Friday, March 4, 2011

KFI: Crochet Mesh Scarf

Crochet mesh scarf I actually made this scarf back in January, but since I wasn't blogging at that time it's all brand new now!

According to my Ravelry notes it took me about two days to crochet. I find that very surprising because scarves should take longer than that, but I suppose it makes sense when you keep in mind I used a big hook and an open stitch.

I suppose if you tack on the swatching time it was a bit longer than two days.

Let's get right to business, shall we?

Crochet Mesh Scarf

Materials: Euro Yarns Thick 'n' Quick Merino (100% merino, 176 yards)
Hook: 10 mm (N/P) (or size necessary to obtain gauge)
Gauge: 5 sc and five ch-4 spaces equals 6"
Size: 6" wide by 75" long

Note: US crochet terms used throughout.Mesh Scarf open

Abbreviations: ch=chain. sc=single crochet

Chain 22

Single crochet in second chain from hook and in each chain across (20 sc)

Set up row: Turn, *Chain 4, skip next 4 sc, Sc in next (5th) sc, rep from * across, ending with sc in last sc (5 sc and 5 ch-4 loops)

Pattern stitch: Turn, *ch 4, sc in ch-4 loop, rep from * across (5 sc and 5 ch-4 loops)

Repeat pattern stitch row until almost out of yarn.

Last row: Sc in each chain and sc across. (20 sc)
Fasten off last st and weave in ends.

Background Blather
I know you are just burning to know how I came up with this pattern. I shall keep you in suspense no longer.

Thick 'n' Quick Merino is a textured yarn. It is a loosely spun thick and thin merino base wrapped with a tightly spun merino binder. This makes it all soft all the time. It is also a chunky yarn with a suggested knit gauge of 2.5 to 3 sts per inch.

When I first saw it I felt it wanted to be a big loopy scarf that would show off its texture.
TQ mesh
I started with knitting. I worked a swatch of diagonal openstitch (May 8 in Perpetual Calendar) on US 15 needles. The knit swatch is in the left in this picture.

I kept messing up the first two rows, or my stitch count was off, or something that I don't quite remember aside from the fact that it was a rough start.

Once I got it going I worked one pattern repeat and decided I didn't like it. The false start biased me against it, of course, but the stitch in general took more concentration than I wanted to give. Also, it wasn't as open as I had envisioned.

Then I fished out the N crochet hook and worked what is essentially the market bag stitch. First I worked it with ch-5 loops, but deciding that was too open I switched to ch-4 loops. The crochet swatch is on the right, with the bottom half in the ch-5 version.

I guess it was a little Goldilocks and the Three Bears, because that final incarnation was just right.

I was pleasantly surprised by how long the scarf ended up. It is long enough to wrap once and still hang down to my waist. It is also long enough to do that thing where you fold it in half and tuck the tails through the loop.

All in all, I'm very pleased with the final result and hope you enjoy it, too.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Temptation Is Everywhere

Sirdar Crofter DK This knit and crochet hiatus is really starting to wear on me. As I'm sure you can imagine.

Even the slightest hint that my elbow might be feeling better makes me want to grab one of my WIPs and go to town. But I know I must stay strong. Still, I don't know if I can last the week.

What am I going to do Friday at the library knitting group?

I was hoping I'd feel better by then but now I'm not so sure. I'll have to find something else to do with my hands so I don't yank projects away from other people and start working on them. I don't think that would go over very well.

Staying strong is especially hard when we sit down to watch TV. It's so automatic for me to pick something up and start stitching that I have to remind myself not to get up and get a project.

It's a really good thing I tucked everything away at the beginning of the week.

Or Did I?
That picture at the top of the post is of a stripe of Sirdar Crofter DK in a Green Striped version of my Schleppy Sweater pattern. It's a blend of 60% Acrylic, 25% Cotton, 15% Wool so it has a nice tweedy feel and the faux Fair Isle patterning is just adorable.

I bring it up because I was staring longingly at the in-progress sweater today. Turns out it wasn't tucked away so well. It's in a clear plastic project bag on the bookshelves in the living room—right next to where I've been sitting on the couch.

It would have been so easy to reach over...take it down...and start knitting the easy.

Spring Yarn
Another temptation is that with the changing of the season comes the changing of the yarn.

This is the time of year that yarn stores start changing out the bulky wools for cottons, silks, and other lighter blends. When I was working at Knitting Central and then Westport Yarns this was the time of year that any yarn diet would get blown. Over the months I'd build an immunity to the yarns we had in the store, but once the new stuff started rolling in I'd usually snap and have to buy something.

I suffered a virtual version of that today. I noticed a critical mass of yarn entries labeled "new" on the Knitting Fever Inc. website, so I tore through and made sure they are all entered into Ravelry.

As I looked through online colors and read the content I kept saying to myself, "Oh, I'd love to get my hands on that," or "Man, I hope they send me a sample of that."

Top temptations included
Lanthe by Louisa Harding. A 50/50 merino cotton blend that works up at 5.5 sts to the inch and comes in 16 awesome colors. I do love me some DK cotton/wool yarn.

Sublime Baby Cash Merino Silk 4ply is a fingering weight yarn in 11 pastel colors. It is a blend of 75% Extrafine Merino, 20% Silk, 5% Cashmere. Doesn't that sound delicious?

Sweet Pea is a 100% organic cotton yarn from Queensland Collection. It is a bulky weight that comes in 10 colors and has an interesting ripply texture in the pictures. And, hello!, Sweet Pea is the birth month flower for April so I should totally have some of that yarn.

Oh, and don't get me started on the four new Noro yarns. I am a total Noro addict after using so
ASJ done back much of it in my Adult Surprise Jacket, my Coquille Shawl, and my Kureyon Hat.

Really, I could go on and on as I daydream about one day going to the mail room and finding a massive box full of yarn waiting for me. Yes, getting it down the hill would be a good problem to have.

Only my daydreams came to an abrupt end as I remembered that I can't knit or crochet at the moment, so if they do send me samples to post about I hope it's not for another week or two!

Still, injury aside, I have the best job.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hooray, Crochet!

pineapple doily Today begins National Crochet Month.


Since I cannot crochet at the moment with this bum elbow, let's just talk about it instead.

I first learned about National Crochet Month in 2008. I was inspired enough to design a Crocheted Guinness Dog Toy in its honor.

Samson destroyed it by pulling out all the stuffing a few days after I made it, but they still have the fabric. I suppose that makes it an empty Guinness can dog toy?


A Crocheter is Born
As I've mentioned in the past, I was so young when I learned to crochet that I don't remember that first lesson.

I do remember learning the double crochet stitch.

It was in the summer. We were visiting my aunt and her family in upstate New York. Grandma was sitting in a lawn chair crocheting. My younger cousin and I were sitting on the grass next to her "crocheting." We must have been making squares of fabric using just slip stitches because I remember Grandma saying that whatever we make would be nice and warm, but it would take us forever to make.

And she taught us the double crochet stitch.

Now this next bit is going to sound crazy, but you must keep in mind this was in the 1980s before the internet was widely available...for years after that summer the double crochet stitch was the only one I used.

You are probably asking yourself how I managed. Looking back I wonder that, too.guinness

But then I was a kid. I owned one H hook. And I mainly made afghans and maybe a few scarves from the super inexpensive acrylic yarn you could get at craft and department stores.

I couldn't even tell you if any of those childhood projects still exist, but I suspect there weren't many of them. I don't think I was as prolific back then as I am now.

But I was happy in my double crochet world.

Everything Changes
I also remember the project that inspired me to learn more stitches and techniques.

My younger cousin had a magazine with a pattern for a stuffed cow in it. (Actually, it has horns and no udder, so I guess technically it's a bull.)

I coveted that cow something fierce. In fact, I still have him. Tucked away somewhere safe where Samson can't eat him.

In order to make that cow I had to learn how to work a single crochet stitch and how to work in the round.

Thank goodness for library books, because my Grandma was dead by then!

Strangely, I can't remember when I originally got my hands on the pattern, but I know I didn't finish him until I was in college. I had him with my on my Junior Year Abroad. I might have finished him while I was in England. At least he didn't have a name because it was then that he was dubbed Junior.

In any event Junior, and the books I had to track down to make him, opened up the possibilities for me. I learned lots of new stitches. I started designing my own stuffed animals.

Seek Inspiration
JuniorAs you can see by the doily at the beginning of the post, my crochet skills have advanced from those days of just being able to chain, slip stitch, and double crochet.

However, even though I've been doing this almost all my life, I know there is still a lot about crochet left for me to learn.

These crafts help us grow, develop, expand our minds, and challenge ourselves.

My point is, don't expect to know it all and be an expert overnight. If you are just learning, expect to be frustrated, but keep your eye on the goal. Crocheting is a specialized skill and skills take time to be acquired. (Oh, this is where I should say something trite about hand crafts helping us slow down in our busy, digital world.) After all, you didn't learn to ride a bike, drive a car, or cook a decent meal on your first attempt, did you?

And if your craft is stagnating, look for a new inspiration. Maybe you need a new project that will offer a challenge and inspire you to take your skills to the next level. Or maybe some squishy new yarn in a fiber you haven't used before will wake you up.

Go forth and seek your stuffed cow!