Sunday, July 27, 2014

Learning to Crochet with Lace Weight Yarn: Part One

I know a lot of you out there get a look of terror in your eyes when someone suggests that you should try crocheting lace with lace weight yarn. It's this sort of mystical achievement that seems unattainable.

If you secretly wish you could make those splendid lace confections, keep reading. This is part one of a four part series of posts. I'm giving it to you in small bites so you don't get overwhelmed.

Making lace requires a small hook and this is where some of you get hung up.

• Making lace doesn't have to be done with crochet thread and a steel hook, although that's the most well known because of the doilies your great-grandma made. It can be a B, C, or even a D hook, and that's not so bad.
Lace weight yarn handles more like yarn than crochet thread. An exception is the gossamer weight mohair/silk blends that sing a siren's song to you from the shelf in your yarn shop. Avoid those for now.

So, ask yourself "what is the smallest hook I've ever used on a crochet project?" If it's an E, find some yarn that will work with a D hook and try it out. If you're fine, keep going down in size of hook and yarn until it starts getting a little difficult. That's where you need to stop and practice. Work on that size until it's comfortable then begin sizing yourself down again.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Treasure Bags

My Treasure Bags are now available as a Ravelry download.

These little bags are quick to make and perfect for using up the left-over nuggets in your yarn stash. They can be used to hold small treasures you keep or give away.

Yarn: Any worsted-weight yarn, approximately 40 yards of each in 2 contrasting colors for each bag. Models shows in Knit One Crochet Too Camelino, 90% merino, 10% Camel (50g/109yds), colors Pine and Rust.
Supplies: Size G-6 (4mm) crochet hook, yarn needle, and locking stitch marker.
Finished Dimensions: Approximately 3-4" (7.5-10cm) wide and 4-6" (10-15.5cm) tall depending on your yarn.

It's also available on 

Craftsy, Kollabora, and Patternfish.

Midwinter Blues Cowl

My Midwinter Blues Cowl is now available as a Ravelry download.

When you start feeling as low as the temperatures, make this cowl to boost your morale. It will keep you cozy warm, and the cable texture will make sure you look good, too.

Yarn: Any worsted-weight yarn, approximately 200 yards. Model show in Plymouth Yarn Monte Donegal Hand Dyed, 40% Alpaca, 40% Merino, 14% Acrylic, 6% Rayon, (50gms/~109 yds); color: Aqua, 2 skeins.
Supplies: Size I-9 (5.5mm) crochet hook, yarn needle, locking stitch marker, and 3-4 buttons, 3/4" diameter.
Finished Dimensions: Approximately 6" (15.25cm) wide and 22" (55.75cm) long.

It's also available on 

Craftsy, Kollabora, and Patternfish.

Winding a Center-Pull Ball

Having a yarn winder is handy when you purchase yarn that comes in hanks. However, not everyone has one. Often you can have it done at the yarn shop, but you can do it yourself if needed too. Here's how.

**Throughout this process it is important not to wind the yarn tightly. Keep it light and loose. This is better for the yarn in the long run and makes the center-pull aspect work better.**

1. Tension your hank around something like someone's hands or a couple of chairs. You can also lay it flat on a table or your lap, but that's asking for tangles. Believe me!

2. Take one end and hold it in your left hand (or right if you're a lefty). You'll want to leave a long tail hanging down past your palm. This is your center, so don't lose it. If you have trouble keeping track of it, tuck it into your watch band or under a rubber band around your wrist.

3. Begin by winding the yarn loosely around 2 or 3 of your fingers.

4. When you've got a nice bunch on your fingers, slide it off and flatten the loop between your fingers. Some YouTube videos show that you should fold over this part before moving on, but I find this makes it more difficult to wind the next part. So I just leave it flat. If it sticks out, who cares. It just needs to work.

5. Still keeping the beginning end towards your palm, begin winding the yarn around the compressed loops. Remember, don't wind tightly. When you have a nice bump you're ready for the next step.

6. Tilt the yarn ball a bit and start winding the yarn on at a bit of an angle. Keep the beginning end down by your palm.

7. When you've got a nice bump rotate the ball slightly and wind on at an angle in a new spot keeping the beginning end of the yarn down by your palm. Continue rotating slightly and winding on at an angle. This doesn't have to look like it was done with a ball winder so don't worry about rotating it every time you wind on. Just keep making bumps of yarn.

8. As you wind the ball will grow bigger and bigger. Throughout your winding be sure that you keep the beginning end down by your palm.

9. When you're near the end of your yarn, wind it around the middle of the ball and tuck the end underneath it. See how the beginning end of the yarn is still hanging down from the bottom of my ball?

10. Here's a view of the bottom with the beginning end hanging out. That center bump is the yarn that I wound around my fingers. As you begin pulling on the yarn end, that bump is what you will use first. If you wind the yarn around it too tightly you'll have trouble getting it to feed out as you use it.

I hope this is helpful. It's not a video, but sometimes still photos are helpful since you don't have to rewind.