Monday, 30 August 2010


Last week, I was rummaging through some bags looking for something to use as a core for some more crochet vessels when I came upon my stash of hibernating works in progress. Ahem! These were all nicely hidden out of eyesight, crammed into bags with patterns all patiently waiting to see the light of day. Although it's not really a bad thing to have a few outstanding projects on the go, every time I see these older ones, I do feel that pang of guilt - like I know I should really have persevered and not got sidetracked by something else newer and shinier.......

But, I've realised I've got a bit of a pattern going on with hibernating projects. Any problem knit that has to be ripped out more than 3 times means it goes in a bag to cool off for a while. In my head this means a few weeks till I finish something else and then I'll have regained enough grace to finish the damned thing (see? not a good knitting relationship going on!) In reality, at least for these bags anyway, it's been about a year... oops! So, I've decided to have a bash at getting a few of these finished off this time around.

Two projects seemed interesting enough to get my knitting needles back out - the Wicked Vest and Jaden. More on the vest to come but today, is the turn of Jaden. The pattern is designed by Ruby Lo and can be found free in the spring issue of knitty 2008. Now, since the top picture is probably all I showed you of Jaden last year, you probably won't remember it - all I remember is that the lace pattern kept going haywire on me and I gave up in disgust and, I think, knitted my lovely buttercup tunic instead.

But look! I've been knitting away over the last few days and we have some progress!! The scallop lace on the back is complete and I've shaped the waist so now it's onto the mindless st st for a few inches before shaping for the arm. I must say I was not enjoying this when I first restarted this. I ripped back the few rows I'd done and knitted some gauge swatches as I had no idea whether I was knitting to gauge or even what size I'd decided on a year ago. Then I started again and true to form, the lace pattern messed up LOTS of times - I'd rather not say just how many, just be astounded at my perseverance:))

Once I twigged what I was doing wrong, it did begin to get easier. In my defense, the pattern does presume you know to automatically start the lace pattern one stitch over in every section to account for the decreases for shaping - as I am a literal person when it comes to patterns, I was expecting the pattern to tell me that step ....:) But now I have the hang of it, I made a good bit of progress, yesterday especially.

Yesterday was TV knitting Jaden fest:)) I think I may have watched and knitted for nearly 10 hours on and off - so for those of you who are interested, I ended up watching:

'The mirror Crack'd' with Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis, Kim Novak and Angela Lansbury as Miss Marple. I really enjoyed it! It's nice to have a change from Joan Hickson or the more recent ones with Geraldine McEwan and Julia McKenzie. And although I knew the plot, it was still a very enjoyable 2 hours.

Next up was the recent CSI trilogy that featured Miami, New york and Vegas all linked to the same story - a good 3 hours there - although I was exausted after that and had a bit of a break for my evening meal:) After that, I settled down to watch....

Carry on up the Jungle:)) as it was on and a nice change from too much intense CSI. Always good for a laugh and Frankie Howerd was especially good in this - 'never has his gast been so flabbered:)) And then I caught a few more csi's on the tv as it was CSI sunday. I was totally tv'd out and actually getting a numb bum from sitting down so much, lol! But the Jaden had grown to the waist - yay!

Now the lace is done and I'm not making so many mistakes when I'm tired, the rest of the body should knit up quickly - well, as quickly as 4ply/fingering can at my average speed of knitting. This is when I wish I could speed knit. I think I would probably make more garments if they progressed quicker!

Well, back to Jaden and some boring stocking stitch - I wonder what's on the TV?! .............:)

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Pineapple lace sampler

Well, back as promised with some pineapple crochet for you. Although not as modern looking as the vessels, I wanted to go back to grassroots, so to speak, to get a feel of what crochet is all about and what aspects of it I can take forward into my work, especially stitches, structures, building up a form - drawing freehand with the thread. So I started with some simple pineapple doilies, working from the centre out using clusters and the pineapple stitch.

The pattern used for this sample is Vintage Crochet Pineapple Doily from the archives of Coats and Clark (- sadly this link has disappeared. I will post another if I can find one! If anyone has a new link, I'd love to know, ty) I've done some crochet pattern following a long time ago so it's not totally new to me but I needed to re-familiarise myself with crochet speak:) I began to realise that there is a bit of presumption in these older patterns - they expect you to know a certain amount already and there are small omissions in the pattern that must have been obvious to the designer - but not immediately to me!! So, I waded in, winging it a bit and I learned a lot just from making this little sample.

On the good side, I learned my tension is even and I managed an ok balance between yarn thickness and needle size so it shows up all the details of the lace when blocked, but I also learned that sometimes the pattern is right, even if you don't think it makes sense:))) Hence, this has no edged border as I dumped, as I thought, the unnecessary 3chain loop at the beginning of each new row along the side edges of the pineapple. My logic was good as far as it went - just not far seeing enough to predict what was needed for the next section!! Those extra 3 chains were designed to hold the lovely edging detail, which I now can't add - unless I fancy ripping it all back and starting again  - which I do not! So, lesson learned:)

Still, it's lovely anyway, and although it's not maybe fashionable to like traditional doilies these days, there is something fascinating about their structure - how they morph from one form into another using clever increases and decreases, changes of stitch pattern and the all important use of negative space with those lacy holes -  and there is a certain feeling of technical achievement as your work progresses and the pattern emerges. Very addictive! The real sense of achievement came for me when I was stretching out the lace to block - a real TA DA moment! All of a sudden, the pattern pulls out and you see, for the first time, how the pattern fits together and forms the intricate design that was intended - well, if you have done it right. I may also say, this is the time when you notice any mistakes - blocking lace isn't very forgiving of mistakes! But in this little sample, I was okay  - whew!

So now I have the lace crochet bug big time and I have been crocheting away on ever more complex patterns to see what else I can learn. It is interesting how the lace looks on different coloured backgrounds - the deep pink is a high contrast to the white but the soft pink of the blocking mat gives a much softer, delicate feel. I used some of my undyed sock yarn for this sample and it's a little bit woolly for showing up the crispness of the lacy detail so I've been using crochet cotton for the next few experiments - but more on that tomorrow;))

Happy making! elaine x

Monday, 23 August 2010

Flower vessel

'Ello, ello, ello:)) Yes, I'm back! Whew, no break intended..... just kind of happened. My power supply went on my computer so I had to stop blogging, then once fixed, I didn't have much to post as my mojo upped and disappeared on me - but it's come back this week with a vengence! So I have lots to show you so hopefully I can get back into the habit of regular posting again. I've missed chatting with you all :)

Today's little project - which you may recognise from my new banner - is a further experiment with the crocheted vessel idea. I wanted to try making a bigger unit before joining them together, hopefully giving the piece greater inherent stability as well as less sewing for me:) The unit was meant to be a circle surrounded by other smaller circles but the method I used to form the second row of units ended up looking more like petals so the flower motif was born.

I haven't used any wire or other form of internal strengthening for this one as I wanted to see if the bigger unit alone would achieve this. As it is, this small bowl holds its own - just - but I wouldn't want to make it much bigger without reinforcement. I will try either starch or sugar water on this to see if it gives a nice light hold to the form - well, thats what I'm hoping anyway. The yarn used is a remnant of a stripey sock yarn I had in my stash. I liked the randomness of the colours but I knew it had large stripes which the motif can handle. I wouldn't want it getting too colour crowded though as I like the simple form and the shadows too. (I know, me liking form over colour - what next?!)

I've just started experimenting with wire inside the units now - although crocheting around the form is proving to be a tad awkward with all the unforgiving wire in the way, there is no flow to the making so far. And I don't think I'll be bothering if it's a right pain in the rear to make :) Well, I've a couple of methods to try so we'll see how it goes.

So back to the 3D crocheting and some more traditional crochet for you over the next few days - more pineapples, clusters and shells than you can shake a stick at:))

See you soon! elaine xxx


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