Being Invisible

Do you ever get annoyed with that pesky bump that comes from joining the last round of a motif when you are crocheting? Even if you are the only one that sees it, you know it’s there.

I’ve always loved working in the round.  But I went thru all kinds of hoops trying to find a way to join the last stitch of a round to the first without it looking unsightly.  I wanted a join that would hold up to use and yet would not be too obvious.

In fact, what I was really searching for was something invisible.  I happily found some great solutions in Edie Eckman’s book “Beyond the Square; Crochet Motifs” and Suzann Thompson’s book “Crochet Bouquet.”  Like many of the tips you learn in crochet, it was so obvious once I’d learned it.

In Edie’s book she talks about Tidy Joins on page 17 and has lovely clear instructions and illustrations for a couple of different joins that are invisible.  This is also a fabulous book to learn many refining techniques for getting the most out of your crochet, as well as lots of clearly illustrated and charted designs for more motifs than you can imagine.

Later on I acquired Suzann’s book.  On page 14 she shows step-by-step the instructions for doing a Needle Join that has become my favorite join to use, particularly on hats as it is nearly impossible to spot.  This is also a book that will have you itching to make all kinds of crocheted flowers to embellish anything and everything.  My only complaint with this book is it does not have any stitch charts, all the patterns are only text.

If you are looking for an invisible join for ending your crochet work, take a look at either of these books.  Both are great additions to your crochet library.

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Getting Stuffy

I love little crocheted toys,  popularly referred to as “amigurumis.”  I have 2 small boys in my household and there are numerous neices, nephews and little friends that need toys too.  But, I hate, hate, hate, to crochet super tightly like lots of amigurumis require.

Finished Bitty Bear

My first solution to this problem was to crochet my amis in feltable yarns.  I use a bigger hook than is usually stated in the pattern, stuff the little bits and sew it all together.  Then give the toy a really hot bath in the kitchen sink.

The little bear pictured above was my first experiment with this.  I thought it would work best if I also stuffed him with wool roving.  Unfortunately, the roving felted more than the bear did!  I ended up taking some stitches thru his neck to snug things up.  His pretty pink bow hid the plastic surgery very nicely though.

Bitty Bear with some Cosmetic Surgery

The lesson I learned from this was to pre-felt the roving I was going to use for stuffing.  My next attempt was a baby turtle for my oldest son.  This time I partly felted the roving and stuffed the turtle very full.  The turtle came out almost too firm, though quite cute.

Little Green Baby Turtle

I have made a number of balls that are felted too.  Experimentation has taught me that using a fiber fill stuffing at the center with layers of roving around it works best.  My other trick for amis is to use fun fur or a fluffy yarn so I don’t need to stitch as tight, yet the fiber fill won’t work it’s way out.   Some examples are my Pocket Monsters.

Pocket Monster
Purple Pocket Monster

So if you’ve avoided trying to make amigurumis because the tight stitching hurts your hands some of these approaches might help you.  Just be sure you have enough yarn for all the “kids” in your life.  Everyone will want one. ;o)

The Importance of Compassion

Small ivory and gold colored statue
Kuan Yin - Bodhisattva of Compassion

Often I have written about going to PJ Jam at the LambShoppe in Denver.  It is the 3rd Saturday of each month and a wonderous and fun evening surrounded by fellow fiber/yarn enthusiasts.  The enthusiasm is mirrored by the entire staff at the shop and their willingness to talk yarn and stitching.

One employee in particular is noteworthy to the experience for me.  This is the lovely Angie.  A young mother who, when I last saw her in January, was 4 months pregnant with her second child.

I missed PJ Jam in February as my family and I were ill with a stomach bug.  I didn’t want to share our germs with my friends, so stayed home.

When I attended PJ Jam in March I was distressed to learn that Angie was in hospital and quite critically ill.  It turns out that Angie has a rare disease called Moya Moya.  This was un-diagnosed before recent events lead to her being hospitalized and having emergency neurosurgery.

Angie has other surgeries ahead of her, as well as long stays in hospital and rehabilitative care on her road to recovery.  This whole process will likely be quite expensive for her and her family. So the staff of the LambShoppe have organized a Fundraiser to help raise money to defer the costs.

Some of the yarn I was showing off from my March trip is going to be used to create a FreeForm crocheted neck cozy for the Silent auction portion of the Fundraiser. 

If you are in the Denver area and would like to contribute to or attend the Fundraiser it is being held at Noon on April 18th at Pomegranate Place, 750 Clarkson St.  Ravelry members can read more here.

Maybe the hardest part for many of us is the absolute inexplicable nature of it all.  How completely horribly wrong it seems that something like this could happen to such a sweet person and one seemingly the picture of health.

“Unfair” “Heart-breaking” “Horrible” are all words I’ve heard used to describe this tragic turn of events.  And all these words are true.  But it is a reminder.   Life is often unfair, heart-breaking and horrible.  Our tenure on this plane of existence comes with no guarantees.

Which is why making the effort to live our lives with kindness and tolerance towards each other is so important.  The only fairness and justice that truly exist are the ones we create for each other. 

So, even if you are not at a place to do something to help Angie, please remember to live each day with compassion toward yourself and your fellow tenants in life.

Crochet for Crochet’s Sake

March is National Crochet Month and I’ve been giving some thought to why I love crochet so much?  

FreeForm Doodle Lace

Is it the enjoyment of the action of crocheting itself?  Or is the attraction having a lovely item to wear or use?  Do I crochet for it’s own sake or to create an object? Basically it comes down to a question of Process or Product.  

For me there is added to the concept of process the allure of designing.  Much of my design work is process.  Swatching and experimenting with various yarns, hook sizes and stitch patterns just to see what I get.  I may have absolutely nothing in mind when I start this process, my only goal is exploration.  Often times these experiments add to my knowledge, but that may be the only gain. 

Does that make the process a waste of time?  Personally I don’t view knowledge or entertainment as a waste,  so for me the process stage of design work is very rewarding.  As I like to tell my students in the various art and craft classes I’ve taught, “There is no such thing as Failure, there is only Discovery.”  

The process of crocheting is one that I have always enjoyed as well. 

My return to Crochet as my main hobby came about 12 years ago when I hurt my ankle and was forced to spend a great deal of time off my feet.  I found crocheting and it’s rhythm to be very soothing.  

I was also re-intrigued with the idea of “weaving” with a hook, using a single tool to create fabrics in a variety of dimensions and shaping.  All these years later that fascination is still fresh for me.  To suspend expectation and just revel in what comes off my hook. 

Taking your Yarn for a Walk Fragments
FreeForm fragments from Jenny's Class

Maybe this is one of the reason’s I love to play with FreeForm crochet.  Gathering up a variety of harmonious colored yarns of various textures and weights and then creating “fragments or scrumbles” is very relaxing to me. 

Often I am asked what I am making, or what will those become.  Most of the time I have no idea.  Seems I may be deeply entrenched in the process side of crochet.   Eventually I do make a product with my hours of stitching, but the joy in the process is why I continue to crochet.

If you are curious about FreeForm crochet and have never tried it there is a great CAL/Game going on in the NatCroMo Party group on Ravelry.  It’s not too late to give it a try, and it’s a wonderful introduction to freeforming.  

Or check out some of the beautiful and inspiring books out there.  I recommend, Jenny Dowde, Myra Wood, Prudence Mapstone and Renate Kirkpatrick as great authors to start with.

Yarn!!!

I already have a stash that is, shall we say, a bit out of hand.  This problem is not helped when I go down once a month for PJ Jam at the LambShoppe in Denver.   

Playing for hours in the shop with my stitching pals surrounded by glorious yarn enticingly displayed.  Let’s just say….Resistance is Futile.   

My treasure pile of Yarn

Somehow these 6 had to come home with me.   

Berroco won the most attention.  2 hanks of the luxurious Ultra Aplaca, a wonderfully affordable Aplaca/wool blend.  Also the gorgeous glowing blue hank is Berroco’s Lustra, a wool/tencel blend that has a beautiful sheen.   

Still in an Alpaca mood I found a beautiful hank of Misti Alpaca Chunky in a light lavender color.  This is 100% baby alpaca and so soft that I just want to use it for a pillow.  

Next I was attracted to the display of sparkly mohair blends (remember we discussed this novelty yarn addiction of mine in a recent post).  So Trendsetter’s Dune was added to the pile.  

Now a bit of green was needed to balance the purple alpacas and the sparklies.  So I added the ball of Frog Tree sport weight 100% Alpaca.   

4 Hanks with a Destiny

Amazingly enough there are valid reasons they all needed to be added to my stash (well, maybe not the Lustra).  Currently the destiny of the 4 hanks above is a secret, but I hope to give you some clues soon.