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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Palmy Greeting

Palmy Greeting - 5"x 6.5" card

 The March challenge description was:
Hello Designers, and welcome to the professional runway! This month, your challenge was to create a design using non-conventional materials in an innovative way. Up to 20% of your design could be made from conventional yarns - but I hope you didn’t play it safe.

I’ve enjoyed watching everybody coming up with great ideas, snapping up materials and design ideas that it got harder and harder to come up with something original. :D Nice going!

So, I decided to go with a crochet project for this challenge as March was Crochet Month.

And having been teased with some very warm days just to be followed by a one day snow storm that left behind a foot of snow and lots of sledding opportunities for the kids, my mind was wandering off to warmer playgrounds… The idea for a card design was born with sewing threads as the source material.

I used 3 threads per color to get a 3-ply “yarn” to crochet with. For the palm leaves I decided to go with slip stitches into a chain but with winding the thread first once around a knitting needle to make a loop for a frond.

It was super slippery (used polyester thread, cotton would have been better), splitty, and rather small sized. Yikes! And then I ended up with a pile of curly things - not quite what I had envisioned.
Was this really going to work out?

After patiently untangling, arranging and gluing the mess with a toothpick - it is really coming together! The finish line is in sight!

After a cool tip to use perhaps some buttons for the coconuts and cutting out a sun from some scrap book paper, my little card is finished (5”x 6.5”)!

The card didn't win but I sure enjoyed my little trip to a tropical island and working with not so traditional supplies for crocheting or knitting.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Home Run Jersey

Another round of great patterns for the young folks has been released by Petite Purls! So, head on over there and check out the Spring 2010 issue! :)

My "Home Run" jersey design (shown in size 6)
Pattern is written for sizes 2T, 4, 6, 8 and 10

The theme for this issue was "Going Green", meaning the designs should focus on organic, other natural yarns and recycled materials.

I learned a lot on my journey to picking a "green" yarn and you can read all about my yarn choice for this issue's "Home Run Jersey" in the article: Picking a Green Yarn. I've also included links to resources and other interesting tidbits.

Since the yarn I picked was a bit stiffer I decided to go for a top layer garment that could take some abuse from an active boy. The idea for a baseball vest and later a baseball jersey (input from Allegra and Brandy at Petite Purls) was born.

Stranded color work was out with this sturdy yarn so that I turned my focus on playing with texture. Perhaps a gansey style pattern would work? After playing around with lots and lots of knit and purl stitch combinations, I settled on a jersey design that sports a Stockinette stitch body and a patterned upper part.

The jersey is knit in the round bottom up until you reach the armhole shaping. Then you work the front and back separately in the flat. Once you close the shoulder seams, you pick up stitches around the armhole and knit the 3/4 sleeve top-down in the round. A single crochet row around the neckline gives it a finished edge and some structure. It's nearly seamless and a really quick knit.

The body bottom starts with a seed stitch band and continues with just straight Stockinette stitch. Then two natural colored garter st lines define the main design panel: Stockinette stitch diamonds on a garter and pearl stitch background. The shoulder and top sleeve sections are worked in a box stitch (2x2 knit/purl stitch combination) and the sleeves end with the same seed stitch band as the body bottom.

Then it came time to pick a number... there are so many great baseball players to choose from! But then, who can beat the legendary baseball player Babe Ruth and his famous #3? Perhaps some of his talent will rub off on my boy too? :)

I picked a natural colored waste yarn (Patons Classic Wool) I had in my stash to duplicate stitch the numbers on the jersey. In baseball, the front number is typically a little bit smaller and offset to the left bottom side where as the number on the back is large and centered.

The jersey was ready for a test run - it passed with flying colors!

Picking a Green Yarn

Who thought that the task of picking a "green" yarn would be such a learning experience?!

 Photos by Ian Britton @ www.FreeFoto.com

When I was looking for a "green" yarn for my "Home Run Jersey" submission for the Spring 2010 issue of Petite Purls, I didn't realize what it takes to make a yarn. Don't get me wrong, I've been knitting and crocheting for three decades (has it been that long already!?) and love my yarns. But do you truly know how your yarn is made beyond "take starting material", "wash, spin, dye" and "ship"?

When I went on a web crawl around the world to find out more about "green" yarns, it was quite an eye-opener. A quick search produced lots of "green" yarns (what a pleasant surprise!) but also some interesting information that a "green" yarn might not be as "green" as it sounds.

There are 5 major steps to the finished yarn that you buy in a store:
  1. Source Material
  2. Yarn Processing
  3. Yarn Dying
  4. Shipping & Packaging
  5. Disposal
 And at each step you have the opportunity to make a "greener" choice.

I learned a lot on my journey to picking a "green" yarn and you can read all about my yarn choice for the "Home Run Jersey" in the article: Picking a Green Yarn. I've also included links to resources and other interesting tidbits.

And just like with organic food and "green" appliances, you the consumer can "vote" with your dollars to support "green" yarns and ask your LYS to carry a larger selection. Go for it! Make your voice heard! :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cherry Blossom Card

Even though it's still officially winter I am so ready for Spring!

I've made this card for my mom to send her a little bit of Spring her way.

 Cherry Blossom Card with Envelope

I know my mom will appreciate this card and the time spent making it, with her being a major crafter as well. Actually, I like the card so much that I have a hard time sending it off ! :)

And isn't it nice to receive a handwritten note from time to time? I don't know about you, but I LOVE to receive mail.

It sounds a bit old fashioned in this time of the internet with email, facebook and twitter and me being a software engineer. But a handwritten letter is just something special - the postage stamp, the post office stamp, the paper for the envelope and the letter or card, the embellishments, perhaps even some photos - it's just a great treasure trove that allows me to connect with the sender.

When was it your last time you wrote a letter? Perhaps Spring is a good opportunity to send a friend a nice little note?

BTW, you can purchase the crochet Cherry Blossom card pattern (includes a template for the envelope as well) to make one yourself.
Happy Spring!