Thursday, September 30, 2010

substitutions revisited

Have you ever had a friend ask you for a recipe and then tell you what was made wasn't as good as yours? So you ask....ok, how did YOU make it? The answer: well, I didn't have chicken, so I used turkey. I didn't have onions, so I used scallions. I don't care for mayo, so I used sour cream. Oh, and I like hard boiled egg, so I put that on top. you took my CHICKEN SALAD recipe...and made...turkey, scallion, sour cream and hard boiled egg salad. Well, no wonder that doesn't taste like my recipe cuz it is as different as night and day now. *grin*

Same holds true for substitutions in crocheting and knitting. There's a techie saying "garbage in garbage out" and that applies here as well. Why would anyone want to take the time to make something to have it turn out lacklustre, ill fitting, the wrong size, etc.? Not me...that is unless I'm experimenting and letting the craft take me where it will. However, if I'm putting in the hours and concentration for a hand crafted item that I want to turn out "perfect" or at least "correctly," I am aiming at its best result and "doing my homework" before I make substitutions that may not work.

Of course, you can take a fine thread doily pattern worked with a small hook and substitute sport weight cotton and a larger hook, knowing that the result is going to be LARGER. Instead of a doily you have, perhaps, a table topper. Good. Nice. Fine. You didn't however, use those larger supplies thinking you were going to get the same result as the pattern intended, right? Right! A little research is necessary before intention or necessity.

I had a student recently come to me with a rug pattern. (You know who you It was vintage. It was ancient. The company had gone out of business years ago, the yarn had not been manufactured in...forever...and PROPER substitutions had to be made for the item to work out .... correctly. My personal first inclination with rugs is to work them in cotton yarn. Of course, wool or acrylic can be used...that is YOUR decision, and is suggested in the pattern you choose to follow. Caron currently makes an acrylic "rug" yarn that it believes rivals acrylic rug yarns from by-gone years ago. I don't have personal experience with Caron's rug yarn (disclaimer) and am not pro or con as to it. The point is, that step 1 is to make that decision: what kind of fiber is appropriate and what is YOUR choice? Step 2 is choosing a similar yarn weight. Step 3 is....getting enough yarn to complete the item. Do your research. How many yards did the original pattern require? Step 4....use the correct hook or needle size. Step 5: Does gauge matter? If it is meant to FIT, it matters and you'll want to work a gauge swatch before beginning your piece.

Pulling all of the above information together will assist in finding the correct substitution for your item. With the proper supplies, luck isn't required...but I wish you luck anyway. :)

Happy crafting, Donna

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Knitted Keyhole Scarf - Lion Brand Free Pattern

Hello folks. Here is a link to a fabulous scarf...although I would go so far as to call it a "scarflette" which has become so popular in the past 2 years.

Below is a photo of the scarf without the pompons. Notice the pointy part at the bottom that slips through the keyhole.  Notice how its wrapped around something other than a neck~!   I had my lovely daughter model it for me, and I snapped a photo with her phone, but upon reviewing it she thought I could have snapped a better one. So, this will have to do for now...haha.

Also below is a link to the pattern.  Enjoy.

So what is a scarflette? It is wrapped around the neck like a traditional scarf, but fastened AT the neck by buttons, loops, slits or keyholes.  As such, it works up quicker than long scarf wrapped around the neck and thrown over the shoulder. Any search engine looking for images of scarflettes will bring you a lot of hits.

Returning to the pattern at hand, this is a freebie at called "Mandy's Delight Scarf" and it is quite the visual delight, isn't it? It begins at the slender end, increasing stitches every other row for a number of rows until 34 stitches have been achieved. Thereafter, it is worked even for 25 inches in garter stitch, then 4 inches in k2, p2 ribbing. The ribbed portion is folded over itself and the cast off end is sewn to the beginning of the ribbing. The tapered end is slipped through the ribbed tube that forms the other end. Simple as that. AND DONCHA LOVE THOSE POMPOMS~!?! Somehow on this scarf, the pompoms look sophisticated. I love the choice of colors used in the prototype. Note, tho, you don't have to add the pompoms and you could substitute a different embellishment, such as buttons or a large silk ribbon bow, etc.

So I was eager to dive in, using yarn I had on hand. Now, I'm not a big fan of Caron's Simply Soft, and I had a single skein in silverish grey for the longest time. CSS has a tendency to split and much like Puff's tissues for sore noses, I can feel the "soft" that was put into it, whatever it is. It also drapes, but this can sometimes cause the stitches to stretch. HOWEVER, for this pattern, it was a perfect substitution for the yarn referenced. Sorry Lion Brand Yarn; I love your products but I didn't have the required yarn on hand (I have put it on my "to buy" list.) Using CSS and the recommended needles size turned this into a successful project. Everyone I've shown it too (unless they are needlessly flattering me) has liked it. For a garter and ribbed item, the sophisticated finished product belies the simplicity of the pattern. I think it is gorgeous, and oh so simple to complete. My only disclaimer would be if you do substitute yarn like I did, be sure to use something soft....the old value added standby, Red Heart Super Saver, won't would be way too stiff.

I would go as far to state that, I think it is a perfect beginner proect when teaching someone how to knit. Any beginner would be awesomely proud to have completed this!

IMPORTANT:   The first stitch of every row is always slipped. Generally, I would have crossed the yarn from front to back in between the slipped stitch and the second stitch...but not so with this pattern. Leave the yarn in the front, slip the stitch, and knit the next one as if the lead yarn were positioned in the back to begin so doing, you're creating a very neat wrapped edge.

So there you have it.   Happy knitting.