Saturday, 27 March 2010

Becoming Hooked

I've been meaning to learn crochet for a long time.... and have finally got around to it, hoorah! It's all thanks to Mrs Moon, my LYS in Twickenham, which has begun to offer Saturday classes.

I think I am a little bit in love with Mrs Moon... every time I go in they have even more gorgeous stuff. I really could just sit in there all day stroking yarn and fondling their sample knits.

Anyway... being a creature of extreme hubris, I decided to do two classes in one day. Both were given by designer and teacher Joanna Clark, who showed us some of her gorgeous knitting and crochet designs. The morning session was dedicated to learning the basic crochet stitches. (I learned about foundation chains and how to crochet into the first row, how to turn corners, how to do double and treble crochet, and then half-treble.)

Here is my play swatch...

The afternoon session was for intermediate skills and how to read crochet patterns. It was a little less structured and we were able to play with patterns of our choice. So I pulled out this free crochet pattern that I had found on ravelry.

I have been making knitted flowers for quite some time, but had a niggling feeling that crochet might be a little better suited to the craft, if only because it allows one to be a little more freeform. So in the afternoon session I was keen to have a go at a crocheted rose.

Thanks to Joanna's guidance I learned how to read the crochet chart. As I was making the flower, I was struck by how incredibly pretty it looked in its un-coiled state. I think this would make a REALLY pretty scarf...

I'm quite pleased with the result and think that I will play around a little with crochet flowers and see how they measure up against knitted flowers.

I'm also feeling inspired to make a curly crocheted scarf after seeing a beautiful one in Mrs Moon made from Rowan Kidsilk Haze.

Above all, it was a fun day... and so very, very soothing to my stressed brain. I would seriously recommend a spot of crochet to anyone who is considering therapy. I have not felt so 'zen' in a long time.

Hogwartian Magic

Hello knit fiends... I thought I would pop in and share my little experiment with the technique of Double Knitting.

For anyone not already aware, this is a two-colour technique that produces a reversible item, where each side is a negative image of the other. I'd been wanting to try my hand at this for ages, having seen some truly outstanding examples on Ravelry.

So after christmas I decided to do a little training project, using Anne Kingstone's excellent free pattern for Hogwarts 'bookscarves'. Somehow the Hogwartian theme seemed fitting for something as fiendish as double knitting.

Here are the results...

A few things to note...

About colours - I've discovered that King Cole yarns make a good UK source for Hogwarts colours. The 4ply Merino Blend yarns certainly include shades that closely match up for Gryffindor and Ravenclaw.

About Double Knitting... suffice to say this is not instantly easy! At first I just couldn't get my head around it. My brain was having trouble understanding why there were so many stitches on the needle. I also ended up frogging my first few rows because my cast-on was too loose. (Apparently looseness is a bit of a 'thing' with double knitting - hence it tends to be done on much smaller needles than usual.)

So at first I was unimpressed and decided that whoever invented this technique was sent from hell to try us... but then it suddenly clicked and became great fun! There is a real sense of magic when you first start to see your reversible pattern emerging.

I think it would be a challenge to knit an entire scarf in double knitting, but could definitely see me making this bookscarf again... perhaps in the other house colours.

My full project details, including a link to the pattern, can be found here: