Sunday, October 28, 2012

New project and a sort-of pattern

 I was knitting way before I learned to crochet. My third grade class was taught how to knit, and I started on a scarf. This scarf got put away, forgotten about, and re-found multiple times. It must have taken me at least five years or so to finish it. And, when I got to the end of the yarn that I had, it wasn't even scarf-length. Maybe a scarflette. Enough to wrap around my neck, but not much more than that.

I tried again a couple years later, knit a scarf or two, but couldn't be bothered to learn anything more than basic knit and purl stitches. And then, sometime in high school, a friend introduced me to the wonders of crochet. I fell instantly for it - I loved how easy it was to make something other than a rectangle. I still love the versatility of it. I make up most of my own patterns as I go, and it helps that crochet is so easy to undo a row or two of, and still know exactly where you are and not lose any stitches.

However, there are certain things that you can do in knitting, but not in crochet. For example, lately I've been infatuated with knit lace. It's just so beautiful and delicate, and there are so many beautiful options. I would love to be able to make things like that in addition to my crochet work. So, I've started knitting again. Nothing fancy, just a plain knit scarf to get my fingers used to the needles again.

Luckily, I've got this super fun multi-colored yarn to work with, and I'm using my larger gauge needles, so it's a very loose stitch. It ended up being way wider than I was expecting when I cast on, so it'll be one of those scarf/shawl/wrap things - the loose knit makes it lightweight so it'll scrunch up for a neck scarf. It's exciting to be back into knitting, and all my work with crochet has helped me to not make my stitches too snug (a major problem I had before). 

In other news, I've finished a new hat crocheted using a broomstick lace stitch. My first time doing that sort of thing, so my loops are all wonky, and I think they could have been larger to really get the proper effect, but overall it looks nice. I learned from this tutorial (also I love her blog - so many adorable animals!), but tweaked it a bit for my hat. Unless I interpreted it wrong, it sounds like she did one row of single crochet between the lace stitch, but I had to do two in order for it to be going the right direction.

So for me it ended up being:
*three rows of single crochet
*row of loops
*row of single crochet to make the lace stitch
*two rows of single crochet
*row of loops

Also I thoroughly intended on writing up a pattern for this one, but I have this horribly tendency to make things up as I go, and forget to write anything down. I know the rows that I did, but I fudged a lot of the increases until it seemed right. 

I did a series of increases in the rows from the beginning (top of the hat) to make a circle that continued to lay mostly flat. When it was big enough, I crocheted from there without any increases until I reached the point where I wanted to make the brim. I did a decreasing row there - probably decreasing about every third or fourth stitch, checking it at the end to make sure it wasn't too tight. The brim is rows of single crochet alternating with *front post dc, sc, sc* rows to make the fake ribbing. 

If I make this hat again (I hope to), then I'll hopefully be able to actually write a pattern for it. In the meantime, if you have any questions about my explanation here, I'd be happy to help.

This hat (made out of a lovely soft alpaca yarn), will be up for sale on my Etsy shop soon. Once it stops raining so I can actually go outside and take some nice, non-blurry photos!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Harry Potter Art

Just a quick sketch of the golden trio  - although Hermione looks a bit snarkier than I would have liked!
Click for full-size.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival part 2

In addition to all the wonderful yarns and fibers to be felt, and the adorable sheep and goats (and bunnies!), I also got to see some more about the fiber/spinning world. There were more vendors there than I was expecting, and so I got lots of business cards and information.

Here are a few of my favorite places I learned about :

Olympic Spinning Wheels - absolutely beautiful and wonderful spinning wheels. They are hand and custom made to the spinner's specification, with your choice of woods. The wheels have a very modern and unique design, but they're really fun to use. I got the chance to try one out at the festival, and it was very easy. Unfortunately they're a bit out of my range (since I'm only beginning), but for a second or third wheel they're really lovely.

Black Sheep Creamery - some of the most delicious sheep's cheese I've ever had. They had a whole range of flavors, which was nice. In addition to the cheese, they also sell some very nice wool.

Spindle Wood - some really beautiful wooden drop spindles. Again, slightly out of my price range at the minute, but still wonderful to look at and dream about.

There were loads more wonderful places, some which don't have websites, and some that I didn't grab a business card from, and so I can't remember what they're called. It was such a fun experience for me, though. I'm pretty new to the whole fiber world, and have been mostly self-taught, so it was incredible to be around so many people who love the things I do.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival part 1

The Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival took place a few weeks ago. It was *amazing*. There were so many amazing things, from fibers to yarn to patterns, sheep, and spinning wheels. I'm going to post about the weekend in a couple different sections (and yes, I went for the whole day both days). 

First I'll talk about the fibers. Since I've gotten into spinning, I was more excited about all the roving that was available than the already made yarn. There were so many absolutely gorgeous bits of hand-dyed roving, in all sorts of colors and blends. 

Two 4oz braids of hand dyed corriedale roving, from a lovely lady who also sells on Etsy

Polwarth top in lovely shades of blue and purple with other colors thrown in.

A grab bag of mystery fibers in all sorts of colors - I think that bright yellow is silk!

I forget what fiber this is - either Shetland or Corriedale, I think. It's a lovely mottled shade of mossy green. I got somewhere around 8oz of this, I think - enough for a matching hat/mitten set I hope.

Sort of a dark mulberry merino roving.

The three multicolored rovings are merino, and the solid orange and green are a Colonial top. I can't wait to spin these and make hats out of the yarn. Or possibly fingerless gloves. Or mittens. Or.... 

I also purchased a total of two pounds of natural colored wool (different shades) just so that I'd have some bulk to spin. I do really like a lot of the natural colors - especially Shetland sheep, since they come in so many different colors.

In addition to the lovely soft merinos and exciting colors of hand dyed roving, there were some exotic fibers. Things like wild silk, and angora rabbits, and fancy merino blends. I expected all those. But there was also surprisingly soft nylons, cottons, and - wait for it - fibers made from milk. Yes, milk. Apparently they use the proteins somehow to make fiber. 

Also, bamboo. It comes in white (normal) and a charcoal grey (carbonized). I'm not sure what exactly the carbonizing process is, but it makes a really pretty color, and the fiber is super soft and sort of squeaky. So of course I had to buy a few ounces of this carbonized bamboo stuff, just to try it out. I haven't spun with it yet. Depending on how soon I get a spinning wheel, this fiber might be waiting for that.

Coming up next: I will be going through all the flyers and business cards I collected to give a post with some good links, and I'll write about the raw fleece that I bought. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Water Kelpie Costume sketch

The Scottish dancing group that M and I are a part of here is having their monthly social dance a week from tomorrow (!!). Since it's October, it will be a costume dance, and the idea is to come dressed 'as a dance'. 

Easier than it sounds - there are a lot of fun (and weird) dance names - Starry Eyed Lass, Witch's Brew, Haste to the Wedding, etc.  The one that I'm going for is 'The Water Kelpie'. Other than being a dance, a kelpie is a mystical water horse. Luckily for me (since I'm not a horse), they also can take the form of a woman wearing seaweed. 

The plan (so far) is to wear a skirt and top in appropriate colors, make some 'seaweed' out of some scraps of a shiny green fabric I have, and make webbed gloves from a pair of old tights (as long as I can find the ones I want to cut up). And then I'll dry and spike my hair, and do some epic green/blue makeup to finish the look. For the past several years I've done really intense costumes. And as much as I love doing large projects, I really just don't have the time. What with job searching and trying to expand my etsy shop, I need something a little more low-key. I'll post photos as I go ahead with this project.