Monday, October 31, 2011

The Doodle Scarf for Interweave Crochet Accessories 2011!

I am so thrilled to be included in this year's Interweave Crochet special accessories issue.  This is the largest issue of the magazine ever produced, with more than 59 projects featured!

I am really proud of the way the Doodle Scarf turned out.  This unique scarf is quick to crochet, easy to construct, and uses only 1 skein of yarn!  It is a great project to make and give as a gift, as well.  The motifs were inspired by a thread motif from a Japanese book, given to me as a birthday gift, just before I saw Interweave's call for submissions.  Perfect timing!  I took the center of the original thread motif as a starting point.  I redesigned it to work in a bulky yarn, then decided to join the resulting motifs with smaller loopy flowers.  This scarf is joined as you go, so there is nothing to sew together!  You can just enjoy crocheting a fun, eye-catching accessory to add to your wardrobe.  

The pattern is now available for individual sale on Interweave's website for $5.50. 

I LOVE tassels, and this beautiful Quince & Co. "Puffin" yarn, makes a nice full one!

     Above, is the original sketch I submitted to Interweave.
Photo by Interweave Crochet
Photo by Interweave Crochet

See this blog post for instructions on how to use this scarf pattern to make a delicate necklace, and this blog post for instructions on another way to make and wear the scarf.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Oh, To Be A Crocheter in the 1950's...

I love so many things from the 1950's, sometimes I think I was born after my time!  I am amazed at some of the clever products that were available in those days, to make crocheting easier.  I wish some of them were still available today.

Many times I have felt like the woman in the cartoon above, especially when I get interrupted while winding a ball.  What a wonderful invention, a ball winder and swift combined!

Continuing with the two in one theme, how ingenious to make this ball holder double as a crochet hook case, that suctions onto any smooth surface.  I am trying to imagine myself "at the park" looking for a place to suction it to.  The "perfect bridge prize" indeed!

Some of the print in vintage pattern books can be very small. This line marker must have been very helpful!

What a deal, a deluxe hook for only 15 cents!  For 20 cents they would send you 2 pattern books to go with it!  I wonder how well it worked, since they don't sell hooks with this clip feature any more.  Nice concept though.

I think I would have been quite happy crocheting the day away with these handy gadgets, but I do feel lucky to live in the age of Chibis, Etimos and Ravelry!

Monday, October 17, 2011

A New Approach to Teaching a Child to Crochet

Ever since my daughter who is now 5, was old enough to hold something in her hand, I have been anxious to teach her to crochet.  The first thing I did when she showed an interest in crochet, was try to teach her how to make a chain using a hook.  She found it awkward, and there were just too many things to learn at once; especially how to hold the yarn, control tension and maneuver the hook.  So we gave up for a while.  Then, one day we were at a restaurant and our food was taking a long time to come and I needed something to keep her mind off being hungry.  I happened to have a ball of yarn in my purse, but no hook. So I taught her to make a chain with her fingers.  She found it quite easy and fun to do, and from that day on, she always wanted me to have yarn with me in case she wanted to crochet.  She even took balls of yarn to school to teach her friends!

This weekend, she was interested in trying to crochet with a hook again.  I had the idea to crochet a large mesh fabric; [double crochet, chain 1, skip 1] repeat, with chunky yarn, and have her do surface crochet by inserting the hook into a chain space and bringing it back up in another, wrapping yarn around the hook and pulling it through work and the loop on the hook.  That way, she would have the freedom to put the hook anywhere she wants, thus removing one of the obstacles we had the last time we tried with a hook.  She really enjoyed it, and felt like she was making progress by using a hook.  

I was very impressed how she held the yarn and hook.  It seemed to help that she didn't have to focus on how she was holding it.

She was quite proud of her work, and kept holding it up to see how it was looking.  After a while, she decided she just wanted to make a chain and not work into the mesh.  She still has to use her fingers to pull the loops off the hook, but at least she is more comfortable holding the hook now.  We discovered that it was also easier to make a chain, because the end was anchored to the mesh and it was one less thing for her to hold onto.

All in all I think it was a successful lesson, and I would recommend using this method for teaching a young child.  I think crocheting into the mesh has many possibilities, and I am going to encourage her to use different color yarns and work in rows to give a woven effect- or just doodle with the hook!  When she is ready for another lesson, we will work on getting the loops off the hook by turning the hook instead of pulling them off with her fingers.  If anyone has any tips for teaching a young child to crochet, I would love to hear them!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Blocking the Modern Jabot

It is no secret that I block everything I make.  For me, it really is one of the most exciting parts of finishing a project.  It works like magic to relax the fibers into however you want to manipulate them.  I decided to do a blog post about blocking the Modern Jabot I designed for Interweave Crochet's Fall Issue, because I believe that what makes this jabot special is the fringe.  If the fringe doesn't lay right, it won't have a polished look. It really is a quick and simple process, and if you take the time to do it, you will be so much happier with your jabot!

The things you need to block it are:  an ironing or blocking board, rust proof pins, and a spray bottle.

Step 1

Spray the entire piece evenly with water until it is soaked through.

Step 2

Straighten and smooth out each strand of fringe and pin in place.  The neckband will just need a little straightening and smoothing. When you are happy with the position of everything, leave it to dry.  When it is dry you can remove the pins and enjoy wearing it!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Make a Child's Version of the Echelon Hat!

We are still experiencing summer temperatures above 100 degrees fahrenheit here in Kuwait, but with the help of air conditioning, we are able to forget how hot it really is!  My daughter loves hats, and the other day, she found the original sample of the Echelon Hat (a free pattern) that I designed for Berroco yarn company.  She asked if she could have it, and I told her it was too big.  She pleaded, and I gave in.  She wore that hat for 3 days straight and really wanted to sleep in it, but I didn't let her.  We came to a compromise, and she was allowed to keep it in her bed with her flashlight in it, so she could "make crochet on the ceiling" in the dark.

I had a flash of inspiration and some Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light in my stash.  The original sample I submitted was crocheted in the regular Ultra Alpaca.  I decided that I would crochet the pattern as written but go down a hook size.  To my delight, it made a hat that perfectly fit my 5 year old who has a 19" (48cm) head circumference.  We decided to add in some color changes as well, to make it a little more fun.  If you don't mind weaving in ends, you could really make this a colorful hat.  My daughter has already placed an order for a rainbow version!

So you can compare, here are the differences in the two hats:

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS OF ADULT HAT=  approximately 20 1/2" (52cm) around x 8 3/4" (22cm) high.

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS OF CHILD'S HAT= approximately 18" (46cm) around x 7"(18cm)  high.

HOOK SIZES USED IN ADULT HAT= (F/5) 3.75mm , and (E/4) 3.50mm

HOOK SIZES USED IN CHILDS HAT= (E/4) 3.50mm, and (D/3) 3.25mm

So, all you need to do to make the child's hat, is change the yarn to the sport weight Ultra Alpaca Light, and go down a hook size from what is listed in the pattern.  Make it one color, or enjoy deciding where to place color changes.  I would like to try making one with the corners of the granny squares a different color next time.  It could become a great stash busting hat for odds and ends of yarn colors!