I spent the past 30 days crocheting through the new Crochet Scarves book by Sharon Silverman for my stop on her book’s blog tour. I kept a diary the entire time, adding entries every day. Here is that diary for you to be a crochet voyeur …
July 22, 2012 – Sharon Silverman’s New Book Arrives
I just received my review copy of Sharon Silverman’s Crochet Scarves: Fabulous Fashions – Various Techniques, which has already started its blog tour. I was happy when Sharon reached out and asked me if I wanted to be a stop on the tour. It’s been awhile since I did a blog book tour (since March, when I interviewed Dora Ohrenstein about Custom Crochet Sweaters) and it’s actually been quite awhile since I looked at new crochet books.
Although I’ve received the book today, I won’t be doing my blog tour post until a month from now at the end of Sharon’s blog tour. I had requested this later date because I didn’t want my review of her book to conflict with my posts about my own new book, Crochet Saved My Life. I wanted her book to shine on its own when it made its appearance here. So I have a month to figure out what to do for my post. That’s great because it means I have plenty of time to go through the book and enjoy it. But it also means that everyone else on the tour will already have had a lot to say.
So I’ve been thinking about how to make my post different, how to add something to the conversation that hasn’t already been said by the time the tour lands here. I thought about the usual things – a giveaway, a review, an interview. But there are some great stops on the tour that are going to do those things well. In fact, Marie over at Underground Crafter already interviewed Sharon about the book and Marie is the master of crocheter interviews. So I wanted to get creative. I thought about picking a project and writing a letter to that project after I’d worked it (similar to my letter to the first dress I ever crocheted). I thought about asking Sharon to do an image-only interview, an idea I would be thiefing from CraftyPod who just started that unique style of interviews and in fact has an interview with me posted today. And then I hit on it … for the next thirty days I will crochet what I can from Sharon’s new book and I’ll keep a daily diary of the experience to be posted on my date of the blog tour. So that’s what this is!
July 23, 2012 – Finding My First Project
Okay so I’ve had a chance to flip through Sharon’s new book. It is a book of patterns for crochet scarves but don’t let that fool you into thinking that it’s a beginner’s crochet book. The patterns in this book all seem to be intermediate and advanced level patterns. Seven of the twenty one patterns are in Tunisian crochet, which is a technique I’ve not yet learned, and the others include some joining, stitches and styles that I haven’t practiced yet either. That makes sense since this book is designed to offer you the opportunity to practice new techniques in the comfortable space of a scarf project.
I actually had trouble finding my first project at first because I wanted to start with something easy. For me easy means that there aren’t many color changes or motifs (because I dislike end-weaving) and the stitch techniques are ones I’m familiar with. What looks simple at first glance proved to be more complex on closer examination. But I flipped through the book. I also looked over the visual index – thanks so much to Sharon for including this … I love when crochet books and magazines show all of the projects in thumbnails in one place.
So finally I chose my first project, Berry Sorbet, which is actually the second project in the book. Once I found it, I realized it’s actually the perfect project for me. It uses three main stitches: sc, bobbles and dtr. I love bobbles. And lately I’ve been really intrigued by long stitches like the double treble. Plus Sharon had worked the whole scarf in the same color so I knew it would be one that would work fine without color changes.
I’m not going to be using the yarn that Sharon has used. It’s too bad, because she has selected a terrific range of yarns that look truly beautiful and fun to work with! But alas, my budget is about as tight as it gets these days so I definitely have to work from stash. On the plus side, this will give me a chance to play with yarn substitutions. I was just listening to a Fresh Stitches Podcast yesterday in which Stacey mentioned that crochet pattern designers take their time in choosing the right yarns for a project to make it look the way they want it to look. Of course, Stacey encourages crocheters to play with their own yarn choices but she had highlighted a point I hadn’t thought about much lately, which is that the designer has already figured out what kind of yarn works best for the project. So I kind of have mixed feelings going into this because I intend to share photos of my work here in this diary and it will probably look a lot different from what’s in Sharon’s book because of my yarn substitutions. On the other hand, I think it’ll be fun to see what different yarn does to change the projects.
For this first project, I’m using a yarn that’s actually quite different from what Sharon has used. She used Blue Heron’s Egyptian Mercerized Cotton yarn in Blueberry color. It’s a 100% cotton in superfine weight. I’m going in a totally different direction and using Venice by HPKY in “Light Gray” (which is really a sparkly silver). It’s 50% baby alpaca, 22% nylon, 7% merino and 21% polyester and its label says it is a bulky yarn although it looks a lot more like a worsted to me. So we’ll see.
July 24, 2012 – Berry Sorbet Scarf on the Hooks
Well I started Sharon’s Berry Sorbet Scarf last night and I’ve discovered two things: I like the pattern but I hate the yarn I chose. Truth be told, I knew that I didn’t like this yarn and had chosen it mostly because I had a lot of yardage and wanted to use it up. This is the yarn that I mistakenly bought at my LYS to complete my large granny square rugs. I didn’t like it then but thought it was the project. Nope, it’s the yarn. The thing is, there is really nothing at all wrong with this yarn and I can see why someone else might actually really enjoy working with. My main complaint is that it’s too furry. It sheds like the animals it came from and it has that fuzzy look to it. I love baby alpaca yarn but I tend to like the smoother variety. I also really dislike the color. Again, there’s nothing wrong with it – it’s a silvery shade that should be pretty – but for some reason I’m not finding it appealing.
That said, it kind of works okay for this scarf pattern now that I’ve gotten used to it. I made some dumb mistakes that I should have known better about. For example, I looked at Sharon’s pattern to determine what size hook to use (H) but of course Sharon was working with a superfine cotton yarn and I’m not so what I really should have looked at was the yarn label. Or I could have used my own common sense and I would have chosen a K or even larger for this. The thing is, it’s a bulky yarn but it’s deceptive and looks like a smaller weight so I thought an H would work. Oh well. I realized it about five rows in and could have frogged but I decided to go with it.
So far, I like the pattern. It consists of a chunk of rows of bobbles followed by a stretch of single crochet followed by a length of dtr so you get these really dense portions and then these really open portions. I especially like the bobble portion. I forgot how much I really love crocheting bobbles. I do keep doing something annoying and that’s doing a 3-stitch bobble instead of a 5-stitch bobble in some spaces. I know exactly what causes this – I’ve been crocheting way too many granny squares lately and my automatic action is the 3-stitch. I always catch it right away so it’s no big deal. Goes to show how crochet can get so automatic in your brain, though!
Sharon’s pattern is really clearly written and I’ve had no problems with it. There are also a lot of visuals – photos plus a large stitch diagram. I’m not really a visual person but since I’ve already learned the stitch repeat pattern I’ve been eyeing the stitch diagram as a I work to try to get a better grasp on diagrams. Hers is really clear so I feel like it’s a good intro to stitch diagrams for me.
July 25, 2012 – Two Scarves Complete
Well, not only did I manage to finish my version of the Berry Sorbet Scarf but I actually already started and finished the Sparkly Scarlet, which is the third pattern in Sharon’s book. It turns out that it actually is a fairly simple pattern designed to be worked up quick-and-easy. I’m not sure how I missed it the first time I looked through the book. Too much goodness in there distracting me, I guess. Sharon’s version is a red sparkly version made with Vanna’s Glamour yarn. I actually have some Vanna’s Glamour here, in blue instead of red, but not enough of it to make a scarf. For this scarf, I went with my go-to yarn – Paton’s Silk Bamboo. It worked just fine for this pattern.
The Sparkly Scarlet scarf is worked vertically instead of top-down. I always go back and forth about which method of making a scarf I prefer. On the one hand, I like being able to control the length of the scarf as I work it, which is easier done with a top down scarf. And I dislike making that first super long foundation chain and first row for a vertical scarf. But once that part is done, I think I prefer working the vertical. It gives you the chance to work a little more mindlessly across your long rows. This scarf was definitely one that allowed for relaxation and that’s the pattern I needed. It’s a variation on a granny stripe with some chain designs in the center. It’s pretty. It took me a few hours to work through it, but I did it in one sitting (watching old episodes of Numb3rs on Netflix.)
Going back to the Berry Sorbet … I finished that up easily. The pattern is easy to follow. I don’t know yet if I like it but that’s because of my yarn choice, not the pattern. I think it’ll grow on me. One problem I do have with it, which goes back to that whole vertical vs top-down pattern of scarves, is that the edges are left raw. There isn’t a border around the scarf and I tend to dislike this. You don’t notice it when you work a scarf vertically (it’s not an issue at all with the Sparkly Scarlet pattern) but it’s something I notice with scarves worked top-down. I thought about adding a sc or hdc border around the whole thing but it turns out I didn’t have enough yarn to do that. I’m certainly not buying more of a yarn I don’t like for that and I don’t know if I’d like a border in a different color. So for now I’ll just leave it as is, wear the scarf a few times and see what I think later. That’s another thing I love about crochet – you can always adapt it and change it later.
There’s one more thing I should note. Sharon’s directions in the book including finishing by blocking. I don’t block my crochet. I know, I know … I know all of the good reasons that you should block your work, especially if the designer has intended it that way when writing the pattern. I rememer Linda Permann writing at one point something about how blocking is always the last step in the project and it makes no sense to go through all of the other steps and not that one. So I think blocking does make work look better and hang better and all of that. And I’ve seen lots of good instructions out there for blocking crochet. But I tried it once. I hated every minute. And I doubt I’ll do it again. This doesn’t have much to do with my craft and has everything to do with my general attitude towards clothes. I think I own an iron but it’s probably been ten years since I’ve used it. I frequently throw things labeled “dry clean only” into my washer and dryer. I cut care labels out of clothes without looking at them. I doubt see that changing anytime soon and I don’t see blocking my crochet anytime soon. The thing is, the Berry Sorbet pattern, at least as it’s been worked in my yarn, isn’t really rectangular when it’s not blocked. Certain rows in the pattern kind of cave in towards the center of the scarf and others bulge out. I don’t really like the look. And I’m pretty sure it could be fixed by proper blocking. But I may never know …
July 26th, 2012 – On Growth
Working through Sharon’s book is really challenging me to do more with crochet than I’ve done in awhile. I noticed this as I started to look for my next project in the book. I was really looking hard to see which of the next scarves would be easiest to accomplish, rather than which one I particularly liked or would be excited to work on. I seem to go through plateaus and peaks with my crochet in terms of taking on challenges – I’ll have a burst of challenging myself and then just plateau and want to do mindless crochet for awhile. That’s okay but I’ve been unchallenged for awhile and maybe it’s time to take this book on a journey to a peak.
Yesterday Cris over at Crochet with Cris did a blog post about challenging yourself in life and in craft. She talked about embracing change and this immediately resonated with me. As scary as change is, and as much as I avoid it when I myself am feeling vulnerable, change is the only path to growth that I know of. I want my life to be filled with growth, expansion and experience and so I generally tend to embrace change. But as I commented on her post, I realized I haven’t been doing that so much in my craft. I think that’s okay in some ways. A craft is a great place to just relax and be comfortable. But it can also be a great place to challenge yourself.
Sharon’s book offers me personally several opportunities for growth. There is motif-work, which I always avoid, as well as colorwork, which I also tend to avoid. There is broomstick lace which I’ve been saying forever I may try to learn (or may not). And Tunisian which hasn’t really interested me before but it makes up a third of the patterns in the book and I don’t have a good reason not to learn it, right?
So I don’t know which pattern I’m going to tackle next. I’m eyeing the Holiday Dazzle because I think that’s going to be next easiest for me. But maybe I should challenge myself. I’ll settle down in a few hours for the night and will need to pick something before then …
July 27, 2012 – Saving Yarn for “Someday”
I’m learning a lot about myself as a crocheter as I work my way through this 30-day challenge. Not only have I been avoiding challenges in my craft but I also am realizing that I’m guilty of doing something with yarn that I wouldn’t think I’d do – hoarding the good stuff for “someday”. I know a lot of people are like this about a lot of things but I’m not usually like this. I don’t save “a good dress” for a different day – I wear it today. I don’t look at a stack of books I’m planning to read and try to save the best for last. I’m very much an eat-dessert-first kind of person.
And yet, as I’m going to choosen yarn for these projects, I’m purposefully avoiding all of the yarn in my stash that I really like. I want to save it for a better project, a different day, something more special, some time when I may need it more. This is silly. I’m not in any danger of running out of yarn, good or not-as-good, anytime soon. And I’m a firm believer that it’s great to get rid of things because it opens the door to let in new things – yarn included. And besides, this is crochet, which is easy to take apart, so if I do regret using the yarn and want to use it for something else later I can always frog. But nevertheless, I’m hoarding the good stuff.
And because I only have some yarn I want to use now, I’m having to base my next couple of projects and the yarn type and yardage I have. I narrowed it down for the next project to either using up my Green Rowan DK weight wool or the Crespo bamboo/ hemp blend from Yarns of Italy that I’ve had for awhile and wanted to try but wasn’t sure what it could be used for. So I started looking through Sharon’s book for a good project for either of those. I think I’m going to use the wool either for the Holiday Dazzle that I talked about before or for a basketweave scarf that’s in the book. But because I wanted to challenge myself more with a tougher pattern, I decided to set that aside and find a project for Crespo. I chose Changing Tides, a scarf pattern that is worked top-to-bottom in two colors. I have enough Crespo to make one of the colors. I actually don’t know yet what I’m going to use for the next one. The pattern starts with the first 22 rows in the same color so I decided to just do those last night and decide on a second yarn tomorrow.
I don’t have much to say about the pattern yet. It’s tough … not in the sense of being difficult but in the sense of requiring some serious focus from me. I made a few mistakes and had to frog back and figure out where I’d gone wrong. For example, the scarf is worked with floating blocks on some row, which is a technique I’ve never learned before. Basically it means that there are points in the row where you do a bunch of chains and then work that as a new row for awhile to create a shape that you eventually reattach to the row you were originally working on. It took me a minute to get the hang of that. Sharon’s instructions were clear but I wasn’t getting it. She has photos and charts but looking at those just confused me more – which has nothing to do with Sharon because from what I can tell both the photo and the chart are clear – and everything to do with the fact that I am not at all a visual learner. Once you get going, though, the bulk of the pattern is a three row stitch repeat (more or less) just with some color changes so after I’d gotten the hang of it the first chunk done in Crespo went pretty quickly.
I think Crespo will work for this scarf in the sense that it will be somewhat similar to what Sharon’s scarf looks like. Crespo is a bamboo/ hemp blend in sport weight and the color I have is blue. Sharon uses a DK weight cotton / acrylic blend and one of the colors in her set is also blue. As for the yarn, I’m not sure about Crespo. I was initially excited about it because bamboo brings a softness to yarn but there’s definitely a lot of the roughness from the hemp in this blend and I’m not used to that. The yarn is kind of … I don’t know the word. Splitty but not in the sense of the ply splitting apart. Or “furry” except it’s not soft. Basically little threads come off here and there. I think this yarn would work great for some projects (possibly even some in my roundup of ideas for hemp crochet) but I don’t know if it was the best choice for a scarf. We’ll see.
July 28, 2012 – Stretch It Out!
So I’ve been working on this Changing Tides scarf and as that has been happening I’ve been experiencing something really interesting. Once I’d finally learned the three-row stitch pattern repeat, the scarf was very meditative to work. That doesn’t mean that it was enjoyable per se. If you’ve ever meditated or done yoga, you know that it’s all about moments of bliss interspersed with moments of adversity. The idea in yoga is that you stretch yourself beyond a point of comfort but not past your limits and then breathe through the pain to make yourself more flexible. Your mind goes through a fascinating process of looking at itself during this time. It’s satisfying and fulfilling but not necessarily enjoyable.
That is exactly what is happening to me every single time that I reach one of the rows of “floating blocks” in this pattern (which is once evey third row). I enjoyed learning this technique. Mastering it in those first few rows was challenging and fun. But once I got going and had the technique down, I realized I didn’t like it. I like the effect of how it looks and think it’s a really cool crochet technique. But the actual process of making each of the floating blocks is annoying. I can’t exactly define why this is. I was thinking about it constantly for the first fifty or so rows of the scarf.
I can point to some things, I guess – for example, there is an awkwardness to partially turning the work for each floating block that just isn’t enjoyable – but I can’t quite define it exactly. There’s nothing wrong or difficult or bad about the blocks. And once each row of blocks is done I’m kind of glad I did them. But I spend that whole row working to get those blocks done because I want them to be over with. (Let me say here that I am so glad that this scarf is worked top to bottom and not vertically because I only have to do three floating blocks per row before moving on to another stitch. Sure, it repeats frequently, but I think this is much more enjoyable than if I had to work a whole vertical row in this technique.
So after about fifty or so rows of this scarf, I realized that it didn’t matter why I didn’t like the floating blocks. In yoga, I do not analyze why I am disliking a particular pose. I do the pose. I try to quiet my “monkey mind” and breathe into the pose. Eventually, the pose comes to an end. In most yoga classes, the pose comes back again before the class is over and I go through the same thing. In the end, I have stretched myself both physically and mentally by doing something that was uncomfortable. And that is how I see this floating blocks thing. I don’t have a reason to dislike the blocks and I like how they look when they are done and I don’t need to analyze every single part of why. I need to move through the row and revisit the row and move through the row and revisit the row. It’s crochet as spiritual practice.
July 29, 2012 – Pleasant Pattern
No big revelations today as I continue working on the Changing Tides scarf. Writing about my experience every day has definitely made me more conscious of the whole process of crochet. I think this is a great exercise! But it doesn’t mean I’ll have some profound crochet insight every time I pick up the hook.
What I’ve noticed today is that I really like the Changing Tides scarf pattern (even though I don’t like working those floating blocks rows!) and the reason is because I like how Sharon’s color-changing choices. I often take multi-color patterns and work them in a single color instead (because I hate changing colors and weaving in ends) and I’m so glad that I didn’t do that with this one because the scarf would have looked fine but I wouldn’t have had the same appreciation for the pattern. The color changes are simple enough, just alternating between A and B, but the number of rows of each differs from change to change and I really like the effect.
I actually have to manipulate this a little bit because of my yarn choice. I have enough of the Crespo that I started with for it to serve as color A throughout the whole scarf. However, I decided to use the Tivoli I have (100% cotton sportweight also from Yarns of Italy) as Color B. The problem is that I have two different variegated colors of this yarn (both beautiful – I really, really love the color blends they do on this yarn) and not enough of either one to make up all of Color B. So I’m using two different colors for Color B in this pattern and because the number of rows of each color change are different I’ve had to make some decisions about the best way to do that. I’ve decided to use one of the Tivoli colors for the first two and last one of the “Color B” rows and the other Tivoli for the middle rows of “Color B”. Hopefully I’ll like how it turns out!
July 30, 2012 – Oh those ends
I finished the Changing Tides Scarf and I think I’m actually really happy with it. But I guess I shouldn’t say that I finished because I still have the ends to weave in. This is the reason that I often work in monochrome – fewer ends to weave in if there are no color changes! As I said before, I think the color changes are really what make this scarf pattern work great, though. And there aren’t THAT many. But I admit I’m dreading it.
There are lots of ways to join colors and weave in ends. I’ve found the easiest and strongest hold for me is to create a knot to join colors, leaving a 4″ – 6″ tail of each yarn color. Then I take a needle and weave those tails into the work. The problem is, this weaving is basically sewing, in my opinion. That’s a problem because I hate sewing. I wish I liked it. I really do. But I don’t. I’ve tried many variations on sewing and never like it.
So now the scarf is sitting there and I don’t want to weave in the ends. A task for a different day.
July 31, 2012 – Adventures in Mohair
Last night I decided to get started on a new crochet scarf from the book. Why, oh why, did I choose the one that’s made in mohair? I’ve worked with mohair before and concluded that I don’t like it. Of course, I do love the soft plush feel of it. But I mentioned the other day that I prefer smooth yarns to fuzzy yarns and mohair is about as fuzzy as it gets. Mohair is so fuzzy that I always feel like a miniature cat crawled inside my nostrils when I work with it.
And yet, I chose the mohair scarf. There were two reasons, neither of them good ones. One was that the pattern looked easy. As I’m increasingly learner, I’m a lazy crocheter who wants to work mindlessly on patterns that require no challenges of mine. I don’t intellectually want this but apparently I must emotionally want this because it’s my “go to”. And second, I had enough yardage of some mohair I don’t want anymore so it seemed like a great time to use it up.
So I spent a few hours on the pattern. I will say that I really like the design in the pattern which is kind of an ever-enlarging fan stitch that is worked on both sides of the foundation chain for a symmetrical pattern. Sharon did a good job here.
However, at some point, I realized that I’d made some error in the previous row. I think this was caused first by the fact that it was hard to see my stitches amidst the fuzziness of the yarn and second to the fact that I was watching TV while crocheting and I got a little lost in the show. The problem is that mohair is almost impossible to rip back when you make errors. I tried and failed. So instead I just had to kind of cheat the pattern a little bit. It was easy to see from Sharon’s instructions what it was supposed to look like so I just worked to make that happen. I’m happy with how it looks, overall, although since it’s fuzzy it’s not my favorite look. Now we’ll have to see if I can make the second half match the first half that I messed up!
August 1, 2012 – Or not mohair?
You know what’s funny? It turns out that the yarn I thought was mohair that I’m trying to use up by working Sharon’s mohair pattern isn’t even mohair. It’s Knit Picks Suri Dream and it looks like fuzzy mohair so I thought that’s what it was but it’s actually a blend of suri alpaca and wool. Weird.
I’m actually really curious now to try making the scarf using the mohair yarn that Sharon recommends which is a blend of mohair and nylon. I wonder if the addition of nylon would make it an easier mohair to work with? Sharon’s scarf looks gorgeous and lacy and open in the photo whereas mine currently looks like a big ball of fuzz. I’m not going to buy new yarn right now but I’m going to make a note to myself to check out that yarn and try the pattern again in the future.
August 2, 2012 – A no crochet day
I crochet most days. But I think today is going to be one of those days when I don’t feel like it for whatever reason.
Last night I went to go work on the other half of the mohair scarf and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Then I decided to start the basketweave because that’s a stitch I love but the yarn I was working with, which should have been nice and easy (it’s a DK weight wool) was giving me some troubles, being splitty and annoying. So I gave up quickly.
I don’t feel like tackling either of those right now or figuring out a third project, which suggests to me that it’s time for a break!
August 3, 2012 – Weaving in ends
Still undecided about what project I want to start so I just went ahead and wove in all the ends that were left on what I’d already made. Not very eventful, I know!
August 4, 2012 – Basketweave
Well, I went back to my default and started working on something I knew. Instead of tackling something tougher I returned to the basketweave stitch scarf. I switched yarns since the one that I tried first wasn’t working for me. I used a plush purple worsted weight yarn that is such a pleasure to work with. (It’s Gedifra Extra Soft Merino Grande that I’d picked up from Bluebird Yarn in Sausalito last year and never used.) It just feels … bouncy!
Sharon’s scarf is worked top down in basketweave stitch. It’s a fairly narrow scarf, which I think was an interesting choice. This stitch is really thick and warm and I always think of working something like that on a wide bulky scarf that you can just completely snuggle up into. In fact, since I’m familiar with the stitch I thought about varying away from the pattern and making it twice as wide. (I always want to do my own thing!) But I decided I’m going to trust Sharon on this one and just work it like the pattern says.
It’s a meditative stitch but I can’t totally zone out because I do sometimes lose my place. I can, of course, just count my rows to find my place again, but I’m finding that it’s best if I put something a little mindless on the TV and then count while I watch. I’m already about halfway done with the scarf so this one will go quick.
August 5, 2012 – To fringe or not to fringe
As predicted, the scarf finished up quickly, mostly because it’s an easy stitch pattern and also because I already knew the stitch so I was super comfortable with it. I really liked that the pattern has a crochet edging around it. Not only does this give you a more finished look but it also allowed me to just crochet right over the few ends that there were so I don’t have to worry about weaving them in. And I ended up liking the narrowness of the scarf even though it’s not what I would have originally thought to do. I also like that the number of blocks across is an uneven number – it makes for a nice texture that isn’t quite as cookie cutter as if they basketweave was done in an even number across.
This scarf has some fringe on it and I’m undecided about whether or not I like that part. I seem to go through phases with fringe – putting it on everything for awhile and then feeling over it for awhile. I haven’t been in a fringe phase but I added this fringe, mostly because it’s different from other fringe I’ve done (it’s a crocheted fringe, not just yarn ends). It’s a boxy fringe but that kind of works with the basketweave. So I guess I don’t have a real opinion either way on it yet. I’m eager to go wear the scarf, though, because I love the stitch and the color I ended up with!
August 6, 2012 – Sticking with simple
I’ve started another scarf that’s a really easy one for me. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Why am I choosing the easy patterns? What benefit do I get from that? One thought that comes to mind is that I’ve been pretty stressed out lately. I put my new book, Crochet Saved My Life, out onto the market and it’s more stress-inducing than I expected. Don’t get me wrong – I’m super excited about it and the response to it has been very positive. But there’s something about taking your creative work that you’ve been so carefully constructing for over a year and getting it out there in front of people. Even if you know that some will like it and some will hate it it’s stressful to see what the reactions are going to be.
So I think maybe by the time it gets to the end of the day I just want to really zone out and do something totally comforting. This was, after all, how crochet helped to heal me in the first place. So while I really want to tackle some of the more difficult new-to-me techniques in Sharon’s book I think maybe the timing hasn’t been right for that for me. Not that there’s a big risk in tackling a new crochet techniques – it’s a nice safe way to try new things and put yourself out there in a secure way – but it doesn’t offer the same relaxing satisfaction of just crafting something easier by beautiful and comfortable.
The funny thing is that when I first looked at Sharon’s book I couldn’t find any “easy” patterns but I seem to keep finding yet another one that’s easy enough for me to do!
August 7, 2012 – Finishing Curly Sunflowers
Curly Sunflowers is Sharon’s name for the crochet pattern I’ve been working on. It’s called that because of the unique yarn that she uses which is a bulky curly cotton yarn. I chose to work with a bulky wool boucle that has the same type of curly effect. Both the yarn I used and the one she used are variegated but hers looks to have long color changes whereas mine’s more of a short mixture of many colors. (I know there are names for these different types of multi-color yarn but I can’t think of the right terms!) So Sharon’s version has more pops of color and a cool color pattern whereas mine just kind of has an ombre look to the whole scarf.
Mine is also a lot shorter than Sharon’s pattern called for because I only had one skein of the yarn in my stash – and no label so I don’t even know how many yards I had – and was only about to work about four feet of scarf instead of the six-ish that hers is. But despite those differences, I’m happy with this scarf. It’s warm and fuzzy, I like the pattern, it was a simple stitch repeat that was really easy and enjoyable to work. All in all a good project. Perhaps not uber-challenging, but good and with an end product I like.
Plus, I finally learned the right way to cut lots of fringe! I’d always cut each single piece of fringe one at a time, measuring it against the last one I cut, and Sharon’s book showed me the right shortcut to stop doing it that way.
August 8, 2012 – What to do with the mohair?
Well, it’s time to start in on the next project. I’ve made five of the scarves in Sharon’s book so far. Actually, five and a half. I still have that mohair pile sitting here. I am debating whether or not to go ahead and finish the other half. On the one hand, it would complete the pattern and make the scarf symmetrical (as much as you can even tell in this fuzzy yarn) and it would use up the last ball of this yarn that I don’t really like, so it would make sense to finish it. On the other hand, I don’t have any excitement about working the other half of the project just because I don’t like the yarn – no fault of Sharon’s since I’m not using the yarn she suggests for this pattern! – and the scarf looks fine enough as a super skinny scarf. Since it was worked vertically instead of top-down I could just keep it how it is. Undecided today.
August 9, 2012 – Beginning Broomstick Lace
I decided to challenge myself a little bit with a new technique and decided to tackle the one broomstick lace pattern in Sharon’s book. I admit I only felt pressured to do this because I’ve been keeping this diary that’s kind of shown me that I don’t challenge myself enough these days. But I’m so glad that I did. It turns out that broomstick lace is super easy to get used to. Like I expected, it’s a little bit tedious. Basically you pull up one loop at a time for the broomstick rows and stick the loop on a “broomstick” (in my case, the back end of a large plastic Q hook). I had shyed away from broomstick lace, despite thinking it’s really beautiful, because I felt like doing this part would be a bit annoying. It’s definitely a little odd getting used to it and it’s certainly not as simple as just working straightforward simple rows of basic crochet stitches but it’s not all that bad and the look is well worth it. Sharon’s pattern is really good for getting the basics of this new stitch down. It’s a simple pattern repeat that looks really pretty, and all in all I’m super glad I tackled this one.
August 10, 2012 – Continuing Broomstick
I’m continuing to work this broomstick lace scarf and continuing to enjoy it. I had received a package from my dad of a bunch of yarn that he came across at a yard sale for super cheap and I chose a skein of that for working this scarf. It’s a beautiful dusty rose color. (Another reason I like broomstick is that the beauty of the design means you can have a truly detailed gorgeous scarf even if you use a single color and you know I hate changing colors!) The yarn doesn’t have a label on it but I think it’s some type of older acrylic. It’s not very soft, kind of scratchy. In a way that makes it not as fun to work with but in a way I kind of think it was a great choice for learning broomstick because the stiffness of it holds shape really well. When you work this technique you create a bunch of loops in a row and then slide them off your “broomstick” and they need to hold shape while you work through them so it helps that this yarn easily holds shape. I actually think that the Crespo hemp blend yarn I used a couple of weeks ago for another scarf in this book might be really good for broomstick for this reason.
August 11, 2012 – Finishing Broomstick
It took me a little longer to finish the broomstick lace scarf, hours wise, than some of the other scarves. I think that’s partially because the technique does take a bit longer but mostly because adjusting to the new technique slowed me down. By the end of the pattern I really felt like I’d gotten the hang of this technique and I feel so glad that I tried it! The scarf looks really pretty. It has fringe on it and I’m still having mixed feelings about fringe right now but that’s neither here nor there. The pattern itself is a keeper. I definitely plan to make more items in different yarn styles to practice this new stitch.
August 12, 2012 – Quiet on the crochet front
A no-crochet day. It happens sometimes.
August 13, 2012 – Quick and Easy
I don’t actually have too many patterns left in Sharon’s book that aren’t Tunisian crochet and I don’t have the tools to do Tunisian yet. I should walk myself over to the LYS and see if they have any but I haven’t done that yet. There is one filet crochet scarf in the book and I’ve never done that before. It would definitely be a challenge since it means working from a graph, which I’m terrible at, but I can’t say I’m all that excited about graph work.
I decided to do the holiday dazzle scarf that I’d identified early on as an easy pattern for me. The package of yarn my dad sent had some sparkly blue yarn in the same weight as what Sharon used so I dug in. It’s a short scarf and less than ten rows wide and it has a pattern repeat that makes up most of the scarf so it was super quick. If I ever need an immediate gift for someone, this would be a good pattern to use! It’s really cute, too!
August 19, 2012 – Almost A Week Away from Crochet
Oddly I actually haven’t crocheted anything new this entire time. The week just flew by. A friend of mine is in town so I’ve been busy with her, had some other late nights and some various plans with people, hosted a dinner party last night … That took up a lot of my free time. And when I was home, I was working to catch up on blog and book promotion stuff rather than just sitting around crocheting. I also admit I’ve really had a tough time deciding which scarf to tackle next. I do love that each of Sharon’s scarves offers the opportunity to learn and practice something new but that isn’t always appealing at the end of the day.
I decided last night that I’ll probably do the filet crochet scarf next. That’s tough for me because reading charts is not something I enjoy at all, but I think it’d be a good skill to practice. I went to go pick a yarn for it, though, and I just felt really indecisive and decided to play iPod games instead of crocheting. (I’m a “with Friends” game fan). So maybe I’ll start that tonight. It’s weird to have this fallow period with my crochet!
August 20, 2012 – Filet!
I did it! I figured out the filet crochet pattern. I have to admit that there were quite a few false starts. I am so wordy that a visual approach to a pattern is just difficult for me. But once I mastered it, thanks to the different images and word instructions in Sharon’s pattern, I figured out that it wasn’t all that hard. I’ve only done three repeats of the pattern so I don’t have much of a scarf yet. And I admit that filet crochet probably isn’t going to be something I’m going to do a lot of in the future. But I feel really proud of accomplishing it! I think I’m going to leave off with this diary here, on a high note. I’ll save the Tunisian and the other half of that mohair scarf for some other day, proud to have accomplished all I did this month! Thanks Sharon!
Reminder: This Post was Part of a Blog Tour
Visit some of the other posts that were already stops on this tour:
- Marie at Underground Crafter interviewed Sharon about the book. She’s the master of crochet interviews so you’ll find lots of goodness there.
- Doris Chan did her book review and giveaway.
- Styled by Kristin did a giveaway.
- Modeknit shared her criteria for a good crochet pattern and explains that Sharon’s patterns fit that criteria.
- GoCrochet did a review and giveaway.
- CrochetByFaye shared a book review.
- Hands in Delight has a review and giveaway.
- Crochetville offers a review.