Tuesday, June 30, 2009

OT: Some sad news.

A neighbour of my parents just passed away. I only met him a few times, but was very impressed by him and respectful of his achievements.

Manitoba cattleman, farm writer Glen Nicoll, 53

Memorial services will be held Saturday at Fraserwood, Man., for Glen Nicoll, a well-known Manitoba farm writer, photojournalist and producer of grass-fed beef cattle.

Nicoll, who had been battling brain cancer since the summer of 2008, died early Monday morning in Edmonton.

He will be missed.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Crochet - balletneck sweater; side seam and partial sleeve.

Finally, an update on the progress of my balletneck sweater. Clicking on the images will take you to my flickr account, where you can see them at larger sizes.


Here we have the finished front and back panels - the tops of the panels are overlapping a bit so you can see the sleeve inset area. Because of the size I'm making, I accordion folded the middle portion so it would all fit in the photo. The stitch marker is marking the front of the panel.

At this point, I spent a lot of time making sure I had the RS (right side, or outside of the panel) and WS (wrong side, or inside of the panel) correct before sewing up the side seam.


I increased the contrast and marked where the side seam is for this photo. This is the outside of the garment. You may want to click on it and check out the largest view to see it better.

Working in back loops only creates a ribbed series of "hills" and "valleys" in the fabric. From the outside of the garment, the side seam is hidden in a "valley," making it essentially invisible.


Here we are, looking at the inside of the garment, where the side seam is on a "hill," making it more visible.

The instructions for this project are very detailed, so I was pretty sure I had it right. That the side seam fell invisibly into a "valley" on the RS of the fabric seemed to confirm to me that I had it right.

Then I started on the upper sleeve.

First off, I should explain that I am a very visual person. When I read instructions, I can see what's being explained in my head. If the instructions aren't clear, the image in my mind can't form, which makes things very difficult. The pattern also has diagrams showing where certain important points are. This is the first area where things started to fall apart with me. The image I got in my mind from the instructions didn't match the diagram. After working on the sleeve for a few rows, I finally figured out that the problem was in the diagram. It didn't clearly show how the sleeve formed. The incongruity bothered me so much, I finally pencilled lines to "correct" the diagram. *L*

That, however, was not why I ended up undoing the sleeve and starting over. The instructions are very specific about which side faces where, how the garment is positioned when you start, etc. I double checked before I started, then checked again and again as I worked. There was clearly something wrong.

When starting the upper sleeve portion, the yarn is joined at the top/neck portion of the garment. What I ended up with was, not a sequence of "hill, valley,hill, valley, hill," but rather, "hill, valley, valley, hill, valley." After reading and re-reading the instructions, I finally noticed something that didn't make sense. After joining at the top corner of the neck, the instructions say to "hdc in blo of next 19 sts."

Translation for non-crocheters, that's "half-double crochet in back loop only of next 19 stitches."

Back loop only? I didn't have any back loops. For this portion of the garment, I was working into the remaining loops of the chains added for the transition from short, underarm rows to long, body rows.

The only place where I could have back loops to work from was from the other side, and only if I were working from the WS of the garment, not the RS as the instructions described.

This meant one of two things. Either I made a mistake and sewed the wrong sides of the side seam together, which I find unlikely, or the instructions are wrong, which I find even more unlikely.

I couldn't even use the photo as reference. The model's hair covers the joining area on one side, and the other side is lost to the depth of field of the photo, so it's not in focus.

Either way, I couldn't leave the sleeve the way it was. The joining was too obvious.

After undoing the sleeve, I had to decide. I could undo the seam and re-do it the other way, which would mean the seam would fall on a "hill" on the outside. This would have made the seam quite visible. Or, I could do the opposite of the instructions and work on the WS of the garment.

I chose the latter, and this is how it turned out.


This photo is of the inside of the sleeve area. I have my photo-copy of the instructions slipped under the sleeve panel so you can see the break. You can see that the rows appear to seamlessly continue from the body panel to the sleeve panel.


Still looking at the inside of the garment's sleeve area, you can now clearly see the seam above and below the paper.


Now an outside view of the upper sleeve. In the diagram, the line representing the unconnected side of the sleeve panel ran from where the joining stitch is made (you can see the loose end of my starting yarn at the top, slightly left of centre), diagonally to the bottom right corner of the sleeve portion. It was as if the top right corner of the sleeve portion (or the top left, if I'd still been following the original instructions) wasn't supposed to be there. I think you can understand why I found that confusing! *L*


Again, viewing the outside of the garment, and showing inside of the upper sleeve portion.

The next step is to make the underarm panel, filling in the bottom section of the sleeve opening. Then the upper arm portion gets attached to the opposite body panel, while the remaining length will be attached to the underarm portion.

This should be interesting. I've draped the garment onto my daughter to see if I needed to add extra rows or not. The top portion, where the yoke will be added, seems loose, but the underarm portion seems tight. We'll see how it works out once I've put all the pieces together.

Monday, June 22, 2009

For Georgia

A special modification to my spiral snake, made especially for Georgia. You're right. The snake needs to party in that parsley. :-D

(click on image for larger size)

As an aside, progress on the ballet neck sweater took a step backwards. I undid the sleeve I was working on. Details on why, along with photos, will be in another post.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Spiraling away

I should be working on the ballet neck sweater right now. I've got the front and back panels done, but want to take some photos before I sew up one side and start on the sleeve.

After doing the spiral crochet snake, however, I became somewhat obsessed with trying another one, this time with a more pronounced spiral. I ripped the whole thing several times before I got it, so it took me longer than I intended. Here are the results.


If you've looked and the previous snake, you can see I did manage to get a deeper spiral, though it does require a bit of shaping to stay that way. I used a narrower yarn I got at a yarn exchange a couple of summers ago - I have no idea what it is, but it feels quite lovely. I also used a 3.75mm hook.


In this photo, you can see the distinctive lines made by the opposing increase and decrease stitches. I originally tried to prevent this from happening, but was totally messing up. Now I think it actually adds to the overall look of the body.


Planet June has an excellent step-by-step for techniques, so I won't even try to go into detail here.

(note: stuffing was added every few inches)

I started off with a magic ring and 6 sc. To make the conical shape of the snout, I increased in thirds. So the first round was 2sc in the first sc of the ring, then 1sc, repeated for a total of 9sc. The next round had 12sc. If I felt the snout was widening faster than I wanted, I'd do a round with no increases at all, then go back to adding increases in thirds. When I got to the width I wanted (24sc, in this case), I did a few rounds with no increases at all to give the head depth.


To narrow things down for the neck more distinctly, I started working in quarters instead of thirds. That brought my round of 24sc to 20sc in the first round, then I did a round of sc only, another decrease round to bring to total to 16sc, then a couple more rounds of just sc.

For the to body transition, I did only one increase for the next couple of rounds. This gradually brought my total stitches to 20sc again. That's where I stayed for the body until it was time to decrease at the tail.


For the spiral, I started with a couple of rounds doing 1 invisible decrease at the start of the round, with 1 increase a few sc later, at not quite the opposite side. To get the spiral, I worked as if the rounds were one stitch short than they actually were. After a couple of rounds, I started doing 2 invisible decreases at the start of the round, then 2 increases a few stitches later. In this photo, you can see the decreases (with two together, the "invisible" decrease is quite visible).


Here you can see the pairs of increases.

Working with rounds 20sc long, my rounds worked out to be 2 invisible decreases in the first 4 stitches, 1sc into the next 5 stitches, 1 increase in the next 2 stitches, then 1 sc in the next 8 stitches, for a total of 19 stitches. I kept up this pattern until it reached the length I wanted.

When it came time to reduce the width for the tail, I simply dropped one of the increases. This meant each row became smaller by 1sc each round. As things got smaller, though, I started to alternate between decrease rows and unchanged rows to keep the shape change gradual.


I'm not too happy with how the tip of the tail worked out. As I was getting narrower (and having to use the back of my largest crochet hook to push the stuffing into the narrow opening), I eventually started working in front loops only, reducing as things seemed to require before finishing it off. I tried to push some of the stuffing into the tail tip, but it didn't co-operate. I'll have to figure something better out.


The eyes are pretty basic. Just a couple of X's sewn in using black yarn.


The tongue was fun to do. Using a 3.50mm hook and leaving a long tail, I did a chain of 8 in red. I then slip stitched into the BACKS of the chains, starting at the second stitch from the hook. I did 3ss, then chained 4 for the second fork of the tongue. Once again starting in the second chain from the hook, I ss'd to the end. To finish, I tied the two yarn ends together in a simple knot, snipped the ends even, then threaded both ends onto a needle to sew the tongue onto the snout.


I think he likes my parsley. :-D

Friday, June 5, 2009

Spiral crochet

I was playing around with 3 dimensional shaping ideas and, at the same time, wanted to make a baby safe gift for some friends who's little one is turning a year old soon. I wanted to see if I could make a basic tube shape form into a spiral. What better way to test this out than to make a snake!

Ssssimply Ssssublime

To make the spiral shape, I worked an invisible decrease, as described at Planet June on one side of the tube, while doing an increase on the opposite side, with a bit of a difference. The increase/decrease is worked in "short" of the total number of stitches. In this case, the body of the snake is made up of 18 sc, but the rounds were worked as though there were 17 sc. I did an invisible decrease (1 stitch) plus 7 sc (8 stitches), did an increase (10 stitches), then finished with another 7 sc (17 total). This meant that each increase or decrease stitch was offset from the previous row, helping to create the slow spiral shape. I had originally thought to do 2 increases/decreased on each side, which would've made the spiral much stronger, but I didn't like how it was looking and started over.

Ssssimply Ssssublime

After finishing the body, I sewed the eyes on (better for baby chewing than hard eyes), then attached red yarn to the front to make a short tongue. I used a double thickness of yarn, made a few chains, slip stitched back to the start, then sewed the ends of the yarn in very thoroughly. It should withstand being yanked on fairly well.

I hope baby likes it. :-D

Just for fun

I'm getting good progress on the ballet neck sweater - one body panel is done and I'm about half way through the other. When working on a larger project, however, I have a strong need to do something that can be finished. Quickly. So I got out some leftover yarn and made these.


The green ball is just that - a ball. I was just playing around with increases and decreases while using yarn left over from placemats and other stuff I'd made before. Which reminds me - I still haven't taken photos of the cotton version of my placemats. I'll have to take care of that.

Anyhow, this thing is a hit with the cats. *L*


Then I made this guy. What I was experimenting with was adding shape to the general ball form - in this case, the nose of my little cranium here. The girls absolutely love him.

While working on these, I got an idea in my head that I wanted to try out, which I will go into more detail in another post.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Guest post: Tacky purse of spaciousness +3.

Guest post today, from the daughter of our resident craftster~

Quite a while ago, my mother made me a purse. It was a fine, simple thing, which suffered only from a slight lack of space and pockets. Not a problem at the time, but these days I have found myself in need of such things. This is my first nearly-solo sewing project, (my dearest mother did the first corner-turn on the bottom, and invisibly stitched up my last open seam with her voodoo magic.) and hopefully the first of many.
Anyhow, on to the purse.

No pattern was used because I have a severe neurosis regarding them. I'll get over it eventually...

The fabric was something that caught my eye on a store shelf and which, at the time, I had absolutely no use for. Eventually I decided to buy three metres anyway, just in case. Lucky thing too, since it was gone the next day. It is stiff and sturdy, but surprisingly light and easy to stitch through. Perfect for an amateur such as myself.

As you can see, I like to label things clearly. Thank heavens that charcoal washes off...

I tried to match up the patterns as best I could. I think it produces a neat effect. Sewing the pockets on was much easier than I had expected. (Even if most of them ended up being a touch crooked..)

This phone-pocket will be modified to include a snap, since I am paranoid. And yes, the pattern is upside-down on purpose.

The lining fabric was a little bit harder to work with. Quite slippery and prone to sprouting odd little threads at the edges.

I was initially going to sew the lining and the inside pockets in the same fabric, but I realised as I handled the bolt that it generates more static electricity than I would be comfortable stowing my electronic devices around, so the less contact the better.

Assembled, but not ironed. And with a single open seam for flipping.

Fully assembled. There are no pictures of the strap in progress, but I used a very simple method of folding, stitching, and flipping. I doubled up the ends and went over them thrice with the sewing machine to ensure a firm anchor.

When I first finished, the strap was far longer than I had anticipated, and hung uncomfortably around my knees. In order to fix this, I simply folded the strap over my shoulder and stitched it up twice. Thus adding some extra padding as well.

I will probably modify the overall design as I find new and interesting things to be finicky about, but for now, it is both functional and moderately attractive. (not to mention large enough to fit my smaller drawing pads and notebooks~)

-This has been a message from everyone's favourite reclusive sociopath, and we will return shortly to our usual programming. Thank you for your patience~!