Sunday, November 21, 2010

Crochet Designer, Jill Hanratty

Jill Hanratty is a friend and co-worker. Over the past week, Jill participated in a blog tour for her current booklet published by Annie's Attic "Plus Size Fashions" - crochet designs for us more lusciously proportioned females. Please visit the links below, enjoy the tour, and familiarize yourself with this very lovely lady and talented designer.

I wanna make THIS

Isn't it lovely? Young? Artsy?

For a look through the entire booklet, see here:

The collection of styles in this booklet are definitely geared to the 16 through mid twenties crowd. My daughter is 22. She has two (cloth) jumpers similar to this (one solid, one striped) and they look great on her. It is very versatile, with the ability to dress it up or down, and change the look by the colors worn underneath it, with tights, with jeans, etc.

This project has been a WIM of mine since I first saw the book. The pattern retails for just over $4.00 at your local craft chain, and can be purchased directly from Patons for a smidge cheaper as a pdf download. That's a deal considering how many projects are included in the booklet. With the needed yarn, perhaps this would cost about $40 to make. That's where I had to (temporarily) put on the brakes. Have I mentioned we're on a budget here in the Casa de Carlen?

Since the summer, money has been extremely tight. I'm trying to justifying this purchase since I have been: brown bagging lunch, not bought anything remotely "indulgent" in months, been making dinners largely out of the cupboard and freezer as much as possible, using my stash yarn for any and all recent projects............and... wouldn't this a) make a lovely Xmas gift for my daughter and b) keep me out of trouble? YES, I vote yes.

Print me an ACMoore coupon and come to mama~! I see a shopping trip in my very near future....and, I'll keep ya posted.

12/24/12 - edited to add:  I DID make this.  In a lovely caramel color, and will have to take a photo of my beautiful daughter wearing it and add it to this post!

Learning to knit - 2 sites (and an excellent cast on)

CASTING ON is the most important step in your project. I don't know why some people continue to teach the simple cast on, where the pointer finger is used. This cast on is sloppy, and its main problem (and if you've used it, you know) is the useless string that occurs between stitches as you knit--the more stitches you have, the longer, more annoying, and in the way this string becomes. The reason it is called "THE FINGER" cast on isn't lost on me. Ha. The finger cast on is particularly awful if you are working in the round on circulars or dpns. Ok...point made.

TADA - LONG TAIL CAST ON to the rescue. I tell my students that the long tail cast on - sometimes referred to as the sling shot cast on - might be the most difficult thing they ever learn in knitting. It isn't that its difficult per se, it is just a little bit awkward at first.
This link will take you directly to the pdf download:

however, if you want to roam around the site a little, try this instead:

........and you may want to treat yourself to a little something from the shop. Marge, the proprietor, is a very nice lady. I asked her for permission to use her tutorial in teaching the long tail cast on (her's is the BEST tutorial out there) and she said yes, certainly. Of course, I give her credit for the tutorial, as I should.

While there are many cast on methods, and some patterns will specify a specialty cast on.....long tail never seems to fail.

So, starting at the beginning, now that the cast on is out of the way, Lion Brand (once again) provides an excellent tutorial on its website, here it is:

When you get to the tutorial page, to the bottom left hand is a link to download in pdf all of the instructions, without having to load/watch page by page.

As with its crochet instructions, Lion Brand, when asked, gave me permission to use its tutorial for my knitting students, so long as its copyright is in place. While the cast on directions are to knit the stitches onto the needles, I still prefer the long tail - overall, Lion Brand's directions are quite good!

How to crochet - 2 sites providing good tutorials/directions

Lion Brand yarn's website provides a comprehensive and complete tutorial and here is the link to cut/paste into your browser:

Once on the page, towards the bottom center where it reads "Learn to Crochet: Before you Start" there is a link below to the left where one can download ALL of the directions (rather than view online page after page). This is what I suggest.

I contacted Lion Brand asking permission to reprint and utilize its instructions for teaching, and the response was "ABSOLUTELY, yes" - so long as I left the Lion Brand copyright on the papers -- which is what I do. Another good thing about its site is the variety of patterns for all categories and experience levels - AND - Lion Brand doesn't mind if you plan to sell what you make using their patterns. Over all, good website with lots of useful stuff.

Another good learning site is: This takes you to the instructions base, which are pdf downloads. There, one can even find instructions for left handed crocheters.

Happy learning to you all.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"invisible" knit increase

Well, this being my first blog, I didn't know how hard it would be to get back more often. I feel remiss in my endeavors to bring information to my students that is all in one place. What isn't a surprise, is all of the good and useful information already out there on the net. Two such sites are posted below.

Knit patterns often state which increase to use; and there are several. However, when using a pattern in which the method isn't stated, I have read that most will use make 1 (m1). It isn't because this gives the best result, however, but because the knitter hasn't been exposed to more appropriate methods for the desired result with a particular pattern. That is, when you're new, you tend not to get extensive information that comes with more exposure to different, more varied and/or difficult patterns that necessarily add to your "bag of knitting tricks." Frankly, the pattern writer is equally at fault by assuming the "correct" method for the job will just be known to the knitter. The second choice is knit front/back in the same stitch. I like this, but it leaves such evidence of its usage.

Since increases lean left or right, patterns should be written with the preferred method for each increase and often pair left lean and right lean for a better visual effect. The wrong increase can make your work look sloppy, not like "the picture on with pattern" and can leave you disappointed without even knowing why. Snore, yawn, I'm boring you, right? Okay. For a good list generally, see: and choose accordingly.

NOW LETS GET TO THAT "INVISIBLE" INCREASE. I was recently attempting to make a project that was all about the increase...and the increases I made were so blatant and obvious that I was disappointed. Wanting the increases to be as invisible as possible, searching the net, I found this  tutorial:

I must admit, it is a perfectly benign smooth increase. It doesn't seem to lean either left or right, and in usage it looks, to me, like a fork in the road, as if the stitches magically multiplied with little tell-tale sign at all. I've knitted for years now and never saw this increase anywhere.  While other increase methods are equally purposeful, this is great when you want it to be as inconspicuous as possible. I don't think I'd use it for raglan shaping--there I like a little "seam" and demarcation to show what happened at the shoulders.