Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Little Leaves Scarf

It sure feels great to bust some stash, especially with a project that works up lickety-split. This Little Leaves Scarf pattern by Marta Chrzanowska was a perfect break from my long-term projects. The leaves are so cute! The vine reminds me of those Nintendo vine stalks that grow into the sky. I used up two skeins of Patons Peruvian Wool but you could really use any yarn for this project. Working it up in thread and starching it could make a cool bookmark. In DK weight it could be a sweet, slender scarflette. In super bulky with the leaf pattern repeated it could be a nice throw blanket.

I made this scarf long for wrapping, about five and a half feet. I also lightly steam blocked it for crisp edges. Now it's all prepped and pretty in my Etsy shop.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Front Loop, Back Loop, and Both Loops Crochet

Most often when we're crocheting we insert the hook under both loops of each stitch. However, it is sometimes useful to crochet into the back loop only or the front loop only to achieve a particular effect. Today I'll show you how to crochet into the front or back loops as well as what the fabric looks like when you do.

All of my swatches are worked in single crochet but you can work any type of stitch into the front or back loops. My swatches are also worked in rows. When you're working in rounds your front and back loop stitches will create a different effect, but that's a topic for another day.

First let's look at normal single crochet. We work under both loops like this:

A few short rows of regular single crochet looks like this:

Regular single crochet is a crochet must-learn. It is used in many different situations. Plain single crochet fabric is a little bit dense and moderately flexible.

Now let's take a look at front loop single crochet, which is abbreviated as FLsc (double crochet would be FLdc, etc). You only work through the loop that is closest to you.

A swatch made entirely in FLsc looks like this:

Notice the pronounced ridges where the missed back loops are. The stitches also line up completely unlike in regular single crochet where they are arranged more like roof tiles. Front loop only crochet is good for color work for this reason. The fabric is also slightly less dense than regular single crochet as each row is a bit taller.

Finally, let's look at some BLsc aka back loop single crochet. This time the hook is inserted only under the loop that is farther away from you.

The resulting fabric looks like this:

Back loop single crochet creates a ribbed fabric that is stretchy. It's great for sock or glove cuffs. It is denser than regular single crochet.

Here's a look at all three side by side; FLsc, sc, and BLsc.

Each of these swatches is made of the same number of stitches and the same number of rows. It's true! You can see how much taller the rows are in FLsc and how much shorter the rows are in BLsc. If you haven't already, I encourage you to experiment with front loop and back loop stitches in single crochet and beyond. Let me know how it goes! One of my very favorite crochet textures is alternating front loop and back loop double crochet where you alternate every other stitch.

Have questions about crocheting in the front and back loops? Don't be afraid to leave a comment. I'm always here to help!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

An Early Post: Netflix Crochet Sightings

A post on a Thursday?? Yes, I know it's off-schedule. Thing is, Alex and I are traveling across the country for a wedding this weekend from today to Monday night and I'm not keen on bringing my lovely laptop all over tarnation. So let's just pretend that Friday came early this week! Wouldn't that be nice... I'll be posting on Monday as usual, but at 8 in the evening rather than 8 in the morning :)

Welp, I've been saving up some sightings and it's time to share. It's amazing how many crochet items are shown in popular movies and television shows!

Here's a "dainty crochet doily" that was shown on Adventure Time. 

This baby was nestled into a chunky crochet blanket on Neil deGrasse Tyson's Cosmos.

Julianne Moore carried a crochet tote bag in several scenes of Don Jon.

Here's a granny hexagon blanket I found on Law and Order: SVU.

I spotted this crochet hat while watching The Natural.

Orange is the New Black has a million crocheted items and references in it, especially in its new season. There are multiple instances of crochet in every single episode. I recently found this one...

and this one...

and this one...

and this one, a triple whammy with the blanket, pillow, and eyeglass strap! There were a gillion more, but I got sick of pausing the show to take screenies.

Note: All screen captures were taken by me and I would like to reference the Fair Use Act regarding criticism and comment.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Inline and Non-Inline Crochet Hooks

I recently wrote a review for Knitter's Pride Waves Crochet Hooks where I mentioned the terms inline and non-inline. It occurs to me that not everyone knows the difference and how it applies to them, and so today I thought I'd elaborate a little. There are two main types of crochet hook. There are many different types of handles, shapes, grips, lengths, sizes, etc, but when it comes to the actual hook part of the crochet hook there are two main types: Inline and Non-Inline. Let's take a look at a crochet hook diagram with labelled parts.

So what makes a hook inline or not? A hook is inline when the hook tip is flush with the shaft. Here's another picture for reference.

Here are two 9mm hooks. On the left is an inline hook. You can see that the hook and shaft line up. On the right is a non-inline hook. The hook part protrudes out a little farther than the shaft. Susan Bates and Boye are the two major starter hook brands. Susan Bates hooks are generally inline and Boye hooks are generally non-inline.

So, what's the big deal? Does hook type really make a difference? In short, sometimes. You may hear folks claim that one type is "better" than the other, but that simply isn't true. It's all down to personal preference. Inline users may say that non-inline hooks drop their yarn strands and are harder to wiggle into stitches. However, non-inline users may say that inline hooks split the yarn more often and grab onto stitches when they don't want them to.

How can you find out which hook is best for you? To borrow from Bill Nye, consider the following! How you hold your hook influences how comfortable each hook type will be for you. Knife holders generally prefer inline while pencil holders often prefer non-inline. The type of yarn you're using may be easier to work with if you switch hooks. For example, a non-inline hook will catch less on fluffy yarns and an inline hook may be better for precision when working with thread. Don't be afraid to try a new hook brand or type.

The type of hook you use should be dictated by what's most comfortable for you. Do you know someone who said crochet was too hard and they gave up on it? Maybe all they needed was to try a different hook. When teaching a beginner I think it's ideal to buy both a Susan Bates 6mm hook and a Boye 6mm hook so that they can try both and find what they like. What type do you prefer? Do you use both? Let us know in the comments.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Trip to San Juan Island and Island Wools

The San Juan Islands are located in northern Washington right next to the Canadian border. Last week I went on a fun getaway trip to San Juan Island with my Sunday fiber group. Such wonderful ladies! We had a blast, and of course we worked in a visit to a local yarn store on the island. Today I'm going to share some pictures from the trip with you, all taken by the lovely Toni McClory.

Being up on the deck of the ferry on the way to the island was so cold but so exhilarating!

The scenery was stunning. The Cascade Mountains kept us company all along our drive to the ferry and also during our ferry rides. Doesn't Toni take great pictures? 

After a nice lunch our first big stop was Pelindaba Lavender Farm. The bees buzzed happily as we browsed all of their lavender products. They had lavender mustard, chocolate, candles, wands... even ice cream!

Ah, delight of delights, the yarn store! Island Wools is tucked away in a quiet corner waiting for yarnies to pop in for a visit.

The store had a great selection of yarns including many of my favorites. If you're ever on San Juan Island, be sure to take a look!

Julie Packard runs the shop and has a gorgeous line of yarns, Whimsical Colors, that are dyed in store. Awesome work, Julie!

I absolutely could not resist taking home a few skeins for a special project. Stick around and you'll find out what it is! ;)

The whole day was so very wonderful. I'm so lucky to be surrounded by such caring, friendly, and talented crafters who I can geek out over fiber with.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Remix Friday: Moorfields Dinner Eyeball

Have you been creative this week? Have you been busy? I've been both! I've been zipping all over the place this week even though I have a broken toe. I broke it by stubbing it really hard while I wasn't watching where I was going. Maybe I need to get my glasses checked or pay a visit to the eye hospital that Tracy works at! Tracy's re-imagining of a simple ball pattern is really eye-catching. Let's take a look! *ba dum ch*

The Crocheter
My real name is Tracy Lamb, hence my Rav username MintSauce, but everyone calls me Minty.  I live with my husband Steve 15 miles from London.  I have 2 cats, Nikon and Wilson and one adopted cat from next door, Ziggy.

My favourite colour is orange, and I have a few favourite yarns depending on what I'm making.  If it's an amigurumi then it's acrylic, but for hats and fingerless gloves, it has to be Alpaca!!!

I've been knitting for 47 years and crocheting for probably 20, although I put crochet down for many years and only started doing it again properly about 2 years ago.  I love learning new stitches, I have just learned crochet loop stitch and foundation chain.  One of my favourites is crocodile stitch.

The Original Pattern
Tiny Crochet Ball by Julie Kundhi

The Story
I work at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London and they were holding a dinner/dance, and I just thought it would be fun to wear an eyeball round my neck!!  The original ball pattern looked perfect, so I used that and added my own adjustments.

The Remix
I changed the original pattern to make it look like an eyeball, using blue, black and white plus pink for the main ball.  I also added some red blood vessels to make the eyeball more authentic!!!

Crochet is... Addictive, relaxing, fun!!!

How cool! I really love the added blood vessels. Thank you for sharing your creation with us today, Tracy!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Review: Knitter's Pride Waves Crochet Hook Set

Today I'll be reviewing Knitter's Pride Waves Crochet Hook Set. Disclaimer: I received this complimentary hook set in exchange for a review. I am not being paid to write this review and everything shared here is my real opinion. Good, now that that's out of the way, let's get to the fun stuff!

The first thing I noticed about this set is how fun the case is. Mine is green, it also comes in pink. The case is nice and slender, perfect for tucking inside a bag when on the go. It also has that nice new case smell.

The next thing I noticed was that the hooks were *gulp* non-inline, meaning that the hook part and the rest of the metal handle don't quite line up, though in this case it does line up with the soft part of the handle. Up until now I thought I hated all non-inline hooks and could only use inline. Every other non-inline hook I've tried has been difficult for me to crochet with. I was worried that I wouldn't like these cute hooks (the colors even have names!) and that I was going to be sad. Never the less, I pulled out the sunny yellow 5mm hook and got to work on a simple hat with some Martha Stewart Crafts Extra Soft Wool Blend...

...and I LOVED working with the hook! I can't believe it! The hook is easy to crochet with. It moves in and out of the stitches very smoothly but doesn't let go of the yarn strand the way other non-inline hooks have. Yay! I barely even had to think about what I was doing.

I think these hooks must be superior because the little hook tip is just pointed enough to hold the yarn on the hook nicely but not pointy enough to cause splitting. My hat was done in no time! Now all it needs is some kind of embellishment. Perhaps a butterfly?

The "soft feel" feature of the hooks is great for folks with small hands like me. I'm a knife-holder and I crochet almost every day, so I sometimes get a bit of fatigue in my hand and wrist. These hooks fit so neatly in my hand that I don't need to hold them with a lot of pressure, saving me from discomfort. If you've got small hands and/or a bit of crochet pain, I'd definitely recommend these hooks. My hand wasn't tired at all after working up the whole hat in one go. Also, the grip has a pleasant smoothness to it, like a petal.

Could this set get any better? It turns out it could. It includes a 4.5mm hook! I feel like 4.5mm hooks are the unicorns of the crochet world. So many sets exclude them and yet they can be so useful. I have to say, I went into this review process intending to be generous and give the set away to a reader after I was through. But guess what? I love it so much and I'm so excited about the 4.5mm hook that I'm keeping the set! Muahaha! :p Sorry friends, this time you'll just have to get your own. Be on the look out for more reviews (and giveaways!) in the future.

Happy Wednesday!