Sunday 22 June 2014

Cardigan Finished

Excuse the very poor photo set-up but here is my cardigan completed.  I like the shape of it very much, the three-quarter sleeves and the waist band.  I'm not completely happy with the yarn (but since I didn't invest much and it all came from stash, I can't complain too much) but I think I would eventually remake this in another yarn.  It only took me about 5 days (amongst all the other things I have to do of course) so I think that's pretty quick to complete a whole cardigan.

Best wishes,

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Tatting Progress and Crochet Cardigan

Here’s where I’m at with the Jan Stawasz piece.  I have a couple of ends to sew in because I still forget to put a magic loop at the beginning of each motif!  I’ll get into the habit soon.

I’m enjoying it because there’s variety; you make some of the larger motifs then complete with the small diamonds/squares.  I’m thinking at the moment that I won’t be making it in the shape that Jan has in the book but I’m not completely decided yet.  I think I’ll keep growing this for a while longer.

*  *  *  *  *

For some time now, I’ve been thinking that I’d like to make a crochet garment.  My favourites are cardigans because I like that you can wear them buttoned up or open for different looks and warmth desired.  I’ve been looking at loads of patterns on internet trying to find one that appealed to me.  My other problem is that I’ve been finding crochet patterns (for garments) really hard to read!  I don’t know why but the instructions always seem very complicated to me.  I felt I needed to have a go and conquer this!

I found a pattern I really liked the shape of called Chloe Cardigan designed by Doris Chan for Interweave Crochet.

In our loft, I found some yarn I must have bought more than 25 years ago!  It’s a silk mix and I thought it might suit this project.  I had 7 balls.  Would that be enough?  

As you can see, it's not a smooth yarn but more "textured".  I decided to get started and see how far I’d get with one ball.  Now I think I might just make it to the end!  I bought one ball of a cotton bamboo yarn which was a very good colour match and made the band at the waist with it to save a bit of the silk.  I will finish the bottom of the cardigan with the silk (a few more rows to go) and see what I have left for the sleeves (one of them is 3/4 done already).  If I have to, I can complete the sleeve band and ruffle with the cotton bamboo.

Anyway, I’m enjoying this project very much.  The silk, though a bit fluffy in places is very soft and has a nice drape.  Reading the pattern required attention but wasn’t impossible.  Crochet does grow quickly.  I started this on Sunday and I think I’ll complete it in another day or two.

Best wishes,

Sunday 8 June 2014

The End… and a Mandala

Yes, I can hardly believe it but I've come to the end of the Granny Square Blanket project.  I completed the edging this morning, weaved in the last few ends, washed it, and put it on the line to dry in the sunshine.  So this is the last you will see of the Granny Square Blanket (perhaps you're pleased with that!).

Funnily enough, I was nearly sad as I was completing the last round… does this mean I should start another blanket??

It ended up being a good size, once I'd added the border and measures about 1.5m x 1.2m which is plenty big enough to wrap yourself into.

I used up all the part balls I had left (which weren't that many!)
and made 5 rounds of squares all around the blanket.

I purchased one last ball of purple
wich was my very last row of squares.

I then made up the cream edging as I went along.  I knew from the beginning that I wanted to end with cream to tie in with the cream centres of all the squares.   I also wanted a "scallopy" thing but ended up trying about a dozen different versions before settling on the one above which I am pleased with.  It was done in three rounds.

And here it is on the washing line,
blowing gently in the breeze
and warmed by the wonderful June sun
we were enjoying today.

* * * * * * *

As this is a crochet post, I decided to add this other little bit of crochet I completed today.  I am sending it to Lucy at Attic24 so that I can take part in the big Yarndale 2014 Mandala Display.  I started off following a pattern but then improvised half-way around.  The colours would not be my favourite choice but I had a very limited amount of cotton on hand with which I could made this mandala so I used what I had.  That red is so bright it's quite hard to photograph.   Mmmm, unless I made it in wool, I have a few more colours available (ones that were not in my blanket)… will I send this one or will I make another?

I think it's fun to take part in a worldwide project like that.  I look forward to seeing what it will look like with all the mandalas put together.

Best wishes,

Friday 6 June 2014

Blanket & Washing Tatting

I was waiting for more cream thread to arrive in the post so the tatting was on a temporary halt.  My hands cannot be idle (not that there isn't also another 1000 things that need doing that are not craft related!!) so I thought I'd make a bit more progress on my blanket.  This is a great project because it's usable as you are working on it.  The blanket lives on our sofa and is used regularly even though it is not finished.

I was starting to run out, again, of some of the colours and debating how to proceed.  My original intention was to go for 11 x 13 squares (I'm an odd number person!), that's 143 squares.  My youngest son kept telling me it was still too small even when I got to that number last night.  But my enthusiasm was starting to wane slightly for making all the squares and how difficult still it was to choose each colour combination for each square as I proceeded.  So I decided to start making a border for the blanket.  I didn't want to waste any little bit of wool so I am just using up every part ball I have left and going around the edge.

On a different subject, I just got one of my little hankies out of the washing mashing and hung it on the washing line.  When dry, it's just a crumpled mess.

The tatted motifs are all bunched up and looking pretty messy!

Some people would recommend pinning every picot and steaming or pressing lightly.  That would take aaaaaages!  If I was giving this as a gift, no doubt I would invest the time required to pin every picot but just for me?  Certainly not.

Five minutes later, here is what my hanky looks like.  Restored to its original loveliness.  Ok, maybe 6 minutes.  Working on the reverse side (as the tatting was curling back that way), I use the tip of the iron to gently push each motif flat and pressed lightly.  If you looked carefully you will see that using this method results in a few picots facing the wrong way here and there but overall, it's looking pretty good for minimum effort.

I like hankies and I use them all the time.  I nearly always have one in my handbag or pocket.  If it took an eternity to iron them every time I washed them (and I wash in the washing machine too), I wouldn't use them so much.  This method works well for me and doesn't take long.

Now, I have to say that I have yet to wash one of my bigger pieces so I don't know what that would look like coming out of the washing machine!

How about you?  What's your preferred method for washing tatting and getting it looking as good as new again afterwards? 

Best wishes,

Tuesday 3 June 2014

More of the Same & Magic Loops

Now added the four diamond shapes all around.  It does make it look different again, don't you think?

It was an interesting discussion on finishing ends in the previous post - thank you for all your contributions.  After all I said, on these last motifs, I used Jeanie's Magic Loops about which I had been meaning to make a blogpost for some time.  She kindly sent me some to try a while ago and I had it on my "to-do" list to talk about them… sometimes my "to-do" list gets a bit long and it can take a while until I can tick all the items off it!  I had problems with magic loops the last few times I used them and then I realised I was not following the directions properly which I re-read and then followed.  I must say that, done correctly, Jeanie's Magic Loops work very well!

They look just like little bits of thread hanging there on the card (which is a usable flat shuttle) but they are made of very fine yet very strong material and once inserted, can be folded out of the way due to the nature of the thread.  This means they don't get in the way of tatting as you carry on with your work.  They also come in different colours so you can choose one that contrasts with the tatting thread you are using.  Jeanie welcomes enquiries and she can be reached via her email:

The loops come with very thorough instructions on how to use them and even with a money-back guarantee if you don't like them!   

I'm going to keep using them on the piece I'm currently working on and report back again later.  So far, after doing the four diamonds, I'm really happy with them.  

Best wishes,

Sunday 1 June 2014

Now Up to Four...

… of the large round motifs of this Jan Stawasz design.  It makes a nice square, doesn't it?  But it's too small yet, I need to keep going a bit more.  There are also very interesting negative shapes emerging which do appeal to me.  Time for four diamonds next.

Working on this piece has made me - ONCE AGAIN! - re-evaluate the methods to deal with ends.  Along with the FS/BS issue, it's another interesting one with tatters having various favourite methods.  For a while, I was really keen on the "magic-loop-method-without-a-magic-loop".  This is where you fold back your thread on the last chain and finger-tat with the loop.  When you get to the end, you pass the other thread through the loop, and pull back until both threads are within the last chain.  Difficult to explain in words (as many tatting methods).  I did make a pictorial of this but I have now removed the link from my Techniques page for the reasons below.  Since the pictorial I had been meaning to make a video of this but then I had a few too many times where I couldn't pull the threads back and I ended up breaking one and then it's too short to fix it and that can be really infuriating.  Because of course, that happens right at the end, when you've done all the tatting!  I've even had a couple of instances of the tatting falling apart after I'd completed everything and that's pretty awful too.  These are the reasons that have prevented me making a video of this method because I find it doesn't work perfectly every time. 

And then there are the magic loops and I think that can be a good method but you must remember to put one in at the very start and then I find it gets in the way a bit as I tat.  It has to be the right size too or it can also be difficult to pull the thread back and I've had a few fights with those!

So then there is the sewing in of ends.  For some reason, I used to dislike doing that with a passion.  I don't really know why.  I love tatting and I just wish there was some magic way to make those ends disappear!  Woosh, they're gone, they're strong, the tatting won't fall apart.  But no.  There are no magic wands for making ends disappear.

On this piece, I have reverted to sewing them in with a needle.  It works fine, the threads are knotted first so they won't come apart and when done well, is practically invisible.  I'm starting to tell myself that if I spend that many hours on tatting some lovely lace, surely I can spend a few extra minutes sewing in the ends.

What about you?  What's your preferred method?  Are you completely happy with it?

Best wishes,