Thursday, January 31, 2013

A little project...

I've picked up a little project.

I love the Willow square. As evidenced by how many I made last year. I wanted to make it into a cushion, so I'm doing a front panel of 9 Willow squares, and then I have to figure out the back. I'm thinking maybe just a plain TR in the light colour (which is actually a very light grey and works better than the white that I was thinking), but now I'm thinking a little ripple in the grey with thin strips of the two different colours between them.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Different coasters & different ways to start a row

I'm on a coaster bender at the moment. (Probably has something to do with the small business I've started - LizzieBee: Handmade

Nice, huh :) 

Kinda my own pattern as well. Started using a pattern from a book, but it had a funny second row, so I kept making new coasters to see how it worked versus a different way to hook the coaster up. They're all made with the Morris & Sons Avalon 100% cotton. The pink & purple ones are using the 4ply and the green was made with a bit of leftover 8ply. 

You can see the different the ply makes to the coaster. The 4ply coasters were worked with a 3.5m hook and the 8ply coaster was worked with a 4mm hook. They are all the same diameter, however the green 8ply coaster has an entire round less. I've also worked a round of dc around the entire coaster to give it a defined edge, something I think that the coasters need. 

One of the other things I wanted to trial out was a different way to start of a new row in the round.  

If you have a look at the above picture, you can see that the two circles look a bit different. There's a pronounced downwards line in the coaster on the left, but the coaster on the right fails to have this.

Traditionally, you start a new row with ch stitches. I worked this coaster in treble crochet, so my new starting row was 3-ch. But I'm not particularly happy with it, since you can visibly see where the new rows start. So, I asked a few of the girls on the Krista group that I'm a member of, and the majority who answered said they started with a dc+ch. Some of them started with a dc+1ch, and some of them started with a dc+2ch. 

You can see with the right coaster that the starting row is more camouflaged than the coaster on the right. I was much happier with the way this looks, so I'm going to continue working a dc+2ch with a new row from now on. I have to do a bit of experimenting to see how it works on a piece with rows, rather than in a round.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013


The best part of being able to create lovely things is creating them for people, specifically friends. 

I hooked up these coasters for one of my best friends as a christmas present, and they were received with joy, which made me so happy.

I decided to make them up in two kinds of yarn, so there was a nice difference in the set, even though they were all purple. The darker eggplant colour is Panda 8ply DK acrylic, and the lighter mauve is from Bendigo Woolleen mills, and is their 8ply luxury wool in 'plum'. I just love the Bendigo yarn.

This year I've decided to only buy good quality yarn ( I have a bad habit of wandering into Spotlight and grabbing some acrylic because it's cheap... ) and I think I might end up buying only yarn from Bendigo. I just love their Luxury wool & their cotton yarn as well and it's such a high quality. And not only that, I've decided to donate a whole heap of yarn off to a project that's always happy to have donated yarn. So today, I sorted out two little boxes of yarn (the Ikea box I keep by the sofa with all my current bits & bobs in, and a bigger woven basket that has older yarn in it) and ended up with an entire square shopping bag of yarn, ready to go! I feel better already :) 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Block #72: Seville

Today's block, from Jan Eaton's 200 Crochet Blocks...

Is block #74: Seville.

This block let me learn a new skill: the lace features you can see that are in a cross shape, are in fact lengths of chain from each round and gathered together with a dc in a higher row. I quite like how it works. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Errors in Patterns

I was working up a new square from "200 Crochet Blocks..." on Monday when I realised it was happening again. The pattern was misleading me.

I'd just finished working up #2: Tiny Textures, and had moved onto #10: Openwork Square. Straight away, there was something different. #10 starts with ch 34. #2? ch 32. That might not be too bad, I can hear you thinking. #10 might begin with a row 1 of TR & #2 might have begun with DC. Except it didn't. Both squares started off with a foundation row of double crochet. Which meant that by the end of it, #2 Tiny Textures had a base row of 31 and #10 Openwork Square had a base row of 33.

In any given world, if you work up these squares with the SAME yarn and the SAME hook, the square that has a base width of 33 stitches is GOING to be bigger than the square with a base width of 31.


The completed square is the one I featured on Monday: #2: Tiny Textures. The beginning-as-yet-unmade-square strip featured is the beginning of #10: Openwork Square. It's only up to row2, which means I've worked the 34 ch, turned, worked dc's along & ended up with 33dc. Then I worked row 1 (the treble lacey row) & row 2, which is where I really ran into the ... trouble.

Row 2 reads thus: 1ch, 1dc into first tr, 2dc into each 1ch sp along row, ending with 2dc into 1ch sp formed by turning ch, turn (33dc).

Which would work, if row 1 hadn't read like this: 4ch (counts as 1tr, 1ch), miss 1dc, tr into next dc *1ch, missing 1dc, 1tr into next dc; rep from * to end, turn.

The little pattern repeats itself along and works itself over 2dc's of the previous row. (1tr, ch1 missing a dc.) Row 2 has you working 3 (THREE) stitches into each of the 2dc space of that foundation row. This means you end up with a count that looks like this:

See how much LONGER the 33dc wide strip became with row 2? It ended up being 44dc wide with those extra dc's added in.

This is WHY, when you work up a new pattern or square, you do a quick trial run first. Does the square work up correctly? Is it the same size as the other one? I've talked about this before, last year when I posted about "blocks that should match, but don't" funnily enough about a few other blocks from 200 Crochet Blocks. It's not that this block is incorrect - in fact it's perfectly fine. It's just that it's size in relation to other blocks is different. If you make it up before hand and notice this sort of size error, it's then relatively easy to adjust the pattern to fit your other squares.

This book is terrific. I can't recommend it enough to people who like to crochet, and especially to learners. But don't open the book and expect to be able to work up every block to the same size. It's not going to happen. The best of intentions can sometime backfire, and even experts like Jan Eaton can sometimes end up with errors in their work.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Block #71: Tiny Textures

How 'bout this: starting off the new year with a new block :)

From Jan Eaton's "200 Crochet Blocks..." Block #2: Tiny Textures.

I kind of feel like I want to work this up again, in a plain cream yarn. I love this yarn. It's the same one I did my other block last week in: the 100% variegated cotton from Morris & Sons. But because it's beautifully variegated, you almost can't see the texture of the block. Almost.

Should be a good dishcloth!!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year Resolutions & a free pattern for a jar cover!

New Year Resolutions. I think it might be fair to say that we all make them. Whether it's the resolution you make when you wake up after a BIG NYE party ("I'm never drinking again!"), or you look inside your fridge at the remnants of the silly season ("Time to shape up!"),  or something like I did last year ("I'm blogging something new Every Day!"), we all state something around this time of the year.

Last year's got me right on my blogging track again, and even though I didn't end up blogging Something New Every Day, I did manage to keep it right into August, which is a pretty good result. I'm happy with that :)

This year it's a little more reasonable. I'm going to have a schedule! Shock! Horror! Expect a blog post every (and I mean EVERY) Monday & Thursday. So this week, we've already seen that! Today is Thursday, here's the post, and we had my 2012 round up on Monday. I want to maintain that schedule all year, and if I want to post something extra, then I will do. Perhaps a weekend project? Or a link-heavy post mid week. I'm also eager to keep working on Eaton's 200 Crochet Blocks.. book, which a few of us over on the Krista Crochet Group on FB have stated intention of doing. Good for us :) 

Personally, I decided to improve my fitness (the best of intentions, and one that is hardly ever kept, but we all mean it in early January), keep trying new recipes, and keeping a money jar.

A money jar? Like a piggy bank, but not something gross and plasticy from some branch of a bank, but simply a jar with a hole in the top, that I can put a dollar a day into, or when I'm feeling wealthier, all my change :) But look at it - it looks so ugly. So, I decided to make it prettier :)
I made a cover for it :) 

It was easy enough, although getting it to curve around the base AND the curve at the top was a little tricker. See how it curves around the base?

Here you can see how it's bell shaped. Just a little, just enough that it bulges slightly around the middle and comes in at the top and the bottom. I also decided to try out the idea of putting a line of white in-between the changing colours, since it seems a little popular and gosh darn it I LIKE it. It does indeed make each colour individually pop. I originally started off with the four colours, and after the line of green thought I could add an extra one, or two. But I ended up unravelling the extra colour and sticking with my original idea, and it worked a treat. 

So, how did I make it? Well, I had to measure out my jar to see how round it was. The way I did that was simply crocheting up a chain row first, and wrapping it around the jar. Then, when I decided to use a tr stitch to work up the colours in (the white rows are a simple dc), I had to figure in the fact that trebles tend to be a bit stretchier when made up that double crochet's. I ended up with a row of 43trs. 

So first of all, get a nice clean jar (I used an old mayo jar I'd used up over xmas). Work up a chain and wrap it around your jar. If you pull it tight around the biggest part of the jar and it just meets, that should work well. Even better if it's just a little too small, because you'll be working your increases in during your third row. My pattern is just a GUIDE because your jar will be a different size from mine, so this is a good exercise in adjusting a pattern to fit as you go. The other thing I must note is that I worked my entire cover from the SAME SIDE. So from left to right (end of the ch being left) for every row. I never turned it. It was an experiment, feel free to turn each side if you like, but I wanted the white dc row to look like it does, and not in reverse. 

Base row: chain 46 (43 + turn of 3ch)
Row 1: Work a tr into the 3rd chain back, and tr into every chain. (I ended up with 43.) Fasten off if you're changing colours.
Row 2: Grab your white yarn and join into the first tr: ch, dc into same space, then dc along your whole row of tr. Fasten off.
Row 3: Time to change colour. Grab your next bright colour, and join into that first dc. ch3 (creates first tr.), 3tr. (time to increase) Work two tr's into the next stitch, 4tr, 2tr into next stitch. (As you can see, I increased at every 5th stitch). Continue until you approach the end of your row. (My last increase finished 3dc before the end of my row.) Fasten off.
Row 4: White yarn, join, ch, 1dc into same space, dc along the row. fasten off.
Row 5: New colour, join, 3ch (first tr) & tr into each dc. fasten off.

Continue this way until, holding your work up to your jar, you can see that the top is approaching where it curves in again. If your jar is more straight up and down, just keep going. If it's more bevelled like mine, I ended up decreasing for two rows. 

I did the top orange row with a decrease every 5th tr, and I didn't decrease in my white rows. To Decrease, you 2trtog (2 tr together, into the same stitch). Start to work a tr, but instead of pulling the yarn through the second time to finish the stitch, leave the two loops on, and start another tr in the next stitch. You end up with four loops on, and then yarn over, pull the loop through all four loops. Work a plain dc row in white next, and then for your final row, I decreased at every 10th stitch. This just helps to bring in the cover at the top of the jar.

I joined my two pieces together on the inside using a slip stitch, and when I approached that top orange row, I slid the cover onto the jar and joined on the outside. I don't recommend you do that - I was an idiot. *laugh* Just join it together, turn it inside out and slip it onto the jar. It might be a bit of a pull & tug, but it should fit :) 


PATTERN (please adapt the size for your jar!):

For a jar that is 26.5cm around it's widest point and 11cm from bottom to just-under-lid,

Foundation Chain: Using yarn A, ch 46
Row 1: 1tr into 3rd ch from hook, 1tr into each ch to end. Fasten off.
Row 2: Join white. 1ch, 1dc into each tr of the previous row. Fasten off.
Row 3: Join Yarn B. 3ch into first dc. 1tr into next 3dc, 2tr into next dc. 1tr into next 4dc, 2tr into next dc. Continue until you reach the end of the row. Fasten off. (inc into every 5th dc)
Row 4: Join white. 1ch, 1dc into each tr of previous row. Fasten off.
Row 5: Join Yarn C. 3ch into first dc. 1tr into each dc of previous row. Fasten off.
Row 6: Join white. 1ch, 1dc into each tr of previous row. Fasten off.
Row 7: Join Yarn D. 3ch into first dc. 1tr into each dc of previous row. Fasten off.
Row 8: Join white. 1ch, 1dc into each tr of previous row. Fasten off.
Row 9: Join Yarn A. 3ch into first dc. 1tr into each dc of previous row. Fasten off.
Row 10: Join white. 1ch, 1dc into each tr of previous row. Fasten off.
Row 11: Join Yarn B. 3ch into first dc. 1tr into each dc of previous row. Fasten off.
Row 12: Join white. 1ch, 1dc into each tr of previous row. Fasten off.
Row 13: Join Yarn C. 3ch into first dc. 1tr into next 3dc, tr2tog (decrease), 1tr into next 4dc, tr2tog. Continue until you reach the end of the row. Fasten off. (Decrease every 5th tr.)
Row 14: Join white. 1ch, 1dc into each tr of previous row. Fasten off.
Row 15: Join Yarn D. 3ch into first dc. 1tr into next 8dc, tr2tog (decrease), 1tr into next 9dc, tr2tog. Continue until you reach the end of the row. Fasten off. (Decrease every 10th tr.)

Join edges together, keeping watch that the rows match up. Slide onto your jar. Put a dollar into the jar every day :)