November 27, 2013

October 9, 2013

30 Day Sweater Challenge: Getting ready to launch


I may be quiet, but it doesn't mean that I'm not busy :)  Bit the bullet and took my measurements--such a pain, isn't it? I made sure to wear proper underwear like I would wear on a normal day (no sports bras, please) plus a thermal long-sleeved shirt I might wear under this sweater. This will not be a next-to-the-skin sweater, but a workhorse wear-all-winter sweater. I had previously swatched a couple things, but now I'm thinking I want to change my allover stitch pattern from stockinette to...seed stitch...to a massive cable up the back...to a lace edge at the front button bands...and should I steek? It's hard to make so many decisions. Very, very hard. I rarely make something for myself to love and wear, and so I'm getting all riled up about it being EXACTLY what I want. I need to relax. I can make more things, there is more time to knit... shh....it's ok...don't cry...

Anyway, progress to date:

Plain little cutie: circular stockinette swatch
[NOTE: This is me practicing what I preach about gauge. Ok? See that?
Yes, I do need validation for this triumphant moment.]

Raglan increases plus scalloped lace edging experiment

Unblocked detail of the scalloped edging I was considering

Experiments with raglan yarn-over increases and the # of stitches between
Why didn't I block any of this? Not acceptable. Will remedy.


Measurements -- whatever, I know what it all means.
Btw, I do have arms.

Design in progress
[desk view: notice yarn and random socks, measuring tape, phone.
I literally can't read what I just typed because of the pile in front of my screen. Normale! Normale!]




Next Steps:

  1. Settle on a stitch pattern. It's going to be simple. I know I will wear simple more.
  2. Re-swatch in the new stitch pattern & select raglan increases.
  3. Get out Knitting From the Top by Barbara Walker to revisit my measurement formula.
  4. Study the 30 Day Sweater planning guide & emails for extry tips.



September 21, 2013

Guest Post: Why It's Better To Plan Your Sweater Before You Knit It

This is a guest post by Lacie Lynnae, author of The 30 Day Sweater. Check out the free sweater planning guide linked below. 



An early attempt at a husband sweater.
He will later decide that he has a 'mild wool allergy.'
Lots of waist shaping and loved this color!


Why It's Better To Plan Your Sweater Before You Knit It


Have you ever found a pattern that you’re beyond excited to knit so you grab the only yarn you have enough of on hand, half-swatch and jump in whole heartedly only to end up with something you’re not too jazzed about? 

That is the story of most of the knitting projects I attempted during my first year and a half of knitting. But I am telling you, there is a better way! Taking the time to plan my sweater before I knit it is a huge feat of self control but I’ve learned that if I don’t, I’m not happy with my finished garment. Just in case you’re not convinced let’s look at a few reasons why you should take some time to plan your sweater before you knit it.

Making a sweater is a big project and there are lots of details that go into making it a sweater that you love and want to wear all the time. Things like choosing a pattern, suitable yarn, color, gauge and accurate measurements are all very important to getting a great sweater.

Choosing a pattern is key to making a sweater that you’ll actually wear. Think about the sweaters you are drawn to in your favorite stores (or on pinterest) what kind of sweaters are they? That is the type of sweater you’ll probably wear. This is what usually gets me, I see a pattern that is beautifully photographed in a castle paired with a formal dress, it is lovely and makes me want to knit it. But unfortunately, unless I had a castle and that formal dress, I probably wouldn’t wear it. Beautiful patterns are everywhere but before you choose one just keep asking yourself, “will I wear it?”.

After you’ve found a great pattern it’s time to choose a yarn to knit it with. It takes a lot of yarn to make a sweater and it can sometimes be a little bit expensive. But look at it this way, if you are investing a ton of your time and energy you’ll want the end product to be worth it. Some things to keep in mind while you’re choosing your yarn is where you’ll be wearing it, how warm you want it to be and how much time you’re willing to put into the care of your sweater.

One of my favorite parts about planning a sweater is choosing what color it will be. I am always drawn to bright colors but realistically, I don’t wear bright colors. Make sure to  think about the colors that you actually wear. For me that means grey, green and pink for the most part.  I find that the sweaters that get worn the most are the ones that go with everything so I try to pick neutrals. In addition to choosing colors that you’ll wear make sure to choose a color that compliments your skin tone. There is nothing worse than knitting a sweater then finding out too late that  you look sickly when wearing it.

The last two things you should definitely take the time to do before you knit your sweater is to get accurate body measurements and gauge measurements. These two things are what make your  sweater fit properly. If you take the time to get proper measurements now you can use them over and over again. Getting gauge is also critical, it ensures that  your sweater will have the  same fit and proportions as your pattern says it will. So even though it takes a little bit of extra time, make a gauge swatch and make sure that it is exactly what your pattern calls for. If your gauge perfect the first time, make another one with a bigger or smaller needle until it is correct. Seriously, it’s worth it.

Taking the time to plan your sweater before you knit it can mean the difference between a poorly fitting, hardly worn sweater and a great fitting sweater that you wear all the time. So slow down, and take the time to plan a sweater you’ll love, you won’t regret it!

If you’d like to learn more about planning and preparing to knit your sweater download our free Sweater Planning Guide. This guide includes step by step instructions for choosing yarn, getting gauge and everything else that goes into planning a sweater that you’ll be proud of. And did I mention that it’s free?!


This guest post is part of the 30 Day Sweater Challenge promo tour. Join us this October as we help 5,000 knitters around the world knit a sweater they’ll love, in 30 days. To sign up just visit http://30daysweater.com/sarakay and download your free sweater planning guide. It will help you get started on the right track! See you in October!

September 20, 2013

30 Day Sweater Challenge: Yarn Delivery

30 Day Sweater 001 by Fabricoleur
30 Day Sweater 001, a photo by Fabricoleur on Flickr.
October is almost here! I'm so excited to be participating in the 30 Day Sweater Challenge, a nationwide knit-a-long to motivate knitters to knit their own wonderful sweater in 30 days or less. This is such an exciting opportunity to join knitters from all over and get helpful tips and tricks, encouragement, and prizes from the folks at 30DaySweater.com. Take a look! 30daysweater.com/sarakay

I will be using 13 skeins (10 shown) of Knit Picks' Wool of the Andes in Blossom Heather. I wrestled with my color choice, worrying that my pink may be a little goofy, girly, giggly, etc. But the color makes me feel happy and goshdarnit, I want a pink sweater this winter!

Sign up for the 30-Day Sweater Challenge here!

January 5, 2013

Baklooptus ~ A Free Crochet Pattern

Hello Crochetophiles!

At long last, I have a free crochet pattern to share with you here on the blog. Read on for some background on the design concept and, of course, for the free pattern.

If you hang around Ravelry much, you've probably seen the ingeniously knitted Baktus Scarf pattern.

The theory of the project is brilliant and simple. Beginning with only a few stitches, you increase evenly at only one side of the knitting [in our case, crocheting] until you have used half your allotted yarn.

From there, you decrease evenly at the same side until your yarn is gone. Voila! You have a very wide, short triangle that forms a wonderful scarf or shawlette and looks endlessly chic and fashionable, especially in stripes or different stitch patterns.

This free pattern is a crocheted take on Baktus using half-double crochet back-loop ribbing, ergo Baklooptus! I planned to use 2 balls of sock yarn from the get-go, so I didn't need to weigh my skein to find out when I had reached the halfway point, I simply completed the last full row possible with the first ball, joined the second and began my decreasing half of the project.

I love that you use every bit of your pretty yarn with this pattern. HDC ribbing is reversible so it's easy to wrap or tie the scarf since it looks great on both sides.

Baklooptus Scarf


SKILLS REQUIRED: 
Skill Level: Easy (CYCA Yarn Standards)
Skill Level: Adventurous Beginner to Somewhat Experienced (Chatty Terms)
Foundation hdc - Not required, but nice to use 
Extended turning loop (ETL) - Instead of the conventional 2-ch turning chain used with hdc, I like to make 1 long chain that reaches the height of the hdc you are about to work. Using this method, you will turn your work to begin a new row and then simply pull up a longer loop than normal - pull up the loop to reach as high as the stitch you are about to work. Do not yo & pull through, you aren't making a complete chain. Just work your hdc into the last st of the previous row, there is no need to skip any stitches at the edge of your work when you use this method. I love me some tidy edges!
Half-double crochet
Increasing 
Decreasing (Hdc2tog)
Working in back loops

SIZING
Finished scarf measures 64” (163 cm) long  a
nd 9” (23 cm) wide at triangle's point.

YARN
332yds/304m; 3.52oz/100g Fingering weight, 4-ply yarn

The sample was made using:
Patons Kroy Socks FX; Camelot Colors; 2 skeins

HOOK
US Size E (3.5 mm), or size required to obtain desired gauge


GAUGE
22 sts and 12 rows = 4” (10 cm) over hdc-tbl (half-double crochet through back loops) Dare I say gauge is not critical to this pattern? See what fabric texture you like best.


NOTIONS
Yarn needle

PATTERN NOTES
  • The scarf is worked side to side from short end to short end in rows.
  • The finished dimensions of the scarf as stated represent the finished size of Baklooptus with 2 skeins of the recommended yarn. Use of a different yarn and/or different gauge will most likely produce a scarf of different dimensions and require a different quantity of yarn.
  • Severe blocking is not recommended to preserve the elasticity of Half-double crocheted ribbing. Of course you can always see what effect you like best!
  • All pattern abbreviations are noted at the end of this pattern.

INSTRUCTIONS
Begin at scarf end point:

Set-up Row: Work 2 fhdc, turn OR Ch 2, ETL, 1 hdc in each ch, turn...2 hdc.
Row 1 (RS): ETL, inc 1 as follows: (1hdc, 1hdc-tbl) in edge st, 1hdc-tbl in each st across, turn.
Row 2 (WS): ETL, 1 hdc-tbl in each st across, turn.

Rep Rows 1 & 2 until you have worked your last full Row 2.

Row 1 (RS): ETL, dec 1 as follows: (yo, insert hk under both (front & back) loops of edge st, pull up a loop, yo, insert hk through back loop only of next st, pull up a loop, yo, pull through all loops on hk), 1hdc-tbl in each st across, turn.
Row 2 (WS): ETL, 1 hdc-tbl in each st across, turn.

Rep Rows 1 & 2 until only 2 sts remain.
Work Row 2 once more.
Fasten off.
Break yarn, leaving a 6" tail.




FINISHING
Weave in all ends.
Gentle steam blocking will even out the stitches; not too hot if you want your ribbing to keep its stretchiness.


ABBREVIATIONS
ch: chain
cm: centimeters
dec: decrease
ETL: extended turning loop; see instructions above
fhdc: foundation half-double crochet
g: grams
hdc: half-double crochet
hdc-tbl: half-double crochet through the back loop only
hk: hook
inc: increase
m: meters
mm: millimeters
oz: ounces
rep: repeat
RS: right side
st(s): stitch(es)
yd(s): yards
yo: yarn over
": inches

December 8, 2012

Yarn, Pugs, and Other Things

This week I visited my LYSes and dog-sat for my parents. They were both exciting, all-consuming events in their own ways.

Willy (short for Willoughby, named after the lovable rogue of Sense & Sensibility and demonstrating some of the same dash, charm, and wit minus any jilting of young women) came to stay with us the Thursday before last. He is 14 1/2 which I'm told is over 100 in people years. Our lives feel somewhat taken over by the demands of his routine, but it has been fun to have him around!

He is a wonderful crochet buddy, because he LOVES to sleep hunkered slightly onto your leg as you sit. All day long he makes the most unbelievable noises ranging from snorts, gasps, and snuffles to what sounds like choking, gagging and hacking. That's a pug for you.

Willoughby a.k.a. Willy, Woozy, Woozeman, Dr. Woozeman, Buzzy, Bug Bear, Bean Bag Bear, ET CETERA :)

I've been feeling drained and out of ideas lately after finishing a big project due out next February (yay!) and absorbing several rejections (boo!). Willy forced me to sit down and play with my crochet again, and I can feel a deluge of design ideas coming on, the kind where I can't possibly get to them all and don't know what to do first, hallelujah! This wave was furthered by trips the yarn shops and public libraries. 


New yarn, swatches, crochet books, and leopard-print slippers = Happy Crocheter

For me, there is nothing like vintage crochet books to jump start my design brain. The cheesier, the better.You never know what wonderful tip or technique is lurking in a yellowed, cigarette smoke-reeking library book of garish (or amazingly chic albeit insanely styled) crochet featuring unwearably squeaky acrylic yarn and Lurex.

That was an awful lot of adjectives...I'll work on that.

I've begun work on my own E-book collection of crocheted accessories. I can't share much yet, but here is a teaser of my guiding inspiration: 

Any guesses?

I finished a fun project this week, a granny pillow made from assorted stash yarns - this covers a very dull, old pillow of burgundy red. I'm loving the upcycle.


These grannies were made ages ago, but I ran out of steam on the queen-sized bedspread I was planning...really?
What was I thinking?

Pug-bombed!

So...what do you do to get inspired when you're in a creative trough?

Until next time! XOXO, Sara & Woozy Boy



August 18, 2012

Freeform Explorations


Lately I've been reading a lot of Sylvia Cosh and James Walters--the inventors of the "scrumble." 
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If you love crochet, PLEASE look for these books at your library, used book sales, special order from the big bookstores or the big online one! They have that very 70's-80's crochet feel, but I assure you that there are real treasures inside. These are mostly technique books that you can return to again and again for new ideas, to listen to the authors' friendly art philosophy. The full book list can be found at the bottom of this post. 
     The following photos show my current freeform WIP. 
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To get started, I selected 11 or 12 yarns from my stash that were related in some way by color. Then made sure to include some differing textures. My scrumbles in the past suffered from the use of too many smooth yarns of similar twist and fiber type--the result looked a little more tortured than fun. Working in the new textures really adds to the feeling of exploration rather than odd or random appearance. 
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Self-criticism is a real bugbear for beginning freeformers, and expecting your work to resemble masterful knit or crochet artists is a common pitfall. I really enjoyed this fun foray into fiber, texture, and color. 
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You could definitely use the word "habit-forming."
Book List
The Crochet Workbook by Sylvia Cosh & James Walters
This is a wonderful explanation of freeform and conventional crochet techniques. If you have ever felt overwhelmed by the "freedom" that you have no idea what to do with your crochet--read this book. They teach you in a very easy-to-understand way that is open for interpretation but also contains enough instruction to get you going!

The Crocheted Sweater Book by Sylvia Cosh
My obsession with bobbles came from this book. Sylvia's approach to garment construction, stitch-yarn-color combination is mesmerizing. I am beginning to believe that extreme tailoring is somewhat less desirable in crocheted fabric than in knitting, for example. By its nature, every crochet stitch is full of potential for change, decision, random play. Knitting often works on a more strategic level with smaller stitches, coordinating some or many stitches to achieve an effect.

Crochet Workshop by James Walters
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You need to see this book; that's all that needs to be said. :)

July 26, 2012

Tutorial: Seamless Crocheted Ribbing

Hello, Friends!

I will be continuing this blog--and posting a lot more often--as part of my full-time website: sarakayknitandcrochet.com! I'm very happy to have a stable web address to share. I hope you'll come with me! There's a lot of crochet and knitting ahead!

To celebrate new beginnings, I decided to try doing something else that is new to me, so I created my first crochet tutorial!  Check it out at my new online corner, and take a peek around the site too! I'd love to hear your thoughts.

As I was in the middle of working on this tutorial (which took a really long time but was a surprising amount of fun), a thunderstorm whipped up out of the blue. It was so great because the drought in central Illinois has been rough this summer, and it really cooled the evening off.


In other news, Inside Crochet, Issue 31 came out a few weeks ago, and I was delighted to see a full seven pages devoted to my Printemps Cardigan pattern. I finished the pattern-writing for this cardigan in February, and it was a healthy challenge. Inside Crochet underwent a change of ownership from All Craft Media to Tailormade Publishing recently. Issue 31, my issue, if I may call it that is just as beautiful if not even more beautiful than its earlier volumes.  It was a thrill to see my own pattern professionally modeled and photographed, too! I could get used to this.


Wow, I managed to chop the poor model's head off 3 times. Good thing the magazine didn't.


Confession time: When I got the magazine in the mailbox, I opened it up and was so stunned to see the pattern live and in person in a magazine that I jumped up and down and squealed in parking lot of my apartment. Yup. It's true. Someday I'll get over myself.

Seamless Crocheted Ribbing


Today I'm going to show you how easy it is to work crocheted back-loop ribbing onto another piece of crochet--no seams!
     This technique is incredibly useful. Where do you usually need ribbing? Cuffs, necklines, waistbands and hat brims for a start. But whole garments can be made by building ribbed crochet onto an existing  piece of knit or crocheted fabric, or try some rib-on-rib action! For an example of this, check out my Belinda Vest
Picture
Let's get started!

1. Begin with a piece of crocheted fabric. For this example, I have a swatch of simple half-double crochet.
Picture

2. Join the yarn you'll use to make your ribbing.
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3. Draw up a loop and make a chain as long as you'd like your ribbing to be + 1 chain. I made 7 chains (6 +1).
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4. In the 2nd ch [chain] from the hook and each chain across, work 1 sc [single crochet]...6 sc's made.
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5.  Now you need to join your 1st row of rib to the main fabric. In the next st [stitch] of the main fabric, slip stitch.
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6. Turn. Do not chain.
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7. In the back loop of the first sc and each sc across, sc-tbl [single crochet through the back loop only]
Picture
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8. Ch 1, turn.
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9. Repeat Step 7; working 1 sc-tbl in each sc-tbl across.

10. Slip stitch into the next st of main fabric; turn.
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Repeat Steps 7-10 for pattern.
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Ta-Da! See how the edges are slightly fluted? Perfect for a feminine bell cuff, but what if you're trying to add ribbing to the edge of your husband's skullcap? He might not appreciate a jaunty frill framing his face.

For a firmer rib that lies flush with the main fabric, simply skip a stitch of the main fabric at each join.

Like this:
Picture

Work some rows as before, but joining the ribbing in every other stitch of the main fabric. This ribbing will look something like this:
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See how the blue ribbing is pulled slightly more taut and lies even with the gray crocheted fabric?

Here's a better view:
Picture

Side Note: I am working outside and must pause this program to flee a sudden t-storm!
Picture


Phew!

Now that you've seen how the technique works, try experimenting with different stitch heights such as hdc, dc, trc and the corresponding joins--skip 0, 1, 2, 3 sts and see how much flounce you get!

Below I've added a few rows of hdc rib. You can see that I've skipped 2 sts of the main fabric at each join so it lies very flat. The combinations are endless!
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And here are all three ribs:
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I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Leave a comment with any questions or let me know how it's worked out for you.

Bon Crochet!

Sara Kay

Seamless Crochet Ribbing


Today I'm going to show you how easy it is to work crocheted back-loop ribbing onto another piece of crochet--no seams!
     This technique is incredibly useful. Where do you usually need ribbing? Cuffs, necklines, waistbands and hat brims for a start. But whole garments can be made by building ribbed crochet onto an existing  piece of knit or crocheted fabric, or try some rib-on-rib action! For an example of this, check out my Belinda Vest
Picture
Let's get started!

1. Begin with a piece of crocheted fabric. For this example, I have a swatch of simple half-double crochet.
Picture

2. Join the yarn you'll use to make your ribbing.
Picture

3. Draw up a loop and make a chain as long as you'd like your ribbing to be + 1 chain. I made 7 chains (6 +1).
Picture

4. In the 2nd ch [chain] from the hook and each chain across, work 1 sc [single crochet]...6 sc's made.
Picture

5.  Now you need to join your 1st row of rib to the main fabric. In the next st [stitch] of the main fabric, slip stitch.
Picture
Picture

6. Turn. Do not chain.
Picture

7. In the back loop of the first sc and each sc across, sc-tbl [single crochet through the back loop only]
Picture
Picture

8. Ch 1, turn.
Picture

9. Repeat Step 7; working 1 sc-tbl in each sc-tbl across.

10. Slip stitch into the next st of main fabric; turn.
Picture

Repeat Steps 7-10 for pattern.
Picture

Ta-Da! See how the edges are slightly fluted? Perfect for a feminine bell cuff, but what if you're trying to add ribbing to the edge of your husband's skullcap? He might not appreciate a jaunty frill framing his face.

For a firmer rib that lies flush with the main fabric, simply skip a stitch of the main fabric at each join.

Like this:
Picture

Work some rows as before, but joining the ribbing in every other stitch of the main fabric. This ribbing will look something like this:
Picture
See how the blue ribbing is pulled slightly more taut and lies even with the gray crocheted fabric?

Here's a better view:
Picture

Side Note: I am working outside and must pause this program to flee a sudden t-storm!
Picture


Phew!

Now that you've seen how the technique works, try experimenting with different stitch heights such as hdc, dc, trc and the corresponding joins--skip 0, 1, 2, 3 sts and see how much flounce you get!

Below I've added a few rows of hdc rib. You can see that I've skipped 2 sts of the main fabric at each join so it lies very flat. The combinations are endless!
Picture

And here are all three ribs:
Picture
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Leave a comment with any questions or let me know how it's worked out for you.

Bon Crochet!

Sara Kay