Monday, 22 October 2012

Crochet Cap

I made this cap for a friend of mine who has suffered hair-loss after chemo-treatment. The pattern is "Operation Marigold: A Hat for a Cause", shared for free by Mrs Micawber on her lovely blog. I loved it as soon as I saw it - I was particularly fascinated by the border at the bottom. Both, the stitch of the body of the hat and the border were new to me, but not only are there a good explanations but also an excellent photo-tutorial on the website.

Here is the hat in indoor light, below outdoors in today's beautiful sunshine - I used a straw hat to model it on.

The material is a yarn called "Tajmahal". It is 70% virgin wool, 22% silk and 8% cashmere. It felt beautifully soft on the ball, but handling the workpiece, I was wondering if there wasn't a bit of woolly scratchiness left, in spite of the silk, that a naked head might feel - still, as soft as real wool can get, I'm sure, so I hope it's alright. The lady at the market recommended it as suitable for a baby's cap. It's washable by hand and I like the shiny autumnal golden colour.

The wool is thinner than the material used in the original pattern, and I worked with a size 3.5 needle. Plus, my friend's head size is a bit above average (57 cm head circumference). That meant I had to have more stitches and rows than in the original pattern. I ended up increasing steadily till row 12, followed by no inc. in row 13, inc. 4 in row 14, bringing the stitch count to a round 100, another three rows without increase, then (just to be on the safe side) another inc. of 4 in row 18. Then I continued down till row 25. 

As I was working with only two colours, rather than three as in the original pattern, I thought it wasn't necessary to cut the thread to start the border, so I did the change of colour and working direction in row 26 without cutting the thread.

Also, I couldn't find a button the right size and colour to make the marigold as in the pattern, so I decided to use the flower pattern I learned ages ago in my very first booklet about doily-making (Häkeln Spezial, Kunsthäkeln, Les Editions de Saxe, 1984). It had the added advantage of using up the gold yarn pretty precisely. After having attached the flower I thought about adding a button after all to cover up and further decorate the middle, but then decided against it and leave it without any hard surfaces entirely.

I'm very pleased with the result - so quick (about 5 hours, all in all, I'd guess) and easy and merry-looking and such an interesting-looking texture into the bargain.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Autumn Cap

A quick crochet cap I first made two years ago, and then altered today to make it a bit less wide.

It's made using a size-7 hook from one 100-gram-skein of chunky pure wool, hand-dyed, which I bought at a crafts market two years ago. With the lovely, autumn colours, there's no need for any pattern - it's all just double and single (at beginning and end) crochet and might be done in under two hours, were it not for having to try out and re-do stuff for size. When it was first finished, I thought it was fine, but after wearing it a few times was a bit unsatisfied with the loose fit. So, today, I undid the last three rows of 56, resp. 54 stitches, decreased the 54 to 51, then to 50, to make it fit more tightly, then increased again to 51, to make the rim fold up better. 

It's fits pretty snugly now, and I hope it's not too tight. It's a bit long when worn without the fold, but that'll cover the ears nicely. For milder weather, I usually wear it with the rim folded up as in the second photo.

Golden Wedding Anniversary

I made this for my parents' Golden Wedding Anniversary.

I'm very happy with how it turned out, even though it was ready to be presented exactly one year late. I had bought it only a month before the date - I always over-estimate my stitching-speed/underestimate the amount of stitching in a design. Also, the bells in particular took a good deal longer than expected, as they were not easy to do, requiring a lot of similar shades and a number of threads used in combination with a gold metallic thread. So, I could only show them the project in progress in 2011 - but they still enjoyed it a lot when it was finally presented, frame and all, for May 2012. :) 

On the photo it shows that for all my ironing, I wasn't able to get all the creases out, but that's just the lighting on the photo - now that it's hung on the wall, they can't be seen, I think. 

The design is a kit from "Arts and Designs". It was a well-assembled kit, and the design apparently home-made - which is a good thing, even though it meant the pattern came printed on about a dozen A4 printouts. A great plus of the design is that is doesn't use any backstitch. For the leaves in particular, though, I'd occasionally have wished slightly more visibly differing colours.

The kit came with a full alphabet of capitals, names of the months written out and numbers, and - good thought on the part of the pattern-designer - a medium sized print of the whole pattern with an empty middle to write the individually needed letters and numbers into. 

However (I couldn't follow a pattern without changing it, could I? ;) ), originally the idea was to write just the couples initials, but I didn't like that so much, I wanted the first names in full. Also, the letters used in this pattern (i.e. the small letters used in the names of the months) weren't so much my taste, so I decided to use my all-time favourite cross-stitch alphabet instead - except for the 'M', which is a slightly slimmed version of the one used in the original pattern.

This favourite alphabet is from a Rico Design booklet, "Die ersten Frühlingsboten zu Ostern", Bd. 7, by Michael Lindner u. Margrit Scharlau, (o.J.) - about 15 years old by now at least.

The little marriage symbol is my own design.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


I was looking for something new to try for a little present for my father's birthday, and my partner suggested stitching a monogram on a handkerchief. I thought this was a lovely idea, esp as I'd been devouring Mary Corbet's blog "Needle 'n Thread" with its enthralling mix of "how-to"s for all skill-levels and entries on the wonderful things people actually make by hand. I was aware that with my little practice I wouldn't be able to do anything brilliant, but I've never suffered from under-estimating my skills and talents, so I thought I'd give it a try.

I made the pattern from a free monogram-designing website - I'm afraid I can't find it right now, there are a number of those sites around. I'm hopeless at writing pretty letters by hand, so I didn't try just sketching it myself.

I had done some embroidery with filling stitches before, many years ago (the project is still unfinished, but I thought then my stitching improved while the work progressed), and now practiced a little before starting on the real thing.

I soon realised that the only stitch I could imagine here (and which I might be able to manage) was a standard filling stitch. However, inspired by Mary Corbet's videos, I also made one line in whipped backstitch - I thought a little gold would go well with the white.

All in all, I'm fairly happy with the result, although the gold thread is much less visible than I'd hoped and at most angles looks as if the white had become a bit smudgy there. I'm sure the stitching is not as orderly as it could be, but I'm pleased with it and with how the work felt.

Here are the results:

The materials used are Anchor Coton à Broder Vierfach Stickgarn 20, colour 1 (white) and Anchor Lamé Embroidery Thread, colour 303, a single thread, for the gold.
I chose the Coton à Broder quality because it said that it was especially good for whitework, and I thought this kind of filling stitches was kind of similar to what you do in whitework. In hindsight, though, I think a normal Anchor Stranded Thread would have been easier for the very light fabric.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Baby boom

Another friend had a baby recently, so I got another opportunity to make something to give away. I thought I'd try crocheting a baby cap this time. Here's the result:

The material is "Sublime" - Baby Cotton Kapok dk. The cap used up about 40 gr of it. I chose cotton over wool as I thought it would be more easily washable. The baby is a boy, and while I didn't want to go for 'boy-blue', I also didn't want to perhaps put the friends off by using 'girlish' colours - so I opted for a nice bluish grey.

The pattern was a freebie from Craftsy, which you get via liking their facebook presence. It was very easy, so could be worked without referring to the pattern almost immediately.
However, the stitch counts recommended there didn't seem to work - once more I had to make the piece a lot bigger than stated in the pattern. I used a 3.5 needle, but the wool was for a 4 needle, which was the same as in the pattern. When I'd reached the bigger one of the stitch counts given in the pattern, the cap still looked like it might fit a doll, but not a real baby. Of course, not having been around a newly-born myself before didn't help, but I googled average head-circumference of newly-borns and added a row to the top of the cap to bring the stitch count up to making ca. 40 cm circumference.

It was fun and easy to make, but I can't tell if the size was right, as it went to a friend in another country.

Monday, 30 April 2012

All our Yesterdays

I love the "All our Yesterdays" cross-stitch design series!
Ok, not all of them - there are some in the series that aren't so appealing to me - but, basically, if they are good, they are adorable!

I've so far finished two, both came as kits, produced by DMC.
The first I made, ten years or so ago now is this one:

I seem to remember that the strands weren't sorted in this one - you had to try to identify the colours, which took me quite a while. Nowadays, it seems that kits typically come with the colours sorted, which is a real improvement.

You might notice that I did very little backstitch although the original requires a lot of it. I'm not a great fan of backstitch - a painting doesn't have outlines either. I'll do it if it seems necessary to distinguish shapes or to achieve an effect, but will leave it out wherever possible. As the colours here were very lively and created sharp contrasts on their own, it didn't need much.

This second one I made was pleasantly quick work, a real summer project:

As you can see, there was more backstitch necessary here, but I still didn't do all that was suggested in the pattern.

And, yes, you can see where the fabric got dented from holding it and I don't know how to get rid of these (or also of creases from folding sometimes). The reason here is that these kits come with a very stiff fabric that lends itself to working without a hoop, especially if the design is so small - so pretty much my own fault, I guess. Still, I wonder what other stitchers do about this problem.


Don't you just love the word "doily"? It sounds so charmingly quaint, I think. :D And I guess it's true that in terms of use and usefulness, doilies are a quaint bit of silliness. Still, I think they are ever so pretty, good fun to make, and can look rather pretty underneath an item on a table or so - enhancing both, even though the former will cover up part of the pattern. Also protecting the table from scratching, I suppose. :)

I first started making doilies almost 30 years ago and tend to get phases in which I make a few of them, followed by years of not touching a crochet needle. One of those phases came upon me last year, and here are two results I gave away as Christmas presents.

They are both from "Diana Spezial, Filethäkeln" (D 168, published in 1996).

The first is Modell 8, which I chose because it's quite small - I wanted to use some yarn I'd found in my yarn box, so needed to make sure there would be enough. However, it turned out that the numbers of stitches as given in the pattern didn't work out for me. It's possible that this is because my yarn and needle-size differed from the one used in the pattern, although I'd have thought that if you use a thinner or thicker yarn, your stitches are accordingly bigger or smaller, too, so it should work out either way.
I used a 0.75 or 1.0 size needle, so pretty much as recommended (1.0 for the pattern) I don't know what gauge the yarn was, only that it was what I'd used with the same needle before.

Anyway, to make the chains in the outer part fit in length, I had to use 26 chain stitches, instead of the 14 suggested by the pattern!
I used 18 gr of yarn, and the diameter of the finished doily is 23 cm (as opposed to 20gr and 15 cm diameter as stated in the pattern - a very curious disagreement, to my mind).

The second doily is Modell 9 from the same magazine, but only two thirds of it. The second and third segments (if you look at the different basic shapes in the design as three different segments) would have been repeated, but as it was exactly the same and - again using a different yarn from the one used in the pattern - it was beginning to look critical whether the stitch counts would fit, I decided to stop it at that point.
The yarn is Anchor Aida, plain white (col. 00001), gauge 20.

Another reason was that this way the diameter is similar to the one before, so I could give them both away as similar sized presents.