31 May 2011

Race to make a wedding shawl part 2: some progress

My counter is deceptive. It tells me I have more time than I actually have.  Obviously I need to get it to the bride before the actual day, and with enough time in case she absolutely hates it and needs to find an alterntaive.  I really hope she doesn't hate it.

So, I've made some progress.  Getting the hang of the lace weight yarn - it's just so insubstantial in your hands, nothing at all to hold on to!

The first task is making the body, then I move on to the complicated edging.  The body needs to be 20-21 inches deep.

Saturday morning, after one night's work.

Sunday - measuring about 10 inches.

I'm loving the way the yarn is working up.  The slight variation in the yarn is gorgeous.

Monday, I forgot to measure.

And today, last night measuring just over 12 inches, and not counting this morning's work on the train.   Hook included for scale.
I'm still a bit stressed, I've been working SO much I haven't had as much time to progress this as much as I would have wanted.  I figure if I can get the body done by friday, I have the weekend for the edging - it's 7 rows wide!  And the rows will be LONG by that stage.

On a different note, I've been super tired and quite stressed these last few weeks.  Yesterday was a shocker, I hardly had time to think, I don't even know how I was functioning.  But I got two lovely surprises when I needed it most.  One lovely person bought me a donut (I freaking love donuts), and another bought me a pineapple freddo Hahaha freddo has a wiki page!!.  Just when I needed it, a little ray of sunshine.  I have such lovely friends <3

Who freaking knew they made pineapple Freddos?  GENIUS!

25 May 2011

Race to make a wedding shawl part 1: the supplies

Am I mad?  I've offered to make my friend a shawl for her wedding. 

She is getting married on 12 June 2011.  That's currently 17 days to get this sucker completed.  Less really, because I need to get it to her before then!

What's more, it's a lace-weight shawl.  In silk. I've not worked with 2ply OR silk before. 

Nevermind, I'M 100% SURE I CAN DO IT!!

My friend has chosen the dahlia shawl, which is super pretty and feminine, with a gorgeous edging. I think I even have enough yarn to make one for myself!!

Picture from Interweave Crochet here.

Received the lovely lovely yarn yesterday.  My first ever etsy purchase!  Thank you ms gusset! 

I spent two and a half hours last night winding one of these skeins into a ball.  Ok, I don't have a ball winder, or a swift :(

I found this tutorial about how to make your own swift with household items, Macgyver style (thanks webecca!  Here is my effort:

Please ignore the fugly rug.
At least I had company, The Kitten watched me the whole time.

And the result below.  Even with the home made swift it was hard work!  I wasn't paying attention at one stage and made a huge mess.  I even cut a knot out once because it was the only way to keep my sanity.
1km of silk. 
 Tonight I actually start making the shawl!  Onward and upward!

23 May 2011

Blocking Acrylic: THE EXPERIMENT!!!

I'm nearing completion of my sidewalk shawl.  I'm very excited at seeing how it will look when blocked - but OHNOITSACRYLIC!!

I'm actually NOT one of those acrylic-haters.  Just do what feels right man, peace.  But I have heard on the grape vine that acrylic is notoriously difficult (or doesn't) block, some people swear by it and others are adamant it can't be done.

So I wanted to try it.  At the same time, I was scared that all my hard work on my shawl would go to waste if I ruined it.  So I needed to conduct AN EXPERIMENT!!!

Before I started THE EXPERIMENT!!!, I did research, just like any good SCIENTIST would do.
I found this tutorial from beadknitter  most useful.  And this one from rainyknits was good too.  This article suggests a different method.  I also asked the lovely ladies at Crochet Lovers Victoria for their advice.  Even the men who knit had something to say on the subject.

I'm not going to regurgitate all that info.  READ IT YOURSELF!  Seriously, it's kinda interesting.

In short, the consensus is: pin it out, steam it with the iron.  DO NOT LET THE IRON TOUCH THE YARN!


Hypothesis:  The acrylic yarn will hold its shape and become softer with a lovely drape upon applcation of steam.


  • Your acrylic yarn of choice.  I got mine from Big W.  It's a surprisingly soft acrlyic, really squishy.  Not like most acrylics I've tried.
  • With your yarn, crochet up a swatch.  I did a sample representing a bit of the pattern.  The swatch measured 17 cm long and 18cm wide unblocked.  I also added some tassels to see how they would behave when steamed. 
    My swatch, pre blocked.
    Detail of swatch.
  • Iron with a good steam capability.
  • Pins
  • Preferred blocking board - I just pinned my swatch to the ironing board covered with an old towl.

Pin your swatch out to the desired shape.  I didn't pin super aggressively, but did try to reveal the pattern.

When I pinned it out it measured 22 long and 23 cm wide.

Then steam it. I held the iron about the height of the pins sticking out, about 2-3 cm. ( I wish I could give you an action shot).  My iron has a setting which gives you a burst of steam every time you press a button.  I just kept pressing the button while hovering the iron above the swatch.  I also got a few drips of water coming out.  I was concerned, but I don't think it mattered. Steam is just water anyway, right?

The articles I read didn't say much about how much steam to use, so I went over it about three times to be sure.  The yarn was slightly damp at the end of the steam session.  My iron was full of water to max level before the experiment, and about half full at the end of steaming.


In short, I am VERY impressed.  The yarn has totally relaxed, and has AMAZING drape.  It's almost too much drape.  The swatch is very floppy.   Soft too, possibly even softer than it started.  It has kept its shape very nicely. 

Without pins and after one day to allow for relaxing of the yarn, it measures 19cm long and 20 cm wide.  That's a growth of 2cm each way, or 10% (if my calculations are correct). 

Remember, the swatch before...

... and after!
And some detail:


Steam blocking rocks.  Give it a go, don't be afraid.  I think it's even easier than wet blocking, and it dries faster too.

Stay tuned to see how my shawl behaves after blocking!!

18 May 2011



Check it out!  I am the lucky winner of a beautiful handcrafted nostepenne made by the awesome Jimbo!!
I'm so excited!  I have to borrow a ball winder from someone every time I buy yarn in a hank.  NOT ANYMORE NO SIREE BOB!

Jimbo is the token bloke in my favorite Rav group, Crochet Lovers Victoria.

If you don't already, you should totally check out his blog, he HAND CARVES lovely lovely crochet hooks.

16 May 2011

Introducing: The Kitten

What a mammoth post that last one was!  I think I'm going to try smaller chunks from now on.

Sitting at work, painstakingly conducting some due diligence, I get these picture messages, without any accompanying text:

The Kitten* getting into some of my yarn stash at home.  You can see her guilty face in the second picture after being caught.

Cats and yarn just go together  <3

*She's not actually a kitten, but until she stops acting like one, she will be The Kitten.

10 May 2011

The evolution of yarn, and some FOs

I'm still really new to crochet, and yarn. One thing I'm learning though there are just SO many possibilities, and it's just amazing to see how your yarn works up into an item.

Remember that Aade Long I purchased on Ebay? It's fairly yucky to work with. You can really feel the 'sheepiness' in it. You get that lanolin feeling all over your hands. And it's just coarse as. I still really love the colourway I chose though. Fingers crossed when I wash/block it it comes up nicely (although I'm not holding my breath).

I used this yarn to participate in a Tumblr crochet-a-long for April. The chosen pattern was the Monroe shawl (available here). I have finished this item, but for blocking. I'll take more pics to show it off properly after its blocked.

Yarn in Hank form.

Wound into a cake, now you can see how it will behave!

Starting to work the yarn, how exciting is the colour change!

Better idea of the colour changes.

A bit of detail.

Some of the first yarn I bought online was some random 100% wool, hand dyed, bought from this seller. I chose greys becuase I thought it would be good for work. The yarn is a bit rough, not suitable for garments agains the skin. It did soften up a bit on blocking. I soaked my shawl in wool wash first, rinsed and then soaked in water with some conditioner.

Hank form.

ball form

I made my first shawl with this yarn. The pattern I chose was the seraphina. Chart and further pattern instructions which I found very helpful available here.

Before blocking.

During blocking

Blocking detail.

Hanging out.

Yes, I took this in the bathroom, there's the toilet!

I would like to make another seraphina, in a solid colour. It's a nice pattern and I think I look quite stylish with it draped to the side, even if I do say so myself ;)

I also participated in my first ever scarf swap this month.

The first pattern I made for my partner was a crobaktus. I used an 8ply cotton from Bendigo Woollen Mills. Lovely soft yarn to work with. This is my second scarf with this yarn. The first one was a lacy pattern, so the drape was ok, but I really wasn't happy with the result on this one. It came out a bit stiff, so I rushed to get a second scarf done that might be worthy of my partner.
Great value 200g balls from BWM.

About half way through.

Before blocking, a bit of curling on the decrease half.

 And post blocking:

I don't mind how it looks, but it just doesn't have that 'wow' factor.
 So I made another scarf! The second scarf I made for the swap, my version of the Queenies Angel Crochet Scarf. I used a Lincraft brand 100% Merino (3ply), in a flecked brown colour. It was lovely to work with, squishy and blocked beautifully. Really hard to give this scarf up, it came out lovely, soft, swishy and long!

The yarn.

Before blocking it was very lumpy:

On the blocker you can see the pattern coming to life:

And Fin! Grew A LOT longer!
Hanging out

Pattern detail

Wraps twice around the neck.
Funnily enough, the scarf I received in the swap was the same pattern! Thanks Shilo!
The scarf I received.
Feeling very productive now that I look at all my hard work in this post :) Go me! Next time I might even leave my head in the pictures! Stupid head!!

My current WIP is a Sidewalk Shawl done in Acrylic. Its going to be chunky and squishy, the yarn is actually beautifully soft to the touch. It will be my frist adventure in blocking acrylic too, so that will be a challenge!

Pattern detail
Still working on that gosh darn teenage mutant ninja turtle I spoke about here. I have actually done tons since then. Just need to finish off his arms and head and bandanas and weapons! Woo! I'll blog about that later...