29 July 2009

Why do we love yarn so much?

I was in work yesterday, putting labels on some lovely, squooshy new aran-weight Craftspun Yarn, spun in Kildare. It smelt so sheepy, felt so soft and just shimmered with the new-wool shine that makes me wanna make stuff, and I thought... what IS it about yarn that makes me go all giddy, and more importantly, why doesn't it happen to more people?

The smell of yarn, to me, is something I can't get enough of, but I'm not all that sure why... all I know is that I want to stick my nose into the middle of the biggest, squooshiest skein of yarn I can find and leave it there.

Is it the promise of a million unique projects that makes us yarn-happy?
Is it simply that we're all slightly cracked in the head?

27 July 2009

Free Crochet Pattern - Free Bee!

This cute little bee won't sting you, and will never get stuck bopping himself off a closed window!



The pattern came about after I was stuck on a delayed flight with two, non-crafting friends. I managed to get a crochet hook on board, but they were getting bored, so, they demanded a prize from me for the person who won a game of “Dots”. I proposed, off hand, to make a bee for the winner.

This is the bee.

I hope you enjoy the pattern as much as the winner enjoyed getting her little bee. : )

If you make this, or any of my other projects, please link me if you're on ravelry.com or send me a photo! I'd love to see your finished projects.

I like to provide patterns for people to try out, and I truly get a kick out of seeing people's finished projects, but I also think it's important to give people the opportunity to say thankyou for the work that has gone into creating the pattern, if they so wish.

So, I have the pattern written out below, in UK stitch names, but if you'd prefer an easy-to-print pdf of the pattern, with both UK and US stitch names catered for, then please, click below, give whatever you feel is appropriate, let me know your email address, and I'll happily email the pdf on to you.

Thanks!








Free Bee!
This pattern is written with UK stitch names

This bee can be used as an air-freshener in your car by adding a few drops of your favourite essential oil, is can be used to keep mosquitos away from barbecues by infusing a few bees with lot of citronella, and hanging up around the party area, and they also look great on a child’s mobile!

The pattern came about after I was stuck on a delayed flight with two, non-crafting friends. I managed to get a crochet hook on board, but they were getting bored, so, they demanded a prize from me for the person who won a game of “Dots”. I proposed, off hand, to make a bee for the winner.

Designer:
Aoibhe Ní Shúilleabháin
mise_5@hotmail.com

Materials:
3.5 mm hook,
scraps of 4-ply wieght yarn in yellow, white and black, and enough to stuff a 5.5cm bee body,
Darning needle.
Tension:

a round of 16 dc = a circumference of 8 cm

I know this seems like a strange way to check guage, but it’s difficult to get a bee to sit still long enough to be measured!

Abreviation Key:
ch chain
sl st slip stitch
dc double crochet
dc2tog dc two together

Finished Size:
Finished circumference approx 16 cm
Finished length 5.5 cm

Bee Body:
In White Yarn:
1. 2, and dc 8 into 2nd ch from hook, ss to first of 8 dcs to close circle. (8 sts)
2. ch1, *dc, [2dc]* repeat 4 times in total, ss to close circle. (12 sts)
3. ch1, *dc 2, [2dc]* repeat 4 times in total, ss to close circle. (16 sts)

In Yellow Yarn:
4. ch1, dc 16, ss to close.
5. repeat step 4.

In Black Yarn:
6 ch1, dc 16, ss to close.
7. repeat step 6.

In Yellow Yarn:
8, ch1, dc 16, ss to close.
9. repeat step 8

In Black Yarn:
10. ch1, dc 16, ss to close.
11. repeat step 10.
12. repeat step 10.
13. repeat step 10.

In Yellow Yarn:
14. ch1, dc 16, ss to close.

Note: Stuff body full of yarn scraps or your choice of filling. I’d suggest using black, as this won’t show as much through the stitches.

In Black Yarn:
15. ch1, *2dc, dc2tog* repeat 4 times in total. (12 sts)

16. ch1, *dc, [dc2tog]* repeat 4 times in total (8 sts)

17. Cast off, leaving a long tail of yarn. Thread needle, sew a running stitch through one loop of each of the remaining 8 sts, pull tight, secure with a few discrete sts and hide tail inside bee’s body.

Eyes:
To make your bee look nice and crazy, fix two big beads with an embroidery french knot to its face.

Pull the last black yarn scrap through to the back of the bee to be used a its sting.

Legs:
The legs are just yarn, sewn from one side of the body to the other and secured, knotting upon itself.
Knotting at different angles will give your bee’s legs more life.

Wings.
In White Yarn:
18. ch 6, [dc2] into 2nd ch from hook, 3 dc, 1ss. (6 sts)

19. turn work, don’t add a ch, but ss back into the nearest st to hook, 4dc, [dc2]. (7 sts)

20. ch1, [dc2], 5dc, ss (8 sts)

21. turn work, ss into nearest st to hook, 5 dc, [dc2] (9 sts)

Repeat for 2nd wing.

Sew wings to back using yarn tails on wing as shown below.

Add a scrap of yarn to the centre of the bee’s back to hang your lovely new bee up and show him off to the world!

25 July 2009

To all you Stumblers!

Thanks for linking me on Stumble Upon!
Enjoy the earrings, guys and I hope to see you back again.

How To: Dye Yarn with Food Colouring




So, with the Tour de Fleece coming to a close, and me having gotten completely side-tracked, I decided first to try and dye my own roving colours with my paint palette of hair dyes, to spin something unique to me. This I half-accomplished: my roving, though beautifully colours, was slighted felted when it came time to spin it, and it spun up far rougher then the blue-faced leicester I had used deserved.

So, I have taken a step back, found some sheep-coloured aran-weight yarn, and decided to have a bit of food-colouring fun!

I present, below, a guide to dyeing animal-based fibres, with food-colouring in your home.

Materials Needed:
liquid food colouring
white vinegar
water
wooden spoon/potato masher/eye dropper
plastic tubs
animal-fibre yarn (I used pure wool)

All your materials should be for dye-use only. Don't use any of them to prepare food. True, you're dying with edible food dyes, but it's better to be safe.


First thing to get your paws on is food colouring. Supermarkets have small bottles in the baking sections for fairly cheap and I'd recommend these if you just want to dabble and see if you like the process. They come in the three primary colours... and cochineal. (For the record, read the ingredients if you choose to try the cochineal colour to be sure it doesn't contain the bug by the same name. Yup, the dye originated with the bug)

So! In dying, the first thing you have to do is prepare the yarn to accept colur. If you skip this step you'll either get no result, or a very faint one. Either way, this step is a good idea. Take you yarn and tie it into loose skeins. These should be left to steep overnight in a solution of 25% vinegar 70% water. A lot of people suggest bringing this mixture to the boil slowly, but in my experience the only difference boiling makes is to leave you with a skinky home, and angry co-habitants. Boiling also makes it more likely that you'll felt your yarn, making it rougher.



Once your yarn has had a good few hour in your mordant mixture, remove and rinse gently in cold water. The trick in every step of this process is to be gentle with the yarn. Felting is accomplished with movement + heat + soap, but any two of those elements can just as easily mess with your wool.

Place the still very wet yarn in a plastic container and add colours as you wish. I used an eyedropper to get the colour all through the yarn, but equally good would be a potato masher pressed onto the yarn gently. This will help squeeze the colour thought to the bottom of the skein. Try stripes, splashes, solid colours. Basically, experiment to see what you come out with.



Into the mircowave, on a medium heat for two minutes.

Remove and ensure the yarn is still nice and wet. Turn the tub gently to the side, if the water appear clear, you're done. If it's still got colour in it, let the yarn rest of a few minutes and give it another go in the microwave for two minutes on medium. Repeat this process until the water appears clear. This means all the food colouring has soaked into the yarn and it's a wonderful sight!

Remember, it's important not to touch the yarn or move it in the tub at all until it's cooled completely. Just leave it aside to cool down in its own time.

Once it has, give the skein a rinse in cold water again, squeeze gently in a towel, and leave to dry out of direct sunlight!

Aaaand, Result!

18 July 2009

How To: Make a Gorgeous Bag from Old Clothes - Pt 2

Part One of this How To can be found here

So, it's been a while, and I've finally got around to the noisy bit of making this lovely pink bag. It's time to do some hammering!

After I settled on the shape of this bag, I realised the best way to get a good shape, without losing a nice open mouth (for finding all those fiddly things that end up hiding at the bottom of deep bags...) would be to make it expandable. The easiest way to do that in this case was to hammer in eight eyelets - four to a side - thread some strap through them and let the weight of the bag close the gap.

So, that's what I did, with apologies to my poor down-stairs neighbours who had to endure all the banging, and the occasional yell when I hit my thumb...



You can see the middle two eyelets on the right side of the bag, there.

After that, I stared at the remaining bits of felt for a while, and decided they could be cut into shapes that would make very nice little flowers, and so, this spray of posies was added:



Giving us this so far:



Next, I'll be adding a mobile phone pocket, deciding what to do with the fastener (as I think we can all agree a safety pin just won't cut it...) and yes... the lining.


(For the record, the blurry effect in the last shot isn't intended to give the bag a soft-focus "80's photo shoot" look; it's just there to hide the mess that is my study floor!)

Self-patterning yarns, and why they are the devil's work.

It is my honest belief that self-patterning yarns hate crochet!

A strong statement, perhaps, but nonetheless totally true. What other explanation can there be for some of the finished garments out there that look like they've been through an epic battle with a bucket of paint... and lost?



It's a truth yet to permiate many crocheters sensibilities that the vast majority of self-patterning yarns were designed for knitting, and the longer stitches that crochet often produces are just not pretty when worked up on anything but the more gradual of colour changes. It makes me cry inside to see so many lovely patterns, originally designed to be made in solid colours, totally ruined with patches of colour. It jangles the senses. Crochet at its core creates a far more textured fabric than knitting. Highly textured patterns often don't lend themselves well to abrupt colour changes. At the most fundamental level, this is what bother me.

That said, I'm trying to get over my distaste for self-patterning yarns by trying to break up the colours in Wendy Happy (Colourway:Virgo) with crochet moss stitch in a simple wrap-around vest top.

Photos to follow later, if I like what I've produced. : )

12 July 2009

New Pattern Download - Spring Picnic Hat!

Firstly, let me heartily thank everyone here, and on ravelry who sent me good wishes after the passing of my gorgeous, grumpy little dog, Sam. I'll miss him terribly, but all your warm thoughts helped a lot.

Secondly, I'm happy to announce that I have a new crochet pattern uploaded onto Ravelry. It's a spring-inspired hat, with lovely embroidered daisies splashed on one side - and after the weather of the last few days, i think we're all looking forward to feeling a little spring in the air again...






The download is available here for a bargain price. I've also made it available free, with purchase of the yarn at This Is Knit's shop in the Powerscourt Centre, Dublin.

09 July 2009

Sad News

Life has a habbit of putting its foot out and tripping you up when you least expect it.

My Mam called the day before yesterday to tell me that my dog, Sam, (a very old, super-grouchy Lhasa Apso) had gone for an x-ray to see why he wasn't eating, drinking or acting like himself at all. It turned out he had a blockage in his gut. The vet also discovered that he was severely arthritic all down his spine. Though it broke our hearts, operating on a 14 and a half year old dog wouldn't have been fair, and we agreed it was time to let him rest.



He was the type of dog whose love you had to earn, which made losing him that much harder. This is footage of Sam and me at our best. I won't be the same without him.

He's now at rest under a Chestnut tree I grew from seed, at the edge of the garden, his collar hanging, unworn, on the branch over his grave.

07 July 2009

Day 4 - Tour de Fleece

Day 4 flew by for me in a whirl of roving.
I spent the best part of the day in front of my spinning wheel, making up this batch as my entries for the day. I uploaded the images thismorning, and was lucky enough to get the second entry post.



Wish me luck, and gimme your loves if you feel I'm worth them. : )

04 July 2009

Tour de Fleece



Well, thanks to a well-meaning friend, I am now all revved up, and ready to begin spinning for Team Ireland in Ravelry's Tour de Fleece!

It's an event that will last the span of the Tour de France cycling championship, and will involve a lot of spinning, carding (don't forget to warm up first, Aoibhe...seriously. Remember what happened last time...) and skeining.

Let the games begin!

Happy Fourth of July.

...It just hit me that today is the Fourth of July. Happy day, Americans!

This time two years ago, I was leaning over the side of a parking tower in Heuston, Texas, being mesmirized by the spectacular fireworks. I didn't even know they could come in cowboy hat shape until that night...

Have a great one, lads and lassies!

03 July 2009

Crochet Pattern Download - Luna Lovegood's Radish Earrings




I woke up this morning, the warm breeze coming through my open bedroom window, and I thought "Ohh, Harry Potter is out soon, I wonder what I should wear to the screening" Now, I'm no big dresser-up for events; I have never gone to a Star Trek film dressed as a Vulcan, nor have I seen Star Wars dressed as Princess Leia... but... I would not draw the line at Luna Lovegood's awesome earring choices.

So that I'm not alone, I have made the pattern for these fun earrings free to download. My Pattern Download section is on the right. Just look for the little picture of a radish. : )

Please, let me know what you think, and enjoy!

I like to provide patterns for people to try out, and I truly get a kick out of seeing people's finished projects, but I also think it's important to give people the opportunity to say thankyou for the work that has gone into creating the pattern, if they so wish.

So, I have the pattern written out below, in UK stitch names, but if you'd prefer an easy-to-print pdf of the pattern, with both UK and US stitch names catered for, then please, click below, give whatever you feel is appropriate, let me know your email address, and I'll happily email the pdf on to you.

Thanks!








Luna Lovegood's Earrings:


This pattern is written with UK stitch names

With the new Harry Potter film out so soon, I thought it’d be a great chance to wear some distinctive earrings! These radish earrings are directly inspired by Luna Lovegood’s spectacular fashion sense.

Wear them to your local cinema, and turn some heads.


Materials:
3.5 mm crochet hook,

a few metres white 4-ply yarn
10 metres red/orange 4-ply yarn
a few metres green 4-ply yarn

Darning needle

Your choice of earing fitting.

Tension:
petal = 2 1/2 inches from base to tip,
petal = 2 inches across at widest point

Abreviation Key:
ch chain
sl st slip stitch
tr treble crochet
dc2tog double crochet two together
st(s) stitch(es)



Finished Size:
Finished diameter approx 6 inches

The Root:

1. Using white yarn, ch 3, ss into first ch to close.

2. ch 1, dc 4 into loop, ss into 1st dc to close (4 sts)

3. ch1, dc into every dc, ss into 1st dc to close

4. ch1, *[2dc], dc* repeat twice, ss into 1st dc to close (6 sts)

5. ch1, *[2dc], dc* repeat three times, ss into 1st dc to close (9 sts)

The Radish:

6. Using Red yarn, ch1, [2dc] into every dc around (18 sts)

7. ch1, dc into every dc on round, ss into 1st dc to close.

8. ch1, *dc2, dc2tog* repeat 6 times, ss to 1st dc to close. (12 sts)

9. ch1, *dc1, dc2tog* repeat 6 times, ss to 1st dc to close. (6 sts)

10. At this point, stuff your radish with waste yarn for filling. I’d recommend using the same colour yarn as your radish, to avoid the filling being seen through the stitches.

11. ch1, [2dc] around, ss to 1st [2dc] to close. (3 sts) Cast off Red, and weave in end.

Leaves:

12. Cast on Green into one of the top 3 sts on radish. ch 9, dc into 2nd ch from hook.

Note: every leaf stitch hereafter is stitched around the chain, not into it.

13. dc1, tr 2, dtr3, tr2, dc 7, ss into top of radish.

Repeat leaf pattern twice more, into the sts left at the top of the radish.

14. Cast off Green and use this yarn to set your earring fitting into top of radish.

Note: I found wrapping the yarn tail once or twice around the base of all three leaves settle them nicely on top of the radish.

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