Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Geometric shawl pattern

Ok, so I don't actually have any experience writing patterns. I've written a few down for my own use, like when I make up a mitten pattern, and have to make sure I can replicate it for the other hand! So I'm going to give you the basic instructions for this shawl I made, and I'm happy to answer any questions.

I made a somewhat small shawl, because that's all the yarn I had of this type. But after trying it on, I've decided that I really like how it's shorter in front - it's handy for keeping your back and upper arms warm, but you still have good mobility. I haven't decided how to fasten it yet - either a shawl pin of some sort, or I might try to work a button fastening.

To start off, make 5 chain stitches and slip stitch them together in a loop.
Make approximately 8 double crochet stitches in this loop (this number will depend on the size of your stitches and the weight of your yarn - you want to make enough to go about two thirds around the circle)
Turn, chain 3, and double crochet twice in each stitch to the end of the row.
Turn, chain 3, and double crochet twice in the first stitch, once in the second, repeating until end.
Turn, chain 3, double crochet twice in the first stitch, once each in the next two, repeating until end.

This process will continue throughout the entire piece. It's how you expand a circular (or semi-circular) piece so that it will grow outwards but still lay flat, without curving like a hat or bowl. For each row increase the number of solitary double crochets between the two double crochets (increase) by one.

Make five rows of double crochet from the beginning.
On the sixth row, double crochet in the first stitch, then chain 1, skip a stitch, and double crochet in the next stitch. This creates the lacy row. When you hit a spot where you need to increase, double crochet, chain 1, but then double crochet in the immediate next stitch rather than skipping one.

Between each 'lace' row, make three rows of solid double crochet. You can continue this pattern as long as you want to make a bigger shawl. I ended up with six 'lace' rows, and added one on the end to make a border.

Making a shawl that is more than just a half circle means that it is slightly shaped, and will stay on your shoulders fairly well even without a fastener. It also reduces the bulk that can build up at the back of your neck with folds from a circular or square shawl.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fabric sources

Today has been a beautiful rainy day, full of heavy showers, wind and some lightning. It was a good day for staying inside and working on projects, so I finished a shawl/capelet that I've been working on. It's too dark for proper photos, so those will be coming in a couple days, along with a pattern. Instead, I'll share with you my favorite place to go fabric shopping.

For a long time, my only source of fabric was Jo-Ann. It was what we had always gone to, and they do have a decent selection (and lots of lovely colors and prints in cotton). I knew that there were such things as fabric warehouses where you could find all sorts of beautiful and exotic fabrics, but I had never seen one.

I've still never been to one. Instead, I've discovered the treasure trove of thrift stores. Yes, thrift stores. It's easier if it's a bigger one, like Goodwill, or around here we have Savers. However, I've also seen good things in smaller places, so it just depends on how patient you are.

Of course there are things like skirts and dresses that you can buy and take in, cut up, or alter. I recently cut the top off of a hideous prom dress because it had a really wonderful skirt, took in the waist a bit, and it became part of a costume for a friend. But what's also great is to head to the linens section. Sheets and curtains come in all sorts of colors and fabrics, and are usually pretty cheap. Pillowcases are also wonderful - you only need two  for a double layer Victorian-style corset.

These are some pieces I got a while ago at the thrift store - the orange and green are silky sheets, approximately queen-size. They will be enough for a dress each. The purple brocade-type fabric is actually from a couple of chair covers. I had to cut them up to access the flat pieces of fabric, but it's being turned into a fitted skirt with ruffles.

The thrift store is a great place to look if you're open for the fabric you want to use in a project, but it can also work if you have more specific guidelines. It's a great place to have fun looking for fabrics, and the prices are amazingly cheap.

Happy hunting!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Spock on a block

A friend and I collaborated to make a present for a mutual friend. The recipient of the gift recently got into yoga, and she's a huge fan of Star Trek. So, naturally, we decided to try and decorate a yoga block for her.

It was surprisingly easy, if a bit time consuming due to the complexity of the design. The secret? India ink. It's easy to brush on in thin or thick lines, creates an even coat, and most importantly, it's waterproof! I had originally thought of using a sharpie, and you could probably use one anyway, if that's all you have on hand (especially if your design was simple and mostly lines). But india ink is not too expensive, and lasts a long time. It really made filling in the large black areas a lot quicker and neater than coloring with a marker.

Since our block was a medium purple (and maybe also due to the foam material), the basic go-to of a graphite transfer for the design didn't work. So instead, after the image was on a piece of paper, I held it in place on a side of the block, and used a small sewing needle to prick along the outlines - closer together in more detailed areas, farther apart where the lines are straight. After that was done, it was just the simple, if delicate, process of painting in the lines that were created by the needle. The small holes left by the needle do still show, but only if you look at it very closely.

The block hasn't been used yet, so I don't know if the design would wear off quickly or at all. However, it's a fun way to individualize your yoga block.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A different direction

So it's been almost an entire year since I last posted here. I left Ireland, spent two months in England, several at home, and then my senior year at college.

My plans for this blog have changed. Originally, after my time abroad, I thought I would just let it sit, and forget about it. After all, I had nothing I wanted to post. But I'm thinking of starting it up again, and this time it will be a little different. I'll be sharing my art projects as I go along - finished work, ideas, step-by-step guides on how to do things... Hopefully something will serve as inspiration for someone else, and that will be good.

Of course, if I travel anywhere, or see anything exciting, I'll maybe post about that, too (thus why I'm keeping the "other" in the title!).