Relax with Pink Lemonade

My latest design! Aim to Squeeze Pink Lemonade Blanket is a great baby throw that just screams summer. Find it in the June 2018 issue of I Like Crochet.

It is worked as a half circle and then is squared up, to highlight a half of a pink lemon slice. I will admit, I really did not know that there were such things as pink lemons, not until I undertook this project. The colors are fabulous together, highlighting a yellow rind, sandwiched between blur and pink, then accented the white.

This is a fun project that keeps you engaged, while still allowing you to enjoy yourself. Working the half circle creates all of the lemon segments, you then add the peel and begin to square it up with the blue back ground. You then work the rind between the segments and sit back and relax with a glass of lemonade.

The yarn is Baby Soft by Lion Brand, so it is easy to find, and the colors always go so well together. It is soft and nice to work with.

If lemons are not your thing, I could easily see this as an orange, a grapefruit, lemon or lime. Any citrus can be worked into this design, making it a bit versatile.

I really like the large size of the half slice, as it really encompasses most of the dimensions of the throw. This really offers great visual interest, and makes for a very appealing addition to your home, or kids room.

This is noted as a kids blanket, but personally I like it myself as a nice lap afghan, it is a nice size and helps just take the chill off, or when I am on my patio it helps block the sun without being to hot.

I had a fun time with this project, and I hope you will too.

Crochet Disintegration- Knowing the Points

In all my crochet repairs I have learned some simple truths…there are points of crochet stitches that are more likely to break, disintegrate, or fail. Granted this is only understanding a “natural” break after wear or use, not the type of repairs that occur after the puppy finds a new toy in grandma’s afghan. Understanding where these points of natural breaks occur are really help in making repairs, and it also helps me understand how my stitches work together in the final fabric.

Fixing Disintegrating crochet stitchesIf you think of your crochet fabric as the construction of a building it is much easy to see that there are some points that are “load bearing” and where future repairs might need to happen. These “load bearing” points usually happen in a place that stitches are worked into. For example, the center of a motif is a classic area for a structural fail. Working multiple stitches in this one point puts a strain on the yarn, especially when the stitches are worked only over 1 strand of yarn.

Working in one loop, either front or back loops, of a stitch also is a point of stress on the yarn. This one strand of yarn is bearing all the stress of any tugs or pulls, and depending upon the composition of the yarn, or the twist of the ply on the yarn, some fibers do not handle this stress as well as others.

If you encounter these points of stress beginning to fail in your fabric, there are some simple ways to make the repair.

The first step if to thread a yarn needle and catch all the loose loops from the base of the stitches that affected.

After securing these loops, the next task depends upon the stitch that has failed. If it is a center of a motif, one can usually thread yarn around the join or center of the motif, working under all the stitches in the center and essentially creating a new center loop, and secure this new loop.

If it is the top of another stitch that has failed, well this become a bit more of an operation. Dependent upon how damaged the stitch is, you may need to remove the stitch and re-stitch it, or simply catch its loose loops and using a threaded yarn needle “sew” in the manner of which the yarn would be pulled through if being stitched. This process takes a bit more confidence, and maybe some practice, but you can save history with a bit of patience.

The best tip I can share for fixing the disintegration points, is not to attempt to work everything in one sitting. I find that I can only work for about 15 minutes at a time, as it is such focused work. Do not feel that it is a quick undertaking. Be patient, and it will come.

 

Serene Spring Long Cardigan- The Name Says It All

It seems like a cardigan season! I say that as I have created quite a few cardigans as of late, and the latest one to be released, Serene Spring Long Cardigan found in the April 2018 issue of I Like Crochet, is one of my favorites.

I think that long cardigans offer a great shape, as well as keeping that draft off of my waist as a bend over. I enjoy them most with a length about mid-thigh, or at very least just below my hip bone. Yet when it is created with a simple stitch, which looks fabulous, it is fun to create too. Serene Spring fits this bill.

It is worked from the bottom up, and seamed at the sides, and if you feel that the length is a bit long for your liking, simply reduce the number of rows worked before reaching the underarm. The corner pockets are attached as you seam the sides, and then fully encased when you work the edging.

The shaping in minimal, making it easy for a beginner to feel successful.

The yarn, Knit One Crochet Too Batiste is a delight to work with as well. It is a blend of wool, linen and silk in a sport weight. It is light and airy, while just being heavy enough to take off the chill. I actually did a review of this yarn, I share more insights about it here.

I still remember when I made my first sweater, it took me several years to work up the courage to make one as I had done afghans for years, but when I realized it was all just fabric it was groundbreaking for me. If you have this same dilemma, don’t let it stop you. The best tip I can provide is to check your gauge so you know that you are coming up with the same fabric as what you see in the photo. Here are some tips to working with gauge. 

 

Crisscross Mesh- The Easy Top

I have long found that using a fine weight yarn and a large crochet hook can create some stunning effects, and my latest design is no exception. The Crisscross Mess Top can be found in the Spring 2018 Special issue of Crochet! Magazine Boutique Style Crochet and I think that you will really enjoy it.

photo courtesy Annie’s

The yarn used for this design, Juniper Moon Farm Zooey DK, is a cotton/linen blend at 60%/40% respectively. It has a slightly uneven texture, being that it is a bit thinner/thicker in some places then others, but not drastically. It is not necessarily the first yarn I would have thought to design with, but I am very happy with the results. Find a more in depth review and thoughts of this yarn from my post in June 2017, here.

The design for this top is really pretty simple. It is rates as easy, and honestly….it is. Basically the large hook and fine yarn do all the work. You simply work 2 different size rectangles, and sew them together, then add sleeves. It only utilizes one crochet stitch, so it is pretty straight forward, yet has a really nice effect. There is no need to worry about shaping, or anything of such, the sleeves use what is referred to as short rows. Short rows are basically the act of not finishing a row, leaving stitches unworked, then when returning to work a row in the same direction you then work the unstitched stitches. Basically if you have 10 stitches in row 1, you work 5 stitches in row 2, as a result there are 5 stitches in row 3, then in row 4 you work the 5 stitches of row 3, and the 5 unworked stitches in row 1, resulting in 10 stitches. Really this is the only technique in this design that is not “repeat Row 2”.

To help the fabric open up, I actually hung it up when I blocked it. The weight of the wet fiber helped pull the stitches open even more than the stitches themselves. This helps give it a casual chic look. However it is definitely not a “wear it alone” type of top. You want to have something underneath, so that effectively makes this a statement type piece.

So if you are looking for a bit of a current fashion statement, give this design a try.

Two at A Time- Double Up that Yarn

Thinking back I can remember it intimidating me the first time I tried it, but now it seems like nothing out of the ordinary. Using two strands of yarn, or more, at the same time now gives me no second thoughts.

This practice of crocheting with more than one strand of yarn yields some really nice results. I may not use it all that often, but I like the look it creates an almost speckled effect. In some cases it helps two bold colors blend together.

The best tip I can share is to simply treat the two (or multiple) strands as one. Hold them together as one, not worrying about if the colors twist together in your hand. This twist will lend to the effect. When you yarn over and pull your hook, use all the strands, really just treat them as one. After a short time it is easy to get into this rhythm, so don’t be afraid to treat it as such.

It does have some tendencies that can be a bit annoying, for instance keeping equal tension on two yarns can be challenging. This becomes a bit more obvious when I begin one yarn from a new center pull skein, and the other has been worked from a bit already. The new skein is tighter to pull from and this makes it a little awkward to ensure that I keep both strands under an equal tension. I personally correct this by pulling more yarn out of the new skein to more equally match the pull of the second skein.

If I am using two yarns that are wound into balls the challenge becomes keeping them from rolling all over the place and becoming tangled together. There are a couple of tips to deal with this annoyance, I use two different yarn bowls that “trap” the balls and prevents them from “free rolling”.

Another thing to keep in mind about using more than one strand of yarn is that the weight changes. It is not like adding the two weights together will double the weight or anything. By using two medium weight (number 4 weight) yarns does not create a super bulky or a number 8 weight yarn, but it does make a heavier weight, but more like a Bulky (number 6 weight) yarn. As a result you need to use a larger hook. Check out a Beyond Basics Hat, using two strands of baby yarn to create a fun hat here.

By ensuring that you have a proper size hook to accommodate both yarns you also ensure that the fabric has the drape you desire. Just as any project if you want a dense fabric use a smaller hook, if you want a more fluid fabric use a larger hook.

However I usually use yarns of differing weight together, I might accent a medium weight yarn with a light or even lace weight yarn. I might use a completely different fiber, might match a wool with a silk, an acrylic with a mohair, a cotton with an alpaca. The yarns provide a different texture, a different sheen, often a different color, but they always provide something amazing to look at.