Tuesday, October 28, 2014

STORY: Around the World in 80 Skeins (Montenegro)

Kotor, Montenegro

Join us at "Around the World in 80 Skeins", a worldwide blog tour with Kimberly Golynskiy (aka 80skeins)!

She interviews designers from all over the globe and talks about how culture and environment inspires design. There have already been designers from Kuwait, Thailand, Indonesia, South Africa, Malaysia, Mexico, Sri Lanka.

Come and meet Lena talking about Montenegro and Ukraine.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

PATTERN RELEASE: Pond Ripples Collection

by Lena Fedotova (ravliki)

Yesterday I released the final design of my Pond Ripple Collection, Cookies cardigan. The simple beauty of the pattern of circles (which are, in fact, hexagonal motifs) and the illusion of needlepoint embroidery, (which I am so fond of) got me hooked for more than a whole year and made me finish 5 projects based on the same motif.

The first design, Pond Ripples, is a sweater, which can also be a sleeveless top if you prefer it that way. This was the first time I had added a pentagonal motif to the construction of the shoulders, which made this sweater fit like a second skin. This pattern also suggests a few possible modifications with extra layouts for a sleeveless version, a bolero and several neckline options.

Pond Ripples

The second design was Cookies, but I took some time to release it and instead, having itchy hands, started another ripple project, Ink Ripples wrap. This pattern includes four layout diagrams for a scarf, a stole, a shawlette and a shawl.

Ink Ripples

And, finally, Cookies is now live! This cozy cardigan is based on the classic raglan construction, while strategically placed pentagonal motifs are used to create smooth, flowing lines on the fronts, to achieve a straight neckline, and to taper the bottom of the sleeves while still maintaining the continuity of the circular pattern.

All three designs are combined into an ebook or can be purchased individually. Happy crocheting!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

HOW TO: Tips on Crochet Slip-Stitching

by Yuliya Tkacheva (MsWeaver)

Slip-stitching is one of my most favourite techniques, which I have used in a number of designs. Testing these patterns in our Ravelry group, I have realised that there are a number of recurring issues, which crocheters seem to encounter when they start out with this technique. I thought that grouping them in one blog post could be a helpful resource for those trying my patterns featuring this technique for the first time. So here we go!

Issue No1: Tightening of Fabric

This seems to be the most common concern with this technique. I believe the key here is to think of a slip stitch as a valid crochet stitch, just like a single crochet, or a double crochet or any other crochet stitch, rather than something you use when tightly joining crochet rounds. So if your fabric does not shrink horizontally when you work a row of single crochet or double crochet, there is no reason why it should with slip stitches. There should be a nice even row of ”V’s” on top, just like there is in a row of single crochet or double crochet, except that the row will be shorter in height, since slip stitches effectively have no “legs”.

To think of it, I have created my La Mar stitch pattern based on the difference in height of various crochet stitches, with slip stitch being the shortest. The longer legs of taller stitches create a beautiful wave in the fabric and each two rows of ”V’s” stacked on top of each other form those textured knit-like “ribs” or “ridges”:

So, when you work the base chain and then the first row of slip stitches on top, if it seems tighter than your base chain, you might be working too tightly. Try again, but this time work your slip stitches as if you were still chaining. It is, in fact, the same row of chains, except that you are joining it to something below. So don’t think about the extra loop on the hook and pretend you are chaining. If your base chains are loose and uniform, there is no reason why your first row of slip stitches should not be.

Issue No2: Not Working Efficiently

I also noticed in a few videos available online that some crocheters tend to stop after they pull through the loop of the row below. So they insert the hook in the stitch, yarn over and pull through the stitch, stop and only then they pull the same loop though the loop on the hook. This looks a lot less efficient and might cause the extra tightening. It is much quicker when you pull through both the stitch below and the loop on the hook in one single motion, just as you would when closing any other stitch. 

Some people compare slip stitching to “crocheting air”. I think what they mean is that it is exactly the same scooping motion you make when crocheting
 the last “YO, pull though two” of any stitch and get that nice and neat “V” on top.

Issue No3: Not Working in Correct Loop 

Depending on which loop you work into and which way you insert your hook when slip-stitching, you can get different-looking results with this technique. In my patterns I have only used one single way of slip-stitching so far: working in the back loop. 

Since there are no legs to separate the top “V”, it might not be immediately clear which one is the back loop. When you work flat (back and forth rows, turning at the end of each row), the simple solution is to mark a few front loops while working the last stitches of the previous row, which, once you turn your work, will become the back loops.

Issue No4: Missing Stitches

Marking the first stitch in a flat row is also a good idea because it is so easy to miss it when you get to it in the next row and when it becomes your last stitch. If you continuously miss it for a few rows you will notice a gradual shrinking in width of your piece as it will become narrower and narrower. So make sure to keep a regular stitch count until you know exactly where that last loop is hiding and you don't miss any stitches.

Issue No5: Messy Edges

While some people do not make raising chains when working rows of slip stitches, I personally do and I also suggest doing that in my patterns. These raising chains, if worked loosely, can look a bit messy on the edges of the fabric. The obvious solution here is to simply tighten them up before working the first stitch of the next row. Also, always turn your piece in the same direction when going from one row to another for an even uniform edge.

Should you prefer not to make raising chains, make sure to mark the first stitch as per the tip above not to miss it.

What Resultant Fabric Should Look and Feel Like

The resultant fabric should not be tight, but plush and squishy. I have been slip-stitching for a while, so I can achieve nice, loose and uniform loops with a fairly small hook. If the hook I listed in my pattern doesn't give you this lush look and feel, go up a hook size or two. We all have different personal techniques, which is why you don’t always get the designer gauge with the same hook size even if you are using the exact same yarn. 

When worked flat in back loops, the fabric should also have plenty of stretch. And this is exactly what I took advantage of when creating my most recent La Mar Cowl:

It is based on the same La Mar stitch pattern featured above, which fuses regular crochet with rows of slip stitches to create a beautiful texture. I have previously used this stitch pattern in my La Mar Hat and have now bundled the two patterns into an ebook, for those who might be interested in both. Although the two patterns are very similar, unlike the hat pattern, which calls for sport- to DK-weight yarn, the cowl pattern suggests using DK- to worsted-weight yarn, so the suggested gauge is different.

If you are only interested in the cowl pattern, there is still an active introductory discount on the individual La Mar Cowl pattern, which is going to be valid until 14 October, 2014.

Happy slip-stitching!


Cup of Stitches Group on Ravelry
La Mar Cowl
La Mar Hat
La Mar Collection

Friday, October 10, 2014

PATTERN RELEASE: Ink Ripples and Color Questions

by Lena Fedotova (ravliki)

There is one thing that always makes me rack my brain as soon as I put my designer hat on. The color! I always ask myself plenty of questions regarding the color, like:
  • How fresh is this color?
  • Is it trendy or not?
  • Is there too much of this color, perhaps?
For example, many people love shades of blue (me including), so sometimes I feel that I want to avoid it in my designs, simply because there are too many blue designs out there. I love finding fresh colors or unexpected color combos, and enjoy seeing projects in dirty muted colors, which still look wonderfully fresh.

I also always worry about how good the color is going to look in the photos. And whether or not there will be clothes in matching colors in my wardrobe for the final modeled photo-shoot. 

Finally, the most important question I ask myself is whether the color will fit the design and its future name. Sometimes the color tells its own powerful story and this is when I decide to change the design name. This is exactly what happened when I was designing my Ink Ripples.

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