Tuesday, December 9, 2014

mandala fun

We recently moved from icy Boston to sweet Wilmington, North Carolina. Apart from enjoying the weather, I am truly enjoying our new house. We moved from a six bedroom Victorian, to the cutest 30s cottage, the perfect canvas for crochet projects.

Because our dining room is super tiny, only 9 feet by 9 feet, I chose diminutive furniture for it: a round table and cafe chairs. Instead of re-upholstering the seats, I decided to crochet mandalas.

I logged into my Ravelry account and browsed one beautiful mandala after the other, until I settled on the Little Spring Mandala. The pattern appealed to me because of its simple design with no raised stitches. Nicer to sit on, don't you think? Of course, I knew I would have to expand the pattern. I followed the pattern exactly until row 7, and then keeping the spirit of the design added more rounds for a total of 15 rounds.

I used a worsted weight super soft cotton yarn in summery colors: coral orange, sunny yellow, light turquoise, sandy beige and a mottled cream with flecks of each of the colors in it.

I have so far completed four mandalas. Two more to go. They each take me a couple hours, and the pattern is so easy I can watch I Love Lucy and even laugh without loosing track.

Don't these look fantastic? I think after I am done with the last two, I will create my own...

Friday, November 28, 2014

Crochet options

I have been exploring the possibilities of crochet for a while now and I can safely say that I am very much in love with the craft and I completely disagree with those who see crochet as a craft for the home stuff only. I love crocheting for my home, but I also love, absolutely love to use crochet for making garments.

To crochet garments successfully you have to make a few important choices. Here is my 2 cents worth:

- choose a thinner yarn than you would for knitting to get the same thickness in your finished product. The way the knots are created in crochet creates a bulkier fabric. Instead of a worsted pick a sport, instead of a sport pick a fingering, instead of a bulky pick a worsted.

- crochet with a hook slightly larger than the one recommended by the manufacturer. Pick a hook that is at least one or two sizes bigger than the recommended hook. Crochet a couple swatches with the different hooks and pick the hook size that gives you the best drape, that creates a soft, supple fabric that will make a comfortable garment.

- worsted spun or woolen spun? For very defined stitches pick a worsted spun, but for garments, my favorite is a woolen spun, or a yarn with a halo. This softens the very defined appearance of the crochet stitches.

Here is a little sample of the fun and beauty of crochet. This is a sample for a child sweater design I have been working on. The yarn used here is Cascade's wonderful Tangiers in 2 contrasting colorways creating a fun play on textures and colors.






Thursday, April 17, 2014

spinning winterberry farm fibers

A few weeks ago, I went to the Wayland Farmers' Market for their fiber day. Before I tell you about the fiber I got there, I just want to say, that we had a great time looking at locally grown fibers, yarns, and locally made finished products. It reminded me of the farmers' markets I used to go to growing up in France.

There were a lot of choices, but my heart settled on fibers offered by Winterberry Farm.Winterberry Farm is a small farm in Colrain, MA. Jill and Jim raise sheep and  angora rabbits. Jill hand dyes beautiful carded fibers as well as locks and sells raw fleeces.

I fell in love with her beautiful carded rovings. The roving I picked was a blend of cormo and polwarth in a heathery blue colorway with little flecks of softly contrasted colors.

It took me a little bit of time to figure out how I wanted to spin the fiber. Being more of a worsted spinner, I first had to accept that the finished yarn would be textured. After sampling, my Roadbug wheel and I  settled on a short backward draw, with no smoothing of fibers, with intention of keeping the yarn as a lightly fulled singles. The short backward raw allowed to have a little more control over the diameter of the yarn.

After I was done spinning the singles, I really liked the yarn but felt it still had too much twist for a singles. I ran the yarn again through the wheel but in the opposite direction to take some of the twist away. Pleased with the result, I finished the yarn lightly fulling it.

Here is the result, about 450 yards of super soft dk singles with character!

I have started knitting the yarn. I am working on a simple, natural, button down vest for the tiniest man in my life.

Monday, April 14, 2014

groovy socks free pattern

The Groovy Socks are back! Same great, easy, and fun chevron, but with some improvements to the pattern.

The pattern layout is completely different, this time a pdf with very clear step by step instructions. The pattern comes in multiple sizes from child to large adult. The rib flows smoothly into the chevron pattern, and the heel is an afterthought heel so you can zoom through the socks keeping you chevron groove!

I used my own handspun for the model: Malabrigo Nube in the Solis colorway and navajo plied but of course any striping, contrasted handdyed, or striping sock yarn will do.

The pattern is available as a free download on Ravelry. Click   Groovy Socks to download.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Handspinning Nube

I have been spinning a lot lately. Spinning then knitting my handspun, and unfortunately being lazy about sharing my progress. This time, though, I took the time to photograph the spinning in progress.
Malabrigo's Nube fiber is beautifully colored, easy to spin Merino. This colorway is Solis. I decided to spin as a very fine singles to be chain plied later for a scrumptious sock yarn...

I am already done with the spinning and plying,  but could not wait to start knitting with the yarn long enough to take a picture. I am using the yarn for the re-release of my Groovy Sock pattern. But that is the topic of another post.

In the mean time enjoy a bit of spinning goodness!


Thursday, March 27, 2014

city sleek: a free cowl knitting pattern

City sleek is my latest free knitting pattern. I had 2 lonely skeins of Rowan Felted Tweed DK, and no project for them. I have been very much in love with cowls, and cowls that could work for both guys and gals. Garter stitch has been a favorite of mine for a long time: simple and cushy.

The pattern is based on uneven repeats of rows and colors but with a clear progression. Slipped stitches carry the colors up into the next block creating a very fluid, sleek look. 

The systematic progression of the pattern, which is knit in the round, makes you want to knit just one more section. Before you know it you are done with the cowl, and are wearing it!

The pattern is available as a free pattern on Ravelry. To download the free pattern and get knitting city sleek click HERE.

Happy knitting!

Friday, February 7, 2014

it's a guy thing: a free sock pattern

There are a lot of men in my life. Some big and some small! There are a lot of perfect yarns in my life! Malabrigo Sock is one of them. And the Persia colorway leaves me speechless!

 I loved my men so much, and I loved this yarn so much, I had to come up with a super guy sock pattern from baby size to adult. And here it is. Seed stitch and mini baby cables combine to make a masculine, relaxed pattern, playing the subtle changes in color to the perfect tweedy effect. Don't they go great with jeans? And best of all, the stitch pattern makes the socks fun and interesting to knit, making you want to knit just a little more to get to the next repeat, even when the big men in your life are size 13!

The pattern is available as a free pattern on Ravelry. (Just click on the word Ravelry to be brought to the page.) I hope you and your guys enjoy the socks!