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.

 

Award Winning Design! Book Club Afghan

There are somethings that really take me by surprise. A really pleasant surprise is finding out that one of your designs has been chosen as one of the Top 50 Patterns of 2017 by I Like Crochet Magazine! That is one of the Best of 2017!

Of the thousands of patterns and designs that come out every year, I Like Crochet Magazine felt that my Book Club Afghan was among the cream of the crop.  It takes me back a bit.

Honestly, I am never sure how to assess my designs. I just make the idea that comes to me.

I have found over the years that the more I over think an idea, the less I really like it. So I try and keep things simple, and focus on the approach of what it takes to make the design. Maybe it is the fundamental crocheter in me, but my end thought really falls to if I enjoy making it.

This is the practice that went into making the Book Club Afghan, just enough stitch change to keep things interesting, just enough repeat to keep the design something that you can relax doing. This is how the lacy panels are worked, in a lengthwise direction with solid stitches between them. The three styles of lace make just enough visual interest, and are just different enough from one another that it is a joy to work.

The fringe on this design I fell really helps it stand out, as it offers just a bit of a classic flair. Overall this design has always reminded me of a classic fisherman’s afghan with a modern update, something classic made more current.

I know that there are many fabulous designs accepted every year by the publication, and I am honored that one of mine was selected. I guess a truer statement might be that I am humbled.

 

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.

A Vacation from Crochet

I thought it would feel different, not crocheting for 2 weeks, but surprisingly it was a bit liberating.

I did not start out planning to put my hook and yarn aside through the entire holiday season, but that is what happened. My family and I took a holiday vacation, a true first for us. We were gone for 2 weeks taking a whirlwind guided tour of Europe, from London to Rome. It really has been a lifelong dream to actually have a passport stamps of travel, and the end of 2017 the stars aligned and the dream became reality. We visited Stonehenge, and the Eiffel Tower. We took in a show at the Moulin Rouge, and checked out the views from Mount Pilatus. We enjoyed dinner on the Grand Canal, and visited Michelangelo’s David. We were awestruck with the Sistine Chapel and the Colosseum. It was a lifetime of dreams wrapped into an adventure, an adventure we would love to do again.

I packed a couple of crochet projects and added them to my backpack. There is down time in travel, like the direct flights of over 10 hours, and the coach rides across the French country side, or the moments before sleep in the hotel. However, I was captivated by the dream, engaged in conversations with my new traveling companions, and spending quality time with my family.

When I got home again, and dug those projects out of my backpack, they felt fresh and new. It was like my whole body, all of my ideas and inspirations were able to be rejuvenated and see my stitches with fresh eyes. I cannot remember when I last felt that way about my hand craft, it has to have been at least several years, and I do not know that just putting it down at home without the adventure would have yielded the same result. My hooks feel lighter, my ideas crisper, I hope this side effect has some staying power, but if it doesn’t at least I have an idea of how to recapture it again.

Crochet Crunch Time

How is it that the month of December can sneak up on me every year? As I get older, it almost seems to happen faster and faster. I once was able to have the holiday shopping completed by the middle of September and have everything in place to feel relaxed during this crazy time of year.

Then the years pass, I somehow lose weeks of my life and instead of having things outlined and planned in early fall I am just aware that I need pull everything together as my sister pulls the Turkey out of the oven on Thanksgiving.

All of my plans of what to crochet and for who gets put into over drive and long nights of flying fingers are scheduled. However, I must not be alone in this last minute hustle, as it is also this time of year that I get many requests for “can you make”.

“Can you make” always seems like a loaded question, it is not really asking if I would want to make and item, or if I have time to make an item, or if I charge to make an item….it simple asks if I can. Yes, I do have the skill set, but I don’t know if I have the time. But, at least I know that I am not alone in my last minute hustle.

So as the festivities begin, please know you are not alone, there are many of us up late making our hooks fly. Deciding that instead of an afghan, a nice scarf will work. Figuring how we can finish our self-imposed “to do” list and still stay sane and enjoy this time of year.