The Regal Touch- Royal Blooms Shawl

Sometimes a design takes month to develop, multiple practice attempts and hours of thought and planning…others come together like magic. The Royal Blooms Shawl in the October 2017 issue of I Like Crochet Magazine is the latter.

Photo courtesy Prime Publishing

This shawl is really great to work up, a relatively simple pattern of V stitches and Shells that yields stunning results. The stacking of these stitches creates an almost jewel shape effect, that lends itself to royalty. While the negative space created shares a bit if a peek-a-boo quality. This is a great quick gift for a friend or loved one, or a special treat for yourself. It can take you from dress to casual fairly easily and thus is an excellent addition to any wardrobe.

One of the things I really loved about this shawl is in the yarn. It is worked up in Ancient Arts Reinvent Too.  This Wool/Mohair/Silk blend yarn is one that adds enough warmth to utilize this shawl for the crisp evenings of autumn, yet comfortable enough to wear in the mid-day sun.  This yarn is listed as a worsted or medium weight yarn, but in the hand I think it works up more like a light or DK weight, so this is not a shawl that is as light or wispy as a feather, but has a bit of substance to it. There are several color ways available, so it can please just about everyone.

Photo courtesy Prime Publishing

I wish I had a better story to tell as to how this shawl came into being, but honestly it just fell right off the hook without my even thinking. Part of me thinks that I cannot even claim ownership of this design as it came too easily, so I hope you will enjoy creating your own and making it a new staple in your life.

 

One Skein, One Loop

I love the challenge of creating a single skein project, sometimes it lends itself to a fantastic idea, and sometimes it is just a practice of futility. However, I think this latest design is the former.

Scarf in a Loop is a simple attempt at Bruges Lace. Bruges Lace is a classic technique that essentially crochets a ribbon of narrow crochet stitches with chain loops on its edges. These chain loops allow the ribbon to be bent and twisted, while joining these loops together. So basically if you can draw the line of a ribbon you can create the design in crochet. This scarf pattern is drawn as a ribbon in a simple oval.

Scarf in a Loop, Crochet World October 2017 Photo courtesy Annie’s

The one drawback to Bruges Lace patterns is the number of rows involved. Often a pattern can seem intimidating when it lists hundreds, if not thousands of rows. So keep in mind that these rows are often only a couple of stitches wide.

One of the things I really enjoy with Scarf in a Loop is the way the color moves. The yarn, Lion Brand Unique, has some nice color changes and this design really highlights this. It is a bulky size yarn so it works up fairly fast, and has a nice weight.

Crochet World, October 2017, decided to feature this design and I think it is great as a gift for the upcoming holiday season, or simply for a quick accessory to keep warm during this ever cooling season.

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.

Cotton & Linen Perfect Zooey for Summer

When the temperature climbs to numbers that have more than two places in them, yarn does not sound like the leisure activity that it usually is. Fortunately there are nice plant based yarns that do not trap the heat like wool or even acrylic does. Juniper Moon Farm creates one such yarn in Zooey.

Zooey is a 60% cotton, 40% linen yarn that feels cool and is durable. I have to admit, I am not always drawn to linen, but the blend with cotton in this yarn makes it softer and less stiff than I have experienced in other yarns. It can take a hardy blocking, and I recommend that you plan on blocking this yarn, it brings an entirely new quality to it. Once it takes water, which it generously absorbs, it blossoms and becomes softer. It then can really open up stitch work and make some beautiful lace work with relatively little effort.

The yarn is listed as a fine weight, also referred to as a 2 weight, but easily works up with larger than expected hooks, even if the yarn is rated for a 3.5-4.5mm (F-G) I like it on a 6mm (J) for a more open effect.

The hank has some decent yardage at 284 yards (260 meters) for a 3.5 ounces (100 gram) ball. Even has a 4 ply yarn, plied with 3 strands of linen and 1 strand of cotton, it does not seem to have a really round nature. It seems a little flat, but that is something to be expected form the fibers. The ply is not real tight, however this did not seem to cause any splitting.

I think this yarn would do well as a market bag, maybe even a cover up for the beach. That also lends me to think that it could pull off a sun hat. It really does make me think of summer projects, this might limit my creative sense, but overall I think it can have some great uses.

 

Small Town, Small World, Big Punch in Fiber Arts

The world has ways of reminding me that it is much smaller then I think, and I have had friends recently make me think of my home town a bit differently. I grew up, currently live, and have long roots in the California gold country; a friend made a comment about living in such a historic place, and I admit I think I probably have taken that for granted. However the craziest thing isn’t how much my area has history, it is how often I learn about companies in the fiber industry that have roots here too.

 

As I was getting into the profession of crochet I began to pay a bit more attention to my surrounding in regards to other professionals. My local Fibers Guild (a groups of members that love all things yarn) I learned that there was a yarn company just a short distance from my kids school, Lisa Souza Knitwear and Dyeworks. I have worked with Lisa over the years to help create crochet designs in her beautiful yarns, as well as help work her show booth and visit various cities throughout the United States.

 

If only having a well-established yarn company in my town was enough, I also learned that a nationally recognized fiber spinning instructor and author, Lexi Boeger of Pluckyfluff, grew up in my community as well. Heck she was only a year ahead of me in high school, but my high school was large enough that I can honestly say that we did not run in the same circles. Her family owns a well-known local winery, and she has a studio just near the tasting room, that I have had the pleasure of teaching workshops at.

 

Those two connections should be more than enough, then I got into a conversation with a long time member of my Fiber Guild and when she learned where I lived she immediately assumed that I must know Lorna Miser, the creator and founder of Lorna’s Laces yarn. I did not know her, but the connection was made that as I was growing up she was starting the yarn company literally about 2 miles from my childhood home. There is even a colorway within the yarn company that features my street name, Bucks Bar. I did meet Lorna a few years later, and long after she had sold the business that is now housed in the Chicago, Illinois area, I was when working on some designs for a book that she was working on, and learned that she knew several members of my extended family. Even though up until very recently she and I only lived about thirty minutes apart, while she was starting up her latest yarn adventure, Zombie Yarns,  we would only cross paths at trade shows thousands of miles from home; but that is how it works out at times isn’t it? Never have lunch with a friend when you are in the everyday routine of home, but definitely make time when out of the ordinary grind.

 

So looking back over the connections above to my community, I thought that maybe there was something in the water or maybe every community as secret fiber artists dwelling in plain sight. Then I was at a trade show earlier this month in Columbus, Ohio when a friend and colleague escorted me over to check out a hook supplier. Honestly, I was tagging along a bit, my mind was already taking in the days discussions with various yarn companies when the gentleman, Chris Barnes, mentioned something about California. I mentioned I was from Placerville, that got him to look up, as he started he grew up there. Now I should mention that when traveling it is exciting to find someone that can pronounce the name of the town correctly (it is a short a sound), let alone know where it is without me drawing a map. We began chatting back and forth to find that we knew several of the same people and he was only two years ahead of me in high school and hung out with my cousin during his high school years. Apparently he had just taken over the business his father had started in my hometown, Brittany Needles. The company moved several years back to a little down on the northern coast that I enjoy vacationing at, Mendocino, but it started right here in my little gold rush town.

 

I know I have taken the local gold rush history for granted, but I did not realize that there was such a rich fiber arts history in the professional sense surrounding me. Honestly, since this last connection I am beginning to think I need to question the ladies at the Hangtown Fibers Guild more, as when I excitedly mention these new to me connections, they have already know everyone involved.  I wonder if there are any other industry connections hidden away in my back yard.