What's in the past should stay in the past

Tuesday, July 31, 2007
I'm still busy going through my craft magazines and I ran across this yarn ad from the Fall-Winter 1973-74 McCall's Needlework and Crafts.

When the poncho, shawl, shrug rage of the past few years happened my children always wanted me to knit them items and never wanted anything crocheted because "it would look like we were wearing one of your afghans". I have to say I understand their point of view. This look may have worked in the 1970's (and maybe not even then!) but that's where it should remain. When it comes to garments I'm almost exclusively a knitter.

Knitting Loves Crochet - book review

Monday, July 30, 2007

I've never reviewed a book at Amazon.com before but this book compelled me to publicly warn others. Crocheting is my needle art of first choice but knitting comes in second and combining the two together hasn't been done a lot so I thought I had hit a gold mine with this book ..... unfortunately it was fools gold and the following is my posted Amazon.com review:

Knitting Loves Crochet by Candi Jensen

In the past year there has been a lot of exciting and interesting work created that combine both knitting and crochet. With the hope of finding inspiring and innovative designs and based solely on the book's description and intriguing cover, I bought this book to fill in an Amazon order and get the free shipping.

I was extremely disappointed. There are 22 "stylish designs" in this book but only 7 patterns are garments. The other patterns are accessories or home decorating and over half of those are simply crocheted flowers slapped on a knitting project or the tired basic granny square worked into one more design.

The knit i-cord dog leash with chain 3 crochet loops around the handle for "trim" is the worst of the book but others come very close. I wish I had been able to scan through this book because it would never have passed my buy test -- are there at least three patterns that I might be interested in or that inspire me? The pattern on the cover of this book was the ONLY one.

Let Nature Take Its Course

Friday, July 27, 2007
I'm in the process of organizing and downsizing my collection of crafting magazines. I'm only saving the stuff I find really, really, really inspirational and the patterns that, after all these years, still makes me say "I want to make that". I have been asked if I haven't gotten around to it by now, am I ever going to? I Don't know, but there are a few things that have been PIM's (projects in mind) for 30+ years and I still intend on getting around to them!

Anyway, I'm flipping through a copy of Seventeen's Make it! magazine from the spring/summer of 1972 and I find this little gem (click on photo for larger view). See what's interesting about it?? That picture would never be shown today because some idiots would go out and wrap a hammock around their neck and lose what few brain cells they had to begin with, resulting in a major lawsuit that would have the publisher of Seventeen taking care of them for the rest of their lives (if they hadn't managed to suffocate themselves to death).

Nowadays a picture like that will have a slew of disclaimers. Starting with the environmental one : "No trees were harmed in the making and using of this hammock." Followed by the liability one, "do not attempt this yourself, the humans used in this advertisement are professional stunt doubles for trees."

Granny Square Heart Afghan

Wednesday, July 25, 2007
This afghan was actually made quite some time ago and I remembered it while I was blogging my woes from the Endless Ends Afghan. This is the first afghan I duplicated solely from a picture. The afghan measures approximately 57" x 68" (including the borders) and each square is three rounds of the traditional granny square pattern and measure 3½".

These figures from my notes represent generous allowances for the yarn used:
White - 1700 yards
Dark Pink - 290 yards
Blue - 290 yards
Pink/Blue/White Ombre - 570 yards
Light Pink (for border) - 400 yards

Click on the photo to the left for a larger version of the graph and additional details.

I really like the boarder I put on this afghan:
Round 1: Sc evenly around, working 3 sc in four corners. Join.
Round 2: Ch 3, 2 dc in same st, *skip 2 sc, 3 dc in next st. Repeat from * around but make adjustments (by skipping only 1 sc, if needed) so that the three corner stitches are worked such: 3 dc in first stitch of corner, ch 2, skip middle sc of corner, 3 dc in third stitch of corner. Join
Round 3: Slip st to next space between 3 dc clusters. Chain 3, 2 dc in same space, *skip next 3 dc, 3 dc in next space. Repeat from * around working 3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc in each corner. Join.
Round 4: Slip st to middle stitch of dc cluster. Ch 1, sc in same st. *Skip 2 dc, 5 dc, skip 2 dc, sc around (you should end up with a 5 dc cluster in each corner - you may need to frog and start with a 3 dc cluster at the beginning of the row instead.)

This afghan is no longer my daughter's favorite because it's a little too cute but mostly because it's not airy enough --but her rabbit, Dusty, liked it so much he chewed on it!

My Ravelry project page - Granny Square Heart Afghan

Chanson En Crochet

Friday, July 20, 2007
It was the hot item to crochet about a year ago (I know, I know -I'm that behind on finishing my projects!) The advantage to having a work basket of UFO's is that by the time I got around to making this, most of the errors in the pattern had been fixed with an errata page. I made a few minor adjustments along the way but I don't know if that was because I was reading the pattern wrong or if there were pattern corrections still to be made. The pattern links for the Chanson En Crochet and any errata are here.

I used Caron Simply Soft and my piece came out exactly to gauge. However, I am a 5'9" woman and it's just a little short for my preference. If I had thought about it better at the beginning, I could have added length by repeating a section somewhere in the middle.

My Ravelry project page - Chanson En Crochet

A Couple of Baby Sweaters

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

This is a catch-up blog entry about two baby sweaters I made about a year and a half ago!

Ravelry Project Page - Baby Sweater for Haden

The first sweater was for my grandson Haden. Rebecca's husband liked the pattern called "Garter Stitch Cardigan" from the book Knitting for Baby by Melanie Falick and Kristin Nicholas. I knit the sweater with Lion Brand Wool Ease using the colors Woods, Forest Green Heather and Mushroom. It's a beginning knitting pattern and was very easy to knit (lots of ends!) Structurally the button band may prove to be a problem (the simplicity of the pattern didn't provide sound facings) but Haden will probably outgrow it before that's an issue!

Ravelry Project Page - Baby Sweater for Salem

The second sweater was one I made for Salem, the daughter of Rebecca's friend Lori. It's a crocheted sweater from a Leisure Arts Leaflet (No. 2630) titled Baby, It's Cold Outside. I stashed busted the yarn used for this and unfortunately, other than the fact that it was a sport weight, I don't remember what I used. The pattern worked up quickly once I figured out the special pattern stitch called the Double Crochet Cross Stitch. Rebecca helped me shop for the creative buttons -- I had never thought to use two different sizes. Very cute!

The Endless Ends Afghan

Sunday, July 08, 2007
Insane. Insane. Insane. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. That's how I feel about myself for taking on this project and having a major bout of obsessive compulsiveness kick in (about finishing what I start) didn't help.

It all began when I found a photo of an afghan. I liked the looks of it immediately and it suited my geometric design impulses so very nicely. I filed it away in my afghan patterns folder to wait for the right time. When I was looking for an afghan pattern, with the intent of stash busting some pink yarn, this pattern jumped out as a perfect project. It's not the first afghan that I've picked apart from a photo (oops, never blogged about that one! details soon). Warning signs did not light up during this phase.

The first thing I needed to do was to graph the granny squares. Picking out the pattern was a challenging puzzle and great fun. In retrospect, I should have stopped here, but again, no serious warning bells were going off.

Once I had the pattern graphed I knew that it was going to take 145 white squares, 66 dark color squares and 66 light color squares. Yep, 277 squares. Major warning bells should have gone off at this point but I was still having a blast knocking off the design.

Quick math determined that a 4" square would make the afghan 84" across at the widest point and a 3" square would make it 63". So I searched my pattern books and the internet for a 3" square that would be interesting (a simple granny square was not going to "pop" the design.) I found the perfect square in the Leisure Arts publication 99 Granny Squares to Crochet. It's square #75 and the interesting middle is done by turning the granny square around to the wrong side and working a sc and dc in each stitch around and then turning back to the front to work the final round (since the pattern is copyrighted I can't give any more hints than that!)

So I merrily began crocheting 277 squares. Each square only took about 10 minutes to do and hey, it was crocheting so it was fun. The warning bells finally began to scream when I started to sew the thing together ...... have you done the math on how many ends there are to sew in?? If you have, you are soooooo much smarter than I am. There are two ends for each square + two more for sewing one to another + two more for putting each strip together. BUT -- sewing the strips together took more than one color, after all, I couldn't sew a pink to pink portion with white yarn. I sewed in almost 1000 ends. I was insane. I was stupid.

I edged the afghan with a reverse single crochet but I was so fed up with the thing by this point that I don't think I executed the stitch properly - it doesn't look like cording. It did look better than regular singular crochet so I just left it.

My Ravelry project page - Endless Ends Afghan

Crochet at the Smithsonian American Arts Museum

Saturday, July 07, 2007
This summer we visited the Smithsonian American Art Museum and there were two pieces in the Folk Art exhibition that caught my eye. I love traveling and visiting new places and I really love it when I see crochet!

Indian Woman(ca. 1970) by Miles Burkholder Carpenter

Smithsonian Photo

Embroidered Garment (ca. 1949) by Alice Eugenia Ligon.

For many folk artists, life-changing events such as death, injury, or disease that affects the family may trigger a period of great creativity. According to the embroidered inscription, Ligon created this dress as a Christmas gift for her children while she was a patient at Fulton State Hospital. She was hospitalized there in 1949 and 1953 for an unspecified condition. Ligon enjoyed sewing, crocheting, and quilting, but this garment; this gown, probably her first hospital gown or uniform, shows her remarkable skill. She crocheted the hem and sleeves and used every available inch of cloth to embroider religious, patriotic, popular, and personal portraits, vignettes, and inscriptions.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006