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.

Pechin is a New Classic- A Great Shawl

There are a couple of stitches that always seem to make their way into my work. I find that I create multiple projects using them, and still I never tire of working them. My latest design from Manos del Uruguay and Fairmount Fibers, Pechin, falls into this category.

This shawl is worked from the center of the neck outward, utilizing a simple chain and single crochet combination. I find that this stitch allows that yarn to really be the feature. It creates a light, airy fabric that embodies the yarn to go as far as it can. By this I mean that you can go a long way with just one skein. As an example, Pechin is only a 2 skein shawl (using Manos del Uruguay Milo), and a really good sized shawl at that.

For Pechin, I broke up the chain stitch pattern with bands of shells. This creates a visual break as well as a bit of dimension. The bands gradually space further apart in this design to help keep the flow balanced, and I feel it helps give a really classic look.

I have to admit, I could work this shawl over and over again. The stitch pattern has a nice rhythm, and just enough details, at just the right time, to keep it from getting boring. I also feel that it really has a beautiful balance between the design and the yarn, they feel at harmony with one another as neither over powers the other.

Okay, that might seem a bit wordy or dramatic, but what I mean is that it is a pattern/design in which you can appreciate both the yarn and the design at the same time. I have spoken in the past about how you select a yarn or pattern to bet let one or the other be a highlight, like not using a variegated yarn in a design that is heavily textured, as the yarn will win over the design (read more here). Pechin however, has a balance that allows the yarn to shine as well as the design, and this is true even if the yarn is variegated.


Perfect for the Chill- Shurs!

As winter is gripping part of North America and the arctic chill is setting in Manos del Uruguay released my latest pattern, which is perfect to keep warm! Shurs is a cowl that is just the right size, long enough to be wrapped twice for extra warmth and coverage, yet still short enough that wearing it unwrapped has a perfect amount of drape for a classic look.

It is worked in what I refer to as a “cross-hatch” pattern. So, cross-hatch is actually an artist term the is comprised of short strokes made usually by pencil or charcoal that then has short strokes crossing in the opposite direction to create the shading and depth of the drawing. Almost like little “x”s that create an image.

I have worked this cowl similarly, with each row crossing the opposite direction of the last. It allows for an interesting visual effect, as you can catch glimpses of the stitches behind each other, but it also adds in a nice amount of stretch.

In addition to the “crossed” appearance, the stitches begin to stack up and give a very diagonal look, without having any increasing or decreasing stitches being worked. Instead this is a simple 2 row repeat, so it is a design that you can work rather quickly and easily, even for a crocheter that may not be completely confident in their work.

It is worked in Manos del Uruguay Clara, a yarn that is 100% superwash merino (meaning that it is a wool that is treated so that it does not felt, or shrink, but has all the great properties of wool like warmth and durability). It is a hand dyed sport weight yarn, that has a nice amount of spring to it while still having a nice stable yarn.

So, consider a quick project to keep warm this cold season, Shurs I feel is a good choice for this project.

Photos courtesy Fairmount Fibers, Ltd.