Monday, January 29, 2007

Recycled Yarn Afghan, Part 2

Here's a picture of all of the recycled yarn I worked on this weekend. After washing it, I hang it on coat hooks and doorknobs all around my house to dry. It smells a little like wet dog. My friends think that This. Is. Not. Normal.

But look at the finished product. (Still looks a little noodly. Oh well.)

I'll post more pics of the afghan as I add more colors.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Recycled Yarn Afghan (-in-progress), Part 1

My current Thursday night crochet project (that's the night I watch television: Grey's Anatomy; and The Office if I start at 8pm; and Men In Trees if I finish at 11pm) is an afghan that I'm making predominantly out of recycled yarn. This is a long process because as I run out of yarn, I have to make more.

In trying to keep color aesthetics in mind, I've kept the pattern simple: fans and double-crochets on alternating rows, colors blocked by black. The black is yarn I purchased, the blue is 2/3 recycled yarn and 1/3 purchased yarn (recycled cotton thicked with a strand of baby yarn in blue).

The next color will be a dark red, a combination of yarns from two different recycled sweaters. Then back to blue again. In between each color, as you can see, is one row of black fans. I'm hoping that 75% of this afghan (at minimum) will be recycled yarn. It's very warm, and funky looking.

Handwarmers, Part 2

I've finished a pair of handwarmers. I made them out of mercerized cotton. Don't ask me why. They're not really "warm." Because they're made of mercerized cotton. Plus, when I tried them on for this guy I don't know very well, he said, "Um, okay. You look like you're going to go have tea with the Queen." I need to sew a button on the upper wrist to go with my button hole, I'm thinking an ivory color. So pardon the lack of button. Here's a photo:

I'm going to make another pair, this time out of merino wool. When I have the merino pair finished, I'll have a better pattern to share, written for wool instead of cotton.

The basic idea I, ahem, borrowed from the brimmed caps I made: two front post double crochets, then two/three/four back post double crochets, working in the round, to form a ribbed pattern. Here's a close-up of the hand area:

If you really really want the pattern right now and think you can figure it out without my modifications, I'll be glad to send it to you as-is. I have it in a .pdf file that I can email to you. Just post to this blog your email address or send me an email directly.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Handwarmers, part 1

This morning I said to MAP before he left for work: "We need to come to an understanding about me warming my cold hands on you. I agree to make you yummy stuff on the stove, and you agree to let me put my cold hands under your shirt." Like many people I suffer from freezing-cold-hand-itis (and its partner, ice-cube-feet-itis). MAP sometimes runs away when I try to warm my hands. My arguments are to no avail. (e.g., I'm so cold, can you imagine how hard it must be to be this cold?)

His response to my suggestion was that I crochet myself some handwarmers to use when I type my dissertation and my novel -- late-night typing seems to create serious hand-coldness. He said if I made the handwarmers in good faith, and wore them, and my hands were still cold, I could warm them on him all I want. (At least that's what I heard.)

So, instead of working on said dissertation and novel I'm crocheting and writing a pattern today for some ribbed handwarmers. I'm using a mercerized cotton that I had on hand. There's lots of patterns out there I know, but none that I like. I'll post the pattern and instructions when I get farther along. As usual with 2-part projects (socks, gloves, etc.), the first tends to be the experiment and the pattern drafting; the second I use to test the pattern. I'll take pictures along the way as well.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Finished Project: City Girl Cap

I've been going a little nuts with this pattern I found in the 2007 Crochet Pattern-a-Day calendar at Barnes and Noble (Annie Modesitt & Friends). The pattern is called the "City Girl Cap," and (dated for January 2, 3, and 4) by Celeste Young.

Basically, it's entirely made of front and back post double crochets. The nifty ribbing is little pairs of front-posts running around the crown. These each took me about 2 hours total, each using a little less than a skein. The blue is Lion Brand Wool-Ease Worsted; the green is Paton's worsted Merino (220 yards per skein) and the multi-colored one is made of left-overs of the green and blue plus some left-overs of Cascade 220 in pink from a different project. These are all the same weight and the stripes look great. Here's a close-up:

Here's me wearing the blue one. The striped one is a gift for my cool roommate T.H., but she doesn't know it yet.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Fan-Edged Scarf: Today's Finished Project

Today I finished a scarf. The pattern comes from BUST Magazine editor-in-chief Debbie Stoller's book The Happy Hooker. The pattern is called the One-Skein Scarf, by Denise Cozzitorto, page 101. I made mine of two different yarns worked together, Cascade Sierra (80% Cotton, 20% Wool) in a beige, and Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece (same blend) in a cream. I used a 6.50mm hook, chaining 200 stitches in length.

The double thickness of the yarns seems to help the fan stitches on the border hold their shape. I made this same scarf with the Sierra by itself and it was really floppy so I just took it apart and remade it like this. Much better.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Swift on a Chair

My awesome significant-other-person MAP gave me a beautiful maple wood swift for xmas (purchased at Yarns Etc. in Carrboro). We named it Jonathan. I purchased a darling little winder to go with it (previously mentioned, named Harry). So now I have Jonathan and Harry and I want to wind all of my yarn while watching Arrested Development. The problem is, I don't have a table of the right shape to clamp these great tools upon.

Voila. Harry and Jonathan, happy together.

Harlequin Bags - Introduction

Right after college when we were living in a ratty apartment in Durham, NC, my friend Rinku had a bag she brought back from India, made of purple and orange yarn. I had just learned how to crochet that year and recognized the stitches on the bags for what they were. I figured out how the craftsperson passed the alternating colors of yarn through the middle of each crochet stitch to make a diamond pattern. The stitches looked nearly as good on the inside as the outside plus the fabric was super thick and strong. Here's the first bag I made.

The colors were beautiful, in part because I used Provence mercerized cotton -- a fantastic yarn. There were many goofs, though. Like these conjoined-twin-diamonds:

Well, so what. I figured out how to count. Here's another one. I use this as a computer sleeve for my laptop as well as a purse:

Here's how it looks on the inside. No running threads:

And a close-up.

Because of the diamond pattern, I call this pattern family "harlequin bags."

Yarn Recycling Resources

In my previous post I removed a turtleneck from a knit sweater and crocheted a new neckline (although this new neckline is still a work in progress). In order to do this, I used some skills I picked up in my yarn recycling practice.

I learned yarn recycling from putting together instructions from various places on the web. I owe a great debt to local friends including C.C. in Durham and to these sites:

Neauveau Fiber Arts, which still has the best unraveling-a-sweater instructions on the web;

These instructions from Knitty Gritty which show how to take out a turtleneck and put it back in (for knitters, not crocheters). For crochet instructions, see my previous post.

See also Cloudy Crochet's post on recycling yarn.

In future posts I'll talk more about fun ways to recycle yarn and how to use it.

Here's the yarn I salvaged from the turtleneck of the Club Monaco sweater: hank's worth that I wound on my winder as I poached the turtle. (To use it in a future project I'll wash it gently, dry it, etc. More on that later.)

Here's another thrift-store sweater recycling project:

Ugly Turtle No More - a Reinvention Project

I bought this Club Monaco 100% wool turtleneck at a thrift store this past week intending to poach the yarn. It's very very soft for a non-fancy wool. But then I was captivated by a nifty snap at the bottom hem, and gave the thing another gander. It had some strange crusty stuff on it from it's previous life, but nothing I couldn't wash off, and the fabric was in perfect condition. I slipped it on and voila--excellent sweater hiding beneath a dreadful turtleneck.*

(*My significant-other-person MAP insists that turtlenecks have their valuable place. He would refer my readers to his freshman year French teaching assistant at UNC, Miss J., who apparently redefined the meaning of "romance language" for her young male students via the snug turtlenecks she would wear to class.)

No problem, I thought. I might not know how to knit, but I sure know how to take knitting apart. I removed the turtleneck and then wound the yarn onto my ball winder.*

(*MAP has named the ball winder "Harry.")

Then, starting at the back where the stitches were in nice, lined up loops, I crocheted through each loop using a 2.75mm hook and the poached turtle-yarn. (This is the only turtle-poaching this blogger approves of.) Working in a circle, I made five tiny rows. The wool still needs to be blocked to smooth out the work, but now there's a scoopneck I'll wear.

The turtleneck had been sewn on abruptly and left some jagged edges in the front. Because the knit loops weren't lined up, but rather fell diagonally, I folded over the rather tattered material and just, well, invented a row of crochet stitches across the knitting. This seemed to work fine.

***If anyone has any better ideas for this step in the process, PLEASE post them. Or please post if you have any ideas for how I might do up this neckline.*

(*If anyone suggests "scalloping" I'll delete the post. No turtles. No scallops. Okay?)

A Welcome Post

If you have stumbled upon Fiber Smarts, then you haven't found much besides this post. Sorry.

I've taken many pictures to upload of current yarn recycling projects (and links to excellent recycling instructions too); pictures of rehabilitation projects; and pictures of my speciality, the crochet Harlequin Bag I designed based on a model my friend Rinku brought back from India in 1998.

To come are book recommendations, patterns, queries, and philosophizing, with a focus on crochet.

See you soon.