Lamb my __ __ __!

You know that old saying? “March comes in like a Lion but goes out like a Lamb.” Not the way it is looking up here on my mountain this final week of March. Now, this really isn’t anything new for us on the mountain, we generally have an insanely cold snowy spring-time.

In fact we really only get about 3 weeks of what most folks view as Spring weather, then we are straight into Summer for about 6 weeks, another 3 possibly 4 weeks of Fall, and right back into Winter (weather if not officially the season). Which means if you do the math, out of 52 weeks in the year, we have about 39 weeks of Winter on my mountain.

Normally I don’t mind the cold. A very good thing being as I have made my home on a mountain in the Colorado Rockies at 8500 feet above sea level. But Spring is a little hard on me, I’ve usually reached my tolerance for cold and snow by the end of March.

I think it is worse this year because we had a lovely “false” spring that had me ready for the real thing, even though I knew it was all a lie. It is snowy and cold and I’m cranky.

chocolate bunny

I even ate my chocolate bunny from Easter faster than normal and that barely helped. I ended up with chocolate stains on my white T-shirt. Which means there will be stain removal work before washing that load of laundry tomorrow.

Now, feeling frustrated with winter isn’t really a crisis, and I’m trying to remind myself that there are a lot of things in my very fortunate life to be grateful for. I seem to go thru some version of spring cabin fever every year, it used to mystify me…now I just remind myself that this too shall pass. In fact, just wait a few months, I’m sure I’ll be whinging about the heat. Then I’ll be happy to have my nice cool mountain top when everyone in the city and plains is cooking in 100+F temperatures.

I’ve spent the past couple of days crocheting on samples and working on some videos. I had hoped to have something new to share with all of my lovely readers, but it was not to be the case. Besides the wintery weather I’ve had a sick kiddo, and one of those times in creative work where every task takes longer than anticipated.

Hopefully I will get my act together this week and have something for you this weekend. I’ll be headed to Loveland, Colorado for the Interweave 2016 YarnFest. Looking forward to seeing some of local yarnie friends and some that are coming in nationally to teach or have booths in the Marketplace. Should be the perfect cure for the spring-time blues.

Also for those of you too far away from Colorado to join us for YarnFest, you might want to make plans for a trip to Charleston for the CGOA Conference at the Knit & Crochet Show. Registration is live already and some of the classes have already sold out. So pop on over to the CGOA site to get signed up.

Playing with Triangles

This past week has been a busy and fun one. My boys were on Spring Break and we made a quick trip to Kansas to visit some of my family. Got to have a good visit with my Dad and brothers, but the highlight of the trip was taking my niece and her 2 little ones to Kansas City for a fun-filled day at LEGOland, as well as an entertaining dinner at Fritz’s where toy trains deliver your food to your table.

We were supposed to head back to Colorado on Wednesday, but the weather forecast looked like we would end up stranded with highway closures. We stayed an extra day in Topeka and drove home on Thursday. Once we got to Colby, Kansas on Interstate 70 we could see that it had definitely been the right decision. Now we just need to dig out our driveway and deck from the approximately 2.5+ feet of snow that fell here on the mountain.

Our Easter bunny is going to need snow boots to deliver eggs, especially since more snow is expected thru the weekend. I may just be curling up in front of a nice fire in the wood stove and crocheting. I’ve got a couple shawl projects on the hooks and that fits with today’s post.

Recently we had a little math lesson here on the blog for figuring out the yardage for making a triangle shawl.  Today I thought I would give you the tools for starting your own triangle shawl. I’m going to walk you thru this pattern, hopefully that will make it easy for even our newer-to-crochet folks to follow.

As I’ve said before, my favorite way to design is using what I call “Small Starts” for a project. To me the first 2-3 rows or rounds of a project are often the most fiddly, so I like to get them out of the way quickly so I can get to the “good” stuff. Nothing makes me happier than being able to write the beginning instructions of a pattern as “Chain 2 work in second chain from hook, . . . ”

For this simple shawl I wanted a pretty scalloped edge along the top as the rows were completed and I wanted the rows to be a simple Zen-like stitch that didn’t require a lot of thought to work on. These types of shawls are terrific relaxing projects to work on watching telly in the evening or for Prayer Shawl group meetings.

Vst-Chart

One of my favorite Zen-like stitches is the V-stitch. It is simple to make with just enough variety not to become completely boring.

Stacked V-Stitches
Photo A: Stacked V-Stitches

I’ve used this stitch both in stacked construction and staggered.

Photo B: Staggered V-Stitches
Photo B: Staggered V-Stitches

Now that I knew what stitch I wanted to use it was time to play with constructing the shawl. For my initial project I decided to use Lion Brand’s Vanna’s Choice. It’s a good sturdy acrylic worsted weight and I have it in lots of colors in my stash. I used a J (6mm) hook with this yarn as I wanted to keep my stitches loose.

You can use any weight yarn you want with the size hook that gives you a fabric you like. That might involve a bit of experimenting to decide on the right combination of yarn and hook. Because this shawl is worked from the top center with increases at the center point and at each end of the top edge you can just work as many rows as you like until you reach the size you want, or until you run out of yarn.

Swatch 1 for PWT shawl

After making the swatch above I calculated for my Vanna’s Choice version of the shawl I would need approximately 6 skeins of yarn (870 yards). That would make a shawl that is 60 inches across the top and 30 inches long at the center point. I worked 6 rows of the body stitch pattern and then the border for this swatch to get my numbers.

My first finished Playing with Triangles Shawl.
My first finished Playing with Triangles Shawl.

Playing with Triangles Shawl

Designed by Andee Graves

Skill – Beginner

Stitches you need to know: Chain (ch), Double Crochet (dc), Single Crochet (sc), Slip Stitch (sl st)

Special Stitches

Adjustable Slip Knot: Make your beginning slip knot so that pulling on the starting tail tightens the working loop on your hook. Need help with this technique visit my blog post “The Lovely Adjustable Slip Knot” or stop by my YouTube Channel for a helpful video.

V Stitch (V-st): (dc, ch 1, dc) in indicated place

Materials

Yarn in weight and yardage you want to use for your preferred size of Shawl.

Hook in size appropriate for the fabric you want from your yarn.

Stitch markers (at least 3)

Pattern Notes

The majority of the body of this shawl is worked in staggered V-stitches. This means the 2 legs of the V-st are worked in the space between two V-stitches. Like you see in Photo B above the pattern instructions.

Each chain stitch counts as a single stitch for skipped stitches, ie… the top of a V-st would count as 3 stitches.

Instructions

PWT Row 1
Row 1 completed

Row 1: Starting with an adjustable slip knot Ch 4 (counts as dc and center), ({dc, ch 1} 2 times, dc, ch 2, {dc, ch 1} 2 times, 2 dc) in fourth ch from hook. Place st markers in first and last ch-1 spaces, and in ch-2 sp. (4 ch-1 sp, 1 ch-2 sp, 8 dc)

Row 2 completed
Row 2 completed

Row 2: Ch 3, turn, sk first st, 2 dc next st, ch 1, V-st in marked ch-1 sp, move st marker to first ch-1 sp just made, sk 3 sts, (V-st, ch-2, V-st) in marked ch-2 sp, move st marker to ch-2 sp just made, sk 3 sts, V-st in marked ch-1 sp,  ch 1, 2 dc in next st, move st marker to second ch-1 sp just made. (4 V-st, 4 dc, 2 ch-1 sp, 1 ch-2 sp, 1 ch-3)

Row 3 completed
Row 3 completed

Row 3: Ch 3, turn, sk first st, 2 dc next st, ch 1, V-st in marked ch-1 sp, move st marker to first ch-1 sp just made, sk 3 sts, V-st in space before next V-st, sk 3 sts, (V-st, ch 2, V-st) in marked ch-2 sp, move st marker to ch-2 sp just made, sk 3 sts, V-st in space before next V-st, sk 3 sts, V-st in marked ch-1 sp, ch 1, 2 dc next st, move st marker to second ch-1 sp just made. (6 V-st, 4 dc, 2 ch-1 sp, 1 ch-2 sp, 1 ch-3)

Row 4 completed
Row 4 completed

Row 4: Ch 3, turn, sk first st, 2 dc next st, ch 1, V-st in marked ch-1 sp, move st marker to first ch-1 sp just made, *sk 3 sts, V-st in space before next V-st*, repeat from * to * until reach V-st before marked ch-2 sp, (V-st, ch 2, V-st) in marked ch-2 sp, move st marker to ch-2 sp just made, repeat from * to * until reach V-st before marked ch-1 sp, V-st in marked ch-1 sp, ch 1, 2 dc in next st, move st marker to second ch-1 sp just made. (8 V-st, 4 dc, 2 ch-1 sp, 1 ch-2 sp, 1 ch-3)

Repeat Row 4 until reach the desired length, you will need to end on an even numbered row to set up for the scalloped border.

Border: I’ve shown the border worked it a different color to make it stand out clearer in the photos, you can continue in the same color as the body of the shawl or use a contrasting color.

Border 2 Vst

Ch 3, turn, sk first st, 2 dc next st, ch 1, sk 2 sts, 2 V-st in next ch-1 sp,

Border 3 Vst

* sk 2 sts, **sc in next ch-1 sp, sk 2 sts, 3 V-st in next ch-1 sp*,

repeat from * to * until one V-st remains un-worked before marked ch-2 sp,

Border turning corner

sk 2 sts, sc in next ch-1 sp, sk 1 st, 3 V-st in marked ch- 2 sp, sk 1 st, repeat from ** to * once,

Border turning corner 2

 

repeat from * to * until 2 V-st remain un-worked before marked ch-1 sp at end of row,

Border end of row

sk 2 sts, sc in next ch-1 sp, sk 2 sts, 2 V-st in next ch-1 sp, ch 1,

Border finish end of row

sk 2 sts, 2 dc next st.

Fasten off. Weave in tails. Gently block if desired.

I also have a video available for this pattern on my YouTube channel. Click here to see it.

For some helpful tips on working your shawl visit this blog post.

Now it’s your turn to get creative. Have fun experimenting with different textures and weights of yarn to create a shawl that is just right for you. Check thru your yarn stash and see if you have a mixture of similar weight yarn in harmonizing colors that you could combine in your shawl.

You can see some more of my PWT shawls on this blog post.

Hoppy Spring

It’s just a few short days until it’s Easter! How did that happen? Of course, the Easter Bunny sometimes has to wear his snow boots when he comes to our house. Fortunately for most of my lucky readers they are seeing warmer temperatures and flowers blooming.

I’ve been seeing a few brave flowers and leaves making an appearance down in town, but up on the mountain there isn’t much indication that winter is winding down.

Lindt Dark Chocolate Gold Bunny
Lindt Dark Chocolate Gold Bunny

Easter time is lots of fun and at our household involves the consumption of chocolate bunnies. I’ve bought our bunnies already and hid them so the chocolate monsters won’t eat their ears off before the big day. Nothing more off-putting than having an Easter basket with an earless bunny in it.

Bunnies are a great theme at Easter, but please don’t buy a real baby bunny unless you are ready to give them a good home for the next 10 years or so. Bunnies grow up to be rabbits and they require special care and attention to have full happy lives. Just like any pet you adopt.

And if you really want to adopt a pet rabbit, wait until after Easter and go to your local animal shelter. Usually a week after Easter they start to get lots of bunnies that folks realize they don’t want to keep. Sad, but true.

An easier way to have a bunny for Easter is to crochet a cuddly toy bunny. Hey, you knew I was going to fit crochet in here somehow. There are some great patterns out there for bunnies, I did a search on Ravelry for Free Bunny softie toys and was blown away by the number of patterns. Over 9 pages of patterns came up.

Image from Lion Brand Yarns.
Image from Lion Brand Yarns.

This cutie is the “Best Bunny” from the Lion Brand Website and I think he is adorable. I love the big floppy ears and generous size of the toy. Just big enough to make a great back pack friend, but not so huge that you need 5 months to make it.

He is shown worked in a fun 2 color combination, but you could make him in one solid color if you desired. Personally I am tempted to make him a bright blue or aqua.

Image from Lion Brand Yarns
Image from Lion Brand Yarns

If you are running short on time there is also this cute little Amigurumi Bunny Egg Cozy from the Lion Brand Website. What a great way to decorate a special egg for the Easter basket.

Or you could stuff the body with fiberfill and work a few more decrease rounds to close up the bottom of the cozy and turn him into an eggy shaped softie. Again I’m seeing this bunny worked in a variety of bright spring colors.

If neither of these bunnies inspire you to crochet up some rabbit friends, then take a look at the pattern database on Ravelry. You can search in a variety of ways to find the pattern that you like best.

Now get hopping, Easter will be here before you know it.

The Other Yarnie Craft

I know it is still National Crochet Month, though according to some folks it is National Crafting Month. I thought it would be fun to talk about that other popular yarn craft: Knitting.

My swatches from my 2011 knitting experiment.
My swatches from my 2011 knitting experiment.

The funny thing is I was wondering this week what I was blogging about 5 years ago in March. Turns out I was experimenting with knitting. I hadn’t really gotten the hang of continental style knitting and I was a very slow knitter. Not to mention easily frustrated with my knitting.

Amazingly enough I have actually gotten a lot better at knitting the past 5 years. I have to say that taking a class with Galina Khmeleva at the 2014 Knit and Crochet Show was a definite turning point for my knitting. It even made me bold enough to take a lace knitting class at my local yarn shop: Longmont Yarn Shoppe.

SR My Show & Tell

I made this pretty scarf. It’s not perfect, but I learnt so much working thru it. Reading back over those 5 year old posts, one of the things I remembered was how stressful it was for me trying to understand the stitches. Now I can finally really see the stitches and I know when they are on my needle correctly and even better I know how to fix them when they aren’t.

Beginning of my son's Christmas Scarf.
Beginning of my son’s Christmas Scarf.

I knit a scarf for my oldest son for this past Christmas. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of it when it was finished because of the usual mayhem at Christmas-time around our house. He has worn it almost every single day this winter, so I think he likes it. Unfortunately it is beginning to show that it well loved. A bit like the Velveteen Rabbit.

I’ve been thinking about attempting to design a pattern using simple knitting and elaborate crochet, but it keeps slipping down my list of projects. Will have to see if I can get on it later this year.

I still don’t knit all that much and crochet is my first passion when it comes to playing with yarn, but I am glad that I understand how to knit. If nothing else going thru the pain of learning and being in that beginner’s mind again has made me an even more compassionate teacher.

This weekend begins Spring Break for my boys, so I may be a bit quieter than usual. I hope to have something exciting for all of you next week, though it may be next weekend.

 

A Little Sparkle for Spring

I’m still celebrating NatCroMo, and those of you looking for something pretty to wear this spring will appreciate this little pattern.

Gold w Gold Earrings

I made these earrings over the last couple of weeks. I’ve been having a great time experimenting with Size #10 Crochet Cotton and beads worked over a split ring armature.

Red w Gold Earrings 2

As you can see, it’s possible to get really different looks just by altering the size and colors of beads used. Both of the above earrings used the same metallic gold/cream thread, the only change was the beads I’ve chosen. It’s endlessly entertaining making these with the various beads in my stash.

Earwires

I like the Ball Hook Earwires because I can make a variety of earrings, and use the same wires by interchanging the crocheted part. I purchased these at my local JoAnns Craft and Hobby shop.

Simple Victorian Drop Earrings

Designed by Andee Graves

Stitch Chart for
Stitch Chart for Simple Victorian Drop Earrings

 

Materials

#10 Crochet Cotton Thread

Hook  1.75 mm & .90mm steel

2 – 20mm Split Rings

10 – glass beads with large enough holes for thread to fit thru doubled

Gauge:

29 single crochet with a chain-2 space should cover the ring fully without being too crowded.

Special Stitches

Beaded Chain Stitch (bdch): Remove hook from working loop, place bead on smaller hook and insert in working loop, slide bead onto working loop, remove smaller hook and replace larger hook in working loop, YO and make chain stitch. Need help with this step check out my blog post “Making a Pendant”

Instructions

Begin by fastening your thread around the ring and placing working loop on larger hook. Need help with this step check out my blog post “Getting Started on a Thread Earring”

Round 1: Ch 1, 23 sc working into the ring, ch 2, 6 sc working into the ring, sl st to first sc of Rnd. (29 sc, 1 ch-2 sp)

Round 2: Ch 1, sk 1 st, sc next 2 sts, *ch 1, bdch, ch 1, sk 2 sts,* sc next st, Repeat from * to *, (dc, ch 1, bdch, ch 1, dc) next st, Repeat from * to *, sc next 2 sts, ch 1, sl st next st.

Fasten off and weave in tails.

Celebrating Circles

This coming Monday is March 14th, and you know what that means? Pi Day!

Okay, for those of you that somehow have managed to be reading this blog and have missed it…

I’m a Geek!

I love math and science, plus all the other wonderfully related things. There have been rumors that I am a nerd, but I’m not paying them any notice. My favorite math, and one that I use frequently in my design work, is Geometry. That takes us back to Pi.

Pi = 3.14 and that makes March 14, a date that can be written 3.14, Pi Day. See, you knew I’d get to the point eventually.

Pi in lay terms is the number that allows us to compute the circumference of a circle. Actually it is much more than that, but that gets you in the general vicinity. It is a handy concept to understand, especially if you are making hats.

Perfect Fit Crocheted Hat
Perfect Fit Crocheted Hat

I’ve talked a lot about using Pi in sizing hats, in fact my “Perfect Fit Crocheted Hat” pattern/lesson has a lot of information about using Pi to determine the size of hat you can make. The sizing in that pattern is very flexible because once you master the method, you can use any size yarn with the appropriately matching hook to create a hat that fits perfectly.

Spiraling Xs Hat 3 Andee Graves

Of course, since I’m in a mood for celebrating Pi, it seems only appropriate to introduce you all to my latest hat pattern: “Spiraling Crosses Hat”. I designed it in Tahki Stacy Charles “Mesa” yarn, a lovely squishy thick/thin aran-weight superwash wool that is dyed in long gradual color changes. This hat design is perfect for spring-time transitional weather. The stitch pattern has a bit of laciness to it and lots of stretch. The warmth of the wool is there to chase off a chill and the laciness allows your scalp to breathe.

As part of my celebration of Pi-Day this hat pattern is available to you dear readers at a 10% discount until almost Midnight (11:59 p.m. Mountain Time) Monday, March 14, 2016. Just use the coupon code PiDayHat16 when purchasing it in my Ravelry Shop.

Speaking of Ravelry, have you joined the fun at the month long party for crochet? Check out the forum for celebrating NatCroMo. You can even join in the Hat CAL with any hat pattern you so desire. Like maybe a Perfect Fit or Spiraling Crosses Hat?

 

Another Peek Behind the Curtain: It’s all about the Work

This past Sunday I came across this article in the Business Insider – The Most Successful Creative People Constantly Say “No”.   The paragraph that jumped out at me was this one:

“Time is the raw material of creation. Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work: the work of becoming expert through study and practice, the work of finding solutions to problems and problems with those solutions, the work of trial and error, the work of thinking and perfecting, the work of creating.”

Crochet Time

In many ways time is what you are paying for when you purchase a crochet (or knit) pattern from a designer.  Not just the time that the designer put into that particular design, but the hours and days of experimenting and perfecting their craft so they could create a pattern that would be clear and concise.

I crochet a lot. I have my crochet with me wherever I can take it, and if I don’t have my crochet with me, I have a notebook that I write down ideas for crochet designs in. A lot of my crochet time is experimenting with ideas in how to make an increase or decrease in a specific stitch pattern, or how to construct a garment that takes advantage of the nature of crochet fabric and stitches.

This means that I also spend a great deal of that time frogging my work or making notes on why something didn’t work. It can be quite surprising the things that work in ways that I hadn’t expected. I’m reminded of how some drug companies research for a medication to treat one condition, but then discover that it is great for treating some other condition.

Ruffled Wedding Bag photo courtesy Red Heart North America
Ruffled Wedding Bag photo courtesy Red Heart North America

One of the ideas I had a few years back was for an embellishment on a sweater. The fabric was too dense and fussy for me though. Instead it morphed into a design idea for a bag that I sold to Red Heart. Ruffled Wedding Bag, you can get the pattern for free at the Red Heart Website.

This turned out to be one of my favorite designs so far that I’ve created using Red Heart’s “Sassy Lace“. They also have a “Sassy Fabric” yarn that comes in a variety of colors and prints giving you loads of options for making this little bag. I’m thinking that a fun version could be made in the Teal Chevron “Sassy Fabric” with either Iced Aqua or White “With Love” as the bag color. Would make a great gift bag for mother’s day.

I had planned on this post being something different. But time got away from me this past week. My entire family came down with a stomach bug. I was so ill on Sunday that I couldn’t do anything but read online and sleep. Of course, that is how I came across the article I quoted above. So there is always a silver lining.

Everyone is on the mend now and I hope to have a new pattern (maybe more than one) to show you this weekend.