Wednesday, April 25, 2012

More Vintage Crochet Hat Inspiration!

I have been into designing hats again, and looking in vintage crochet books for inspiration.  I found so many incredibly creative hats, that I had to share some of the photos. You may remember a previous post that I did on vintage hats. I have collected so many wonderful photos, I hope you don't mind a second post with a few more of them!

When hats were at the height of fashion, they were true fashion statements. So spirited and and full of personality. If people were willing to wear hats like these, the sky was the limit on designing! I am striving to create hats that are modern and wearable, but have an interesting twist or detail. I would like to design hats that could be worn anywhere, that are more fashionable than casual, and still comfortable.  Now that I have set the challenge for myself, and have plenty of inspiration...I am off to see where my hook takes me!

Who would have thought that 2 triangles sewn together could make such an elegant hat!

Possibly inspired by a satellite dish?

The way the small discs are placed, they look like they should move around for better reception!

I love the way the highlighted the sparkle from the beads. I think this style has some great possibilities and could look quite modern if styled right. I wish I could see it in color to know exactly what the variegated yarn looked like.

Friday, April 20, 2012

April Pattern Sale!

Now is a great time to buy crochet patterns, because the Interweave store is having a sale! Crochet patterns are 30% off. Which means patterns that are normally $5.50, are now $3.85. Three of my patterns are available in the Interweave Store;  A Modern Jabot, Genevieve's Belt, and Piper's Chain Scarf.

This is perfect timing, as I recently did a blog post about 4 different ways to use the Modern Jabot pattern. I have also done posts about how to adapt the Genevieve's Belt pattern to make a bracelet, and how to make a child's version (a little sister to Genevieve's Belt).   

The sale is site-wide and is on through Wednesday, April 25th. Go have a look, and find something new to inspire you to pick up your hook!

A Modern Jabot (top), Genevieve's Belt (Middle), Piper's Chain Scarf (bottom)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Experimenting with Methods for Stiffening Crochet

Since I have recently started stiffening some of my crochet projects, I thought it would be interesting to compare some common methods to see what is best and how they differ. I used Berroco Comfort DK to make the test pieces. I crocheted single crochet circles, submerged one circle into each mixture, and placed them over glass bowls to dry.

1. GLUE METHOD: (2 parts Elmers Glue, 2 parts water). Mix glue and water together until thoroughly blended.

In my test, this sample yielded the stiffest result, but altered the look of the yarn the most. I would only use it on a very light color. I like that you could change the ratio of glue to water and control the stiffness.

2. SUGAR METHOD: (2 parts sugar, 1 part water). Bring sugar and water to a boil, then watch until it turns clear. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

This method worked quite well as it became relatively stiff and didn't alter the look of the yarn too much. It just turned it the color darker. It is very attractive to ants though, so that could be a drawback. I think you could also alter the ratio of sugar to water with this method.

3. CORNSTARCH METHOD: (1 cup + 1 TBS water, and 3 heaping teaspoons of cornstarch). Dissolve starch in 1 tablespoon of water. Boil 1 cup of water, then reduce heat and add starch, stirring until thickened. Keep stirring until it is the consistency of pudding. Allow to cool.

This method turned out about as stiff as the sugar method. It made the yarn a lighter color, so I think it would work best with light colored yarn.

To sum up, I think the best method, look and stiffness wise, is the sugar method. If you need a very stiff result, the glue method seems to be the stiffest. Depending on what you have on hand to use, I think all of them work fine, but you may have to adjust the ratios to get the level of stiffness you are looking for.  Next time I am in the US, I will try some of the commercially available stiffeners such as Mod podge or Aleene's, to compare!

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Little Home Decor Crochet Project

I have always loved antique Tiffany Lamps, and this "Fruit Cocktail" variegated Comfort Sock yarn from Berocco was just calling out for a stitch pattern that echoed Tiffany lamp style. I found a beautiful stitch pattern, but I wasn't sure what to make with it. I knew I wanted it to be a home decor piece, and something that would be functional. Once upon a time, I bought a handmade glass plate at a craft fair, and I have always admired its lovely modern open shape. I decided I would use it as the model for a crochet version.

First, I made the top two layers; one in the lace pattern and one in solid half double crochets, then crocheted them together. Next, I crocheted the base, inserted a wooden dowel in each end, and enclosed them by stitching crocheted discs on the ends. After all the pieces were crocheted, I had to figure out the best way to stiffen them. Mod Podge, a widely used stiffener, is not available in Kuwait, so I had to search for a more basic method. I thought of trying a mix of sugar and water, but I was worried about ants attacking it, so I switched to Elmer's Glue mixed with water. It was actually quite scary to see my hours of crochet all wet and gooey. I wondered if I had just ruined the project, but felt comforted by the fact that the glue was labeled "washable". I figured if it didn't look good, I could just keep rinsing it until all the glue came out. After it was saturated with the glue mixture, I put plastic wrap on my model glass plate, and laid the crochet on top of it to dry into shape. I also found a wooden block to put under the center of the base, to give it the right shape to dry on. This is important, as it needed to stand up and support the plate when it was dry. Finally, I held my breath until it all dried. Luckily, it came out looking better than I imagined it would! It does dull the yarn somewhat, but I think that is ok, because the yarn is cotton and the colors weren't too bright to begin with. It was a good exercise for me, because I had never stiffened any crochet. Now, I have more courage to dip my creations in glue! 

The base is attached to the plate with Velcro, so I can make interchangeable tops for it.

Closeup of stitch pattern before stiffening