Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Grandmas Lace Edgings

Today I posted the last of my grandma's handmade lace edgings in my Etsy shop. Grandma used to make these with her odds and ends of crochet thread, and many of them she sewed to towels and gave away. She would sew a swan onto the towel and leave the top unsewn. Then you could put a washcloth into the swan.

For some reason she gave a huge sack of unattached ones to my mom. Mom didn't use them for anything and she asked me to sell them. Grandma just turned 90 this month, and she can't do thread crochet anymore. I decided to save one set of edgings and listed the rest on Etsy. They needed to be ironed and photographed, and many of them needed to be cleaned, so it has taken me about two months to list them all! (Some of them needed a little finishing as well.) Of course I was taking my own sweet time at it too. :) It was really a pleasure to work with my grandma's stuff, and see the detail of her work.

Without further ado, here are some pictures of today's listing:

And here's some purple trim that she had sewn on a towel:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Crochet Thread Review - Patons Pearl Twist

I've decided to add some product reviews so people can get a sense of what is out there and not be limited to standard materials. Today I am looking at Patons Pearl Twist.
Just so you know, I purchased today's review item myself, and I am not affiliated with Patons in any way.

This is a thread made from 80% acrylic and 20% nylon. Unfortunately, the thread has been discontinued, but if you happen across it or any other acrylic tread, this review will be useful. Most crochet threads are made from cotton, and cotton threads are more stiff and less fuzzy. This acrylic tread is extremely supple and more like yarn. I was able to iron a doily that I made with it, with no melting. I would definitely use the iron on a low/medium heat. Here's a picture of some ornaments I crocheted with the thread, where you can see that it is somewhat fuzzy.

Patons Pearl Twist doesn't have a thread size listed on it, and the label only lists knitting needle sizes: 4mm or US6. Most pearl crochet threads are size 3 and typically use a size E (US) crochet hook. This pearl thread is a little bit bigger than size 3. I used it to crochet some doilies along with a size 3 white thread and the slight size difference didn't cause me too much of a problem. With a really intricate doily or carefully sized item (such as amigurumi), I would not use this thread. Here is a picture of the White Waves Doily I made with this thread. The blue is Patons Pearl Twist and the white is size 3 pearl cotton.
Hope this review helps and keep crafting!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Knitted Lace Project

Recently I had some ideas for knitted pants and shorts, and I realized I didn't really have all the skills to make them. For one thing, I know how to make my own size, by working off my own pants and body, but I don't really know how to make other sizes. That's OK if they are just for me, but not if I want to sell the pattern. For another thing, I can knit lace from a pattern, of course, but I'm not that strong at coming up with my own knitted lace designs. I decided to work on my lace skills first, since that seems a lot more fun to me. I made a cowl for my best friend heather, and I am making other lace designs into a dishcloth series.
Here is the cowl on my mom:
My knit lace cowl design
And here are some of the dishcloths I've made, some more successful than others:
From top left moving clockwise: Cat's Eye, Honeycomb, Fir Cone, Cross Stitch
I tried making a table runner from cotton thread but I ran into a couple hitches. Number 1, I was making it in black and I like to craft in front of my computer so I can listen to podcasts at the same time. (Favorite 2 podcasts=Doug Loves Movies and The Moth) Unfortunately, the lighting isn't strong enough to see the black thread very well. Number 2, I only have metal needles in the right size and they were really annoying. Number 3, holy crap knitting size 10 thread is slow going! I think I did about 1/2 inch per hour. Of course that was at the same time as I was trying to learn the pattern, but I don't think it would ever get much faster, at least for that particular pattern. Numbers 1 and 2 could be solved with a trip to the store, but the lace went so slowly, that I abandoned it. I will try again with size 3 thread when I get better lights. I did try to buy new lights but I couldn't remember what size to get when I was at the store.
Here's a look at my crafting station:
"Crafting" Station

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Crochet How To Basics: Double Crochet (dc)

Today's tutorial is on how to make a double crochet (abbreviated dc). For this tutorial you will need to know how to make a chain stitch as well.
First, chain 10.

Now, yarn over (pass the yarn around the crochet hook). Put the crochet hook into the middle of the 4th chain from the hook. When making double crochets, it is standard to skip the first 3 chain stitches, and count those first 3 stitches as one double crochet stitch.

Then, draw the yarn through the chain stitch. You now have 3 loops on the crochet hook.

Draw the yarn through the first 2 loops on the crochet hook. Now you have 2 loops on the hook.

Draw the yarn through the last 2 loops on the crochet hook. You have made a double crochet stitch!

Make a double crochet in the next chain in and in all the remaining chains. You now have 8 dc (7 real dc and 1 "honorary" dc made by the first 3 chain stitches). What you have just done would typically be written like this: Ch 10, dc in 4th ch from hook (first 3 ch count as dc), dc in remaining ch: 8 dc.
Now we are going to add a row. The first thing to do is ch 3 (make 3 chain stitches). Then turn the work without turning the hook.

Once again, these 3 chain stitches count as a dc. Yarn over and insert the hook through the top loops of the 2nd dc from the hook. (We have already made a "dc" in the first stitch with our ch 3.)

Continue to make the double crochets as before.

Make a dc in each remaining dc. For the last stitch, make the dc in the top chain of the chain 3 from the last row. The instructions for the 2nd row you have just made usually look like this: Ch 3 (counts as first dc), turn, dc in 2nd dc and each remaining dc.

This is all you need to know to make dc stitches! Why not try making a scarf with your new double crochet skills? Get a really soft worsted weight yarn (6 oz) and use a size H crochet hook.
Row 1: Ch 32, dc in 4th ch from hook (first 3 ch count as dc), dc in remaining ch: 30 dc
Row 2: Ch 3 (counts as first dc), turn, dc in 2nd dc and each remaining dc.
Rows 3+: Repeat row 2 until scarf reaches desired length. Fasten off. (Fasten off means cut the yarn. Enlarge the loop on the hook until it is about 3 inches long and cut the yarn at the top.)
Weave in ends. (This means hide the yarn ends at the beginning and end of the work in the piece, either with the crochet hook or a tapestry needle.)
If you want to get creative with it, try alternating rows of single crochet and double crochet. That way you practice your single crochet too!

Have fun and keep learning! -Jennifer