Thursday, September 30, 2010

Shell topped Wrist Warmers

After doing so many hats and cables, I switched to something quick and easy.  I made a pair of arm/wrist warmers.  They're the same basic pattern I used here.  Just rows of stitches worked in the back loops.






Top view of both warmers.  I used a thicker yarn than before; some bulky (5) yarn left over from another project and a 6.00mm hook, worked in dc instead of hdc.






Shell topped wrist warmers

The base chain was long enough to completely cover the wrists, but the length can be adjusted to whatever is desired.  The thumb opening is created when the basic rectangle it slip stitched closed.  The only major change from the ones I made before is the shell stitch topping the arm end.  First, a round of sc was worked evenly around the edge, then I did a round of shells separated by 1sc.  Each shell is [1 sc, 1 hdc, 1dc, 1hdc, 1sc] worked into one stitch.

The chunky yarn makes things bulkier than I typically like to wear on my arms, but they do the job. :-D

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cable Madness

After playing around with cables in the last three hats, I decided to play around a bit more.  I used the leftover yarn used in the Red and Green Cable Hats.  I made things up as I went along a lot more than I did with the previous hats.  I also used the 6.00mm hook again.

The first change I made was right from the start, with a small peak.

Cable Madness

I started off with 9 dc in a magic ring, then did the next round in 9 dc at well.  The next round was increased with 12 hdc.  After that, I started working the front post double stitches.  I can't remember where I placed the increases, but whenever I did, it was with an hdc worked after a fpdc stitch was done.  In the next round, that hdc would have a fpdc stitched worked around it, making for a crown of solid cables.

Cable Madness

Looking at this view, you can see why our alternative name for this is "the nipple hat." ;-)

The first round I made without any more increases was done in green hdc.  That's when I finally stopped to count and see how many stitches I had in the round.  I can't remember the final number, but it was divisible by four, which is why you can see a red cable over the green at every 4th stitch, and that it was a higher number than the Red and Green Cables hats.  Though it was a higher number of stitches, doing all but the increase stitches in fpdc made it actually a touch smaller than the Red Cables hat, which was done with the same size hook.

Note: When changing colours, I simply dropped the yarn and took up the new colour.  This left a vertical row visible on the inside of the hat.  Hmm... now that I think about it, I should have taken a photo of how the inside of this hat looks.  Will have to keep that in mind.


The first red round after the first green round was made up of 3 hdc followed by 1 front post triple crochet stitch (fptc), going around a corresponding stitch in the last round of red in the crown.  The next round in red worked 1 hdc into each hdc of the previous round, and 1 fpdc around the fptc of the previous round.  That was followed by another round of green, this time doing all fpdc.  When I switched back to red again, I worked a pattern of 3 fpdc, 1 fptc, with the fptc worked around a fpdc just after where the previous fptc had been worked.  I did another round of all fpdc in red, then switched to green again.  This third round of green alternated 1 hdc and 1 fpdc.

The next rounds are hidden by the upturned cuff.  The next round switched back to red, this time working an hdc into the fpdc of the previous green round, and a fpdc around the hdc of the previous green round.  Another round of just fpdc in red was worked.

The last rounds before the cuff of the hat were done in green.  One round of all fpdc was done, then another round of hdc was worked *in between* each stitch of the previous round.


Cable Madness

The ridged cuff of the hat was then worked in the same manner as the Red and Green Cables hats, using a starting chain of 9 stitches, making for a cuff 8 stitches wide.  To alternate colours, I would just drop the yarn from one colour, then pick up the next, making sure that the yarn was pulled snug whenever I changed back again.  When the cuff is turned up, it naturally folds at the last round of green hdc, so what you're seeing in this photo is almost the entire width of the cuff. 

As you can see by the instructions, there was really no rhyme or reason to making this hat.  I was just playing with cables and wanted to see what an all-over cable design would look like.  With so many fpdc used, the entire hat is actually a touch smaller than usual for this size of yarn and the hook size used.  It's a tighter fit than the Red Cables hat, even though the same hook size is used, and the crown is larger, with a greater total number of stitches in the rounds making up the sides.  In fact, it would probably fit an older child better than an adult.

Would I make this hat again?  Probably not.  Am I glad I made it?  Yes.  It was fun to wing it as I went along.  The closest thing I had to a plan in making this was "use lots of front post stitches."  That and I wanted to use up some of the left over yarn from the previous hats.

Which, by the way, each needed 2 skeins of yarn, though more than half a skein of each colour was left over when they were done, leaving me plenty to make this one.

Green Cables

This next hat was done almost the same way as the Red Cables hat.  Even the yarn type is the same.  There are just a couple of notable differences.  First off, I used a 9.00mm hook. With the same number of stitches used in each round that was done in the Red Cables version, this made it a size larger than what I usually make.

Green Cables

Though I used the same number of stitches, you can see that I joined the new cable into a different spot than the Red Cable hat, as well as experimenting when where I attached the fpdc to create the wavy cables.

Green Cables

You can see the changes in direction of the cables a bit better here.

The ribbing around the edge was also done the same way as the red version, including the round of sc done first.  The ribbing is only 3 sc long, which means I started it with a chain of 4 instead of 5.



Green Cables

Even with the narrower ribbing, this version is a fair bit longer than the red one.  It's a bit lower over the eyes than I normally like, but has better ear coverage.

I do like this variation of the cable hat, but I think the 9mm hook is a bit too big.  It's a great way to make a larger hat without having to change the number of stitches in the pattern, though.

Red Cables

Here's the next piece in my recent group of hat experiments.

I was looking to try out a new yarn with this hat, Loops & Threads, Charisma from a local Michaels.  It's a very soft, 100% Acrylic, bulky (5) yarn made in Turkey.  Machine washable and dryable.  Recommended hook size is 8mm.

I don't have an 8mm hook.  I have a 7mm, which is being used by one of my daughters for something else.  It's also a plastic hook, the same as my 10mm, that I can't stand using.  They have an odd, sticky sort of feel to them.  I prefer aluminum hooks, and I have a 9mm hook in aluminum, which I used for a different hat.  For this project, I went with my 6mm hook.

Red Cables

The basic structure of this hat is the same as my previous ones - flat disc for a crown with straight sides.  I decided to do a very simple cable pattern so I could see just how much of a natural curve developed.  I  started this one by working 8 dc into a magic ring.  The next round worked 1 fpdc and 1 hdc into each dc of the previous round.  The following round worked 1 fpdc and 1 hdc into the fpdc of the previous round, then 1 hdc into the hdc of the previous round.  In the following round, I added another cable by working 1 fpdc, 1hdc into the fpdc of the previous round, 1 fpdc around the first hdc of the previous round, then 1 hdc into the last hdc before the fpdc of the previous round.

For the following increase rounds, I alternated where the increase hdc was added so that each cable had the same number of hdc on either side of it until the disc was the size I wanted, which was at 1 fpdc, 2 hdc all the way around using this yarn and hook size.  Had I been working with a thinner yarn that needed more rounds to reach the size I wanted, I would have added another cable into the next increase round in the same manner as before; the key being adding a new cable where the next increase round would make an odd number of stitches in between the existing cables.  This way, the new cable is added by working a fpdc around the middle stitch between the existing cables.


Red Cables

That pattern was continued to build up the sides for several more rows until it reached about half way down my forehead when I tried it on.

I decided to change directions for the ribbed finish.  First, I did one more round in sc.  After slip stitching the round closed, I chained 5, then worked 4 sc back down the chain.  At the end, I slip stitched into each of the next two sc in the body, then turned, rotating counter clockwise and pulling the yarn strand across the top and tucking it snug against the body of the hat so that it's between the slip stitch and the first stitch worked in the new row.  I find this looks better than rotating clockwise.  Whichever direction you choose, just make sure it's dine the same all the way around.

The next row is 4 sc worked into the back loops only of each sc in the previous row.  Ch 1, then turn.  That pattern was repeated all the way around.

Red Cables

The last row in the ribbing ends away from the body of the hat with a ch 1.  Working on the inside of the hat, the first and last rows were slip stitched together.

I like the simplicity of this pattern.  The gentle curve of the cables that naturally forms when working in the round is quite attractive, I think. 

I really enjoyed working with this yarn, too.  It's got a nice texture, flows smoothly and doesn't have a tendancy to split like so many bulkier yarns do.  The finished hat is very light and warm.  A very nice yarn for winter headgear.  I just picked up a couple more skeins last night, since it happens to be on sale again right now.  It's a less expensive yarn, but I still hate paying full price. *L*

Autumn Basketweave hat

This next hat was made using the same yarn as my Simplicity Itself Reading Jacket and a 6.00mm hook.  I really love this yarn.  It's got a wonderful feel and I like the gradual shading.

The hat itself is pretty basic.

Autumn Basketweave

I started with 8 sc in a magic ring, then worked the flat disc for the crown in dc until it had the diameter I wanted. 


Autumn Basketweave

This sides were worked in a basketweave pattern, which is just alternating groups of front post and back post dc.  To figure out how many in each group, I divided the total number of stitches in the crown's final round by different numbers to see which would give me an even number of groupings.  The even number ensures that the last group is done in the opposite stitches of the first group, so if you start with a group of fpdc, you'll finish the round with a group of bpdc.  With the gauge in this hat, it worked out to multiples of 3, so that's how many stitches I did in each group.  I could have gone with 6, but I thought it wouldn't have looked as good.  Personally, I would not go with more than 5 stitches per group, just for aesthetic reasons.  If you like a larger grouping, go for it.

The first round was done in just dc with no increases to get the straight side started, then the second round was done in groups of 3 fpdc, 3 bpdc around.  The third round reversed the pattern, doing bpdc into the fpdc of the previous round.  The fourth round worked fpdc into fpdc, bpdc into bpdc, matching the 3rd round, then the pattern got switched again in the 5th and 6th rounds.  I stopped at 6 rounds, but if you wanted something a touch longer, you could add a couple more rounds here, or into the "cuff" section.

Autumn Basketweave

The hat was then finished with a "cuff" alternating one front and one back post dc for three more rounds and a final round of sc.  That last round of sc pulls the edge in just a little bit, so it not only tidies up the edge nicely, but it makes for a snug, draft free fit.

If I wanted to, I could have continued the rounds of alternating front and back post dc until it was long enough to be turned up when worn, but I think with this yarn, it would have been a bit too thick.  I could also have added an earflap section as in my Cable Petals hat.

I've made hats with this basketweave pattern a few times, with each one being slightly different due to the thickness of yarn and hook size.  It's a really basic hat with just enough texture to make it interesting, yet it's still the type of thing you can work on while watching a movie or having a conversation. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cable Petals

Recently, I got an itch to experiment with crochet cables.  The result was several hats.  Although I had no pattern or plan in mind, I used the same basic structure for all but one of them.  The crown of the hat is done in a flat disc until it's just wide enough to cover the top of a head, then the sides are worked without increases to various lengths, depending on if I want to so a ribbed "cuff" or add extras such as ear flaps.

For this hat, I used a some Patons Shetland Chunky Tweeds in Medium Blue that I had gifted to me, but hadn't found a project for it.  It was quite nice to work with, and I would definitely use it again.

The recommended hook size is 6.00mm, but for this project, I went with a 5.50mm hook - I think.  It was either that or a 5.00mm, and I really don't think I went that small.  I may or may not work the pattern again and write out an exact details, but until then, I hope this description is enough for you to figure out how to make one yourself.

Cable petals hat

I started this pattern with a 9 sc magic circle.  The next round was increased to 18 in dc.  For the third round, I worked the increase stitches in hdc in between pairs of front post double crochet (fpdc).

For each round following, I kept working hdc in between the fpdc stitches until I reached the size I wanted.  The increase stitch was worked into the top of the second of each pair of fpdc.  I think I did one round without increases without changing where the fpdc were placed.  After that, I worked the straight sides and changed where I placed the fpdc stitches by one in each direction to bring the cables into the points of the petals.  The last round had one fpdc around both fpdc of the previous round, and one extra hdc added to make up for the one less fpdc.

Cable petals hat

To finish the cap, I worked a "cuff" in alternating front and back post dc for several rows.  For the ear flap I worked rows into slightly more than half of the hat - I tried it on first, then marked where I roughly wanted the flap portion to begin and end in front of each ear.  I started and finished with an hdc, then did the rest in alternating front and back post dc, making I sure started and finished with the same stitch.  When working on the inside of the hat, I also made sure to work front post stitches into the back post stitches of the previous row and vice versa, so that on the outside, it all came out the same.

To make the slight curve of the earflap portion, I reduced by one stitch at the beginning and at the end of each row by skipping the second last stitch and working an hdc into the last stitch of the previous round.  Extra care had to be taken to make sure I did the front and back post stitches in the the next row in the right places.

Cable petals hat

The hat was finished with one round of sc.  The curve of the earflap was kept by working 2 sc in the "corners" of the flap, while two sc were done together where the flap switched to the forehead portion.

This hat used up most of the two balls of Shetland Chunky I had.  The smaller hook together with the cables made for a much snugger fit than I normally do.  I'm very happy with how it turned out, but to do it again I would move up to the 6.00mm hook.  Either that, or it would do well as is for an older child.  I really like how the earflap portion hugs around the ears and keeps out drafts, though for a glasses wearer, the snugness does tend to affect how the glasses sit on the face.

I've been busy...

Though I haven't been doing a lot of posts, I've actually been quite busy with my crochet hooks lately.  I've just coerced one of my daughters into modelling for me, and am about to process the photos.  So just a warning that there's going to be a bit of a rush on posts in the next little while, as I'll be doing a different post for each item.  I didn't use any patterns for these, so it'll be more about the process than anything else.  I hope you will find them useful.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Feature Friday: Nalbinding

I'm finally starting up my Feature Fridays again.  If there is any craft or artist you'd like to see featured here, feel free to mention it in the comments.

Sharon Silverman shared a video on nalbinding a while back, and I've been experimenting with it ever since - with questionable success!

Nalbinding, naalbinding, nalebinding or NÃ¥lbinding is an ancient pre-cursor to knitting.  The name literally means "needle binding" or "binding with a needle."  Nalbinding needles are flat and fairly wide, with a large hole, though a large yarn or tapestry needle can be substituted.  Using needle, yarn and your thumb, yarn loops are bound together to create an array of useful garments and other items.

After looking around a fair bit, the site I found myself using the most is Viking Girl's Workshop.  The instructional videos linked to were the ones I found the clearest, even if I couldn't understand any of the spoken instructions.

Here are a few of my experiments.



Nalbinding

I did these before I found Viking Girl's site, using videos I found by searching on youtube.  The very first ones I tried were using some Handicrafter cotton, and they really sucked. *L*  I would have taken pictures to show just how badly they turned out, but they seem to have disappeared.  No loss, there! ;-D

I then used some left over chunky yarn and tried again.  It was definitely easier with the thicker yarn.  In the photo are pairs done in different stitches, with the shorter lengths (2nd, 4th and 6th from the top) done earlier.  They're laid down to show both sides of each stitch.  The top two are done in Oslo stitch - the most basic stitch.  The second pair are done in Asle stitch, though I may have been doing it wrong - two different videos are showing me two different ways to grab the loops in the back.  The final pair on the bottom was done in Broden's stitch.  Click on the images to go to my flickr page and see closer views of each pair.

The next attempt was made using some leftover Lion's Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick and the biggest yarn needles I could find. 

Nalbinding

I was definitely getting the hang of the basic movement, though I am still having problems with tension.  I think the main reason is that, using yarn needles instead of the flat nalbinding needles, the loops are simply too tight.  Until I find some proper nalbinding needles, I'll have to learn how to compensate for that.

The video I was following went on to show how to work the piece into a loop, so I gave that a try, too.


Nalbinding

Unfortunately, I goofed and ended up putting a twist in it.  That would be fine if I were making a moebius shawl or something, I suppose. 

One down side of nalbinding.  If you're not happy with what you're working on or make a mistake, the piece can't be ripped like you can with knitting or crochet.  The yarn would need to be undone one loop at a time.

I started over with a new piece of yarn.



Nalbinding

I got it right this time.  This view shows the starting end of the piece.  It's not really visible in this photo, but I think I attatched the working end to the start in the wrong loops, as the starting end was sort of flapping around.


Nalbinding

This view shows where I stopped near the end of my yarn.

I'm kind of liking this.  I've got a lot more to figure out before I can make anything useful.  One thing I'll need to learn is how to work in a new strand of yarn.  Looking at the instructional video I was following for this piece, I could see that there was a lot of yarn somehow attached into the end of her needle, but I couldn't see in what way.  Because the entire length of the yarn has to pass through the loops, the working yarn needs to remain short.  Her yarn was looped somehow to keep the working length short, yet still have a whole lot of yarn to work with.  I used maybe a 10 foot length for the pink piece worked in the round and, as you can see, that doesn't go very far.  Considering that I'm working this way too tight, it would go even faster if I were doing it right. 

I'll definitely be working with this technique some more.  I'm definitely screwing up somewhere when I try to work anything but the Oslo stitch, but as I look closely at the videos, I get the impression my biggest problem with that is the tension of the loops.  Not the part around my thumb, but where the needle is drawn through behind the thumb, and I think my problem has a lot to do with my needles.  I'll experiment some more, trying to work things more loosely to avoid that, until I can find a proper nalbinding needle.  I think I might even be able to make one, if I can't find one in a store.

I'm certainly enjoying the challenge of figuring it out, though I must admit my left thumb isn't liking it a whole lot. LOL

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Yarn Bomb

Some time ago, my older daughter was out with her friends and spotted a yarn bomb.  Knowing her mother as well as she does, she made sure to tell me about it.  Today, I finally had a chance to get a couple of photos.  I love finding stuff like this!

If you're unfamiliar with the concept, yarn bombing is basically yarn graffiti.  Crafty folk sneak out in the dead of night (more or less) and leave knit or crochet pieces out in public places.  Sometimes they'll put a scarf or toque on a statue.  Others sew shapes onto poles or trees.  The truly dedicated cover entire buses, cars or buildings in yarn.

Our local mystery yarn bomber covered the arm rests of a public bench.



Yarn bombed arm rest

This one is still in pretty good shape...

I love yarn bombing!  I think they add a wonderful touch of whimsy and colour to unexpected places.  If you want to learn more about yarn bombing, visit the Yarn Bombing blog.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Step-by-step, tunisian in the round

For my second experiment with a Tunisian in the round can cozie, a made only one minor change for the base.  This time, I worked in a spiral from the start.

I also decided to do with one in stockinette stitch.

Tunisian in the round.

Where the simple stitch is worked from right to left around the front vertical bar, the stockinette stitch is worked from front to back, in between the front and back vertical bars.  The finished result looks very much like the knit version.

To work in the round, only a few loops of yarn A are placed on the hook at a time.



Tunisian in the round.

The work is then turned and slip to the other end of the hook.  The loops are then worked off the hook using yarn B until only 2 or 3 loops of yarn A are left on the hook.





Tunisian in the round.

The work is then turned again, slid back to the opposite hook, and yarn A is picked up again to work several more loops back onto the hook.  In this photo, you can see the front loops of the last round of sc in the base.


Tunisian in the round.

As the piece is worked, the first few rounds seem very wide and bowl like.  After an inch or so, it starts to take on a more upright shape.  The vertical rows created by the stockinette stitch give it a bit more structure than the simple stitch did.

Tunisian in the round.

A view of the inside.

Tunisian in the round.

Another view of the outside.  Note the distinctive Tunisian crochet curl at the top.

Tunisian in the round.

I used a can to determine when to stop.  For this project, I stopped just a bit short of the final hieght I was after.



Tunisian in the round.

An inside view of the last round, uncurled as much as I could.



Tunisian in the round.

This time I did a round of sc at the top, working the stitches in the same space I worked the stockinette stitch through, using only the primary colour yarn.


Tunisian in the round.

Which looks like this on the inside.



Tunisian in the round.

The final round of sc was done using both colours of yarn on the hook.



Tunisian in the round.

Which looks like this on the inside.




Tunisian in the round.

Then I flipped it inside out to sew in all the loose ends.










The finished cozie. 


Final conclusion: For a can cozie, there are a couple of things I might do different.  I would probably stick with the 6.00 mm hook for the body, but the top is a lot looser than I like.  If I did it again, I would use a smaller hook for the last two rounds at the top.  I might prefer to do the whole thing in a smaller hook, as the cozie is more flexible than I like.  It's more likely to collapse when putting a can into it without using a second hand to hold it open.  On the other hand, this makes it more versatile for use on drinking glasses, which might flare wider at the top or be slightly wider and a pop can, or for small water bottles.


The finished fabric is quite a bit thicker than using a regular hook.  Which would be a plus (better insulation) or a minus (uses quite a bit more yarn), depending on what you're after. 


I do like the look of it, and working in the round does eliminate the lean to one side Tunisian usually has.  It does still curl, but not as much as flat work, and can be easily remedied without blocking.


There is a finicky factor when working in the round, since only a few stitches can be worked at a time before it has to be flipped to the other end of the hook.  This would be less of an issue if doing something larger, like a cap, since more loops can be worked onto the hook.


I like it.  Enough that I'll probably make more of these, or try some other experiments.

Experimenting; tunisian in the round

For some reason, I'm increasingly interested in Tunisian stitch.  I'm really enjoying the double hook crochet, but I don't quite know what's attracting me about Tunisian.  The stitch's habit of leaning way off to one side and tendency to curl irritate me.  The double hook technique eliminates that.  Yet, I can't help wanting to explore the method.

Which lead me to working on Tunisian in the round.  A double hook is required, but the piece isn't turned like double hook crochet.  Here's my first experiment.  A can cozie (because even in experimentation, I must make something useful... *L*) done in Tunisian simple stitch.  (I'll be posting a step-by-step with a different stitch later.)



Tunisian in the round

In picking the yarns, I just grabbed two of the same type of yarn - some Handicrafter Cotton - that wasn't being used for something else, which had me using a variegated yarn with a yarn made up for 4 different coloured strands.  I thought it would be pretty horrid, but the nature of the stitch seems to have made it a lot nicer than I expected.

The cozie is topped with a round of slip stitch worked into the same vertical post that the Tunisian simple stitch (tss) is worked into.  Aside from giving it a more finished look, it got rid of the curl.





Tunisian in the round

I started by making a simple disk to the size needed.  Usually I make my cozies with a 3.50mm hook, as the small size makes for a strongly self-supporting shape.  My double sized hook (I only have the one) is a 6.00mm  Starting from 8 sc into a 4 ch ring, getting the size I needed meant increasing to a round of 32 stitches, instead of my usual 40 stitches with the smaller hook.  When it came time to work up the sides, I used the back loops only to get it started. 

Tunisian in the round

I worked the sides up in a spiral.  Here, the top of the cozie is flipped to show what the inside looks like.

I was rather pleased with how it turned out.  The resulting cozie is a lot softer and floppier than I like for the use I'm putting it to.  For that, I'd go with a smaller hook and the same yarn.  I just don't happen to have one.

With this one under my belt, I decided to make a second one and take photos as it progressed.  Time to go start on that. :-)