Knitting Pattern: Absaroka Poncho

Knit Absaroka Poncho by Edie Eckman

Fall in love with this season-spanning wrap and the yarn it’s made of. The Absaroka Poncho, a knit poncho pattern, is easy enough for advanced beginning knitters. Better yet, when you’re ready to wear it, it can be styled several ways: worn over the shoulder as an asymmetric wrap, draped over the back neck to show off the striking colorwork, or left as a rectangular shawl to be worn over the shoulders.

The Construction

Absaroka Poncho cast-on edge
Knit two rectangular panels from the bottom up, and graft them together at the center. Sew the sides together, or use clasps or screw-in leather closures to create the poncho style.

And don’t stress over the need to graft the pieces together; there’s a video tutorial on How to Graft Knit Garter Stitch, as well as written instructions. Continue reading “Knitting Pattern: Absaroka Poncho”

Books Worth a Look

Most of us begin the new year by looking forward, but I’m starting 2018 by taking a look at two knitting and two crochet books from 2017 which I never got around to reviewing. If by some chance you missed hearing about these, now’s your chance to find a new recommended title. These are keepers.

Stackpole Books, Interweave, and Fallingblox Designs provided copies of these books for my review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. This page may contain affiliate links, which help support me but don’t cost you anything extra.

Mosaic & Lace Knits Barbara Benson

Mosaic & Lace Knits

by Barbara Benson

I’m a huge fan of mosaic knitting. I love color, I love pattern, and I love how slip stitches can make simple knitting into something spectacular. I’m a fan of simple lace, as well. But when I heard about Mosaic & Lace Knits, I thought, “Huh? Can you even do that?” The answer is a resounding YES! Using her innovative techniques, designer Barbara Benson shows us how to meld slip-stitch knitting and simple lace techniques into fascinating accessories.

I’ve been lucky enough to see some of the projects up close, and they are truly eye-catching. I also met Barbara in person last summer, and I think I may have squeed just a little bit over her work.

Who It’s For: Intermediate knitters up for a challenge. Experienced lace knitters and mosaic knitters looking for their next project will be sure to find something here to fascinate.

If you want to try out basic mosaic knitting first, check out my Mosaic Knitting class on Creativebug.


Double or Nothing Alasdair Post-Quinn

Double Or Nothing

by Alasdair Post-Quinn

Let’s just get this out of the way: Alasdair Post-Quinn intimidates me a little bit. Not because he’s the least bit scary or mean—he’s a gentle, soft-spoken unassuming guy— but because his mad skills when it comes to double-knitting just blow me away.

In this self-published sequel to his first book, Extreme Double Knitting, Alasdair takes us where no one has gone before, presenting in-depth double-knitting techniques along with colorful patterns that are truly stunning. He provides many step-by-step technique photos, and nice large charts to help you on your way. Running throughout the text are sidebars of Alasdair’s “Craftstory”; his life story (to date) is so interesting and so different from mine that I read it all the way through, flipping from page to page, before I started the knitting portion of the book.

Double or Nothing Waterford CrossingI have seen some of the 14 jaw-droppingly lovely projects in person and all I can say is, if you are a knitter looking for a challenge, Double or Nothing is well worth your time.

Who It’s For: Experienced knitters. As the book’s subtitle says, this is “Reversible Knitting for the Adventurous”. You may also want to look into Alasdair’s Adventures in Double Knitting class on Craftsy**.

If you aren’t yet ready for “adventurous” double knitting, check out my Double-Knitting Workshop on Creativebug.

Top-Down Crochet Sweaters

Top-Down Crochet Sweaters

by Dora Ohrenstein

How did I miss bringing this one to your attention when it came out? <head smack>

Dora gives us 14 fashionable and flattering patterns that any crocheter would be proud to wear. Many crocheters shy away from making sweaters, but with top-down sweaters, there’s no need to be afraid. You can simply try on the sweater as you work and make adjustments for fit along the way. You’ll learn about choosing yarn and stitch patterns, what makes a wearable fabric, and how to adjust the patterns for a perfect fit.

Who it’s For: Intermediate and advanced crocheters who want to make attractive, fashionable garments.

Dora also wrote The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop: Essential Techniques for Becoming a More Versatile, Adventurous Crocheter. If that one’s not on your bookshelf, it should be.


Step into Crochet Rohn Strong

Step Into Crochet

by Rohn Strong

Step Into Crochet is the book that everyone has been asking me about, when they ask me to recommend a crocheted sock book. Rohn provides clear and complete information on crocheting socks that fit, the basics of sock construction, and variations on heels, toes and cuffs. Knitters have had this information readily available for years, but until now we’ve been lacking a resource specific to crocheted socks. The eighteen sock patterns can be modified to fit your foot and ankle, and there are plenty of options for colorwork and texture to keep things interesting.

Who It’s For: Beyond-beginner crocheters who want comfortable socks that fit.


**Coupon Details: Get 25% off the full retail price of any Craftsy class. Excludes classes from our special Mastering in Minutes series as well as from our partner, The Great Courses. Cannot be combined with any other coupons. Expires March 29, 2018.

Sara Delaney Talks DIY Crochet Design + Giveaway

Design Your Own Crochet Projects Sara Delaney

Storey Publishing provided a copy of Design Your Own Crochet Projects for my review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. This page may contain affiliate links, which help support me, but don’t cost you anything extra.

If you’ve been following the blog tour for Design Your Own Crochet Projects, you’ve already heard from others about how Sara Delaney has made crochet design accessible. How she walks you through the process of using gauge swatches and plug-in templates, How she makes it easy to create your own crocheted accessories. How she provides a small stitch dictionary (cheering here!) to get you started.


Design Your Own Crochet Projects worksheetThose things are all great and important, but did you hear about the Online Crochet Project Calculator? Read the book to learn about the design process, and move on over to the calculator, and let it do the math for you. You must check this out!

image (c)JSipe

If you have been designing by the seat of your pants (i.e., try this, rip it out, try something else, rip it out, try another thing, now it’s kind of OK), Design Your Own Crochet Projects is the book you need. It has templates for socks, scarves, cowls, hats, mittens and gloves.

Design Your Own Crochet Projects Sara Delaney back coverI was lucky enough to see an early draft of the book, and was honored to be invited to write a back-cover blurb! I’m excited to see a good crochet design resource hit the market. I’m just sorry I didn’t think of writing it! Sara got to it first, and I’m happy for her.


Edie Eckman, Sara Delaney and Judith Durant

In October, I spent a couple of days at the Merritt Bookstore booth at the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. And guess who was standing next to me all weekend? Designer/Author Sara Delaney! We didn’t have a lot of time to chat, but we did find a few minutes in a semi-quiet corner, where she could explain what makes Design Your Own Crochet Projects awesome. Watch the video for Sara’s low-down on stepping into crochet design.

Want to win a copy for yourself? Leave a comment below telling which part of crochet design you find the most challenging. One comment per person. A winner will be selected at random from the comments on November 20, 2017. U.S. and Canada residents only.



Check out Sara’s My First Crochet Cardigan class on Craftsy. Coupon Details: Get 25% off the full retail price of any Craftsy class. Excludes classes from our special Mastering in Minutes series as well as from our partner, The Great Courses. Cannot be combined with any other coupons. Expires February 3, 2018.

For other crochet design resources, check out this page.

Continue reading “Sara Delaney Talks DIY Crochet Design + Giveaway”

New Design: Three Pines Shawl

This post may contain affiliate links, which provide me with a small income but don’t cost you anything extra.

Three Pines SHawl Crochet

My newest crochet design, the Three Pines Shawl, made its debut at the Shelridge Yarns booth at Rhinebeck. It was a big hit with crocheters looking for an interesting wearable project using beautiful yarn.

Three Pines Shawl Crochet

 

This rectangular crocheted shawl wraps you in jacquard-look coziness. Contrasting colors in a simple four-row repeat make up the eye-catching reversible all-over fabric. The subtly ruffled edging complements the main fabric while adding movement and texture.

The Yarn

Shelridge Yarn Gradients

The shawl is designed for gradient colors of dk-weight yarn set off by a single contrasting color. I used Shelridge Yarns Classic DK, one of my all-time favorites because of the many beautiful colors available. (It’s what I used for all the samples for Connect the Shapes Crochet Motifs.

The shThree Pines Shawl Crochet closeupawl has been made up in two different colorways, a green/purple and a grey/red. You can also see it in a coral colorway from test crocheter huntm on Ravelry. You can buy a kit for the yarn AND the pattern from Shelridge Yarn here.

It would also work with a color-changing yarn with long repeats paired with a contrasting solid.

The Pattern

Three Pines Shawl Crochet closeupYou may be surprised by instructions that tell you not to turn at the end of some rows, but never fear! These instructions minimize the number of ends you’ll need to weave in. I’m looking out for you! Once you get the hang of the stitch pattern it’s easily memorized.

As with almost all my crochet patterns, I provide both text and charts to make the instructions as clear as possible. The pattern has been professionally tech edited and tested by seven different crocheters, so any bugs should be gone.

Won’t you make one and share a photo on Facebook or Instagram? #threepinesshawl


Three Pines: The Name

Three Pines Shawl crochet photo shoot

A few people have already asked if I’m a Louise Penny fan, because of the name of the shawl. Yes, I’ll admit that I “discovered” Inspector Armand Gamache as I was finishing the first shawl, and I was inspired to name it after the fictional Canadian village. Plus, I was using Canadian yarn, so it seemed right. If you are a fan of mysteries and haven’t yet discovered Louise Penny, check out her books below.

And just for fun, here’s a totally unglam picture of me taking a picture of the shawl, on a pine-wooded hill in Virginia.



The Shibori Project

Shibori Scarf closeup

This week’s National Craft Month project is shibori dyeing. Shibori is a Japanese resist-dyeing technique–a way of creating pattern by preventing dye from reaching all parts of the cloth. Shibori uses some combination of binding/stitching/folding/compressing the fabrics before dyeing, typically with indigo. In other words, it’s fancy tie-dyeing.

Dyeing is a fascinating process, but to someone who has never gone beyond dyeing with Kool-Aid*, the idea of buying all those supplies and fumbling around with them is somewhat off-putting. It would be so much nicer if someone who knows what they are doing could set up all the equipment, mix the dye, and show me how to do it, so I could be assured of success, or at least as much success as I’m capable of when trying a new thing.

Scarf blankCharlottesville Fiber Arts Guild to the rescue! My local(ish) fiber arts guild has some great programs, and this month it was shibori dyeing.  Valerie, our fearless leader, and Susan** came early and set everything up for us. We started with nice clean empty wine bottles***, which we wiped with Liquid Wrench to make them slippery. We used pre-hemmed silk scarves from Dharma Trading Co., which Valerie had dyed; mine was pale blue. The scarves were folded in half lengthwise, ironed, then folded lengthwise and ironed once again.

Wrapping

Now for the hard part: wrapping the bottle. We started by taping the end of our cotton thread on the bottle, then holding the scarf strip at a 45-degree angle as we wrapped the string tightly around the bottle in parallel wraps about 1/4″ apart. Getting started was the hard part and I was glad that Valerie was there to add her two hands to mine. There are no pictures of that (because we were already using four hands, and there were none to spare for the camera) but here’s a picture of the wraps once I got them going.


Scrunching

Every 4-5 wraps, I stopped and scrunched the threads together, causing the fabric to bunch up in between. Wrap-scrunch-wrap-scrunch-wrap-scrunch. This went on for a while until the entire scarf was spiraled around the bottle. Then it was time for a dunk in a vinegar bath to get the fabric nice and wet.

Dyeing

I placed a folded paper towel in the center of an X formed by long strips of plastic wrap. After dabbing off any dripping vinegar, I put the bottle on the paper towel and moved over to the dyeing station.

This was the most awesome  part, because Valerie had already mixed up the dyes and put down drop clothes, and generally done all the stuff that kindergarten teachers do to make sure their students don’t make a complete mess.


We had several colorways to choose from; I chose a mix of 3 greens and a purple. It was a matter of a few moments to paint stripes of color vertically onto my scarf. For me, the hardest part here was remembering which brush went with which color-even though she had them labeled very clearly. I had to make myself slow down and think about it. I found that the purple wanted to wick into the green more than I wanted it to, but since I wasn’t trying to accomplish any particular look, I felt pretty relaxed about it.

Steaming

Now it was time to wrap that plastic up and around the bottle to form a sealed cover, Then into the microwave with a bowl of water for steaming. Cook on high for 3 minutes, then turn, cook on high for an additional 2.5 minutes. Take it out and wait for it to cool.

Waiting is hard.


Rinsing

Once it was cool enough, I took off the plastic wrap and rinsed under cool water until no excess dye remained. On my scarf, there wasn’t actually any excess dye at this point, but others did have some rinse dye out. Here’s where we went off in different directions.

The Reveal, or Being Patient

Some people wanted to see the results and unwrapped their scarves immediately after rinsing. All the scarves came out beautifully, with chevron-like V’s in the original scarf color, where the thread resisted the dye. When you unwrap the silk before allowing it to dry, the scarf turns out flat, but if you wait until the silk is dry, the true folding aspect of the shibori appears.

I decided to wait.
Waiting is hard.

I knew I had to write this blog post and I would have more interesting results if I waited. So I waited. For science.

The Final Reveal

Here’s a super-quick video of the unwrapping. You can see that it is really tightly folded and short. The chevrons are more evident as folds than as lighter dye-resist areas, which is not what I expected but is OK with me.

Shibori Scarf hangingI haven’t decided yet, but I may try to steam it out just a bit to see if I can maintain gentle folds, but allow it to be a little bit longer. However, I know that if I’m not careful, I can make it too flat and permanently destroy the folds. What do you think? Should I try it, or just see if I can relax the folds a bit by hanging it with light weights attached, like this?****
Shibori Scarf closeup

Takeaways

  • Taking a class is a great way to try out new skills. (I knew that, but this reinforces it.)
  • It’s worth the wait.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected.
  • I need to start with a much longer scarf if I want to keep the folds.
  • I can’t be great at everything the first time.

Would I try shibori again?

You bet! Next time with indigo dye.

Further Reading

World Shibori Network

Shibori DIY

Shibori Techniques board on Pinterest


*One of the first articles I wrote for a magazine, in 1999, was on Kool-Aid dyeing with children. In the interest of family harmony, I am not sharing those photos here.

**Her sister, our program chair, who coerced Valerie to drive 300 miles round-trip to do this.

***That must have been some class-preparation party!

****Completely un-Pinworthy laundry room photo provided gratis, to make you feel better about the state of your laundry room. At least the wall color matches the scarf.

The following affiliate links help support me, but don’t cost you anything extra.


Every Which Way Crochet Borders: The Blog Tour

February is short, but it’s full of great things: Super Bowl Sunday, my husband’s birthday, my daughter’s birthday, Valentine’s Day, National Carrot Cake Day**, AND the blog tour for Every Which Way Crochet Borders!

Starting tomorrow, we’ve got a great line-up of bloggers here, including some from across the Atlantic! I was super-excited to discover a couple of new-to-me blogs, Rest assured that their readership has gone up by at least one this month.

Here’s a list of folks you’ll be hearing from in the next couple of weeks:

February 7: Cre8tion Crochet

February 8: Crochetville

February 9: Crochet Spot

February 10: Crafts from the Cwtch

February 11: Crochet Concupiscence

February 12: Fiber Flux

February 13: Moogly

February 14: The Stitchin’ Mommy

February 15: ELK Studio Handcrafted Crochet Designs

February 16: Felted Button

February 17: The Messy Brunette, My Hobby is Crochet

February 18: Not Your Average Crochet

February 19: The Twisted Yarn

February 20: Petals to Picots

February 21: Beatrice Ryan Designs

February 22: Underground Crafter

February 23: Crochet Guild of America (CGOA)

February 24; Jessie At Home

I’ll be sharing on social media each day, and I hope you’ll follow along and perhaps learn about some new-to-you blogs at the same time! You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

**February is apparently also the time we celebrate National Boy Scouts’ Day (February 8), National Clean Out Your Computer Day (February 13), and Susan B. Anthony Day (February 15).