Friday, December 18, 2015

Twisted Japanese Crochet Stitch

It is time for something new. I found this stitch in a Japanese magazine. I don't know the name of it, so if you happened to stumble upon the correct one, please let me know.

I personally find this stitch very pretty, however, it eats up too much yarn, so if you would like to use it in a project make sure you have enough yardage to finish it.
For a slouchy hat in fingering weight I used 400 yards of Windy Valley Qiviut.
Here is a video of the stitch done in Lion Brand Collection Superwash Merino. I don't have a microphone, so you would have to listen to Tchaikovsky))).

If you need other instructions:
Yo, insert the hook in the corresponding stitch of the previous row, yo, pull up a loop. Turn your hook around the yo (twisting the hook 360 degrees around itself, catching the yo, so you will have 2 loops left on the hook), yo, pull through 2 loops.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Project Knitwell

This is a very inspiring story.
Knitting to Heal: Carol's Project Knitwell Story
Carol Caparosa is the founder and board member of Project Knitwell, an organization dedicated to bringing comfort and therapy to people facing stressful situations through the joy of knitting. In this piece, Carol shares the story of her first born, and how a difficult time led to her back to knitting.
After 19 hours of labor, my first child was born, a beautiful, healthy little girl we named Emily.  She was discharged in two days and life with a new baby began.  Sleepless nights, lots of staring in the crib, holding and soothing her, navigating the early days of nursing and figuring out what she needed – not an easy task.  At one week old, I noticed that Emily seemed to be breathing funny, a little labored and her coloring a little paler than the day before.  I called the pediatrician’s office and the nurse didn’t seemed to be alarmed but said I could bring Emily in.
My Mom and I drove to the doctor’s office and they took her to a room immediately.  Within a few minutes, several doctors rushed into the room with their stethoscopes and started asking me multiple questions about Emily and my pregnancy. The mood in the room was serious and hurried.  The senior pediatrician scooped Emily into his arms, ran out of the office, down the hallway, out the door, across the street, and into the emergency room.  My Mom followed him, while I went to an office to hysterically call my husband.
The Longest WaitThe ER doctors were uncertain what was going on but they knew that Emily was in kidney failure and shock.  One smart neonatologist had a hunch that it might be a certain heart defect and administered medication that provided some relief.  She was transferred to Georgetown University Hospital and rushed to the pediatric intensive care unit.  We waited as specialists examined our tiny daughter and tests were given.  We called our families and asked for prayers.  Finally, two cardiologists’ and an intensivist sat down with us and one of the cardiologists said “if she makes it through the night, her first surgery will be.”  That cardiologist made a drawing, which I still have, of a normal heart and a drawing of Emily’s heart.  He numbered 4 areas that were defective.  I asked for a priest who came and baptized Emily that night.
The surgery was the next morning and she survived it.  But within 2 weeks, she was losing weight and in cardiac failure due to one of the other defects.  At 3 weeks old, and 5 pounds, she had open-heart surgery.  They kept her in a coma for days after the surgery so she could begin to heal.  She did heal, but faced more surgeries during the next 5 years.
A Welcome DistractionI lived at the hospital and only came home for very brief periods.  I couldn’t stand being away from her, even though in those days, parents could only be in the ICU’s at certain times.  I spent a lot of time in waiting rooms and slept on a cot with other random parents in a room down the hall.  I couldn’t read, watch television, or talk on phone, when I was at the hospital.  I could literally stare at the same sentence in a book for hours.  There was no internet, cell phones or caring bridge website to let concerned family members know how she was doing.  I could only worry and I did that well.  One day, my husband brought in the mail from home and there was a package with a hand-knit sweater that my sister-in-law’s mother knit for Emily.  I opened it and thought that it was the nicest gift anyone could give a baby.  I knew how to knit but hadn’t in a long time.  A light bulb went off and I thought that I would start knitting for the rest of the time Emily was hospitalized.  Not sure why, but somehow, I imagine this would help me.
The next time I went home, I found some yarn, and needles, because all knitters, even when we aren’t knitting, have a stash.  I knit my way through the rest of her hospitals stays.  At first, I just knit, without really making anything – it was the process, not the end product for me.  Eventually, I got patterns and started to make things for Emily.  Her surgeries were long – 7 plus hours and we didn’t get a lot of updates, but somehow I could manage waiting by knitting.   I knit when I couldn’t sleep and when she was sleeping.   I felt productive when I was knitting even though I never finished anything in the hospital. But once she was home, I continued to knit and completed many sweaters that I still have packed away.
A Happy PresentEmily’s surgeries continued for 5 years, we had another baby, a son, and our life eventually took on a normal pace.  After 15 years, I went back to Georgetown Hospital to volunteer.  I volunteered in the in-patient pediatric unit and told the Child Life Specialist that I would be happy to teach Moms to knit.  It took off, and so did the idea of Project Knitwell.  I wanted to build an organization that would provide knitting instruction and quality materials to people who were in stressful situations in healthcare settings in hopes that they would gain the benefits that I had gained.
Emily, at 21, had to have another heart procedure.  It was suppose to be out-patient, but it turned out to be more complicated and included a stay in the ICU for a few days.  The day of her procedure, I brought with me music to listen to, sudoko puzzles, a book I was reading, my knitting, and, of course, the waiting room had a television.  I tried it all, my book, sudoko, TV, but the only thing I could do was knit and listen to my iPod.  Hopefully Emily won’t need more surgeries but, if she does, I’m only going to pack my knitting and iPod.
One last thing... Emily is now a healthy 25 year old, recently engaged, and a pediatric intensive care nurse in the same unit at Georgetown Hospital where she was cared for as an infant.  I still volunteer at Georgetown and love seeing her in her new role  on the days we are there together.  She knows how to knit too!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Baby dress

   A few months ago my favorite yarn store in NYC  Habu Textile closed the office on Madison Avenue. Right before it happened I made my last appointment with the store to stock up on their yarns. Got a little greedy and among other stuff I bought some pink silk....

What was I thinking? I don't wear pink. None of my friends wear pink. Does anybody wear pink at all? Especially in NY?
Luckily some do! Baby girls!))) And we just got one in the family! My problem got solved--I am making a baby dress.
I decided to use a vintage pattern. It's a bit tricky since they use the UK terms for crochet (UK DC = US single crochet, UK treble = US double crochet etc) and the instructions are not as detailed as we are used to, but it's totally workable and (what is more important) very cute))).

I didn't add the sleeves to make it look less like christening gown, but rather like an everyday dress.

And here is the model!

I know the colors look different on all of the pictures, but they were taken by three different people))).

Monday, March 9, 2015

Crochet Brioche Hat

The weather finally wormed up here in New York and I am getting out of  my hibernation mood.
Even though the project I am about to present was done the day after I last posted on this blog, I only get to show it today (yes, that's how bad energy preserving I've been))).  I was still experimenting with the split stitch. Something about it got me fascinated. I played around with that idea and decided to try a change of colors. But I can assure you that even with that extra step the project is super fun and extremely quick. It took me a couple of hours to finish it!  Here is the Brioche Hat.

Even though made with a hook it resembles the knitted brioche stitch. The hat was worked in the round and gathered at the top. You can add a pom pom made with one of the colors or both. You can also turn it into a cowl (narrow, so you can pull it over you head or pretty wide, so you can wrap it a couple of times around your neck). Keep in mind while working with two colors you will create a yarn float on the back of your piece. This might make your hat less stretchy.

I used the Icelandic Wool. It's very warm, but you can see at the picture how hairy it is. Working with two colors is a bit tricky, so here is a video to help you practice (found on youtube)

Here is the Crochet Brioche Hat instruction:
You can use any yarn you'd like. You probably want to use 2 contrasting colors (A and B)
I don't even want to go through the gauge for this project, especially that I didn't have one. I simply made a chain (multiple of 2 plus 1) and made sure it goes comfortably around my head. However, if you are the one with the gauge compulsion ))) you can make a swatch before hands.

Set up row: chain 81 (or whatever goes around your head, just remember: multiple of 2 plus 1) with color A.  With the same color sc in the second chain from the hook, sc in each chain to the end. You will have 80 sc all together.
ROW 1 (start working in the round spiral method) : you can place a marker indicating the beginning of the row.  Sc with A in the next sc, sc with B in the next sc. Notice, that the first row is worked in regular single crochet.
ROW 2: Move the marker. SPLIT SC with A in the next sc,  SPLIT SC with B in the next sc.
Work for the desired length. Finish off by gathering the top and adding a pom pom (or not :)).
Good luck!

HOOK: 4.5 mm
YARN: Lettlopi Icelandic Wool

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Mock Rib Cowl

After having finished the mittens in the previous post I was thinking about the elongated stitch I was using. It creates a nice checkered pattern reminiscent of knitted seed stitch or moss stitch. But what if I used it in a different way, lets say, placing the long stitches on top of each other... After a couple of tries I created a very interesting pattern that is similar of a knitted ribbing. The elongated stitch becomes a split stitch instead. The hook should not be inserted into the top of the stitch, but rather into the stitch below splitting it in half creating a V. These Vs placed on top of each other form the pattern of vertical ridges.  Let me show you a cowl made of the same yarn as mittens to complement them.

Here is a close up.

Looks so much like two by one ribbing! However, the fabric made is not even close to elasticity of a knitted one and has no dimension.

It doesn't mean the disadvantages necessarily. I would prefer this mock rib for the crochet fabric instead of a more traditional front post crochet, which curls dramatically and still has no elasticity. I also would rather work with this stitch for the mittens from the previous post mainly because I wouldn't have to turn the fabric for the main body and wouldn't be forced to insert the hook into the selvage. However, if this stitch is used as a ribbing (in mittens, hats or socks) I recommend using a smaller hook just for this part to crochet a tighter fit. 

Here is the Cowl How-To:
Depending on the desired width chain a multiple of 3+1. I had 106.
Start with a single crochet into the second chain from the hook.
Work the first row of single crochet. Total of 105.
Make a circle. I prefer this method. Working with a complete row of single crochet allows you to make a circle without twisting it. The chain alone might get confusing. 
Working in a spiral method (placing a marker at the beginning of each row)
2 split single crochet 1 single crochet.
Work for a preferred length.
That is so easy!!!
If you decide to make it I would love for you to share it here! Questions are welcome!

Yarn--Feederbrook Farm 100% Bluefaced Leicester Wool

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


As a Christmas gift I got a subscription to Yarnbox (Thank you Kat and Inna). Yesterday I received my first shipment! Two skeins of Feederbrook Farm's Bluefaced Leicester Wool. I know how popular the multicolored yarn is, however I find it quite difficult to work with. Particularly if you are trying to work in a pattern. Therefore I prefer rather underwhelming patters for such yarns.

On the other hand, I didn't want to bore you (and myself for that matter) with another single crochet all around. I decided to give my project some texture by mimicking a knitted seed stitch. Here  is what i got.
 Working in the round on an odd number of stitches in spiral method. Working the first and the second row in sc. All the following rows are done this way: sc in the next sc, sc in the sc 2 rows below*, creating an elongated stitch. Now you can see the checkered pattern emerges.

Since I already imitate a knitting stitch, my project should be as close to a knitted one as possible. Here is what I made.
As you can see the pointy top of the mittens is traditional for Norwegian patterns. I didn't work it by equally decreasing the number of stitches, but used the knitting method: decreasing 4 stitches at 2 specific points on the left and right side of the mitten every other row with the same number of stitches in between those points. 

It shows better on this picture, modeled by my cat Sally.
The ribbing is traditional single crochet through the back loop.
This stitch would look great on a cowl, leg- or hand-warmers and a hat. Basically anything that can be worked in a round. 


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A little bit of knitting

Even though  I've been known as Crochet Queen, I am quite good at knitting too. With the cold season, my friend's Birthday and VKL approaching I was involved into a few projects that required two tools instead of one. By the way if you go to this web page you will see a lovely picture of my friend Darrin looking at some yarn. I am standing next to him. Unfortunately you cannot see a pleated skirt that I made, but Darrin's gorgeous knitted vest is popping. And yes, HE MADE IT!

Back to my projects. They weren't THAT elaborated. I prefer simplicity therefore my style would be described as Malevich' Black Square of knitwear fashion.  First I made a pair of hand warmers for my friend.

Worked in garter stitch about 8 inches wide and 6 inches tall and sewn up.

Leaving a small thumb opening. 
My friend is modeling them  (I am assuming at the store--she texted me a picture))))).
And just to prove how lazy I am I will tell you that these warmers were made to complement a hat I knitted for her 2 (!!!) years ago!

Here she is rocking a hat. Her daughter told her that in this hat she looks like a rich person))). I will take it as a complement))). 

Speaking of hats. I made one for myself. Using the same garter stitch as in warmers I worked  a piece of knitted fabric for 21 inches tall and 12-13 inches wide. Saw the side seams and gathered the top. 

 As you can see mine is totally representing my slouchy "not-a-rich-person" style (compare at my friend's sleeky and sophisticated). 

For the hand warmers:

For the hat: