Crochet with Linda at the Winery

Crochet with Linda at the Winery, a new adventure. Just when I think life should be settling into a rhythm, a new idea spices things up! I have spent the beginning of 2019 traveling and teaching, and just as I set my schedule for teaching at my local yarn store I add in something new….retreats!

I am offering the first of several retreats Thursday, August 29, 2019 from 10:30-4, just south of Placerville, CA.

Crochet with Linda at the Winery, featuring Holly’s Hill Winery and Lisa Souza Dyeworks Yarn

I have been imagining these retreat events for quite a while now. An event that engages skill building with inspiration, in a great setting, with great materials. And maybe doing something that you have always meant to do. This one in just a few weeks, definitely fits that build!

The Skills and Project

Sometimes gaining skills at a Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced levels can be a challenge. This unique design and pattern has been created to do allow skills to be built and advance your skill. The same stitch pattern utilizes three different ways to create a cowl. Beginning level works the cowl flat, while intermediate works in the round, and still advanced works in the round moebius from center out. The cowls are wide enough to be hooded, and with just enough lace work to allow this cowl to be worn in many seasons.

The Location

A family owned and operated winery, in a beautiful setting. Holly’s Hill overlooks the north fork of the Consumnes River Valley, and features French style Rhone Wines. The Co-Winemakers, the husband and wife team of Josh and Carrie Bendick, have a hand in every aspect of the process. They use old fashion techniques to create these Rhone-style wines. We are fortunate enough to have an exclusive tour of the winery. While learning about the wine making process from the experts. In addition you will get to sample a variety of wines in a tasting, while relaxing and enjoying the beautiful view.

The Materials

We will let a fingering weight superwash merino and bamboo yarn flow through our fingers. Lisa Souza Timaru Sport is a luscious yarn that has a coolness to the touch and a beautiful shimmer. Three hand dyed colors available to choose from, a warm, neutral and cool color, which offers a bit of something for everyone. Lisa is known for her gorgeous colorways of yarn, and these will not disappoint. Hooks will be provided (beautifully turned wood), but if you have a preferred hook in your set, please feel free to bring your size G/6/4.00mm.

Enjoy the view, the wine and definitely the crochet!

Enjoy gourmet box lunch, also included. No pepperoni pizza here. There are menus are being worked up with locally renowned restaurants to provide a day that allows everyone to feel pampered and valued.

As the final outlines of this event are being worked up, plans are well underway for another in October. If you want to be kept abreast of these new retreats, please sign up for my newsletter. Want to attend this event, register here.

I hope to see you soon, and will keep you posted on this new adventure!

5 Tips to Stay Cool and Crochet

Some say it is too hot to crochet, but I have always found the summer months my most productive time of year. I should preface that I do not have any air conditioning. I know that some might see this and think that I must be in some Nordic part of the world, and while I live in a climate that affords me cool nights and hot days, my summer temperatures can easily find a month of temperatures over 100° Fahrenheit (38° Celsius). So, let me share some of my tips.

Stay Hydrated

I keep a glass of water or iced tea near me at all times. I have a pretty bad habit of getting really involved in “just one more row” to the point that I can miss meals, so having a beverage at the ready really helps me have no excuse to not get a drink. It is pretty easy to hold the project and get a sip.

A tall cold glass to keep hydrated

Lotion if Needed

Since I live in an area with very little humidity, I need a good lotion to keep my hands smooth and feeling good. I have found that I like some wax based lotions that are in a solid form, like lotion bars. However I have also found success with thick medicated lotions. Basically anything that absorbs into my skin and does not feel like it is just sitting atop my skin.

Find the Shade

Honestly, I probably am in doors with most of my stitching, but venturing out in the heat of the day means that I am finding a nice piece of shade. If the location has a bit of a breeze even better. In addition, I am usually wearing a hat and sporting sunscreen.

If at all possible I make sure that I am out of the car. Sitting in the car and crocheting might be a necessity for me in some instances, but if I can get out of the car and get into fresh air it helps.

A Well Placed Fan

Putting a fan about 6-10 feet away and directed at me, is all I really need. If it oscillates, it is even better. This air movement helps to keep me comfortable, even while finishing a king sized afghan.

Check your Yarn

I tend to avoid using yarns with a lot of halo, or “fuzz” when the weather turns hot. I prefer a smooth yarn. Although this is probably more of a mental thought of what is cooler to work with than a reality. I just think that as the yarn slips smoother through my fingers, the easier it flows the cooler I feel.

I think that looking over my list I realize why I am so productive during hot weather….I basically find a place and stay there, I stay in a seat, with a fan blowing and a cold drink, in the shade while pampering my hands a bit. This makes it easy to work on projects, and beat the heat.

New Design Release- Perfect for Fall

There is a certain rush about getting up in the morning to receive the message that your latest three designs have been released by I Like Crochet Magazine. There are two in the August 2019 issue and one in the latest book collection, The One-Skein Crochet Collection.

Easygoing Tank- photo coutrsey Prime Publishing

Easygoing Tank

The Easygoing Tank, found in the August issue, is worked as one piece, side to side. It has a simple stitch pattern and is shaped on one edge of the fabric. By using a few join-as-you-go techniques that are explained in the pattern, you can even avoid seaming the tank at all, and finish the entire top with just your hook!

Serene Wrap Skirt- photo courtesy Prime Publishing

Serene Wrap Skirt

The Serene Wrap Skirt, also found in the August issue, is another fun project that has you feeling successful in garment creation. It is worked from the short edge, and increased to the skirt length, then is worked until it fits. The color change is worked within the rows, but are not carried along, but dropped and added as needed….with no ends to weave in. There is some gentle short rows to allow for an ease in the waist fit. Simple ties just above the hips keep this skirt secure. Imagine the color combinations that you create with this structured border edge.

Hello Cozy Hat- photo courtesy Prime Publishing

Hello Cozy Hat

The final design, Hello Cozy Hat, featured in the One-Skein Crochet Collection, and is a slouchy beanie that has an up turned brim to share a surface crochet greeting. Worked flat with short rows at the crown, this hat is then topped with a pom-pom, and using crochet thread the message is surface crocheted in the unused loops of the stitches on the row.

It is always a good morning to be able to share new designs, new ideas, and a new hope to inspire.

Cotton Yarn is not Created Equally

The weather is changing and I want to crochet with cotton, but not all cotton is created equally.

When going through the craft store aisle of yarn, finding a cotton yarn for you project can be a bit challenging. The mainstream market seems to only have room for cotton crochet thread and a medium weight cotton that is often associated with dish towels. (Need to know more about yarn weight? Here is some info)

As I venture into my small local yarn store I do find a finer weight yarn of cotton, but it states “Mercerized”. It has a nice sheen, but is this what I need for my project?

Knowing a bit about cotton, can really help you to avoid any mistakes with projects in the future.

What is Cotton?

Cotton is a plant based fiber, well it is actually a cellulous based fiber that protects a plants seeds in what is referred to as a boll. The fiber has a short staple, meaning a short length. Due to the short nature of the fiber it is spun together more times than might be necessary for a wool yarn. This is strictly due to its length.

When long fibers are twisted together they have more points of contact when lying next to each other, so just a few twists can hold them together. With cotton being short, however, the fibers do not have as many points of contact, and thus have to be twisted together more times to ensure that they stay twisted together.

It is this high amount of twist that can cause cotton to shrink on its first wash. When water finally makes contact with the spun cotton, the cotton actually relaxes and while it softens up, it also can be less stretched and thus “shrink”. Unlike wool this reaction will only occur once, and for any use forward the cotton will remain completely stable.

What is Mercerized?

Many like to use cotton yarns for dish clothes, however this is where you need to understand the term “mercerized”. Cotton when spun can have a soft, fuzzy, halo around it. You find this in most medium weight cotton yarns available on the market today. The term mercerized is a process in which the cotton yarn is essentially singed and the fuzzy halo is removed, leaving in its place a sleek shiny yarn.

Note the top yarn (pink) has a shine, this yarn is mercerized. The bottom yarn (green) has a softer, slightly fuzzy look, it is not mercerized.

So why is it important to know about mercerized? Well, for started mercerized cotton does not absorb water like un-mercerized yarn. Meaning if you wanted to make a dish towel mercerized cotton will not behave in a manner that you desire. This is a pretty important distinction, and one worth repeating. If you want to make household items that will absorb liquids, do not use mercerized cotton.

Mercerized cotton I find to be lovely in garments and shawls. It has a nice sheen and feels like cotton, but unlike my T-shirt, if you hit me with a water balloon it will not pull dramatically down with the weight as it will not be absorbing the water.

Where Can I Find Cotton Yarn?

You might have to do a bit of looking to find cotton yarns for you project, but it is worth the trouble. Here are a few suggestions:

3 Ways to Begin a Crochet Circle

There essentially are 3 ways to begin a circle in crochet, and in most cases they can be used interchangeably. Each has its pros and cons, and everyone has a method they prefer.

Creating A Ring Method

In this method you create a chain, usually I find that many chain 4, and then you slip stitch to the first change created to form a ring. Then all the stitches of the first round are worked into this newly created ring, working over the chain.

This method is pretty straight forward, creating a stable base for the stitches to be worked. Yet, it can leave a pretty striking hole in the center of the fabric. It can be tightened up a bit when the ends are woven in, but it adds a bit of bulk, even more then the chain being worked over.

Forming a ring to crochet into, by creating a chain and slip stitching to the first chain created
Forming a ring by slip stitching to the beginning of a length of chain.

Working in the Beginning Chain

I admit this is my usual go to method. To begin this method you determine what the first stitch of the first round is, in most cases it is double crochets (UK-treble crochet). You then chain the number that is typically used when turning rows with this stitch, in double crochet’s case that is a chain 3. Then you add 1 more chain, now all the stitches are worked in the first chain created.

I find this method pretty easy and fast, with a minimal hole in the center, but in reality the base for the stitches is not as stable, because I am placing a lot of stitches into just one chain. It places a lot of pressure on the yarn that creates this one chain.

Begin a crochet circle by working all the stitches in the first chain.
Work all the stitches of Round 1 in the first chain.

Magic Ring, Magic Circle, Magic Loop…Method

There tends to be many names to describe this technique that creates a very tight closure. The best way to describe this approach to someone new to it is “fiddly”. Granted it creates a very nice join point that does not have, really any, hole at all in the center, but it takes a bit of practice to feel comfortable with it.

To work this method there are couple of different approaches, yet the outcome is the same, you work over a loop of yarn. All stitches in the first round are worked over this loop of yarn, and then the end of the loop is pulled to close the loop bringing all the stitches to a tight closure.  

Make the Loop

The approach that I find to be the easiest to do for this method is to wrap yarn around my pointer and middle finger of my yarn tension hand. When wrapping I ensure that the end of the yarn nearest the skein is nearest my palm, with the tail of the yarn nearest my nails. I wrap at least twice around my fingers.

Making the Magic Ring, Magic, circle, magic loop in crochet; how to begin
Wrap yarn around fingers twice, with tail of yarn closest to the nails.

Work the Loop

Then I insert the hook over my fingers and under the yarn, yarn over the yarn from the skein and pull through the yarn on the fingers. At this point I usually remove my fingers, keeping the loop of yarn in at loop state, then chain 1. The chain secures the loop, so now you chain to the height of the stitches being worked in round one, and work all the stitches over loops of yarn.

Magic circle, magic ring, magic loop in crochet to create circles; step 2
Insert the hook, yarn over.
Magic ring, magic circle, magic loop in crochet step 3
Pull through a loop
magic ring, magic loop, magic circle in crochet; step 4
Remove from fingers and chain 1 to secure the loops

Close the Loop

When all the stitches of the round are worked, I then pull the tail of the yarn. Since I work over more than one loop, when pulling the tail it might leave a loop hanging out of the stitches. To remove this loop is simple, I simply begin pulling the hanging loop to tight. It is a bit of juggling to pull the yarn tight when it is wrapped more than once, but I find it gives a bit more of a secure base for the stitches to rest on. Since really, no one wants this loop to become unworked. 

Magic loop, magic ring, magic circle in crochet step 5
Work stitches around loops.
Magic circle, magic loop, magic ring in crochet final step
Pull the tail of the yarn to close the loop

Check out some of my free patterns that begin in the round and practice using these techniques.

Patterns like: Beyond Basics Hat, Cented Flowers, Classic Granny Square, Deborah’s Diamond Square, Festive Julie Ann, Small Empress Ornament, and Spokes Tam