Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Maybe You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

(First person to make a "bitch" comment gets it through the computer screen).

Snow, ice, rain, sleet. We got it all. The kids went to school yesterday, only to have schools close early because of the weather. Sr. Jr. got home around noon, Jr. Jr. around 1:45. Yesterday was mainly snow, so there were snowball fights and sled pulls and general frolicking. Last night the sleet and freezing rain started, so all that snow is now saturated with ice. No school. No playing in the snow. We'll play Wii, I'll bake cookies, maybe I'll get to knit a little.

Or crochet.

I've mentioned before that I want to improve my crochet skills. I've seen some beautiful crochet patterns that I'd love to tackle. The Alpine Frost scarf from Interweave Crochet seemed like a good place to start. The pattern is lacy and pretty, but doesn't look too complicated -- offset shells of single and double crochet. My first attempt used some lightly twisted laceweight that was difficult to work with. The yarn wanted to untwist itself as I worked with it. Not fun.

So for my next try, I grabbed some leftover Lanas Puras Melosa Laceweight that had used for my Star of Evening shawl. This worked much better. I think I even got the pattern mostly right!

It even looks somewhat like the picture! Please, I welcome any corrections, tips, or criticisms from my crocheting friends. I think I could go up a size in crochet hooks to make this a little lacier in this yarn.

Emboldened by my close-enough-to-call success, I pulled out some gorgeous alpaca laceweight purchased earlier this year at Maryland Sheep & Wool.

It's the yarn on the left, called "Morning Mist." It took me forever to wind up. I got out the crochet hook, chained 57 and got to work. And it looked terrible. It was not fun to work, either, hard to see where I was supposed to do my stitches, no good definition of the stitches, etc. So I packed it away :( The pattern calls for laceweight yarn, though, so I'm not sure if the problem here is the yarn, or me. (Alpaca probably wasn't the best choice -- fuzzy and without much definition.)

I really like the way the Lanas Puras looked in the pattern, but it's definitely more "rustic" than the original. I'll try to dig through the stash for some Knitpicks wool lace yarn and see how that works but Imayalsohaveorderedsomemorelanaspurasjustincase.

Again, any tips from the crocheters out there would be greatly appreciated.

Finally, the discussion topic of day. Query: Rod Blagodevich -- insane, or really fucking batshit insane. Discuss.


Scott T. said...

Not sure I understand what the new tricks are? the crochet?

ice ice baby

kippi said...

I learned to crochet when I was a kid. It is fiddly to work the first chain. Don't give up! One thing is crochet uses a lot more yarn that knitting. The hardest part (imho) is keeping the tension even.

Your sample piece looks beautiful! I like the more rustic look so I say go for it.

Blago is a nutjob. I love listening to Chicago radio streaming online. ( Chicago politics are always entertaining. Oh, and what is with his hair? seriously. His hair looks just like one of the Menendez kids. yikes.

Sharon said...

I agree--the sample piece looks just perfect. Remember, it will open up as you wear it too. And Kippi is right--no matter how many years I crochet, the first row is always a bitch, especially with lace weight fiber. I can't opine on the other two yarns you presented--not familiar with them. For me, the right yarn (if I'm not using what the pattern calls for) is always trial and error. As my husband points out, I start and then discard many more projects than I complete, but not for lack of interest. If it just isn't "feeling" right, mostly in terms of the yarn choice, then I no longer force it. Many, many times I buy a particular yarn for a specific project, but then end up not using it for that. Just doesn't work. I don't know if knitting is different that way, but because drape is harder to achieve in crocheting, the fiber (and tension and hook) is more critical, I think.

Actually, I'm loving Blagodevich. He is such a court jester. Unfortunately, he had/has a legitimate job, which scary, but he is such a buffoon that I can't even dislike him. He's just such a caricature. I almost feel like the good people of Illinois deserve him if they voted him into office. He doesn't strike me as someone who could have dissembled very well, even during a campaign.

Loren T said...

Thanks, Sharon. I'm still not entirely sure I have the pattern right, but it looks decent. I found some merino laceweight from Knitpicks and made a quick swatch out of that. Just to make my life even easier, the Knitpicks yarn is black, with a little bit of blue in it. It looks pretty good in this yarn, too. I'll wait until I get the new Melosa before I decide which to use. (I'm betting on the Melosa.) The slippery, extremely thin laceweights aren't working for me here.

The drape/tension/suitability issues are very common with knitting, too.

Blago is immensely entertaining, but the poor people of Illinois certainly deserve better.