Monday, 19 October 2015

Yarn Rave: Rowan Alpaca Colour

A while ago now, I was in a town I don't often go to for a bra fitting. (Slight tangent: If you wear a bra and haven't had a fitting, I can't recommend it enough. Life. Changing.) Parking in this area is a nightmare - I wonder why I hardly ever go there? - so I left plenty of time and arrived early. Wandering around the shops, I found a homewares shop that looked interesting and went in. What did I spy out of the corner of my eye but a very decently sized yarn section! Over I ran to investigate, and soon I spotted a few things I'd never seen before that I decided to bring home and find something to do with.

One of these yarns was Rowan Alpaca Colour. I normally don't go for alpaca because of the smell when it's wet, but I was running my hand over skeins and this one was the softest thing I've ever touched. I can't adequately describe how luxurious this yarn feels. And the colours! They're really lovely, lots of jewel tones and a beautiful grey. All my favourites. I had such a hard time deciding which colour to get - in the end I went for Agate, a beautiful blue colour, simply because they only had 4 skeins of it left and that seemed like enough to do something with without breaking the bank.

I'm having a really hard time deciding what to do with it now. It's so soft, I think I should do something for my hands so I can feel it. I've got a short list of patterns that might work and I keep checking Ravelry for new ones - hopefully I'll make a decision with time to make them before the really cold weather gets here. I'd better get a move on, it's getting rainy!

Thursday, 8 October 2015

FO: Anna's Round Cushion

Find this project on Ravelry: Anna's Round Cushion

I love this cushion so much. It's not because I made it for my daughter and she carries it around with her. It's not because the button in the middle is so cute. It's not because the back has all the colours of her room that didn't get used on the front.

No. I love this cushion because of maths.

Stick with me; it'll make sense soon, I promise!

Maths is the glorious thing that allows a circular pattern to increase and get bigger and still be circular. There's a neatness to it, and a formula; you can work out what the next round should be based on the previous rounds. It's so neat and elegant.

This project in particular works beautifully well because it's an amalgamation of two patterns, both worked in the round with the same maths behind them, and a little extra from me to bring it all together.

The first pattern in this project is The NeverEnding Wildflower from Little Monkeys Crochet. Its mathematical beauty became apparent after the first couple of rounds and made me so happy as I worked on it. I won't go into detail here because it's not my pattern, but it is fantastic and it is free, so do go have a look.

The other is a Granny Mandala from Crochet with Raymond. Originally I'd intended to put a huge wildflower on one side and the granny work on the back, but when I started making the granny side, I realised that the stitch count was going to work beautifully with the wildflower.  I couldn't resist adding some granny as a "border" to the wildflower too, just because the maths lined up so neatly.

Here's what I did. I started off my making the wildflower, for 6 rounds - 1 in green, the next 5 in raspberry. Then I paused and made the granny back because the granny was easier to do while chatting at my knitting group.

Here's what the back of the wildflower looks like after the first 6 rounds.

Since I just did a row of petals into the base for round 6 in the front loops only, the back loops are exposed there waiting for the base of round 7.

But I didn't do that.

Instead, I did round 7 of the granny mandala pattern, putting one cluster into every third stitch. This works out perfectly - there's exactly the right number of stitches. It's just as if you'd done round 7 into round 6 of the granny.

With me?

After that, it's easy - I just did rounds 8-12 of the granny exactly as I'd done on the back, as per the pattern.

Once both sides were done, they looked like this:

Ooh. Getting close!

The cushion pad I had on hand had a bit of depth to it - instead of being two circles joined and stuffed, it looked like a slice of a cylinder. So I needed to over this area neatly. I also needed to add a zip.

This is an excellent time to mention that despite being British, I learnt to crochet with US instructions, so I use US terms. So to me, granny is clusters of 3dc, not 3tr.

I eyeballed the cushion and decided it was about as deep as 2 rows of double crochet. Perfect! I went around each side doing 1 row of double crochet, 1 stitch in the back loops only of each stitch in round 12. There's no technical need to go in BLO, but I like the way it gives you a little "border".

Next up: the zip. I used a 36cm zip from Hobbycraft, which goes about 1/3 of the way around the circumference of the cushion and leaves plenty of room to get the cushion in. I pinned this into place on both sides, then put a stitch marker through the stitches at the base of the zip, so I'd know where to start sewing.

Next I kept a close eye on those pins as I turned it inside out. I hand-sewed the two sides together (with a length of the cream yarn that was about 3 times the circumference of the cushion) going through the front and back loops of the last round of stitches with a quick whip stitch. When I came to the zip part, I did a running stitch up and down each side.

I prefer to work with the zip closed and then poke my fingers through to unzip it after. I find it gives me a much more even zip. That's not always possible, if your stitch pattern is very dense. Another tip: I'd avoid using the T-pins next time. The heads caught on one of the petals of my wildflower and split the yarn a little. I've massaged it back into place, but it could've done more damage if I didn't notice it quickly.

Finally, I worked in the last few ends, took out all the pins and stitch markers, and turned it right side out to put the cushion pad in.


Two beautiful patterns happily playing together thanks to maths. I can't wait to do something like this again!