Crochet Attachment, or Attached to Me

When I was younger crochet was an emotional outlet, I do not know if I could say the same thing today. Maybe crochet has grown up with me, or maybe it has just become ingrained to my every day.

I remember when I was in high school that my brother use to joke that is anyone was cold and needed a blanket, then find a guy for me to date then break up with me. Not that I dated much at all, but break-ups did through me into an afghan making frenzy. Everyone in my family has at least one, friends from the time can probably say the same.

It was not necessarily that I was filling my stitches with tears, as much as it kept my hands busy and helped to let my mind focus. I guess in a sense it was my meditation. I am not sure if it applies the same today.

I crochet daily, but now it has a different focus, it is part of my work. I keep more notes about the stitches I am working, I am deciding the best way to highlight a yarn, I am thinking of things for blog posts, I am exploring different ways to explain techniques in teaching, basically I have lost my mind wandering. I am not completely sure that this has come from the position of it being my work, or the many years that I have been doing it, over ¾ of my life.

I also am not working nearly as many afghans. I made many blankets over the years, I really only started making garments about a decade ago. In all things relative that is very short amount of time. So maybe that has taken to my change of my crochet experience, that I have expanded the scope of my outlet.

I may not recognize it as my emotional outlet, but nearly twenty years of marriage could have curbed that need. I still am not sure what I would do with my hands while seated just about anywhere, so maybe crochet has grown into something more primal, maybe it is just a part of me that I cannot see as separate.

Patons Decore -Has Memory

There are times when I try to make a yarn do something it is not in the mood for. I had this experience with Patons Décor.

Décor is a fairly standard type of yarn, it is 75% acrylic and 25% wool, it typically does not felt, or shrink and the skeins are a typical 208 yard/190 meters of 3.5 ounces/ 100 grams, medium weight, set up in a ready to use pull skein. But what surprised me with this yarn is its ability to spring back into shape.

I really should not have been surprised in this, I guess I really wasn’t paying attention. Acrylic typically has a very strong memory, so strong that it is sometimes pointless to even attempt blocking. Some minor draw backs to acrylic is that it cannot take high heat well, so this should only be used in a low heat dryer and never be pressed or ironed. High heat caused acrylic to break down and it will lose its “life” or “body”. It is often referred to as “killing acrylic” or “the acrylic was killed”, and it does appeared to be killed and limp.

I have worked this yarn in an open lace approach and because of this strong memory of the acrylic yarn, it does not block to open up the stitches as well as I would have liked, or experienced with a yarn that has a higher wool content.

Even with that in mind, this is a good everyday yarn. It is pretty soft, and feels really nice

in the hand. It does a nice job of fluffing up and filling the stitch gaps, hence why it did not agree with me in lace work. I can easily use this yarn for afghans, blankets and throws. It would do well for pillows, and outerwear, like sweaters or cardigans. It has a nice array of colors and a nice durability, a nice go-to yarn.

Swirls That Will Brighten Your Day

Sometimes while crocheting my mind can completely wonder and I have no idea what I am stitching. This is actually a really therapeutic approach at times, it allows me to be productive and keep my hands busy while allowing my mind to day dream or work things out. My latest design Swirling Valley Circular Throw, in the August issue of I Like Crochet Magazine, actually was created this way.

Photo courtesy of I Like Crochet Magazine

I began working on a spiral motif, but then I began thinking of other things and before I knew it I had an entire throw. The stitch pattern is essentially that needed to create a flat circle, but you have to work more than one color, and thus more than one strand of yarn, in each round. This can be a bit daunting as you need to keep the strands from tangling, but I have found that by twisting the yarn in the same direction each time I switch colors that I can at least create a uniform tangle that I can easily untwist every few rounds. I know others that have easier techniques, using holders that keep the skeins apart so they cannot wrap around each other, or little finger rings that hold each color independently ready for use. However I have never really gotten the hang of these and simply just untangle as needed…this at least changes my task at various times.

Photo courtesy I Like Crochet Magazine

Swirling Valley Circular Throw is made up of only three colors but utilizes six colors per round, so if you wanted something to have a real spiral effect you could simply use six different colors in this throw instead of each color twice.

I like this design for kids, I can easily see it in bright vibrant colors to adorn a play room, or even in soft pastels to create a dazzling throw for baby.

I have an additional confession, when I started working the final rounds I was getting a bit exhausted, thinking that they would never end. This is typical of large circles, but the color changes at least kept it more interesting and manageable, so this did not become an un-finished project (UFO) in my work bag.

 

Parisian Champagne Throw-A Nice Little Piece

It is always a fun morning when I learn  that I have a new design out and published that I can share with the world. Today the Parisian Champagne Throw is available in the August 2017 issue of I Like Crochet Magazine is out and alive in the world.

This throw actually started out in a smaller format. The motifs that I have designed, I originally considered for a thread table cloth. I have fun working up the little round motifs and thought they fit together a bit like clockwork. However after creating a square contaminating 4 of them I felt that they would be a really busy looking pattern for a table cloth. Thus they became a 4 square motif in themselves, and then joined with others. As is usual I have worked these motifs as “join as you go”, so there is no sewing or seaming needed.

My decision to alter the original design from a thread table cloth, really was one of complete practicality. This design really works best with two colors and weaving in all the ends necessary for a table cloth…in thread…was a bit too daunting for me to consider.

The design is worked up in a heavier weight yarn then you might usually consider, but this helps give it a practical picnic use for these warm months, while still giving a practical warmth factor for cooler months. It is pretty easy to find two colors that you enjoy together, and this throw works great with any of them. Personally I really like how the soft cream really allows the coral to pop, giving a comfortable and subtle contrast.

This throw can also be taken down a bit, attempt it in a baby yarn and create a memorable baby blanket, without having to worry about meeting the gauge, as the smaller yarn and hook will automatically adjust the motifs to a correct size.

I hope that you give this throw a try, and share your progress with me. I still haven’t got a table cloth, but maybe the next design.

Crochet Really Is The Love

There are moments that crochet can remind you that how powerful and important the skill can be. One such moment happened recently, as I was repairing an afghan that was brought into my local yarn store.

Repairs can seem intimidating, but really they are just a bit time consuming. Often the most difficult part is finding yarn or thread that matches the piece being repaired. Fortunately I am a bit of a pack rat, so I have a pretty extensive yarn collection. This allows me to have some flexibility in finding a suitable yarn to use. The next really important thing is to catch all of the loose loops of the stitches still intact to ensure that they do not unravel further. This also helps to see where the damage actually stems from and helps gain insight in how to fix it.

The repair that I just completed was one that can be fairly common, any time there are many stitches worked in one place there tends to be more stress on the yarn the stitches are worked into. Sometimes these strands fail and allow all the stitches to become unsecured at the base.

When I undertook the repairs I did not know the story behind it, I did not know the special memories or meanings in these stitches. I just knew that it was important to someone. I never strive to “improve” the quality of the piece, if loose ends are not securely woven it, I just check to make sure that they are not unraveling the fabrics. I try to keep the character that the piece came to me with. I try to just bring the fabric back to whole so that it can continue to be treasured.

I often later learn the stories, some for a grandmother’s handiwork, a sister’s gift, and in the case of my last repair a wife’s final gift to be shared with the first grandchild. It is on these occasions that I really appreciate how much crochet is more than just yarn and stitches, it is love. I am fortunate that I can help that love continue to shine.