Saturday, September 27, 2008

Striking Doily Beret

Being on strike, I've had more time than usual to crochet lately. I decided to make myself a light, lacy hat to wear on the picket line - something I could pull over my ears to keep them warm but that wouldn't overheat my head. I started going through beret patterns on Ravelry, but couldn't find anything that seemed quite right. At some point the following thoughts went through my head: "beret circular... lacy doilies circular... use doily pattern to make lacy beret?"

Striking Doily Beret Pattern

I used Bernat Satin Sport yarn and a H / 5mm hook. Any soft sport or (probably) dk yarn should work.

This starts with rounds 1 - 5 of the Pineapple Round Doily pattern formerly at Celt's Vintage Crochet. This has disappeared from the Internet so I've copied them here.

Chain (ch) 4, double crochet (dc) in 1st stitch (st) of ch, * ch 3, 2 dc in same space, repeat from * 6 times, ch 3, join in 4th st of ch.

Round 2:  Slip stitch (sl st) to next loop, ch 3, 1 dc, ch 3, 2 dc in same space, * 2 dc, ch 3, 2 dc in next loop, repeat from * 6 times, join.

Round 3:: Sl st to center st of next loop, ch 7, cluster over next 4 dc (cluster: keeping last loop of each st on hook work I dc in each st, thread over and work off all loops at one time), * ch 4, dc in next loop, ch 4, cluster over next 4 dc, repeat from * all around, ch 4, join in 3rd st of ch.

Round 4: Ch 1, 1 sc, ch 3, 1 sc in same space, * ch 4, dc in next cluster, ch 4, 1 sc, ch 3, 1 sc in next dc, repeat from * all around ending to correspond, join in 1st sc.

Round 5: Sl st into loop, ch 4, treble crochet (trc) in same space, ch 3, 2 trc, ch 3, 2 trc in same space, * ch 1, sc in next dc, ch 1, skip next loop, 2 trc, ch 3, 2 trc, ch 3, 2 trc in next loop, repeat from * all around ending to correspond, join.

Round 6: sl. st. to between the middle two treble crochet of the current group of three pairs of trc. ch 1, sc in same space, * ch 6, trc in next sc, ch 6, sc between middle two trc in next group of three pairs * repeat from * to * around, join in top of first sc.

Round 7: ch3, 5 dc in ch6 loop, *dc in next trc, 6 dc in next ch6 loop, dc in next sc, 6 dc in next ch6 loop,repear from * to * around, join.

Round 8: ch3, sk first dc, dc in next 5 dc, 2 dc in next dc, *dc in next 6 dc, 2 dc in next dc*, repeat from * to * around, join.

** for a larger slouchier beret work another increase row here (increase after 6 dc)

Round 9 - 11: ch3, sk first dc, dc in each dc around, join.

Round 12: ch3, sk first dc,dc in next 4 dc, dc 2 tog, *dc in next 5 dc, dc2tog*,  repeat from * to * around, join.

Round 13: ch3, sk first dc,dc in next 3 dc, dc 2 tog, *dc in next 4 dc, dc2tog*,  repeat from * to * around, join.

Round 14: repeat round 13

Beret should now fit head snugly but not tightly. If not work another decrease row (decrease after 4 dc) or rip out the last decrease row, whichever seems appropriate.

Round 15: Ch3, sk first dc, *fpdc (front post dc) around next dc, dc in next dc*, repeat from * to * around, join.

Round 16: Ch3, sk first dc, *fpdc around next fpdc, dc in next dc*, repeat from * to * around, join, fasten off and weave in ends.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Cropped jacket

Here's a little cardigan I've made myself, using the same technique as Melanie's shrug. I picked up some alpaca-blend yarn on clearance, and I'm always needing something to keep my shoulders warm here in this icebox where I work.

I love how such a simple design (top-down, try on as you go raglan) can produce quite different garments when done in different yarns. The only change to the design was lengthening the sleeves and body.

Sorry about the way the pictures have me in them, looking like an overly lit stunned rabbit. I need a model.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Icelandic Turtleneck

Here's a crochet project I've been working on for months (four months, to be exact): the Icelandic Turtleneck from the book Crochet Me: Designs to Fuel the Crochet Revolution, which is so far my favourite crochet pattern book ever.

This was my first attempt at making a large project using fine yarn, in this case Patons' Lacette, which is a fingering-weight mohair blend. I'm very pleased with how it came out, although the yarn is a bit itchy to wear. But after all the effort I put into it I'm going to wear it itch or no itch! With a cami under it it isn't bad.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Brown Sugar Shrug

So the resident teenager asked me to make her a shrug to go with her new skirt. I was happy to, of course - I can't resist being asked to make someone something.

This wasn't exactly an exercise in creativity, however. She picked out the yarn and colour (Sugar 'n cream, brown), approved the stitch pattern (plain dc), and the ornamentation (none). I wanted to add a bit of decorative edging, but that was vetoed, so I contented myself with sc’ing all around to finish it off neatly. Still, I have to admit it looks cute on.

Rough Pattern / Tutorial

This started as the Crochet Anthropologie-Inspired Capelet, but I made a few modifications (apart from changing the yarn) and the construction ended up being different enough that I thought the pattern might be worth recording. This was much easier to do than it is to explain, though. Please leave a comment if there is anything that I need to clarify, as I have a feeling that I may have overexplained the simple to the point where it becomes complicated.

For this I used Lily's Sugar and Cream cotton yarn in Caramel (from the confectionery colours line) and a K hook. The confectionery colours come in huge balls, and I used rather less than half. The directions should work equally well for any yarn/hook combination.

To start, you need three measurements. You can take these directly from the person who will be wearing the shrug, or from a decent-fitting jacket or top.
  1. Neckline. Not the actual neck but the shrug neckline, the length around where the person wants the shrug to sit.
  2. Shoulder. Length from the neckline to the end of the shoulder/start of the sleeve.
  3. Arm circumference. You want this at the point with the largest circumference, and make sure to include some ease so this can be worn over clothing.
A note on gauge and swatching: in a "pattern" (term used very loosely) like this traditional gauge is pretty irrelevant, but it is still a good idea to make a gauge swatch using your selected yarn and hook. Measure your swatch, wash and block it, let it dry, then measure again. Use the percentage increase (if any) to adjust the measurements you took above.

So, if you made a swatch 20cm by 20cm...

If your swatch grew from 20cm wide to 22 cm wide (the width is measured along the rows) or by 10%, after blocking, and your original neckline measurement was 40cm, your new neckline measurement would be 40 cm divided by 1.1 = about 36.5 cm. (Note: these numbers are completely made up and don't match any actual neck or swatch that I know of.) Adjust the arm circumference by the same percentage.

If your swatch grew from 20 cm to 21 cm in hight (height is measured across the rows) then you need to adjust the shoulder measure by 5%, or by dividing by 1.05.

Ok. Got that? Using your new adjusted measurements, make a chain the length of the neckline. The chain should be a multiple of 6 stitches + 4. You can fudge this a little if needed.

The body is divided into 5 parts: left front, left sleeve, back, right sleeve, right front, with one extra stitch between each two parts. To figure out where your increases go, subtract 4 from the number of stitches in your starting ch and divide this number by 6. The resulting number is your Shrug Unit. If you had 70 stitches in the starting chain, (70 - 4)/6 = 11. The fronts and sleeves are each one Shrug Unit. This would make 11 stitches in each front and sleeve. The back is two Shrug Units wide, and would have 22 stitches.

Put a marker in the extra stitch between each section. (Or you can just count.)

Time to start crocheting into the chain. Ch 3 (counts as first dc) dc into the fifth chain from the hook, dc into each ch until you reach the first marker. In the marked stitch do an increase of 1 dc, ch 2, 1 dc. Continue to dc between markers and increase at each marked stitch until you get to the end (4 increases). Turn.

For each subsequent row, just dc into each stitch until you get to the increase from the previous row. Make sure you dc into the dc's that make up the sides of the increase (this makes your increase for the new row), and 1 dc, ch 2, 1 dc into the ch 2 space.

Measure the height (across the rows) after each row. When the height equals the shoulder measurement you took way back, it's time to make the sleeves. Measure the current width of the sleeve section. Compare this number to the arm circumference measurement. If the sleeve width is smaller than the arm circumference, record the difference. Start the next row and dc until you get to the first increase, and make a chain that is equal to the difference measurement you just took. Join the end of the chain at the second increase, and continue on. Repeat to join the third and fourth increases. You now have two sleeves.

Continue to dc on the body part, including into the chains you made, without increases until the shrug reaches your desired length. Fasten off, rejoin at a sleeve, dc around until it is long enough for you, repeat on the other sleeve.

For a tidy finish, sc around the body, or add any edging you like. Wash, block and you're done!

Recent reading

I've finished Sharon Shinn's Twelve Houses series - ended with Reader and Raelynx. Left me wanting to go back and read the first one again. Such nice, friendly, romance-fantasy-friendship comfort reads. The second - The Thirteenth House -was the best, I think- there was a little more tension, and she wasn't quite so kind to her main character.

Elizabeth Bear's duology - Blood and Iron and Whiskey and Water - was something quite different. At least, I thought it was a duology - looks like there's another? This is not an author that could be accused of being too kind to her characters! A very harsh, elemental version of Faerie. I then picked up her earlier book Hammered, but so far haven't really gotten into it.

I picked up The Queen in Winter, a collection of four romance/fantasy novellas. Enjoyable, but not as much so as the earlier To Weave a Web of Magic, which had an utter gem of a story by Patricia McKillip. The Sarah Monette disappointed me the most, mostly because my expectations were high. I think romance isn't really her natural milieu.

Anything else? A romance or two from the library on the plane to a conference, but I can't remember the titles, so they were probably neither great nor terrible.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Chains of Folly by Roberta Gellis

I find romance tends not to mix well with series mystery. Or series anything, really. A romance story usually really is a sort of one-shot deal: while one imagines that the relationship will continue to develop after the book ends and the characters have gotten together, further exploration of it falls more into the realm of mainstream fiction than romance. Norah Roberts/J.D. Robb's Eve Dallas mysteries have that issue - the couple keeps getting caught up in similar issues, only to resolve them by book's end to provide the necessary romance happy ending. (There's the kerfuffle before she agrees to move in with him, the kerfuffle before she agrees to marry him, the one before she agrees to let him make dinner...)

That said, I'm still enjoying this medieval series, which features a romance between a medieval prostitute and a knight. Partly I'm a sucker for any genre fiction set in the period that portrays it in a reasonably authentic, non-sanitized manner - setting most of the book in a whorehouse, though admittedly an unusually pleasant one, helps with that. And the developing relationship between Bellamy and Magdalene is subject to all sorts of pressures from their relative stations in life. The mysteries themselves aren't as memorable, though.

The Ghost with Trembling Wings by Scott Weidensaul

Well-written, enjoyable but ultimately rather depressing. Lost species... there's just so many of them, and even the ones that reappear are so fragile, clinging to existence on the fringes.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Sonnet Lover by Carol Goodman

Mmm. Ok, I guess.

Really, this rather disappointed me. I like Goodman's literary mysteries, very much. And the literary side didn't - the story of the female Italian Renaissance sonnet writer that slowly emerged through scraps and clues. But the accompanying modern mystery was obvious and dull, and as for the romantic plot... the romantic interest never made his presence felt - he barely registered even as a part of the scenery.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley

A YA I picked up because I liked the premise, and it didn't disappoint. That premise is a world based on certain elements of European folk tales: selkies, goblin-like Folk who kill chickens and spoil milk. These Folk are seriously nasty, too.

The world reminded me of the one in Cecilia Dart-Thornton's Bitterbynde Trilogy, which I found an intensely frustrating read. The writing style was odd and rather stilted, and the plot and characters went haywire in the last book. But the worldbuilding I thought was fantastic.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Benighted by Kit Whitfield

A very good and surprising werewolf novel, though I may find it surprising mostly because I don't generally read werewolf novels. I've tended to dismiss them as erotica for people with odd fantasy lives since glancing over some by Laurell K. Hamilton and the like.

This was more an extended meditation on prejudice, on how it warps. The main character was a normal non-lycanthropic human, a tiny, despised minority in her world. By the end, I think I identified more with the lycanthropes.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Shreik, an Afterword by Jeff Vandermeer

This is one of those odd, modern fantasies - fantasy without genre conventions, I guess you could call it. No wizards, dragons or wer-beasts, nothing from recognizable mythology or folklore, just settings that aren't at all familiar, with inhabitants and laws and conventions all their own. This has fungal technology and grey-capped fungal people, the Festival of Freshwater Squid, publishing companies entering all-out war, underground civilizations.

A problem I sometimes have with books of this type is that the writers put so much time crafting their setting, they seem to forget to tell a story - the characters recede somewhat. China Mieville's sometimes like that for me. But this wasn't at all like that. It's mainly a sort of memoir, a sister musing about her life and her brother, and their world is - how to put this - it's natural to them, it's where they live.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Sons of Heaven by Kage Baker

Conclusion to the Company series, finally. And rather better than I expected - perhaps as good as it could have been, given all the disparate disjointed threads that needed wrapping up.

I still think the series could have well done without the subplot involving the strange subhuman race.

The ending was as happy as it could have been, for everyone who deserved a happy ending, except Victor. Or really, maybe for Victor too.

I have difficulty discussing this as a book. It's the end of a series, a wrapping up and farewell to this world, these characters. I don't think it stood alone as a book - it was an ending, not a story.