Sunday, December 27, 2009

My HOT little hands

They look like mittens, right? But what they really are, is little ovens for fingers. If you have cold fingers, make these. Hidden within, unsuspected by all, is a thick, warm and indescribably soft lining.
There are very few things that make me wish to live in Toronto again. But these mittens are definitely one of them. Here there is no call for wearing mittens of any kind, and much less these ones. So mine are all made for my Canadian family, and I dubbed them "Ontario" in their honour, and because they reminded me of winter night hikes across Ontario farmland. I have more mittens made up in other patterns, but I can't show them just yet because they are presents for my folks, and on the very unlikely chance that they will read this blog, I'd better hold off on posting them.

The pattern for these is in the Winter 09 issue of Interweave Crochet. They changed the name of them without bothering to tell me about it, and christened them with the unlikely name of "Mischa". "Mischa"? Why? What was wrong with "Ontario"? Do these look like you could play the cello in them? They also decided not to use the tutorial that I sent, so the main reason I'm posting here is to give my poor victims that tutorial.

So here we go. You see, we're doing Back Loop Crochet Jacquard with a strand of white and a strand of beige. Only we also have this big hunk of roving hanging there.
We'll just let it hang there for a while, meantime we'll be zipping along in our colour pattern.
Well, not quite zipping. You kind of have to nudge the roving from your last round down a bit to get it out of the path of your hook.

After 5 or 6 (or 7 or even 8) stitches, we're going to catch the roving and attach it to the back of the work.

Working in Jacquard, we always insert the hook underneath the secondary strand, right? Now we'll insert it under that AND under the roving, and draw up a loop.

This is the loop I drew up.
Then I completed the stitch. I've created a "float" on the inside of the work, and because it's such chunky stuff, it becomes a big fluffy puff of insulation.
And now, for your own sanity, grab that roving with a free finger, and pull it back out of the way. And then keep crocheting. You only have to hold the roving back for one or two sts, then it will leave you alone.

If you have to complete the pickup stitch in the secondary strand, which you will invariably have to do at some point, (Note: I'm assuming you know how to Jacquard or Tapestry Crochet already. If you don't, I'm sorry but you'll have to make yourself an iPod sock or wristband or something in that first, then try this technique, which is a bit trickier.) it's just the same, with one difference. The last step, i.e. pulling the roving back out of the way, should be done before completing the stitch.

What I try to avoid is starting a pickup stitch in the secondary strand. If it can't be helped, then I drop the two colours and reverse their position, so that it is no longer the secondary strand.

These are pictures from the magazine. I love these pictures!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Go Gryphon Go!

Fine, I'm a rock star. I have to admit it. Remember the Gryphon For Gryphon Cowl? Well, Gryphon in her modesty changed the name to Cloister Cowl, made up ten (ten) kits at 60$ apiece and posted them for sale on her website The Sanguine Gryphon, at 8pm on Aug.31st.

At 8:05 PM they were all sold out!!!!!! No no no, I say, this is obviously a mistake, a server error. Would that it were true! I went to bed giggling to myself about it, certain that the morning would prove me right.

Well, I was wrong! A pile of friends on Ravelry missed the sale, and now poor Gryphon has to make up more kits!

Have you any idea how good this news is? It means that I will be commissioned to make more patterns for Gryphon! Which means more of that exquisite, indescribable SG yarn running through my fingers! Mmmmm I can just feel it now...

For those poor benighted souls who wish to make the cowl in their own merely mortal yarns, the pattern is also available alone without the kit.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The strand that connects us

My mother knitted this little frock for my own DS when he was born 17 years ago. I'm pretty sure she designed it herself, she was a whiz. It's knitted side-to-side using short rows. I loved it and as you can see it is still much stained with milk and baby mush. It was so easy to put on the little guy. It goes on from the front, then crosses over at the back with one strap passing through a little opening at the side, to button at the front. She passed away only a few weeks after seeing it on him.

So I've spent the last 2 weeks of my holiday adapting it to crochet for Manolo and Maria José's brand new baby, Miguel's little brother Carlos.

Conquering Death by Crochet: handling my Mom's handiwork, the years evaporate. In thinking about her design and her creativity, I remember also the nobility of her heart and her dear, serious geekiness. Just as I share her love of fiber arts, picking up the strand of yarn that she left for me, I find her sweetness and gravity in my own heart.

Little Carlos was born on the same day as my own DS. Cool coincidence!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Fully Clothed Troubador

Scheherazaad, thank you for providing the title for this post! Scheherazaad, my friend on Ravelry, commented on this vest as follows: "Congratulations. You will eventually fully clothe this troubador." In my lively imagination, I am the troubador of course, and I get to wear all this stuff.

The point is, after what - 2 years? The Secret Project is no longer a Secret. This is it.
It's published in Inside Crochet, the new British crochet magazine, Issue 3, which came out yesterday. So now I can release my long-endured complaints about how bloody difficult it is to design crocheted garments! Granted that it was my first, but the task of calculating this in 5 sizes was worth a doctorate degree. It has a lot, a lot, of shaping. It's supposed to be a perfect fit. Which it is, on me: it remains to be seen how good my math was for sizes XS, M, L and XL. It took me 3 months non-stop work, and the grievous neglect of my other duties to pull it off. It required me to disturb my very beloved friend Annette Pétavy 4 or 5 times a day with a barrage of whining questions and pleas for advice. Pages and pages of charts graphs etc. I felt a bit like Charlie Eppes in Numb3rs. I should have had a government research grant for this project. But pay scale for crochet design being what it is in this world, I get about a week's worth of groceries for it. So while I feel immensely the richer for having conquered the garment challenge, I don't think I'll ever design another one!

The good thing is, I get the vest back! And I get to wear it this winter! It really is the warmest, softest thing imaginable. Here's what it's like: it's made of Malabrigo Merino Worsted and worked tight on a 4mm hook. So it has no drape, but it has a very definite shape, like a leather jerkin. If I did the math right, one's body will not cause this to bulge in the wrong places. It just sits there and holds its shape. It's Top-Down which means you can keep trying it on. The shaping is done on either side of 6 columns of mini-bobbles. Then you get to do jacquard all over the place, using Silky Merino and Colinette Cadenza. Its official title is "Troubador Vest: Guillaume Dufay".
So that's my Once-Secret Project. And now I have to share this picture with you so you'll all be jealous:
Who is that gorgeous, brilliant, funny and inspiring blonde in the picture with Laracroft? It's Annette Pétavy! In my house! We had the best idea of 2009: she came to Barcelona for 3 days, then we returned to Lyon together where I spent 3 days in her house. Now that, my friends, is a Stash Expedition. With cooking, clothes shopping (yay!!) wandering on mountains and sitting around crocheting. The Extended Version of the Stash Expedition.

So that you will know how brilliant this girl is, I will share with you her theory on Stash Acquisition. Which states, and demonstrates, that it is cheaper to buy cashmere and silk than cheap acrylic. As follows: given that buying a mass-produced acrylic sweater is probably cheaper than buying and making an acrylic sweater oneself. Given that a buying a silk or cashmere garment will cost a small fortune, far more than the cost of buying the yarn. Therefore, it is more economical to buy silk and cashmere, Q.E.D. Did I score in the friend department, or what?

And she took me here: La Droguerie. That stuff I'm fondling is 100% linen. Needless to say I came away considerably poorer than when I entered!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Further Adventures

I also managed to finish another project without a deadline. This one took me about 6 months. It's the pattern for the Cloister fingerless gloves, and I uploaded it to my Ravelry pattern store yesterday. The charts are cool, look:
I made 2 more pairs, for the purpose of writing this pattern. One pair for Iolanda, who teaches violin at my school and is also my academic secretary and great friend. She likes brown and mauve. I loathe both brown and mauve, but I must say I love these.

The mauve and pale green are in a wonderful yarn that I discovered in Perpignan and spent 100€ stashing up on, Songe by Bouton d'Or. Here's a picture of my lifetime stash thereof.

I've been using a lot of it for one of my Secret Projects. It's so cool. It looks like Mithril once its crocheted up.

And then I still didn't understand my own bloody pattern, so I had to make another pair, this time for myself. I surprised myself by making them both the same: usually I need to make the left glove somehow different from the right so I can keep myself amused looking at my hands in boring faculty meetings. I did make one tiny change in one glove. But that was by mistake.

The pattern for this is done and for sale for 5€ in my Ravelry pattern store. I'm going to try to add a button for it and Veritas Equitas, here on this blog, but it may take me a while. My Blogger skills are pretty limited.

Secret Service Crochet

I'm so sorry I've been away from this blog for so long. I've been crocheting like one possessed all this time, but the bulk of it is top secret. I don't think I'll ever get used to this not being able to share my pretties with the whole world.

But not all of it is top secret. I finished Gryphon for Gryphon. What, after 3 months? Didn't you get that yarn back in October, for Chrissake? Well, the thing is this. All the other projects had scary deadlines. So I had to shelve it 3 times to work frantically on other stuff. And contrary to my assumption, it was not easy to make. Pleasant and delightful, yes, but I had a hell of a time combining the colours just right.

Gryphon sent me this exquisite note card along with a sample of yarn. It's a medieval tapestry depicting the Moirae or Fates. So I said, I'm making the cowl in these colours! Ha! Easier said than done! The wonderful woman dyed up a number of them just for me and sent them. Upon which I discover that I'm not enough of an expert to combine them correctly. As it happens, A+B+C is not at all equal to A+C+B. Did you know that? I didn't. But I do now. What infuriates me is having to achieve success by trial and error, rather than by theoretical knowledge and expertise. The next time this happens it'll have to be trial and error all over again, because I'm not knowledgeable enough about colour theory! Well, enough griping, here's Gryphon for Gryphon just before it goes into the box and off to Maryland.

It's so soft! Luckily I have one of my own to keep (one of my failed test runs!) because I don't think I could live without it. After DH took this picture I totally forgot that I was still wearing it and had it on for hours. Every other cowl I own starts to bother me after a while: either it itches, or it bunches, or it tickles. I guess cashmere and silk is after all cashmere and silk.

Since I've been silent for 3 months I'll post again today.