn

This is a picture of a swatch I crocheted using my handspun yarn.  I spun a few mini-batts that I received in my PhatFiber box, the one on top is Spice Trader and I know that the bottom bit in red was spun with some white bamboo silk to create the third ply (I spun the spice trader with some silk too but you can barely see the white).  At this time all of the yarns that I am spinning are 3 ply for the added support and structure, also I am not used to a flat 2 ply yarn and don’t have the confidence to try and create one yet.  I love how this is turning out, eventually (one day) I hope to turn this project into a purse.  Right now it is a great resting place for my tahkli spun 3plys.

crochet with handspun yarn 2

Crochet with Scales

Crochet with scales 1

Chainmaille has always been something that I have been interested in.  The thought of using metal rings to create something that can deflect swords or in modern times sharks has held a lot of appeal.  The reality of chainmaille, however, is neither romantic or simple.  I understand the concepts of creating a 4-1 pattern, what I am unable to do is to get those little scales to hold still while I try and get the next ring onto the first two without messing up the order that they are supposed to be in, not to mention getting those darned cut ends to line up without over-twisting and snapping the scale.  (Can you tell I became very frustrated with this craft?).

So a few years ago I gave up on it altogether.  I still read about a few patterns, and considered how I might use closed rings, sort of like washers, to add a new element to crafting, but I pretty much gave up on it.

Imagine my delight when I saw a pattern to crochet scale-maille onto a glove!  I had a blast thinking about the applications, then I found out that they are now making plastic scales so I do not have to worry about abrasive edges, weight, or expense (so much, they aren’t cheap but they aren’t cost prohibitive either.)  My imagination went wild!  I only got as far as these wristlets but I am thinking about fingerless gloves, sleeves, they might make neat anklets for the summer, a vest, a sweater, a cowl, a tail,  the possibilities are endless.

So this is my exciting news, for those of you that want to think about incorporating them into your own work I found that you want to put 1 scale every other row, and every other stitch.  Any closer and they will not lay right.

Crochet with scales 2

Happy Crafting!