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 I originally made a skirt for myself, but the skeins have such great yardage that I still have enough yarn to create more.


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.

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.

New Approaches to Broomstick Lace- The Bombay Vest with Elongated Loops

ScannedImageIn case you haven’t noticed I enjoy playing with stitch techniques and my latest design is no different.

With the Bombay Vest, in The April 2015 of Crochet World, I was playing with broomstick lace. This classic crochet technique is one that I find has a great untapped potential. It creates such a iconic “peacock eye” appearance, but what if you use those loops a little differently?Crochet World_April2015_Cover

For someone new to the concept of broomstick lace, it is a process in which you pull loops through a crochet base and over a large knitting needle (or as in times past a broomstick, hence the name; although it can also go by Jiffy Lace due to a long ago popular pattern). Once all these loops are placed on a needle, they are then grouped, usually in sets of 4-5 loops and single crochets are worked into the set of loops. The single crochet is most traditional, but any stitch can be used to solidify these loops into a group.

One of the ways I decided to play with this stitch was to simply twist the loops before filling it with stitches. This gives a very different positive/negative space appearance, almost more silhouetted, making you recognize the space between the set of stitches then the loops of “eye” created in the center.

Bombay Vest

Bombay Vest- April 2015 issue Crochet World Photo courtesy of Annie’s

Then I took this one step further, by attempting to create 2 different heights of lace using the same knitting needle. One of the limitations with broomstick lace, in my opinion, is that the height of the row is limited by the size of the knitting needle (or broomstick) you are using. Yes, this tool gives you even and consistent loops, but often they are smaller then I might like, I want something really open, really tall. So I found that I could accomplish this by using every other loop of a set, and pulling the unused loops back into the ones that I have selected. As a result I have a loop set that is twice as tall as the needle created. (To get a better visual of this effect, please watch my video here). My only note of caution is to make sure that if you are going to pull up loops that you make sure that you do not drop the last loop from the needle, make sure that this is a loop that you elongate the length on, as it is part of the last stitch of the row below, and you do not want this to unravel.

When playing with these techniques I ended up creating a swatch, almost by accident, and thought it offered a great, almost retro feel, and immediately thought of a vest to wear. Then to find the proper yarn, I was looking for something that was not to springy and offered great drape, so Paton’s Bamboo Silk worked as an easy fit. This is a fun work project to work up, but I have to say I really enjoy the approach to the technique. So I hope that you consider giving it a try and see what broomstick lace can have the potential of being.

The Tentacle Stitch and the Sideways Skirt


Crochet! Magazine Summer 2013- photo thanks of Annie’s

ScannedImageAmazing how time can come and go so fast. It seems like only last month that I was writing up my article on the Tentacle stitch that is featured in the current issue of Crochet! Magazine.


I know the name might sound funny, but to me it was reminiscent of an octopus arm reaching out to the rows not yet created. Some might

Tentacle Stitch Spa Cloths

Tentacle Stitch Spa Cloths, photo courtesy of Annie’s


wonder how I ever can up with this idea, well ideas come in the most unusual ways. This one came to me while looking at the color patterns on cow hides ( okay, I am a country girl), nature very rarely has color in straight lines, they often curve and bend, and I was envisioning ways that I could create these bends, and thus the tentacle stitch was created, you never know what you find when you play. By working the color over rows already created, like in Mosaic crochet styles I didn’t like the thickness, and working in same rows color change like intarsia or tapestry crochet I didn’t feel free enough to play since I had to plan the stitches by grid, so by free-forming I came up with this technique (and had some fun with it too).

Sideways Skirt_2

Sideways Skirt, photo courtesy of Annie’s


In this issue I also have a Sideways Skirt. This skirt looks straight forward, until you realized that is worked entirely on the diagonal. The reason for this….I really liked the way it fit. When looking at construction I have began to wonder why are all the seams for everything in the same places? Crochet lends itself well to designs that do not need to be seamed or at least only minimally. I felt that placing seams on the sides of this skirt would cause it not to drape as softly over the hip (nothing like an addition of a seam allowance to cause a pucker that makes my hips look bigger then they are), I like a nice smooth feel when I where a skirt, it feels womanly to me. So I designed this skirt completely on the diagonal so that the one seam runs across the body and blends in better. Also the shaping is done by changing hook sizes ( I know it can seem a little tedious to change hook sizes in a row, but it allows for a smaller waist and a flared hem, with very little effort).

Anyway, there are some thoughts on the latest designs I have out in the world, and I hope you are inspired to play a little too.

Find Creativity! Play!

ScannedImageIt is funny, how you don’t necessarily get inspiration from your own work. You may get ideas that you build into something else, but things that make you see the world differently, at least for me, comes from the work of others.


A dress I created for my daughter. I won all the yarn in a raffle drawing.

The other day I was with a friend, and they told me that they never have been creative; they only followed the pattern before them. This got me thinking, because I believe everyone has creativity, they may not express it the same but it is in each of us. I think creativity is born from permission to play. I express some of my creativity through fibers, colors, and texture. I only come to envision new possibilities when I challenge myself to see what a particular yarn might do. I enjoy the challenge, which is where my creativity is born.

Sometimes I win yarn in a raffle from my local guild, and I make it a personal challenge to see what I can create with it (especially since I don’t need to add to my stash). I often find that these projects take me out of my comfort zone; the yarn is something I’ve never worked with before, the color leaves something to be desired, or the texture feels like an old rug. But they do offer a challenge, and sometime I have managed to create something fun, something practical, or something that will never see the light of day (I never said all my challenges were a success). But this is my play in process, I enjoy it.

Another factor for successful creativity is self confidence. I don’t mean the confidence level that causes you to take over that world or anything, I mean the level of confidence to know that you understand that concepts of the skill you are using, enough to “break” the rules. Like cooking, you started with a recipe and followed it, but then as you were cooking more, you made alterations, gave it you own flair. This is a confidence in knowing that whatever might happen, everything is going to be okay. You know basic food safety, you don’t break that rule, but you experiment with different spices, and flavor combinations, to come up with something unique. The same is true in other outlets of life, for me it is in crochet. Funny what a little bit of confidence and permission to play can create.