Saturday, May 21, 2011

Barbed Biased Blanket - my first published design!!

I designed this for a blanket that I'm donating to Project Linus.  I'm offering the pattern for free, in the hopes that it will encourage others to make this or another blanket for charity as well.
The name comes from a comment one of my friends made as I was working on it, she said the contrasting color looked like barbed wire.  It's created on the bias, with simple increases/decreases to cause the stripes to be slanted.  I learned the general bias technique at a Lili Chin workshop.
If you don't know of a group in your areas that needs blankets, I'd highly recommend checking out Project Linus, whose mission is "to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer 'blanketeers.'"

Barbed Biased Blanket
Skill Level – Easy (pattern uses basic increases and decreases)

Finished Size – Approximately 43 x 65 inches. Size can be modified by gauge or numbers or stitches/rows.

Worsted Weight (category 4) yarn in 2 or more colors.
Size K / 6.5 mm hook.
Tapestry needle.

I used Red Heart Super Saver in 4 colors – black as main color and dark gray (3 strips), blue (2 strips), and gray-blue (2 strips) as contrasting colors. Colors could be changed to suit the individual. I'd recommend one main color with multiple contrasting colors or multiple main colors with one contrasting color to unify the blanket.

Gauge isn't critical to this project.
My gauge was 13.5 stitches equals 4 inches. Row pattern (4 MC rows and 2 CC rows) equals 3 inches high.

Pattern Instructions
Special Stitches
MC = main color
CC = contrasting color
fsc = foundation single crochet
dc2tog = double crochet two together (decrease)

Strips – make 7, or as many as desired.
Row 1 (MC): 19 fdc, turn.
Row 2 (MC): ch 3, dc in same stitch and in each across to last 2 stitches, dc2tog, turn. [19 dc]
ch 3 counts as dc throughout pattern.
Row 3 (MC): ch 3, dc in next stitch and in each across, turn. [19 dc]
Row 4 (MC): ch 3, dc in next stitch and in each across, turn. [19 dc]
Row 5 (CC): ch1, sc in same stitch, *ch 1, skip stitch, sc* across to end, turn. [10 sc, 9 ch1-spaces]
Row 6 (CC): ch1, sc in same stitch, *ch 1, skip stitch, sc* across to end, turn. [10 sc, 9 ch1-spaces]

Row 7 (MC): ch 3, dc across, into sc and ch1-spaces. [19 dc]
Work rows 8 – 12 the same as rows 2-6.

Repeat rows 7-12, until there are 21 MC/CC sections, or as many as desired.
Work rows 7 – 10 one more time, so that the strip begins and ends with the MC.

Attach the decrease side of one strip to the increase side of another, so that the CC stripes are misaligned (they will slant on a bias). The edges won't align completely, part of the strip will stick out into a slight point, due to the bias nature of the strip.
I joined my strips by slip stitching in one strip, ch 1, slip stitch in other strip (down from the other sl st, not directly across).

After the strips are joined together, work sc edging around the entire afghan. On the top and bottom, there will be slight points on one side of each strip. Work sc on the part of the edge sticking out from the other strip and work 2 sc into each corner/point stitch.

This is my first published pattern, so there may be inadvertent errors.  Please reach out to me if you have questions or suggestions for improvements.  I'd love to see your finished blankets!!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I'm a little behind on blogs for this special week, due to being sick a few days. I'm going to try to pick up where I left off and extended the posts into next week or longer if needed. I just hope someone will read them. :)

Day Four: 31st March. Where are they now?

Whatever happened to your __________?

Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something which you sent off to charity.

A few years ago, I made a pair of black, fingerless gloves, mostly made during a thanksgiving trip to the in-laws. Now, working on a project with black yarn during a night car trip turn out to not work out so well. But, once we arrived and I had decent lighting, I was able to progress on them well. If I remember correctly, I was able to finish the first glove during the extended weekend at their house. Not too long after that, I finished the second glove. They turned out pretty well, a tad big for me, but that made them good for layering over one of the many pairs of cheap store bought gloves I had.

At some point, I left them out and my husband, not being able to find any of his gloves, grabbed them. And didn't give them back.... he had his excuses: “they're so nice”, “my hands get so cold”. And I did have an idea for a special pair for him, so I took some alpaca yarn - so they'd be nice and warm and I could get mine back – and made him his own pair.

While I was working on them, he lost my pair. Yes, he heard plenty about how he better not lose this new pair. Luckily, he didn't lose them completely. After a few days, his friend mentioned that the gloves had been left at his house. I finished the new gloves and my husband LOVED them. The next time my husband went to visit his friends, he got my gloves back. However, his friend had borrowed them a few times, while they were at his place, and he LOVED them. He wanted a pair of his own.

Sigh. Well, after 2 men had started wearing them, they were a little stretched out... I had been thinking of making myself a new pair... So, I gave them to him. Technically, I sold them to him. See, he's a professional male burlesque dancer. In payment, my husband is getting some lessons. Who says crochet isn't sexy? :D

Funniest part is that the gloves I made are from the Happy Hooker book. They're called Ladylike Lace Gloves. But, apparently, they should be called Menlike, because the men sure seem to like them.

Unfortunately, I don't have a pic of them, but here's a pic of the new ones I made for my husband:

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tidy mind, tidy stitches.

Day Three: 30th March. Tidy mind, tidy stitches. How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organised, blog about an aspect of that organisation process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organised stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.

My stash is primarily organized by weight and fiber content. When I'm starting a new project, I can look at similar yarns together to pick out the right color and texture.

I have threads, baby weight/colors, and sock weights (for a variety of projects) in an IKEA drawer unit...

Acrylic worsted and bulky (great for charity projects and amigurumi) in an under-bed storage container...

Miscellaneous yarns (great for freeform and smaller projects) in/next to a basket on a shelf...

Not as large as some stashes that I've seen, but it's a good start.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Skill + 1UP

Day Two: 29th March. Skill + 1UP Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet (can you crochet cable stitches now where you didn’t even know such things existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or crochet hook this time last year?

I'm a new knitter. I've been crocheting for a long time, but picked up knitting recently. I found it hard to get started, since my hands were so used to having 1 stick and holding the yarn and project a certain way.

I just can't do the English method. I kept dropping everything. After struggling with it for a while, I tried the Continental method. That was a little better. I was actually able to get a few stitches done, though it took a while. Slowly, my hands adapted to this stranger and started to become friends with it. At one point, I even found it meditative to have to focus on the basic stitches. Crocheting I can do while watching TV, listening to a podcast, or several other things. When I started knitting, I had to stop my brain and focus on the stitches. It also made me appreciate how far my crochet skills had come. When I started crocheting as a child, it was also slow and something I had to concentrate on. Now, it's second nature.

So, when I got frustrated with my lack of progress when knitting, I'd switch to crochet. I still switch back and forth between the two a lot. However, these days, it's more about giving my hands a different motion to work on than switching between the focus of knitting or ease of crochet. My knitting skills have gotten a lot better, so I can relax with it more. I've even taking on knitting two sweaters (baby sweaters for a gift) and I think they turned out really cute.

One is Baby Sophisticate by Linden Down (available on Ravelry):

The other is Cabled Raglan Baby Sweater by Rebecca L. Daniels (available on Ravelry):

Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Tale of Two Yarns (2KCBW)

Day One: 28th March. A Tale of Two Yarns.
Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

When I first got back into crocheting, I didn't understand all the differences between yarns (aside from color and price). I knew that yarns with different thicknesses would affect the size of an object, so when substituting yarns, I would pick another in the same category (one worsted weight for another, for instance). But, all worsted weights are not equal. There's a small range of thicknesses within worsted, plus the fiber content can affect the drape and final look of an object. There are other factors, like spinning technique, that also has an impact, but I don't worry about that too much at this point.

I had picked up Debbie Stoller's Happy Hooker book (which I highly recommend) and decided to make the Violet Beauregard skirt. The original pattern uses a cotton yarn. I decided to use Lion Brand Homespun, because I liked the softness and texture.

This was the first time I used LB Homespun and it was a little difficult to get started. The texture of this yarn made it hard to work consistently into the chain; it was tough to find the loops, since the yarn is a squiggly. But, I got into a groove and was able to work through the initial problems. Once I had a few rows established, it became much easier to work into the stitches.

After completing the skirt, I found that it was much heavier than expected. The weight of the skirt couldn't be properly supported by just the waistband. Bummer. I had spent a lot of time making it and now I couldn't wear it. It also would stretch a bit, so even if I cinched it very tight at my waist, I didn't trust that it would stay up. So, I frogged it.

I then tried making a different pattern from Happy Hooker with LB Homespun, FrouFrou. This worked out better for me. Because a sweater goes over your shoulders, instead of just hanging around your waist, the weight of the yarn was better supported and I didn't have to worry about it falling off (the sleeves help too. :) ). It's still grown a bit, but not as much as the skirt and having this sweater a little longer in the back works with this design. I also use LB Homespun for afghans and shawls. I think it's a great yarn, but no yarn will work for every project.

I did end up making a different skirt with different yarn. I reinyarnated an alpaca/wool/nylon/acrylic blend from a thift-store sweater. Using a bias technique I learned at a Lili Chin workshop, I designed my own skirt. It's warm, but not too heavy for a skirt.

Now, I have a much greater appreciation for the variations in yarn and how they can affect our finished objects and our satisfaction or frustration with them. Early on in a project, I stop and look at how the object drapes and hangs. I've also started swatching more than I used to. Swatching is really the best way to test run a pattern and yarn to make sure of having the right combination, before investing a ton of time and yarn.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week

I stumbled upon Knitting and Crochet Blog Week on Eskimimi Knits blog. I think it will be a good way for me to get my blogging mojo going. If you have a blog or have thought about starting one, check it out.

I doubt I can post every day during this week, but I'll either set up posts ahead of time to automatically post on the scheduled day... or I'll extend it over a few weeks. It's set up in a very encouraging/flexible way, which I appreciate. I did read through the daily topics (they're hidden for those that want to be surprised each day) - they have some good concepts in there. I'm already getting ideas...

Happy Blogging!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Feeling Loved

Today is my 7 year anniversary with my husband. My wonderful, awesome husband. I wasn't sure if he would remember... well, he knows the date if you ask him, but he tends to loose track of what day it is, so I wasn't sure he'd realize what today is. But, he did. I walked into my home office and was surprised by this... :D

So, I proceeded to spend the next hour taking pictures of them and me with them, so I could get some good photos to post on facebook. They made my day....and probably the next couple of days.

This is really just the icing on the cake. He's my rock, my balancing point, and my knight in shining armor. When I needed him the other day, he was there, no complaining, no judgment, just "what do you need?" I'm a lucky woman.

I love you!