Some Subtel or Not So Subtel Changes

ScannedImageOne thing that I enjoy experimenting with is visual effects in crochet. There are many different ways that this can be accomplished, textural stitches, various stitch locations, colors, but this time I was actually working with a carry a long thread.

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Swatch using a Carry Along thread

I challenged myself to play with something that is relatively simple yet has interest. So I was working with a Tunisian Simple Stitch, changing color on every forward and return pass. I find that I really enjoy this with 3 colors as each row sets up really nicely for the next, and eventually you do not even have to think about what color you are on the strand you need is already there. (If you would like to give it a try for yourself, I have a free pattern using the stitch technique here.)

I was working with some vibrant colors, and wanted to tone it down a bit and even tie the colors together better, so I picked up some Twist Carry Along Yarn from Kreinik Threads and it did the trick. Many would find a complimentary color and add similar color thread to the work, I instead decided to go big, and I pared a color that would stand out, gold. This allows for the colors to actually find more harmony together. The eye begins to tone down the brightness of the vibrant yarns as they have a constant that is running through all of them. One of the reasons I chose the gold as the carry a long color was that if I am going to put in this extra work, I want it to be seen. I want someone to recognize my effort, if you have a hard time telling that there was something different done then it almost seems like there is no payoff for my extra work. I decided to be bold.

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Swatch without a thread

Using a carry a long thread is actually pretty easy, you just work 2 strands together, one being your main yarn and the other being your thread. The only difficulty comes in changing the color of the main yarn, you want to make sure that you do not get everything too tangled, so remember to overlap your yarns in a consistent direction and keep the thread out of the twist.

So if you want to challenge yourself, reach into your stash of yarn and pull out a couple of yarns are random, now use them together, if the colors seem like they won’t work try using a thread, either the same as I tried, or even a metallic sewing thread or a beautiful embroidery type. See how it can change the effect. Play, you might find a pleasant surprise.

Inspiration from Broomstick

ScannedImageIt is so inspiring to share a concept with a student and see the spark in their eyes, and then see them make it their own. This has happened to me recently with an introduction discussion on Broomstick Lace.

I teach an informal crochet class at my local yarn shop, and keep it student driven, meaning that every student works on projects that they want to create and I teach them the parts they need to learn in an individual/group setting. I find that the students really get inspired from one another, and have such varied ideas for project that they want to create, this makes for a class that is different everyday highlights the beauty of how crochet can be some much to so many. The one constant is that I open every class with a new technique or skill.

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one simple row of Broomstick LAce

Last week I shared how to create Broomstick Lace, one student was inspired enough by this concept that she took it home and began working a row of it in her latest baby afghan. I love how she did not feel intimated by it, or feeling that she needed to find a pattern, she jumped right into how she could apply it to her latest project.

With this inspiration fresh in my heart, I wanted to share with you the basics to this traditional technique.

You can begin this stitch on a base of any fabric, you can even start it in a foundation chain, and it is really versatile. You use a large knitting needle, I typical do not use a needle smaller than a US 19 (15 mm) when using a light or medium weight yarn, the thing to keep in mind is that the larger the needle in relationship to the yarn the larger the “eye” of the stitch.

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Pull loops through base stitches and over a large knitting needle

Pull the working yarn over the needle, then insert your hook in the next stitch and pull up a loop, place this loop over the needle until you have pulled a loop through all the stitches in the row. Then you turn the work, and begin working the loops off the needle. This is done by inserting the hook through a number of loops on the needle (this number can vary, it can be as little as one, or as great as you like, often you see somewhere between 3 to 6 loops), yarn over, and pull a loop through these loops on the needle, chain 1, and work the either single or double crochet stitches in the space that the needle once sat, essentially in the loops. To maintain an even stitch count you want to add the same number of stitches as loops in the same stitches, for instance, if you are working in 5 loops, you want to place 5 stitches in the top of the loops. This process is continued across the needle.

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After loading the needle with loops, turn the fabric and work the loops off in groups, insert hook through loops, yarn over and pull through a loop, then chain 1

This is actually a very forgiving stitch, as if you somehow end up with too many or to little loops, you can correct the pattern by adding the number of stitches you should have in the top of the loops, so if you have 4 loops, but should have 5, work 5 stitches in the top of the loops and you have made corrections for the next row, while creating a piece that visually shows not difference.

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Working through the same space that the needle was located, work the same number stitches as there are loops into this space

This stitch may have originally received its name as being worked over a broomstick instead of a knitting needle, but has a reminiscent feel to Tunisian crochet and even Drop stitch crochet. These long loops pulled through stitches may be worked in different ways, but they create something uniquely crochet, and it is heart lifting to see them breathe new life.I can see them as rows of fabric, or used as an edging, they have great possibilities and are finding a new audience.

Fair Isle- A Great Addition to Tunisian Crochet

ScannedImageIt is not often that I find something that can inspire and challenge me, but the latest book by Brenda Bourg has accomplished this. Fair Isle Tunisian Crochet gives explanation even a beginner can follow while giving create insight for even seasoned crocheters.

512xxyhIDWL._SX398_BO1,204,203,200_This technique and project book takes Tunisian crochet into the direction of a classic knitting style. It addresses the history, as well as color theory to ensure a successful project, while empowering you to make each project your own. There is an entire section that helps you understand and utilize the benefits of the color wheel and demystifies how to get a good combination of colors to find a that balance of compliment and contrast that allows fair isle to highlight your hand work will being pleasant to the eye.

One of the features I really appreciated was that the author speaks to you in practice terms. She addresses problems that you may, or will, encounter. You begin a project already understanding challenges that you may face, it is like a good friend is walking you through the skill and giving you all of the tips  and tricks they found on the journey to make you trip even easier. When you realize that your tension may be off, she has already addressed this and you know to keep an eye open to a certain things, and how often to check your work. It gave the book a very practical and friendly feel. I never felt that the skill was only addressing some crocheting elite, I felt that I could share with book with a beginner crocheter and have them feel comfortable practicing the skills.

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Beginning my project from Fair Isle Tunisian Crochet. The charts make it so easy to follow along with.

The author even addresses how your fabric will actually feel when completed, and how to properly block and finish the pieces, explaining why it is important and the applications that may be necessary. It speaks to you on an everyday level and does not just explain how to work the technique but how to make it successful. The projects vary in difficulty to help you build your skills, and it even gives you a sampling of how variegated yarns can add a beautiful touch to this skill. The variety of the projects have a little something for everyone, accessories, home decor, and garments all offer a gradient skill level and the author offers her perspective on what you can expect to gain from each.

If you are interested in trying something new, maybe even take a new approach to color, this is s book you will appreciate. You can purchase it by following this link, and fortunately I am able to share a copy with one reader. All you have to do to check this book out for yourself, is leave a comment about which colors you like to put together in projects by the end of the day, Monday, March 7, 2016. One comment will be selected at random and will a copy of the book (unfortunately this is only available to those in the United States, sorry but it is the shipping restrictions from the publisher).

Two Patterns in One! Knit & Crochet Interlude Shawl

ScannedImageSo I have done something a little different, and I am excited about it.

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Interlude Knit Shawl

In the past I shared how my daughter was teaching me to knit (you can read about it here), I will admit I have not been the best student. I can understand knitting in principle and concept but actually getting the needles to work with the yarn is a different story completely. However my lessons have encouraged me to go out on a limb and create dual craft patterns, with the first being Interlude.

Interlude is a shawl that is worked in with one skein of Lisa Souza Sylvie Silk, but it can be worked in either knit OR crochet! Okay, technically it is Tunisian Crochet, but still 2 different ways to create the same look.

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Interlude Crochet Shawl

Obviously the finished product is not identical, but they are very similar; they both work in short rows on large hooks/needles, they both have beautiful drape, they both use only one skein, they both work up quickly, and they both have the same completed shape.

This, okay, these shawls debuted at Stitches West in Santa Clara this past weekend, and there was some definite excitement about the fact that there is actually 2 patterns in one (I had requests for other of my crochet designs to attempt to be converted to knitting), as well as just how yummy the ultimate design is. So fast and yet elegant.

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Interlude Knit Shawl

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Interlude Crochet Shawl

I have to give complete thanks to Lisa Souza herself, for actually knitting up the knit version. I had attempted to complete it myself, but after it set on my needles for months, I knew if it was up to me it would never come into being. Like I stated, I understand the concepts, but the hands are not as proficient as my mind, so I got completely hung up on the short rows. But I can share Lisa’s feedback, she told me that at first she was questioning my sanity, as it is a fine yarn on rather large needles, then she found it rather addicting and finished with just a couple of hours over two evenings. However the magic happened after blocking. The stitches were not readily apparent until it dried, then it all came together and she dubbed it a success (she may still question my sanity, but it is not about this pattern).

This is an interesting adventure, which grew out of my daughter’s simple request, I am personally interested in seeing where it might lead. To help celebrate my enthusiasm with this new undertaking I am offering a 20% discount on ALL patterns in my Ravelry store with coupon code SW2016 through March 31, 2016 (no limits, use it as much as you like, and share it with friends). Thank you for sharing this adventure with me!

Simple Changes and What They Can Create

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

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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.