Stephen West’s Craftsy Class

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I recently completed a shawl class by Stephen West. I was hoping it would give me the knowledge I needed to design shawl patterns. After the class,  I felt a lot more familiar with basic shawl shapes and the techniques used most often in Shawl making. For one of my next knitting projects, I want to design a triangle shawl and this class gave me more confidence that could design my own. It made me want to knit his shawl patterns. When I had finished the class, I put several of his shawls into my Ravelry queue. I found out about his Herbavore Shawl Pattern from this class and I started knitting it. 

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 Before I started the class, I had already done a garter tab cast on and made a triangle shawl. The first part of the class covered the garter tab cast on, the triangle shawl shape, make one increases, and yarn over increases. That part was a review for me. Then he went over how to use increases to make new shapes and how to distribute increases. The last part of the class covered binding off, blocking and color and texture.  I learned some new cast off methods and new ways to increase and decrease to get different shapes. Stephen West is so upbeat that watching these videos brightened my day.  I could tell that he is incredibly creative. When he was talking about how he designed the Herbavore shawl, he said that he was doing a triangle shawl and got bored so he added new increase sections. Overall, I enjoyed the class and learned something. 

My Experiments with Bead Crochet Ropes

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Before I knitted or crocheted, I did a lot of beadwork and jewelry making. I have been making jewelry off and on since the early nineties. At one time, I even tried to sell my pieces on Etsy. I ended the shop a long time ago. In recent years I have been knitting and crocheting a lot and beading very little if at all. Last year, I realized that I missed doing beadwork and decided to carve out time to work on beading again. I had started several beading projects years ago and they had sat there and I hadn’t been working on them. I went through the projects and took apart the ones I didn’t want to work on anymore. I decided to keep a few projects and finish them. I am hoping to finish those projects at a later date. I had worked on bead crochet ropes before and thought that would be a good way to start getting back into beading since it incorporates both beading and crochet.

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I used this book as a reference. This  book on various beading techniques is another book that has a section on bead crochet ropes. Stacy Trock of Fresh Stitches made some bead crochet ropes. Here is a tutorial she wrote. She strongly recommends this book; I haven’t read it yet but I want to read it. With bead crochet you string the beads on the thread beforehand. I was aiming to make a bracelet. The first one I did came out too much short because I misread how much thread to use. That is the orange, red and grey one in the above picture. The second rope (the yellow and grey one in the picture) turned out better but still a little too short. I am on my 3rd attempt and so far so good. It is the project in the first picture. I have been using Jeans Stitch quilting thread, size 8 beads, and a size steel 10 hook. I am enjoying working on bead crochet ropes. It goes faster than knitting or crochet. This time I am hoping it will be long enough to wear as a bracelet. 

My Recent Knitting and Crochet Projects

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Since I recently wrote about the blanket I made, I wanted to write about other projects I have been making. I just finished making slipper socks. This pattern is the Ribby Slipper Socks pattern by Cathy Carron. I made this project because I needed a pair of slippers and was looking for an easy, relaxing knitting pattern. I decided to make slippers instead of buying them. I had some navy bulky weight yarn in my stash that I wasn’t sure how to use. I realized this pattern would be a good fit for the yarn. I rarely make the same pattern twice but this is the third time making these slippers. In the past, I had used this pattern to make my dad a pair of slippers for Christmas one year and I made myself a pair that wore out.

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I also just finished this string bag. I am hoping to use the bag when I visit to farmers markets. The yarn is Martha Stewart brand yarn I got on clearance one summer and never could figure out how to use. I finally decided to do this bag pattern. It is an easy pattern and a good use for this yarn. I am trying to decide if I want to make a second bag.

DSC_0011 (3)-1 As far as current works in progress, I am working on the blanket I wrote about earlier. I have also been working on the Herbavore shawl. I found out about it when I did Stephen West’s Craftsy class on shawl design. The pattern uses increases in a novel way and I wanted to see how he did it. I am using Manos del Uraguay Allegria yarn in the Atlantico colorway. The yarn was an impulse buy. I saw this yarn and had to buy it because I loved the colors. I have been trying to use up my older stash but I was excited about using this yarn with the pattern. Starting this pattern has been harder than I thought. I had to use several stitch markers to separate the increases and there is no resting purl row. I kept having to rip it out and start over I had to keep careful count of the stitches. Eventually saw how many stitches I needed to use between each set of stitch markers and was able to get the hang of it by carefully counting the stitches. I was about to give up when I got it. I love working with this yarn; I love the colors and once I got past the first few rows, the pattern isn’t that difficult.

My Favorite Knitting Books

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I both knit and crochet and since I wrote about crochet books last week it only seems fair to write about my favorite knitting books this week.

 Stitch’N Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook

 This book by Debbie Stoller is a sentimental favorite. This is the book that made me want to knit in the first place. I learned to knit from this book and my first 3 projects I ever knit are from this book. When this book became big, a lot of knitting groups sprang up (they were called stich and bitch groups) and suddenly all these cool women were knitting and I wanted to be a part of it. That made me want to learn to knit. 

 Knitting Without Tears

The author of this book is Elizabeth Zimmerman and she is my favorite knitting writer. She really ecourages her readers to work without a pattern and not be afraid to try stuff. This book introduced me to the percentage system. She also writes a formula for making tams that I have used more than once

 Knits From a Painter’s Palate

 This book was written by Maie Landra the founder of Koigu yarn. This book has some lovely patterns that use the modular knitting technique. I really want to make this coat someday. The first part of the book explains the history of the company and her family history and it is an interesting story.

 The Knitter’s Book of Yarn

This book by Clara Parks is a must read. It changed how I pick yarns for projects. She goes over the different types of yarn, the characteristics of yarn and how it is made. The book also has selection of patterns that shows patterns that are a good match for different types of yarn.

 A Treasury of Knitting Patterns

If you want to get more creative with knitting, I would suggest getting a stitch dictionary or 2. Several knitters I admire recommended this stitch dictionary by Barbara Walker. I bought a copy with a gift card and love it. This book has so many lovely stitches. A Treasury of knitting patterns has 4 volumes and I just have volume one for now.

 

Rediscovering Pinterest

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As much as I love DIY and handmade you would think that I spend loads of time on Pinterest but I don’t. I have a personal Pinterest account that isn’t connected to this blog. I have friends who swear by it, and I have heard all the jokes about going into the Pinterest vortex. Until recently, I hadn’t logged into my account in several months if not years. I am not sure why I didn’t use it; I just never got around to it. However, I recently logged back in because a friend on Facebook who cooks a lot said that she uses Pinterest to find recipes. I have been bored with my cooking and looking for new recipes so I decided to dig up my password and log in. At first, I wasn’t sure how to use it anymore and the ads and recommended pins annoyed me. However I figured out how to use it again and found some new recipes to try.

This year I have been doing a basic bullet journal and have wanted to find some new ideas for it. I found out Pinterest is a good place to look at bullet journal ideas. Then I was taking a knit design challenge and I found out that you can use Pinterest to look up knit stitches. I am not sure why that never occurred to me but that is a game changer. Finding that out just made me realize that Pinterest can be insanely useful. I also want to change my hair, guess where I can get ideas on hair color? So I want to find new recipes, get ideas for my planner set up, change my hair and look up knitting and crochet stitches. I am late to this game but I am really seeing how useful Pinterest can be for gathering ideas and inspiration. I think I will log in to check on some of these things. I will see you in a couple of hours.

My Favorite Crochet Books

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Stitch’N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker

I learned to crochet from this book. It has a good overview of the basics and some cute patterns. It is also a sentimental favorite because the author’s first book Stitch’N Bitch is a big reason I wanted to learn to knit or crochet in the first place.

 Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Crochet

 If I am not sure how to do a technique this book is the first place I look. It is a comprehensive guide of the basics and beyond. The second part of the book has a stitch dictionary that I use often.

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 Crochet Master Class

This is a great book if you want to go beyond the basics. It gives projects, instructions and background on several techniques including freeform crochet, irish crochet and hairpin lace.

 200 Crochet Blocks

 If you like to make blankets, I highly recommend this book. It has a lot of motif designs and it also has a section on how to design blankets.

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 The Finer Edge

The author of this book is Kristin Omdahl and I am a big fan of her designs. I think any serious crocheter should have a book of edgings. The edging in this book are lovely. The book also has a list of projects.

 Crocheting School a Complete Course

This is another good book to have if you want to get beyond the basics. It gives instructions on several techniques including broomstick lace and Irish lace.

My Blanket Project

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I am back with new content after a hiatus. Life happened, I was stressed out and I let this blog go by the wayside. Recently, I was making this blanket and kept thinking that I wanted to write about it. I sat down to write the draft and realized how much I missed writing blog posts and decided to work on new content. I wanted to make a blanket because I only have one other handmade blanket that I finished in November of 2014. That blanket doesn’t go with my current color scheme. When I made that blanket, I knew I wanted to use granny squares and a specific color theme but after that I winged it. It took me over 3 years to finish it because I worked on it on the side of other projects and I didn’t plan ahead that well. As result, I spent a lot of time figuring out how to put the squares together after I made them. In the time since I made that first blanket, I got more interested in designing my own patterns and realized the value of sketching, figuring out the math and planning ahead of time.

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This time I wanted to make a blanket and plan ahead how I was going to make it and how I wanted it to look. I knew that I wanted to use a black, grey, white and red color scheme. I love neutrals with a pop of color. I was reading Fridays with Franklin and he made blanket inspired by quilting patterns. I loved the idea and started to think about doing something similar. I looked up quilting patterns  like this one and started sketching out ideas. At this point , this felt like a big project and I wasn’t sure how I would pull it off.

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 I started to swatch for the squares. I looked at the book, Crochet Workshop and used instructions from the book on increasing. It didn’t work well at all. I was aiming for a square but it didn’t come out square at all. For swatch number 2, I pulled out the book, 200 Crochet Blocks. Before, I started to swatch #2, I read the first section of the book. The first section was on how to mix and match blocks. The book showed a pattern that had squares arranged to look like diamonds. I played around with that idea in my sketchbook and was so excited. I swatched a square from the book that I was sure would work; it didn’t work at all. The edges curled up, and the square used a single crochet stitch. As a result, the square took a long time to make. A whole blanket of single crochet squares would take a long time and would completely try my patience.

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 Then I remembered a crocheter I follow on Instagram made a blanket using using the corner to corner stitch. I found a tutorial on the technique on the Crochet Crowd website. Once I figured out how to make the square, I made a swatch using the corner to corner technique and I liked it. It gave me the effect I wanted.  Then I did some math to figure out how many squares I needed to make and how much yarn I would need. I had looked at this site to figure out different afghan sizes. I knew I wanted a blanket that would cover the top of my bed. I measure the bed and wrote down those numbers. Then I measured my swatch and figured out how many squares I would need across and down. I figure I will need to make 56 squares and I have made 20 so far. I am enjoying the project and will keep you posted.

Small Ways to Relieve Stress

As I mentioned earlier, the news these days can often be overwhelming and depressing. I have had to limit the time I spend watching the news to keep my sanity. Lately I have been feeling very cynical. I thought I would write about a few small things I do to relieve stress and remind myself that there is still good in this world.

One of the biggest ways I relieve stress is to watch kitten cams. I love animals but I don’t live somewhere that allows pets. Thanks to live streams, I can get my cute pet fix easily. My 2 favorites are Tiny Kittens and Critter Room. They are both livestreams run by volunteers who take in pregnant cats and take care of the mother cat and kittens until they are able to be adopted. The video above is the story of  the most recent rescue on Tiny Kittens.com. Tiny Kittens will also livestream the birth of the kittens. Both of the people who run these are very dedicated to cat rescue and the cats are so cute. I find myself watching them a a lot to relieve stress and counteract all the negativity in the news lately. Both of these livestreams are also on Periscope. 

Another thing that helps me out is to seek out supportive places in social media . As I mentioned before, I found a crochet themed group on Ravelry that has been very supportive. It means a lot of me to find a supportive place to discuss creative projects. I also joined a Facebook group related to the 5 days 5 shawls challenge  that I  did. The Facebook group is very active and supportive and it is a relief to talk to people who have similar creative goals. I enjoyed the 5 days 5 shawls challenge and glad I found the group.

5 Shawls 5 Days Challenge

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Last week I participated in the 5shawls 5 Days Challenge by Aroha Knits. It is a challenge where you knit 5 basic shawl shapes, 1 shape each day. When you join the challenge you get access to a private Facebook group. The group is very supportive and active. I have learned a lot and am inspired to work on more shawls and maybe try my hand at designing a shawl.

5 days 3 The shape for day  1 was a Triangle and the second Day was the 3/4 shawl. The third day was a crescent shawl, the fourth day was the swirl shawl and day 5 was the asymmetrical shawl. Three of those shapes used a garter tab cast on. It can be fiddly but I am really starting to like it. A lot of shawl patterns use this cast on. Here is a tutorial in case you are curious. With the crescent shawl, I had to do a yarn over on the purl side and I struggled with that but once I found a tutorial I  enjoyed seeing the shape come together. Day 4 was a swirl shawl. I really struggled with that shape. It called for using double pointed needles and I am not very comfortable with the technique at all. I tried to do it several times but could never get past the first row so I ended up skipping that day. That is why the photos only show 4 shapes. I think I need more practice on double pointed needles before I try to make that shape again.

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The challenge also had the hashtag #5shawls5days on Instagram. When I looked at the hashtag, many people got creative with stitch patterns and used different cast offs. I now want to learn the picot cast off. The host, did a bonus lesson where she shows how to incorporate stitch patterns into the shapes. I haven’t watched it yet but I plan to this week. I may try experimenting with incorporating a stitch pattern into the triangle shawl shape.