8.24.2015

Punch Pillow


Here today to blog about one of my newest crochet patterns, "Punch Pillow". This new pattern is available in a special issue by Annie's called, From Scraps to Sensational.

This is a pillow sham design that you put over a pillow form. I used Berroco Weekend DK to make this one and that would make an excellent yarn for the base. The colorful design on the front is made using a technique called surface crochet. This is the part that can be done using scraps from your stash. You can do every stripe in a different yarn or do a repeating pattern as I did here. To make one exactly like this you'll need:
 
  3 hanks in #2902 Vanilla
  1 hank in #2904 Pebble
  1 hank in #2966 Turquoise
  1 hank in #2981 Seedling
  1 hank in #2982 Coast
  Size G/6/4 mm crochet hook, or size needed to obtain gauge
  Tapestry needle
  Locking stitch markers
  14" pillow form


I had fun considering submissions for this issue. The thought of surface crochet came to me pretty quickly because you can use just a little yarn for a big impact. I just had to decide where to apply it. I settled on a pillow, and started swatching.

Here was my submitted swatch:


My sketch suggested 2 different ways of arranging the stripes:


You see, you could arrange stripes of surface slip stitching any way you want to make interesting shapes and patterns on the surface of your pillow cover. Editor Jackie Daugherty selected the bottom sketch.

I really enjoyed working on this pillow cover. I like surface crochet. It's fun to do. Here are some pictures of mine taken in process:






My last photo is how I envisioned it, so I was surprised by the magazine photo...it seemed sideways. It's grown on me though, and I like it both ways.

I am excited at the possibilities with this project! I can imagine some really awesome, colorful projects! I look forward to seeing finished projects on Ravelry and on my Facebook page!

Happy Stitching!
April




8.19.2015

Book Review: Warm Days, Cool Knits

Warm Days, Cool Knits: Lighter Designs for Every Season
By Corrina Ferguson
Interweave/F+W; $24.99

Today I am reviewing this wonderful knitting book, Warm Days, Cool Knits, for you dear readers! I was fortunate to win this book by listening to The Yarn Thing podcast with Marly Bird. She interviewed the designer, Corrina Ferguson of Picnic Knits. I left a comment on her show notes and won the book and a skein of yarn to make one of the projects. More on that in a bit.

As I listened to the podcast I was perusing photos of the included patterns on Ravelry. I was very impressed with the lovely projects in this book, so it really was very exciting to win the book!

Here are some of my favorites:

Coralue
(C) Joe Hancock

Mayella
(C) Joe Hancock

Jonetta
(C) Joe Hancock

Lovely, aren't they?! There are 20 patterns in the book, and really there are only a couple that I wouldn't love to make and wear!

The yarn that I won was a skein of Hazel Knits Divine (fingering weight Merino/Cashmere/Silk). It is aptly named. It is really lovely, soft yarn! This is the exact yarn and colorway for the Emmylou shawl. It is a crescent shaped shawl with an interesting cable-type pattern. It doesn't look like your typical cable pattern, but utilizes cable techniques and a cable needle.

Emmylou
(C) Joe Hancock

Truthfully, the first 3 or 4 cable rows had me fuming. My hands were really struggling to manage the extra cable needle. I found that, in particular, the parts that required my cable needle to hold one stitch to the front were frustrating because that one stitch was too loose to hold onto the cable needle. If I used a larger cable needle, the 2 stitches held to the back were too tight to fit on the needle. This is probably the result of my own quirkiness. I was determined and persevered, and I am glad that I did. After those first 3 or 4 cable rows, they gradually got easier because my hands were getting more used to managing it all. I am nearing completion of the main body of the shawl, almost time to begin the edging. It is looking very lovely.


This is a good thing. Not only will I have a lovely, soft shawl when I'm done, I will have learned something and improved my knitting skills, and that is worth a little frustration to me.

This particular pattern that I am working on relies heavily on charts. I think it's likely that the other patterns will as well, but I haven't looked carefully at the others to determine if this is so. If you're looking for a great knitting pattern book with lovely wearables, and you love using charts, this one should definitely be on your list!

Happy stitching!
April

(Disclaimer, I have included affiliate links in this post, which means that I will earn money if you use that link and then purchase this book. This does not charge you more. Please know that my words and praise are genuine. I will never give false praise for personal gain).


8.18.2015

Drop Spindle Tip


I just finished using my Ashford spinning wheel to ply this yarn. I spun the singles on this Schacht drop spindle. This yarn is special among my skeins of handspun because it is the first that I have dyed myself. It's not my most favorite yarn ever, color-wise, but good enough that I am undeterred, and will dye again. 

I stayed up rather late last night trying to get it all plied and off my spindle so that I could show you this tip, and not just tell you about it. 


Do you see the slanted stripes of clear "stuff" on the shaft of my spindle, on the end nearest the whorl? Those are SO helpful!

When I spin, I find that the cop of yarn I am building up will eventually start sliding around the shaft. This causes two really aggravating problems. First, the cop doesn't stay firmly lodged against the whorl, so as I am winding on, sometimes my strand of yarn gets between the cop and the whorl and makes for a messy and tangled cop of yarn. The other problem is even worse. As I am spinning, the cop gets pulled on and unwinds, meaning that my spun yarn gets longer from the bottom, and I can't spin very much in each length before winding on. Is that making sense? It's difficult to describe. 

So, my solution, plug in my hot glue gun and apply a corkscrew of hot glue around the shaft of my spindle, beginning at the whorl end. As you can see, I didn't do this along the whole shaft, just the part that I would begin winding around. It's such a simple thing, but it gives enough grip to the shaft to keep the cop still. Problem solved. It works perfectly. 



8.14.2015

Chain Mail Cowl Free Pattern


Today I am sharing a free pattern with you! I designed this pattern years ago and have decided to place it on the blog as a free pattern. Here shortly, I plan to begin a CAL (crochet-along) with this pattern. This will make a great Christmas gift for lots of folks. The pattern is easy and quick and the yarn is easy-care, so you can make them for just about anyone.

Won't you join me? 

Decide how many you want to make and get your yarn and hook ready. 

You can purchase Berroco Comfort from Patternworks (affiliate link) they also have discontinued colors (affiliate link) including the color I used #9713 Dusk.
icon icon 
I'll host the crochet-along on my Facebook page beginning on Monday, August 31st. I'll post each day about my progress and you all can chime in with questions, photos, and progress.

Here's the free pattern:

Yarn
Berroco Comfort, 3.5oz/100g skeins, each approx 210yds/193m (50% Nylon, 50% Acrylic): 3 skeins #9713 Dusk

Hook
M/13 (9mm) or size needed to obtain correct gauge.

Notions
Yarn needle

Finished Measurements
12.5in/31.8cm tall x 34in/86.4cm circumference

Gauge
10sts x 6 rows = about 4.5in/11.4cm in dc with double stranded yarn
Stitch Guide
Front Post Treble (Fptr): Yarn over 2 times, insert hook from right to left, from front, to back, to front, around post of designated st, yarn over and pull up a loop, [yarn over and pull through 2 loops]3 times.
Back Post Treble (Bptr): Yarn over 2 times, insert hook from right to left, from back, to front, to back, around post of designated st, yarn over and pull up a loop, [yarn over and pull through 2 loops]3 times.

Note
    Beg ch 3 counts as dc unless otherwise noted. 
    Elongated loop and ch 1 does not count as dc.
    Cowl is worked in rnds, but foundation ch is not joined to make a circle in order to avoid twisting the ch.  The foundation ch is joined together in finishing using a long beg tail and a yarn needle, but if you prefer, you can join the foundation ch into a circle before beg Rnd 1.

Cowl
Holding 2 strands together, and leaving a 6” tail, ch 79.
Rnd 1(WS): Dc in 4th ch from hook and each ch around, join to first dc with sl st, turn – 77 dc.
Rnd 2: Elongate loop on hook to height of dc, ch 1, *dc in 6 dc, Fptr in next dc, repeat from * around, join to first dc with sl st, turn – 66 dc, 11 Fptr.
Rnd 3: Elongate loop on hook to height of dc, ch 1, *Bptr in next Fptr, dc in 6 dc, repeat from * around, join to first Bptr with sl st, turn – 66 dc, 11 Bptr.
Rnd 4: Elongate loop on hook to height of dc, ch 1, *dc in 6 dc, Fptr in next Bptr, repeat from * around, join to first dc with sl st, turn – 66 dc, 11 Fptr.
Rnds 5-18: Alternate repeating Rnds 3 and 4 for pattern, ending with a Rnd 4 repeat.  Fasten off.

Finishing

Using a yarn needle and beg tail, join ends of foundation ch together.  With a yarn needle, weave in ends.

Happy Stitching!
April

8.13.2015

Puff Shrug


(C) Interweave Crochet
Photo by Harper Point Photography

I have a new pattern out! This pattern, called "Puff Shrug" can be found in Crochetscene 2015 Digital Edition(affiliate link), by Interweave Crochet. The yarn is Cascade Heritage Paints #9883 Wild Roses (the main color) and Cascade Heritage #5616 Fuschia (the edging color). The model shrug was made with just 1 skein of each color. The instructions are written to fit someone with a size 34" bust, but also give suggestions of how to adjust the size to fit larger or smaller folks. Those adjustments are really very easy. If you go much larger, you may need a second skein of the main color. I doubt anyone will need more than that. Made with a size F/5 (3.75 mm) hook, or size needed to achieve gauge.

(C) Interweave Crochet
Photo by Harper Point Photography

I loved how this shrug turned out! The fabric is made all in puff stitches, so it is super easy to make -- just a rectangle sewn a bit to make sleeves. The fabric is also smooshy and soft. The lace edging is lovely and feminine. I was so enamored with the finished sample! I wish it would fit me. I will probably give it to one of my girls. They'll grow into it.

(C) Interweave Crochet
Photo by Harper Point Photography


I hope you'll make this and love it! Share your photos on Ravelry or on my Facebook page. I look forward to seeing your finished shrugs!

Happy stitching!
April

7.13.2015

Mango Moon Chakra Review


Today I have a yarn review for you readers. When I went to the Marly Bird Designer Dinner I received a skein of Mango Moon Chakra in my swag bag. I was intrigued by this variegated yarn with two different kinds of beads tied into it. A skein is 75 yds/69 m of yarn, hand spun in Indonesia. The tag says "Provides Safe Shelter, Health Care, & Education to Families in Nepal & Indonesia." Mango Moon's website further explains that the spinners of this yarn use their earnings to provide these benefits to their families. This is especially wonderful right now, given the recent devastating earthquake in Nepal. I love that you can do good and buy yarn at the same time! The fiber content is 30% recycled viscose, 66% cotton, 3% spandex, 1% beads/stones. The colorway is 9212 White.

I started by making a crochet swatch. I first tried it with an I/9/5.5 mm hook. The yarn doesn't seem to be quite worsted weight to me, just looking at it, so I thought this was a good choice. However, this hook didn't seem to make the yarn happy. It was compact and stiff when I crocheted with that hook. I ripped it out and began again with a K/10.5/6.5 mm hook. This was better, but still made a pretty firm fabric. I think that this hook would work for some projects, but a larger hook would have provided better drape, so you could easily go up to an L or M with this yarn.


Next I made a knit swatch, in stockinette stitch. This time I started with size 11/8 mm needles. This made a swatch that would have been very open and floppy, almost shapeless. I debated between trying a 10/6 mm or a 10.5/6.5 mm. I went with the 10.5, since the difference between that and the 11 was actually fairly big. Anyhow, size 10.5 needles made a good swatch if you want drape. The stitches are still pretty open on this size of needle. Interestingly, the yarn definitely didn't want to make a square. It made a trapezoid. I photographed my swatch before blocking, just so you could see that. I have since blocked it though, and it made a very nice rectangle after that, so no need to worry about your rectangles looking like trapezoids.

Before blocking

After blocking

I noticed, as I hand-wound this yarn into a center-pull ball, that the yarn had a tendency to twist up on itself. I couldn't tell for sure if this yarn was a single ply. I wondered, because single-ply yarns tend to be overtwisted. Anyhow, the twist may have been what caused this trapezoid shape. That's just my guess. I don't know for sure. I don't find this tendency irritating, just interesting. I was able to use my leg as a swift and wind by hand without too much difficulty, but a swift would have made this even easier. I have a swift, but wasn't at home when I was doing this.


I could see making a scarf or cowl with this yarn. It would also make for a nice edging on a scarf, cowl, sweater, blanket, or home decor item. I began by trying to hold all the beads to one side of the fabric, but this was not really possible, so I had a pretty even smattering of beads on both sides.

I hope this review is helpful to you as you make decisions on how to spend your yarn budget. It was a fun yarn for me to work with. Have you used Chakra for a project? I'd love to see your thoughts in the comments. Not sure what to make with it? Click HERE to see the 195 projects on Ravelry that have used this yarn.

Now, one more thing to take care of. Last week I posted about Eucalan Delicate Wash and took comments for a giveaway. Today, I get to announce that LisaC is the winner! Thank you to all those that read the post and left their comments! LisaC, would you please send an email to bananamoonstudio @ gmail . com (take out the spaces) with your address? I will forward it to Eucalan, and they will send you your prize. Congrats!

Happy stitching everyone!

April

7.06.2015

Eucalan Delicate Wash

The scarf pictured here is my knit Coral Current Cowl. Pattern is available for $3
on Ravelry, Etsy, and Craftsy.

Go with me back in time to the end of May. I traveled to Columbus, and stayed for less than 24 hours. I attended my first ever Marly Bird Designer Dinner during the weekend of the TNNA show. It was fun, I met new and wonderful designers and publishers, and I got a BIG. BAG. OF SWAG.

One of the goodies in that bag was a small bottle of Wrapture by Kristin Omdahl and Eucalan, as well as a sample of the grapefruit scented Eucalan. Lucky for me, this was not my first opportunity to try Eucalan. I have a big bottle of it that I use for my handmades.

I want to tell you about the awesomeness that is Eucalan. First, so easy to wash your handmades with Eucalan, it really does not take any longer than loading up your washing machine, seriously. Fill a wash basin with cool water, and add the Eucalan. Believe it or not the small bottle they gave me will last through several washes. In fact the large bottle I have is not even half empty and I bought it 2 or 3 years ago. This is because you only need 1 teaspoon, or 5 mL, of Eucalan per gallon of water.


Place your handmade item into the water, press it down a little to make sure it all gets wet, and let it soak for at least 15 minutes.


When it is finished soaking...here is the really fantastic part...don't rinse. Just gently press out some of the extra water. Then roll it in a towel and press out some more extra water, and lay it flat to dry. So easy.

One thing I love about Eucalan that I didn't even know until receiving this sample is that the wonderful scent of Eucalan is not achieved with any artificial perfumes. The smell comes from natural essential oils. Well, this just makes me super happy. I love essential oils!



Eucalan isn't just for your handmade items. It is really for anything that you wash by hand, so you can use it for many things. It comes in eucalyptus, lavender, grapefruit, unscented, and jasmine (that's the Wrapture variety that is jasmine scented). It comes in single use 5mL sizes, as well as 100 mL, 500 mL, and 1 gal. sizes.

Lucky for you, Eucalan is offering you some goodies too! You can win a "Getaway Gang", pictured below, by leaving a comment on this blog post. I will choose a random winner in 1 week, announce it here, and pass along your address to Eucalan so that you can receive your prize!

(C) Eucalan
This package includes 10 single use sample packets of Eucalan, two in each scent, 6 Eucalan wipes for touching up drips or spots on your clothing, a small sewing kit, and a nail file. This makes a great travel kit in case you need to wash or repair clothes, or fingernails, while traveling.

I'm excited for our winner who will get to try every scent of Eucalan and decide on his/her favorite!

Happy stitching!

April