December! Time to enjoy my Craftvent CAL

So if you have been fortunate enough to receive a limited edition crochet Jimmy Beans Wool Craftvent for 2018, I thought I would share some tips and insight behind the design. Note: This kit sold out and is no longer available on their website, but it doesn’t hurt to call and see if one may be hiding in the back. (If you were unsuccessful obtaining one, read to the end and I will share some insights to making your own).

To begin with the shawl starts at a point and increase on one side until it becomes a large triangle. The first couple of rows might be the most challenging, especially since it is small and there is not much to hang on to.

The first row, essentially becomes a “V”, ensuring that all odd number rows will be worked in a “V st” pattern. The even number rows are simply double crochet stitches worked into all the stitches and spaces across.

To help you keep an accurate row count, the number of “V”’s will increase by 1 every time you work this row, while the double crochet row will always increase by 3 stitches. So if you had 3 “V” stitches in row 5, you will have 6 “V” stitches in Row 7, while if you had 10 double crochets in Row 6, then you will have 13 double crochet stitches in Row 8.

Also the increase are worked on the same side as the color changes, keeping all the pattern differences on one side of the work.

While this “V” stitch/double crochet row repeat makes up a vast portion of the design, the smaller rows of back loop single crochet stitches are always worked in pairs, and there are no increase worked in these rows. This little stitch pattern adds a great contrast in the fabric, not only visually but texturally too.

This entire kit is based upon the redesign of my Quest Shawl pattern, so if you were not able to get a Craftvent the closet to offer is the Quest Shawl pattern. The main difference in these designs is actually the color blocking. Quest has only 2 colors, while Craftvent features 8. If you want to purchase these yarns and thus make your own color blocking from the Quest Shawl, here are the yarns:

You can order a skein of each from Jimmy Beans Wool and create your own color blocking effect.

I will admit, I was so excited about this project that I purchased a kit myself, and am reworking the shawl again day by day in the calendar! You can follow along with my progress at my Facebook Page or Instagram.

Hope you enjoy this process as much as I am!

Fast Finishes- Change Colors with Less Ends to Weave

There is always more than one way to do things, and let’s be honest we all want to know the easiest ones. In crochet this usually comes down to finishing work, not many people really want to weave in ends. So when looking for a quick project that meant that we often avoid work with multiple colors, yet I have a simple trick to share.

This trick works best with a two row repeat, meaning that the pattern has you repeating the same two rows throughout, like when you see “Rows 5-95: Rep Rows 3 & 4 forty-five times”. This “rep 3 & 4” indicates a two row repeat.

Now if you change colors after ever row repeat, meaning work two rows of a color and then which to the next, that you will be changing colors on the same side of the work. Now if you use two colors you have a relatively small distance between these changes.

Instead of cutting the yarn and changing colors it is easy to pick up the color needed for the change and “carry” the yarn along the edge. You want to ensure that you do not pull the yarn too tight, or too loose, during these changes. The picture provided shows what I am attempting to explain. 

So to finish off this technique you simply work an edging on the side. This can be a simple row of single crochets or something more elaborate, but you want something that will prevent theses “carried’ strands from becoming snagged.

I find I work designs more like this in the “rush” time up to the holidays. I use to do a lot of one color projects, but now I want something that looks a little more stylish and intricate so I work these simple color changes to save the time on finish work. Less ends to weave in, means I finish that much faster.

See if it helps speed along your project.

Yes, Swatches Lie…Well Maybe….

Yes, swatches lie. Well that is a bit harsh…really they can be a bit misleading.

To start with there is the famous question, “Do I need to make a swatch?” Well only if you want to ensure that you meet the gauge of the pattern. Gauge helps to ensure that the pattern comes out the same size, but it also ensures that your fabric has the same drape as that of the original design. If this is important to you, then yes, you need to swatch.

That being said there are some road blocks that stop many people from making a swatch.

First there is no actual directions for making a swatch, the gauge lists the number of stitches and rows that fit the given measurements, but that is where the information ends. If you are a new crocheter this can be a bit difficult to decipher, as you need to read and understand your pattern and then make assumptions from this.

One of the ways to make these assumptions is simply to make a chain longer than the given measurement for the gauge. By a rule of thumb add make the swatch at least 40% bigger than is measured, so if it states 4” (10cm), make a swatch of 5 ½” (14 cm). This is so you can take the measurement from of the stitches and rows without using the edges of the swatch, as the edges can distort the measurement.

If the gauge gives a stitch pattern, work this in rows until the rows measure larger than the given measurement. However this is only step one.

The next step to ensure you are getting an accurate measurement is to block your swatch. Essentially you want to treat your wash as you would the finished item, so if it is hand washed then hand wash, if it is machine wash then machine wash, and let dry.

Now you can take the measurement and to ensure that you meet gauge, to proceed with your pattern. If you need to adjust your hook size to obtain gauge you will need to repeat the process in a new hook size and repeat.

However here is the honesty, very few of us go through these steps. I know when I get my yarn I want to dive right in and get to creating, but sometimes I do have to pay the price for this. I may need to rip back and rework if things are not coming out as expected.

So how can I find a happy medium between creating a swatch and just enjoying my crochet? My tip is to check my work regularly. I may block an item before I head to bed, after a day of stitching, and check my gauge in the morning. If it is on course I feel free to continue onward, if it is a bit off it is a day to rip back and begin anew. This may be a bit of a gamble in losing a day’s worth of work, but it keeps me enjoying my stitching while still being happy with the outcome.

Latest Designs, Different Names and Stunning Results

In this last few weeks I have released a couple of new designs and I wanted to share my thought about them with you.

The first is Robert’s Vowel Wrap. Yes, it is a bit of a different name, but it reflects my son’s first comment when seeing the final piece of “awe”. Apparently he likes this one, and to get a positive comment on crochet from a teenage boy…that says something.

Robert’s Vowel Wrap

This design was a bit of a challenge for me to get the math to work out for the increases, but once I found it, I am quite happy with the way it works up. Essentially it is a reverse miter rectangle, starting with a small rectangle and increasing on 2 sides until you get the nice wide width. Then the length is finished off on one edge.

The contrasting colors really are set against each other in this design, and gives a bold statement, but if you wanted to change colors to something more subtle I think you would be just as happy. (The sample is worked up in Anzula Milky Way yarn, colors Petunia and Black)

Gee Circle Shawl received its name from my daughter, because “Gee I want I one” was her statement. I guess I will have to place this design on my hook again and fulfill her request.

Gee Circular Wrap

The half circle design actually holds the shoulders, as it is slightly over a true half circle size and then quits the increase, causing the design to gently pull inward to stay in place on your shoulders. It actually works up fairly quickly and really allows two colors to play off of each other well. (The sample is worked up in Anzula Gerty yarn, colors Orchid and Victoria)

Get these patterns for yourself at my Ravelry store here,  and create some stunning projects for yourself or someone special in your life.

Change the Yarn- Tips for Yarn Substitutions

We have all done it, and sometimes it goes well, others it does not. I am talking about yarn substitution.

Honestly, I never really thought about the yarn I was substituting. I would find a yarn I loved then pick out a pattern I liked and just begin working up my stitches. I never looked at gauge, I never paid attention the fiber or even the weight of the yarn.

In some cases things worked out fine, in others I found myself with items smaller, or firmer, or just plain awkward looking. So I have learned, and it is time to share some insights.

First realize that the pattern you find was designed in a specific yarn. The way it looks in the photo is because of this specific yarn. Changing the yarn will change the effect, maybe the drape, maybe even the size.

Now what to compare to make the change.

Check the weight of the yarn. The weight is in essence the diameter of the strand of yarn, it can be assigned a number (from 0 lace-7 super chunky) or given a name such as lace, thread, sock, fingering, baby, sport, DK, worsted, Aran, chunky, craft, bulky, roving.  These numbers or names are assigned by the manufacture and finding matching yarns at least get you in the ball park that the yarns are similar.

However there are times that you pick up a yarn and it doesn’t have a weight listing by number of name, but it does have a knitting gauge listed. This gauge can help you make the weight comparison too. Yarns that have the same gauge, using the same size needles, will be also be compatible in weight. If the yarns are using the same size needles in the gauge but the stitch and row counts are not the same, the yarn with the higher number of stitches in the gauge will be thinner than the other.

Another way many compare the weight, is to compare the yard/meters and the ounces/grams of the skein. If a skein states that it is 400yrd/366m and 1.75oz/50g it would be compatible with a yarn of 425rds/388m and 1.75oz/50g, but not compatible with a yarn that was listed as 600yd/549m and 1.75oz/50g, as the latter yarn is much thinner. It is a comparison of yards/meters and comparison if ounces/grams that help you see if things are in the same ball park.

The next thing to consider when comparing yarns if the fiber content. In some cases it may not make much of a difference, but a few fibers act completely different from one another. For instance if you are substituting a wool yarn with a lot of bounce or springiness, with a 100% silk you fabric will not even resemble each other. The silk tends to have a lot of drape, it flows, and in comparison to the wool will be limper. Whereas the wool will have some stretch and spring back into place.

Yarns with similar fiber content will behave similarly, so use caution if the labels vary greatly.

Now that you have found a yarn to substitute, if you want to ensure that you will be happy with the outcome of your project, make a gauge swatch. If you make gauge and are happy with how the fabric feels and looks, make your project.