Just a sock

Well look at me talking about a WIP on a Wednesday. I haven’t collapsed yet after getting home from work. My energy level is pretty good at the end of a Wednesday for a change.

And then we have Murphy’s Law at work. It’s WIP Wednesday, I’m all ready to write on this blog about it, and all I’ve got is a picture of a sock I started with Cascade Heritage Prints. I made sure I worked through a full color repeat before I photographed it. Now I’m lamenting that I left my knitting bag in the background but I think you can still appreciate the colors.


I’ve also been crocheting my sister’s pineapple shawl and knitting my blue lace scarf.

Happy Hump Day!


Review: LA 5505, Afghan Lovers Collection

Afghan Lovers Collection by Anne Halliday, Melissa Leapman, and Barbara Shaffers, Leisure Arts #5505, 2011. Paper back and digital editions available. Grade: A

It is very rare for me to like every single afghan pattern in a book devoted to them. This giant leaflet has thirty-six afghans and I might never have the chance to crochet all of them. First I have to finish the ones I started.

As with just about all Leisure Arts pattern sets, I appreciate the fact no particular yarn is suggested. Do you feel like using Cascade 220? Go right ahead. Do you want to roll on over to the big box store and pick up some Red Heart acrylic? It’s all good. All they do is tell you the gauge and the weight of the yarn (worsted, DK, etc.). If you’ve never bought a publication from this company you don’t know what you’re missing. No, this is not an advertisement. I am just that much of a fan. An afghan collection is a good leaflet to start with in your addiction. Always wait for a sale, go to the web site, and buy some patterns from this publisher.

Anyway, I have digressed. Getting back on track, one of the aspects of this book that I really enjoy is how the patterns offer a variety of constructions. There are squares to put together, large modular chunks to assemble, and afghans crocheted all in one piece.

The combinations of texture and color are also spectacular. “Tiny Twirls” is a fine example, in which the textured circles create a burst of color in every square.

Some of the color choices were poor for the photographed samples, but that can be fixed: Use better colors.

I recommend this book to crocheters who love afghans and need more patterns. Alternatively, crocheters who just love afghans will also want to get this title. The regular price for this publication is US $9.99 but there’s always a sale to take advantage of. Most American holidays I get an email from them telling me there’s a digital or printed pattern sale.

Three pairs of socks

I set a goal for myself: By June I’d have six pairs of socks completed. It didn’t happen. It’s logical because every time I set a knitting goal for myself I do not follow through. I have finished a lot of sweaters this year, after all.

The nice thing about goals is that they can be subjected to reassessment. I have reassessed my goal as unrealistic for this year so it is now in the trash.

I’m very happy with my socks. It’s too hot to wear them so I haven’t washed and blocked them yet. I’ll get around to that after I prep the last wool sweater for summer storage.

You might recall that the red socks have quite the history. I originally wanted to try a triangles stitch pattern but I didn’t like it so I went for cables. Then, I ran out of yarn. Last month I ordered more red sock yarn and finished them. The neon striped socks were really fun to knit as were the Arne and Carlos self-patterning socks that are to the left of the red ones. The red socks aren’t exactly looking good in the photo. Did you know it’s really difficult to photograph red things? I got fed up and left them as they were in the picture. The other two pair look fantastic.

Of course, I started a new pair of socks last night. This time I found a skein of Cascade Heritage Prints. More self-patterning yarn! I’ll post about them next week when we can really appreciate the pattern that emerges.

I missed WIP Wednesday so here is my sister’s crochet pineapple shawl in progress.

I’m happy with how it’s developing. I started with one pineapple panel and two shell panels. I then increased to three pineapples and then rapidly to seven. Now on every repeat I add one pineapple panel to each end of the shawl. I like how the self-striping yarn makes it a little difficult to see the pineapples but then they’re noticeable with a more careful inspection.

So, whew! Finally some FOs to share. This weekend, if I don’t drink any alcohol, I think I’ll work on my blue knitted lace scarf. Have fun, everybody!

Review: 1000 Great Knitting Motifs by Luise Roberts

1000 Great Knitting Motifs by Luise Roberts, Trafalgar: 2004. 288 pages. Spiral bound format available. Grade: A

This is a very straight-forward book. It’s a catalog of motifs. There isn’t much more here than knitting charts with color patterns. I think crocheters who enjoy tapestry crochet would appreciate this book just as much as knitters who often get into color work.

One reason why I love this dictionary is that all of the charts are in color. One of my issues with some of the older Fair Isle stitch pattern dictionaries is that they are printed in black and white, so it’s difficult to distinguish between colors if more than two colors are used in a single row. It’s not terrible if the charts are in black and white, but colored charts are just more helpful and easier to follow. I have decided to live with my older charts in black and white instead of buying the newer Fair Isle dictionary that Mary Jane Mucklestone authored a few years ago. I might buy it some day, but I also have some other stitch dictionaries that I’ve bought here and there at the newsstand around the corner and they’re also printed in color.

I also think this dictionary is fantastic because it isn’t just Fair Isle motifs, or only Native American motifs, etc. It has several from each tradition. On top of that, it has a unit devoted to modern graphs, including the zodiac, the natural world, and so on.

Finally, some of the charts are printed with different color combinations to offer an idea of what a pattern can look like in various palettes. This is not essential, of course, but it’s useful.

1000 Great Knitting Motifs is a must have if you can find it and enjoy color knitting or tapestry crochet. I think it has enough patterns to last a crafty person a lifetime. According to what I’ve seen on Amazon there are reasonably priced copies available second hand. The book technically is still in print, so it could also be ordered from the publisher or special ordered at a book store.

Review: Tunisian Cables to Crochet by Kim Guzman

Tunisian Cables to Crochet by Kim Guzman, Annie’s: 2012, 48 pages. Paper back edition available. Grade: A

This is a nice introduction to creating cables in Tunisian crochet. There is a helpfully visual tutorial about how to make them and a tasteful collection of patterns for different accessories. My favorites from the collection are “Geneva Scarf,” “San Marino Scarf,” “Verona Ruana,” “Valencia Wrap,” and “Limerick Wrap.” I like the other patterns, too, they’re just not my favorites. The wraps could be done up with a slightly chunkier yarn and become throw blankets, which I think adds some versatility to this design set.

The models in the photos are all women, but using my imagination I can see a lot of this crochet wear as unisex.

My only minor complaint is that there aren’t any sweaters. Then again, when I think about it, why do I demand a sweater from a pattern collection? It doesn’t have to be complete by including a sweater, I suppose. The fact that there are no baby bonnets is a positive quality the set has, so that can cancel out the lack-of-sweaters peeve.

I recommend this leaflet to anyone who wishes to learn how to Tunisian crochet cables and who enjoys making, wearing, and gifting crocheted accessories. The price is good value for the content which includes a thorough tutorial. That is why this gets a grade of A. It’s complete and helpful, sans sweaters.

Crocheting all the things

I did it. I started yet another crochet project, which is a shawl for my big sister. This means:

List of things I’m crocheting:

  • Hexagons afghan
  • Tunisian crochet afghan with lots of blocks
  • A tablecloth
  • A pineapple shawl
  • A “Telegraph” sweater

List of things I’m knitting:

  • A pair of self-patterning socks
  • A blue lace scarf

I have seven projects going at the same time. The majority of them are crochet projects. I have been a very naughty crafter.

When I started the shawl this evening it was dark and rainy and guess what my first color on the Lace Ball self-striping yarn was? A blackish blue. I managed to increase to three pineapples and gave up trying to see where to insert my hook. This yarn is very fine and I’m using a 1.3 mm needle, so it was very hard to see my work, even with a lamp lighting my way. I’ll keep going on it tomorrow in the daylight.

Now that I officially have seven projects going I am very worried. I don’t think I’ll ever finish anything. This is the largest number of WIPs I’ve ever had going at once. I kept telling myself today, “you can’t start something else until you finish your blue lace scarf” but I caved. It’s self-striping yarn for a pineapple shawl, after all. I can’t say no to blue pineapples!

Tardy Thursday

I missed WIP Wednesday. I didn’t forget, I just had to work. Also, I’ve been swatching a crochet stitch pattern that I wanted to get “just right.”

This week, as last, crochet has been the dominant craft. I have plenty of knitting to do, I’ve just been distracted by crochet. I think the weather is helping direct my attention to crochet, because I typically find it more comfortable for hotter weather. This week has brought some seriously high temperatures so I’ve been working a lot with cotton.

Mostly, I’ve been crocheting my table cloth and my green “Telegraph Sweater”.

The work on these projects got sidetracked, though, because in my free time, on Monday, I started getting obsessed about a Schöppel Lace Ball that’s in my stash. It has many shades of blue so it has my sister’s name written all over it. It could have my name written all over it, too, because my favorite color is blue as well, but I haven’t made my big sister a shawl in a while. She is big on crochet, so I thought I’d crochet the shawl, and I decided it had to be covered in pineapples. Do you know a crocheter that doesn’t need a pineapple shawl? I thought not.

The problem was finding an appropriate pattern. The “Ananas Shawl” by Zsuzsanna Makai caught my eye, but to wear it you have to have the tropical fruits running sideways. I just know the wearer will want upright pineapples. Some other designs drew me in, but they weren’t triangles. My sister doesn’t do giant shawls. When I make her one, she most often uses it like a big scarf. Long story short: I had to work out my own pineapple pattern.

How do you crochet a triangular fabric covered in pineapples? With lots of planning. These fruity things are not exactly simple to design with, even though following a pineapple pattern is really easy. After a lot of trial and error, and browsing my doily patterns, I realized that you basically need to think about your pineapples in panels. Double-v stitch is the most common thing to frame them with, and happily they can force a fabric to take on just about any shape you want: triangles, circles, squares, and so on. I swatched away with some cheap dollar store yarn and finally, after trying to learn how to use software for making crochet charts, I now have a game plan.

What could be harder than designing with pineapples? Figuring out how to use computer software to create crochet charts. Yes, I could have written the pattern out line-by-line, but I was experimenting and swatching, so I was desperate for a quick visual. Here’s my horribly messy, unprofessional chart, that will work just fine for me when I start this shawl:


I really need to practice more with this crochet charting program, which is really wonderful and convenient. Right now I’m pretty sloppy, but it’s just for my reference so, why worry? If you’d like to give the application a spin, it’s available for free.

This chart is not a pattern, really, it’s my personal record of what I need to do when I get going on the project. If you want to use it, feel free to do so at your own risk because I was just looking for the repeat for the increases. To understand how to make the pattern continue and grow larger, just pay attention to the increases. The double-v stitch panels are increasing over several rows. So, what will happen is that you will add many pineapples to the pattern at once. You start with one, then stitch two, then four, etc. The number of pineapples increases rapidly because they depend on the increases done on the double-v stitch panels. Really, it’s nothing special and this type of thing can be found in a lot of patterns, especially for doilies. The trick is to remember to start increasing for the new pineapples that will come later while still finishing off the old pineapples.