June WIPs

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Hello everyone, how are you? I thought it would be good to start the month by sharing what has been on my hook lately and what I plan to start soon as well. I have so many projects I want to work on (and so much yarn waiting to be used), particularly all the summer garments that are on my queue since I want them finished by those two weeks in July that are called “summer” in Scotland.

First, I thought I should show you how my Freyja shawl is coming along. Last time you saw it I was starting my repeats and I am afraid there is still long to go. This shawl is beautiful but oh dear how much time it takes! I am about a third of the way but hope to finish it this month, have some travelling to do for work next week and have decided to bring this project along to make sure I work on it.

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What has been taking most of my crochet time is this awesome Lorelei Pullover by Dora Ohrenstein. It appears in a tunisian crochet book by Dora called The New Tunisian Crochet: Contemporary Designs from Time Honoured Traditions, it is a great book for learning new stitches in tunisian crochet but unfortunately the patterns didn’t really catch my eye, except for this one. I knew I had to make this as soon as I saw it, and after I found the perfect yarn for it it wasn’t long until this was on my hook.

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The yarn I am using is Ginger’s Hand Dyed Swanky Lace which is a beautiful blend of 70% baby alpaca, 20% silk and 10% cashmere in the colour Girl on Fire. This is the most luxurious yarn I have ever worked with, Jess has a great eye for colour and this one is no exception: it is just beautiful. It is definitely more on the bright side of what I usually wear but the colour suits me (after doing a quick poll in the shop) and since it is a summery item I think that is the best bet to go a bit more colourful.

The stitch pattern for this pullover was adapted by Dora from a vintage magazine, and it is very special and unique. As you may have noticed I love working on things that don’t look like crochet at first sight, and this definitely fits the bill. Gauge is tricky since the length of the stitches are determined by how much you pull that loop in each stitch, and it can vary a lot. Halfway through I realised that even though my swatch had a very loose row gauge I was now crocheting a lot tighter, so I am having to add a few more rows to make sure it is not too small.

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This is also a project where you can see the magic of blocking. It makes SUCH a difference, from an uneven fabric with a huge bias to beautiful and drapey. It is hard to see how it fits before blocking so I am just trusting that it will all work out in the end, a bit of crochet faith!

So that is what is on my hook just now, very proud to have only two projects on. I am eager to start more and so I will start swatching soon for my next garment to make sure I can start as soon as I finish one of these two WIPs (definitely the pullover). Here is a sneak peak at what I will be working on next!

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What are you guys working on? Let me know in the comments!

Have a great week,

x

Sol

Freyja journey: More charts

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How’s it going? I am here today with another update of this Freyja journey. Remember Laura from Made in Oxford is also blogging about her Freyja so make sure to check it out.

Since my last post I have been working slowly away with the charts on the pattern. It requires all my attention, I don’t even put music on to avoid mistakes. I am definitely getting more used to the rhythm and since I will have to repeat each chart more than 20 times I know it will get easier. Patience is required and I am giving all I have 🙂

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I am loving to see how it is taking shape, it is such a smart pattern. You know when you are working on a pattern and you see all these crazy charts or instructions and you really can’t tell how it will translate into your project? I was definitely on that stage a week ago, I couldn’t see the end game but now it is all fitting into place and it is looking amazing.

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Isn’t it unbelievable how some designers can come up with such gorgeous creations? Their talent will never cease to amaze me, how they can take individual stitches and play with them in such intricate ways to turn them into a beautiful piece of art.

I will continue to share short posts with my progress but probably less often since it will take some time to get through these charts and it is just more of the same.

Thank you again for reading and keeping us company in this Freyja journey.

x

Sol

Freyja journey: Charts

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If you have been following the Freyja journey you will know that it has taken a long time to get that first row finished. After many (too many) stitch markers and many hours of sitting down in concentration it is finally done! And I was only off a couple of stitches in the end so nothing that couldn’t be easily fixed (or hidden).

By the time you are done with that first row you need to make sure that you ended up with the almost 500 stitches stated in the pattern, which wasn’t easy to count. My advise is to count every 50 stitches and place a marker, that way when you lose your count you just have to begin again from the last marker and not from the beginning.

After an easy row of dc the dreaded charts have begun. There are three charts in total and you alternate them through the pattern until you have run out of those 500 stitches. It will make you laugh a bit when I tell you it took me a couple of hours to get through the first 20 stitches…! Only a few hundred to go… I don’t even want to do the math, I just know it will take a while and that is even considering I should go faster once I’ve repeated the charts a few times. But as I said in my last post, patience is a virtue and this shawl is in no rush at the moment.

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If you know the pattern you may have seen there is a new stitch called “cnupps” which some people are a bit afraid of before starting the pattern. The designer has a really good video explaining everything and I have had no issues with them. I do think that the fabric around the little clusters is not very nice since it has to stretch to give them space, but hopefully once blocked all will be good. In case you are following the pattern, in the first chart there are some numbers on the top and bottom, there is no explanation for them in the pattern but they are only the number of vertical bars before and after the cnupps so that you can keep track of your loops.

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You can see the results of the first chart in the pictures with the little cnupps coming off the surface, I really like them even if they take a bit of time. Like many other things in life it requires time and gentleness, concentration and precision. This is not an easy pattern but is has been very satisfying indeed, hope I remember this and not only that it took forever to finish!

x

Sol

Freyja journey: Patience is a virtue

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My mum always used to say: “patience is a virtue”. She said this because she, as a very impatient person like myself, understood the value of patience. I am the kind of person who goes about life as if there is never enough time: I am always running to the the next thing which is I think the basis for my impatience. There is no time for slowness or inefficiency, from trying to open a package that seems like it was made to never be opened or to pair my boyfriends socks which are all black except for this tiny little embroidery in different colours (I keep trying to convince him no one will notice if they are different).

So it is no wonder that until recently I was also impatient with my crochet projects. I wouldn’t swatch before a garment, or I would use a DK yarn even when I knew the pattern would work a lot better with a 4ply so that I could get started sooner, I would not block my finished project because I couldn’t wait to start the next one and I would not do a proper swatch for my designs but just go straight for the sample instead (I still do this actually…). And most important of all the rules for the impatient crocheter: you don’t rip out, you just pretend like the mistake isn’t there. Because who has time to work all that section again, right?

If you are reading this and nodding (don’t pretend like your weren’t now!), then let me give you a small advice. It will probably sound ridiculous but hang with me for a moment. Here it goes:

If you actually take the time, if you are patient with your projects, you will enjoy them more.

I know, it sounds crazy right? But people, it is true. Not easy, but definitely true.

I am still an impatient crocheter in recovery but I can honestly say that ever since I started taking more time planning my projects, choosing my yarn, making proper swatches, weaving in ends properly, working proper seams and everything else that a patient person would do, I have actually enjoyed my craft a lot more. I not only feel better because the finished product looks and fits better, but I also feel very proud of myself for taking the time to re-do that bit that wasn’t looking very well, or to start again with a different hook size to get a nicer drape. This realisation has helped grow this idea of mine to create a handmade wardrobe that I will want to wear, and time is definitely key in that process. Time and of course, patience. Patience to understand that it is time well spent.

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As the weekend flew by I didn’t have much time to work on my Freyja but I was determined to finish that Row 1 before this next post. Why? Who knows, no one is timing me and I am sure you won’t mind if I take a bit longer. When I had a few hours to spare on Sunday I started working on it and had made some good progress until I realised I made a mistake right after I picked it up that day. I could either get to the end of the row and try to make it work somehow, or rip all I had done in those precious hours. I am proud to say I didn’t think (that long) before deciding to just undo my work and start again.

It is not always easy and I still don’t follow my own advice every now and again. And of course patience has its limits and I won’t start a whole sweater again if I made the mistake right at the beginning (which just happened with my Alyssium cardi by the way). But here I am, with no progress with my Freyja compared to last week and feeling quite good about it. The world hasn’t ended, that mistake is not there to annoy me anymore and that shawl is still going to get finished, just maybe a few days later than planned. For someone so used to running about, I am really enjoying to take things slow for a while.

x

Sol

Freyja journey: Getting through Row 1

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I love short weeks, it is so amazing that it is Wednesday already! Wednesdays will be the day when Laura from Made in Oxford and I have planned to keep you updated on our progress on the Freyja shawl by Aoibhe Ni, you can check the first post here where I talked a bit about the pattern and the yarn I am using.

I am halfway through Row 1 of the pattern after working on it over the long weekend. As I have mentioned before, Aoibhe Ni uses a special construction in some of her designs that takes some time to get used to. You basically start with a VERY long chain (we are talking hundreds here) after which you work perpendicular rows and attach the end of each row to the initial chain until you run out of chains. Since the foundation chain consisted of hundreds of chains, that means hundreds of rows that need to be worked up and it takes a while… I am a bit past the middle of the first row and can’t wait to see the end of it!

It is looking quite nice already though, and this yarn.. I LOVE IT. It is Rooster Delightful Lace and it is SO soft and creates such a nice fabric that I think this is going to be shawl that will be around my neck quite a lot once it is finished.

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In case anyone of you is working on Freyja or thinking about trying it in the future I thought I should give you some tips from my experience with this pattern so far:

  • I don’t usually swatch for shawls but when I started working on this pattern I wished I had because I realised after a few perpendicular rows that I didn’t really like how the fabric looked. Tunisian crochet with lace-weight yarn can look too loose for me sometimes which I think makes the stitches look uneven. I ended up starting again with a smaller hook size and I am really liking the way the stitches look now.
  • The pattern says to begin with a long foundation chain, however I chose to work foundation double crochets instead. There is a tutorial for this stitch in my Tutorials page if you are not familiar with this stitch. I think it gives it a nicer and sturdier edge than if I were just doing a chain.
  • There are many lines to the instructions of Row 1 and the only way I could keep track of where I was in the pattern was to use one stitch marker per line, which is a lot of stitch markers! I am actually running out and will have to turn to using safety pins but it is the only way I will ever find a mistake if necessary.
  • With this method of construction there is always the chance that you will work through the lines of instruction in Row 1 and realise that you still have more lines to work but have run out of chains in your foundation or the other way around. I already know I am off by one or two chains if my counting is right and as long it is not much more than that I am not even going to try and find what I did wrong. You can always work two perpendicular rows into just one chain, or even skip the last one and no one will know 🙂

That is all I can share so far with this shawl, hopefully by this time next week I will have survived this first row and will be tackling another challenge. I have to say it feels great to work a difficult pattern again, I hadn’t done this in a while and I am really enjoying the satisfaction I get from every milestone I achieve. I am always looking for simplicity when designing patterns, mostly because of my inexperience in design but I truly hope one day I can create a challenge as beautiful as this pattern.

Hope you have a nice end of the week!

x

Sol

 

A new crochet world: Aoibhe Ni

Hello world! Hope you are all doing great and that weather where you are is nice and warm, very rainy in my part of the world today… Despite the weather, my very busy and difficult job, my very limited time for crocheting (or anything that is not working for that matter) and my tendency to get very low at times, I have to say I am feeling very happy today. I am very grateful for my life and those around me, even those that are far still fill my heart with joy and make me realise how lucky I am. Sorry for the cheesy intro but I thought I could share my joy with the world!

So I still haven’t done that photo tutorial I promised, I will give it a go tomorrow and see if I can do it by myself or if I will need someone else to hold the camera for me (Jess, if you are reading I am thinking of you!). I do have loads of pattern ideas in my head and I’m getting very frustrated that I don’t have the time to move forward with them, but that is life. I will get to them eventually and I guess you and I will both have to be patient! (I know, I hate it too…)

Since I didn’t want to leave you without a post this week I thought I would continue to share some of my inspiration and favourite designers with you. This time I would like to introduce you to the amazing Aoibhe Ni.

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© http://www.halfadreamaway.com
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© http://www.halfadreamaway.com

If you like tunisian crochet you will fall in love with this designer. Her patterns definitely fall into the “I can’t believe that is crochet” category and her technique is very unique. She uses the tunisian crochet technique in a way that you can do it with a regular hook so that you don’t have to buy a special one just for her patterns. This is so smart, thoughtful and budget friendly that I couldn’t believe it was true. And not only that, she uses tunisian stitches in a way I had never seen before. 

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© http://www.halfadreamaway.com
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© http://www.halfadreamaway.com

With her designs you will learn tunisian crochet is more than simple stitch for cushions or scarves, oh, it is so much more! Her shawls in particular are STUNNING. I love that she uses lighter yarns and takes away that heavy feel that crochet is sometimes known for. Her designs are delicate, intricate and use lovely colours. Her yarn choice is usually expensive, but you can always substitute for something cheaper.

© www.halfadreamaway.com
© http://www.halfadreamaway.com

I have tried a few of her patterns and have loved them, sorry I don’t have more pictures but they were gifts so I don’t have them anymore.

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The only thing you need to be aware of is that since this is a different technique for tunisian it may take some time to get used to it. Her patterns are difficult to understand at first and she uses mostly charts instead of written instructions. The first time I followed one of her patterns it felt like Chinese, but then the second and third were a breeze. She has a free pattern called Pax, I found it more difficult than the other two I tried and would recommend to buy Phoenix instead as a first try if you can. If not, then some people have done some beautiful projects with Pax so please give it a try.

I am constantly in awe by how hook and yarn can give such a wide array of results and this designer is really stretching the boundaries. I am very thankful to such people and hope that you will be too. Stay tuned for the tutorial!

Happy weekend!

x

Sol