Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dye Time!

Well, my daughter and I had an incredible time this summer dyeing and spinning fibers to yarn. Her skill as a spinner is amazing, and we had lots of bonding time over the spinning wheels! She treated spinning as her summer job, and her yarns often sold quicker than mine--what a gal.

Now that school has started, it's been time to dye up lots of yarns I've collected, and skein them up for my Etsy shop. Here you see the wonderful use to which I put my excercise bike. No sacrifice is too great for the sake of color! Somehow my fingers just love the feel of fibers, and the constant lure of colors is irresistible.

And finally, to entertain you, some rainbow-dyed firestar, which will spark up my future spinning.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Feather Stole: A free charted crochet pattern

I admit it: I am an opinionated crocheter! I'm a huge fan of crochet charts. Charted crochet patterns from all over the world are are simple, beautiful, and done with universally used symbols which require no translation. It's a win/win/win.

A few months ago I completed a simple lace stole taken from a Japanese crochet book, and posted it on Ravelry, where it got lots of attention. Because Japanese books can be difficult to get hold of, and because I want to encourage everyone to try their hand at charts, I here present my own version of a stole which is quite different, but has a similar effect--The Feather Stole:

This is my first attempt at designing for other people, so I would welcome feedback and/or problems and questions. Of course, I have tried to be complete, but this is a learning process for me.

Note that my charts are handwritten, as I have been able to learn of no program for writing crochet charts, other than for filet or round patterns. If anyone knows of such a program, please let me know, and I will gratefully upgrade these charts!

Please feel free to use this pattern for your own personal use and pleasure. It is my copyrighted design, and is not for commercial use, resale, etc. Thanks everyone!

Feather Stole

Designed by Elizabeth Myers

An elegant lace crochet stole, which works up quickly in fingering weight yarn. Made from only three crochet stitches arranged in intriguing patterns (and a few slip stitches on the end rows), the stole's pattern is not difficult, and is a good choice for either an advanced beginner who would like to try something new, or for a more experienced crocheter who wants a rewarding and enjoyably straightforward design.

This pattern is available in charted form only. The four stitches (using American crochet terminology) and the symbols used for Feather Stole are:

--Chain Stitch: Each circle is one chain stitch.
--Single Crochet: Each small cross is one single crochet stitch.
--Double Crochet: Each long vertical bar, with a short bar across the top, and through the middle, is one double crochet stitch.
Slip Stitch: See description of picot edging row below.

Yarn: Glorious, from Yarn Place in Black Cherry Tweed: 50 grams, about 200 yards per skein. I used just a bit more than 2 skeins of this yarn, so 3 skeins will probably be needed to complete this stole as written. Any fingering weight yarn should give a similar effect, but different gauge yarns will work, of course.

Hook: I used a size C hook, but tend to work loosely. You might find a larger hook works well for you.

Gauge: Each completed pattern motif, of ten rows and from shell to shell, is about 5 inches long, and 1 and three quarters inches wide after blocking. Gauge is not crucial for this pattern. However, I highly recommend completing a

Gauge Swatch: Trying out possible yarns and hooks, as well as becoming familiar with the pattern, will help you avoid disappointment down the line.

It's easy! It's fun! It's really, really quick! I've even written out a separate Gauge Swatch Pattern for you! Your gauge may change as you learn the pattern and start zipping along! You really, really want that to happen in your gauge swatch, not in your stole!

Kidding and exclamations aside, yarns that you thought would be perfect for Feather Stole might look blah when worked, or need a different hook size to shine--you can learn so much from the teensy, fast little gauge swatch, that you don't want to miss out on it. Right?

Washing and Blocking your Gauge Swatch: Now take your gauge swatch, which can have as many pattern repeats as you wish to find the effect that pleases you most. But to really make this pattern shine, it must be blocked. Block according to directions given farther down, to see how your stole will look, and the true gauge. Pick the effect you want, and away you go! Or if nothing suits you, try again. This is your project, and you can do what you want.

Directions and Notes: Feather Stole is begun by crocheting 55 chain stitches--10 for each of the 5 motifs across, and 5 for the decorative edging. This chain is close to the middle of the stole, as shown in the diagram of the complete stole. Body Pattern A is worked out from this beginning chain. When 70 rows of Body Pattern A have been completed (that is, three and a half repetitions of the full 20 row pattern repeat), work the 13 rows of End Pattern B. Break off yarn and weave in end.

Now begin the second half of the stole. Fasten yarn to first stitch of the beginning crochet chain, and work Body Pattern A from that point as shown in the chart, from the middle outward. Note that this half of the stole begins at a different point in the pattern repeats than the first half. Crochet four complete repetitions of the full 20 row pattern repeat, for a total of 80 rows. Then work the complete End Pattern B as before. Break off yarn, and weave in all remaining ends.

Description of Picot Edging:
Those not familiar with charts might find the final row of Border Pattern B rather confusing. How do all those chain stitches hang together? It's actually quite simple, and implied in the way the chains form loops on the pattern.

To complete each edging shell in Row 13 of Border Pattern B:

DC, chain 7, slip stitch in second chain from beginning of chain, chain one, DC.

To complete edging row 13, proceed with chain 2, shell, chain 2, shell, etc, across the end row.

Altering the Pattern: Feather Stole's size can be easily altered to make either a small scarf or a wider and/or longer shawl, depending on your preference. With a blocked gauge swatch, it is easy to accurately add or subtract motifs in the Feather Stole pattern to make any size desired.

>Blocking: This pattern benefits from blocking. Blocking consists of stretching out the stole or swatch while wet, and keeping it under tension until it dries. When dry, the pins and/or blocking wires can be removed, and the blocked stole will hold its pattern beautifully.

To block, soak the completed stole for at least a half hour in cool water. Very gently drain or squeeze out some of the water from the stole. Gently fold or roll up the wet stole in a large towel, and press out some more of the water. Now take the damp stole and using either strong stainless steel T-pins or blocking wires, stretch and pin out the stole, and let it dry completely. This pattern looks best if each side point and each end picot is pulled out. Do not be afraid to really stretch your stole! It will grow and become more lovely and lacy. It's like magic.

Schematic and Charts for Feather Stole: These charts are also available on my Flickr account, and the charts can be enlarged for better viewing.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Joy of Lace

3/29: Welcome to my first blog post! I hope to add some interest here soon with a free pattern and lots of pictures of my hand spinning and fibers. Meanwhile, I'm just getting the feel of this.

Although it's still plenty cold in parts of the US, the warm weather is approaching. In some places, it's already arrived! However, even in balmy Hawaii, there's no need for the fun of knitting or crocheting to stop when the thermometer goes up.

Consider lace! Those thin, cooler laceweight threads are nearly weightless, and even the simplest lace forms eye-catching patterns. I'm a fan of the finer threads myself, and love the beauty and portability of lace projects. You can usually fit them in a ziplock bag inside your purse--that's convenience! And you can end up with a masterpiece.

Try feather and fan for a classic, easy lace, which many of us have used in other weight yarns and projects. A fantastic introduction to lace knitting is available at: This is written by Eunny Jang, current Editor of interweave knits. It is so clear, well illustrated, and fun to read! And for crocheters, look here for inspiring free patterns as well:

Although they are not as cool as the combed merino laceweights, the luxury kid mohair/silk yarns just seem to make everyone's knitting look genious. Here are some samples of my own knitting and crocheting in this type of yarn, which some have referred to as "crack for knitters"--although crocheter's are welcome to join that party, too! A simple but elegant design for one skein of this laceweight is the ingenious pattern Wisp: There are not many actual pattern rows, but the effect is stunning.

Just for fun, here are some samples of my own efforts in this yarn:

The teal is a knitted shawl called Diamond Fantasy, by Sivia Harding. And there you see me modeling my crocheted sample shawl for a design I'm creating.

A lace shawl or garment is just the thing to chase off the evening chill during summer! Or get a head start on Christmas, and make a lace scarf that, I promise you, will be treasured and used. Just as with sock knitting, lace has the appeal of providing some quick rewards (with the right patterns) because it has all those holes, and is stretched even larger when finished. Plus, lace doesn't take much yarn compared to most other projects, so you get more for your laceweight-dollar. And most of all, it's a cooler alternative to those bulky wools that are so satisfying in winter!

I've got some lovely, cool, combed superfine Australian merino laceweight yarn ready to dye, as well as a very high quality Alpaca/merino combed laceweight yarn. They should appear next week in my Etsy shop Serendip: Please drop by!