Monday, 30 March 2015

Understanding Crochet with the Rowan Spring Crochet Along!

Rowan's Spring Crochet Along - Week 1 Motif!

Rowan has run two blanket knit-a-longs; the first a Martin Storey patchwork type design, followed by the Kaffe Fassett Geometric blanket design. I have done both! My Martin Storey afghan is finished and is used every night when watching tv after the heat has turned down. My Kaffe afghan is all knit up, just needs to be sewn together. I intend to have this done by next Fall. 

In the meantime...

So, it was exciting to hear that Rowan had chosen Spring Crochet Along, and who better to design it than Lisa Richardson!

I am not a crocheter really, but this has spurred me on. While I'm not doing the CAL itself, I am going to use the motifs to fine tune my crochet skills.  It would be nice to be able to look at a crochet design and understand the instructions. Then if you loved it, you could crochet it. Well, that's the plan! :)

I can hold a crochet hook and make the basic stitches, and granny squares, no problem! But frankly, reading a crochet pattern had always been way over my head. When I heard about the Crochet Along, I knew right away that it was an opportunity to hone my crochet skills, including reading those dreaded crochet instructions (dreaded to me that is)!

In preparation, I scoured the internet for on-line crochet lessons. Of course, YouTube was the place to go and I wasn't disappointed.

My first stop was the Rowan Yarns YouTube channel for their Crochet Video play list...I love the adorable English accent of the demonstrator. 

Then I found an on-line Crochet course put together by fellow Canadian, Michael Sellick of "The Crochet Crowd". His 24 part "How to Crochet" video series shares everything you need to know to help you learn to crochet! 

Michael is a former truck driver turned full-time Crochet Crowd guru, he has his own style of teaching....very detailed, patient and down to earth...I think anyone could learn to crochet from these videos. 

So, with my handy crochet guide in hand and with my iPad and the you tube videos, I sat down and learned to crochet...yes I did!

For these "learner" motifs, I am using Rowan's Big Wool (from stash), which enables me to "see" what I am doing

The CAL uses the absolutely gorgeous Summerlite 4ply.

My multi-discipline fibre friend Ros is using Rowan's Summerlite,
and don't her motifs look wonderful!

Lisa Richardson has put together three different colour ways - Vibrant, Pastel and Blues - you can see them on the shopping list here.

Summerlite comes in 12 gorgeous shades....not a huge palette, but enough to create a colour way that suits you!

What about 3 darks and a bright? Or the 3 lightest with a bright? The 3 lightest with a dark? What about taking the first column and adding one from the second? Looking at these shade you can imagine all of the colour combinations you could come up with! OOH, radical thought, what about just one sophisticated would that be?

So, while I am NOT doing the official CAL, I am going to be doing each motif as a learning experience. Crochet is HOT HOT HOT right now, and I am feeling left out of the action :) 

What did Motif 1 teach me? 

Well, I tell your week 1 motif pattern at hand? Skim down through the instructions....Round 1, 2, 3, 4...right down to Round 7. Then you see it, a description of what the finished motif looks like.....

Completed basic motif is a hexagon shape. In each of the 6 corners there is a ch sp, and along each side, between these ch sps, there are 14 tr (dc). 

Always read to the end of the pattern first! Knowing what you are aiming for helps you to get set up right on that crucial first round! 

I am totally looking forward to Motif 2, which will be released on Friday, April 3.

Until then,

Happy Knitting (or crocheting)

(with Lackie and Daisy at her feet)

PS:  What am I reading right now?

After finishing Stephen Booth's "The Devils Edge", I started (and have now finished) the next book in the series "Dead and Buried".  These books are known as "the Cooper and Fry" series. Two totally opposite lead characters for comes out in so many ways.
" 'He'd read too many spy stories, perhaps. Thought he was George Smiley or something.'
Cooper thought it was interesting that Mrs. Wheatcroft had referred to George Smiley when most people might have been expected to mention James Bond. It suggested she'd read a few Cold War spy novels herself. John le Carré, at least. If Diane Fry had been here, she wouldn't have noticed that. She wasn't much of a reader. "

#crochet #Rowancal

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Emley.....finally a FP!

FP = Finished Project!
Finally - yeah!

I have no idea why this took so long....but I do know that at certain points in a sweater project, I am liable to stall. Finished the body? Want to tweak that neckline just a touch? Just need to sit down and sew it together, finish off those ends? These are all points in a project where I sometimes just get paralyzed and can't move on.

With Emley, everything was done....body knit, seamed together, neckline finished! The sleeves were even knit! 

This is when the Emley stall happened....but I made a vow to finish this before I turned the calendar page this here it is...I actually finished this on Sunday, March 22

It was really hard to take a photo of Emley with me wearing it...honestly....the way the yarn started to pool over my womanly bosoms! My husband loves it, says it is very flattering. Of course he would say this :)

When I am wearing it, I don't mind it at all. I guess from my vantage point I don't notice the figure hugging cables quite so much ! 

But when it came to the official "finished project" photo? It just seems those "things" were a bit too obvious for me!!!!  The pooling changed just as it reached this area...

Funny, but this happened at the exact same point on the sleeves too! Yes, both of them! I am not a student of planned pooling...but it seems there is a sweet spot and both the sleeves and the body somehow reached it at the same time, even when the stitch counts per row were drastically different.

I am wearing it right is comfortable, the sleeves are just the right length, it is lovely and warm without being overpowering in the heat department.  (I have not had the desire to strip off and run out into the cold while wearing this today. You may laugh, but at my age, layers are a good way to enable a quick cool down when necessary!)

The pattern called for ribbed cuffs and neckline finish. This is the only change I made to the pattern - I did two rows of garter stitch on the sleeves and neckline to help all that hot air escape! :)

When I first starting knitting this shade, I have to admit I was a overwhelmed with the colour combinations used in this colour way. Although I still think the yellow could be a bit mellower, I do have to admit that I am getting used to it, and it certainly brightens up my day. :)

I am usually a bit of a detail person, a hands on have to manage everything type of gal...but I am NOT going to worry about this pooling stuff, it is all part of the unique hand dyed yarn experience! I am going to live in the moment and love this sweater, artsy pooling and all, just the way it is!

Emley - knit with Rowan's Fine Art Aran, in the shade Conga 545
from the "Simple Shapes Fine Art Aran Collection" by Sarah Hatton!

Finally a FP!

Rowan's Fine Art Aran...

Merino Wool (50%),
Kid Mohair (20%),
Alpaca (25%),
Mulberry Silk (5%)

There is NOTHING comparable to it on the market!

This yarn is pricey, yes it is! But it is unique and I LOVE IT!

"Each person knows their role and all of us are needed to make the hand-painting team work well.We emphasise the importance of personal quality control, of pride in skills and abilities and the continual striving for improvement."

This is an excerpt from a write-up from Rowan about their Fine Art yarns which are made in South Africa. You can read the whole story here.

Rowan have produced a lot of designs for this yarn and you can see them all by going to the web site, selecting Fine Art Aran, and clicking "see all patterns in this yarn".

OR, you can just click on this link :)  All patterns in Fine Art Aran!

There are a couple here that I'd really love to knit! One in particular, the Weekender Jacket by Martin Storey in his "Elegant Knits" book has caught my eye. I'd love to do that one some day, maybe in Flamenco 549 or perhaps Rowan will have new shades for us come the Fall/Winter 2015 season. 

My Seed Stitch Swatch cowl is the same shade of yarn.
You can see what a difference the texture of the Seed Stitch

does to the pooling of the yarn
compared to the stocking stitch body...
of my finished Emley!

That book I'm reading? The Devil's Edge by Stephen Booth. Just finished it tonight!

This is the 11th in the series in which local lad Ben Cooper joins the force in Derbyshire, where he grew up and still lives, and where everyone knew his father.

Here is a favourite passage... 

"Cooper was well aware that some people never looked up at the sky. It just didn't occur to them to step out at night into an empty landscape and gaze at the stars. It was no wonder they failed to keep their lives in proper perspective. Small things seems to take on an enormous significance for them. A momentary offence became a matter of life and death. An insult was the last straw. And the outcome could be disastrous. Tragic. If only they would all stop occasionally and look at the night sky, just take a few minutes to count the stars and reflect on the millions of solar systems they represented. The mind reeled at the immensity of the universe. The soul was humbled at an individual's insignificant place in it."

Take a moment and go out and look at the night sky!

Happy Knitting,

(with Lackie and Daisy at her feet)