Friday, January 31, 2014

What a Difference a Little Weight Makes

Anyone for a Forged Joy motif?
Happy Friday everyone - boy, the weeks certainly do fly by.

As regular readers of this blog may remember, I'm captaining a wee Ravellenics Game team in my group on Ravelry. Since the games don't officially start for a week, I've combined those events with my current Romantique join-a-long (JAL). As part of the JAL, I've been working on two versions of the Forged Joy Shawl, and I thought it would be instructive to see how the motifs look using differing yarn weights:

On the left is my laceweight version, using Centolavaggi and a 3.00 mm hook; on the right is the fanastatic Neighborhood Fiber Co.'s Capital Luxury Lace in the Belair colorway. It's the same base that I used for my sample, so I'm also using the same size G/4.00 mm hook. Both of these have been lightly blocked (don't mind my less than perfect staging on the left!), and there's about a 2" (5 cm) square difference in size. While the one on the right is delicate, the Capital Luxury Lace works up more like sock yarn/light fingering weight; the Centolavaggi is a true laceweight and extremely delicate. Both will eventually get a final blocking once all of the motifs are done, put together and the edging is completed, but it's intriguing to see the difference yarn weight and hook size can make on a project at this stage.

The smaller one on the left is one of my model thank-yous, so even losing approximately 8" of wingspan on each side, I know the final shawl will still be plenty big. Hopefully I'll be able to take photos of each once they are complete so that you will be able to see that both sizes are quite sufficient for a shawl. I suspect that this pattern would also work well with a heavy fingering/light sportweight yarn, but I wouldn't go much heavier than that.

I do hope you'll head on over to Andrea's blog - Wisdom Begins in Wonder - and see what other fibers people are working with this week.

Only one week before the start of the Sochi games -
will I get this done before then?

Friday, January 24, 2014

An Actual Finished Object!

Happy Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday my fellow fiberistas. I hope January has been treating you well (can you believe it's almost over - woosh! there it went). I, in fact, have been rather busy with several things, one of which I can happily share with you (and I though I would so pictorally, from start to finish - running commentary under each photo):

In an effort to continue to use all my stash, I decided
I wanted to make myself a personal Pommi and Pearls
shawls, so I found this Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool
remainder (and I had another complete skein as well)
and decided I wanted to use some of Andrea's (Wonder
Why Gal's) handspun alpaca on a few of the edging
rows because of its lovely weight and color.

Here is it at the end of last week - I was almost done with the body, and
just about to start on the edging. Look at those lovely neutrals.

Here is it completed. Notice not only the slight batwing
shape, but also the dye lot difference between the end
of the remainder Fishermen's Wool skein (used at the
beginning of the shawl on the left), and the second skein
which makes up the rest of the body and some of the
edging. Since this is for me I don't mind (in fact, I kind of
like it), but if you ever thought dye lot numbers don't make
a difference, well ...
Here it is with the top and the right side of the bottom pinned. Even with
the sun playing tricks, you can see the difference blocking makes. I wound
up repinning a portion of the bottom (center right), lengthening it just a little more.

And finally, the dried, finished shawl. I love the study of
neutrals against the pop of color in the background as
well as against the pullover on my dress form.

I took some photos outside in natural light, and I hope
you can see the two rows of edging on which I used
Andrea's handspun. That wonderful squoishy alpaca
made great "pearly" puffs!
Here's one more close-up of the edging details from
the inside shots. I cannot tell you how warm this shawl
is in alpaca and Fishermen's Wool! It's also received
some very nice compliments (since I seem to want
to wear it all the time at the moment).

And that concludes my latest Pommi and Pearls Shawl - from the very start to completion. All of these photos were taken with my cell phone, so while not perfect, they still are rather passable, even if I do say so myself. :) Now don't forget to head on over to Wisdom Begins in Wonder to see if Andrea has answered any other weighty life questions this week (and even if she has, you really need to check out the absolutely gorgeous colorways she's got in her shop at moment - I think I'm coveting one of everything).

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Quick Chicken and Egg Follow-up

Two of my favorite things: George Bailey curled up on
one of my crocheted blankets. Ah, home.
I want to thank those readers who responded with excellent comments to my last blog post. One of the comments (about why crocheters might be reluctant to create garments) suggested that crocheting a garment (let's say any type of sweater, just to give a concrete example) takes on average more yarn than their knit counterparts, and given the cost of good yarn, crocheters might not want to go down that road.

Now I absolutely agree that, on average, it does take a little more yardage to crochet a sweater rather than knit one. I also agree that crocheters would probably like to use good yarn to make said top.

I also know that crocheters love, love, love to make blankets. While there are just shy of 4,400 crochet sweater projects in the Ravelry database (with sweater being defined as anything with a sleeve, sleeveless falls under the "top" category), there are a whopping 10,725 crochet blanket projects. Of that sizeable number, over 4,100 of them took 1,200 or more yards of yarn to create; a whopping 2,338 blankets (about 1/5 of the total crochet blanket projects) took more than 2,100 yards of yarn! Even if every one of those crafters in the latter category used Lion Brand's Pound of Love (1,020 yards per skein), they would still need to spend $30+ to make the blanket (it retails for $9.99); they might spend a little less with a sale + coupons. But you know that many crocheters spend far more than $30 on yarn for a blanket, even if it is on sale.

Did I hear you say yes to a sweater? Have I got
just the thing for you, my crafty crochet friend.
Now let's look at the crochet sweater numbers: slightly more than 3,000 projects used 1200 or more yards of yarn, distributed fairly evenly across the yardage categories (about 550 projects used 2,100 or more yards of yarn). At the highest amount of yarn used, a crafter could make a beautiful sweater in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes for about $60 (including shipping), since it retails for $2.69 per 110 yard skein. That's 100% wool for $2.69 per skein. For almost the same amount as a crocheter would spend on blanket yarn (and there's all kinds of glory in blankets, people - I'm not knocking the blanket love), she could make a 100% wool sweater.

So c'mon crocheters - I know you want to. Really, really I do.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Is It A Chicken? An Egg? Or Just The Wrong Side of the Pond?

My Ravellenic Games team ravatar:
living the artful life (well, virtually
anyway) in the Paris subway.
There's been a weird sort of confluence of events this week that has led me to think about the kinds of projects crocheters make and what motivates hookers to make certain types of things and not others.

I am hosting an a-long for my recent Romantique collection in my wee Ravelry group. (It will eventually coincide with my Ravellenic Games team efforts in February, but more on that later). To get things kicked off, I posted a poll to gauge which designs crocheters might be interested in working on as a group. Thus far, only the accessories have received any votes (and do feel free to cast your vote right now). Of the eight designs in the collection, only 3 were garments - a pullover, a coat, and a skirt - and none of these has received any nod from voters that they might like to make them.

Then, I provided a small ending comment on the following Twitter conversation (and I do apologize for the length and the uneven quality of the font, but I wanted to include all of it and I am still getting used to translating Twitter conversations onto my blog):

Image will appear as a link

I am with many in the above conversation that loved Kim Werker's Crochet Me (although, unlike Ysolda, I did not almost try and steal my copy :) ), and I applaud Kim's willingness to start another conversation about this recurring topic: why do crocheters not make garments? A quick look at the Ravelry database indicates that there are slightly over 103,000 crochet garment projects against a staggering 1.2 million knit projects in the same category. There would seem to be no reason for most publishers to take the time to print books for an audience that is all but invisible.

However, I find Rohn Strong's comments most persuasive and I'm in agreement with them - I firmly believe crocheters will eventually make garments, but it takes time and patience. It's difficult being the baby of the group and lost in the yarny desert for such a long time. I've heard many reasons why crocheters are reticent to commit to making a garment (and some were valid, especially the stale designs argument), but most of them don't hold water anymore. 

I love designing garments as much as I do accessories. For the designer, it's definitely more work (pattern grading, pattern grading, pattern grading) but the personal rewards far greater (in my opinion). I cannot tell you how thrilling it has been to see my garments put on a model for the first time, see them fit and look good. I basically do all of my designing blind - no fittings, no practical dress form to speak of (although I do have a decorative dress form that can be helpful in a pinch), so to see my designing labor pay off is great. Of course, I want others to make the designs (hey, I'm human), and I firmly believe crocheters will make them. I build a level of trust between hookers and my designs with each pattern I publish, just like those in the above conversation have done and continue to do. 

It's been almost four years since Crochet Me was published, so I can respect Kim's feelings of defeat, but I don't share them. All I know is that I have so many designs just itching to come to life - both garments and accessories (and yes, interior designs as well). I have been, and will continue to be, willing to self-publish. 

Anyone for a little fur trim?
Of course, if there are reputable publishers out there that want to lead the pack, I'd love to speak with them.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the above conversation. What would get you to make a crochet garment? 

If you're still reading (and good on you), do head on over to Wisdom Begins in Wonder and see what everyone else has been up to this week (garment-making notwithstanding).