Category Archives: crochet

Craftivity

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Craftivity

Titles are challenging, sometimes, but this word, Craftivity, popped into my mind as my fingers were poised over the keyboard.  Not an original word, probably, but it describes the way I am making the most of the extra time at home. A little knitting, a little sewing, a little crochet.

I started a new crochet project yesterday. I felt it was time to start using some of the “good stuff” AKA Universal Yarn’s Cotton Supreme in the most spring-y Eastery colours you can imagine. After a bit of Ravelry browsing, I decided on the Spring Blossom Cowl (Rav link to pattern page). It looked perfect with its four colour-blocked sections, though my plan is to make it a bit longer so it’ll double up around the neck. I am using my Addi Swing hook, size 5.5mm, and started out with fewer chains because I thought it’d be too wide. Well, after a few inches, I noticed it had shrunk somewhat widthwise. Oh well, I’m not frogging it now. My plan is to do about 12 inches of each colour, then join the ends together. It’s a pretty stitch, and the yarn is nice and soft.

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I have also made myself a sweatshirt-type top using a McCall’s pattern that I bought from work. It’s probably intended for pyjamas, as the pattern includes instructions for leggings, a top with two different length options, two different shaped hem options, and either a hood or cowl neck. The leggings can be made with long legs or as shorts. And there are some cosy slippers in there too. I chose the option with the shorter length, curved hem and cowl collar and left off the kangaroo pocket. (This fabric is quite thin and I didn’t want to drag it down with a pocket. If I make this again in a thicker fleece, I will probably add the pocket.)

The fabric is cool – it’s tie dyed and because it’s double knit it has stripes on the reverse.

I didn’t make any effort to place the colours in a certain position, though I would have liked the deep pinks/blues to have been more prominent. Still, it came together easily, I took my time, and best of all IT FITS!

I have spent a little time each day sitting on my back deck with a cup of tea to absorb some spring warmth. The laundry is up to date, my bathrooms were cleaned yesterday, my half of the built-in closet in our bedroom has been sorted to accommodate the warmer weather, and I am rather enjoying the relaxed schedule. Though, as we all know, there is an underlying tension to everything we do as we wonder how long this odd state of affairs will continue.

I had a couple of video chats via Facebook Messenger yesterday – one with a friend in Germany and a second with a couple of friends who just live down the road. So glad we have ways of keeping in touch. FB, Google Hangouts, Zoom … lots of options for video conferencing.

I even had a Zoom chat with Kathryn of Crafternoon Treats on Sunday, along with some of her other Patreons. She has been recording a daily vlog to chat about how things are developing in the UK along with her daily activities like yarn dyeing, home cooking and crochet.

I hope that you are finding ways to keep calm, stay healthy and relieve stress.

Another happy Sunday

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I feel very lucky to have had two weekends off in a row. This is unheard of! Not sure what happened with the shift scheduling, but I’m not complaining.

The narcissi that I bought last week are looking beautiful. Seven yellow flowers have appeared since I bought some plants last week. The hyacinth is growing but not showing any colour yet, and the violas have one more teeny tiny flower. Meanwhile, outside it’s been SNOWING!

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Both yesterday morning AND this morning we had snow. And fog. And sun. A bit of everything, really. Interesting weekend! Suffice it to say, it’s not spring yet.

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I don’t think I showed you this – it was a crochet pattern test for Hannah of The Cozy Cottage Crochet podcast. It’s a very comfy beanie that has a bit of texture and she has written it in four sizes and in three levels of slouch. This is the second pattern of hers that I have made and she makes sure that her patterns, which are paid for, are very clear and comprehensive. This is the November  Sky Beanie, but it’s not released quite yet.

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Another FO in the last week is this C2C crochet cowl. It’s long enough to loop around twice and used up a satisfying amount of Bernat Pop yarn. There was a little left which I have put in the bag with the knitted stashbusting blanket (which I haven’t worked on in ages).

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We had a potluck to go to today, a regular date with the same group of friends, and we take turns hosting. We always have fun, eat too much, and usually either play games afterwards or go for a walk. Unfortunately our host today felt like he was getting a migraine after lunch, so we left him to get some rest and headed home. I had some quality time with my sewing machine during which I ran up a quick little backpack for a certain little girl in my family. It’s hard to know how long to make the straps when the girl in question lives a long way away, so hopefully it’ll fit okay.

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I also made this very slapdash zippered pouch with a clear vinyl window in the front. This was probably my least stressful experiment with vinyl so far! Yesterday I watched a WhitneySews video on YouTube for making an I Spy bag. It’s very similar to this, but it’s sewn up instead of having a zipper. You fill it with rice and small trinkets for kids to find through the clear window. Nice idea but a bit heavy to mail. I considered sending one without the rice and getting them to add it at the other end, but then it could be too easy for the zipper to open and let the rice fall out. I shall have to think on that.

I’ve had a couple of very early nights and this is probably going to be another one! And tomorrow I really need to go to the gym and start making a concerted effort to burn off what I have been calling my “winter tires” – and I’m not talking about the ones on my car!!!

 

 

 

Oops!

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I have been neglecting you, dear blog. That’s what happens when my yarn activities are slow. I don’t have many FOs to show off. Except I have been sewing, so I really have no excuse.

The above photo is my mindless WIP, a C2C scarf/cowl, depending on how long the yarn lasts. I’m finishing up a couple of colourways of Bernat Pop! I added to it this morning while enjoying Assam tea at my favourite tea shop.

It was a lovely day, and we prefaced our tea drinking with a walk around the downtown area. Afterwards we popped over to a local plant nursery which is already open, and I bought some narcissi, a hyacinth and some violas (Johnny Jump-ups, my favourite). Obviously it’s not warm enough yet for plants to be outside, so I watered them and placed them slap-bang in the middle of my dining room table, and every day I will be enjoying the anticipation of their blooms.

So, the sewing. Yes! My Espe vegan leather backpack and wallet were wearing out. I had used them constantly for, perhaps, a year and a half. I decided that rather than buy a new commercial handbag and wallet I would make my own. I spent some quality time with a notebook and pencil and then dove in.

Even though I had made a design plan, it was still evolving as I worked with the fabric.

I am pretty pleased with this, though now that I have started using it I am finding it could do with a couple of tweaks. I am waiting for some snaps and pliers to arrive from an online order, so I’ll definitely add some snaps when they get here. My plastic cards could use something to keep them from sliding about in there, so I may add another snapped tab somehow for those. There are three zipper pockets in the wallet, the smallest of which is perfect for my gym pass and padlock. (I am getting quite good at inset zippers now.)

And this is my new handbag, made from crane/cherry blossom quilting cotton (and a coordinate) and denim from an old pair of jeans. This has an inset zipper pocket and a patch pocket too. The latter is great for my cellphone as it slips in and out easily. It is roomy enough to carry the essentials plus a small yarn project. I checked the maximum size that Air Canada allows for a personal item (vs a carry-on bag) and made sure it wasn’t bigger.

I’ve been using it for a few days now and I’m glad I added a couple of loops in the inner side seams, because I can attach my keys to the loops for ease of finding. I also added a dangly beaded zipper pull for easy grabbing.

I’m still spending far too much time watching bag tutorials on YouTube! Even the Japanese ones. They actually are easy to follow, with their measurements and minimal English words on-screen, despite the language barrier.

I hope you have been enjoying some crafty time too.

 

Sewing party

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Sewing party

Yesterday was a great day! Three of my friends came over and brought their sewing machines, tools and fabric so we could make bags. We had decided to make the Continuous Zipper bag from the tutorial by Lorrie Nunemaker and the Easy One-piece purse with popper by Lizzy Curtis.

There was a lot of chat, a lot of sharing of tips and techniques, lots of good food, and fun was had by all.

My makes:

I just love the fabrics I used from my stash. The first purse was the maple leaf one and started out with a 6.5 inch wide piece of fabric. The second one used an 8 inch wide piece and I think it is more practical as you can fit bank notes into it. I am sold on the snaps and now want to get myself a kit so I can make more purses.

Today is a public holiday – Family Day – and is a quiet day Chez Nicolaknits. All five of us are home and are going out for supper later. My sewing machine called to me again so I made another continuous zipper bag using some batting inside instead of interfacing.

I’ve had this fabric for years. It’s cute!

Another idea I wanted to play with, because it was keeping me awake last night when I should have been falling asleep, is a bag with a front made up entirely of zippers. I had a few lying around, so I seamed them together, cut a piece of jeans leg to add to the top, bottom, and back, and added belt loops.

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The front bows out because of the zippers, but that’s not a bad thing. You can access the bag using any of the zippers. I was thinking that if I used a long zipper, I could use any trimmed lengths as well, even if they didn’t have a pull. But in this case they were all short.

In yarny news, I finished the mindless crochet project, which is a yarn cake holder for a friend who just bought a ballwinder. Having the cake corralled makes things much easier.

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And the double knitting project has grown a little. It’s slow going, and there are many mistakes because I’m still learning, but when I manage to get in the flow I enjoy it.

As you can see, the back is a mirror image of the front. It’s double thick. Ampersand Dragon

Hopefully your Monday was a good one. Talk to you again soon.

Free crochet pattern: Heart

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I was playing with some red yarn and a hook at my local tea shop and came up with a small heart that you can use as an ornament or applique. I have made a few to make sure the directions work out as written but this hasn’t been tested by anyone else. Let me know if you have any questions.

I feel it works best without the hanging loop as the loop obscures the dip in the top of the heart somewhat. Do whatever you prefer. It is slightly asymmetrical.

There is a Print option at the bottom of my post – you can choose only to print the pages you need, if you’d rather not use too much ink, or copy and paste the text into a separate document if you like. Of course, if you’re using an iPad, it will convert any webpage into a pdf and store it in iBooks, which is awesome if you want to save it for later.

What you’ll need:

A small amount of any yarn, any weight, any colour (I used Knit Picks Shine Sport in Serrano)

A hook to suit your weight of yarn (I used a 3.75mm/F hook)

A darning needle to weave in ends

A stitch marker (the locking kind that look like little plastic safety pins are perfect for this)

Abbreviations:

ch = chain

ss = slipstitch

sc = single crochet (double crochet in UK)

dc = double crochet (treble crochet in UK)

hdc = half double crochet (half treble in UK)

rnd = round

rep = repeat

st/sts = stitch(es)

How to:

Ch4, ss into 4th ch from hook to join into a circle, ch 1

R 1: Work 6sc into circle. From now on you will be working in a spiral, not joined rounds. I suggest placing a stitch marker into the first st of each rnd to keep track. (6 sts)

R 2: 2sc into each sc (12 sts)

R 3: (2sc into next st, 1 sc into next st) repeat around (18 sts)

R 4: (2sc into next st, 1 sc into each of next 2 sts) repeat around, ss into next sc to complete rnd (24 sts)

R 5: ch3, dc in same st, 2dc into next st, 2 dc into next st, hdc in each of the next 3 sts, sc into each of the next 6 sts, ch2, sc into same st (makes bottom point), 5sc, 3hdc, 2dc into next st, 2dc into next st, dc in next, ch3, ss into same st (base of dc just worked)

There should be one st left unworked for the top centre of the heart. Either fasten off here and weave in your ends or create hanging loop as follows.

Loop: ss into last st of round, ch10, ss into same st as before. Fasten off. (Loop can be made as long or as short as you like; just make more chains.)

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FO update for the past week

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Well, hello! I’m back with some finished objects, both yarn and fabric.

After I made the last headband/earwarmer, I had half of the cake left, so I did the same cable pattern but with one strand of yarn and a smaller hook. I used up most of the yarn, but the stripes got to be a bit skinny by the end. I’m not sure where this one will end up; I just wanted to make it!

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Another bit of stash used up!

I was inspired by a fabric at work to make an apron. It’s coming up for Valentine’s Day (not something I usually pay any attention to, but when you work in retail it’s hard to ignore). I saw this fabric that had lots of fun puns on it and made this apron as a display project. Once it’s been hanging up in the store for a month, I’ll be able to bring it home.

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I don’t know if you can read the words – I love you berry much, I’ve taken a Viking to you, Hugs and Kisses, I donut know how I lived without you, that sort of cheesy stuff! It came out huuuuuuge and I wish I’d just made the smallest size. I mean, it’s not really for me, but it would have been nice if it had fit me without having to cross the ties at back and bring them to the front! Whilst I felt it needed to be ruffly to fit the girly theme, I really dislike gathering fabric to fit a smaller piece of fabric. And this was a LOT of gathers.

Another sewing project I just completed today was this bag – it’s a Burda Young pattern number 8235. It’s a pretty straightforward bag with a flap and strap, no fastenings to mess about with. I interfaced all of the external pieces, not just the flap as per the pattern, because I felt it would be too floppy otherwise. Both snowboard fabrics are from the stash, bought when I was still keen on snowboarding (y’know, before I broke my wrist two years ago).

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I used scissors to cut out the pattern pieces but it’s way less accurate than using a rotary cutter and ruler, which is how I usually cut fabric for bags. I had to take in the lining a little to make it fit smoothly inside the outer bag. I love how colourful this fabric is.

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It’s lined with this blue fabric in the same theme.

Again, this isn’t really for me, I just wanted to make it (hmmm, sensing a theme here) and I showed it to two of my sons and neither said, “Ooh, can I have that!” Maybe they would have ten years ago! Anyway, I’ll hang on to it for now as I know it will find its true home some time.

I have started making the first of the project bags that I intend to sell to help a local farm sanctuary. I’m about halfway through the first bag, and really looking forward to seeing it done. Depending on Mr Fixit’s plans for tonight (he may mention the gym and I may go) I may or may not get more sewing done this evening. There’s still a pile of dishes in the kitchen sink to deal with once I’ve finished my coffee, though. Sigh!

 

Last chance!

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This is the last day for entering my giveaway for the Alpaca Lunch Bag, as I will be drawing a name at random tomorrow and will announce the winner. Good luck!

Above is a photo from my happy place, my favourite tea shop (yesterday I chose a raspberry matcha latte) where of course I took my crochet. (I wish there was a crochet-themed fabric at work, but the knitting one will have to suffice for now.)

I did finish up the skein of jumbo pink yarn and made another cowl, this time knitted, and whilst I only had to cast on 6 stitches for this monster I could probably have gone with 4 or 5.

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It washed up well (there were some dirty streaks on it from the store which is why I was able to bring it home for free).

The current WIP, pictured with the tea, is another cabled headband, this time with only one strand of the Bernat Pop. Gotta run, work today!

Snow days!

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Snow days!

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When it’s well below freezing outside (our minimum one night was -24 or so, felt like -31  with the windchill) and the snow is building up to your knees and the roads are icy despite the efforts of the city to keep them ploughed and salted and gritted…well, you just gotta hunker down in a warm house and get crafty.

I was supposed to have Monday and Tuesday off, work Wednesday, then have today off, and work tomorrow. However the boss called Wednesday morning, expecting a quiet day at the store, and said I could stay home. YAY!

The bag adventures continue. I made another project bag (see above), still playing with proportions for using up those animal squares mentioned a couple of posts ago. This is the most accurate, compared to the squares I intend to use, and while it is still a teensy bit tall for its width I may just go with it. I do need to get a couple of metres of lining fabric before I actually starting sewing them though.

I also played with more triangle or pyramid bags. I used this tutorial here.

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This one used a zipper I had lying around and some stash fabric (left from a project a long time ago) and I was a bit slapdash with it, not bothering with Wonder tape on the zipper so it was far from perfect. The interfacing was a grey iron on piece I found in the scrap pile.

Later, I made a second, this time taking care to sew in the zipper perfectly and instead of interfacing I used a thin poly batting. The last step was sewing closed the gap in the lining, which was a bit messy, unfortunately. Still, I was just playing.

During my four days off, I also gave the house a good clean. Well, you can’t sew ALL the time. That felt good. And I also crocheted a couple of cowls.

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This is Bernat Pop from the yarn stash in the Blue Streak colourway. I held two strands double, one from each end of the cake and used a 9mm hook. The cable pattern is from the Complete Photo Guide to Crochet, which I own. This is for me, because sometimes I need an earwarmer rather than a whole hat, and anyway hats squish my hair flat and then I can’t take them off all day!

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This one was super quick because it’s a jumbo yarn. The brand is Spindle Yarns Snug-as-a-Bug which came from the store where I work. It used half the ball and a 19mm crochet hook. A 25 mm would have been better but I don’t have one. I just did slipstitch in the round for about five rounds and it was done in the time I drank a cup of tea at the coffeeshop today.

Seeing as I have half the ball left, I have whipped out some size 35 knitting needles (again, 25mm would be better but I only have one of those, probably from a thrift store purchase) and am making another cowl in garter stitches on SIX STITCHES. Yes, only six stitches makes a piece about 7″ wide. Crazy, eh!

I have done a fair bit of snow shovelling this week but thankfully because it’s so cold the snow has been very light. I have to be careful, as my right wrist tires easily since I broke it, and my left shoulder has a rotator cuff strain that has been painful for a really long time. I’ve decided to give it some serious TLC for two weeks to see if that helps. Rest (no yoga or upper body weights), turmeric for inflammation, ice pack, cold water in the shower (the water coming out of the tap right now is extremely cold, but I only direct it on my shoulder at the end of a warm shower). I really need to get this pain gone, because it hurts to do just about anything on that side, especially taking off clothing where you cross your arms over your body and pull upwards.

Oooh, I nearly forgot. It was a beautiful sunset as I was making dinner and as I looked out of my kitchen window I saw movement in the back garden. Four deer came through to nibble on our trees and generally hang out. They were there for some time. I am always excited to see them. (Sunset photo courtesy of my youngest son.)

Saying goodbye to an old friend

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(Have you entered my giveaway yet? It’s here and is open until January 21st, 2020.)

I had a call on Tuesday morning from a friend’s husband. She was in hospital, and knowing that she hadn’t been in good health or spirits for some time I called Mr Fixit and we arranged to go and see her in the afternoon. I almost waited until Thursday, my next day off, but I’m very glad I didn’t. We didn’t stay long – it was basically a Hello and an I Love You and a Goodbye – but I am grateful for the opportunity to have said Goodbye as she died that night.

We are, of course, sad to see her go. We will miss her terribly. But she was ready. She had made her plans, dictated her obituary, given her husband her computer password, etc. Much as we hated to lose our friend, an outspoken, encouraging, flamboyant artist and writer who was generous and grandparental with my boys, we knew it was time.

And life goes on. Specifically, the crafting goes on.

I finished this…

 

On my Ravelry project page, I called this Sunseeker on Maui. The yarn is Cascade Sunseeker, a cotton/acrylic with a teeny bit of sparkle (a multi, with pink and grey, and a solid). I made it up as I went along, using half doubles, singles and double crochets, and I ran out of yarn after single crocheting along the bottom edge. I did at least get to cover a few yarn carries where I striped the pink and grey for a few inches, but ideally I would have liked to have gone around the whole thing.

I’m now down to two WIPs, the knitted tube blanket (the colour options for which are boring me and I may let it languish for a while) and the Moe of Change crochet blanket, which I really need to persevere with as a friend is having a baby in the summer and it would make a great gift.

I have an idea for a good fundraiser for a local farm sanctuary and I bought a panel of fabric on Wednesday and some coordinating cotton so that I can make more project bags.

The plan is to use my collection of old jeans for the bag bases. With that in mind I made a trial bag today. I had to use a certain size square because the fabric has 9″ squares with pictures of cute animals on. I started out with two pieces of  camper van fabric from my stash, 9.5″ square, and the same size of denim for the bottom.

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I’m not particularly happy with how it turned out. It’s pretty and perfectly usable, but it’s disproportionate. It’s too tall, or too narrow, depending on your perspective. I boxed the bottom corners too deeply as well. I should have cut out a 1″ square instead of 1.5″.

I may have to see if I can make the animal squares rectangular (shorter vertically) without losing any of the words,  and boxing the denim corners more frugally should make the base look better.

Maybe I’ll make another tonight with different measurements. Glad I didn’t cut into the good stuff yet.

Mr Fixit had a nasty fall this morning when he went out to clear the snow off the driveway because of ice hidden under the new snow. Hurt his elbow and hip. The arm was numb for a while, then painful. So I cleared the drive this morning (in my Hello Kitty onesie for the amusement of any neighbours who may have seen me). Then I cleared the neighbour’s drive across the road. Thankfully it’s below freezing so the snow is light. It persevered most of the day, so after I returned from grocery shopping ds2 and I went out and cleared ours again. Then we cleared two more neighbours’ drives. So that’s five driveways, which are not small, and they are sloping, so I had a lot of exercise today. No need to go to the gym. My left rotator cuff hates me now. It was bad enough when I woke up this morning – I had probably been sleeping on it – and while I tried to remember to wield the shovel with my right hand in front it was still a challenge.

The Greek Potatoes have been baking for nearly two hours now so I need to go and throw together a Greek salad to go with it. This blog post got long, didn’t it!

WIPing in the New Year!

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WIPing in the New Year!

Happy 2020!

I have three WIPs that I’m bringing with me into 2020. I frogged the Party Cardi (granny square type cardigan) because I couldn’t see myself wearing it, so that was one off the list. And I finished the granny square blanket just after Christmas, and that felt good. Three Works in Progress are manageable, and what I feel comfortable with. Any more than that and it bugs me.

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WIP #1: Moe of Change with Lion Brand Mandala

I added a teeny bit to this last night. I was bored. Didn’t want to look at my computer screen. Didn’t want to sew. So I pulled this out and just focused on the one thing. I had put it down mid-round 21, so I had to work out where I was. It’s going to be pretty. Must keep at it!

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WIP #2: stashbuster blanket with various worsted weight yarns

Not pretty, but useful and will be very warm. I knitted a bit on this yesterday. It was nice to reacquaint myself with my WIPs. It’s only about 12″ of work so far, but there’s no deadline. It would be good to have it done before the weather gets too warm to have it on my lap though.

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WIP #3: no-pattern shawl, using Cascade Sunseeker

I started out with just a few stitches, used half double crochet, and increased every other row. When there wasn’t much left of the pink, I striped in the grey using single crochet rows.  I didn’t want to do that for long because it meant stranding the yarn up the side which means I’ll have to add some sort of edge treatment later. Carried on with hdc and grey, until I figured I should start decreasing. Changed to double crochet and decreasing on every row. (The dcs are taller stitches, but I wanted the decreasing to happen faster than the first part of the shawl.)

I am hoping that the grey will last until I get back to 3 or 4 stitches and that I then have enough of the pink left to go around once with sc.

And now for some exciting news! I had posted a request on Ravelry for anyone who might have been willing to part with a swift, as I now have quite a few hanks of yarn which have not been wound into balls. My initial method was to place a hank over the back of a chair and wind by hand, because I only needed to do it occasionally. I do have a yarn cake winder, but tend to use it with commercial skeins. Someone sent me a link to an online photo tutorial, and I asked Tai Chi Man if he was willing to make me a swift. He seemed amenable, I sent him the link, and in his usual way (Mr Fixit, very handy) he decided he could do better.

Using some scrap wood he had, plus a lazy susan from Lee Valley (the metal spinning part) and a dowel from Home Depot, he created an Amish-style yarn swift for me.

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Of course, as soon as he said it was ready, I had to test it out. I wound up the two cakes you can see in the above photo, and then tried a small one from a 25 gram hank.

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Because the pegs are movable, it can fit just about any size of hank, though I probably wouldn’t bother trying to cake something smaller than 25g.

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And I have spare pegs in case any get lost. It works great, all for less than $10!

Thanks, Mr Fixit!