Saturday, June 18, 2011

More Yarn Alternatives

Add this to the list of 'green' yarn alternatives. Not satisfied with recycling plastic bags into plarn, T-shirts into T-shirt yarn, or even using up those old VCR and cassette tapes? The die-hard recycler can spin their own yarn from newspaper.

See the article, with a how-to, from Green Upgrader.

Not as strong as regular yarn,  it can apparently be a bit tricky to spin as well...too much twist will break the yarn, and not enough will leave the yarn too fragile to use.

Newspaper yarn is available from a couple of sources on Etsy.

As with many 'green' materials, the buzz is easy to find, reviews of the material itself harder to track down. Even three years after the first articles appeared, there are almost no references to anyone actually trying the stuff out.  But the few reviews I was able to locate (here is one, from Flickr) were fairly positive - the ink doesn't come off on your hands, the yarn is fairly sturdy, and the finished product reasonably durable, if not especially soft or cuddlesome.

Just don't wear your hot-off-the-press clothing out in the rain.

Friday, June 17, 2011


by Kelly

My first cable scarf. Cables are actually very easy and fun. I need to trim that fringe a bit, though. It reminds me of overlong bangs.

Crochet Reef

by Kelly

I've said before that combining science and crafting is a sure way to get my interest. So when I saw this post on CraftGossip, I had to take a look.

The post is about a crocheted coral reef. Begun in 2005 in a Los Angeles living room, it quickly took on a life of its own. Satellite reefs also sprang up in cities all over the world, helping fund reef conservation efforts by drawing people in to special museum events. The reefs don't seem to have permanent locations, but instead roam about on a perpetual world tour, kind of like the Rolling Stones.

Check out the Crochet Coral Reef site here for lots of pretty pictures and a ton of information.

                               How to make your own corals 

There aren't really patterns for the crochet corals - just a few off-the-cuff rules. The website says, "The basic insight is to understand that these forms result from the simple process of increasing the number of stitches in every row. The more often you increase stitches, the faster the model will grow and the more crenellated the finished form will become."

There is a PDF on how to crochet corals here, or check out this link to Lion Brand Yarn. You have to be registered with the Lion Brand Site to view it. Or, if you're like me and prefer to learn from actually seeing something done, check out one of the many crochet corals videos on YouTube.

                               Warning : Science Ahead

So where does the science come into all this? Well, the reef  'pattern' is based on a technique called 'hyperbolic crochet', invented by a mathematician in 1997. Dr. Daina Taimina. was trying to develop a better teaching model for hyperbolic space. (Hyperbolic space is negatively curved - a place where parallel lines either spring madly away from each other or intersect. If you just said, "Huh?", then imagine some poor student trying to do geometry with rules like that, and you see why they needed a model.) For 125 years, scientists haven't been able to create a good model. Undaunted, she picked up her crochet hook and yarn, and history was made.

 Finding out that a mathematician with 'Doctor' before her name crochets is a little like finding out that Richard Feynman played the bongos, or that Einstein had a troublesome ex-wife. It's startling because scientists don't seem like your average Joe, but neither are they celebrities, with gossip columns devoted to their hobbies. The only press they ever get is when they publish in some obscure scientific journal - or do something impossible, like splitting the atom or making really, really difficult chicken wings.

But all that aside, I love the fact that a woman with a crochet hook solved a problem that has been baffling her fellow mathematicians for more than a hundred years. And, hey, her technique makes one funky scarf, too!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fun Knits for Charity

by Kelly

Last year I was going to contribute to a handmade blanket drive, only to discover that they only accepted donations until September. So I thought I'd post a few charities now, while there is still plenty of time to make and mail projects.

The Big Knit asks that you knit tiny woolly hats, which will be placed on smoothie bottles in UK stores. For each hat knitted, money will be donated to help older people keep warm. Check out ageUK for details. PDF patterns are available on the innocent drinks blog, in the right sidebar.
Donation dates to be announced - in 2010 the deadline was October 29th.

Closer to home, Bernat is joining with Project Linus to provide new, handmade blankets to Canadian and American children who are in need. Check out the BernatCares site here.
 Accepting donations until August 1st, or send your project directly to Project LInus.

The Red Scarf Project provides encouragement to orphans who have aged out of the foster care system. On Valentine's Day the charity sends handmade red scarves to FCS students who are attending college or trade schools. Find patterns and the mailing address here
Accepting donations September 1st through December 15th

And finally, here's something that can be done year round - Chemo caps. When my mom lost her hair to radiation and chemo, she tried scarves, scarves with hats, and hats of all varieties, but she just wasn't happy with any of them. Mostly, she said that everything was just too hot.

At the time, I couldn't knit or crochet, and now, thankfully, she has recovered and no longer needs one. But there are lots of charities who are distributing chemo caps, so I thing I'm going to try my hand at this one. Something in a nice cool DK cotton, I think. There are lots of patterns here and a link to the main site (called HeadHuggers) here. They have branches in many states and countries. The Chicago branch is called Windy City HeadHuggers.

I'm especially fond of this pattern, for some reason - it looks like something out of the 1920's

I don't know if I would have made this for my mom, though - she always kind of laughed at my taste in hats.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Patriotic Series is Complete

Finally I have completed the placemats, coasters, and napkin rings in my patriotic series. I needed more yarn than the pattern called for. I had to make changes to the pattern itself to come up with the right size but I finished it. Does other people have these issues? They are quite nice looking so I guess they are worth the extra fuss.

Now I have to take a break from crocheting and repair a quilt for my son. But I already have a dozen more projects lined up and waiting for me. What should I make next? A tote bag, a tissue box cover, an afghan, dishcloths, towels, Christmas ornaments, a doily. Decisions, decisions.

The German and The French

by Kelly

Antique knitting instructions - and some diversity training.

TO MAKE A STITCH. Bring the thread in front, as if for a purled stitch, so that when you knit one the thread will pass over the needle, and will make a hole in the following row. This diagram shows the manner of making three stitches, and any other number could be made, by putting the thread round a proportionate number of times. In the engraving it will be seen that the thread is put twice entirely round the needle; and then brought forward, so that the next knitted stitch will take it over a third time. In doing the next row, knit one, purl one, knit one of these stitches; however many are made, they must be alternately knitted and purled in the next row. When the stitch allowing the made stitches is to be purled, the thread must be entirely passed round the needle, once for every stitch to be made, and brought forward also.

And the French

TO FORM A ROUND:—This diagram represents the French manner of performing this process by casting the whole number of stitches on one needle, and then distributing them on three, or perhaps four. But the English mode is to divide the number of stitches, and cast so many on each needle, not withdrawing the last stitch of each needle from the point of the next needle. When all are cast on, the round is made by knitting the two first stitches on to the last needle. Four needles are employed for stockings, five for doyleys and other round articles.

I have very little to add to this except

1.  No, that is not my misspelling of 'doiley'. I just cut and paste here, people.

2.  I'm not quite sure what the 'German manner' is supposed to accomplish - other than bringing you to your knees in weeping despair. 

3.  Personally, I think things are much safer now, when we only have 'English' and 'Continental' forms of knitting. The last thing you want to do is upset someone holding two long needles in their hands by implying that their country's knitting practices are flawed. Comments like 'You knit like a Belgian' or 'I see you cast on in the French manner. Pah! The French know nothing!' are definitely less common now.

The above was found on KnitHeaven. They have crochet instructions also, if you're interested.

A sampling of the crochet pages:

A Crochet Needle
A Crochet-Needle

One word on the implement termed a crochet-hook. It should not be sharp or pointed, either in the point or barb, but smooth, and quite free from any angularity that can catch the silk. Cheap and common crochet-hooks are in the end the dearest, as they break cotton, ravel silk, wear out the patience, and prick the finger. They should be of the best steel, highly polished, and firmly fixed in ivory handles. Those we use have been made at our recommendation, and have the size engraved on every handle. This saves the tiresome and uncertain reference to a gauge. These hooks are termed "tapered, indented" crochet-hooks

Well! Now I know where the word 'crotchety' comes from.
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