Thursday, February 23, 2012

Contemplating Yarn Storage Ideas

Although I have had a studio space for a while, I still store my yarn in Ikea cardboard boxes that I keep up above my wardrobe cupboard. Not ideal as I can't see what is inside, and I keep pulling the wrong boxes down! I was reading one of my daughter's favorite stories to her the other night, and the characters, Topsy and Tim, had to help out in a haberdashery shop. I love the way the yarn is displayed in pull out drawers under the counter. You can see it but it is out of the way, and you would have a wonderful workspace on top! I have been researching, and trying to decide how I want my yarn to be displayed. I dream of having my yarn accessible and displayed in an attractive manner.

If I had a bit smaller stash, I might be able to go for some fun quirky ideas for storage like these sheep shelves.

I love this gum machine ideas as seen on One Late Night's Blog. I would love to find a cool antique piece to display some of my most beautiful skeins.

Being more realistic, I am hoping to get my handy woodworking husband to make me some shelves that resemble yarn store displays. I am very inspired by these handmade shelves below, as seen on Easy Makes Me Happy's blog.

I also love the idea of this cabinet, made by Couch's Little Workshop, where I could put all the best looking skeins in the shelves, and store the odds and ends in the drawers below. It would be neat if the doors could slide into the cupboard like some TV cupboards do, so if I want to keep the shelves open, the doors won't be in the way.  

I am still assessing my space to see what will be the best option. When I decide what that is, I will be sure to do a blog post about my yarn display!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Needle Book...Something I Never Knew I Really Wanted!

I was taking a break from work the other day, which means I was allowing myself the pleasure of a few minutes on Pinterest, and came across a photo of some gorgeous felt needle books. I had never in my life thought of possessing one, let alone making one.  But suddenly, I was so inspired that I felt compelled to make one!  First, I decided to make one as a gift for my friend's daughter's first sewing basket.  Then, while I was cutting the pieces, my daughter told me that she desperately wanted one to put in her sewing basket, "when she gets one someday".  So I cut out a second one with a butterfly theme for her.  Since I was already making 2, I thought I might as well make one for myself as well!  It was easier to make 3 at a time, then to make them separately some day down the road.  It was a little needle book factory around here!

They were so fun and amazingly simple to put together.  Thanks to this wonderful tutorial I found!  I was happy to get to finally use some velvet. leather, and felt appliqu├ęs that I had bought years ago at VV Rouleaux, one of my favorite shops in London.

Since I finished mine, I have used it every day.  Usually, I can never find a needle when I need one, and I thought the wonderful Chibi would solve that problem, but then I lost it, so the needle book is helping me to keep track of the needles in a beautiful way.  Hopefully, I will find my Chibi one day, and incorporate it into the needle book with a loop of elastic.  Now, I am thinking of making a larger version to put crochet hooks in for traveling!  

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Modern Jabot Chunky, an Adventure with Variegated Yarn!

Since I always like to have multiple uses for any pattern, I decided to rework the Modern Jabot I designed for the Fall issue of Interweave Crochet.  This time, I decided to try it in a chunky yarn.  I thought it might appeal to those who want something warmer and more like a scarf.  The main changes I made were; reducing the stitches in the neckband to 65% of the original, and making the first loop in the fringe half of its original length, and then increasing the length of each loop by the same amount as I did in the original pattern.  I also made the loops wider by making single crochet stitches in the ridges on the underside of the chains.  I am very pleased at the fullness achieved by using a chunky yarn, and that the Jabot pattern has been made more versatile.  You could make one in sock yarn for the fall, and a chunky version for those cold winter months! 

I have noticed that the way the jabot is tied, makes a big difference as to how it looks.  If you like the way it is tied in the above photo, you cross the two ends, and the end that is UNDERNEATH, is wrapped over the top of the other end and neckband.

I particularly like using a variegated yarn for this pattern, because I really think the varied colors give it character.  When I was searching for a chunky yarn to make this sample, I didn't have a lot of choice at my local yarn store.  It was between this colorway and another one in shades of royal blue.  I wanted a mix of colors, so I chose this one.  I was really unsure how it would look, because the orange and black didn't seem to belong with the purples and magenta.  I even considered cutting the orange and black section out, if it didn't look good.  To my surprise, the color mix grew on me, and I really like the touch of orange in the finished Jabot.  The neckband looks quite different on the "right" and "wrong" sides.  On the "right" side, the colors came out in near perfect stripes, but on the "wrong side" the colors are more blended.  So I say there is no right or wrong side, they are equally beautiful and one side may look better depending on what you are wearing with it.  I think crocheting with such a wild mix is like a mystery. You can't predict how it will turn out, but you hope for the best!

"Right Side"

"Wrong Side"

Here is the end of a brand new skein of the once questionable variegated yarn; King Cole's "Riot" Chunky,  in Wildflower #654.  Now that I have completed the project, I look at this yarn with new eyes, and the formerly obtrusive orange and black somehow looks harmonious with the other colors, and I can see the creators color story vision.  I will never again judge a variegated yarn until I have crocheted with it!

This pattern is now available for individual sale as a pdf download, from the Interweave Store.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

More Tips For Teaching A Child To Crochet

My daughter is on vacation from kindergarten, and I have been trying to keep her busy!  She has a keen interest in crochet, and has been wanting to actually make a project, but was convinced that it would be too difficult.  Last week, she got the idea to create a catalog of her designs that she would like to make.  She really amazed me with her ideas.  She sketched scarves, gloves, a hat, bracelet, necklace, rug, and juice box holder.  Some of them she thought she might be able to make now, and some she would like to make some day.  Those, she labeled "not available". Below are some of her favorite designs from the catalog. She rated them based on the number and size of "coins" she drew under the designs- a look inside the mind of a 5 year old!
When she finished the catalog, she asked me if she could try making one of her designs.  I thought it was a great idea, and encouraged her to try a scarf.  She likes to make her own decisions though, and convinced me that she could make the rug.  She has done some surface crocheting before, which got her a little used to the hook and how stitches were formed, but she didn't think she could crochet in rows with a hook.  She even cried when I suggested it!  I thought that would be the end of the crochet lesson, but she was determined to make something.  I told her to make the beginning chain with her fingers because she is used to doing that, and she thought that was a good idea, so I left her to it.  She made it about 3 feet long, and then told me she was ready to do the first row.  We agreed that I should do the first row, since working into the chain can be a little tricky.  When I finished, I told her I would show her how to make a single crochet with the hook.  She was disappointed that she couldn't do more finger crochet, but was willing to try.  She likes to do everything herself, so I had to be creative as to how to show her and not be too controlling!  In the end we succeeded, and the following is a list of tips based on the experience!

1. Use a reasonably large hook, (we used a size "H").

2. Choose a brightly colored variegated yarn, in a worsted weight, that doesn't split easily.  I suggest choosing a yarn that doesn't have white in it, as it is a little more difficult to see the stitches.  The variegated yarn makes the crocheting more interesting without having to physically change colors, and it will motivate them to keep going to see the next color.

3.  If the child isn't comfortable with a hook, you can let them make the chain in finger crochet, as long as the chains are fairly loose.

4.  Do the first row for them, so it will be less likely to twist, and they will have something more substantial to hold onto.

5.  Show them a few times how a single crochet is made, and talk about how you twist the hook to keep  the yarn from slipping off.  Also explain how you push the loops down the barrel of the hook before wrapping the yarn around it, so the loops will enlarge slightly to make them easier to work into.

6. Work into the back loops of the stitches, so there will be less chance of making a mistake. Take 2 colors of washable markers, and mark the stitches that they should work into, alternating the colors as you go (as shown above).  I marked about the first 20 stitches, after that she was able to identify where to insert the hook next.

7. Let them hold the hook and the work on the left side, while you hold the working yarn and the work just under the current stitch.  By doing this, they can get used to holding and twisting the hook, as well as the steps of making the stitch, without worrying about how to hold the yarn and keep good tension.  When you hold the working yarn, you are in control of the tension and can guide them to work in the correct way.

8. When they are comfortable and confident in making the stitches, you can show them how to hold the working yarn, and they can concentrate on tension and how both hands work together.

After our successful first lesson, I told my daughter that I would give her a crochet award, which will be a pin she can wear.  I am thinking of making a crochet hook out of Fimo clay, with "I Crochet" written on it.  When she can crochet independently, I will make her a golden yarn ball pin to wear next to the hook.  She loved the idea, and it is motivating her to practice on her own!

I hope these tips will be helpful to those of you trying to teach a young child to crochet, and I would love to hear about your experiences as well!

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