Archive for January, 2011

To Knit or Crochet? That is The Question!

Jan 14

Crochet Samples in Single Crochet

Crochet has always been less popular than Knitting. It’s like the forgotten sibling, the child left behind. Kind of like how Solange is to Beyonce. I began Knitting first as a teenager. I went to the library and took out every “knitting” book I could find in the meager knitting section. No one I knew did such a thing, perhaps it was my ironic wit coming out pre-Hipster era. I tried to get my friend Helen Lee to try a few stitches on the back of the Q27 bus. It’s what I’ve been doing the longest. What got me into the “needle arts” in the first place.

It was by pure chance (let’s call it) that I chose Knitting over Crochet as my entree. I figured I wanted to try “knitting” so that was that. What else is there? I never thought about looking into Crochet really. All I thought was nubbly potholders. It was in the Macrame category for me… Until years later, circa 2004, when my friend Juni Pinks, a mad free-form Crocheter not unlike the Mad Hatter of Crocheters in both fierce style and creativity, did I consider looking into Crochet. Once I did, I found that I loved it even more than Knitting! Yes indeedy, it appealed to me even more!

So why’s Knitting so much more popular than Crochet?

What’s The Difference?
Two Things: The way the stitches are “looped” and the tools. In Knitting, the stitches make a “V” shape and it’s more like stitching for lack of a better word. In Crochet, the stitches are more like knots. Both are really methods of looping yarn together, just in different styles. Knitting uses a pair of long needles to form the loops, moving one set of loops from one needle to another. The stitches are held on the needle or “live”. Crochet uses a hook, hooking the loops together directly on the work in progress.

In the first photo below, you can see the traditional “V” shaped stitch in Knitting called “Stockinette Stitch”. In the second photo, you can see the traditional square-ish “flower” shape stitch in Crochet called “Single Crochet”. The 2 most basic types of stitches in each discipline and what defines them!

Knit Samples in Stockinette Stitch Crochet Samples in Single Crochet

What’s Great About Both
Neither require lots of space, special machines, or a huge expense to start. At the bare working minimum, all you need to start is: a pattern, yarn, and a hook or needles. That’s it. Scissors, if you don’t want to bite off your yarn to bind off! It’s not to say they can’t require more tools down the road or get expensive. But kids, teens, or anyone who doesn’t have the resources for extra hobbies can find a free pattern and acquire some economy yarn and a hook or needles at any halfway decent crafts store for well under $10 and you’re off!

The possibilities for this one hook (or needles) and some yarn are endless and all in a very accessible medium. You could potentially Knit or Crochet almost anything you can think of with your own 2 hands and some patience. No band-sawing or welding or any heavy tools required like say Woodworking or “Shop” would be associated with. Less 2 dimensional and more practical than say Painting would be. But just as creative. Crafty! How cool is that?

Another bonus is, learn the foundation concepts for one and they can carry over to the other. At the beginner level, they share very similar concepts. They even share similar pattern abbreviations. The main difference being in the stitching style. Two birds, one stone etc.

(more…)

Pattern: Kublai Khan Splendor Hat

Jan 12

Kublai Khan Splendor Hat by Elisabeth Poire

This will be my next hat. It’s by Elisabeth Poire or “Lizzie P” The pattern can also be found on her website www.delaido.com [pdf]. Here’s more samples of the hat knitted up! It’s simply a long knit hat with the edges rolled up and a little pointy detail at the top!

Update: Here’s my completed hat.

I found this pattern on Ravelry.com! Love that site. Mainly because it’s a wealth of free patterns by indie/rogue knitters and crocheters alike! You can find some excellent free patterns (knitted up and checked by others in the community that have tried them. with reviews!) as well as a large community of fellow obsessed stitchers and make some friends!

They also have a really handy way of searching for any patterns you’d like in their huge database of user submitted designs. For example, I was looking for a chunky hat in knit, so I searched: Knit, Super Bulky, Hat, Adult! You can search by project, yarn weight, popularity etc. So handy! I still have to get my profile, http://www.ravelry.com/people/omgheart up and upload all my projects… But once I do I’ll be up and running!

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/kublai-khan-splendor-hat
http://www.delaido.com/my-designs/

Pattern: Newsboy Cap by Red Heart

Jan 11

I crocheted up this free pattern from Red Heart, Visor Cap. And didn’t get anything like I expected. It’s more of a Newsboy Cap/Train Conductor/Oliver Twist style joint… (Blue Oyster Cult…) But here it is, along with some of my notes. If it’s your thing, go nuts!

Newsboy Cap - Completed

Visor Cap -Original Photo. What it's supposed to look like! Newsboy Cap - Work In Progress. It's crocheted like a dome! Newsboy Cap - The Flaps for the Visor Part Newsboy Cap - Inside

Materials:
1 ball Red Heart Heathers in Dark Grey 4480
Crochet Hook Size H8 (5mm)
Stitch Marker
Yarn Needle
Duration: 5 hours

Skill Level: Advanced Beginner

Pattern: Visor Cap by Red Heart. Free.

PROS:
It’s crocheted in one continuous piece. Those projects are great!! No stopping to cut and less ends to weave in when you’re done. Very quick from start to finish even as a first time ‘tryout’ of this pattern. 5 hours flat from hook and yarn to ready to wear. With breaks and snacks in between!

A great beginner project for crochet in the round. Easy enough to start off with, interesting enough to not get bored. It knits up as a dome. Imagine crocheting from the top of the dome on down.

260 yards come in 1 ball of Red Heart Heathers. I used only about half for the entire project.

I skipped the “plastic mesh piece” for the visor in the original pattern and the visor still holds its shape fine. It’s firm enough on its own.

CONS:
It did not knit up at all like the picture in both style and size!

The sample shown in the picture is round and flatter. The one I crocheted, following the instructions exactly and even using the same yarn, turned out boxy and tallish. The proportion was entirely off.

The circumference itself turned out as denoted, about 21.5 inches. Yet the sizing was off too. The height was entirely off. The back of the hat was only a few inches tall! It was really shallow making it look like a tiny kids’ hat. My head measures around 22″ around! Plus maybe I have an egghead but the brim nor the bottom edge of my hat fell as illustrated in the sample photo.

And from a front view you get like a Paul Bunyan-style Lumberjack hat gone wrong because the strap and buttons sit funny.

I added about 5 more rows to the back just to make up for the shallow sizing. This gave it a better fit. But didn’t help the style at all.

Patterns For Red Heart Super Saver

Jan 09

More free patterns! Here are my fave picks from the Red Heart Free Pattern Library. 20 in all. All patterns listed below use Red Heart Super Saver Economy Yarn. All are machine washable and dryable. So no Dry Cleaning for your friends means they can wear it with ease. I wear all my duds and samples and I put them through the wringer! Easy wear and care means it’s suitable for for every day and anyone from kids and pets to your friends and family! Yet it’s a still a luxury item for your fancier friends because it’s a handcrafted. Win win.

Red Heart Super Saver Yarn (Art. E300)
Solid Color – 7oz (198g), 364yd (333m) per skein
Multi or Fleck Color – 5oz (141g), 244yd (223m) skein
Yarn Weight – Med 4

Red Heart Free PatternPULL-THROUGH WRAP
Skill Lever: Easy
Knit

3 skeins 400 Grey Heather
Knitting Needles: 5mm [US 8] and 5.5mm [US 9]
Cable needle, yarn needle
Wrap measures 17½” x 70”

What I Like: Easy enough for any level. Style is simple and modern. It can fit almost any personality or age! This kind of accessory is perfect paired with an econo- yarn.

Make it extra special by using a more luxurious yarn of the same weight and it’s a completely different piece. If you’re more advanced try re-designing the pattern for a different yarn or yarns! [pdf]

Red Heart Free PatternWRAP WITH SLITS
Skill Level: Easy
Crochet

3 skeins 256 Carrot
Crochet Hook: 6.5mm [US K-10.5]
Yarn needle
Shawl measures 14” wide x 80” long

What I Like: Easy enough for any level. Style is simple and modern. It can fit almost any personality or age! This kind of accessory is perfect paired with an econo-yarn.

Make it extra special by using a more luxurious yarn of the same weight and it’s a completely different piece. If you’re more advanced try re-designing the pattern for a different yarn or yarns! [pdf]

Red Heart Free PatternHAVE A HEART SHAWL
Skill Level: Easy
Crochet

3 Skeins 319 Cherry Red
Crochet Hook: 6mm [US J-10]
Yarn needle
Shawl measures 24” from neck to bottom

What I Like: This pattern is perfect for a luxury variegated yarn. The style is rather old fashioned on its own. But it can be transformed into something more chic by simply choosing a nice artisan yarn.

Try a high end Japanese novelty yarn. Or stay with Red Heart Super Saver and simply choose a fashion-forward color like a Mustard Yellow, Deep Turquoise, or a color scheme of your choice. And it’s no longer grannie-style but Retro Chic! [pdf]

Red Heart Free PatternVISOR CAP
Skill Level: Easy
Crochet

1 Skein 365 Coffee
Crochet Hook: 5mm [US H-8]
Split lock stitch marker; 4”x9” plastic mesh canvas; sheet of paper; yarn needle
Cap Circumference = 20½”.

What I Like: The stitches for this crochet hat are tightly packed. I’m still looking for good hat patterns, so I decided to try this one. [pdf]

*I knitted this one up and it did not seem true to size. It was almost like a kids size. The style is also more like a train conductor cap than shown in the photo. Conclusion: Meh! See here for full details.
Duration: 5 hours

Red Heart Free PatternCROCHET MITTENS
Skill Level: Easy
Crochet

Child’s – 1 skein each 387 Soft Navy, 984 Shaded Dusk
Women’s – 1 skein each 624 Tea Leaf, 387 Soft Navy
Men’s – 1 skein 624 Tea Leaf
Crochet Hook: 5.5mm [US I-9]
Stitch markers, yarn needle

Child size measures 6” around x 7½” long
Women’s size measures 7½” around x 11½” long
Men’s size measures 9½” around x 12” long

What I Like: This mitten pattern comes in 3 sizes! I wanted to try a mitten pattern. And what better way than with econo-yarn and a free pattern? [pdf]

Red Heart Free PatternARAN NOSEGAY THROW
Skill Level: Intermediate
Crochet

8 skeins 313 Aran
Crochet Hook: 5.5 mm (US I-9)
Yarn needle
Throw measures 48” x 67”

What I Like: Simple, Contemporary style. Perfect for an econo-yarn because it does not look econo at all! I can see this in almost any home for my friends. So the style is suitable for many tastes as a home accessory. Casual to more sophisticated.

It’s made in squares. The squares won’t be joined together until you’re ready to assemble the whole piece. This is much easier than working with one giant blanket in your lap. [pdf]

(more…)

OMG! Heart Manages Her Stash!

Jan 08

So… Anyone who is into Knitting or Crochet will have a “stash”! And people usually treasure them because they are all the little yarn gems they’ve carefully collected. My yarn stash is bad but I guess it could always be worst. Anyway, I’ve just begun Sewing and now have to deal with a new stash already… So I had to do some managing…

All my yarn, and now fabric collections, take up a lot of space in my shoebox (albeit cute!) apartment. And I’m not a fan of hoarding or clutter either! So it takes some vigilance to manage these stashes that can easily grow out of control. Despite being as stringent as possible and trying to use up my old yarn for new projects before I purchase more, I still have a mountain of yarn.

My Stash!

You’d think you could keep it to a minimum by only buying and having yarns to match specific patterns. Once they’re done they’ll be “outta your hair”… But no. The reality is you must have some around for when the mood strikes you – for a quickie pattern or experimenting – or you will have some around when an abandoned project gets unraveled and yarn reclaimed for another project. Or perhaps you went gaga over that one you must have. And lastly, obsessing over yarn just comes with the territory.

My Stash! - My Good  Yarn My Stash! - Squeezed in Ziploc Bags with Labels turned out! My Stash! - My Econo Yarn. Lots of Red Heart, Bernat, and Caron

But Fear not, it happens. And if it’s your thing then great! But this post is about ways to keep your stash to a bare working minimum without sacrificing too much. So here are some ways I try to keep my stash in check:

Purchase Yarn Only For Specific Patterns So find a pattern you’ll be making before buying your yarn. Then only buy yarn that can accommodate the pattern. The reality is yarns are very unique and hard to substitute unless you’re advanced. Artisan or handcrafted yarns are especially hard to gauge. Projects where size does matter will require you to knit test swatches for the correct gauge or even convert pattern instructions in order to accommodate your yarn. So be weary of impulse buying.

Keep A Yarn Book Don’t buy that “must-have” yarn yet. Instead, take down all the essential details first – Brand, Collection, Style Number, Color, Fiber Content, Yarn Weight and Gauge, Recommended Needle and Hook Sizes, Price, and the Store you found it in! Take a sample if the store permits.

Then consider researching some suitable patterns for it. Then a suitable purpose, will this be a gift? For graduation? Then consider how soon you’ll get to the project and when you’ll need it done. At least this will keep it from hanging around in your house! If the yarn is rare than use your best judgment. It’s probably expensive. So maybe it’s best to wait anyway!

Use the Yarn Book as an archive too. Keep your personal samples from previous projects here for future reference! I have a Yarn Bag actually. I save the yarn labels, tape yarn scraps onto the labels, and throw them in a bag. Then dump them out and wade through them when I need to take stock. When I’m done I just stuff them back in. Sometimes the labels even have the price tag still on them so I can get a general idea of prices. It’s quick and dirty but very effective. I don’t have to waste time copying down all the info either.

Organize and Protect Make it easy to know what you have. I like certain (utilitarian) things like tools and supplies well organized and loosely cataloged! Who wants to waste time looking for cleaning supplies, a screwdriver, whisk, or whatever?! I’d rather have more freedom with pretty/fun things. So try to keep your stash easily accessible by grouping yarns in a way most relatable to you. This is what I do:

I keep similar types of yarns together. For example – Lace Mohairs, Kid Mohair, Angoras together. Or all my artisans handcrafted wools together. All my Noros together. All my cotton baby weights. All my random or novelty yarns together. Etc. Whatever makes most sense to you and your stash.

Ziploc Bags! Then I use lots of large ziploc bags to both organize and protect. I put the above groups in large ziplocs. I leave the tags on and face them out so I can easily pick up a bag and see the label and its details. I even stuff the receipt in there in case I need to know what store I got it from. I also squeeze out all the air before zipping and it saves space! This also helps protect delicate yarns and keep them from unraveling when you’re digging through a mountain of yarn. This also make them easy to pull and look at etc. I just open up a box and rifle through to scan.

For my econo and mass market yarns like Red Heart Super Savers, I just dump into a box. They’re durable (and acrylic) and very easy to find online. Everything from yarn details to where to buy are right on the web. So there’s no need to waste effort on ‘cataloging’ them in this way.

Research and Design Projects For Your Existing Yarn Have lots of yarn lying around? Look up the yarn by name or by brand and check out the manufacturer’s website for patterns tailored to your specific yarn. Oftentimes the yarn or yarn website (even the back of the yarn label!) will have suggested projects just for it. Try to find a suitable purpose for these projects! Use your yarn to make them. Repeat!

If you’re comfortable enough, try to match other patterns that might be suitable for your yarn. Or come up with your own design idea to make use of your yarn.

Don’t Hoard It’s sometimes hard to let go of all those special yarns. Once used up, they’ll be gone for good! You may never find that yarn again!! Let it go. Instead, find a really special and especially fitting project for it. For a very special occasion. Maybe you’ll be excited to see your beloved yarn blossom into it’s full potential (ha!). Then get knitting so it can be properly enjoyed.

Keep a sample, scrap, or swatch in your Yarn Book! Include all the info I listed above for some added security. Truth is you can probably find a very similar and just as precious yarn in the future. As long as you keep the essential information. Simply shop around using that info and see what options come up!

My Stash! - Packed up into boxes. The big Dell box is filled with most of my yarn. The clear plastic box is all econo yarns I used more often
My Stash! – All packed up in 2 boxes.
Bonus: Matlock on TV!

Wall Street Gets Crocheted!

Jan 07

The Charging Bull statue in Bowling Green known as The Wall Street Bull got crocheted by guerilla artist, Agata Olek. I hear it lasted about 2 hours before it got taken down. That’s a large crochet piece to not only make but squeeze on! I hope it didn’t get confiscated. See below for her video on how she did it!

Charging Bull Crochet by Agata Olek

Olek is and Crochet fanatic and crochets everything from bikes to people! See also, Agata Olek’s Vimeo Page where she has other videos about knitting!

“I started it with a bike and ended up with the Charging Bull as a Christmas gift to NYC and a tribute to the sculptor of the bull, Arturo di Modica, who is another guerrilla act, placed the bull on Wall Street in Christmas of 1987 as a symbol of the “strength and power of the American people” following the 1987 Stock Market crash.” –Agata Olek

Wall St. Charging Bull Statue
Charging Bull Sculpture
Bowling Green Park, NY | Map

Read more on:
http://www.freshnessmag.com/2010/12/27/agata-olek-wall-street-bull-sculpture-crocheted/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/06/nyc-artist-olek-crocheted_n_805105.html

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/06/how-to-crochet-a-cozy-for-a-charging-bull

Update: See here for yet another yarn bomb by Olek. Whimsical!

True Up – All Fabric, All the Time

Jan 06

Heart True Up! It is not only my goto site but the goto site for many fabric fanatics. It’s a fabric wonderland of all the latest fabric news like where to shop and a wealth of inspiration for both sewers and designers.

True Up

Why do I love it so much? Aside from inspiration, it’s a very practical resource! Shopping for just the right fabric for your project is a task in itself. The fabric you choose changes a pattern or your project from awkward to amazing or bad to beautiful. And it of course makes it uniquely your own creation. There’s still no substitute for going to the store, to browse the fabric patterns, materials, and feel in person. But wandering around endless aisles of floor to ceiling fabrics, climbing shelves to touch the fabric, pulling fabrics, and then standing in the store poring over them for hours is unappealing to both you and the store! So being able to do some of your homework online saves some energy. It helps you organize what you like more effectively and narrow down some options. (more…)

Patterns To Die For: Noni Designs

Jan 06

Gorgeous felted bag patterns made from knit or crochet. Yes, you can make these handmade luxurious yet simple designs yourself from Noni Designs by Nora J. Bellows. You can find a full list of all patterns on her site.

Noni Designs - Flamenco Bag Noni Designs - Nomad Bag Noni Designs - Clara Bow Bag
Noni Designs - Sheep Bag Noni Designs - Flamenco Bag Noni Designs - Cinch Bag

I was looking for a good bag pattern for my mother when I remembered my Noni pattern from years ago. I found the Adventure Weekend Bag somewhere in a store somewhere (!) and purchased it to make for myself! And I have yet to make it! The Long Weekend Adventure Bag (in Knit) is the pattern that caught my eye. It is now available in Crochet as well.

Noni Designs - Still Life with Pears Noni Designs - Adventure Weekend Bag Noni Designs - Messenger Bag

The instructions are straightforward and simple and include additional options on ways to customize your bag like, different strap options, sewing in a lining, and adding leaf embellishments. You will need a sewing machine for these projects. I love Noni Designs patterns because they look so professional (and equally makeable) and there is a wide range of bag styles to fit every personality. They’re fabulous.

Noni Designs - Clara Bow Bag Noni Designs - Cinch Bag

Yarns recommended for the Adventure Bag are:
Plymouth Yarns – Galway Worsted
Louet Yarns – Riverstone Light Worsted Weight
Stonehedge Fiber Mill Yarns – Shepherd’s Wool
Cascade 220 – a more accessible alternate

Berroco Design Patterns!

Jan 04

Heart these two free knit and crochet patterns from Berroco Design. They also have a nice pattern library of free patterns as well as patterns for sale.

Buster Pattern by Berroco DesignKnit – Buster Pattern – Dog Pattern
How cute is this little dog sweater?! I love that is it simple and modern. With nice little details like the collar and buttons. I’m not normally one to go for knits for pets but I was looking for one for a present. [pdf]

Buster Pattern by Berroco Design

Kluster Patter by Berroco DesignCrochet – Kluster Pattern – Crochet Hook Pouch
This stylish little crochet hook pouch sure beats the crappy one I crocheted to hold my needles. It’s also so simple yet luxe looking. I especially like the lacy crochet band in the middle that holds the hooks. Clever, stylish, and practical! Plus, the skill level is Easy Beginner so you will be done with this project in a jiffy without much headache. [pdf]

Kluster Pattern by Berroco Design

Berroco Design yarns generally have a casual sophisticated character. Just like their patterns! The yarns are very beautifully designed and well paired with their patterns. If I had to describe it – most of the pattern styles are a cross between Anthropologie and J. Crew. None of those are my style per se but they are great styles for knits! And that’s what I like about them.

I don’t see many knit or crochet patterns that I love because most have an arts and crafts vibe. Blecch. (Even Vogue Knitting falls victim to that I think. I’m generally not a fan of their patterns.) Finding a great way to use beautiful yarn is also very key in having your project come out fashionable. I find that part extremely difficult and I’m still working on that! That mixed with finding suitable colors in relation to your project and it’s final use really make a piece sophisticated. Great photos help too. Those little details make a huge impact. In a good way! Berroco does it gorgeously.

You will find a nice cache of “heart”-worthy free patterns along with patterns for sale in their pattern library. It has lots of hidden little gems! They have a cute blog too. Here are some other free patterns I found that I liked:

Beseme Pattern by Berroco DesignCrochet – Beseme Scarf Pattern
I’ve seen many a crochet scarf design just like this. But the yarn they chose (the material, the way it drapes etc) and the color (that color is perfect on her!) they used to showcase their pattern make it that much better. [pdf]

Insou Pattern by Berroco DesignKnit & Crochet – Insou Pattern – Beret
It’s both knit and crochet! Again, I’ve seen countless beret patterns very similar to this one. However, it’s the mix of stitches, the cable and the thin little braid pattern together, in the body of the hat that set it apart. I love those little details. And I love that stitch pattern! In this pattern, the hat itself is entirely knit. It’s the little flowers at the bottom that are crochet. [pdf]

FOTD: African Print Fabrics

Jan 02

African Print Fabric SetFABRIC OF THE DAY: African Print Fabrics

I popped over to P & S Fabrics today to get a magnetic sewing guide (Dritz $3) to clip onto my sewing machine. I was getting sick of using a piece of tape as a sewing guide and they are open on a Sunday so I thought why not! And I got that and then some!

I found a huge cache of African Print Fabrics on sale at P & S Fabrics. I also popped next door to Jem Fabric Warehouse and found some slightly pricier but slightly finer quality wax prints too!

SCORE! Here they are! See also my list of NYC fabric stores I like !

(more…)