Sunday, May 24, 2009


I'm getting close to finishing the front panel of the top I'm making for my mother. This is a stitched photo of the total length. Strangely, a seam showed up in the image (around the 10" mark) after saving it that wasn't there while I was stitching together the two photos. Oh, well.

Click on the photo for larger view options.


With the gauge swatches showing me 15 hdc per 3 inches instead of the 12 hdc per 3 inches in the book, I was curious as to how much of a difference it made. I am using a different yarn than in the pattern, but it has the same bulk (3 or light), plus I'm using the hook size recommended. Technically, it should have been the same gauge, but things like a different brand of yarn, or even the tension I personally keep while working, can make a difference.

Based on the pattern instructions, 66 stitches should have given me a length of 16 1/2 inches. In measuring, I found 66 stitches put me at about 14 1/2 -15 inches, instead. Had I actually had the same gauge as the pattern, that would put the actual length (almost 23 inches) at 6 1/2 inches longer than the pattern. With the different gauge, the change added about 8 - 8 1/2 inches to the length it would have been without the adjustments.

As I near the point where I have to make the arm hole, I will need to check the width and see if I need to add any extra rows to make up for the different gauge. That part is easy. What I'm not sure of is how this will effect the sleeves under the arms. I don't actually know how large my mother's arms are, but I'd rather err towards larger than smaller. Will the difference in gauge make the underarm area too snug? I'll just have to measure against myself and hope she's not larger around the bicep than I am, and that there won't be any pulling in the armpit. That would be really uncomfortable, I imagine.

Meanwhile, I find I'm really enjoying how the resulting fabric is working out. It has a lot of stretch and give, is light and has a very fluid behaviour. I think it will be very comfortable to wear, if I can get the fit right under the arms.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Crochet - Balletneck Sweater - getting started (legal update)

Today, I started on the gift for my mother. Here are the details so far.

Pattern: Balletneck Sweater, taken from Crochet that Fits; Shaped fashions without increases or decreases by Mary Jane Hall

Yarn: The yarn used in the book's sample is Bernat Satin Sport, with Lion Brand Microspun as a recommended substitute. These are bulk rated as light, or a size 3. What I am using is Paton's Brilliant in Prettiest Plum, which is also a bulk rating of 3.

Hook: The pattern recommendation is for I/5.50mm or the size needed for 12 hdc in 3 inches.

The pattern also called for an optional ribbon to decorate the yoke, which I will be skipping.

Balletneck sweater - swatches

This is the first gauge swatch I did, using the 5.50mm hook. The result was 15 hdc in three inches. So I tried it again using a J/6.00mm hook and got...

Balletneck Sweater - swatches

... 15 hdc in 3 inches. Uhm... okay. :-/

The biggest difference was that using the larger hook was a lot more unpleasant to work with. I don't like using big hooks with thin yarns. I don't like how loose and floppy, almost tangled, it feels to work with. There's also a lot more open space in the stitches, which would leave the wearer requiring a camisole or something underneath for modesty. No thanks. I decided to stick with the 5.50mm hook and adjust the pattern accordingly.

Adjustments: I inherited my mother's body shape. We both carry most of our weight in the front, on the belly. She is shorter than I am, and I have a rough idea of her measurements. I figure that if this fits me slightly loose and comfortable, it should fit her much the same way.

With that in mind, I used the photo in the book and my own body as reference in deciding on the length of the starting chain. At the last moment, I remembered that my body shape was surgically altered. My bust is now a lot smaller, so I added more stitches to make up for her still-original bosom. In the end, I added an extra 36 stitches to the starting chain (which was only 48 stitches to begin with - much shorter than I like). Based on the gauge in the swatch, that's an extra 7 1/2 inches or so in length. If I worked it out right, my mother should be able to comfortably raise her arms and not have to worry about the bottom riding up and flashing belly.

Balletneck Sweater - armhole shaping

[data removed to protect the ideas of the author's.]

I've been reading and re-reading the instructions for the sleeves, which is very different from anything I've looked at before. At this point, I don't get it. I can't "see" what is being described, even with the diagrams. Which is fine. With me, I know I won't get it until I'm actually doing it. Then it will make sense.

After the sleeves and sides are done, there is a lovely yoke done in the round. There is also an optional sleeve cuff. I have not yet decided if I will do full length or 3/4 length sleeves. That can wait until I'm actually doing them.

For any family members who happen to be reading this, I don't mind if my mother knows I'm making something for her. I just want to keep the actual design a surprise. Thanks. ;-D

Crochet - sweater bag - legal update

Using the book I mentioned in my previous post, I worked out this bag.

Sweater bag.

[data removed. It appears my descriptions were too ... descriptive, and I've been asked to remove it to protect the author's ideas. Since I can't figure out how to do that without making the whole thing completely cryptic, I've removed the whole thing. If you want to make this bag, the pattern can be found in Crochet that Fits: Shaped fashions without increases or decreases by Mary Jane Hall.]

As worn by my 12 yr old daughter.

My 12 yr old daughter agreed to model the bag for me. As you can see, it's a very generous size. Because of the smaller bulk of the yarn and the hook sizes, it's very open. I wouldn't want to use it as a purse without a lining added in, as small objects will fall through.

Big enough to fit a cat.

However, it fits a cat quite nicely.

She didn't want to come out again, afterwards. *L*

Now that I am comfortable with the technique, I will start on the top for my mother.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I've changed my mind. - legal update

For the past while, I've been experimenting with some new crochet stitches (linked double crochet, specifically) as well as working on a pair of socks using elastic yarn. I've turned the heel on the first sock I'm doing, but I'm not sure I'm happy with how it's looking. Once I've got it figured out and I'm happy with it, I'll take photos as I make the second one.

If things go to plan, we'll be getting a newer, more reliable vehicle this summer, and will be able to make a road trip back to Manitoba. The only family we've seen in almost 4 years are the ones have been able to come out here. Once we have a set of wheels we're not afraid will die on us part way (our car needs a new transmission, but it would cost more to fix it than the car's worth), we'll hopefully be heading out in August. *knockonwood*

With that in mind, I decided to make a gift for my mother. As a child, she struggled to teach me to knit and crochet, without success. It just didn't click for me, and I'm sure I was no end of frustration for her. *L*

My mother has made quite a few things over the years. She'd knit slippers frequently, so that every winter, everyone could pop on a pair to keep their tootsies warm. I don't remember ever seeing her do thread crochet, but I do remember a huge, beautiful white thread crochet table cloth she'd bring out for special occasions. I asked her about it and was amazed when she told me she'd made it herself. Even as young as I was, I could tell this was a LOT of work. She crocheted a blanket for me that my girls still use (and even repaired it for me when I discovered one of them took a pair of scissors to it!). More than anything else, however, my mother makes granny squares. Using all sorts of colours and yarn types, she makes blankets and lots and lots of chair seat covers.

Before we'd moved out, I noticed my mother was starting to wear tops she'd crocheted for herself. I thought that was great, but granny square tank tops aren't exactly flattering. So I figured I would make a top for her. After discussing things with my sister, who has sewn clothes for my mother in the past, and going through a whole bunch of pattern books, I'd decided on a design. I have the pattern photo copied (I always work from a photo copy, so I can use highlight markers and take notes as needed), I have the yarn, and I even have the right size hook. I just wanted to get started on the socks, first.

With how long the socks are taking, and how I'm not sure I won't be ripping the whole thing and starting over, I was going to get started on the top sooner, rather than later.

Then the girls and I went for our weekly library trip today.

I've changed my mind.

I found a pattern book I hadn't seen before, and which hadn't shown up when I did a search for crochet books on the library website. I thought I'd already taken out pretty much every crochet book they've got. *L*

[data removed. It appears my descriptions of the base pattern from the book I plan to use were too ... descriptive, and I've been asked to remove it to protect the author's ideas. Since I can't figure out how to do that without making the whole thing completely cryptic, I've removed the whole thing. ]

I should have no problem finishing the top before we expect to head out. I just hope it'll turn out to be something my mother will like. We don't exactly see eye to eye on a lot of things. There's no way of predicting her response, but I really want to make something for her. If she likes it, great. If not... well, I can only try, right?