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Archive for April, 2010

Beach Cardi Crochet-Along: Shoulder Seams and Sleeves in the Round

April 29th, 2010

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Hello! I hope everyone’s cardis are coming along nicely. I know the armhole pattern was a bit of stumbling block, but we’ve worked through it by helping each other and can move on to the sleeves themselves soon. I hope a week was enough time for your blocking sweater to dry — I know the Nature’s Choice sure took a few days to dry completely for me! But it was well worth it – the lace pattern opened up nicely and now my cardi is shaped to the correct measurements, ready to be seamed and given sleeves. So let’s get to it!

For the shoulder seams, I chose to do a crochet-adapted mattress stitch, also called the invisible sewn seam, because it gives a virtually invisible join on the top of the shoulders. (Mattress stitch is a popular method of seaming in knitting.) You can use any seaming technique you wish (click here for slip stitch seam directions or click here for single crochet seam directions), I’m just partial to the strength and finished look of the invisible sewn seam.

To work this sewn seam, follow along with the below photo tutorial [as usual, you can click on outlined photos to see them larger]:

1. Insert your tapestry needle in the corners of each piece (A and B let’s say) – I don’t use knots, just insert the needle from the bottom of each corner and leave a tail for weaving in later.

2. Work the needle under the top loop of the first stitch on piece A, bottom to top. This is at the base of V of the following stitch, so your needle is coming up through the center of the next V. That loop can be a little tricky to dig out from the base of the following stitch, but you will find it.

3. Repeat on piece B, inserting under the top loop of the corresponding first stitch, again working essentially into the center of the following stitch.

4. Repeat, working back and forth between A and B continuing in this manner, leaving the yarn slack for a couple of stitches.

5. Now tighten it! See how nicely the stitches come together on the two pieces? You can’t even see the seaming yarn if worked correctly. I used contrast yarn to make the process easier to visualize, and yet you still can’t see it!

Time for sleeves! To work the sleeves you are crocheting along the entire armhole opening, then continuing down the sleeve working in rounds. Each round is connected at the end by a slip stitch and then the work is turned and worked back around until you have your desired sleeve length. The great thing about working attached sleeves this way is you can try it on as you go to be sure those sleeves fit! And it’s exciting to see the sweater finally taking shape.

The pattern tells you how many stitches to crochet along the opening and you want them evenly spaced. A trick? Divide the sleeve into sections! For me, I needed 30 hdc, ch 1 stitches around so I divided it in half first, knowing I’d need to work 15 to the top of the opening, then further broke those sections in half to know where my 8th stitch should be ending up. How do you divide them? I find that safety pins or split-ring markers work great! Just slip them in at regular intervals and adjust your stitch placement accordingly to get them to work out evenly around the opening. This way there are no surprises at the end and you have a nice, even sleeve!

When I finished my first sleeve I couldn’t resist trying it on and admiring my handy work – almost a full cardi! However, in doing so I wasn’t sure I was in love with the look of that sleeve. The sweater is made to have large, almost kimono-like sleeves which are a great design, but just not my personal style.

I decided to play around with the second sleeve and see which one I like better.

To do so, first I closed up the armhole opening slightly from the bottom, shortening it about 2 inches using the same mattress stitch from before because I felt the armpit was a little too low on me. Next I figured out how many stitches I’d need to work around the opening by comparing my smaller armhole opening it to the first sleeve: 23 ch-1 spaces instead of 31 for my size S/M. I also thought I’d like elbow length sleeves instead so I continued to try it on as I went until almost the right length, then worked the final hdc rows for the cuff. Here are the results of my sleeve experiment:

Seeing the difference, I think I’ll go with the smaller, shorter sleeves just because of my own preference. So it’s time to rip out the first sleeve and apply these new changes! I love that about crochet — how easily you can rip and re-do without worry to get things how you want them. I’m going to work on getting the other sleeve right, then next week I’ll talk about the hood (and possible collar modifications!) and this cardi will be about finished!

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Knitting Around the World

April 27th, 2010

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I’ve always been fascinated by history and anthropology.  After I came across a blog post about headgear from Harvard’s Peabody Museum that included a knit mask, I found myself browsing Peabody’s collection for interesting knit artifacts.  The Peabody collection has a lot of interesting images, although not much text to go along with them.  The basic information provided (place and occasionally a date) makes me imagine these items are even more exotic or historically significant than they probably are.  Here are some of the interesting items I found:

Gloves from Northwestern Siberia
Gloves from Northwestern Siberia
A lacy hat found near Lake Titicaca in Peru
A lacy hat found near Lake Titicaca in Peru
Hats from Algeria
Hats from Algeria
Hopi Legwarmers from Arizona
Hopi Leggings from Arizona
Decorative Siberian socks
Decorative Siberian socks

It is interesting how knitting is a common thread (excuse the pun) across continents, but each culture definitely has a unique spin based upon their needs.  To see more knit garments, search for “knit” on the Peabody keyword search page.  For more information about any of the items above, just click on the picture.

We’re Honored to Be the CLF’s Most Crochet-Friendly Yarn Company

April 26th, 2010

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For the second time, we’re honored to have been selected by the Crochet Liberation Front as their most crochet-friendly yarn company of the year.

Crocheters are an important part of our community, and we’re happy to provide over 1,300 free crochet patterns on our website, as well as video tutorials on YouTube, stitch patterns, FAQs, diagrams, and so much more on our website.

We want to thank the CLF for recognizing us and for promoting the art of crochet!

The Crochet Liberation Front originated as a group on Ravelry and is now a website, blog, and podcast. The CLF is dedicated to the appreciation of crochet as its own entity, rather than the “kid sister of knitting”. The Flamies were devised to honor brands, designers, magazines, etc. that respect their mission of treating crochet equally.

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Beach Cardi Crochet-Along: Armhole Shaping and Blocking!

April 22nd, 2010

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Hope you have all had a great week of crocheting! It’s been great to see so many of you active in the comments and in the Ravelry group — this is the beauty of a crochet-along for sure! I’ve certainly made progress this week – the body length is done and it’s time to talk armhole shaping. The beauty of this pattern is that the shaping is very minimal: the construction is like that of a modified drop shoulder — there is a slight inset for the the sleeve, but without the complicated sleeve cap construction of a full set-in sleeve.

The shaping is accomplished by switching back to working in parts: right front, back and left front worked separately, then later seamed at the top for the shoulders. By doing this, you are leaving a slight inset section on each side, visible in the pattern schematic. The main thing to be aware of is that for the fronts you are maintaining the 5 hdc cluster at the center edge, but only ch-1 spaces on the edge that the sleeve will be worked from. The back no longer has this cluster at all and is only composed of the ch-1 space stitches. This is because later the sleeves will be worked off of these edges (armhole opening) so there is very minimal finishing to be done!

For clarification on the right and left fronts: After row 1, the pattern just says “continue in established pattern” which can feel a little vague given that this is a whole new section. BUT what they mean is what I explained above about the 5 hdc clusters at the inside edge only and is accomplished by working row 1 of the right front followed by row 1 of the left front, then repeating. Written out for the right front:

Row 1 (RS): Ch 2, turn, sk first hds, hdc in next 4 hdc, hdc in next ch-1 sp, *ch 1, sk 1 hdc, hdc in next ch-1 sp; rep from * 10 (12, 14) more times

Row 2 (WS): Ch 2, hdc in same sp, *ch 1, sk 1 hdc, hdc in next ch-1 sp; rep from * across to last 5 hdc, ch 1, sk 1 hdc, hdc in last 4 hdc, hdc in top of turning ch.

Rep these 2 rows until fronts measure 11 (12, 13) in from beginning of armhole shaping.

The same applies to the Left Front, only starting with row 2. Hope this helps clear up the confusion of continuing in established pattern!

Having finished this section I’m ready to sew the shoulder seam and move on to the sleeves – but I’m choosing to pause and block the body of the sweater at this point. Why? Well for starters, it’s going to be easier to lay the cardi out to dry at this point, because all pieces can be laid flat without overlap since the shoulders aren’t closed up yet, allowing it to dry much faster. It’s also a good idea to block before seaming in general, so you have all the pieces to their correct size based on the schematic and your stitches nice and even.

To block, I soaked my sweater in a sink full of lukewarm water and fiber wash for about 15 minutes, then rolled it gently in a towel to remove the excess water.

I then used blocking wires along the top and edges of the sweater and pinned it into place on my blocking board, using a tape measure to make the pieces match the size of the schematic, then let it dry! Cotton takes some time to dry, so I have to be patient before I can move on to seaming, but it will be worth the wait. I’m excited to see how the ch-1 space pattern opens up with blocking.

Don’t have blocking wires or blocking mats? You can easily use pins (T-pins work the best) and pin into folded towels or carpeting: any surface you can pin into will work, just take the moisture into account.

Close up of space under the armhole

You can also steam block instead of the wet blocking procedure I did, I just don’t have a steamer to use personally. If you use the steam setting on your iron, be VERY SURE not to press the iron to your fabric! You never want to iron your crochet fabric because it flattens the yarn and stitches beyond the point of rescue! And please take into account the fiber content of your yarn when choosing a blocking method: acrylic doesn’t take too kindly to high heat so be careful if you use steam not to melt it – wet blocking is a better option. And there are some who say acrylic can’t be blocked, but it’s not true! I think it’s always worth the time to block your pieces to even out stitch tension and get the best look out of open-work patterns like this one.

I’ll see you next week when my sweater is dry from blocking and ready to move on to seaming and sleeves!

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Our Newsletters Come In 3 Different Flavors

April 21st, 2010

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Many of you (over 1 million!) know about The Weekly Stitch, our newsletter that features Lola, articles about knit and crochet techniques, new yarns, tip of the week and a charity story.  If you don’t currently subscribe, sign up on our home page by entering your email address. Once you enter your address, you will go to a page where you can subscribe to our other newsletter.

Our newest newsletter is called YarnPlay.  It comes out once a month that includes patterns that are a bit off the beaten path.  Rather than sweaters or afghans, we offer more whimsical ideas for yarn crafting.  Next month we will offer a really fun rug!  Sign up here for YarnPlay.

If you want the inside scoop on what’s new in patterns, subscribe to our weekly new patterns newsletter. This week is our largest week this year, with 31 new patterns announced. Since we don’t have space in The Weekly Stitch to show every new pattern, you’ll get this listing with photos when you subscribe to see what the latest and greatest patterns are. Sign up here for weekly new pattern updates.