Saturday, January 21, 2012

Yarn Review - KnitPicks Stroll Sock Yarn offers a lot of very reasonably priced yarns. Among them is their sock yarn, known as Stroll. Their solid color, multicolor, and glimmer (silver sparkle spun into the fiber) yarns come in balls of 231 yards each, so you'll need at least 2 for a pair of socks. Their Tonal and Hand Painted versions of this yarn come in 462 yard hanks, so you'd only need one of those for one pair. The price range on this yarn is between $3.50 and $11.00. Compared to most other brands that cost somewhere within the $15.00 to $20.00, that is a very competitive price! They're 75% wool and 25% nylon, and they're machine washable!

The color selection for this particular yarn is very good, with the only really limited color selection coming from the multicolor and glimmer versions. There is something for nearly every color preference out there in this yarn! They also offer a version that you can dye yourself to any color you please.

Now, how does it measure up?

I'm notorious for being very hard on footwear. And when I knit socks, I knit them to wear them, not to hang around in my sock drawer and look pretty. So, I've knit up a few pairs of socks in this yarn and have put them through the same punishment anything that goes on my feet endures. The results actually kind of surprised me.

After a full 8-9 hour day at work they had little to no felting. They went through the wash just fine and didn't seem to lose much of their dye in the process of washing. Several more wearings and washings later, they're still not showing much for felting or general deterioration. The color is still bright, the fiber is still soft, and there has been only a slight amount of felting along the back of the heel where my heels rub on the backs of my shoes, as well as a little under the foot. Those very slightly felted areas feel a little stiffer than the rest of the sock, but it has not made the sock uncomfortable or in any way fit poorly.

If you haven't tried KnitPicks Stroll sock yarn, then I encourage you to give it a shot. With a wide selection of colors, you're sure to find something you like. Their sock yarn has received a rating of 4 out of 5 stars by members of Ravelry, but I personally give it a solid 5 out of 5.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Attempting to lay claim to what is already mine

I did take down my two crochet patterns some time ago. I have gotten a lot of requests to either return them to the site or to send digital copies upon request. By what seems to be popular demand, I restored one of the patterns and will restore the other one later.

What upset me through this process, however, is that people were making some comments that suggested I was misleading people. Not that these patterns cost money in any way, and I have never attempted to deceive anybody in any way on purpose. One comment that struck me, though I know the commenter had not meant true harm or ill will in what was said, is that, because my 8-pointed round ripple pattern was available in Ravelry's database, yet it brought people to a dead link, I was being misleading. I feel a need to clarify something.

I didn't create the entry of my pattern into Ravelry's database. I AM a member of the site (username is CatnipTrinket there), but I didn't submit my pattern to them. Someone else did. As a result, the best I could ever do was be a "volunteer editor" for the pattern. At first, that apparently didn't give me any freedom to make necessary changes if they needed to be made, such as the removal of the pattern from Ravelry, or anything else. It wasn't until recently, as a "volunteer editor" that I apparently have any control over what you see there. And I did, in fact, go in and make some changes as soon as I had the authority to do so.

The pattern is still not linked to my own account on the site, and I don't have full freedoms over it. I have sent a message to someone on the site's staff in hopes of taking full control of my pattern, so that if anything ever changes in the future, I can make sure it gets changed there. And, also, if I were to want to link up any other patterns of mine to their database, I could actually do that. I've yet to hear back.

So, if you were wondering why the pattern was still available on Ravelry, but I had deleted it here, that was why. I just had no control over it at all to now. I'm sorry that there was any confusion.

8-Pointed Round Ripple

Back by popular demand. I didn't realize people liked this pattern so much...

8-pointed Round Ripple Afghan

There isn't much that's different from one round ripple to another except for how the center is created. This pattern's center creates 8 points, which was something I had not seen anywhere at the time this pattern was created.

Materials needed:
Worsted weight 4-ply yarn in any brand (Red Heart Super Saver and Caron One Pound - also known as Perfect Match - were used for my example)
Size H 5.0 hook (or size you prefer for best results)


Ch5, slip stitch into beginning chain to form a ring

Row 1: Ch2, 12 hdc into ring, slip stitch to top of first ch2 to join

Row 3: Ch3, dc into same stitch, 2dc into next stitch and each stitch around, slip stitch to first ch3 to join a ring - 24 dc

Row 3: Ch5, skip next 2 dc, sc into next dc, ch5, skip next 2 dc, ch5 round to first ch5, slip stitch to first chain of ch5 to join - 8 ch5 spaces

Row 4: Slip stitch into first ch5 space, ch3, 2dc into space, ch2, 3dc into same space, (3dc, ch2, 3dc) into next ch5 space repeating around to first ch3, slip stitch to join - 8 (3dc, ch2, 3dc) points

Row 5: Slip stitch into next dc, ch3, dc next dc, (3dc, ch 2, 3dc) into first ch2 space, dc into next 2 dc, skip next 2 dc, dc into next 2 dc, (3dc, ch2, 3dc) into next ch2 space repeating around, slip stitch to top of first ch3 to join

Row 6: Slip stitch into next dc, ch3, dc into next 3 dc, (2 dc, ch2, 2dc) into next ch2 space, dc into next 3 dc, skip next 2 dc, dc into next 3 dc, (2dc, ch2, 2dc) into next ch2 space repeating around, slip stitch into top of first ch3

Continue on with the pattern in this way until it's as large as you want it. Make sure that once you've slip stitched to join the rows that you then slip stitch into the next stitch. As you go, be sure to alternate the number of double crochets in your "shells" (the "shells" are the series of stitches places into the chain 2 spaces on the points). The pattern begins with 3dc, ch2, 3dc, then switches to 2dc, ch2, 2dc, and then should switch back to 3dc, ch2, 3dc on the next row, and so on. This will ensure that you don't get any an uneven puckering effect in your blanket.

If you find that your work is not laying flat, I recommend going up a hook size or two. This will generally correct that issue.

This is a FREE pattern for your personal use ONLY. It is not to be sold in any way. Appropriate actions will be taken against anyone found to be selling this free pattern in any form.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More Yarn Dyeing

I've been keeping at my yarn dyeing for a couple months or so now. I have progressively gotten better and learned where I was making errors and how to stop it from happening again. Here are some of my favorite completed yarns:
The top one I called "Antique". The middle one is "Walking With Strangers". And the bottom one is "Truffle". The first two have been sold, and the bottom one - as of this writing - is for sale in my Etsy shop.

I feel my progress has been quite good, and am very satisfied with the finished products I've created. I think they're about as nice as anything you find that's been commercially produced. It's difficult to part with them sometimes, because I would love to work up some socks in these colorways. But they weren't made to stay with me. So I eventually will be saying goodbye to them all.

Still, I will likely dye some for myself at some point. One can never have enough sock yarn!

If you're interested in "Truffle" or want to see some of my other finished yarns, please drop in and take a look at my Etsy shop!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

My adventures in yarn dyeing

I've decided to pick up yet another yarn related hobby: yarn dyeing. I figure, it's cheaper and easier for me to get the yarn in the colors that I want if I just do the dyeing myself. Heck, maybe I can get good enough at this to make a little extra income on it, even!

Unlike when I started knitting and crocheting, my first attempts were not as... presentable. I started with 2 skeins of 100% wool fingering weight yarn I'd intended to use as socks. The very first one I dyed a sunny yellow. It was a pretty, happy yellow. I'm not normally a fan of that color, but this was pleasant. Sadly, the skein was so tangled up and felted that it was not usable. The second skein was a cobalt blue, which came out much better. Here it is drying a day or so after being dyed:

I was skeptical about it while it was drying. It looked like it was going to turn out too frizzy. But, after drying all the way, it smoothed out. Now here it is rolled into a hank:

Muuuch nicer looking, as you can see! Looks like the kinda stuff you might find at a festival booth, maybe. And, as it turns out, it's very soft! I'm currently knitting it into a pair of socks.

I had 3 skeins of 100% wool to begin with, but after it's used up, I don't think I'll be working with it anymore. I have some wool/nylon that seems softer and just a nicer quality than this was. So I may just continue to use that yarn instead if the results turn out favorable.

Friday, April 9, 2010

"Ratings Systems" and the Bullies That Abuse Them

This kind of does and kind of doesn't have anything to do with knitting or crocheting.

I know this isn't just me. I know this because I've heard complaints from others and have seen these things with my own eyes in action. I don't know if it has something to with how a person can be "anonymous" on the internet, and therefore can act like a complete jerk and get away with it. In other words, a bully.

As a member of Crochetville, I see it a lot more in the moderators than in the members of the community. They seem to have their heads up their butts about copyright when they have no idea what they're talking about. I even had one of them once tell me she lunched with her lawyers quite regularly just to talk about the website. WHY would you even waste money on something like that, if it were the truth? It's a website. Red Heart, Caron, or whatever yarn company isn't going to waste time and money putting people on the internet to go looking for websites that "violate their copyrights". They wouldn't bother putting up all the money and effort to sue some stupid little webpage for some minor little crap because it isn't worth it to them. And their approach to their members is, frankly, horrible. I never see them saying anything, anywhere, unless it's to scold somebody for something stupid. That's one of the reasons I don't bother with that place so much now.

I tried other crochet communities and even attempted once to make my own. But, as I've seen with a lot of older communities, people are not willing to leave for something better. Even when they're not happy with the current state of the community they're in. WHY this is, I will never know.

I'd joined with Ravelry at some point in 2007, if I remember right. And I'd basically let the account sit, poking at it once in a while. Then someone from Crochetville told me how much more polite and helpful people there were. So, I decided to go dig around and see what there was to be seen. And, really, when I first started to get involved, it WAS very friendly and nice. However, as the sad state of everything seems to be, it got worse and worse and worse.

On their forums, Ravelry has a system. On each post, you can click a button to say you find it educational, interesting, agree with it, disagree with it, or give love. WHY on earth would they institute such a system? Over and over and over and over again I've watched systems like this turn otherwise nice people into complete jackasses and the entire thing ends up crashing and burning at some point or another. There are, for whatever reason, people who will hit that disagree button just for the hell of doing it. They don't disagree, they just want to be a jerk. Or they've decided they don't like the poster, and so they hit the disagree button to "punish" that person. Therefore, the people who get bullied by such ones end up leaving because they feel their words mean nothing to no one and all that remains are those very bullies, who only end up fighting amongst each other. In the end, the community is ruined and no one wants to participate.

After so many years on the internet and seeing so much of this, I can't help but be jaded. It makes me feel so much less interested in participating. How unfortunate.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Crochet verses Knitting - My thoughts on the rivalry

This subject has been going around for ages. Heck, Debbie Stoller even talked about it in her Happy Hooker Stitch N Bitch book!

I'm a member of a large crochet community as well as knitting communities online. Truth be told, I've not seen knitters in those communities put crocheters down. To the contrary, I've seen crocheters putting knitters down. This is opposite of what I've always heard, in which it was presented that knitters can't stand crocheters and will put them down at any opportunity.

There is, of course, something on the knitters' side that I HAVE seen, which is what's referred to as "yarn snobbery". And, in a lot of ways, I have to agree with where that's coming from.

Those who know me know I began as a crocheter first. I learned to crochet in the summer of 2005. I had to teach myself, despite being involved in a local crochet club. The members of the club didn't seem to believe I would pick up on things as fast as I did. They didn't give me any credit, and therefore only had me doing chains when I was more than ready for single crochet. And then only single crochet when I was way past ready for double and triple crochet. I took a book, taught myself what I needed to know, and then showed up to one of the meets wearing a beret I'd crocheted in one night. They were floored.

But what does that have to do with being a yarn snob?

As a crocheter, I was encouraged to use a lot of cheap acrylic yarns rather than nicer wools or cottons. I think that this is because most crocheters use those kinds of yarn exclusively. They seem stuck on just making afghans or baby items, rather than using the skill to create beautiful clothing articles for adults. That's been an acceptable norm for decades, from what I can tell. And, honestly, it's what turned me away from crocheting...

For years and years I made afghan after afghan. I made a few shawls, too, but it was almost all about the blankets. In an effort to break away from the monotony, I tried crocheted dolls. However, I was trying to switch to that at a time in which "amigurumi" was becoming very popular. In ways, that was good. There were loads of patterns everywhere for crocheted toys. In another way, it was bad. I don't like being part of a fad. I wanted to make the toys as something unique and fun. When I made a few and was accused of stealing patterns because my designs looked like other people's creations, I was fed up.

That was when I turned to knitting.

I wanted to make something functional. I wanted clothing! At the time, crocheted clothing patterns seemed difficult to find. And in a lot of ways, I like the look of knitted clothing items more than crocheted clothing items. Namely, scarves. I like knit scarves. Not crocheted ones. And I was now living in a cold weather environment, so I needed nice warm sweaters. It was definitely time for a change, and knitting seemed the right way to go. I checked out some books from the local library, learned what I needed to make a ribbed scarf in about 4 hours, and I never looked back.

I knit 99% more than I crochet as of that day in October 2008. But that doesn't mean I gave crocheting up.

My honest view on it is that I think crocheting needs a "face lift". I think the focus needs to shift away from blankets and baby stuff to adult clothing and functional items. The craft may receive more respect if this were the case, as knitting is seen as a practical skill. From my experience, hardly anybody appreciates a handmade afghan as a present anymore, but they'd adore you if you made them a pair of wool knit socks.

Both skills have their place. That will always be the case. But, for me personally, I'd take knitting over crocheting. But not entirely.