11 July 2014

Hooked on crochet

J. & P. Coats "Knit-cro-sheen" 250 yds

I suppose it was inevitable. Especially with how taken I've been with crochet lately. And I blame a project I've been working on at Effiloché, but this week I've been really taken with this crochet doily I've been working on.

Considering how much I love working on knitted lace, this really should be no surprise. But making doilies isn't really something I've ever explored much, or even thought of making.

The white doily, made with fine crochet cotton & tiny hook on the top of a well polished antique table is the pinnacle of grandmotherliness for me. It's exactly the sort of thing you'd find at my great-grandmother's apartment, along with the porcelain figurines and complete set of collectible porcelain teacups, all inside an antique glass case in the dining room.

Doily time

The associations I have with doilies is probably the sort of association most people have with granny square blankets, maybe. For the record, great-grandma preferred rippled crocheted afghans to granny squares, and if something were made from scraps, you'd never know it. Her version of "home made" projects were properly tailored, double-breasted peacoats & matching over-trousers for all the children, grand children & great-grand children which, I'm told, were sometimes made from old overcoats.

What was I talking about? Doilies. Right. So I've seen my share of aged, once white doilies in my time that it's not something I would consider having on my dresser or sideboard (I'm not big on porcelain figures or china teacups either). I think mostly because I'm not a big knick-knack kind of person, although I'm sure part of it is the association with old stuff (though usually I'm quite the fan of old things). I guess doilies get a bad rap, and now that I've been working on one, I'm not sure why. Hooking this doily has been satisfying the same part of me that lace knitting usually does.

And I often joke that I'm a cranky old lady anyways.

5 July 2014

Speaking of Hexies

This is an epic project. There is no way that this wasn't going to take years of work. And here we are in the 5th year of English paper piecing this project.

It grows slowly. A little section at a time. It gets picked up and worked on a bit here and there over the year. And it keeps going.

Working on the layout

When preparing the randomized layout for the latest section, I snapped some pics. I always have to take a reference picture of the layout because inevitably I get the hexagons out of order somehow while I'm piecing them together (every time!).

For reference

The Stats!

Hexagon size: 0.875 inch a side
(It's a weird size measured like this, when I was picking a size, I was measuring the diameter across from flat side to flat side).

Finished Quilt Width: 83 inches (55 columns of hexes)

Finished Quilt Length: 106 inches (81 rows of hexes)

Which gives a GRAND TOTAL of 4384 hexagons

This diagram shows the current progress. Not counting the hexagons in the current piece I'm working on, there are 2,005 hexagons pieced in this top this far. That makes this top 45.7% done.

My floor is too small

This quilt is getting kind of impressive looking, taking over my studio floorspace.

3 July 2014

Not Another Laceweight

Hey, so I guess I forgot to talk about this yarn I made? I think I mentioned it over here but never elaborated huh?

Gobbler Loose

Well I followed the advice I'd read in The Intentional Spinner about changing wheel ratios & using a higher tension to effectively change yarn weights, and it seemed to work out pretty well. At first I was consciously trying to pull out more fibre as I was drafting, but even when I settled into mindless-zombie-drafting, it still worked out to be bigger yarn. Crazy stuff, I know!

Prepped for spinning

This is also the first of my Hello Yarn fibre stash that I have spun and the first time that I've spun Cheviot too. It has a pleasing crunchiness to it as I spun. It's hard for me to articulate, but I found it an enjoyable spin.

First half spun

As I'm still on my previously mentioned WOOLEN FOREVER, WORSTED NEVER! kick at the moment, I treated this top differently than my previous go to method. I started by dividing the top in half (I even weighed both halves to be sure they were close to even), and then pulled out staple length poufs from one end & spun them from the fold.

Singles in progress

Not laceweight

I ended up with long sections of each colour. But as I didn't do any compensation to be sure colours would line up, this yarn turned out very barber pole-y as a result. It's fine by me. My only plan for this bump of fibre was for a larger gauge of yarn, and that's what I got.

Finished Skein

2-ply
'Gobbler' by Hello Yarn
Fibre Club for October 2012
100% Cheviot Top
Woolen spun from the fold
Start Date: May 14, 2014
End Date: June 11, 2014

16 June 2014

My Brindle Pony

Yesterday while I was at work, I decided to crochet a pony. This isn't such a crazy whim to follow through on since I'm currently working at a yarn & fabric store here in Montreal and Sunday afternoons aren't so busy.

I had just finished making some crocheted flowers for the shop and had an appetite for more crochet.

Work #selfie from yesterday. Crocheted flower hat & corsage.

I've been curious about amigurumi for a while, but somehow I have never tried it. After cruising some patterns on Ravelry, I found this pony pattern, grabbed a 3 mm hook and some random oatmeal fingering weight wool and got to work.

Amigurumi workshop

When I got home last night, I grabbed some left over aqua blue Fleece Artist I had from knitting a shawl for my mom a while ago.

Brindle Pony

Today, I continued working on the pony while hanging out on my front balcony, sewing each piece on after I was done crocheting it. I just finished it up this afternoon.

Brindle Pony

The only thing I found a bit strange was that each piece is made separately, and then sewn together. My understanding of crocheted toys was that each piece could be picked up and worked off the next? Maybe that's just wishful thinking.

Brindle Pony

Pattern: Pony by Stephanie Jessica Lau
Materials: Mystery Oatmeal Fingering, Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in Aqua
Start Date: June 15, 2014
End Date: June 16, 2014

Quite a quick little project.

9 June 2014

The Secret Language of Hexagons

Once in a while, there's something in a movie or TV show which will catch my eye. I secretly love when crafting is referenced in pop culture, even in jest.

Heck, I even get excited when really nice handmades gets used as set dressing or costumes (Juno had some awesome sweater vests).

Most recently I noticed this amazing crocheted hexagon blanket while re-watching Wayne's World for the first time in a loooong time.

I'm sure the average set dresser saw this as the usual ugly granny square blanket that would live in the typical basement rec room. But these be some truly bodacious granny hexagons!

There's also this wonderful scrappy hexagon quilt used in the movie About Time.

It's hard to tell from this picture that the fabric here is more than the usual printed cottons. There are some velvets used as well which makes me think this was probably built from old clothing scraps. Oh and nice hexagons too right?

What's the big deal with hexagons you ask?

Current piece

Well, back in 2009 is when I first became enamoured with the shape. It began with the Jelly Bean Afghan early in the year and continued with the Hexagonal Quilt sometime over the summer.

Little did I know the effect these projects would have on me.

You see hexagons are kind of spectacular. They are one of three regular polygons that can be used to make regular tilings, but somehow don't seem to be used that much. Or so I thought.

Once I started working with the shape, I began to notice it everywhere. And they are truly EVERYWHERE once you start noticing them. Those who know me in real life have likely noticed me whisper "hexagon" to myself, and perhaps take a picture of something random with no further explanation. Or even with too much explanation. It's become my own meme of sorts.

At some point I started collecting the results of my personal hexagon scavenger hunt over on Pinterest. Many of the images are snapshots taken while travelling. I've had friends and coworkers forward me links to projects, products, articles and images based on their use of hexagons. It's that kind of thing.

Most often I come across a wonderful old hexagon tiled floor. But strangely enough, hexagons also get used in futuristic settings too. Used in Amazing Spider-Man films (I haven't seen 2 yet, but it shows up in search results).

6 June 2014

Woolen Spun

Back in March, I caught the spinning bug again after reading winter issue of Ply magazine. Now there was a LOT of that farm fleece to go through, and as this was a rather grimy fleece, I didn't quite get through scouring it all. That's ok. I have enough prepared fibre from the fleece to play with for a bit. I think I might try to get a decently clean fleece in future to play with. Now I have a "real" reason to possibly go to Rheinbeck in future.

The other thing that I got super excited about in this issue was the first article "Lying About Longdraw: Helping spinners get from worsted to woolen" by Jacey Boggs. I was really pumped to work through the methodology laid out in the article to get to spinning woolen.

Yoke Roving

So I picked this merino roving out of my fibre stash. Yes, it's roving and not top. I thought it was a batt when I picked it out at Lettuce Knit on a weekend trip to Toronto a few years ago, but later saw that it was roving wrapped up. The article does say to work through with differently prepped fibres but I decided to work through with the same fibre throughout. Still worked.

Somewhere around step 5 or 6 things really started to click and I was "instinctively" started pulling the fibre out longer and longer before allowing it to wind onto the bobbin. Suddenly I was using longdraw like nobody's business.

Yolk 2-ply

I was so pumped by my successes with this skein that I went to the library and took out a number of spinning books. The Intentional Spinner by Judith MacKenzie McCuin and The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Carol Ekarius and Deborah Robson were the most useful that I read.

Yolk 2-ply

I'd love to say that I flew through this bump of fibre, but I've been spinning in my fastest ratios for a while which means I keep ended up with very fine singles (such problems to have!). I didn't do a WPI count, but I can say that based on the weight to yardage ratio, this yarn lace weight.

Yolk 2-ply
2-ply
'Yolk' Pear Tree
100% Merino Roving
Woolen spun
Start Date: June 2013 (?)
End Date: May 14, 2014
112g
Approx. 774 yards

I finished the yarn by fulling it. I washed it in hot water and transferred it to cold water and back a few times before thwacking it against the side of my tub. It's so soft and surprisingly plump and squishy. I'm not sure if I'll be doing much worsted spinning anymore. This woolen yarn is that nice!

I'm so pumped about this yarn that I nearly threw all my active projects aside to immediately cast on for Kate Davies' Hap for Harriet. I have contained myself for the moment, but it's sure to be on the needles soon enough.

On my latest spinning project, I've changed my ratios and am trying to spin a heavier gauge of yarn. It was going to be a proper 3-ply, but I didn't think I'd get much yardage.

4 June 2014

And another thing

In the last few years, the infrequent things I've posted have mostly been finished things. Or at least I intended to post them. There's been a lot of catch up. While my making of things hasn't waned over the years, my reporting of them has. Which makes me reflect on what my intentions are in this space. I have been quite out of the habit of blogging for quite sometime and yet I can't quite bring myself to call it quits entirely.

Crafty blogs have been quite important to me over the years, which is why I felt the need to start one up in the first place. Even when I haven't been actively participating by sharing my own content, I have endeavoured to keep up with what other crafters have been posting and taking inspiration from that. Mostly, I read blogs though I rarely comment. It's tricky when you follow a bunch of them. And commenting is one of the more frustrating experiences to try and do from a smartphone. I don't intentionally lurk, but effectively I do.

Communities demand a certain amount of participation of their members in order to survive. And as I've become a big time smartphone user in the past few years, I've shifted to using more immediate forms of posting short commentary snippets, Twitter and Instagram mostly. So that's satisfied my need to share things in the short term.

While this sharing is more immediate, impulsive and rewarding (with likes & favourites), it's also less focused or detailed. Twitter & Instagram have been about whatever I'm doing at the moment, and thus not much about crafting. And I find I no longer am keeping track of many details of my projects. I start things to have something to work on. Finish them and use them. I might take pictures & try to remember when I worked on it to put something in Ravelry or on Flickr, eventually. Or often I won't. Which is fine. Life moves on, we all understand.

But I kind of miss it. I miss delving into the detail of my inspiration. I miss sharing my excitement over a newly learned technique. I miss feeling connected to people who are maybe actually interested in hearing my rambling details of what changes I made to a pattern, or understand why handmade quilts make for the best naps. I miss being a contributing member to community that has been important to me.

And there has been no real reason for me to have stopped.


Now I'll ramble a bit about a sweater I'm currently working on.

Garter stitch beginings

Back in May, I finished knitting a shawl (I'll maybe tell you about it sometime). Once the end of the border was grafted to it's beginning, and it took up it's current residency on my coffee table, I begun swatching for Candlewick.

I have had this yarn and patterned picked out for sometime. I probably bought this yarn back in May/June 2012 after finishing the Audrey in Unst I knit using Briggs and Little sport (and never posted about).

This is one of the few times that I think I've purchased yarn with a specific pattern in mind. And I even started swatching right away. I don't recall why this was put aside. I probably just got busy at work and continued with something that was further along and didn't need as much thinking.

Or maybe I was cross stitching? I don't remember.

Finished back & right front beginnings

Fast forward to May. I knit some new swatches, managed to find the right gauge with this yarn (2.75mm needle). Cast on for the back. Made sure to check the measurements in the schematic and compared them to my new favourite cardigan. And just this morning I finished the back and started on the right front.

Can I tell you something? I am in LOVE with this yarn! 40% Merino, 30% Organic Cotton and 30% New Zealand Possum fibre. I was intrigued by the possum and it's just knitting up to make a beautiful fabric. There's a great squishiness to the garter-stitch borders.

It's too early to really tell, but this might just be the hand-knit sweater that I'll finally wear. This could even become a favourite sweater (I hope I didn't jinx anything).

So here's to getting back into the habit of things.