Sunday, July 1, 2012

Little (or too much) excitement about Alpaca Yarn.

I must be a little strange when in the midst of hot summer with three digit temperatures and heat records; I am totally immersed in study of alpacas and their luxurious fiber. I dream about having a small alpaca farm, listening to the sweet noises they make, dreaming about having few of the sweetest animals and the best time working with the fiber they give…. I am stopping right here as I could go on and on.

So, in order to satisfy my newly found obsession, I went down to Castle Rock and visited a small charming store that sells just what I am looking for, “Everything Alpaca”. It was recommended to me by a lady obsessed with yarns and fibers just like me. She said I just have to go there.

Store is operated by Deb, who is an actual alpaca breeder. Not only you can see the yarns and touch the handmade products from this awesome fiber, Deb will talk to you about the animals themselves, the different breeds and show you which skein of yarn came from which award winning animal.

Sure I knew about alpaca yarn for some time now and sure I can buy it almost in any yarn store. But, there is a difference buying it from the very origin where it’s known which animal it came from and when some of the yarn is handspun by local artisans who share the same love of yarn as I do. It is as authentic as it can be for a city person like me. I did not want to get it from the store that is supplied by skeins mass produced in large quantities somewhere in other country. I feel it would be a disgrace to the animal who gave us such a gift. I feel bond to all the hands on farmers and artisans who keep traditions alive.

Deb is fortunate to know many top notch knitters that produce all the magnificent pieces offered for sale in her store. In fact, I know where I am going to go looking for a wedding present when my next friend gets married. I will go see Deb and get for the new couple one of the softest warmest blankets made from alpaca fiber. And I will not have to be ashamed of the present as it will become their new family heirloom to cherish.

As I just read through the Spring/Summer 2012 Vogue Knitting magazine, I had their patterns for eyelet beret, lacy shawls and especially drop-stitch scarf freshly in mind. So when I saw the last two skeins of soft Blush hand dyed alpaca DK yarn on the shelf, I had to grab them. I knew just what they have to be turned into. It was a perfect match. I would not forgive myself if I did not put the exquisite pattern together with luxurious fiber in luscious yummy color and my great appreciation for the alpaca and left without them.

So here I am, knitting in the heat, enjoying soft buttery feel of the yarn and praising myself that I made my trip to Everything Alpaca. Yarn is very soft, two ply, not very tightly twisted. Color is great, very even dye job.
I am so going to show off later while wearing it!
Sections in between leaf designs-the ones that look like garter stitch- will later
be dropped. Some of the loops/stitches will be dropped and will unravel all the way down to the beginning of my scarf to create loose ladder-like airy areas separating leaf sections.

This is the pattern number 14 from the above Vogue Knitting Magazine.

I have but one regret; before I spotted my blush pink DK, Deb showed me the softest yarn from her prize winning black alpaca princess and I did not get it. I just did not have the right set of mind and vision on how to use this softest ever fiber. But now I keep thinking about it and that is a sure sign that I missed out on something good. I am going to call her tomorrow and have her send me a few of the ‘black princess’ skeins.
If you are interested in visiting Deb's store, look up her information on

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tunisian Crochet

The better title of today’s blog should be “I stand corrected and ashamed of my past opinions” or something even more aggressive and strong. That is what is needed to reflect my true feelings toward myself and my past actions regarding this type of crochet.
                I am not kidding. At this time, I read at least 50 books and even more magazines on crochet and many of those books enjoyed my undivided attention from page to page eagerly studying every step or type of stitch described. Almost every one of those books had at least some sort of Tunisian Crochet section. Even if it was just one project, basic overview or complete chapter.
                I admit, I’ve seen these sections and I always and without fail dismissed them, sometimes even making loud disapproving noises to go with my annoyance and forceful turning of pages looking for where this ‘annoying’ section ends and quickly trying to continue with my reading of the ‘normal’ section’. It was like a clockwork and people could predict my annoyance when the Tunisian Crochet section appeared.
                I cannot explain why I hated this type of crochet and I do not understand what got into me. I guess it was not exciting enough, boring and uninspiring. I could not imagine any wild application of colors and patterns using this technique that I could use to shine as I wanted to.
                Well, as we say “Hanba!” (shame on me)!
                How did I change my opinion and why now? You would be shocked to know that a MAN- as a male, knitting and crocheting man changed my opinion. While browsing the Internet the other day, I found a section listing Men who knit. Bunch of really cool guys who meet, show off their designs, talk about yarns and even meet at regular men’s knitting retreats. Cool bunch of people and for a second there I wished I was a man and could join them.

                One of those guys posted pictures of his finished blanket, using Poems Sock yarn, the one that changes colors, and he used the look of Log Cabin from the quilting patterns. He kept on producing about two inch wide stripes all around the center block and the jewel tones of yarn kept changing as he went around and around. I was not sure what technique he used and thought that it was knitted on double pointed needles. As I kept looking through his blog, I finally found the picture showing his very beginning of this project and was shocked to see a crochet hook. The texture of the stripe did not look anything like familiar crochet stitches to me and right then and there it hit me. He is using Tunisian Crochet and it looks so easy.
                SO, I swallowed my pride and looked up, for the first time in my long life, what the ‘…’ is this technique and can I do it? Imagine my surprise when I found out that there are just two simple passes involved, going from right to left, and returning back from left to right. No counting of stitches, no special instructions on how to turn at the end (beginning) of the rows, nothing. A man, a child, a person who never crocheted before, an idiot can do this a do it well; just very simple hook and pass. I tried it immediately and it was so fast and so regular looking. No distortions, straight up!            
                I am so in love with this technique now! I can tell I will be addicted to this for some time, trying and applying quite a few stitches that all the people ‘smarter than me’ came up with. Now I have to go back to all those books and look up just the sections on Tunisian Crochet. I already hit the YouTube trying to learn as much as I can.
                So at the end of today’s blog, I apologize to you, Tunisian Stitches! ; Sincerely and whole heartedly. I was an idiot but no more. I will spread my love for you as far as I can and tell everybody about your beauty. Next time I am here, I better have some prove of my love and pictures to go with it.

                Friends, don’t be fools like me, get your Tunisian Crochet hooks and try it! And don’t forget to teach me anything great you learn as I have a lot of catching up to do.

Thank you Joe!!!

This is Joe's project that inspired me to change my 'crochet life'.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

When yarn BLOOMS.

This is the term I was not aware of for some time, I just knew that there are yarns that 'fill out the little spots in the pattern nicely" and the yarns that do not. Those that do not BLOOM, give a nice strong detail to your pieces and show off patterns very well.
But many times, my Granny Squares looked 'poor', skinny, like they are not filled out right.
So I kept looking and asking questions, untill one of my more experienced friends mentioned, that I am looking for yarn that BLOOMS.

Makes sense now.

These are two samples of the same thing.
One is made from yarn that does not BLOOM, the other from BLOOMING yarn.
Both yarns are the same thickness and the same hook size was used.
Can you see what I am talking about?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Knit Picks CotLin DK Yarn - 3 STARS

This cotton blend yarn fits nicely within my collection of Shine Sport, as it is almost the same wieght and thickness.
These are the colors I added. As you can see, these two yarn lines are so close in their looks that I had a hard time separating them without having their labels on.
****picture comming

1. Lilac -darker shade of purple, not as dark as Shine Sport Serenade
2. Creme Brulee - reminds me a dark banana yellow
3. Sea Foam - nice shade of tourqiose
4. Flamingo - light pink-almost powdery peach
5. Linen - true brownish tan
6. Moroccan red -red red

Color choices:
I picked a few colors of CotLin DK because they were just a little gentler and softer.

Feel of the yarn:
CotLin is great for filling up the empty spaces in your palette selection, but I would not pick this thread up for a project alone. Not for one that has to be worned, touched and used on the regular basis. As I worked on my granny squares, I found that the more I handled this yarn, more tiny fuzzies appeared. When you squezee the ball, it gives you hat 'crunch or squeel' feeling. I think it is due to 30% linen in it. This is not necessary the bad thing, I am just comparing my experiences to other yarn, like Shine Sport is.

CotLin DK is a good choice to suplement your stash, will work well at a price of$ 2.79 per 50g.

 I give this yarn three stars.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Knit Picks Shine Sport gets Five stars

One of my favorite yarns to use is Knit Picks Shine Sport.
Every color addict should have stash of this cotton blend.
It is perfect weight for my crochet projects. Here is what you see on the label.

Color options:
There are many bright and pure colors in this line, many lights, darks and anywhere in between. If you've seen my work, you know how much I love colors. Not many yarn brands have wide palette of colors for me.
And if you can't find color you need, Shine Sport can be easily augmented with CotLin from Knit Picks. I also found that Simplicity

These are all the colors I have in my stash: 

1. Willow  2. Cream   3. Blush  4. Crocus   5. Serenade?   6. Chartreuse   7. Macaw   8. Reef
9. Aquamarine   10. French Blue   11. Robot   12. Wallaby   13. Bison  14. Pageant    15. Sky
16. Hydrangea
17. Cosmopolitans  18. Clementine 19. Dandelion  20. Wisteria
white and black

Make sure to get an extra ball of white, as it is part of almost every block. I always get two whites and one black no matter what yarn selection.

Fell of this yarn:
Shine Sport has very soft, sleek feel to it. It is pure joy to work with as it slides on your hook like butter. It does not split as you poke your crochet hook through the loops. Little spaces are filled just right. There is a touch of shine that accents your pattern. This shine does not come from some artificial additions, it comes from how it is made or twisted, Most of all, I like that no little fuzzies tangle on your hook or fuzz over the pattern. It is clean work.
I use 3.5mm crochet hook. Anything bigger feels nice but creates a piece that is way too soft for me. I like my finished work to hold its shape nicely, so 3.5mm is great.
I also think it helps to have tighter stitches when it is time to wash it.

For $2.49 / 50g ball, it is great deal. Good price, good color selection, many colors and fun to work with. You might get free shipping too.

Love it!
Shine Sport gets FIVE STARS !!!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cute & Easy Crochet by Nicki Trench

Hello dear yarn buddies,

We had a great time this Monday. It was a great idea to share our projects from the book we all gushed about for a while. I am talking about “The Cute & Easy Crochet from Nicki Trench."

As we all agreed, this book is filled with some cute and quite easy projects that will make novices to crocheting want to make all of the projects happen. Most of us did just that at one time or another. Not many books can claim that they inspire people to go from page to page and put the ideas from the pages into their own reality.

Third of our group admitted that they made Round Stripy Pillow Cover from pg. 32.
Such a classic simple showcase project!
What a nice way to show off all your colorful yarn and enjoy all the shades at the same time.
I made mine using bright crayon colors and now I am in the process of toning it down to mellow tans and browns with a touch of gold shimmer.
Emily made one in blue and orange for her Bronco man (surprise!), and sweet shades of pink for little princess.
However, we noticed the mistake in Round 3. Round 3 should end with two dc in the previous dcs, and total number of stitches is 36. Small mistake that an experienced person can fix or overlook, but mistake big enough to stop a beginner from trying just after hitting round 3.
Good news! Don’t give up! We have the good pattern and if you come and sit with us, we will happily share with you. All we ask from you to share with us the finished project.

Ohhh, the white shawl, or as Nicki calls it “Swishy Scarf” from page 76 made me want to run for the nearest hook. What an exotic, sweet looking thing. My 16 years old daughter loves the one I made for her and she thinks it is cool enough to wear to school. Teenagers are hard to please.
        Well, it took me half a Sunday to crack the pattern. And as many of us mentioned, I was not the only one. You see, if you follow Nicki’s description, you will get something nice and ‘swishy’. The only problem is, it is not the one from the picture. Go ahead and see for yourself.
You will end up with some extra big loops that are not found on her scarf.
Problem is the Round 3 and 4 that asks you to chain 5.
Long story short: if you like what you get following her pattern, great. If you see that it is different and want to make the one from the picture, come to our meeting, I have the proper version of this pattern together with additional options and advice on how many chains to start with. Nicki says start with 258ch, but you might need to change this if your yarn is thicker.

Dana is brave enough to work on the teddy bears at the end of the book (pg.120)
 I can’t wait for her to show us the result. And she picked soft chenille yarn too. That should make teddy real soft and fluffy.

Nicki's book is very practical and inspiring. Check it out!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fresh start

Welcome all my yarn buddies !!!

It will take me some time to transfer my old posts from previous forum, so please keep checking on my progress.

I will be adding new sections on books where I will share my experiences with several Crochet and pattern books. I will let you know ahead of time which book is on my desk so you can add your feedback to mine. It will be a group effort.

Also a new yarn review section is going to appear on a regular basis. I will share with you any new discoveries and arrivals at the store.