April 2, 2008

Living on the edge

Posted in Charity, Flying by the seat of yarn pants at 10:00 pm by Rebecca Crochets

There are a number of things I like about working with donated yarns:

  1. Getting to work with yarns that I might never otherwise,
  2. Mixing a ball of this with a ball of that to come up with something beautiful, and
  3. Starting a project and hoping that I’ll have enough yarn.

When you make it with just a bit to spare, it’s an awesome feeling. Take this sweater.

Crochet Today baby sweater

The Mini Wrap Sweater by Jennifer Cirka in the March/April 2008 issue of Crochet Today.

I picked out an unlabeled ball of red, light weight, sport yarn. I also had a ball of white and green in a similar weight that I thought I could use if needed. I wanted to avoid making a Christmas sweater, though, so using the red and green together was out. I started working the pattern with the red. Unfortunately I needed to alter the pattern a little, since I wasn’t able to get the correct row gauge. It called for 14 hdc (half double crochet stitches) and 10 rows, and I was getting 14 hdc and 8 rows in 4 inches. After working the required 36 rows, I was about 2 inches too short. Indeed the sweater looked a little squat. After adding a few extra rows, I moved on to the sleeves. After the first sleeve, the ball was starting to dwindle and I wondered if I was going to make it. I kept going thinking that I might need to undo a few rows of the first sleeve to even up the second sleeve, then finish them both with a nice big border of the white. Well, and here is why I like these projects, I finished the second sleeve to the same point as the first, with… 72″ of yarn to spare. Not even enough to do one more row. With the red gone, trimming the sweater and creating the ties was done in the white sport weight. I love it when it works out just so.

dscf0010.jpg

I’m not sure I’m going to be so lucky with this next one. Again, this is from Crochet Today, the Nov/Dec 2007 issue. The Preppy Pullover by Candi Jensen.

dscf0008.jpg

I’m using the green that I mentioned before and I’ll do the cables in the white left over from trimming the red sweater. I’m starting with the back then I’ll do one sleeve. I’ve already weighed the green ball, and I have 3 oz. After doing the back and sleeve, I’ll weigh the ball again and hope for having at least half that left. If not, I’m going to try to alter the pattern to make it into a cardigan. That’ll take slightly less yarn than as it’s written currently.

dscf0019.jpg

When I was working on the red sweater, I kept thinking about how I could incorporate stripes of white if I needed. Unfortunately, with the Preppy Pullover, stripes wouldn’t work, so if I’m short on yarn, I’ll have to alter the styling of the sweater.

Again, this is what I love about donated yarn. I never know what I’m going to end up with, and getting there is always an adventure! Stay tuned to see what becomes of the green yarn…

February 27, 2008

Getting the hang of this

Posted in Flying by the seat of yarn pants at 8:12 pm by Rebecca Crochets

Since I made my proclamation that I would blog every Wednesday, I have blogged every Wednesday, but one. Yippee! I am not yet confident enough to say that I’m going to add another day of the week. I have thought about it though. We’ll see.

Anyway, today I wanted to share my latest project. It’s a sweater inspired by the book “Single Crochet for Beginners” by Cindy Crandall-Frazier. Originally I bought this book to share with a co-worker who was learning to crochet. She was having problems with anything more than single crochet. And even then, I think her single was really an extended single crochet (just looked for a good tutorial for this and didn’t find anything within three google pages -sorry). The book has some really detailed pictures of how to make the stitches. There’s 6 pictures alone for making the starting slip knot! It also has some really cute projects, yes, all made out of single crochet.

Anyway, there’s a cute baby sweater in the back that I’ve adapted heavily. It uses single crochet, of course, as well as single crochet in the back loop to highlight the cuffs, neckline and hem. It’s sized for a 0-3 month, in baby sport yarn and a H/5.00mm hook. Well, I wanted to use some yarn recently donated to my crochet group, two balls of Bernat Soft Boucle (5 oz in a ball) in red and tan. Though the yarn suggests a J/6.00mm hook, I decided that I would start with the hook recommended by the pattern and crochet the specified number of stitches, and not swatch. Since I have no specific person in mind I don’t have to worry about it fitting anyone in particular. I’m just aiming for it to fit a baby/child at the women’s shelter in Pittsburgh.

As I crocheted, the fabric produced had a nice hand to it, so I continued. If it was too stiff, I was going to rip it out and go up a hook size or two until it draped nicely. I’ve made a sweater or two before that could have stood up by themselves! The hook was definitely too small for the yarn I used. This of course is great for sculptural items, but definitely not wearables. Poor kids, and the sweaters were acrylic, too. They were constricting AND did not breathe.

Anyway, after I got a quarter of the way up the front, I realized that my sweater may not be completed before I used up all the yarn. And since this was donated yarn, I might not be able to match it properly. Original sizing for the Baby 0-3 month sweater was 9″ wide. I had 12″. Quick check on the internet to see what size a 12″ sweater would fit: about a 4T. Not having kids, I think that means 4 Toddler. Big difference. I soldiered on. These things always work out.

Still wondering about how much yarn I needed to complete my 4T sweater, and with thoughts of how to make it a short-sleeved cardigan if I had to, I weighed what I had crocheted with a small kitchen scale I picked up at the local dollar store. It’s probably not the most accurate, but for $1 it would be close enough. I then weighed what yarn I had left and found that I had almost all original 5 oz of the red and 3 oz of the tan. The sweater weighed 3 oz as well. I was going to be OK! What I thought was a quarter of the sweater only used up 2 oz of the tan, which meant I only needed 8 oz of yarn total! I continued on with the conviction that this would not have to be a vest!! (Thanks to my cousin for this great trick of weighing your yarn and project. She weighs her swatches then multiplies the weight by the area that she needs to achieve and then determines how many total ounces she needs. My twist, ala “Flying by the seat of yarn pants” is weighing the yarn, approximating how much of the item is completed and multiplying those.)

And that brings us to today. Here is a picture of the sweater still in progress.

4T Sweater

This shows the front and back sewn together and the other modifications I made. Like leaving out the single crochet in the back loop (totally will not show on a boucle) and the cute button detail on the neckline that the original had. In my haste, I sewed up the shoulder seams without realizing the buttons on the shoulder allowed them to be unbuttoned to get the baby’s head through without hurting the poor thing. No worries here, I tested this on myself. I can get this over my head, so a toddler shouldn’t have any problems either. It made me wonder about the stretchiness of boucle that allowed this to happen. It certainly wasn’t the smaller than appropriate hook or the single crochet.

I’ve now started the sleeves and I’m getting close to finishing the tan yarn. I’ve been crocheting a row in tan on each sleeve alternating from one to the other so they’ll be the same length when the ball runs out. I’ll do this until I run out of the tan, then switch to the red to finish the tops of the sleeves. This does seem to all be working in my favor so far, but if I truly were smart enough to outwit the yarn, I would have already sewn up the sides in the tan so I didn’t have to worry about seaming the tan portions with the red yarn. I’ve decided already that seaming in boucle is difficult anyway, and I’ll try to find some smooth tan yarn from my stash. Plus I’m really not sure yet where the sleeves will be placed anyway. Boy, can I rationalize! See, it will work out in the end. It’s just a matter of how you look at things!

And finally, a gratuitous kitten shot. Puck is helping mommy keep her place in the pattern. And it sure is tiring work! Poor kitty!

Tuckered Puck