Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Lost Arts


I've been researching crochet stitches for a shawl that I'm designing. I have a few old Needlework books that I love to look through and always end up getting lost in time. There are so many techniques that have come and gone, to only live on in antique pieces and books.
This morning, I found myself browsing this site for hours - "The Project Gutenberg eBook of Encyclopedia of Needlework by Theresa De Dillmont".
While I don't enjoy working with thread these days, I think it's fun to incorporate some stitches or motifs into a modern design. I was browsing the "Crochet Work" section, only to find that there are hundreds of needlework techniques preserved in this invaluable document! Finding inspiration from these designs makes me realize how much I could have learned from my great-grandmother, Eleanor. I do have some placemats that she made and I hope to recreate that pattern some day. I also have a hooked rug and a rocking chair that are in need of repair, and a weaving loom that a good friend gave to me. Show me the way, Grandma Nonie!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sally Inspires Me!


I first wrote about Sally V. George last March for National Crochet Month. Here's an excerpt...

"I've had a link on the side of my blog for a long time now of The Crochet Works of Sally V. George. Her remarkable talent is painstakingly-detailed in the patterns she created. The website continues now, thanks to her family. I encourage anyone to make a donation through Paypal in order to keep the site going and continue to make Sally's works available to us all. While the patterns may look "old" to some, to me they are quite inspiring."
I'm so happy that her family has continued to make the patterns available on a new, updated website at The Hook & Yarn Shop. You can read about Sally's work and download patterns to learn from her wisdom.

My favorite from the collection, is the Easter Basket. The handle uses a piece of cotton clothesline and the crossed-chain trim on this design is beautiful. I've learned so many techniques from Sally's patterns, but this trim is my favorite. You can see how I added this style to the sleeve edging on this Pink Shrug design from a few years ago.
Although some of the designs may seem old-fashioned, and you may not ordinarily make things like that, I encourage you to take a closer look....it may inspire you!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Greener than the Grass

I did a little felting experiment. I think it turned out okay. I wrote everything down so that I can make some changes to the design next time. The handle needs to be a little wider and maybe a little shorter. Going by the general rule of thumb that crochet felts more lengthwise than widthwise kind of screwed me up a little. I didn't get the 80% shrinkage lengthwise that I had written down from a previous swatch. I think that, when felting crochet, a lot depends on the stitch. Single crochet felts differently than half-double or double crochet would.

Here's the bag pre-felted.

And here it is drying on the line. I have it stuffed with a soccer ball and some plastic bags. Direct sun is probably not a good idea, but Hooray, the sun is shining!!
As long as no birds poo on it, I think the project can be considered a success! The color is "lemongrass" which is actually greener than the grass today. I hope this bag sells at a local show this weekend. If not, look for it in my Etsy shop next week, with more to follow.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

To Fringe, or Not to Fringe?


...that is the question. I never know whether people would prefer a shawl with or without fringe. It depends on a person's preference, as well as the type of yarn. If it's a type of yarn that will come apart then it usually doesn't make good fringe. You can knot it, or crochet the fringe, and there are even some knitting patterns that work the fringe as you go or have you unravel a few rows around the edge of a pattern to create fringe.
Some designs look better with a decorative edging, or even just a plain, simple edge, while mod or retro styles call for that shaggy, groovy fringe.
I'd love to know...what's your style? Fringe...or no fringe?
Let me know your comments AND take the poll on the top right of the blog? (It's my first blog poll!) Thanks

Friday, March 5, 2010

Foundationless Double Crochet or DcChain



I thought I'd share with you one of my favorite techniques. Instead of starting every project with a chain strip, using a "foundationless" stitch can speed up the start of your project and allow for more stretch than a starting chain would.

A foundationless DC, or DC Chain, is my favorite way to start a simple, lengthwise scarf. It is also good for garments that you crochet from the bottom edge up, since it creates a stretchier edge as compared to a starting chain. It's easy to change a pattern that calls for a starting chain and then a row of DC. Just work a row of foundationless DC (or DC Chain) instead.
Start with a Ch 3 (this chain 3 counts as your first DC stitch). YO, insert hook into the first Ch, YO and pull through. YO and pull through one loop to create the "base chain" (3 loops remain on hook). Now work a DC as normal - YO and pull through 2 loops, YO and pull through last 2 loops.
See the picture above - the last chain made under the hook is the "base chain" and the double crochet will be on top of it, next to the starting chain 3.
To work the next DC Ch, YO and insert the hook into what was the last "base chain" stitch (it's actually a ch 1 at the base of each stitch). To make this easier to find, I usually hold that stitch as I'm finishing the DC so I know where the chain stitch is when I move on to the next one.
YO and pull through, creating the next "base chain". (Hold this stitch if you want to to mark it.) Then work the DC - YO, pull through 2 loops. YO, pull through last 2 loops. Continue working DC Ch for as long as you want your project to be.
So each stitch consists of a base chain (like a ch 1) and finishes with a double crochet, all in one stitch and the beginning chain 3 counts as your first DC.

I have incorporated this stitch in the foundation of my Circle Shrug Vest Pattern, the Long Fingerless Gloves pattern, for the hood on the Wildwood Capelet Pattern, and the Chunky Crochet Button Wrap pattern.


**Update 6/17/13 - I have uploaded a video tutorial for this stitch here and it does include the foundationless double crochet, single crochet and half double crochet techniques...  http://youtu.be/UiKLCVd74Mw

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

For the love of Crochet!

National Crochet Month continues!

As I think about some inspiring crafters, Vickie Howell comes to mind first. I was lucky enough to win a copy of her latest book "AwareKnits: Knit and Crochet Projects for the Eco-Conscious Knitter" and have been an avid follower/stalker of Vickie's for a long time now. I never got to watch her tv show "Knitty Gritty" because we didn't get the DIY network, but I am glad to be a part of the Craft Corps where "craft is community * community is craft".
Vickie is an all-around crafter who, obviously, loves all sorts of crafts. You can attend workshops on various topics, including crochet, at Stitch Lab in Austin, TX as well as catch some fun kids crafts on "Craft Apparent" on the PBS Parents Blog.
"Knitty Gritty" fans will be happy to know that there's an archive of patterns from the show available at DIY here. There are lots of knit, crochet, and misc. projects and patterns available at VickieHowell.com. Be sure to check out "Pop Goes Crochet" for those true-to-crochet.
You can follow Vickie Howell on Twitter @VickieHowell and click the picture above to visit her blog!

Monday, March 1, 2010

National Crochet Month

March is National Crochet Month! I'll be taking the opportunity to show my love of crochet all month long. There are many go-to websites, informative blogs, techniques, and patterns for those who love to crochet or for those who want to learn.

A great place to start is Crochet.About.com. For years Sandi Marshall posted classic stitches and patterns with tips for the beginners to the experts in crochet. Now, Amy Solovay is the Crochet Guide at About.com, continuing to provide fresh and inspiring ways to enhance your crochet repertoire.
If you want some ideas for an edging for a project or to find a flower pattern, About.com offers a great selection. New to crochet? About.com offers step-by-step tutorials and how-to videos.
A great way to start is by making a dish cloth. Kitchen cotton is readily available and there are many crochet dishcloth patterns to choose from.

Here is my favorite stitch or pattern for dischloths from Crochet 'N' More. Dishcloths work up quickly and make great gifts.
I'll be celebrating National Crochet Month with more patterns, websites, and design inspirations. Feel free to share some of your crochet favorites!

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