Category Archives: Project – Crochet

A WEALTH OF POSSIBILITIES

Progress and some potentials to report. First the progress:

I’m closer to finishing the initial seaming of the eyeball squares for the bolster cushion. Here are all of them. The group indicated by the yellow brackets on top is the front. It’s 12×4 units, all sewn together. The group in the yellow brackets at the bottom of the page is the back. I’ve just begun sewing the last course of 12 onto the other three.

Then there are the loose piles between the front and back, and to the right of the back. Those are the squares that will make up the sides. That’s another two strips of 12, and two strips of four. After I finish the seams on the back I will assemble those strips. After that will come an orgy of darning in ends. Once all six pieces are neatly finished off I will begin final assembly. I intend to sew the side strips in sequence – long-short-long (leaving one short side out briefly) with the same slip stitch method I used for the front and back. But when I unite the side strips to the front and back I will use a knit-based method rather than a crocheted one. I intend to use knit-on I-Cord edging as my seaming method, to make what will look like a piped edge, to make a green “frame” for the front and back. Somewhere along the way I will introduce a hand-stitched zipper into one short end, which is the reason for reserving that last short side.

I’ve done the I-Cord edging before to excellent effect on pillows. The one in front uses it. (I won’t be doing the free-loop corners though on this piece.)

This is the general look I’m aiming for. This is a bench-type cushion I built and covered for a storage settee that’s now on our enclosed front porch. This piece was sewn, and that corded piping was introduced with it was seamed together.

For the record, this cushion was built in the same way I intend to build the eyeball bolster – a slab of foam, wrapped in quilt batting, seamed into a permanent cover. But the eyeball bolster will have an additional removeable inside cover between the crochet and the permanent cushion. Crochet by its nature is rather see-through, with lots of small holes. The inner, removeable cover will be a heavy black cotton duck or canvas. Removeable just in case something is spilled on the bolster. It along with the decorative crochet cover will both be washable.

So even though I am almost done with eyeball assembly there’s still a lot of work to go on this piece.

Now on to other possibilities.

Thanks to the generosity of a long time friend, I find myself in possession of a set of twelve magnificent linen napkins. Never used. I had lucked into a similar but well-loved set of twelve at an estate sale this summer. I now have double the possibilities. First, both are eminently stitch-able:

The unused napkins are on the left, and the well worn ones are on the right. Counting threads and doing the math for the Penny Method the approximate thread count for the new set is roughly 40×40, and the old set is about 38×38 threads. Small, yes, but not impossibly so.

Now what to make….

I have many thoughts on this. First is the obvious, just embellishing one of the sets for obvious use as napkins. I’ve thought about doing a set with a big initial S in one corner, but each done in a different antique alphabet. This is a prime source for alphabets as magnificently ornate and over the top as anyone could desire.

The second possibility is a pieced tablecloth. There are all sorts of Renaissance examples of tablecloths and devotional pieces pieced together, some probably re-using earlier stitched fragments, others purpose-done. Some unite countwork pieces with darned net strips, others combine cutwork and other contemporary embroidery forms. Much to think about here and a lot of potential learning.

A third possibility also looms, for the well-used napkin pile. I have wanted to stitch a peasant style blouse for myself, using some of the more outre strip designs in my personal collection. Like dinos, for example. I am not quite sure how I would go about it, but I think with cleverness I could get a square yoke out of one or two napkins, a gathered body below that, and full 3/4 sleeves, also gathered. I have to mock this idea up with tissue paper to see if I have enough yardage, but I should.

I guess the moral of the story is that retirement is not idleness!

A BUSY DECEMBER

One of my periodic “where did I go” posts, reporting on everything and sundry that kept me from regular blogging.

Baking

First because I know there are cookie fiends out there just waiting for this year’s round-up, I present Cookie Plate 2022, arranged on the fused glass bison presentation dish given to us by my sister and brother in law. I use it in tribute to the resilience of my Buffalo, NY family and friends, enduring their second (and twice as bitter) lash of winter weather since Thanksgiving. May the lights and heat stay on and may the driveway finally learn to shovel itself!

Starting from the yellow and blue stars just above the bison’s head we have:

  1. Keto cutouts. I used this recipe this year, no “real” flour or sugar. I did make two enhancements, though. I put finely grated lemon zest in the cookie batter, and mixed the icing using powdered monkfruit based sweetener with lemon juice (and a dash of food coloring). Light and lemony. This dough worked relatively well for the simple star shapes, but it’s a bit on the cakey and fragile side, and would not be at its best if used for a cookie cut with an elaborate design, or with one of the plunger-style cutters that also embosses an impressed design. The icing too was a bit harder to handle than the confectioners’ sugar standard.
  2. Mexican Wedding Cakes. I subbed the monkfruit sweetener inside and used about a third almond flour in place of the regular all-purpose flour in this recipe, but dusted with confectioners’ sugar because the substitute doesn’t do that well for dusting. So I’d call these slightly slimmed down, but not keto.
  3. Keto peanut butter cookies. Last year’s recipe turned out rather poorly, so I tried a new one this year. Better results. Still a bit cakey-crumbly, but the taste and texture are better.
  4. Earthquakes, the name by which what most folk call chocolate crinkles are known in this house. Again not much seismic cracking this year, but the brownie-bite taste and texture were spot on. The usual recipe. Full octane – no slimming.
  5. Cinnamon bun swirls. This one is a specialty of the Younger Offspring. Clever fingers and exacting methods make those mathematically perfect spirals. These instructions but we skip the recipe author’s icing, The cookies are sweet enough as-is. Hint for avoiding the flat-tire look – slide the long rolls of this refrigerator cookie dough into the cardboard tubes from paper towels. They firm up nicely round without flattening that way.
  6. Triple Ginger White Chocolate Chip. My own invention. I love these, even though they are not chocolate. 🙂 I did slim these down a bit by using monkfruit brown sugar replacement instead of the real stuff. But the white chocolate chips probably make up for that little bit of virtue.
  7. Bourbon Balls. A family standard that I’ve made every year since I began baking holiday cookies from recipes more or less like this one. Since they start with crushed Nilla wafers and have a cup of bourbon in them they will never be full keto, but I did slim them a bit with sugar substitute. Note that these are also good with many other nut/cookie/liquor combos, with or without the cocoa. Chocolate wafer cookies/pecans/Chambord. Almond biscotti/almonds/amaretto. Nillas/hazelnuts/rum. One hint – they improve with long curing. Make these up right after Thanksgiving and put them in a tightly sealed tin. Then hide them until the end of December. Your forbearance in not gobbling them down right away will be rewarded.
  8. Jam thumbprints. Another contribution of Younger Offspring. This time the clever fingers fashioned heart shape wells, which were then filled with raspberry jam. A very buttery and light shortbread compliments that fruity goodness. Full octane. When I extract the recipe from the cookie artist I will post it here, but by the time this last cookie was baked, I was distracted and didn’t make a note of the source.
  9. French cocoa macarons with almond buttercream filling. Oh so good, and oh so sinful. Again Younger Offspring steps up to bat with authentic technique off a memorized recipe. Even the almond paste-based buttercream was extemporary. Obviously the Padawan has far surpassed the teachers.
  10. Chocolate chunk. This one started with the traditional old school Nestle’s Toll House original recipe (the one that still called for 1/8 tsp of water). No slimming and no nuts in this one, but about a third of the weight of chocolate chips was replaced by Trader Joes’ Cocoa Nibs. The remaining chocolate was chopped cold, making lots of chocolate dust, and tiny fragments. That really helps the flavor distribute itself throughout the whole cookie. The big hint on this one (aside from chopping) is to fridge the batter overnight, and roll it into uniform size balls rather than employing the two spoon/drop method. Much more uniform results.
  11. Yes there are 11 this year. We couldn’t cut a family fave to make the goal of ten. My Oysters. A simple hazelnut spritz with whipped bittersweet chocolate ganache filling. Slimmed a bit by using monkfruit sugar instead of about half of the regular white sugar, and a third almond flour instead of 100% all purpose flour, but it’s hard to call these virtuous.

I also made a keto lemon-chocolate swirl cheesecake, with a hazelnut/almond flour crust. I forgot to take a picture of that, and now it’s gone.

Not Baking

Aside from cookies, I had some knitting and crochet projects going.

First, as a favor to my mom, an old school knitter from the days of Knitting Ladies who sat by your elbow throughout design selection, customization, swatching, and execution to gauge. I didn’t do those earlier stage support functions but I did do the last and most important one – finishing. Taking the individually full-fashion knit pieces, seaming them together and adding final details like collars. Mom had completed but had not assembled two sweaters, intended for my nieces. I helped those projects over the goal. Both are adult size. Now that they’ve been bestowed, I can break silence and post them here.

Also with almost all of the squares complete, I have begun assembly for the I’ll Be Watching You sofa cushion.

More on this as I get more strips put together. Note that some rethinking happened. Due to color assortment challenges, we added two more units to the mix to make 12 individual color layouts, and upped the cushion width from 11 to 12 units. Needless to say that required a few more squares than I originally planned.

Other Accomplishments

Let’s see. I visited my mom in Florida the second week of December. We had a good time together, and even managed to hijack the Palm Beach area family for a dim sum brunch over the weekend. Why I have no pix from the week, I don’t know. I guess I tend to live the moment and not document unless I’m a spectator. But I think the visit was appreciated, productive, and satisfying. Next time I promise to be a better chronicler.

As spectator, I cheered on The Resident Male as he prepared an epic feast for Christmas Eve. His menu is here. When Henri, our Guest of Honor emerged from the oven, he had celebrity status. Everyone documented him.

We also went to see a performance of The Boston Pops. It was a delight.

And as usual, we maxed out on holiday festivity, aside from food and drink. We lit candles (hard to see the fully illuminated menorah due to frost on the window). We did the tree. We had the fun of opening presents from each other. This year abetted by Fernando’s mom Carm, who is happy to be away from Lackawanna and the worst of the weather there.

EYE WITNESS TO PROGRESS

So. How is that eyeball cushion coming along? Faster than I expected.

Behold 90 of the completed 102 squares – that’s nine each of the 10 color combos. In total I will need 118, so I’m only about a week out from having them all. The designated recipient is here for a holiday visit, and with luck we will find time to do a placement for the front and back. That’s four rows of 11 squares across. I’ll take pix (just in case) and pin up the four courses, noting the order of the four. The back of the cushion will duplicate the front, and I will use up the rest to make the side edges, finishing out in a large rectangular block.

My plan is to slip stitch them together, assembling the strips of 11 as required, then slip stitching the long strips together for the two primary front and back sides of the bolster. Once I have the front and back, I will slip stitch together two more rows of 11, plus two of 4. However, instead of using slip stitch again to unite the front and back with the sides, I plan to make “piped” seams using I-Cord, knitting them together instead of crocheting. I’ve done this several times before, and the result is worth the effort. I’ll probably do that on something like US #2 or #3 DPNs (between 2.75 and 3.25 mm), I have some between sizes sets in that range, so I can experiment until I find the best fit.

I plan on using a zipper around three sides of one of the short ends, so the crocheted cover can be removed for washing. In any case, once I have the crocheted layer done and have an exact final measurement, I will build the inner bolster cushion (thick semi-rigid foam wrapped in quilt batting), encase it in a permanent inner cover (an old worn out bedsheet, repurposed), and sew a zippered “fashion lining” (black duck or cotton canvas). I need that lining because crochet isn’t uniformly dense, and there are little holes in the corners. I’d prefer they be backed by black, and whatever that black is – it should also be able to be removed for washing. So even when the crochet and knitting on this is done, the project itself will still be an ongoing effort.

Wish me luck. It’s been a while since I did a major cushion project, but this is much simpler than the knife edge, piped trim bench seat I did before. I’m sure this construction is not beyond me, but luck is always welcome. 🙂

In other news, like so many others we of Casa Magnifica had our own Thanksgiving celebration. Pies, turkey, sides, and the like. Just two pies this year due to it being a small crowd (pumpkin and chocolate pecan). And I share pix of The Resident Male tending to our turkey, which due to his care, skill, and watchfulness, was superb. Younger Spawn contributed to Pie Perfection again this year, crafting a pecan vortex of deliciousness, and an on-point pumpkin presentation, and along the way making a few key improvements to the basic recipes. I will be making additional notes on those soon to preserve those flashes of inspiration.

Oh, one last minor thing. If you have been following me via Twitter, apologies. I’m afraid that’s over. I no longer have a presence on that platform.

MORE BEHOLDING

Progress on the I’ll Be Watching You cushion. I’ve got six basic color combos done, as specified by Younger Offspring (the co-designer and recipient). We are in consultation right now about whether there need to be additional color arrangements of the lime, celadon, russet, and white – black being in stable placement across all the squares.

As often happens, when I started I had a general idea of what I was going to do, but now that things are underway, ideas are coming together. Here are some thoughts.

  • I experimented with three crochet hooks in various sizes and styles ranging from 2.75 mm to 3.25 mm. The best results were with the Clover 3.25 mm. That’s what I used to do the set above.
  • Crocheting in to end off as I progress is absolutely the right way to go. Every square has eleven concentric rings. That’s 22 ends per motif, or with 118 squares – 2,596 yarn ends to deal with. I don’t want to think about the pain if I left them until the very end. Right now each one only has the green tail from the final ring. Those of you who have received granny square throws and rejoice in their riot of color, know that someone loved you enough to deal with all of those bits.
  • The black is slightly heavier than the other colors. But because every square has the identical use and placement of black, there is no differential effect on overall square dimensions.
  • Both yarns are acrylic. There’s some rippling, as is common in crochet. I may have to “kill” the yarn – pinning them out and using steam and possibly pressure to set the fiber permanently in order to get rid of those undulations. It’s a bit more savage than blocking 100% wool which does relax each time it’s washed. “Killed” acrylic never bounces back. Before I commit to doing it however, I will try the method out on one of the experimental squares I made. Although it’s not the same dimensions as these keepers, it does have the rippled edges that these do, and will make a good test subject.
  • For final assembly into the full bolster I will probably do mattress stitch in the neon green to unite the green outer rims. BUT my plan is to make a square edge cushion, so I am thinking of using knit I-Cord to seam the front and back of the cushion to its edges, to make the equivalent of a piped edge. This would also be in the neon green, and will disguise a zipper at one end so the cover can be removed and washed.
  • Because there are gaps in the crochet where it would show through, I will be making a second cover for the cushion, probably out of pre-shrunk black cotton duck or light canvas. That will also have a zipper for easy removal and washing.
  • The bolster at the center of this also needs to be constructed. I am thinking of using a single piece of dense upholstery foam, cut to size and wrapped with quilt batting. Not sure if yet a third cover will be required to keep it all in place inside the black cotton cover. But if there is, it will be something like inexpensive muslin, and permanently sewn (no zipper).

Because progress on this thing will mostly be just adding to a tottering pile of completed squares, I will probably hold off additional blather until something significant happens. Otherwise visits here would be like watching grass grow.

KEEPING AN EYE ON CROCHET

It’s Spooky Season, and I celebrate with a slightly off beat bit of crochet. This is the first block of many, destined together to become a long bolster cushion for a sofa.

Younger Offspring whose apartment décor sits at the junction of vintage, Goth, mid-century modern, and exuberant and individual artistic expression has requested this and picked the colors. I provide the manual labor, and enjoy the fun of the journey.

The pattern chosen is Granny’s Eye, a paid pattern available via Ravelry. The yarns were chosen for value and wash properties. The black is KnitPicks Brava Sport, with a native knit gauge of 24 stitches = 4 inches (10 cm). The other colors are all Herschnerr’s 2-Ply Afghan Yarn. Although it has the same gauge, it is not as dense as the black, and has a more airy hand, sort of like vintage Shetland sport yarn. As a result it’s an unruly crochet, with the strands separating and shredding – very difficult to get a clean “grab” on them when forming the stitches.

I am using a 3.0 mm hook, to make squares that are 4.75 inches (12 xm) across. Preliminary calculations are that 11 x 4 units for the front and back, plus a squared side edge of one unit all the way around yield a finished cushion dimension of 52.25 inches x 19 inches x 4.75 inches (132.7 cm x 46.3 cm x 12 cm). That means I have only 117 more to do. I may experiment with a hook one size smaller to see how I like the density. I want it as tight as possible for this use. If so, my size/number of units calculation will have to be redone. In any case, there are going to be a lot of eyeballs in my immediate future.

Oh – that forehead cloth I’ve been working on? I’ve put it aside to get cracking on this bespoken project request. I’ll go back to it as soon as I can.

Being craft-multi-dexterous means that I can cycle among knitting, embroidery, and crochet (and sometimes sewing) and so avoid boredom or falling into a creative rut. Highly recommended. 🙂

UPDATE:

I’ve now experimented with hook sizes and styles. I most prefer a Clover 3.25 mm hook with its soft, wide grasping handle. For some reason the 3.0 mm hook I have from a set of mutiples must have an unusual alignment for throat and hook end, because I can’t pull it through a stitch without it catching. I can get the same gauge with better tension using the more comfortable Clover model. On to mass production!

WHERE DID JANUARY GO?

Here I am, resurfacing after a very hectic holiday season, and a flu-filled January.  But I haven’t been idle.  I can report on several bits of progress.

First, the annual holiday cookie bake – ten kinds, plus.  They are all long since eaten, but since I list the kinds each year (and often look back in succeeding years to remember the ones we liked best), here we go

Top row:  Chocolate crinkles (aka Earthquakes); Sugar Cookie Stars; Gingersnap/Lemon Sandwiches
Middle Row:  Raspberry Rugalach; Classic Tollhouse; Peanut Butter Suns; Coconut Macaroon, Chocolate Dipped; Buffalo Bourbon Balls
Mezzanine Row:  Both are fudge rolled around a whole roasted hazelnut
Bottom Row:  Sugar Stars with Lemon Filling (I had extra buttercream); Mexican Wedding Cakes; Hazelnut/Ganache Sandwiches (aka Oysters).

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The next accomplishment was a set of six mythical beasties crocheted placemats, which had their debut when family came to dinner for New Years Eve.

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As I described before, the designs are all from Dupeyron’s Le Filet Ancien au Point de Reprise VI, itself an on-line offering in the Antique Pattern Library’s filet crochet section.  I used a large cone of unmercerized cotton cordage, roughly worsted weight, that I bought aeons ago at the old Classic Elite Mill Ends Store, when it was in its original location, in the mill building itself.  I ended up having to unravel some experimental swatches I had knit with the stuff before, in order to have enough.  I still have one piece of the set unfinished – a small center runner to go with the mats.  I’ll pick that up again in the warmer months.  Note that the patterns for these beasties are from a matching set of squares – 35 units x 35 units.  Filet crochet with this stuff, at this gauge, using this hook, by my hand is NOT square, but the resulting rectangles are perfectly useful.  More on this project is here.

I also finished the Bee Socks, but younger daughter took them back with her to school, so no pix of both done at the same time. However, they are both complete.

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Moving closer to the present, it was freezing here in Massachusetts in January.  Although one could argue that knitting a cozy, warm, oversize sweater in the Fall would have been better timing, the weather did inspire me to knock one out in January.

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I’m quite pleased with this one, although in real life it reads more as maroon than blue-purple.  I used Melissa Leapman’s Men’s Cables and Ribs Pullover, and knit it up using most of two stashed bags of Debbie Bliss Glen. It’s a very soft merino/acrylic blend ragg single, with a soft spin.  It’s luscious stuff, but it is extremely splitty and difficult to handle, which is probably why it ended up at my late, lamented, local yarn shop’s remainder sale.  The striping effect was a surprise, but I like it.

The only thing I did to adapt the pattern was to stop knitting the sleeves after I accomplished the bulk of the increases.  At that point I sewed the front and back together, and finished out the turtleneck.  Then I tried it on.  I knew that the drop shoulders would be VERY wide, and being a men’s pattern, the sleeves – if knit to the original specifications – would be way too long.  So with the unfinished thing on, bib style, I measured the length of the run from the edge of the drop shoulder to my desired cuff termination point.  Then I completed the sleeves to that dimension for a perfect fit.

And now we are caught up to the newest project:  Octopodes for Niece Frankie – a bespoken project by special request, just started yesterday:

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The pattern is Octopus Mittens by Emily Peters.  I’m using Cascade Heritage 150, a fingering/sport weight yarn, but doubled to get the DK thickness recommended in the pattern.  And you can see, I’m using my Strickfingerhut knitting thimble/yarn guide thingy to assist with the stranding.

So far I’ve gone down a needle size from the pattern’s recommendations.  I may end up ripping back and going down another size.  We’ll see.  For the record, the solid yellow bit at the bottom is turned up and sewn in, to make a double-thick cuff.  Had I read ahead in the pattern, I would have used a provisional cast-on, then grafted the section later on.  At least I had the foresight to use a half-hitch cast-on, to allow for maximum stretch.

And a final note.  Younger Daughter is an octopus-fiend.  I suspect she will see this post, and wild with desire, demand her own pair of Octopus Mittens.  In her own colors, of course.

ALL GOOD THINGS

…the saying goes, must come to an end.

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So goes the summer of 2012.

One sure sign of summer’s end is retrieving one or more kids from Roads End Farm, the summer camp they both love.  As ever, much fun was had.  We’ve found there’s a direct correlation between how dirty they are at pick-up, and how great the summer was.  Let’s just say that this year we transported a little ball of filth with a big smile.  Here’s that same smile, up on Yuma.

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Dante, star of the pix below was having a bad leg day, and was returned to the paddock rather than being pressed into service:

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That’s Sue in the background, riding instructor extraordinaire.  However you’ll note that Dante is sporting a fashion accessory.  It was a very fly-filled season, and to give the horses some relief, they have been wearing fly bonnets.  However in the farm’s price range for pre-made, they only come in one-size-fits-all.  I don’t have a shot of Elliot, REF’s largest horse, but at well over 16.5 hands, he towers over the farm’s 76-horse mostly Morgan herd.  Stock fly bonnets would not fit him – not easily.  So I made him one, custom:

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He was turned out to graze the morning we visited, otherwise I’d have a shot of the thing being modeled.  I used the crochet pattern from Nordic Mart, picking up stitches after the crochet was done to knit the ear socks.  I used some old Austermann Record 210 remnants and a size 4mm (US G) hook, approximately 4 skeins total.

DRAGON GRAPH

For those who have asked, the dragon panel pattern from the Siebmacher modelbook I regraphed for The New Carolingian Modelbook has been posted over at Bibliodyssey.

Apologies to anyone who wondered why this was posted three times.  I’ve had problems wrestling with the “post away from home” feature.

Enjoy!

INVESTIGATIONS – FILET KNITTING AND CROCHET

Done with the reposts! I hope. Here’s something from String, first appearing on 27 June 2004.

INVESTIGATIONS – FILET KNITTING AND CROCHET

More investigations on filet knitting and filet crochet have convinced me that while filet knitting will be worth doing, provided I use very fine threads and 4/0 (1.25mm) needles or smaller, it’s not going to work out for my dragon panel.

I’m having gauge problems working my design into the desired dimensions, even if I eke out the too-narrow dragon motif band with additional borders top and bottom. For the record, my design is something like 43 units tall by 135 units wide. I’ve got a space to fill that’s 19 inches tall by 30 inches wide (although I can go over a bit on this). That means for the width, I’ve got to hit something like 4.5 rows per inch. Now in filet crochet, looking at a series of filet patterns with gauges found at the Stargazer site, I’m seeing gauges the smallest gauge I see (size 30 crochet cotton) is something like 10 rows = 2.3 inches. That’s about 5 rows = 1.15 inches. My 135 rows at this smallest gauge would be something like 31 inches wide. By contrast, the smallest I’ve been able to do so far in knitting is 3 squares = 1 inch (that’s about 14 or so knitting stitches per inch). At 3 squares per inch, my 135 units turns out to be 45 inches wide. I suppose I could hunt down longer size 5/0 or 6/0 needles (or make them) and finer threads, but I’m not inclined to do that right now. Interim verdict: Filet knitting is certainly worth further experimentation, but it’s not suitable for this project.

I think I’ll have to fall back on filet crochet to do my door curtain. I think I’ll take it and my Crazy Raglan with me as my official vacation projects.

Crochet Dragon Panel Pre-Project Calculations

Using these theoretical base calculation points for two thread sizes, I posit these rough dimensions and yarn consumption factors:

  • Base for Size 20 cotton – 10 squares x 10 rows = 2.2″ x 2.4″; a piece that’s 100×50 squares or 21.3 inches x 12 inches will take 519 yards, using old US size 9 steel crochet hook.
  • Base for Size 30 cotton – 10 squares x 10 rows = 2.1″ x 2.3″; a piece that’s 100×50 squares or 20.4 inches x 11.5 inches will take 485 yards using old US size 11 steel crochet hook.

Doing the math for Size 20 cotton (and working across the height instead of across the width to preserve sanity), that means my piece of 43 x 138 squares would be 9.16 inches x 33.12. Since my piece is 5934 squares total (138*43), and the original was 5000 squares, mine is roughly 19% bigger. I’ll round up to 20%, and I come up with a new yardage consumption estimate of 519 *1.2 or roughly 623 yards. I’ll add 10% to that for a fudge factor and round up – 686 yards. Repeating the operation for Size 30 cotton, I get an estimated finished dimension of 8.8 inches x 31.74 inches, and an estimated yarn consumption forecast of 641 yards. Remember that these yardage estimates are for the base dragon strip alone. I need to make it taller because the window space I need to cover is taller. With height estimates of 9.16 and 8.8 inches respectively I’ll need to either find or design complementing border strips that roughly double the project’s height. That means I need to double my yardage estimates – 1372 yards or 1282 yards for size 20 and 30 cotton, respectively. These estimates are VERY rough at best, but with luck should be good enough to get me started.

Now on to crochet hook sizes. The circa 1919 instructions on which I’ve based these calculations specify size 9 and 11 steel crochet hooks for sizes 20 and 30 cotton. According to various authorities (very few of whom agree), an 11 can be as large as 1.1mm, and as small as .75mm; a 9 can be as large as 1.4mm or as small as 1.25mm. My modern Susan Bates set goes from 0 to 10 (2.55 to 1.15mm). I’ll have to play and see what I can achieve using those sizes.

I haven’t decided which size thread or hook to use yet. Much will depend on what I can find locally, and on what size hook I can dig up without staging a raid on the storage cubby where all my tools and goodies are stashed.

So apologies. This knitting blog is going to take a side trip into crochet. But since I’ll be doing it during a forced blogging hiatus, I’ll only bore you with a couple large gobs of progress rather than by reporting in inch by inch.

KNITTING FROM GRAPHS; ROGUE; SOCK CLASS

Answer to a quick question:

Can the Fleur de Lys motif shown yesterday be used for knitting?

Sure. Like anything graphed, the fleur can be knit, but with a caveat. In cross stitch, the individual units that build a motif are square. They have a 1:1 aspect ratio, as wide as they are tall. Likewise, needlepoint units are (mostly) square. They’re worked on a square grid, but if they’re in tent stitch the stitches themselves are a diagonal spanning that square. Therefore the edges of color areas don’t always appear as neat and trim as in cross stitch. This graph is composed of square units, and is intended mostly (but not exclusively) for stitchers.

Knitting presents a different challenge. It’s rare for a knitting stitch to have a 1:1 aspect ratio. Knitting stitches are usually wider than they are tall. It’s not uncommon to have a stitch gauge of 22 stitches = 4 inches, but a row gauge of 30 rows = 4 inches (that’s the standard for a classic DK weight yarn). That works out to an aspect ratio of 22:30 or 5.5/7.5 if you simplify the representation. That’s NOT square. If you knit up a graph that’s been drawn out on a square ratio grid in this aspect ratio, you’ll end up with a motif that’s somewhat squished looking north/south direction.

There are several ways around this. First is to choose designs that have a bit of north/south spread in them to begin with. They’ll look different when compressed, but if they’re elongated enough to begin with, they’ll end up with a reasonable set of visual proportions. My lion graph, shared eons ago for people who wanted to do lion sweaters as described in the Harry Potter books is this kind of design. It’s got enough "natural" height so that it looks o.k. if worked verbatim in a somewhat squashed aspect ratio.

The second is to graph out your design on a grid that has an aspect ratio that matches your knitted gauge. If you want to do this, the English language Japanese website ABCs of Knitting features a very nice graph paper generator. It’s listed among the tools on the page’s lower right.

A third way to get around this problem is to blow up the design. Very simple motifs can sometimes be made quite dramatic by reading a unit of two knit stitches by three rows for every square on the grid. Not practical for larger gauge knits, as even a small motif could outgrow the area intended for display, but occasionally useful none the less.

A fourth fix is more of a fudge. Depending on the complexity of the motif you want to knit, you can take a plain old square unit graph and by repeating every third or fourth row (depending on your gauge), you can stretch it out to compensate for aspect ratio squish. Obviously, this works best for simple motifs rather than complex ones, and at finer gauges. I’ve done it in sport weight yarn or finer, and it has worked well enough, with the duplication fading into the overall look and not being evident. This method can be problematic though for things like graphed letters adopted from cross stitch samplers, and for ultra-small geometrics whose motifs are built on single square units. For the latter, I might be tempted to use the third method, above.

Of course one can always ignore the problem all together, placing the borrowed motif so that the stretched dimension becomes a design feature and not a bug. This is what I did with last year’s crocheted dragon curtain. I worked across the narrow dimension of the curtain rather than starting along the bottom edge, in part because the non-square nature of my filet crochet blocks would distort the motif too much if worked in the latter direction. You can see the original proportions of the graph, and the finished piece.

If you look the knight, you’ll see that in my crochet he’s taller and a bit squashed east/west compared to the original. But if I hadn’t called out the difference, I’d bet you’d not have noticed.

Rogue

Rogue progresses. I’m another two inches or so into the body. Not much more to show beyond yet another blurry photo of a slightly larger blue object, so I’ll hold off until I can post pix with more content. I can say that in spite of competing demands on my time reducing the total amount I can spend on the thing, now that I’m past the pockets and my multiple mistakes, it is fairly flying along. I am looking ahead to the next set of complications – alterations to the armhole area and beginning of the hood’s frame that might be necessary due to my gauge re-computation.

Sock Class

I’m beginning my prep for my upcoming sock knitting class, reading up on and trying out the Magic Loop technique. It may be heresy to admit, especially for someone who is going to be teaching a workshop on this method, but I find it to be fiddly and (for me) much slower than using DPNs. But I realize that there is a legion of DPN-haters out there who view this method as being their ticket to finally making socks. So I’ll persevere for their sake.

The plan is for a three-hour workshop, during which I’ll hand out an original pattern for a very abbreviated small cuff-down sock – roughly baby size, but with sadly truncated ankle and foot parts to save time. The idea is to walk the class through that ENTIRE sock in the given time, from the cast on, through the heel, and finally down to the toe. A normal size sock would be too time-consuming to get far enough for a meaningful experience, especially around the heel, so I’ll cut back on the plain old stockinette areas, leaving in just enough to get familiar with the manipulations of the needle(s). I’ll also hand out an original pattern for a normal size sock that the class can take home and use for practice.

One further complication – I prefer to teach on socks knit at DK or worsted gauge – again, fewer yet larger and easier to see stitches. But the extra-long circs for the Magic Loop method are in short supply, and are quite expensive. Likewise for the two circs needed for that method. I don’t think it’s fair to ask the class to come equipped with needles in a size that they (probably) won’t be using for their regular sock knitting, so I’m going to do the thing using standard issue sock weight yarn.

I’ve taught knitting classes before, mostly on toe-up socks, basic crochet, and on beginning knitting. I’ve been told I pack too much detail into the time alloted. In this case I will have to agree. Ideally I’d do either single oversized circ or two circ socks, not both. I do intend the choice to be either-or, as the methods are largely compatible. Learners will get their choice of working one or the other, and except for needle manipulation the basic sock-making steps should be the same for both. Obviously more thought on this is in order. If any blinding insights of clarity and nuance suggest themselves to me, I’ll post them here. Otherwise, it’s just more socks.

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