2 Books Not to Overlook!

I really do not know where the last 12 months have gone!

Last year a few friends had new books hit the shelves, and there are some that it has taken me a while to getting around to reading, not because I wasn’t eager to dive into the pages, but simply because my time demands took me in other directions. So, it was really been nice to be able to finally get through 2 of them recently.

First, my son has made comments about how the world seems to be returning to hieroglyphics with the proliferation of emojis, then my friend Charles Voth came out with his first book…Emoji Crochet! This book is full of fun patterns, from home décor to wearables. You can make a throw or a pillow then move on to a hat or sweater. The really great thing in this book, in my opinion, is how many different techniques are used. You can learn so many different crochet techniques that I would recommend this book if not simply for that reason. Charles uses tapestry crochet techniques, applique techniques, color work, charting and written instructions to delve into putting faces on your work.

Charles also ensured that there is great detailed instructions of these techniques accompanied with illustrations. This is probably due to his profession as a technical editor, meaning he has a hand in many crochet patterns that are published by ensuring that the math works and the pattern written creates the item in the photo. In addition to being a technical editor he is also a college professor, so he understands how people learn, and this book definitely has this in mind.

It is hard to pick which project I like the most in this book, but I think the Not Too Blue for You Mittens top my list of first projects to complete. If you get the opportunity, check this book out, you will not be disappointed! (Check out other designs by Charles here and his classes here)

Another book I have been checking out is Bath Knits by my friend Mary Beth Temple. Now I will not even pretend that I am a knitter, I dabble, and know just enough to get myself in trouble, so this book has been perfect to help me practice the basics. There are plenty of ideas for pampering yourself in the bath, but in my beginner state I will focus on the great array of wash clothes. Like many of Mary Beth’s book this one is straight forward and lets you dive right into the projects while subtly learning a few new approaches.

Mary Beth has been an accomplished designer in both knit and crochet for a decade, and might be best known for her long running podcast Getting Loopy! Both her book and podcast are worth checking out.

Now that I have been able to at least read through these 2 books, now it is time to get my hooks and needles flying and work some of these projects! (Find more of Mary Beth’s designs here)

 

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.

 

Beyond Basic Hat- Free Pattern

Last week I shared a Basic Hat free pattern, I had an increased number of people wanting to make hats, and they really are great, quick projects, that can help those fighting cancer by the means of chemo therapy. I have designed both of these hats using baby weight yarn, as I find that it is both soft and hypo-allergenic.

The Beyond Basic Hat is worked holding 2 strands of baby yarn at one time (you could substitute 1 strand of medium weight yarn instead). To use 2 strands is not as difficult as it seems, you simply hold them together and treat them as if they were just 1 strand, so you yarn over using both strands together, you pull through loops using both strands together, they just get worked as one. I find it fun to use 2 different colors, like I did in this sample with teal and lemon yellow.

I find that this pattern tends to be my go to hat more often, as is really works up fairly fast, however if you want to learn how to customize the size of hat, check out my tutorial, Crochet Hat Formula, here.

 

Beyond Basic Hat

Materials:

2 skeins Lion Brand Soft Baby light weight yarn (60% acrylic, 40% nylon)

I/9/6mm crochet hook

Gauge: 5 rnds/ 8 dc=3”

This pattern is worked holding 2 strands of yarn throughout.

For directions for the Reverse Single Crochet (Revsc) check out my tutorial here.

Sizes: Baby (Kid, Woman, Man)

Rnd 1(1, 1, 1) Ch 4, 11 dc in 4th ch from the hook, sl st to join.

Rnd 2 (2, 2, 2): Ch 3, dc in same st, 2 dc in each st around, sl st to join.

Rnd 3 (3, 3, 3): Ch 3, dc in same st, dc in next st, [2 dc in next st, dc in next st] rep around, sl st to join.

Rnd – (4, 4, 4): Ch 3, dc in same st, dc in next 2 sts, [2 dc in next st, dc in next 2 sts] rep around, sl st to join.

Rnd – ( -, 5, 5): Ch 3, dc in same st, dc in next 3 sts, [2 dc in next st, dc in next 3 sts] rep around, sl st to join.

Rnd – (-, -, 6): Ch 3, dc in same st, dc in next 4 sts, [2 dc in next st, dc in next 3 sts] rep around, sl st to join.

Rnd 4-8 (5-11, 6-12, 7-13): Ch 3, dc in each st around, sl st to join.

Rnd 9 (12, 13, 14): Ch 1, Revsc around, sl st to join. Fasten off, weave in ends.

Get This Gift! The Perfect Kit

Wow! I am excited about this!

This has been a unique undertaking in which I have partnered with Lickin Flames and Mountain Colors Yarn to put together an AWESOME Kit.

I contributed the patterns, both crochet and knit (Brenda Atchison helped a lot with the knit version), for this cute one skein shawl. Lickin Flames added an adorable Shawl Pin, this little black sheep, which works wonders at pinning a shawl while making everyone smile. Mountain Colors contributed the yarn, a skein of Twizzlefoot (a great blend of Superwash Merino and Domestic Wool with silk and nylon), a great sock weight yarn.

This kit features 2 brand new colors from Mountain Colors….Shooting Star and Silver Anniversary, as well as the classic Ruby River.

We released this kit last month exclusively on the wholesale market, getting it in the hands of shop owners, so that anyone needing a holiday gift would find the perfect kit for their loved one…either the knitter or crocheter.

It is FINALLY available for direct sale, so you can get your own kit! Or one for a loved one!

This really is a great kit. The colors of the yarn or FABULOUS…not to mention that the yarn is pretty great too….and the Shawl pin is really adorable…I think you will like it. The pattern, okay, well I always have a hard time talking about my work…but those that have already worked it tell me that they LOVE it…That makes me feel good.

I have never had something put together in such a way as to allow everyone contributing really shine. It was fun to work on the collaboration, and I hope we can pull off another one in the future. If you are looking for a perfect Christmas gift for your yarn lover, or just looking a gift for yourself, please consider checking out the Cooperation Shawl.