Saturday, January 19, 2013

Green Chai Cardi - week 1

**Australia Day special: use the code OZ on our webshop or in store to get 10% off your total purchase**

Finding the Green Chai Cardi an interesting challenge! Sadly, I haven't finished as much as I expected, because I'm not game to work on it unless I'm able to concentrate completely - so no crocheting on public transport, while reading or between customers in the shop.  :(
Finished Yoke- Green Chai Cardi

The construction is interesting: I worked the broomstick lace pattern upwards from the foundation double crochet (US: single crochet) row, then worked the crocheted shell pattern downwards from the foundation dc/sc row. I'm now going to start working from the right front to the left front in the shell pattern, joining the whole garment together and leaving an armhole. It should look pretty amazing.

Things I've found interesting so far:
  • Working in US abbreviations. Luckily the shell pattern doesn't use many of the standard abbreviations and a chain is a chain wherever you are! However, there is a certain amount of muttering and translating aloud involved in making the shell pattern happen. I'm hoping it will get easier once I've done a few more rows of it and gotten it into my fingers.
  • 'Nested' instructions. For example, page 8 says "Work Row 2 of the shell pattern". I go back to page 3 and find the shell pattern, which says (something like) "ch1, sk 3 ch, sh, ch 1". So I go back to page 1 to find out what 'sh' stands for. 'Sh' is the shell, instructions are 'cl, ch (etc)'. So I read backwards up page 1 to find that 'cl' is the abbreviation for a particular stitch - thankfully, instructions for said stitch are next to the abbreviation in the glossary. Then I have to actually crochet the mothering thing, while translating the US abbreviations into English.
This is why 110% concentration is required! An apology may also be required when this arrives in Mum's mailbox around Easter 2014... Particularly if she finds out that I've knitted a Shawl Collar Cardigan for myself during all the bus/tram/train rides when I haven't dared to work on her present!

Shawl Collar Cardigan in Patons Jet

Monday, January 14, 2013

Broomstick Lace - the Green Chai Cardi

Green Chai Cardi (c) Interweave Publications
I've sometimes thought that it's a bit pointless for us to run classes in broomstick lace and tricot/Tunisian crochet when there are so few patterns for either technique. I mean, there's only so many scarves that you can wear/give away as gifts/sew onto street furniture as art - eventually you want to do something with your new skill other than produce a rectangle. Fortunately, over in the USA, they have the same problem, and the kind ladies at Interweave publications have come up with some very nice designs using both techniques. So I shouted myself a Christmas gift of half a dozen downloadable patterns from their website.

The first cab off the rank had to be the Green Chai Cardi. (The logic behind this decision? It's my Mum's birthday soon, and she looks like the model in the photo. Certainly more than she looks like me! So I figured it would look great on her and therefore would be an awesome birthday present).

For my first trick, I had to work out what would substitute for Madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK (yet another yarn that we can't get in Australia! Grrrrr....). I could have tried buying some over the internet, but with a February deadline and Christmas/New Year likely to delay shipping, I didn't want to take the chance. The obvious answer would be 'substitute any DK yarn from the shop' - however, I've tried crocheting US patterns with Aussie DK yarns before, with pretty ordinary results. I tried a broomstick lace swatch with some leftover Jo Sharp DK, just to prove my point, and came up with something significantly smaller than the gauge required.

Previous experiments with US patterns and Aussie wool suggested that an Aran yarn would probably give the right results. Sure enough, I dug out some scraps of Jo Sharp Aran Tweed, whipped up more swatches and it was right on target. It also comes in a colour that looks fairly similar to the Tosh Merino Thyme shade used in the photos (shade 139 Spring). Surprisingly, it worked with the hook and needle sizes specified in the pattern - usually, I need to go down one size to get the correct gauge for a crochet pattern.

Green Chai Cardi Yoke in Jo Sharp Aran Tweed (Spring)
That was the yarn and the hook sizes sorted. My next trick was to work out what size garment to make. Interweave patterns do measurements in inches and work to US sizes, which are larger than the sizes used in Australia. With an Australian pattern, for example, you can safely assume that the smallest size is a woman's size 8. A quick search through the internet left me pretty confident that the smallest size on this pattern was an Australian size 10, which is Mum's size.

I've done the back yoke and the left front yoke already (less than an hour for both pieces - broomstick lace is an incredibly fast technique). More importantly, I've also tried this on Mum just to confirm that I've selected the right size Luckily, I'd guessed right - Mum's a perfect US size 8 and the yoke went across her shoulders perfectly. Off to work the last yoke panel tonight - then onto the shell pattern tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sewing up....

Well, the purple cotton top is finished and I think it's a bit of a winner. 
Supreme Chunky Cotton Top (1)Supreme Chunky Cotton Top (2)

The pattern was easy to knit once I'd gone through it a couple of times and the yarn knitted up quickly and easily. I think there were maybe two knots in the entire batch of yarn, which isn't too bad, and generally the project was an enjoyable knitting experience.

Then it came time to make it up. The instructions said to top-sew the seams. That worried me, as top-sewing/top-stitching gives a very bulky seam (you are sewing into the row under the cast off or garment edge) and I didn't fancy any idea that might make me look like an aspiring gridiron player!

So I did one shoulder seam using mattress stitch and top-stitched the other.

Top-Stitch Seam  
Mattress Stitch Seam

I was surprised to find that the mattress stitch seam actually didn't look that great. It sat nice and flat, and wasn't bulky, but the the top-stitch seam actually fitted in better with the character of the garment. So I top-stitched the rest of the seams. The lesson for me to take away - even if a pattern cover photo is badly styled, the designer probably still knows more than I do! The top is now alternating between store display and mobile advertisement (i.e. I'm wearing it out). Sadly, I didn't get to wear it at Christmas, as I forgot to pack it, but I did get to spend Christmas finishing off my first ever effort at a yoked jumper (pattern from Men's Jet 20 Designs 1266). Happy combined Father's Day and Christmas Dad!