Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Almost Fractal

Isn’t it fun when a project becomes more than you planned? Sometimes that can be something greater than you expected. In this case, I mean when the components of a piece lend themselves to their own smaller projects.

Angled View of the Center Circle in the Fractal Crochet Table Runner Pattern in Size 3 Ecru Thread

I’ve been eyeing Fractal by Essi Varis for a long time, but it’s not a free pattern — plus it’s in a different currency. Such silly excuses not to buy a unique pattern that costs very little!

I finally downloaded the pattern, and bought a ball of Size 10 crochet thread. But I had some Size 3 thread leftover from a different project and thought there might be enough to crochet this table topper. Why not make two version in different sizes?

I picked up my 2.75 mm C-hook and set to work with the Size 3 thread. The pattern is easy to follow and works up quickly. But partway through the first vane, I realized there was no way I would have enough thread to finish the entire table runner.

Top View of the Center Circle in the Fractal Crochet Table Runner Pattern in Size 3 Ecru Thread

No matter — the center circle has a pretty simplicity of its own. I ripped back to the end of the center circle and finished it off as a doily.

And then I started another. I definitely had enough thread to make another circle, so why not have a set of doilies? The second circle used up almost all of my Size 3 thread.

Top View of 2 Center Circles in the Fractal Crochet Table Runner Pattern in Size 3 Ecru Thread

I’ve moved on to crocheting the full pattern in Size 10 thread, and am still enjoying the process. But that’s a story for another day.

What projects have surprised you by becoming more than you first intended?

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Verena Sleeveless Knit Shell

Summer is here in full force with temperatures topping 100 F (38 C) already. That’s far above normal for this time of year. I thought I’d be a little ahead of schedule with the summer tops in my project queue by starting in May. Not quite!

Front view of woman wearing blue hand knit sleeveless shirt with lace detail at the lower edge.

My first tank top for the season is #09 Sleeveless Shell by the Verena Design Team in the Summer 2008 issue of Verena Knitting. I used Plymouth Yarn Hannah in the color way 5 Navy. The yarn is 65% cotton and 35% rayon from bamboo. It’s a dense yarn made up of six 2-ply strands and it’s amazingly soft, although prone to splitting.

After my last sweater debacle, I didn’t want to take any chances with fit this time. I bought enough yarn for the largest size to ensure I wouldn’t come up short. And I swatched, and swatched, and swatched again.

I know cotton and rayon have little elasticity, so while the drape is lovely the fabric may not hold its shape; it can grow with wear. But I also know that those same fibers can shrink with washing and drying. I tested different gauges along with different washing and drying combinations, and felt I had a good handle on how the yarn would act as a fabric.

Ultimately, I saw a little growth in the swatches — enough that, with a bust size between two pattern sizes, I felt comfortable making the smaller of them. I debated lengthening the body of the shell, but decided against it. I was worried that the weight of the finished piece might make the shirt hang more than what I was seeing in my swatches.

Back view of woman wearing blue hand knit sleeveless shirt with lace detail at the lower edge.

The pattern is relatively straightforward. The transition from the body into the straps was unclear, but with close examination of the photos I was able to work it out.

I thought the lace chart was odd; it showed the pattern for 25 stitches plus selvedge, but the instructions were to only work the center 12 stitches plus two stitches at the beginning and three stitches at the end of each row. I never used the rest of the chart. In addition, decreases were to be made while working the lace but the decreases weren't accounted for in the chart; I had to count stitches to make sure everything was aligned once I began decreasing.

I’m happy with the shell. So far, the fit is good and the fabric doesn’t show signs of changing shape. But there are a few items I would address if I were to make it again. I would adjust the stitch pattern in the straps because they want to curl. And, while I’m happy with the overall length of this tank top, I would feel more comfortable if the lace started lower on the body; it reaches above my belly button right now.

If this heat wave continues, maybe I’ll find that I prefer the lace placement as is. A little extra “air conditioning” might be just the thing!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Two Kinds of Cloths

I never know whether to call them washcloths or dishcloths. The same cloth could be used for either purpose. But today, the two kinds of cloths I’m writing about are different patterns.

Two crocheted cotton orange washcloths or dishcloths stacked on top of a white cloth on a white background.

Alex Cloth
Last week, I wrote about crocheting the Alex Bath Mat by Busted Hook Patterns. I used a cone of Lily Sugar’n Cream Solids in White for the main color, and two balls of Lily Sugar’n Cream Ombre in the colorway Summer Prints for the accent color.

I crocheted until I couldn’t make another full repeat of the pattern, and ended up with 0.3 oz (8.5 g) of White and 1.35 oz (38 g) of Summer Prints left over. Why not make a coordinating cloth with the main and accent colors switched?

Two bright orange crocheted cotton Diagonal Dishcloths on an Alex Bath Mat with another cloth made from the Alex pattern

Once again, I used an I-hook (5.25 mm instead of the standard 5.5 mm). I started with a 32-stitch chain for a cloth that measures 9.5 inches (24 cm) square. I ran out of both colors toward the end, but was able to crochet the last few rows as an accent stripe with some extra white cotton yarn from another project.

Diagonal Dishcloth
With a 3-ounce (85 g) ball of Lily Sugar’n Cream Ombre in the colorway Soleil Ombre and the Diagonal Dishcloth pattern by Ananda Judkins, I was ready to make more cloths.

This is another easy pattern. Crocheted as written, except once again using my I-hook instead of the recommended H-hook, I was able to make two 9.5-inch square cloths with a little yarn left over. After a trip through the washer and dryer, these cloths are 7.5 inches (19 cm) square. They worked up very quickly and have a nice springiness to them — both in feel and in brightness.

Two bright orange crocheted cotton Diagonal Dishcloths on an Alex Bath Mat with another cloth made from the Alex pattern

All of these are going to be used as washcloths, although our dishcloths are looking a little worse for wear. Maybe it’s time to plan — and shop — for making dishcloths!