Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Going around in circles

Remember a while ago I showed you this picture?
Well now is the time for the "big" reveal (it's probably not that exciting, heh!).

As you know, I have been teaching crochet.  I thought it only appropriate that I should wear something I made to each of the classes (there are 3 separate sessions).  I was good for the first and second sessions (boteh scarf to the first, and my super special birthday skirt to the second). But I needed a third, and I remembered this fabulous Japanese book I bought ages ago with thread crochet accessories. 
And so for lesson three, this was my crochet piece:
And the students loved it!  I showed a couple of them how to make it, and got all inspired by the shop's stock of Perle 8 cotton and picked out my new jewels!

So these three were born:
If you look closely, you'll see they are each slightly different.  The silver grey is the same as the red - so in accordance with the pattern.
The pewter grey alternates small and large circles:
While the sunshine yellow has a longer chain between the circles:
Details (just quickly!)
Pattern:  "p.86 Necklace" (no idea what the Japanese is, this is what it is called in Rav!), from the book which Rav tells me is called Thread Crochet Plants, by knot.  (ISBN978-4-07-257058-6) Modifications to some as noted above.
Yarn:  Red used size 20 crochet thread, the rest use Perle 8 mercerized cotton - about 3-4g of each colour. The pattern in the book I think uses size 60 thread (so much finer) but I think it works nicely in a slightly thicker cotton as well.
Hook: For the red, I used 1.25mm, for the rest I used a 1.5mm hook.
Time: A few hours for each.
This is a great demonstration of the versatility of crochet, I think. I love being able to take a pattern like this and give it a few tweaks.  And this book is so full of inspiration, there are a few more pieces I wanted to try out as well.  I still have the blue and orange/red "jewels" to play with, so expect to see more!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Crochet rocks!

Every so often in the knitting world, I come across a bit of crochet hate. Hate might be too strong, perhaps distaste might be more appropriate.  It's a bit of a shame, really, because crochet is not evil.  It has suffered due to grievous misuse in the late 60s and 70s (but then, so did knitting in the 80s, I think!). I totally accept that some knitters are not interested in crochet (and vice versa) but I've always thought they are complementary skills. And there are certainly a lot more lovely crochet patterns (eg garments that are not stiff and bulky!) around now.

In the interests of spreading the crochet love (and because I was asked!), I have started teaching crochet for beginners at one of Sydney's lovely yarn (and fabric) stores, Calico & Ivy, in Balmain.  I did my first series in February/March, and I am teaching again in May/June, as well as doing a crochet clinic for specific issues.

I worked up some samples for the shop, which I also use as the basis for the classes too, all in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, which of course the shop stocks, in a really nice range of colours.

First up, I made some granny square blocks - all with the same basic granny pattern but showing different uses of colours (shame about the terrible photo! sorry).
Then I made a cushion in the popular African Flower hexagon pattern.  This is a really versatile hex - the way I've done it shows the flowers clearly against the green (grass!) background, while if you change colours for each row it can give a different look.  There is a great flickr group dedicated to the African Flower, it is full of inspiration.
One of the loveliest things after my first series of classes finished was getting an email from one of the attendees saying she was so inspired she spent the rest of the weekend crocheting!  The best feedback you can get!

If you are in the area and looking to learn to crochet (or you can crochet and have a specific issue you need help with), give the shop a call! I am doing a weekday and weekend series of classes, both starting in mid-May.

And don't forget, Crochet Rocks!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's show time!

Every year around Easter, knitters in Sydney (and elsewhere) tend to be a-twitter about the knitting competition at the Royal Easter Show.  What has been entered, what are the classes, what has changed since last year, who are the judges, what are the judging criteria, how are the entries displayed, and of course, who has won!  Every year, for the last few years at least, I have thought about entering, but haven't, for various reasons.  But I really must!  I think I will double dog dare myself to do so next year.  Not that I think I will win, but because I think it is a good way to show people the beauty of a handknit garment, that handknit garments can be modern (and even *gasp* fashionable!) and with any luck, help to encourage others to either take up knitting or enter as well, just as some of the wonderful knitting this year has encouraged me to actually enter!
But putting all that aside, some of us have had another reason to be excited.  This year, the RAS (organisers of the show) asked the Knitters Guild of NSW to be a part of the "Feature Display", along with the Handspinners and Weavers, Machine Knitters and Felters.  And my lovely friend DrK took on the task of co-ordinating the display, assisted mainly by MissFee, as well as a few others from our Inner City guild group (ok, including me!). 
I volunteered to (wo)man the stand on Sunday, and as one of the main perks of volunteering was free entry to the show (for me), husby and Connor came too, just for the morning.  We had an early start, and headed straight for the baby animals - a massive shed with baby farm animals, many roaming free for maximum patting opportunities by the visiting children (not to mention adults!).  Mostly lambs and kids, and a few calves and chickens.  The shed also has piglets, deer, puppies, chicks (including some hatching) and ducklings, amongst others.  Lots of fun for Connor, who persisted in standing behind the lambs and kids and patting them (gently, thank goodness) on the butt.  Even when I moved him to stand beside them!  Oh well, there were no kicks, thankfully!
The rest of the day was spent at the Guild stand, knitting, chatting to passers-by, chatting to my knitter buddies on the stand and escaping away every so often to check out other bits of the Show.  Not to mention eating various "foods" on sticks - cheese on a stick, hotdog on a stick, and banana dipped in chocolate on a stick!  Lucky the Show is only once a year!!
mmmm dagwood dog and plenty of sauce!
I didn't take many pictures of the knitting competition (others have done so already) but I will say that the items were displayed beautifully this year - nothing hooked up on fishing line this year, hurrah.  And there was a lot of beautiful knitting.  Some not to my taste, but you can't deny the quality of the entries.
amazing irish crochet lace coat (not on guild stall!)
I have liberally added photos of the Guild stand however!  Not least because it might happen to feature quite a few of my own knitting and crochet items, heh!  But I think it is a good demonstration of the skills of our members and of the versatility of knitting and crochet - we all know this already, but we also know that knitting tends to suffer from the perceptions of non-knitters.  It wast most gratifying as a knitter and guild member to hear people express an interest in joining the guild or learning to knit, or to take up the sticks again.
Al's brush turkey!  And a cauliflower!
Many many thanks to DrK for taking on the job of organising everything (I know just how much work that is) and to MissFee for all the design work that went into the stand and the associated paraphernalia.  I am really proud of the way the stand represents knitting, both historically and now, and how it represents the Guild.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Red stripes go faster!

Ever since I saw this MillaMia pattern I've wanted to make it for Connor.  So I was most pleased to get it as a freebie in a magazine at last year's craft fair (not that I'd mind buying the book, they are lovely patterns!)
I've been working on it trying to get it done in time so it could go in the Knitters' Guild display at the Royal Easter Show this year.  Success!  I got it done in plenty of time!

Pattern: Niklas cardigan by MillaMia, from the book Bright Young Things. Nice pattern, easy to follow, all made in pieces - which I didn't mind - smaller pieces seem to go faster!  (just like red stripes!).  I made the 2-3 yo size.
Yarn:  Even though the MillaMia yarn is lovely, I substituted Morris Paddington, an 80/20 bamboo/merino blend.  Mostly because I had a voucher for Morris & Sons and these colours were perfect!  I used about 1.5 skeins of each of the 3 colours - 634 Lipstick (red), 625 Pearl (silver grey) and 636 Magnetic Grey (charcoal).  I did think about converting the pattern to do seamlessly, but I thought the seams might provide some extra infrastructure to combat bamboo's tendency to sag.  Fingers crossed!
Sticks:  3mm and 3.25mm KnitPicks Options.

Time:  6 February 2012 - 29 March 2012

Modifications:  I made the body of the cardigan longer - everyone always says you need extra length in knits for babies and toddlers.  And I'm hoping it will fit him for longer than one season.  The extra length (about 5cm/2") meant I had to add an extra buttonhole, which fortunately worked out to be just at the point where the decreases start for the v-neck of the cardigan.  Nice one!
Of course, as soon as I finished the cardi, we got a wave of warm weather (summer is finally here!  in autumn!), so I don't have any modelled shots, but I will post some eventually!  I was going to show you a photo of my excellent seaming (it really is so much easier when you can match the stripes!) but the photo I took does not show said excellent seaming...um, the seaming is not quite as even as I thought it was, heh!
And so this year Connor has one new cardi and I have none.  Even though I planned on making myself at least 4 cardis this year!  Heh!  I'd better get a move on, since I haven't even started the first cardi for myself and it's already 1/4 of the way through the year!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Stash Honesty - March 2012

Woopsie...has it really been almost a month since I posted?  And my last post was my stash honesty for last month...oh dear!  I promise I will be a better blogger this month! 

But I do have good news - I have been a very good girl this month (sort of...an overseas order hasn't arrived yet, heh heh!).  I only bought 1 skein of yarn - which I needed for a project and so have used half of it (that's all I needed for the project!) plus these little jewels:
I have something in mind for these - I will show you when they are done!

And I gave 6 balls of yarn to my mum, and destashed some laceweight - just by accident - someone contacted me on Rav and asked if she could buy it and I said sure!  Since I'm not going to be knitting much lace in my immediate future...

In:  2 x 50g balls
Out:  6.75 x 50g balls used plus 8 x 50g balls destashed.
Metres used: 897.5m (a short month!) (YTD: 3069.5m)
Stash neutral: OH YES I AM - STASH NEGATIVE!  -5.25 x 50g balls!

(um...I suspect it won't last for long!)
I will post again soon, I promise!  In the meantime, someone has been having fun playing with my knitting! (Yes, those are my Fox Faces socks he is wearing!)