Hourglass Waves- A Stunning Stitch

I really enjoy putting some classic stitches together in ways that you may not have considered. My latest design does just that. The Hourglass Waves Baby Afghan uses the Catherine Wheel Stitch to create a ripple and an hourglass appearance.

It is really the color work that makes this design come to life, and believe it or not, the color really do have an order to their repeating pattern. However the various stitches can through off this simple pattern creating a great visual interest. It is obvious that this is not your everyday baby throw.

Hourglass Waves Baby Afghan by Linda Dean www.lindadeancrochet.com

Hourglass Waves Baby Afghan Photo courtesy Crochet Now Magazine

Featured as a design in the latest issue of Crochet Now Magazine, issue 13, this blanket is one that does not just mark itself as something for a baby, it can easily grow for a toddler, a child, and created larger a great design for a teen or adult. The next opportunity I get I think I may make enlarge my own and make a version for my son. I really think he would love it in primary colors.

Sometimes people can hear the stitch pattern Catherine’s Wheel and instantly get a bit fearful, but this stitch pattern is not as difficult as you may think. Essentially it is a row of large shells, or fans, basically a large number of double crochets (treble crochets if you happen to be in the UK), worked min the same location. This is worked across a row and the following row is essentially a large decrease, worked in between the shells, pulling up loops in each of these stitches, making the fabric edge straight again. This blanket utilizes this very technique, but then highlights the shapes it can create with rows of single crochet (double crochet in the UK).

Hourglass Waves Baby Afghan by Linda Dean www.lindadeancrochet.com

Hourglass Waves Baby Afghan Photo courtesy Crochet Now Magazine

I love how the pattern is not something that you see every day, it has dimension and character.  I hope you find this design inspiring too.

Yarn Play- Baby Alpaca/ Silk Petite 2

ScannedImageOne of the questions I often get asked is about yarn. There are so many different types a yarn out there that it can be difficult understand what makes each special, how each will behave in a project and why one might work better in different circumstances.

I will admit, my learning has been through some trial and error, but I also have been overwhelmed with the knowledge that I have received from my local fiber guild (Hangtown Fibers Guild). It consists of people from every aspect of the world of yarn, everyone from those that grow the sheep, shear them, card the wool, spin it, weave it, dye it, knit it, crochet it, felt it…everything. It is truly a remarkable group of mostly women that inspire me more often than they realize, and it is from this inspiration that I began looking at yarn and its properties differently.


Playing with Drop Stitch and Lisa Souza Dyeworks Baby Alpaca/ Silk Petite 2 (color phaedra)

So today, I have been working with a 2 ply fine weight yarn, by Lisa Souza Dyeworks. This Baby Alpaca/Silk Petite 2 has a nice halo, not to overmuch, but just enough. (The halo is the fibers that tend to almost “hover” around the yarn, it does not seem to be actually in the strand by surrounding it, almost like a slight fuzz).

The two ply does not allow for strong stitch definition, so textual stitches like cables, popcorns and puffs make be lost, but the overall fabric is very light. Two ply yarns in general tend to be a little “flat” and it makes sense when you think about what kind of “tube” is formed from the twisting of 2 tubes together. If you look yarn from the cut end, different plies result in different looks, twisting only 2 strands together you can see gaping or open spaces when compared to a perfect circle.

Being created with Alpaca and Silk, the yarn is strong and will hold up to some wear, but does not have a long of spring. Once it is blocked it will respect its new form, while remaining very soft, and having a decent amount of drape. The fiber content also lends itself to being warm, while the soft nature is appealing to wear near or directly on the skin.

There is definitely life in this yarn, but it is a relaxed life. I think it probably works up best in shawls and wraps, and maybe even a cardigan if you would like it to have a little more of a “hanging” appearance. If you wanted to use it in items like gloves, or things that need some stretch, then you may want to consider that the stretch is going to primarily come from the chosen stitches.

I am currently working it in a drop stitch technique (learn how to drop stitch crochet here) to highlight the yarn in some open work, I will keep you updated on its progress.

Another Crochet Journey, New Projects, New Inspirations

ScannedImageOne of the things that I really enjoy about crochet is that it has so many possibilities. When I began crocheting I created scarves and Barbie dresses, then I worked afghans….many, many afghans. I really didn’t even begin to make hats for several years as I was a little intimidated with working in the round and the working it straight, I was fine with the flat circle, but the contours of a hat use to intimidate me. I think I may have made my first sweater before my first hat, not much before, but before. When I realized that I was just creating fabric garments became my new go to, (and I include shawls in my garment category, as it took me a long time to place a shawl in my personal wardrobe).


BBD (Baby Brown Dog)

Looking back on my time stitching I can see certain trends, however I never really got into the trend of doilies or toy making. However, I find myself taking inspiration from the work of classic thread doilies and applying it to some of my current designs and at the prompting for some of my crochet students I have been investigating some Amigurumi.

In playing with the techniques used to create toys, I have made up a little puppy. BBD (Baby Brown Dog as it is affectionately referred to in my home), is created with 2 skeins of Plymouth Baby Alpaca DK yarn, so it is really quite soft and cuddly. This stitches used are simply single crochet, with the only challenge being the Magic Loop beginning (that can be substituted if desired with alternative circle beginnings). Simple increases and decrease are worked for the overall shaping. The paws have a little special touch of having nickels added to give a little weight to the legs so that they always want to hang downward (so it can be recognized as a 20¢ puppy).

I may not be someone that creates things like this often, but I will admit, this little dog has gotten to me, and even I enjoy cuddling with it. Sometimes working on things outside your everyday comfort zone can inspire new ideas, BBD already has me things…I wonder where this journey might take me.

If you would like to take a journey with BBD you can find it on Ravelry and Craftsy for only $5.50 US.


Timeless Crochet?

ScannedImageI have always heard of the “trends in fashion” and how things become “dated”. I will say that I believed this for most of my life. However lately I have been cleaning some closets and finding some “lost” projects, and when reflecting on the time they have been tucked away I find that they may be a little timeless.
This is not to say that you cannot date crochet pieces; usually this is most accurate to date the material used. The composition of some yarns date them better then the stitches used to put them together, but I do not know if the style of crochet really goes out of fashion.


A scrap afghan created with left over baby yarn

A simple reference for this is for me is baby afghans. Since I have been crocheting for most of my life, I have created afghans for the new additions to a family since high school. I have one “go-to” pattern that I have made with the same yarn for nearly twenty years (It is Precious In Pink by Cathy Hardy from the book Afghans For All Seasons by Leisure Arts and Oxmoor House, made with Bernats Baby Coordinates Yarn). I can probably work the pattern in my sleep, and often can complete it in less than a day and a half. The size of the skein has changed since I started making it, it use to take me only 2 skeins and a dab of a third (only enough to finish the last row), while now it takes nearly the entire third skein. But that is a side effect of working a pattern so long. Why I mention this, is one day about 10 years ago, I worked up a full size afghan in a chevron pattern from the remaining “third skeins” of yarn from the baby afghans. At the time, I was able to identify 35 different skeins used, and I know that not every afghan was accounted for. The number has only increased since then, but the effect the afghan has on the recipient is the same; gratitude, and genuine warmth. Some of those “babies” are having children of their own, but the same blanket brings the same response; a proof of timeless.


My “Pneumonia Afghan”

Another project that speaks of me of the passage of time, or the lack of recognizing it, is my “pneumonia afghan” (Actually the pattern is Stitch Sampler by Jean Holzman from the book Afghans For All Seasons by Leisure Arts and Oxmoor House). It is so named by me due to the illness I had when finally finishing it (I was sick enough with walking pneumonia that the doctor only gave me 2 options: two weeks of bed rest with heavy antibiotics, or hospitalization….since I lacked health insurance I opted for the former) . To pass the time I completed this afghan with scraps I had, I have since worked this pattern many times as well, almost always with scraps. This afghan is still in my home, after, again nearly twenty years. The only reason I can date it is due to my illness, the stitch work itself is still as recognizable and noteworthy as when I first made it.
Okay, so maybe crochet is not timeless, but in my hands I do not see the time, I can only date it from the context it is worked in. So, if a piece of hand work can still be honored in your home for a quarter of a century (heck, I know people that treasure handiwork from their grandmothers, and it looks appropriate in their home as well), then maybe it is a timeless treasure. Some may only think of crochet, from the 1970’s and think that it is only representative of stiff yarns and granny squares, but if you really look around you see that it does not really have a date, not in most cases.