Monday, 9 June 2008

A summer scarf - is it possible?

I must warn you (or rather myself) that these posts have not been written in the order I made the items. It doesn't really matter I guess.

Something else I must explain is that I will be using mainly English Crochet when writing (rather than American Crochet), but I will be using certain terms which means I might be creating my own international language. For example I will be using yo (yarn over) instead of yrh (yarn round hook) as it makes more sense to me as I read.

Last week I was in
Edinburgh visiting the newest additions to the family: two beautiful, identical, healthy girls that take my niece quota to 3. I have crocheted matching-but-not-matching blankets for these two; that post is to follow soon.

So whilst spending a relaxing few days at my parents' house I needed a little project to entertain me in the evenings. I decided to make a scarf for a friends' upcoming Birthday. She likes to wear white and apparently, it is summer in the UK at the moment. So this is what I made:

Using Jarol Baby Rambler Aran (a lovely soft 100% Courtelle yarn that is machine washable bought from Woolshopdirect on, very reasonably priced and in great condition) and a 5mm crochet hook I made the chain row roughly 200 long (I couldn't handle counting all the way along and luckily it didn't have to be precise!). After that it is just a matter of chain 3 at the end of each row and treble crochet all the way along. Very easy, very quick and good way to commit the use of a crochet hook to muscle memory. There was just enough in one 100g ball to make 6 rows.

The plain scarf was looking a little, well plain, on its own. I considered a crochet edging, but as this is supposed to be a summer scarf I didn't want there to be too much yarn around my friend's neck. I had a look through my mum's left over yarn stash and discovered 3 short lengths of a lovely pink/purple/lilac dyed wool. There was no label, but I can only assume that this wool is some sort of mohair.

I used the first half of a pattern for some decorative flowers from:
Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet, The Happy Hooker.
Author: Debbie Stoller.
ISBN 10: 0-7611-3985-0.
ISBN 13: 978-0-7611-3985-0.

The author of the pattern is Emily Nelson and it is found on page 133.
It goes like this:

Make a loop (not slip knot) to start.
Round 1: Ch 1, 5 dc in loop and join with a slip stitch to first dc (or single cr
Round 2: Ch 1, dc twice in each dc st and join with sl st to first dc (10 sts).
Round 3: Ch 1,*dc twice in first dc st, 1 dc in next dc stitch. Repeat from * around and join with sl st to first dc (15sts).
Round 4: Ch 1, *dc in first dc, ch 4, skip next 2 dc. Repeat from * around and join with sl st to first dc. This leaves you with 5 loops of 4ch.
Round 5: Ch 1, (dc, htc, tr, 3 dtr, tr, htc, dc) in each ch 4 loop and join with sl st to first dc.

Here you have a basic flower. The flower in the book had a back layer of petals
, but I was limited by the length of the bits of yarn and I like the simplistic look of these flowers.

So I have created a summer scarf. Hopefully it will be well received and well worn throughout the ever changing weather we call summer!

Monday, 2 June 2008

Where it all began - a CD cover

I've never been particularly good at crafts. I used to try a bit of cross stitch on family holidays when I was little, but I never had the patience to finish a project.

In November 2004 my first niece, Sophie, was born and this seemed to re-ignite the knitting bug in my mum and grandmother. I was still not particularly interested.

In the spring of 2006 I was Deputy Stage Manager for a Drama School production of A Tale of Two Cities. The director insisted that all of the female members of the cast learned how to knit, so that they would be able to do it naturally onstage (whilst acting at the same time!). I took this as a good opportunity to learn the art of knitting (the theory being I would be able to support and teach the actors as necessary). Unusually there was a two week break in the rehearsals for this show. I used one of these holiday weeks to intensively learn to knit under the watchful eyes of my mother and grandmother.

I learnt the basics of knitting and mastered the garter stitch quickly, if unevenly (it took me a while to work out why I was losing - dropping - stitches). My grandmother loaned an old knitting book to learn more techniques. When I say old, I mean this book was from about 1914 and had patterns for traditional bonnets, mittens, socks etc. In a future blog I will scan some of these patterns and you can see how it used to be done.

One thing that was mentioned in this book was Double Pointed Needles. This mystified my mum; she remembered them hazily from her school days but couldn't remember how to create tubes of knitting. This marked my first experience of a knitting shop (or yarn store - I'm becoming Americanised, sorry). I got myself a set of 3 1/4mm DPNs and worked it out. Understandably it took a while to master the joining of one round to the next, but once I got the knack it all began to fall into place.

At the end of this first week of knitting my dad asked me to make a cover for a CD case. This cover was to be sweater shaped and bright yellow. This apparently was an in-joke with a pub landlord he had met whilst on a golfing holiday. My gran provided me with the wool and I got cracking. I used the DPNs and started at the 'neck' of the 'sweater', I increased evenly until I had created 'shoulders' like thumb holes in gloves; I left the 'shoulder' stitches, finished the main body of the 'sweater' and then completed the 'sleeves'. I was very proud of the finished product (especially as I made it up as I went along and it fit a CD case at the end!). My dad was suitably impressed with the result and it was posted off (with a CD inside) to a pub somewhere warm - I can't remember where the golfing holiday took place.

Foolishly I didn't make any sort of record of that first knitting creation - no photos, notes or anything. I think I might ask my dad to get back in touch with the landlord and ask for a photo of the knitting project that started an obsession.

So that's how it began, a show at Drama School and a silly joke with a pub landlord. I would now like to consider myself a fully fledged member of the yarn community.