Tips for the Mundane

There are some truths about crochet that no one ever seems to share, we all hit a period where we are bored. This could be a stitch pattern, the act of moving the hook, the feel of the yarn. Everyone I have ever met does put things down from time to time, but they never really admit it.

It does not matter if you crochet for a living or just as a hobby, sometimes we find a mundane point. However, I have found a couple of ways through this period.

Ask yourself why. Is it that the stitch is not exciting? Is pattern is taking too long to finish? Is my attention being pulled in another direction?

We have all been there, and there is no shame in it. I have found a couple of approaches to get through it and still actually end up loving crochet again.

First, take a break. This is not a bad word and it does not mean that you are done with the craft, it simply means that you need a point of rejuvenation. Usually when I put my hook down, I find that I still need something to keep my hands busy and fidgety in the evenings when sitting with the family in front of the television. For me I then pick up work puzzles, maybe some Sudoku or word searches, I don’t quite have the disposition for crosswords but there are plenty of different puzzles to keep me entertained.

However, sometimes you need to get a project finished, there is a deadline…maybe you need that gift for the baby shower in 3 days. In this case, I have to set small goals. It can be as simple as completing a set number of rows of the pattern every time I sit down with it in my hand. This really depends upon that stitch pattern, but maybe it is as simple as getting through one of the row pattern repeats. Maybe it is getting to the next color change, or the next color change in the yarn. I set myself a visual point and work toward it. I find that this helps even more if I have a small reward for myself at the end, maybe I get a cookie or such, maybe then I get a nice stretch. It does not have to be anything big, it just has to be something to break up the monotony.

Sometimes it is as simple as changing projects and putting one in “time out”. I find this happens most on projects that I was first intrigued by, but then quickly discovered that the design was a really rather simple stitch repeat, like an entire afghan worked in only double crochet rows. There is nothing wrong with it, it just is not very exciting, and frankly if I do not have a reason or deadline to actually complete it, I might not get it finished. In this case I just have to be honest with myself. There is no harm in using the yarn in another project.

I wish I could say that I never put down my hook, that I have endless creative energy, but alas that is not what works for me. There are times I need to find another focus to help but my love of crochet back in focus.

Two New Patterns for Autumn- Half Price!

Looking back it seems like I always find myself in this place every year…Autumn. The time of year that apparently has the calendar skipping weeks on me, as I really do not know where the time has gone, while making me feel like there is a ton of things I need to get done in a short span of time. I guess it leaves me overwhelmed, exhausted, and feeling like I have many unmet responsibilities.

So in all this I guess I should be really thankful that I have managed to release not just one, but two new patterns!

Lisa Souza Dyeworks is releasing a few new yarns, and being a designer means that I can sometimes get my hands on this yarn early to create some new ideas. As was the case with Nyam (a Superfine Merino and Cashmere fine weight yarn) and Pyrenees Bulky (a 100% Organic Merino yarn) I was able to create a 1 skein project that is perfect for the holidays.

Nyam lent itself particularly well to my new pattern, Contextual Shawl. This shawl is a simple one row repeat that can really flatter almost any yarn, of any weight, of any size, any fiber content. The size can easily be adjusted to make it larger or smaller, and yet to look at it the pattern is not readily apparent. It works up fast and can be used as a project on the go. I can see this in so many different colors and styles that the possibilities are endless.

Matrix Hooded Cowl worked up great in Pyrenees Bulky. I have not made a lot of cowls in the past, but I can see the appeal. This cowl is again a one skein project that is nice and wide, and the perfect size in my opinion to warm the neck and offer protection form the cold as a hood. The pattern actually has a mirroring quality to it, as halfway across the row you work the mirror image of the beginning. It is a 4 row repeat that has a bit of fun with stacked shapes. Don’t let the open spaces fool you, paired with this yarn it is quite warm, making it tighter might just make it unwearable.

As a special offer to you, as a reader, please enjoy 50% off either of these patterns at my Ravelry Store for the next month (They will be only $2.00 then on November 30 the price resets to its original $4.00). Enjoy your quick paced autumn season.

Links:

Ravelry Store

Contextual Shawl

Matrix Hooded Cowl

Some Stand Up Rayon

ScannedImageThere are many different fibers that can make up a yarn, and they all offer a different quality.  I find that some rayon yarns offer a really interesting texture and drape to my fabric.

I picked up a couple of skeins of Interlacements Rick Rack yarn a few years back. I originally made a skirt for myself, but the skeins have such great yardage that I still have enough yarn to create more.

0527161810

Interlacement Rick Rack yarn in color Irish Heather

The yarn is not smooth, but instead has reminds me of well rick rack, as it has a wavy characteristic. As a result the fabric it creates has an appearance that reminds me of chenille, as it is plush and the light seems to be absorbed. So I do not think I will utilize this yarn for heavily textured stitch work, such as popcorns or cables. The properties of the rayon content does cause this fabric to grow a bit, as I have discovered with skirt. I feel that working stitches on the diagonal help keep it in shape, but the rayon lends itself to great drape. Reflecting on it, the wavy rick rack of the yarn probably helps this yarn keep it shape better than most rayon yarns, yet keeping the cool to the touch, silky quality that rayon is known for.

I would caution against working this yarn in open and lacy stitches, as the color changes can tend to distract from the open work, but it seems to sing when worked in just simple stitch patterns. I offend want to over think designs and come up with something I have never tried before, but this yarn is not one that I afford this option, as it I prefer it as simple is better.

Overall I have been impressed with the way the yarn has held up over time. I made the skirt 5 years ago and it still looks good. It still drapes well, the color is good, and is still feels silky.

Simple Changes and What They Can Create

ScannedImageI always enjoy how a simple change can make quite an affect.

M22162_Refractions_300

Refractions Tunisian Wrap Photo courtesy of Annie’s

I find this to be true with one of my latest designs to be released, Refractions Tunisian Wrap, found in the Spring 2016 issue of Crochet! Magazine. This wrap only has 2 stitches and works short rows. That is it. Yet the effect it has is stunning. A definite eye catcher.

The difference in the stitch types really allows the yarn to shine. This is because of the way the yarn gets taken up in each stitch. So, even though I used the same yarn, the looks in the different triangles is very different, almost causing the yarn to work a double a duty in a way, by having a different “pooling” pattern.

Color pooling is when colors in a variegated yarn stack up upon one another in certain ways, and this wrap creates two very different appearances in this. One triangle has long color stripes, the other almost square blocks of color.

129037The other obvious difference in the triangles it that one seems solid, while the other is lacy. So not only do you have a differing color effect, you have a differing textural effect, without changing anything but the stitch!

One of the secretly great things about the way the triangles come together is that it just easily wraps around the neck, and hugs the shoulders. There is no slipping or falling off, it stays in place.

Okay, in case you may not have realized it, I enjoyed working this pattern. I hope you do too.

 

Sometimes It Is the Basics That Make All the Difference

ScannedImageIt is interesting how sometimes you overlook the simple. I always think of it as a challenge to see if there is a new way I can use a crochet hook; create a new approach to an old technique or combine pieces of several different techniques to create something different. However, sometimes it is just a simple chain stitch that can make the difference.

IMG_7297.1

Crossroad Leaves Shawl

Everyone that has used a hook has created a chain. It is the foundation to the beginning of almost every piece of fabric that a crocheter creates, but can it create a fabric its self? Of course it can.

In my latest design, I basically stumbled upon using the chain in this manner. I was using a lovely yarn, which had a very pretty, yet short color repeat. I wanted to get an effect of color pooling, or at least spans of the same color. Most crochet stitches were unable to aid me in creating this effect, as each stitch would use enough yarn to have more than one color in a stitch. Tunisian crochet allows for the color to work this way more, but I wanted a fabric that was a little more fluid. So I began to play.

Sometimes when I am attending an event of one of my children, I bring along a yarn that has no particular project and play with various stitches as a visit with other parents or cheer my child on. This was the case with this design. My fingers almost mindlessly began creating chains stacked upon chains, and I was really drawn to the result, from it Crossroad Leaves Shawl was born.

IMG_7280.1This shawl is worked from the center outward with a simple stitch repeat for the main fabric, and has two bands of my rendition of leaves, and edged with smaller “leaves”. Overall it has a beautiful drape, and feels great in the hand. It is actually a one skein project, using Lisa Souza Dyeworks Baby Alpaca Silk Petite, the color way is a limited edition (Rhinebeck 2015), but the color way of Deep Fall, Fall Leaves, or Leaf Pile easily can fit the bill for an almost exact replica. However there are so many beautiful colors available and this pattern would easily highlight any colors that may have a short repeat.

IMG_7300 - Copy.1

Crossroad Leaves Shawl

The creation of this design does have me reviewing some stitches I may have overlooked (this particular stitch is already destined for another design), and opening my thoughts to some of the simple structure that is the back bone of crochet.

If you would like to add this pattern to your collection, you can find it on Ravelry & Craftsy.