Saturday, November 21, 2009

Back to Beads

Last Monday one of my work-friends told me that I had inspired him to get out his crochet hook and pick up crocheting again. I was tremendously flattered and of course told him about ravelry. We had gone on travel together to Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey (12 hours in a government van) and I had knitted during the drive. On Tuesday I wore my (only) bead crochet rope necklace that I had made when my sister, Virginia, and I took the Beadcats booth to Convergence in 2006, knowing that he would find it fascinating. I offered to show him how, but then realized that I would have to brush up on my rather rusty bead crochet skills. So I pulled out some beads and some silk Guderbrod (size E) and a 1.4mm crochet hook and got to work. I did a small sample to show him, but didn't get a chance to last week. He stopped by my office on Friday on his way out and borrowed my size 11 seed bead cards, and my bead crochet rope book, but we really didn't have a chance to talk. I did show another friend of mine from work, and may yet get her into beads (I have already gotten her into sewing). Looking at the book had inspired me, though, so this weekend I decided to get out a project that I had started some time ago.

Every year when I go to the Bead and Button show (I work in the Beadcats booth - and get paid in beads) I buy lampwork beads from Larry Scott, my favorite lampwork bead artist. Typically I buy his Byzantine beads and string them with semi-precious stones and silver, but one year I bought one of his long cylinder beads, intending to make a bead crochet rope necklace to go with it. I found some nice dark blue iridescent beads and worked up half the necklace and then decided that it needed to be more three-D. A rope and a long cylinder bead was just too flat. So I decided to do a spiral bead crochet rope. I rummaged in my pretty extensive bead stash (it took two of those organizer cabinets to organize it) and came up with some size 6 and size 8 beads to go with the original size 11 beads.

A couple of hours of stringing later I started crocheting and discovered that spiral bead rope crochet is a bit more challenging than straight bead rope crochet. It took me a couple of tries to get the hang of it, but I am quite pleased with the results so far. I'm not sure if it will go with the lampwork bead, but it will make a nice piece regardless.

A few notes on tools:

For stringing beads on anything I use the Japanese Bead Threader Needle, available from Beadcats. It is wonderful, and makes stringing a breeze.

For beading I put the beads I am working with in a white ceramic bead tray, also available from Beadcats. I use the large center space for any mutant beads that I don't want in my beadwork. I cover the bottom with self-adhesive felt so it doesn't slide or clink when I stack them.

The thread is silk Guderbrud, size E.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wisteria Garden Shawl

The second shawl in the 2009 Year of Lace.

I think that one of the reasons I am so into the fiber arts is because they allow you to create such beauty, and the world can never have too much beauty. Lace shawls, especially, just take my breath away. Plus, they are functional. What more could one ask for?

Let's try this one more time - Campanula

Well, I got up to the shaping and realized that I had messed up the lace pattern in a pretty basic way. See, I had modified the pattern to work it all in one piece, rather than three, but I didn't take into account the differences in the lace pattern for the two sides of the front. As a result things weren't set up right for the shaping. I guess I should have read the directions a little more closely. Sigh. So I ripped it out and started again. This time I graphed out the lace pattern for the body, plus the lace charts for the shaping, in Stitch Motif Maker.

I'm thinking of giving this one to my friend/adopted-sister Carol of Beadcats, if she likes it. I've got enough of the Vintage Cotton in purple to make another one for me.

That wasn't so hard...

Arles - Rowan Magazine Number 45

Finished! I finally tackled the crochet last weekend. I pulled out my Crocheter's Companion and just jumped right in. It took a couple of tries to get it right, but once I figured it out, it was pretty straight forward. The yarn is very soft, and the top is super comfy to wear. I just love the collar, it has an Egyptian feel to it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Three-Quarter Sleeve Pullover

The original pattern is from Knit Simple Winter 2008/2009. The yarn is Sublime Extra Fine Merino DK.

I started out knitting the body. The pattern is already written as a seamless, in the round, raglan, which is one of the things that attracted me in the first place.

I had worked my way through about 3/4 of the body when I discovered that my spit splices weren't holding that well. Yeah, I know that spit splicing is a bit of a cheat, but it means no ends to weave in. At this point I started knitting the sleeves from the body, unraveling as I went.

The pattern calls for you to knit a cuff in rib, joining the beginning and ending of the cuff, and then picking up stitches for the rest of the sleeve along one edge.

I did a provisional cast on and started ribbing. When I got to the end, I did a three-needle bind-off, picked up my stitches and started knitting on the sleeve. There was just one problem, I didn't like the silhouette.

The top piece is the sleeve according to the pattern. You can see way the seam splays out the knitting, and how there is a very distinct bump as you move into the decreases of the sleeve. The decreases are very close together (every other row), which just exacerbates the problem.

So, I decided to redesign the pattern. Using the long-tail method I cast on 106 stitches (the number of stitches that you pick up when you start knitting the main part of the sleeve). I purled one row, and then I placed a marker and joined the knitting. Continuing in the round I knit 2 rows, purled 2 rows until I had six purled ridges (not counting the cast on ridge). Then I continued in satin stitch. I also increased the number of rows between decreases, decreasing every 5 rows, starting at row 30 and continuing through row 100 (for 15 decreases or 30 stitches, 76 stitches remain).

The above image shows the resulting sleeve.


I finished this last weekend, but didn't have enough blocking mats so I had to order more. Lace knitting is so addictive, and the end result is so rewarding. Pretty amazing what you can make with two sticks and a piece of string...