Saturday, March 26, 2011

New Love of Blocking

I'm kind of pragmatic and don'\t usually go ga-ga over gadgets unless they really add great something to the experience. So when I tell you that I personally love a gadget, it isn't just an Oprah giveaway.  Well, it's offical, I Love blocking pads!  Actually I don't just love them, I Luff them! I LURVE them! 

I hadn't even realized it, but I've been avoiding proper blocking because I loathe my blocking boards. They are big, heavy, awkward, hard to store, and inconvenient. Feh! I am thrilled with my new Knit Picks Foam Blocking Pads. I decided to take them for a test run and pulled out a crochet log-cabin blanket I started last summer. Oooooeee, the pads (I know, it sounds like sanitary napkins) are fantastic!  They are small, easy to use, I can connect as many as I want and into any shape. I am careful about not sticking pins through the foam to my table, but otherwise they are a delight. 

You know what else? I LURV Blocking Wires! I always kind of thought that blocking wires were for lace knitters, and since I wasn't pulling out my blocking boards anyway, I figured that I didn't want or need any. SO WRONG! Blocking wires rock my world!  They keep my edges straight, which is so lovely. But what I like even more is that it's so much easier to block pieces that need to be stretched larger. Being able to align my squares is great too, it's like making a granny square shish-kabob. And the wires also mean less fiddling with my ruler. 

Live an learn. I think I'm going to have to try out a bunch of new things this year that I used to dismiss, because I clearly had no idea what I was missing. 

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Ripple Wrap

Oh curse you transitional weather!  My attention span has been all over the place lately. Some days I'm gung ho on making another sweater, the next a wrap is a moral imperative, new yarn comes in and it needs to become a blanket, the weekend beckons socks, and the next week I want a whole new accessory set for spring. 

Above is a simple crochet wrap I'm winging in Noro Silk Garden. This colourway is so beautiful, I've been sitting across from it all winter and I finally relented and allowed myself to remove some from the shelf. The colours are especially nice because they have a low contrast and blend - except for a bit of black that stood out too much and has hence been removed.  If I really like this wrap I'll consider making a Lady Eleanor with Noro Silk Garden. 
  • RedColour no. 84 looks nice, but I suspect that it is not really my colour. 
  • White: My old favourite colour no. 269 is another good option and a serious contender. On the upside, it is completely neutral, on the downside, I would match my brother's afghan. It would match my black coat, possibly my red coat, probably not my purple coat. Additionally, I currently have enough left on the shelf, but I don't know if the colour has been discontinued (aka - if you are smitten with the idea of something in this colour, you'd better pop over here and pick it up0.
  • Rust: Colour no. 221 is a maybe. It would match my purple coat, but probably not the red. 
  • Bronze: Colour no. 279 might work with the red and the purple coats, as long as it looks good on me.
  •  Noro Kochoran in colour no. 75 might also be elegant, and it would knit up faster :-)
I'm having a very hard time chosing. I've been browsing through the finished Noro Eleanors on Ravelry, but so many colours have been discontinued over the years. :-(  

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Friday, March 18, 2011

New Free Pattern - Simple Crochet Ripple Baby Blanket

Pattern by Haley Waxberg

Skill Level: Beginner

The pattern repeat for this blanket is 14 +2 sts, so if you want to increase or reduce the size of your project, add or subtract stiches in multiples of 14. Each ripple measures approximately 4”. Additionally, don't be afraid to skip over part of the colourway if it isn't working, sometimes Noro throws in a colour that's a dud.

Resources for New Crocheters
The Crocheter's Companion by Nancy Brown is an excellent reference resource.
StitchDiva also has excellent tutorials:
There are also helpful video tutorials on youtube titled The Art of Crochet by Teresa

26”wx30”l (30”wx35”l)unblocked


3(4) skeins Noro Taiyo, 100g/200m (colour used for small sample, colour 20 used for large)

5mm/H crochet hook

approx 17 sts & 5 rows = 4” in ripple stitch

ch chain
dc double crochet
dc3tog double crochet 3 together

(Yarn over hook, insert hook in next stitch, yarn over hook and pull up loop, yarn over hook, draw through 2 loops), repeat instruction in brackets 3 times {you should have 4 loops on hook}, yarn over hook, draw through all loops on hook.

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Ta-Da! Hourglass DONE!


My sweater-along sweater is done!  The Berroco Ultra Alpaca knitted up beautifully. It is stretchy, and I only needed 4 skeins for the sweater.  It was a great way to get myself back into sweater knitting, I'm revved to make another now, possbily something that requires seaming ... we'll see. I've been milling around ideas for my next project, I'll post the parade soon. I'm thinking cadigan for spring. 

As always, you can find us at!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sweater-Along: Hourglass Update

March 9, 2011
I'm sorry about the sad quality of this picture, the light is too soft right now to get a hard focus (please note, I do not know what I am talking about).  So this is my Hourglass en-route. The end is in sight, and hopefully I'll have it done with enough time to wear it a few times before the weather changes.  I'm so happy with the yarn! The Berroco Ultra Alpaca is definitely addictive, and I've been planning more sweaters using it and it's siblings, Ultra Alpaca Light and Ultra Alpaca Fine. But I've got to get this one finished first, that was the whole point, right? I've got half an arm left, then I'll block it to establish it's final dimensions. After that, if it is too long I'll rip back a bit, them fold the collar and cuffs over, seam them down, and finito!  Currently, the only problem is that it's too big to knit on the subway.  I'm so proud of me! :-)

Addenda: March 10, 2011
Last night I pushed through, finished the arm, and wet blocked!  The sweater is currently drying at home and is no other alterations are needed should hopefully be ready to sew down the cuffs, collar and bottom band.  

If you are curious, the reason I chose to wet block the sweater is because A. I like the texture of the fiber and don't want to lose that by Ironing, B. eventually I will have to wash it to keep it clean, and C. the yarn is 50% alpaca, which drapes and stretches, so I need to figure out it's actual, final shape before doing the finishing. The sleeve length is my greatest concern, I made the sleeves a bit short on purpose to accommodate a little stretch, but I won't know how much until blocking is finished and I try it on again.  I did the same thing with the shaping in the torso, starting the shaping at least half an inch early.  

Additionally, I added at least a cup or two of vinegar (a serious 'glunk') to the water when I first submerged the sweater, to stabilize the colour, keep it's intensity and keep it from running. To maintain the colour, I will add vinegar every time I wash it. After the sweater soaked in the vinegar for 5 minutes, I added some Eucalan.  Eucalan seems to contain a bit more lanolin than Soak (which will be in April's issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine), and the lanolin tends to loosen up the fibres, which will give me a more accurate idea of how it will fit normally. 

Oh, and I weighted it this morning and I think I've used approximately 5.5 skeins (1100m) of Ultra Alpaca, which is about right for a medium sized sweater.  

So, how bored are you now?  Total snoozefest, I know, but the details are so important!  ;-)

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