Monday, August 27, 2012

Inspiration: Novelty Yarn


I was recently given a couple of skeins of Ice Yarns Frilly, a new novelty yarn that creates a ruffle when you knit or crochet with it.  This is a very popular type of yarn these days, and I had been meaning to try it but hadn’t gotten around to it.  Thanks to my daughter, Katie, I now had some to play around with.

I had the idea that I’d like to try something a little different with this yarn than the typical scarf pattern one usually sees it used for.  Katie had made a beautiful headband with some of hers, but I didn’t want to duplicate what she had done.

As I looked at the yarn (which in its un-knitted state looks like a thick, ½ inch wide braid), I thought that I would like to try using it in tandem with another yarn.  I searched my stash and found just the thing…Cascade Eden, a lovely bamboo yarn, in a shade of hot pink that was very close to the darker edge of the Frilly.  I reasoned that if I used another yarn for the base of the scarf, the novelty yarn would go farther. 

To make the scarf, I began crocheting with the Eden for a few rounds, then worked a slip stitch with the Frilly for a round, working into the darker edge of the braid so the lighter shade was at the outer edge of the ruffle.  This worked pretty well, and I believe it used less of the Frilly than working in single crochet would have used.  I worked another round in Eden, and then decided to try a different effect on the edge.  Working into the light edge of the Frilly this time, I used the Eden to slip stitch the Frilly to each stitch of the scarf, inserting the hook closer than I had on the previous Frilly round.  This created a less ruffled look, with the darker shade on the outer edge of the ruffle.

I had enough of the Frilly left that I was able to make a cap with a couple of rounds of Frilly with the remainder of the ball of yarn!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Frugality and Creativity

Frugality seems to be ingrained deep in my nature.  I balk at paying full price, and love to shop at second-hand or thrift stores, to find things I can use at a reduced price.  So I often find myself hesitating at paying full price for yarn, especially since I began occasionally buying yarn wholesale.  But sometimes a yarn is just so special or so beautiful, that I allow myself to splurge a bit. 

Last year, I found myself eyeing some balls of Patons Kroy Socks, a lovely variegated yarn with beautiful colorways.  I think it was even on sale, and I had a pattern to use it for.  But the problem was, that even on sale, I would have to pay twice as much to make this pattern, because the yardage was less per ball.  The yarn I have typically used for my Scalloped Crocheted Fingerless Gloves is Red Heart's Heart & Sole, which has 213 yds. per 50g ball; but the Kroy Socks only has 166 yards.  This meant that I would likely need two balls.  I wrestled with the decision, but finally gave in and bought two balls.

Scalloped Crocheted Fingerless Gloves

As I began making the gloves, I enjoyed seeing the interplay of color.  The yarn was enjoyable to work with, and I soon had completed a pair of gloves.  But it seemed like there was still quite a bit of yarn left.  It seemed such a waste not to use it for something!  And this started the creative juices flowing.  I mulled it over, and decided to try making a pair of knitted gloves with the remainder.  I made a gauge swatch, and selected a pattern stitch, then hopefully cast on.  After knitting ribbed cuffs, I switched to the pattern stitch, and shortly thereafter started the thumb shaping. 

When I had completed the glove, I weighed it and the remaining yarn.  It would be close!  The completed gloves used up all but a short length of the yarn.  But what a satisfying feeling to get a second pair of gloves out of the two skeins of yarn! 

The completed knitted gloves
Sometimes frugality forces us to use our creativity.  If I hadn't been so frugal, I never would have created this second design.  Hooray for frugality!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Fruit Cardigans

I decided to make an apple jacket for a friend for Christmas.  I had seen pictures of them before, and they seemed like a cute (but perhaps impractical) idea.  Anna had sent me a link to an apple jacket pattern, and she seemed pretty sure she would actually use one (my main objection to making these was that, though these cute little cozies have a definite “cool factor”, I wasn’t sure that anyone would actually use one.

So, I designed my own version of the Apple Jacket.  To make a distinction between my pattern and everyone else’s, I have decided to call these wraps cardigans.  So much more appropriate, don’t you think?  (Well, ummm...except for the fact that a cardigan opens all the way down the front!!)

The Original Apple Cardigan (I later added another leaf, just because.)

So, as a free service to the apples of the world, here is my pattern for the Apple Cardigan.  If it is in my power, these little guys will not be left shivering in the cold!

Apple Cardigan

Materials:  1 oz. Caron Simply Soft or similar Category 4 worsted-weight yarn (completed cardigan weighs .7 oz., with one leaf and button attached)
                  Size G hook
                  One button, 5/8-7/8 inches in diameter
Gauge:  7 sts and 9 rows = 2 inches in sc


Ch 3; join with sl st to form ring.
Round 1:  Ch 1, 6 sc in ring.  Sl st to first sc.
Round 2:  Ch 1, 2 sc in ea st around.  Sl st to first sc.  12 sts.
Round 3:  Ch 1, (sc in next st, 2 sc in next st) 6 times.  Sl st to first sc.  18 sts.
Round 4:  Ch 1, (2 sc in next st, sc in next 2 sts) 6 times.  Sl st to first sc.  24 sts.
Round 5:  Ch 1, (Sc in next 3 sts, 2 sc in next st) 6 times.  Sl st to first sc.  30 sts.
Rounds 6-8:  Ch 1, sc in ea st around.  Sl st to first sc. 
Rows 9-17:  Ch 1, sc in ea st around; do not sl st to first sc.  Turn work.
Row 18 (WS):  Ch 1, sc in next 2 sts, sc2tog, (sc in 3 sts, sc2tog) 5 times.  Sc in last st.  Turn.  24 sts.
Row 19:  Ch 1, (sc in 2 sts, sc2tog) 6 times.  Turn.  18 sts.
Row 20:  Ch 1, (sc in 1 st, sc2tog) 6 times.  Turn.  12 sts.

Edging:  Sl st across top (“neck”) edge of cardigan, at left corner ch 13 (or desired length) for button loop, sl st in same corner st, sl st in edge of ea row of front opening to beg of sl st round.  Break off; weave in ends.

Leaf (optional):  Make as many as desired, attaching to neck edge of apple wherever you wish.
Ch 6.
Round 1:  Sc in 2nd ch from hook, hdc in next ch, dc in next ch, hdc in next ch, 3 sc in last ch.  Turn; working along opposite side of ch, hdc in next st, dc in next st, hdc in next st, sc in next st, sc in end of ch, ch 2, sl st around any st of Row 19 of Cardigan (this is like working a post st—insert the hook to the right of the st from front to back, and bring it back to the front on the left side of the st, yo and pull the loop around behind the st to the front of the work, and through the st on the hook) sl st in 2 chs, sl st in ea st around first half of leaf, working into back lps, ch 2, sl st in back lp of east of other side of leaf, sl st in stem chs, sl st into next st of Row 19.  Break off; weave in ends.

As I was contemplating the Apple Jacket idea, it occurred to me that it would be fun to make some other kind of fruit cardigan.  But what…?  Bananas and oranges already have jackets, of sorts.  But what if Anna wanted to bring grapes in her lunch??  Their bare little heads would surely catch a chill on a winter day.  Thus the idea of the Grape Cardigan was born.  I realized that this was a very impractical gift, but I sensed that Anna would appreciate the humor of it, even if she never actually used them.  Perhaps you would like to make some for a friend, too!  So, again, my gift to grapes everywhere…a free pattern for Grape Cardigans!

Anna's Grape Cardigans

Grape Cardigans

Materials:       Small amount Vanna’s Glamour yarn (Three of each size on a stem weigh .2 oz.), or similar-sized (Category 2) sport weight or sock yarn to meet gauge
Size 1 steel crochet hook
Gauge:            12 sts and 7 rows = 2 inches in dc


Large and Small Cardigans

Smaller size (fits small-to-medium grapes and small grape tomatoes):
Ch 3; join with sl st to form ring.
Round 1:  Ch 2, 12 dc in ring.  Sl st to top of first dc.
Round 2:  Ch 2, dc in ea st.  Sl st to top of first dc.
Row 3:  Ch 3, dc in next 11 sts.  Do not join; turn.
Row 4:  Ch 3, dc2tog, (dc in next st, dc2tog) 3 times.  Turn.  8 sts.
Row 5:  Ch 1, sc in first st, *ch 1, sk 1 st, sc in next st) 3 times, sc in last st.

Larger size (fits medium-to-large grapes and medium grape tomatoes):
Work Rounds 1-3 as for smaller cardigan
Rows 4-5:  Rep Row 3..
Row 6:  Ch 1, sc in 2 sts, sc2tog, (sc in next st, sc2tog) 2 times, sc in 2 sts.  Turn.  9 sts.
Row 7:  Ch 1, (sc  in next st, ch 1, sk 1 st) 4 times, sc in last st.  Break off.

Ch 90, or desired length to accommodate the number of grapes you have made.  The grapes can cluster at one end of the stem, but must be able to slide apart on the stem in order to more easily pop the fruit in and out of their cardigans.

Thread the stem chain through the chain lps of the last row of each cardigan.  For extra security (we would hate for the poor defenseless grapes to fall out and be smashed underfoot!), run the stem chain through the first lp of each cardigan a second time before threading through the next cardigan.  When all the cardigans are assembled on the chain, tie the ends of the chain together with an overhand knot.

To fill the cardigans, slide the first cardigan apart from the others and open up the top as much as possible so you can pop a grape inside.  If you include some cardigans of each size on the stem, there will be more options for a good fit.  When the grape is inserted, pull on the chain to draw up the loops as much as possible; then open up the next cardigan and fill it.  Continue until all your grapes are warmly covered.

Filled Grape Cardigans

Apple and Grape Cardigan patterns Copyright © 2012 Rebecca Harmon