Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Saturday WrapUp!

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Well, I thought that my pink sock run was over, wrong! I'm now on pair #3 but the end is nigh! :) I actually don't mind that much since it's helping me to review the pattern that I've been writing while knitting the others. So yes, soon my readers, very soon, there will be a new pattern published.

I've also been working on a shawl, I've been working on this one off and on for quite a while actually. I'm using odd balls of mohair and just doing a very simple mindless knitting back and forth and increase by one at the end of each round. Once it gets deep enough, I'll begin increasing at both ends to create the wings/points. Like I said, mindless. And since I'm using odd balls, it will contain a variety of colours and textures. All the more interesting as many would say.

I haven't begun swatching for the new shawl yet. It's been a very hectic week for me. As for which shawl I'll be making, I'm narrowing my choices down to a couple or three or four. I'll have to post more about those soon.

Today I was out all day with my daughter and her husband. We attended the Friend's Festival at Gage Park in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. We had a lot of fun, lots to see, lots of music, lots of people. The weather was quite nice, a good breeze that kept the heat to a bearable level. Both my daughter and her husband decided to wear their medieval clothing today and people would stop and take photos and ask them questions about their outfits. It was a lot of fun to watch the children stand there, mouth hanging open looking them up and down. Someone graciously emailed me a photo they snapped with the iphone. 

Friend Festival, June 30, 2012

Don't they look adorable!?! :)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Bookworm's Picks

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I said I would review a knitting and/or crochet books this week.

The knitting and crochet books I love best since I design patterns are stitch collections. I have many of both in my collection but a series I turn to time and time again for inspiration is this one; a crochet series by Linda P. Schapper.

She did a fantastic job of collecting a huge variety of stitches, motifs, borders and put them into 3 books. Each stitch, motif, border is photographed and the pattern is numbered. It is clearly written and also well graphed out. The photos are clear and you can get a really good sense of how the stitch, motif or border will behave when used. What I especially like is that she did not attempt to name any of these. They are simply numbered and that to me is just perfect. Because I'm visual and tactile, I'd rather let the form and feel influence my choice than a name.

For any crocheter who is looking to build a solid foundation library of reference books, these 3 should be at the top of their list. I don't know what I would do without this collection. These can be purchases on Amazon.

Other stitch collections I turn to are from Japan. The inventiveness and attention paid to details when Japanese designers come up with new stitches, motifs, borders is nothing short of amazing. There are several online sites where you can buy Japanese books and I would highly recommend a browse through some of the Etsy shops or eBay stores that carry them.

PS. This review is made freely and I have not received any compensation for it. I am just sharing what I love about books!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Angel's Crochet & Knit time - The Golden Loop and its effects on your gauge

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Last week I talked about tightening up purl stitches and posted a lovely Youtube video by Cat Bordhi on how to do that.

This week, I'm going to talk about something near and dear to my heart and that is How many turning chains to make when you are using double crochet and how the Golden Loop affects your gauge.

The answer is quite simple. It depends on how tall your double crochet stitch is. 

Tall Golden Loop dc
If the first loop you pull through the stitch is very long, then you will have a tall double crochet stitch which will mean you will need to chain 3 to turn. 

Short Golden Loop dc
But if your first loop is very short and tight, that will make a short double crochet stitch which will only require a chain 2 to turn. Doing this will keep your edges nice and even with no bumps from a too long turning chain.

Most patterns say to chain 3 to turn, that seems to be the standard. But just because a pattern says to chain 3, it doesn't mean you HAVE to chain 3 to turn! There is no written rule that says you have to follow a pattern to the letter or in this case the number. Check how you make your double crochet and it will tell you how many you need to chain to turn.

The other thing that this Golden Loop affects is your gauge!
When you make a gauge swatch and you find that you are not meeting row gauge, chances are your first loop is either too tight or too loose. If your row gauge is too short, when you pull your first loop through for each stitch, pull up a bit more on it and it will make your stitch higher. If your row gauge is too high, don't pull up quite as much on your golden loop and you should hit row gauge.

While researching this post, I came across a Crochetville forum post in which Jean Leinhauser described her Golden Loop method for the double crochet stitch:
"YO, insert hook in specified stitch and draw up a loop -- NOW STOP! This is the Golden Loop, and it determines the ultimate height of your stitch. If you need a taller stitch, draw this loop up higher. If your stitch is too tall, don't draw this loop up so high.Now just finish the dc as usual. You may need to practice a few rows with the new height to get it to become automatic. It is this one loop, not the size of the hook, that determines row gauge."
What I'd been doing for a long time was simply doing a chain 2 instead of the requested chain 3. Since I found this gem, I have used it to adjust the row gauge and it works like a charm!

I've also tried other ways of taking in the turning chain when it had a bad habit of sticking out. One of those ways was to insert the hook in the 2nd chain from the hook, draw a loop through (this replaced the usual yarn over) and then insert my hook into the next stitch, yo, pull yarn through the stitch and the first loop on my hook, yo again and draw through both loops the same as a regular dc. This would make my chain 3 stick to the next  stitch like glue. In some instances, this is a really good fix for example blankets, dishcloths, anything that has an edge that will not be finished. 

I hope this helps solve some of the row gauge issues that many crocheters have. Good luck and let me know how it works out for you.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Saturday Wrapup!!! where I finish a cardi, 2 pairs of socks, a beanie, and more!

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Another Saturday, another week gone by. Oof! Time flies when you're having fun!

The first things I finished this week are a cardi and 2 pairs of socks.

I still have to write up the pattern for the socks but they are finished! One pair I've already delivered to the recipient who loves loves loves them and the other is mine! all mine! Pictures to come soon!

The second item is a cardigan I made for a young man, a handsome toddler (hates cameras). His Mom wanted a nice fall cardigan for him that wasn't fussy, that was functional and had to be navy blue. So here is the finished cardi. I made it a 2T so it will fit him for quite a while. I also made it top down so Mom can pick out the sleeves and bottom edge and add on to them as he grows since boys tend to grow up and not out until they are teens.

Mom is thrilled to bits with the cardi and was even happier when she also found the matching beanie tucked in the sleeve. Those falls days when the wind is blowing a bit harder but it's not cold enough for a coat but a hat is nice to have on. I hope he likes it as much as Mom did!

I'm contemplating starting a shawl. There are so many beautiful shawls on Ravelry, choosing just one is impossible! My soulsister has been busy knitting and crocheting shawls since last fall and I think the bug has bitten me and I can't ignore it any longer. I have several choices in mind, it's a question of which one I want to make first! I've added them all to my library on Rav so I can print off the pattern when I finally decide which one will go on the needles first.

I received an interesting ball of yarn from my soulsister for my birthday. It's from Patons Lace, in the Bonfire colourway. I'd never seen this yarn before and it looks to have long colour runs which would lend itself quite nicely to shawl knitting. So once I decide, it will mean swatching for gauge and hopefully go on to knit the chosen shawl. I'll have more next Saturday!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bookworm's Picks

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And for my first Bookworm's Picks....
I have 2 books I've been reading from. 

Yes I know, 2 books?! I usually have several books on the go. I can't just read 1 book at a time. I don't know if it's ADD or the fact that I am a Gemini and can't stick to 1 thing at a time... but either way, I read more than 1 book at a time!

  The first book I've been reading is called: 

Odd Girl Out; The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons. This is the revised and updated 2011 edition.

Here is an excerpt from the first chapter in the book:

[ "What are some of the differences between the ways guys and girls are mean?"   From periods one through eight, I heard the same responses. Girls can turn on you for anything," said one. "Girls whisper," said another. "They glare at you." With growing certainty, they fired out answers:   "Girls are secretive."   "They destroy you from the inside."   "Girls are manipulative."   "There's an aspect of evil in girls that there isn't in boys."   "Girls target you where they know you're weakest."   "Girls do a lot behind each other's backs."   "Girls plan and premeditate."   "With guys you know where you stand."   "I feel a lot safer with guys."   In bold, matter-of-fact voices, girls described themselves to me as disloyal, untrustworthy, and sneaky. They claimed girls use intimacy to manipulate and overpower others. They said girls are fake, using each other to move up the social hierarchy. They described girls as unforgiving and crafty, lying in wait for a moment of revenge that will catch the unwitting target off guard and, with an almost savage eye-for-an-eye mentality, "make her feel the way I felt."   The girls' stories about their conflicts were casual and at times filled with self-hatred. In almost every group session I held, someone volunteered her wish to have been born a boy because boys can "fight and have it be over with." ]

This book was recommended by my best friend, a retired grade school teacher. Until I read this, I never realized that as a child, what I was the victim of was that exact behaviour from the girls in my class. The only difference is, I never got the chance to do the 'payback' aspect. Somehow though, I feel better. Now I know that it wasn't me, I was the victim or the proverbial punching bag.

For anyone whose been on the receiving end, you know exactly what I mean and you can take heart in knowing that you are not alone. 

I highly recommend this book for parents to read while raising a daughter. Society has conditioned us to raise our girls in a certain way. Maybe it's time we changed those attitudes and thought patterns and started calling our daughters on their behaviours beginning at an early age. And for those of us with teenage daughters, this book will help you understand the rebellion, the tears, screams and escapades.

The second book I've been reading is by a well-loved author; Anne McCaffrey entitled Changelings, Book 1 of the trilogy: The Twins of Petaybee.

What are you reading this week??!?  Share your favourite book or author in the Comments! I love hearing about new books and/or authors.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tuesday... must be Angel's Crochet and Knit Time!

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And here I go with my first ever Angel's Crochet & Knit time.

Each week I will cover something different. It may be related to technique, a stitch pattern, a problem, a specific pattern and it will be either crochet or knitting.

So what will I talk about today?

I think I'll cover something related to knitting....most of us can knit beautifully with nice even stitches, but quite a few have issues when it comes to purling. The stitches end up being sloppy, loose, and make the knit side look off balanced. I had that problem as well until I came across this youtube video by Cat Bordhi.

She talks about sock knitting, but this technique can be used for ribbing and cables as well. Give it a try and see how it works for you.

Since I've been on a sock knitting bend for the past month, I can't get socks out of my head! But I've finally finished the last pair today! and I'll be writing up the pattern to publish soon.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Saturday Wrapup!!! where I find a dress, strawberries, a sock teaser, a tiny fibro rant and a book report!

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Well, true to form, here I am. My first Saturday weekly wrap up post!

Monday was wonderful as I always meet with my bestest friend in the world for lunch and our weekly catch up session. We only get to see each other once a week, so it's a crazy 2 hours of sharing and laughing. This week I surprised her with a pre-birthday gift! A hand made (by a local artisan) sheep! This lovely little guy/gal is a black face Suffolk, whimsical face, one of a kind pottery piece. I should have taken a photo before giving the sheepy to my sis, oh well! Her birthday was yesterday so next Monday there will be more post birthday fun! And I hope to remember to bring my camera :)

The rest of the week, I worked on several projects, some I can't talk about, others I can. 

One project I'm almost done with is a pair of socks! actually, the 2nd pair of a sock pattern I designed. The second pair is going to a customer as soon as it's done which should be over the next couple of days. Here's a teaser :) Don't you just love that toe? and I know the colour looks kind of bland, but once you see these in the sun, they just sparkle!

A neighbour of mine (we met at my knit/cro group on Friday afternoons) had brought some of her crocheted things to show to the group and two of the items she brought were super cute! One is a kitty kat doll and the other is a mat made using rubber canning jar rings. I've seen similar mats in the past, but not like this one! I've managed to reverse engineer both on paper and will be experimenting with the pattern until I can figure them out properly. She told me that both were made a long time ago by a friend without the use of a pattern and after searching high and low on the internet and Ravelry, I've found neither. The lady told me she's had both for many years and has never seen the same since she got them 50 odd years ago! I bet you will love these :) I'll take photos of the originals so I have something to compare them to when I've finished remaking them.

Today I dropped by the farmer's market after my knit/cro group was done to pick up strawberries, tis the season after all. There were so many of them there; it was hard to choose! I finally got these, they were not the most expensive, but they looked like the most delicious and they are :) 
I love slicing them up over my cereal in the morning. It's a little luxury I can only afford when they are in season. For 2 large cartons I paid 1$ each! Now you can't beat that for fresh strawberries.
MmMmM good!!!!

On my way back through the mall, I walked by one of those everything for a dollar or more stores. I noticed a rack of clothing that held some little summer dresses and one dress caught my eye. So I walked over and looked at the size and it was my size! I then look for a price and I find one that says $4.99! I turn to the lady at the cash, hold up the dress and say $4.99? and she nods yes. Again, I say $4.99 since I'm not sure she heard me right and she says "yes, they are all 4.99. I couldn't believe my good fortune.It is so rare to find clothing that fits me properly and once I got the dress home, I slipped it on and wow! it fits perfectly and it actually looks nice on me!
I know, this isn't the greatest picture, but that's as good as it's going to get today.

The joys of fibromyalgia.... and I'm using the word joy sarcastically, believe me.
When the weather gets hot and sticky as it has a habit of doing in southern Ontario beginning in June and going all the way to the end of August, my fibro goes nuts. Burning skin, aching joints and muscles, fuzzed up brain, or my internal cooling system goes on the fritz and I end up with insane sweating for no reason, even in air conditioned locations! We don't have air conditioning in our apartment so on really bad days, if the fan in the apartment doesn't do it, I take the bus down to the local library. This means I'm packing a lunch, my knitting and/or crochet projects and planning on staying there until 6 pm. It's fun, but it's also not fun... all depends on if I can find a comfortable spot to spend the day, and if I haven't forgotten anything while packing. I'm thankful that the library has open areas where people can come in out of the humid heat. One day we'll have an apartment where we can have air conditioning!
And finally, what I'm reading.

I found a book by one of my favorite authors, Anne McCaffrey that I had not seen before! and no, it's not one done by her son. I don't like his writing at all. This is book one of the Twins of Petaybee trilogy entitled Changelings. 

I'll have to report back on how I liked or did not like it soon. I say this since I did not like the Powers trilogy which leads up to this one. But my most favorite of course is the Dragonriders of Pern followed closely by the Brawn & Brain ship series of books.

I hope you've enjoyed my first ever weekly wrap up post. Let me know!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Shifting Gears

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When I began this blog, I wanted to write about my crochet and knitting designs, the how and wherefore of developing patterns for clothing, home and whimsy. I thought this was a great plan, but reality set in rather quickly. I realized this after seeing a pattern published soon after I'd posted a photo of a new design thinking I'd show it off before I published the pattern. Now I know, do not post photos of finished designs before the pattern is published! Sure, unless you go totally off into west field, everything has been designed already and we're just redesigning using different stitch patterns, different cuts or ways of assembling, but overall, a sweater is a sweater, a shawl is a shawl and a hat is a hat. I'm not going to get into this any deeper since that would be opening a Pandora's box I'd rather not open at the moment. Suffice it to say that I've learned my lesson about showing off a finished design before publishing the pattern.

Now what do I mean by shifting gears... Well, I know my posts have been sporadic on this blog, mainly because of the above. It literally left me feeling as if someone has slapped a piece of duct tape over my mouth. If I can't talk about my designs, what am I supposed to talk about!!!?!!! After consulting with another blogging friend who lives a parallel life to mine, she gave me some insightful feedback that I've been thinking through and this is what I'm planning on beginning to do shortly.

My Future Action Plan

I will not be posting every single day because I know I can't. With my health, outside commitments and responsibilities; that's not going to happen. But I do want to post more often than once every two weeks! 

So I'm going to aim for three times a week, a Tuesday post on something related to crochet and/or knitting, a Thursday post on what I'm reading, or dreaming about, or maybe even what I'm doing outside of crochet/knitting and finally a weekend post on what I've been working on that week (if I can talk about it) otherwise it will be a photo recap, maybe even a corner of something I'm working on but don't want to show off until published.

There is a lot happening in my life outside of crochet and knitting. If you want to hear about that, please let me know. I know I wrote way back when that I'd be dedicating this blog exclusively to crochet and knitting, but reality is, I have other passions in my life :) and there's nothing wrong with shifting gears halfway up the hill.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sunshine Award!!!

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Holy crow! I'm the recipient of a blog award! That's a first for me, but what a lovely first. Susan D of CrochetAddict a lovely lady, a special crochet friend, a sister in arms who battles the daily grind of CFS, nominated me!

Sunshine Award Rules

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you. - done
2. Answer the 10 questions on your favourite things.
3. Nominate 10 blogs to receive the Sunshine Award and let them know they've been nominated.

  1. Favourite animal:Wolf
  2. Favourite number: 13
  3. Favourite non-alcoholic drink: Durian shake
  4. Facebook or Twitter: FB!!
  5. My passion: Crochet & Knitting
  6. Getting or giving: Giving
  7. Favourite Pattern: Andalusian socks (my own, unpublished)
  8. Favourite day of the week: Monday (my soul sister knows why)
  9. Favourite flower: Lilies of the Valley
  10. Favourite country: Canada!!
Now it's time for me to nominate 10 blogs (in no specific order):
Jeannie from JeannieRichard
Rachel from Crochet Spot
Anne from Crochet Dyverse
Jennie from Jenny and Teddy
Melinda from Mo Crochet
Aisha from Is it a Toy
Maria from Aussie Maria

All the above ladies are very deserving of the Sunshine Award. I love reading their blogs and I'm sure you will love reading them as well.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Giving back with Crochet & Knitting

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Available on Ravelry!
I knew that there are great health benefits to crocheting and knitting, but I never knew just how important those are until last week.

I teach knitting and crochet in 2 groups every Friday. The first group meets in the morning at the local health clinic and is made up predominantly of women who are survivors of abuse. When I first joined this group this past January, I saw a lot of women who were shy, retired, didn't communicate very much. Being a survivor myself, I saw myself in those women. But once I began sharing my skills with them, I watched a change come over all of them and eventually noticed the same changes in myself. I felt happier, more confident, less apt to say 'no' or avoiding group situations. It made me feel important as an individual!

A month ago, I started another knitting group, this one meeting at the local library on Friday afternoons. This group is made up of women and men who either want to spend time with others who knit and crochet or want to learn how to knit and/or crochet. What I love about this group is that everyone is willing to teach those who don't know how or to guide them when they are unsure of a stitch. 

I've taught many of the women in this afternoon group how to crochet and/or knit. I didn't realise how much of an impact this sharing of my skills was having on some of my students until last Friday when one of my students came and sat next to me while I was packing up after the group was done. I asked her if there was anything she needed and she said no but that she wanted to speak with me. I was curious as to what she wanted to discuss.

She then explained that she suffers from an acquired brain injury from which she will likely never recover fully. That for the past several years, coping with this and being a survivor of abuse, she has felt useless, just floating around, not having any purpose in life nor seeing any ahead for her. She then told me that teaching her how to knit, not giving up on her because it took a lot longer for her to 'get it' gave her the confidence to continue, but that it's also given her confidence for other things in her life, that she doesn't feel useless anymore and that she can contribute. I had noticed in the group that in the 4 short weeks since she'd joined, she had blossomed. She is a lot more outspoken than when she came the first day, she is more than happy to volunteer as first show n' tell each week and that she promotes the group to other people she knows. She also commented that her family and friends have noticed the change in her and are loving it.

Until I heard all these things, I never realized just how much of an impact teaching someone how to crochet and/or knit could have on a person. I had to hold back tears of joy while I listened in awe of what the simple passing on of skills had given this woman and am thankful for it.

This Friday evening, the local library to kick off the World Wide Knit in Public week is holding a knit in for all knitters and crocheters in the area. So if you live in Hamilton Ontario, come on down and join us at the central library on the main floor where we will be knitting and crocheting from 6:30 to 9 pm! If you want to bring some finished projects to display, please do, we will be having a display for people to see what we have made!