Yarn Addiction Thursday: fluffy yet sticky

I received this yarn for Christmas. It is a mohair acrylic blend called Scirocco. This wool has a tweed look, mostly charcoal but hints of green and flecks of white. The string is not so thick but it requires larger needles or hooks becuase that stuff is fuzzy and sticky.

This fuzziness would be nice for a snuggly lace shawl so crocheted this yarn into a wrap for a friend moving from Tokyo to Hawaii.

I made the piece about 10 cm longer than it needed to be. I had no pattern  for the whole work except for the lace stitch: Berry Lace from Crochet Stitches Visual Encylopedia (Kindle) by Robin Chachula. I’m using a 7mm crochet hook. I can’t imagine crocheting this fiber tightly. I like tight, defined stitches this yarn is too sticky for that. I’m learning to love loose stitches. I’m also learning how to appreciate small errors for their “charm” since it’s almost impossible to pull out mistakes. Pulling the yarn back through the loop feels like crocheting with velcro.

Luckily the pattern built up quickly and it was fun to make… when I didn’t have to fix a mistake.

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I like how the openness of the lace allows the allows the fabric to display its fuzzy glory. I think it will be a nice balance for cool nights in Hawaii. It was also a nice feeling to see a gift made into another gift.

 

NOTE: I originally wrote this post year ago and just found it among my drafts. Thought I’d post it anyway.

 

 

 

Yarn Addiction Thursday: All About the Learning

Mock SUnkey wants to be in charge of writing this post. I told him, "No!"
Mock SUnkey wants to be in charge of writing this post. I told him, “No!”

I missed a couple yarn addiction Thursdays due to my book making frenzy for the Tokyo Art Book Fair. I actually have had no time to be addicted to yarn. And now that I’m in book making mode, I’m not really keen to get back to fibers. There are two reasons for this. I do not want to spend more money. I want to use my fiber stash but that means experimenting. The second is that I have a number of other projects to complete so that means I don’t have time to experiment.

I did do some thinking about what I could do with my stash and I realized I had some knowledge gaps that prevented me from designing effectively.

So today’s post is a list of yarn-y things I want to learn.

Understanding yarn weights and
wraps per inch.
This is a big gap in my understanding of yarn as a textile. I need to know more about how this affects the results of my designs and buying effectively.
 Estimating how much yarn I need.  Relates to the problem above and below.
How to design a pattern for a sweater. Understanding drape and fit. It’s such a huge thing to learn but I’m interested.
 How to piece things together.  I get the concept of blocking, but my sewing is kind of rubbish. I want to know more than one way to join pieces.
How to do 3 color knitting without getting a weird pull on the stitch I can do a great job with 2 colors. 3? Forget about it.
How to design and knit shapes to make plushies. I think this is a great way to use up stash and I love creating toys.
Finding or making more stash busting patterns  My stash busting always ends up making me buy more yarn. SOooooo not the point.

So this is my list. It is rather huge but I think it is a good point to guide me for the next 6 months or so.

If you have any good tips, good sites or some suggestions for other things I need to learn, please let me know in the comments. I’d love some help on this.

Happy stitching everyone.

Mock SUnkey is ready to go yarn shopping.
Mock SUnkey is ready to go yarn shopping.

Note: Mock Sunkey is made from a kit I bought in Tokyo that included the socks. I did not knit him.

Yarn Addiction Thursday: BLANKEY!

When does stash busting become stash stuffing? When you decide to make a blanket from stash and you realize some yarn is just not quite the right color. I decided to make a blanket from an old project that wasn’t working for me.

I had an i-cord scarf that I started last winter. After finishing the dot scarf and the beads and pendant scarf, I no longer had the mental energy to join up all the i-cords I’d made.
LEARNING POINT: I could make i-cord all day with the little i-cord machine. Doing something with the i-cord is much more tiring.

So I had bunches of strings in a basket that just sat there. And how many scarves do I need anyway? I thought I’d unravel the i-cord and make a granny square blanket. Nothing too ambitious. Just a lap blanket. After starting I realized I didn’t have enough stash to do a whole blanket, but I had enough to do a nice border with a larger middle panel.
LEARNING POINT:
Stash projects require a lot of fiddling and problem solving.

Once I’d made as many granny squares as I could, I laid them out to create a border. And then yes, the problem solving began.

Challenges

1. What granny square motif?
A: I have a Japanese crochet book. I used one of the motif patterns. I liked the motif but not the project.

2. What kind of stitch for the middle panel?
A: I looked at a stitch bible and chose a double crochet v-stitch that stacked on top rather than had the next row in the gap.

3. How to join the granny squares.
A: I used a chaining method. I didn’t think it would be strong enough but it was ok. I went around each panel with dc to increase the size of the border and my blanket.

4. How many stitches across for the centre panel?
A: This required a lot of do-overs. Just counting the number of stitches in the border didn’t work. It made the middle panel too large. I ended up counting the stitches in 10 cm and then calculating for my length.

5. If I double crochet around the border instead of the blanket, how can I get the corners right?
A: I realize I did this backwards. But I solved it by doing a DC border around the corner squares and that made all the panels match up
LEARNING POINT:
DO THE BORDERS AFTER THE MIDDLE PANEL. WORK FROM INSIDE OUT NOT OUTSIDE IN.

6. How long to make the panel?
A: Same problem. The sides matched up better. Two border stitches per dc on the side. But I thought I was done several times and I wasn’t.
A: I sewed up most of the border panel before finishing the final rows of the centre panel. Once I only had two stitches left of the border panel to attach I knew I was on the final row of the centre.

7. How to join the borders and the centre panel?

zipper stitch joining dc and sc rows.
zipper stitch joining dc and sc rows.

A: I found this stitch called the zipper stitch that worked to join the pieces together without creating a ridge. It took me a while to figure out how to do it. For some reason, it took me forever to realize I was joining the two closest loops that on the “back” of the work. LookatWhatImade did a great tutorial. The problem was all on my end.

So did I win the stash-busting war? I have new 2 balls left over from the blanket project but  I used up half of that old scarf project. My original plan was to use more of the wool from the scarf project but the original raspberry was more orange-tinted than I liked. I’m happy to find a raspberry I liked better. And I love the blanket. I’m calling it a win.

A Cup Cosy for All Seasons. Sock Monkey vs. Hello Kitty

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Maybe I’m excessively delicate, but I don’t like to hold on to a cup that is burning hot or a cup that is icy cold. I feel guilty when I use the paper cup holders, sleeves, cosies, whatever you want to call them. But I lose stuff easily. The more boring it is, the easier I seem to lose it. Cute and quirky sticks with me a lot better. And I found a solution for my cup woes.

I found this pattern during a visit to Gina Brown’s during Mission Yarnpossible: Calgary. I was looking for something else completely but couldn’t resist this pattern book, Monkey Around by Patons. You can get the cup cozy pattern for free at Paton’s site Yarnspiration.com
but the book has lots of fun patterns.

The sock monkey cup cosy is really easy to make. I finished the first one in a day, including time to run out and buy notions. I din’t enjoy making the ears. They were fast, but… meh for the ears. I also used different yarn than listed in the pattern so this can be a great stash busting pattern. My mom gave me 5 balls of Sirdar Denim tweed DK so I bought some yarn at Gina Brown’s to complement and complete the pattern. I have enough yarn to make a sock monkey cup holder army.

A friend has her birthday coming up and she loved my sock monkey cozy. Since she is a Hello Kitty fan, I adapted the pattern and added a needle felt name tag.
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If anyone is interested in the pattern I made for the Hello Kitty face, let me know and I’ll post it.

Hope you enjoy the cup cozies and let me know what you think.

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Mission Yarnpossible: Calgary

Since my European Yarnpossible missions, the wristwarmers,  and Argie I hadn’t made anything for months. From late March, I’d been working on a writing project and a photography project which took up all my time. In May I went to the Romantic Times Book Lovers’ Conference in New Orleans and visited my family in Canada. It was lots of work and lots of fun. But I was going into maker withdrawal. Making something from yarn is like a kind of meditation for me with the bonus that I have some product to show for my time. Still, I don’t live in Calgary anymore so I don’t know any knitting stores there.

My mom gave me five balls of Sirdar Denim Tweed DK that she found during a cleaning binge. I thought, “Hey great! Free yarn.” But then the yarn sat there, and it just begged to be made into something. But I don’t have a crochet hook. Then I think, “Hey! I could maybe buy some Noro books in English.” Remember that Phildar pattern I liked? Noro Love has a pattern called Aimee that is similar. I know you can order books online, but I’ve been burned too many times before on craft, crochet and knitting books. Just because the picture is great, doesn’t mean that the book is going to work for YOU. I need to hold that book in my hands and check all the patterns and the instructions before I spend my money.

Gina Brown’s
Happily, Gina Brown’s has a great Noro selection and a great selection of Noro pattern books. I also wanted to consult someone because I’d need to adapt it to make it longer and I need advice on the wool. The pattern calls for Kochoran, a wool that Noro discontinued. There is no substitute for talking to experienced staff at a knitting store when it comes to swapping out wool.

diamond_woolI promptly got the Noro Love book and then talked yarn with the staff. She recommended I try Malabrigo Chunky or Diamond alpaca wool.

I loved the feel and colors of Diamond alpaca. I wasn’t sure about my tension, so I bought a ball to try it out. I knew right away I wasn’t going to be my sweater. It was soft, colorful, quick to knit but I forgot how much alpaca sheds. I gave up on the swatch but decided to use up the yarn by making a pair of slippers which would be far from my face in daily life. I took a look at some slipper patterns then decided to try my hand at making my own pattern. Luckily I used just under one ball, plus a contrasting trim to make up the slippers. It took about two days to make them, including start, restarts and shopping. Everything was great but the shedding! I was covered in blue hair. It looked like I was owned by a big blue dog.


Super warm, felted slippers from Estonia
Even super warm, felted slippers from Estonia are no match for chilly ceramic tiles

The idea to make slippers was no doubt was inspired by the glacial temperatures of the ceramic tiles on my parents’ floor. Even my super slippers Ratti and Ratto couldn’t protect me from chills. It turns out that my new alpaca slippers make great inserts for Ratti and Ratto. The extra layer of alpaca is like a massage for my feet.

While shopping at Gina Browns’ I nabbed a fun book, Monkey Around by Patons for knitting or crocheting various kinds of sock monkey toys and accessories. I promptly bought more wool to complement the my recently acquired denim tweed to make a sock monkey cosy. I post about the sock monkey cup holders in next week’s Yarn Addiction Thursday.

Gina Brown’s has lots of lovely fibers in some of my favorite brands, Malabrigo, Noro and Cascade. The staff was lovely and I got lots of great advice. They also showed me a pair of magical knitting needles. Check them out in an upcoming Yarn Addiction Thursday post.

5718 1A Street SW
Calgary, AB T2H 0E8
Phone number
(403) 255-2200
http://ginabrownsnews.blogspot.jp/

Pudding Yarn
I just happened on Pudding Yarn when I took my mom out for lunch on 17th Avenue. We parked the car and right outside was a yarn store I’d never heard of. It’s been there for a while, but I no longer live in Calgary I’m out of touch with shops. It was also perfect timing because I had just decided that the lime green cascade yarn I had for the sock monkey cup was a great contrast color for the slippers but the size just looked too awkward. My attempt at amore delicate edging failed miserably. The woman who worked at Pudding Yarn was helpful and the store has a lot of nice, luxurious yarns. I was able to get a really nice yarn (Phildar, coincidentally) in a lovely deep magenta to trim the slippers.

1516 6 St SW, Calgary AB T2R 0Z8
(403) 244-2996
http://www.puddingyarn.com

It’s interesting how my memory of yarn shops in Calgary has changed, or perhaps knitting in Canada has changed. When I was just starting to knit in high school, most of the patterns were Patons or Beehive with the occassional exotic French patterns. The yarn was ok, but not particularly amazing compared to the wonderful array of colors, textures and materials available today.

Mission Yarnpossible: Paris

I think this pattern must be vintage by now.
I think this pattern must be vintage by now.

I had two ideas about yarn in Paris before I started research: La Droguerie and Phildar. La Droguerie has become my go-to store in Tokyo for beautifully colored yarn, fibers and notions. Now I was going to get a chance to see where it started. Phildar is a French yarn company. I have a decades old pattern for Phildar yarn that I always liked but could never find the yarn. This trip might see that sweater become a reality.

There are quite a few blogs about knitting and crafting in Paris. My favorite was www.onemancrochet.blogspot.com. The blog is a fun read and has a great list of stores to check out. I was most keen on Lil Weasel and added it to my list.

The Search for Phildar:
It seems like this brand is less popular than it used to be and it was hard to find. I found some Phildar in a little corner in Printemps department store but didn’t find the yarn from the pattern. Not only that, the yarn section was kind of an afterthought of a corner and wasn’t really that interesting. I think I’m not going to pursue this sweater. I love the design but the pattern isn’t easy to read and finding a replacement yarn will be tough in Japan because of language. There are easier things to spend time on and now I can move on from that idea.

La Drougerie


Going to La Drougerie is like heaven for yarn lovers and jewelry makers. I often go to the one in Shibuya. So going to the one in Paris was a no brainer. All La Drougerie stores are beautiful, full of great notions, yarns and colors. Lots of great examples cover the walls. If you aren’t inspired to make something when you walk into a La Drougerie then I don’t know what to say.

Despite the awe of color and ideas, visiting the Paris store was a bit disappointing. I didn’t see anything I couldn’t get in Tokyo and it’s not easy to buy stuff at this location. There is a ticket system for customer service that was hard to figure out. Normally, I’m all for systems that keep things organized but when I asked tried to ask for help with my poor French, I got completely ignored. There’s no photography in the store but my husband took a few shots from the outside because after all the effort of getting there, he wasn’t leaving without any.
Address: 9 et 11 rue du Jour, 75001 PARIS
Tél: 01 45 08 93 27/ Fax: 01 42 36 30 80
Heures d’ouverture:
Le lundi de 14h00 à 19h00
Du mardi au samedi de 10h00 à 19h00

passage_dugrandcerf
At the entrance of the Passage. Photo by H.O.

Lil Weasel
Onemancrochet had a great post about wool shops to check out in Paris. I only went to Lil Weasel and it was a highlight of my trip. The store is located in Passage de Grand Cerf which is in the 2nd Arrondisement, the Montorgueil quarter, with entrances on the Rue Saint-Denis and Place Goldoni. This arcade is filled with stores selling antiques, art and artisanal objects so Lil Weasel fits right in. Even my husband found shops to interest him.

Lil Weasel is everything you would want for buying yarn. Just looking in the window is a visual treat. Super friendly staff, who speak English, are willing to talk to you about what you want to do and to help you make it. They have a fabulous selection of materials and yarns. They organize the things by color instead of brand or size. I’ve never seen this organization but I love it. I asked if I could take pictures and the staff seem surprised by the request and encouraged me to take photos.


They helped me pick out some colors to make some granny squares. We agreed on the green being a more interesting contrast color than dark gray but now I’m chicken about the green.
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Address:1 Passage du Grand Cerf, 75002 Paris, France
Tél:+33 1 73 71 70 48
du Mardi au Samedi de 10h30 à 19h00

Things I made with yarn from Lil Weasel:
Valentine wrist warmers
Hello Kitty cup holder (debuting in a few weeks)

Mission Inspiration: Helsinki

City and Sea

Photos from walking around Helsinki in January. I convinced my husband to walk around Helsinki for hours by luring him with the promise of food at Hietalahti Market Hall. It was a loooong nice walk and the food was good.

I really enjoy scandinavian food. The bread is always good and hearty, there are lots of sandwiches with vegetables. I’m totally into sandwiches since I got back.

Shops

For some reason I didn’t take any pictures of the Marimekko shop. I love their prints but the clothes just don’t work for my body type. There are many Marimekko shops in Tokyo. I like the simple, minimalism design I saw. The clean lines make me feel really relaxed.

Some Helsinki winter color palettes:

Yarn Addiction Thursday: Dragon Scales Scarf

Dragon Scales made from crochet.
Dragon Scales made from crochet.

I made this scarf for a friend. My inspiration was the Welsh dragon as my friend is Welsh and green rather than red as green is her favorite color. It is made with Noro Kirara (#10?).

I had originally wanted to make a spaghetti-string (i-cord) scarf with this brilliant green colorway in Noro Kama. I was making heaps of these scarfs based on a La Droguerie pattern. Sadly, Kama is way to thick to go through an i-cord knitting mill. I found a thinner yarn in a green colorway in Noro Kirara. No luck with Kirara in the i-cord mill either.

My next idea was to make scales using the crocodile stitch. I didn’t like how it was looking. I was hoping for something a bit more elegant than I could achieve with the stitch-yarn combo. If I was just going for playful, it would have been ok. But I wanted something that would look nice with a big coat. Amother minus for crocodile stitch is the large amount of yarn it requires. Kama is no longer produced so getting more than two balls was challenging. This was another reason to switch to Kirara.

I searched through the web for inspiration and found lots of shell patterns that were close but not quite. and found this pattern for a sweater which I adapted to a scarf. It had a kind of dragon scale feel to it. I made a few changes to the pattern. Stuffing the shell with more stitches per shell gave it a more structured scaley appearance. Since it was a repeating pattern, it was fairly relaxing to make. The hardest part was keeping track of the row ends and making sure I was doing the correct ending for the current row. One benefit of this over a spaghetti scarf is that there is NO sewing.

I like the color way for the Kirara but it was a bit more itchy than I expected. When I grabbed the ball of yarn it was soft but it became scratchy as the scarf progressed. I’ve heard that it gets softer when you wash it. When I finished it, I gave it a good wash. It did get quite a bit softer but I did lose a tiny bit of stitch definition. Happily, my friend loved her scarf. 

 

Yarn Addiction Thursday: Crochet Bracelets with Beads

Last year I was feeling kind of stressed and needed a distraction. My friend Deanna of Deanna Kobou Studio does great crochet work and she really inspired me to try it. Crochet looked like something that would distract me and, at the end, I’d have some kind of product. The plan worked really well. Crochet required enough focus that I didn’t think about my problems, and I chose simple stitches that weren’t overwhelming.

Beads and crochet bracelet.This bracelet was my first finished crochet project after playing with flower motifs. I had first started a free-form plushy I called Doubty Dragon, but Doubty took longer to finish. I used Noro Kureyon Sock (70% wool, 30% nylon) which I bought at Yuzawaya.  I like Kureyon Sock because its colorway gives a lot of different colors in a single skein. It turns out that it is great for making flower motifs of different colors. The bracelet is two crochet strings with leaves, attached by beads acting as bars connecting the strings. I added the flower motif that I learned, attached a clasp and voila! I gave the bracelet to a friend.

Use 'em or trash 'em! I found these sakura I made years ago in an old box.
Use ’em or trash ’em! I found these sakura I made years ago in an old box.

The bracelet  below is a product of some stash-busting I did a while ago. I was going through my stuff trying to figure out exactly what I had. I wanted to use things or get rid of them. I found these flowers that I must have made years ago. I have a vague recollection of thinking I could make a sakura necklace from beads. I love beads but I’m not so great at beading so it was nice to make something out of this.

20140501-232304.jpgI thought about doing the double string like the first bracelet. I like the effect but not the work. This was a simple string with leaves, attaching the sakura, the bird, and the clasp. I thought it made a nice accessory for Spring or Summer.

 

What kind of crochet accessories do you like? Recommendations are always appreciated.

 

Yarn Addiction Thursday: Wrist-warmers in Alpaga Teint

Early Spring was really chilly for my fingers. I had a nice toasty electric blanket for my lap but my fingers got stiff from typing and being cold. My solution? Procrastinate on my writing-work-in-progress by making some wrist-warmers. This project had two-extra bonuses: I could use it for stash busting, and since I had more appointments and commuting time than usual I could feel productive while waiting.

I wanted something warm and fuzzy, yet a little bit lacy. I had made valentine wrist-warmers from the wool I bought at Lil Weasel in Paris. They are super cute, but for a second pair, I wanted something a bit more sophisticated.

half-made wrist warmer
Hanging out at a museum and crocheting while waiting for an appointment.

I had some extra alpaga teint from La Droguerie that I thought would be perfect. Alpaga is a 100% alpaca plied texture wool, fingering weight (4 ply).  In my stash I had some grey and some light aqua blue which made for a subtle combination.

So I had my wool. I needed a pattern. I started looking on ravelry.com for a pattern. Most of what I saw was really cute, but most patterns were long and slouchy. I wanted something fitted, especially around the wrists. Not really finding any, I decided to try to make my own pattern.

I used Crochet Stitches Visual Encyclopedia by Robyn Chachula.  I got the Kindle version so that I could refer to it while on the train.  I crocheted a few swatches of different patterns but settled on the fairy shell. I used a 3.0 hook. I crochet really tight. It’s a problem, but I don’t favor loose stitches so much, either. This will probably change as I mature as a crochet-er (is this the correct word? Seems odd.)

crochet swatch of fairy shell pattern
My swatch of fairy shell

The cuff is made by single crochet in blue and double crochet in the grey, crocheted flat. For the body I added five stitches, joined the ends together then crocheted in the round leaving a gap for the thumb. The thumb was tough to make. Keeping the pattern while expanding and decreasing the stitches was hard. I’m not really satisfied with the thumb, but done is done. The finger-edge trim is  done in a modified fairy shell pattern.

I used old buttons that came with shirts I bought long ago to use up stash. I tried two different ways to fasten the wrist portion. The left hand is a single crochet loop and the right uses three buttons. The three button was necessary because just having the end two buttons allowed the inside edge to poke out. For some reason, the crochet loop doesn’t have anything poking out.

I did really well to use the alpaga I had. Too well. I didn’t have enough to make the second wrist-warmer. I ended up going back to La Droguerie to finish the project. So much for stash-busting. I ended up buying even more yarn! I did manage to restrain myself from buying more buttons, cute and tempting as they were. La Droguerie is such a feast for the eyes and drain on the pocket book.

alpaca-warmers_10

So these wrist-warmers are my second attempt at making my own pattern. I enjoyed the process but endured a lot of stitch ripping and do-overs. At some point, I’m going to try my hand at writing out the pattern. Maybe re-photograph the wrist-warmers, too. It is shockingly hard to photograph your own hand for demos.

If anyone has any great sites or tips on making patterns, particularly for thumb gussets, please share. I’d love to see them.

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