Rose City Yarn Crawl!

Last weekend was the Rose City Yarn Crawl. If you are not lucky enough to live in a city that has a yarn crawl, its much like you’re basic pub crawl. You hop from shop to shop and taste a bit at each one. In Portland, they really go all out. Fifteen shops participated. Each shop offered a free pattern with purchase designed by the shop. The patterns are now available here. Most had trunk shows featuring local dyers, spinners, shawl pin and stitch marker makers, etc. There was a Mystery-knit-along and Mystery-crochet-along leading up to the crawl, and at each shop you could enter to win a prize basket. If you visit all 15 shops during the crawl, you get entered to win the grand prize!

Passports

 

Those are my mother and I’s finished “Passports” proving that we made it to all 15 shops. No prize baskets for either of us, but it was a lot of fun. The crawl is four days long, Thursday – Sunday, but because I was working we did the whole thing over the weekend. In past years there has been even more shops participating, but a few have closed down. Here is the upclose shot if you live in the PDX area and want to see all the shops in the area.

Passport

 

We collected all the free patterns and not a small amount of yarn. I also got a shawl pin, some project bags, stitch markers, and some purchased patterns. I haven’t had the time to take individual photos yet, but here is a photo of the haul all together.

Yarn Crawl

 

I want to cast on something new so badly! I’m still trying really hard to wrap up my lingering WIPs though, so I’m hoping my willpower holds out just a little bit longer. I put a new sweater on the blocking mat this afternoon (I’ll show you next post!) and if I can get two more projects complete I’ll feel good about casting on something new. I’ve been able to take my WIPs from 14 down to 6, and I’m trying really hard not to let it balloon up again. But with this pile of awesome looking up at me, how can I not!

I should know better

 

I pride myself on possessing a certain amount of self-awareness. However, sometimes I’m forced to come face to face with something that tells me I am not in touch with my own nature at all. Way back in November of 2010 I decided it would be a great idea to start a blanket of crochet squares. Out of Red Heart Super Saver. That’s right, I decided that a long-term, many-small-pieces, lots-of-ends-to-weave-in, lots-of-finishing-to-do project, out of Red Heart, would be a great idea. For the better part of four years, this was the only photo I bothered to take:

Granny Square

 

Every so often I would feel guilty, haul out this project and add another square to my pile. After a square or two, I’d loose attention and it would filter down to the bottom of the basket. I decided to just randomly pick blocks from 200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws, and Afghans by Jan Eaton to make a sampler blanket.

 

Blanket

 

I have one skein each of Super Saver in colors Carrot, Coffee, Aruba Sea, and Real Teal. The plan was always to make blocks until the yarn ran out and then use a skein of cream yarn to add a border to all the blocks and piece them together. The problems are many:

1) I hate big projects that are made of little pieces. I know some people feel like each piece is its own little accomplishment, but I find each completed piece to be a nice “stopping point” and it takes a lot of will power to start the next piece rather than a shiny new project.

2) I hate weaving in ends. There will be so so so many ends here.

3) While I don’t hate seaming, it’s certainly not my favorite and there will be a lot of that here too.

 

Blanket

 

Each square is about 16 inches to a side. Right now I have 18 squares. Two more and I could call it quits with a 4×5 block afghan. You have no idea how tempting it is to just crank out two more blocks, finish this sucker, and be done. I know, though, that I would really rather have a blanket that is 4×6. That means I need 6 more blocks, not 2.

Internet, I need you to make me work on this blanket. I’m making it your mission. If I start showing you other lovely things, things without a lot of finishing, things made with natural fibers, I need you to lay on the guilt, thickly. Mock me. Taunt me. Embarrass me. Anything to get me to power through these last agonizing hours of getting this done.

Monster!

Long long time ago (winter 2012) I joined Stacey Trock’s (who designed under the name FreshStitches) kit club. Ever other month for 3 months she mailed out a kit for a cute stuffed crochet toy. I had good intentions, but almost two years later two of the three kits are still tucked away unopened.

The last kit mailed out was for Amigurumi Roosevelt the Monster and it came with a ball of yarn that changed colors slowly. This cute little guy was enough to make me pick up a hook and get to work.


The color changing yarn was very pretty, but it actually changed a little too slowly for this little guy. I knit the ears, eyes, and just started the first leg before the first color change, and the second color took me all the way through the rest of the project. I didn’t even get to the third or fourth colors.
I grew up in the 90s so this guy always makes me think of the cartoon Aaahh! Real Monsters, doesn’t he remind you a little bit of Krumm?
I sprayed him with catnip spray so he’s a favorite around her. That photo was taken when he was brand new, but he’s got a lovely halo of cat hair always, no matter how many times I take him out on the balcony and shake him out.

Archer

I know I never managed to blog about it, while it was in progress, but I participated in the Fresh Stitches Mystery Crochet A Long.

As it turns out, the finished amigurumi was this adorable puppy dog: Archer.

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Stacey Trock, who designs under the name Fresh Stitches, has many absolutely adorable crochet toy patterns, and I knew I would probably love any pattern she came up with, so I signed up for the CAL.
I never actually got around to taking pictures of the pieces before I assembled Archer, but I can tell you I wasn’t sure what I was making right up to the last minute.
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I used one of the yarns recommended by Stacey in the pattern: Ella Rae Classic. It’s a workhorse 100% wool and we happened to be clearing it out at the shop. The colors I used are the aptly named 107 and 135.
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I used Suncatcher Eyes (also recommended by Stacey) in the color shimmer blue. They’re fairly inexpensive and very pretty. I bought 5 pairs in various colors, so I see more little toys in my future.
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In other hobby news, I’m almost done reading A Christmas Carol. I started before Christmas when I was in a holiday mood, but still have about 30 pages left. I’m slow, what can I say. It’d been a while since I’d read anything of “substance.” Lots of light and fluffy, even some racy, but nothing hearty. If I go too long without reading something substantial, the English major in me gets antsy and overly critical of my “fun” reading. Hopefully a little Dickens will apease it and keep it from making too much of a fuss when I pick up The Woodcutter when I’m finished.

Relief

Sorry for dropping of the map for a little over the past two weeks. I got sucked into the hole that is the bar exam.  Tuesday and Wednesday I sat for the test and now I have eight weeks to wait before finding out if I passed or not… It was definitely not the most fun I’ve ever had.

Now that it’s over, I can turn my attention to looking for a legal job and working in the yarn shop. Much more fun that days and days of studying. And, even better, lots more knitting time.

A few weeks ago, before I got swept up completely in studying, I finished the sweater I was crocheting.

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I think it’s lovely. The sleeves came out a bit big, but other than that it’s great. That wonderful little closure is from Plover Designs. They’re local to Portland and For Yarn’s Sake carries some very lovely ones.
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The pattern is Bluebell Cardigan by Edie Eckman from the Spring 2011 Interweave Crochet. It worked up so fast once I finally put some energy into it. I found the patter a bit vague and hard to follow in places but I think it was because they tried to cram it onto two pages so it was heavily abbreviated and vague in places. I still managed to figure it out.
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I used some yarn that was available through Knit Picks about two years ago. It was yarn that their mill overspun so they sold it for $1 per ball. It’s basically their Wool of the Andes sport but overspun. The colorway is called amethyst heather. The sweater’s got about 4 inches of positive ease so I will be able to layer it in the winter. (Ryan says a sweater made of holes is impractical, but I think he just doesn’t understand the magic of layers.)
Opening Ceremonies start in 9 minutes and I’ve got a cardigan to cast on. You’ll hear all about it.

Expanding my skills

Last March when the Spring 2011 issue of Interweave Crochet came out I could not wait to make the Bluebell Cardigan by Edie Eckman. I began (cast on?) the same day the magazine arrived.  I quickly worked through the flowered border, then…

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I have no idea.  Something sent it to the basket and it stayed there for over a year.  Recently, I’ve been in a “get sh*t done” mood so I’ve been pulling out old projects left and right and finishing them up.

I picked it back up and I’ve been seriously trucking through it.

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In two days I’ve finished about 10 inches of the body.  Thats insane!  I could never bust through a knitting pattern that fast.

The cardi is made in one piece up to the armpits then split and knit separately to the shoulders.  Most of the cardigan is this all-over mesh pattern.

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The flower details at the bottom look a little crummy right now, but it looks like they will block out pretty nicely.
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I love reading blogs where people talk about what they’re reading along with what they’re knitting, so I figured I’d start sharing as well.  Recently, I’ve been reading an excellent book–The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murderer and the Birth of Forensic Medecine in Jazz Age New York (why oh why do academics feel the need for long subtitles?) by Deborah Blum.

 

It’s so good! Prior to the late 1800s it was basically impossible to prove if someone had been poisoned–needless to say, it became a pretty popular way to get rid of people.  As scientists started to come up with ways of detecting poisons, poisoners switched to poisons that were harder to detect.  When the industiral era was in full swing in the ’20s industrialists were constantly inventing new chemicals to facilitate their industries but there was little investigation into what the side effects of the chemical exposure might be.
The book chronicles the cat-and-mouse between murderers and scientists and the development of the science of detecting poison. The book reads like a story and even though it talks about scientific development it doesn’t get overly technical.  Fair warning though, it does describe the effects of various poisons on the body, sometimes in detail.  I found the descriptions of radium poisoning especially disturbing.  Seriously though, I’m loving this book.  Read it!

Quickie (HA!) scarf

This scarf is supposed to be really quick to crochet.  I think for a normal crocheter it would be pretty quick… I’m on the slow side.  I also think that for a slowish crocheter who practices some degree of project monogamy it would be quick.  Monogamy (toward fiber projects) is impossible not my strong suit.  So here is my quickie scarf, completed in just under three months.

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The patter, which is super easy, is here on the Yarnia blog.  I used on cone of a Yarnia house blend called Union.  It is comprised of one strand of honey brown plushy rayon chenille, one strand of shimmery gold rayon, and two strands of honey brown wool.  I just worked until I didn’t have enough yarn to do another full repeat.  (I know it’s the kind of pattern that you can stop in the middle of a repeat, but that just feels weird.)

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This give a pretty accurate picture of the depth of color the three different materials/colorways give the finished project.  This scarf is super plushy due to the combination of the chenille and the natural plumpness of crochet.  Sadly, while just a few weeks ago we had freezing temps, the weather has warmed here (of course it got warm, I just finished a scarf) and I don’t know if I will get to wear this before next winter…  I’m always finishing projects such that I get to wear them the season after I finish them, never right away.  Sigh.

Hardly worth mentioning

Today I am sick. Apparently a super nasty flu has been floating around Portland. Right now, I just feel like I have a head cold, but I have been feeling increasingly worse as the day goes on… let’s hope that now that I am in bed with some good tea that this is as bad as it gets and it doesn’t escalate into the death-bug that so many others have had this winter.

That is why this will be a quick post to show you a little project that doesn’t need much explanation (or deserve much praise).

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It’s a crocheted pot holder. It’s made from di. Ve Fiamma which is a super bulky think-thin wool. I didn’t use a pattern, just the instructions for crocheting in the round from the Stitch n’ Bitch Happy Hooker book. It’s felted a bit. I put it through one wash cycle which shrunk it about 15%, though most of the stitch definition is still there. Now it is slightly firmer making it more suitable for it’s purpose. Here it is before felting/shrinking… Can you see the difference?

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My brother has been using an old t-shirt as a pot holder/oven mitt for a while, so I gave this to him when he moved to his new apartment as a housewarming gift. He said the blue made it a sufficiently masculine pot holder to warrant a place in his kitchen, though he expressed his desire that if I make another it incorporate dinosaurs in some way. If I didn’t have so many other projects on the needles right now, I might step up to the challenge.

Long term project

Compared to knitting, crochet is easily a “less-favorite” craft. It can be fun for making amigurumi which are usually pot-bellied and adorable, and I did make a pretty cute summer dress, but it’s not my go-to craft by any means.

However, there is one thing that crocheters can make that knitters can’t really replicate. Granny Squares.

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I know some people think granny squares are tacky (and they kind of are) but I love the way they look. Recently I picked up 200 Crochet Blocks and started picking out blocks just to experiment/brush up on my skills. The yarn is cheap-o Red Heart mostly because it’s cheap and machine washable so cat-hair accumulation won’t be difficult to deal with. I’m using a pretty big hook (size K) so my blocks are coming out about a foot square. I bought 4 skeins, the three colors you see above plus a burnt orange. I’ll make blocks until I feel I have a sufficient number for a good cozy blanket or I run out of yarn.

My holiday knitting has put this on the back burner for a bit (probably until after new year) then I will pick up the hook again. I really enjoy making these since each one is like a mini project in itself and brings its own feeling of accomplishment when finished.

The secret project

Hi all, just wanted to pop in and reveal a project that I finished quite a while ago, but didn’t show you since it was meant to go on display at Yarnia. It was a quick fun project and now that it’s been revealed at Yarnia, I’ll show you all here.

Nell

This is my take on Nell by Berroco Design Team. Clearly I took some liberties with the fabric part of the design, but the bodice is crocheted just as the pattern is written.

I am used this Yarnia-blended yarn (sorry I’m not the best photographer of yarn… it always comes out with a glare…) It is two strands of red silk/poly, two strands of red linen, and one strand of a taupe/natural linen. I think the one contrasting strand gives the fabric a lot of interest and a more “rustic” feel.

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After I finished crocheting the front and then took the piece to Jo-Ann Fabrics to find fabric for the bottom. I found the absolute perfect fabric to create the look I wanted–something that could be worn in the summer and also work to transition in to fall if worn over long sleeves and leggings.

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The pattern is really clearly written and I was able to follow all the stitches without any trouble, even as a very novice crocheter, but I think the gauge instructions are off. I followed the 40″ chest directions and even though my single crochet gauge was tighter than recommended my pieces still came out at 22″. If you are going to make this pattern I would be sure to do some math with the gauge you’re getting and the total number of stitches to make sure you’ll get something that fits.

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As the project calls for sewing on a sewing machine anyway, I decided rather than rip all the way back to the beginning and start over, I would serge the seams smaller. For those of you not familiar with sergers, they cut fabric and sew a thread binding around the cut edge as they go. That’s right, I cut my crochet. But look how much better the top fit afterward.

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Then came time to piece the fabric bottom together. The pattern instructions say to take two large piece of fabric, sew them together into a tube, gather up the top of the tube, and sew that to the bodice.

This creates the babydoll look that you can see in the pattern pictures and in many people’s projects on Ravelry. I think I mentioned before that, while this is a great look for some women, it is not the most flattering look on me. What I may not have mentioned is that I LOVE sundresses. They are probably my single favorite piece of clothing and one of the saddest things about living in the Pacific Northwest is that the weather often precludes wearing them until well into June. I decided to add to my sundress collection.

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I’m sorry I didn’t stop to take lots of pictures during the construction of the dress. It was one of those situations where I just started working and didn’t look up until I had a dress. Here is what I did:

Since the bodice fits around the widest part of the chest (which on me is the widest part until my hips) I measured the circumference of the bodice and cut two strips of fabric half that circumference plus 1 inch (the half inch is for the seam allowance) and as long as the dress I wanted (for me this was knee-length).

Next. I tried on the bodice and measured how far from where the bodice ended to where my hips are. This is because I needed to add extra fabric at the hip, both because my hips are my biggest part and because I wanted the skirt of my dress to flair.

After a rough measurement to my hips I seamed the two strips of fabric to that measured length. This means that the dress is just a straight tube from where it attaches to the body down to roughly my hips.

To add fabric to the hip of the dress and make it flair I inserted two wedge shaped pieces of fabric into either side of the tube. To do this I measured the length of the unseamed bottom part of my tube – for my dress this was roughly the distance from my hips to my knees. This became the side length of my triangle inserts. The bottom of the triangle was the total extra width I wanted the bottom of the skirt to have divided by 2 (because there is one insert on each side).

Once my two triangles were cut out, I sewed each long side of the triangle into the opening left on the sides of my tube. (if you have ever had occasion to turn a pair of jeans into bellbottoms this process is exactly the same.)

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I hemmed the whole thing around the bottom and I was finished… I thought. Then my boyfriend came over and I proudly showed him my finished dress. He praised my craftyness and took pictures for me, but he said he felt like the dress was “missing something.”

When I asked him what it could possibly be missing he said, “I don’t know, maybe some white lace around the bottom?” This was an exceptionally strange suggestion coming from a man who usually appreciates my craftiness from a safe distance refusing to participate in “which color/texture/hemline/sleeve-length/etc. looks better” conversations.

I was skeptical at first… white lace on a dress with such deep colors… I was unsure. But, figuring I had nothing to lose and I could always take it off again, I went back to the fabric store for some lace trim.

After sewing the lace to the dress I instantly was amazed at the result. It looked like it was meant to be there. It completely pulled the dress together and made it look “finished.” I am so glad I decided to try the unusual suggestion.

Lastly, because I wanted to accentuate my waist without having to go through the bother of adding waist shaping to the dress, I made a quick tie to cinch in the waist of the dress. I crocheted 3 really long chains—long enough to wrap loosely around my waist twice—then braided the chains together. It is just the right length to tie into a bow at my waist bringing the dress in and also carrying the crochet into the body of the garment.

Nell

All in all I would say that this pattern has major issues in the gauge department (you do the math, this time it really wasn’t me!), and I would have preferred not to have serged seams running through my crochet, but I love the end result and I love that this pattern inspired me to mix my two favorite hobbies — yarnplay and sewing.

This is currently hanging up in Yarnia on display to give browsers pattern ideas. I’ll get it back in the middle of winter (when no one is thinking about knitting or wearing summer clothes…) which means that I’ll probably be wearing it all the time next summer.