Posted in crochet, yarn

Crochet: the county-line dancing craft

One step forward, one step back.  Two steps forward, two steps back and then a big step to the left.

In many ways that’s crochet in a nutshell, you crochet up a row of chains just to realize a row or two later you somehow don’t have enough/have too many so you have to rip back (or if you’re lazy like me, add or subtract stitches through inc/dec).  And as it turns out the pretty alpaca I post about last time is basically crochet on hard mode.  It’s not proud mode because I’m not working with glorified dental floss, but it was definitely a headache at the beginning.  All those pretty, cushy chain plys that make up the yarn work up to a very confusing looking snarl.

What am I even looking at?!

That aside the colors are lovely together and it does work up to a very elastic fabric that has a nice textured look.  This is the finished headband using the Peace Leaf Headband pattern from Tawana’s Cute Crochet blog using HiKoo Yarn’s SimpliCria in red and sky.


I think it turned out lovely.  Do you know what it wasn’t?  The right size.  Because of the elasticity of the yarn and the fact that I was worried about making it too small I ended up making it too large!  Sure it’ll fit, but it’ll be loose and probably kind of annoying or uncomfortable.  So in the end, as I have so many time before, I find myself back at this stage.


I’m kind of grateful that I was able to frog the entire project though, on my foundation row it was looking like the stitches didn’t want to come apart and while I wouldn’t have lost much yarn, it’s really not a cheap yarn at $10/95 yrds per skein.  On the plus side once I figured out how to do the Spike Cluster Stitch it went very smoothly and was pretty darn fun, I really like the result too so I’ll keep it in mind for future embellishment, like maybe around a sock cuff or something.

I was also digging through my yarn yesterday and found this!


Looks like the perfect color to continue my tetris blanket.  Yeah, you thought I’d just stopped making that, didn’t you?  Well I haven’t.  I periodically add new squares to it using the yarns I’ve got hanging around, though I’m hoping I end up with enough to actually finish the blanket soon.  >.> I still need to find cyan yarn.

I’m also hoping to start that amigurumi a week project as well, or at least a crochet project a week.  We’ll see.

Posted in babbling, crochet, LYS, review, spinning, yarn

Brushes off the dust

Ok, I’m back!  I request a pass for missing out on posting pretty much anything last month, it was insanity.  If you’d like full details please see sqpegroundhole because I’m not going to whine about it here too.  Here is a place for happy things like the new friend I’ve made!

As a library worker you get to know hypothetical people through their holds and when people get a lot you get a decent idea of what the person is like.  I’d noticed a particular library patron getting a lot of yarn related materials and one day I lucked out in that our self check-out machine wasn’t working and she came up with a stack of books on spinning yarn.  I had to ask her about it and then we got into a lively discussion about spinning and she mentioned that she had a drop spindle, but was focusing on her wheel at the moment.  Then she suggested we meet up to spin together sometime!

So Tuesday night we met up to hang out at Felicitous, a delightful coffee shop near both of us that I highly recommend (it’s a bit pricey, but super cute, quirky and hilariously hipster).  She not only brought along her drop spindles, but her wheel as well!


It was beautiful and adorable, an Ashford Kiwi that qualifies as “inexpensive” which means it’s less than $400 dollars.  Ugh.   -_- Definitely not getting a spinning wheel anytime soon, I can tell you that.  What I will say is that those who spin tend to really love the Ashford wheels so if you’re going to get into spinning seriously an Ashford seems like a great investment.  In my, at the time, nonexistent experience it was pretty easy to work with.

I brought along some generic brown wool of indeterminate origin, but a nice staple length to practice on and she showed me what to do.  Over the course of a couple hours I spun my first single ply “yarn” on a wheel!  I’ve made “yarn” on my drop spindle and I have to admit this didn’t look too different, but it was lots of fun!  Then she let me use some old yarn she’d made as practice that was still hanging around on a bobbin to try plying on my drop spindle!


I’m ridiculously proud of the result because even though I know it’s not very good yarn, I still made it!  It’s not much and I have no idea what I’m going to do with it, but I’m going to figure out something and I’ll post the result here.

I also picked up some beautiful baby alpaca last Friday from Criativity, a yarn store in Largo.  It’s luscious and springy and now I finally know what chain plying is because I’ve been seeing a bunch of yarn lately that looks like it’s a length of single crochet very tiny and that is chain plying, a yarn spinning technique. I’m going to work up two headbands (I hope I have enough, it was $10 a skein and the skeins are only 95 yards, ngh) for my sister and me.  She’ll be getting a teal headband with red accents, I’ll be getting a red headband with teal accents!


Aren’t the colors pretty?  I don’t even think the picture comes close to showing the loveliness.

The store was huge and lovely and sometime I’m going to go around to a bunch of yarn stores with structured rating criteria and I’m going to do a series of reviews of the stores in the larger Tampa Bay area, and yes this will include Sarasota and the St. Pete area because goodness knows there aren’t really any yarn stores in the Tampa area proper.

So despite some serious suck last month and continuing on, things aren’t all bad.  Also Felicitous makes a killer Chai Latte that I’ll definitely be having again.

Posted in amigurumi, crochet, yarn

SSDD

Ok, so this is going to look like a copy from another post I’ve made previously because of how much frogging I’ve had to do lately.  The two projects I’ve been carrying around are the Prepster Jacket and my Diana Shawl.  I just switch off working between them and have made some nice, measurable progress.

IMG_1101 IMG_1102

Apologies for bad picture quality and framing, I took these on the fly at a cafe when I had access to wifi.

I think I’m going to have to set them aside one of these evenings though because while I do like that I just get to work on them and I can watch a movie or talk while working on them, I’d like some instant gratification and nothing gives instant gratification like amis!  Besides I have that back log I have to work through and I haven’t even really started it and the year’s pretty much half over.  If I actually want to finish my UFOs, make a few Christmas presents, finish my Amigurumi line, AND open an etsy shop that actually has things to sell I’m really going to need to kick it into high gear!

I think I’m going to set a goal of an amigurumi a week unless I’m working from scratch designing something and then I’ll give myself a bit more leeway.  I still really want to do the Mendell Palace dolls and fully intend to along with making some variations on the MLP:FiM design I’m working on.  I’d really like to at least make up a pattern for boy ponies.

I do have some bad news to report.  The Upcycle Trading Company I like so much might not be around for much longer, the original owner is moving to New York and I’m not entirely sure about it’s future.  It’s found a more or less permanent home in the Ybor Daily Market which seems to be primarily a coffee shop, but also seems to be a pop-up shop location for various local vendors and craftspeople.  There are still things available to buy and I did luck out on my last visit when I managed to snag this really nice roving.  I’m not sure how many ounces it is, what the fiber content is, or who made it, but I can tell you that I’ve decided on a colorway name: Cotton Candy because it absolutely looks like cotton candy.

Next time I’m in I’ll ask what the fate of Upcycle is and if they’re planning on keeping it open I might start volunteering some time to straighten things out, they were kind of a horrible jumbled mess last I was there.  Oh, they do have a cool program which is you can fill a particular sized bag and pay a flat rate for it: small is $5, medium is $15, and large is $25 and trust me the bags get pretty big and if you’re good with packing you could fit a LOT in there.

Well, until I actually have the amigurumi schedule underway my only real progress has been the aforementioned reworks, though keep your eyes open because I might have the first episode of Rome Improvement up soon featuring me absolutely failing at spinning yarn with a drop spindle!

Posted in amigurumi, crochet, design

Shaping Shenanigans

Shaping sucks.

Not so much the action of shaping during crochet that, provided you have good, clear instructions can be quite pleasant because you see what you’re making start to emerge and that’s cool.  No, it’s figuring out the shaping of a new project that’s a royal pain in the patootie.  It all started with this unbearably awesome chain chomp cat bed on Pinterest.  I don’t have the building chops to make anything half so amazing, but it did make me want to crochet a chain chomp.

So I start looking into patterns.  Nothing feels quite right, some looked good to me but they all seemed to have their mouths closed and I really wanted one with the mouth open.  So I decided to tool around and try to figure out a pattern for myself (not a bad idea per se, but time consuming and potentially very frustrating).  I will fully admit that I looked up crochet Pacman patterns to get an idea of how to start the shaping, because I was originally at a complete loss.  I have two approaches I’m going to be trying and I started with the first last night.

The first effort was….well it went so poorly that I ripped it back out immediately and didn’t even bother with a pic of it.  My second effort was slightly better in that it was moving in the rightish direction.  Still came out looking like the chain chomp had an under-bite that would make King Charles II of Spain jealous.  Unfortunately I had fastened him off and hidden his ends so much that digging it all out again seemed like way too much effort.  So I moved on and now it’s a cat toy.

  
In this case the third time wasn’t a charm exactly, but it did look a whole hell of a lot better.  Still looks really awkward, partially because it’s not stuffed and hollow, more because it’s not quite a circle, it’s this really wonky shape that I’m not really sure what to do with.  Hmmm, well I did the thing where I wove in the ends here too, so I’m still not sure if I’m going to rescue the yarn, depends how I’m feeling tonight.

  
I also had to rip back the ENTIRE shawl I’d been doing because I realized that when I “fixed” a problem with the design I was setting myself up to make blocking it out to be an actual triangle difficult if not impossible.  So I’m back to triangle one on that project, but it does work up nicely.

  

Well, those are most of the projects I’ve been working on. When new and interesting things come up I’ll post more.