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Las Cruces Shawl Vest

Each month through my weekly newsletter I share special stitches and techniques that go with the monthly pattern release, then I collect them all here in case someone missed something.

If you would like to received the weekly email and see the techniques as they come out sign up for my newsletter on the “Links” page.

Seed Stitch or Moss Stitch?

Truthfully, I’m still not sure. I have looked at the stitch patterns, dug around on line and looked at some history and still don’t see the difference. Double moss stitch is very different from Seed stitch but I don’t think double seed stitch is a thing.
I decided for the Las Cruces Shawl that the “actual” stitch name wasn’t important. I chose the stitch to resemble sand.
When I Googled “moss or seed stitch” and chose images, it was a bit better, sort of. What is shown as moss I have often heard refereed to as double moss. So I Googled that and got images of what the last page showed as moss and the other images that show moss squares that are 2 stitches wide and 2 rows tall.
This brings me to the conclusion that the stitch in Las Cruces is seed stitch. The stitch pattern in the North Side Sweater is moss and double moss will be for another day.

Alternating Cable Cast On

Counting Seed Stitch Rows and Rounds

Carrying Yarn Up the Side

Blocking Tutorial

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Scarecrow’s Head

Head

Rnd 1: Make a double magic ring, ch 1, 6 sc in ring. Do NOT join, close the ring. 6 sc

Rnd 2: 2 sc in each sc around. 12 sc

Rnd 3: [2 sc in the next st, sc in the next sc] around. 18 sc

Rnd 4: [2 sc in the next st, sc in the next 2 sc] around. 24 sc

Rnd 5: [2 sc in the next st, sc in the next 3 sc] around. 30 sc

Neck

Row 1: 4 dc in the next 4 sc, sl st in the same sc as the last dc. 16 dc

Row 2: Turn, ch 1, sc in each dc across. Finish off leaving a long tail for sewing the neck.

Sew neck following video above.

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Seasons of Country Sophistication – Fall

Each month through my weekly newsletter I share special stitches and techniques that go with the monthly pattern release, then I collect them all here in case someone missed something.

If you would like to received the weekly email and see the techniques as they come out sign up for my newsletter on the “Links” page.

Bead Placement

In this shawl, the owl is made up of cables and beads are used for the eyes.
I placed each bead individually with a crochet hook.
I recently learned about the difference in a design that stringing on beads makes. I do not suggest stringing beads on for the owl. First of all because that is a long way to push the beads along. Secondly, they won’t sit where they need to, to make the eyes of the owls.
Choose the smallest hook that you can stand to work with and will go through the hole in your beads. I like to work with very tiny hooks, even with the 6/0 beads, because then  more of them on the hook at a time.
Please do be careful working with these tiny crochet hooks. I was impaled by one once and it isn’t fun.
When it is time to place a bead, knit the stitch that the bead goes on and then place the bead over the new stitch and place it on the needle.
Placing the bead and knitting the stitch presents 2 problems, first it actually places the bead on the row or round below where the designer has placed it.
Secondly, it might pull that stitch too tightly. If you place the bead on a stitch and then knit it, you will find it is tighter to work into and may even distort your work. That is because that stitch was made on row or round and the yarn that is in that stitch is all it has to pull from.
Placing bead after knitting the stitch, means that stitch can get more yarn if it needs to without pulling on the stitches next to it.
Try the swatch below to see the difference.

Cast on 15 using and desired cast on.
K 2 rows.
Work Rows 3-15 of the swatch using the Legend to identify stitches.
The yellow boxes are stitches that are knit on both the front and the back.
For Rows 3 and 5, place the bead and then knit the stitch.
For Rows 11 and 13, knit the stitch and then place the bead.
After Row 15, work one more knit row.
Bind off. Weave in ends and block.
Examine your work and share with me what you’ve learned.

7/3 stitch

Owl Cables

Crochet Edging

Bead Placement

Blocking Tutorial – PDF

This pattern is available in both my Ravelry and Payhip stores.

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Natural Dyeing with Cochineal

25 different colors from cochineal.

The first step to natural dyeing is adding mordant, if you’re going to do it.

For this project I chose to mordant 20 of the hanks.

There are 5 hanks of each mordant; no mordant, alum, copper, iron and tin.

Most mordants you can’t see but some you can, like copper, a light green and iron, a rusty brown.

After the mordant is added, all the hanks go into a pot with the crushed cochineal. The mixture is then heated to about 180F for 30 minutes.

I then rinsed the hanks and hung them to dry.

I now have 5 different colors of yarn.

I take a hank from each of the 5 piles and make 5 new piles. One pile is set aside because they are finished. The remaining 4 piles get put into 4 different modifiers. A chemical to change the color after dyeing.

Each chemical is mixed with water and the yarn is placed in the mixture. Modifiers don’t take much time and I don’t heat them up. I used iron, ammonia, vinegar and copper.

These hanks are then rinsed and hung to dry. This whole process took me about a week.

Whole cochineal bugs.
Partially crushed cochineal bugs.
Crushed cochineal, ready to add color.
No mordant or modifier on either hank. The mini is 100% wool. The larger hank is 100% super wash wool. The scales being stripped off in the super wash process make this yarn ready to more dye. This hank was put in the dye bath after I had dyed the other 25 hanks.
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Grankerchief Head Scarf and Cowl

Choosing your yarn

The piece shown above was made from some DK mini skeins that I had. I’ve also made it from DK cotton and size 10 crochet cotton thread.
This piece can be made to fit any size head, using any weight of yarn or thread. I will be sharing a video next week on how to measure the head for the full triangle or string option.
The one shown above is the full triangle option. It closes with a button and a flower.
The string option is nice for those with thinner or shorter hair because it is less bulky. It will still make a nice cowl though.
You will need to choose a hook that is appropriate for the weight of yarn or thread that you are using. While gauge doesn’t matter for this piece, you don’t want it too tight, it won’t lay on the head or make a comfortable cowl, but you also don’t want it to be too open either, it won’t hold the button and flower and might not look as nice as something a bit tighter.
This project is good for scraps and little bits, if you are game to deal with the ends properly.
I can’t wait to see some made in fingering weight and even chunky yarn.

Buy On Ravelry Buy On Payhip

How to measure for Grankerchief

Magic Ring Beginning

Working in Ends of Rows

Elongated (extended) Single Crochet

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Seasons of Country Sophistication – Summer

Each month through my weekly newsletter I share special stitches and techniques that go with the monthly pattern release, then I collect them all here in case someone missed something.

If you would like to received the weekly email and see the techniques as they come out sign up for my newsletter on the “Links” page.

Color Choices for Lace

The busier the pattern the tamer the yarn needs to be.
When choosing a color of yarn for your lace pieces there are a few things to keep in mind.
Chose a yarn that will let the pattern shine through and be seen.  If the yarn is too fuzzy, has a lot of quick color changes or is too thick, the lace design in the pattern will be lost.
Another variable is how dark the color is and the type of texture that might be part of the design as well as lace.
Cables and nupps or bobble stitches for example are “eaten” by darker colors.  If your lace or other piece has any of these elements you will want to chose a lighter color of yarn.
Smooth, 2 ply, wool yarns are best for lace.  I have used 3 and 4 ply yarns and they work also as long as the yarn hasn’t become too think.  Now technically there is no such thing as yarn too think for lace as long as you can match a large enough needle to get a fabric that is lacy.
The yarn needs to be smooth because yarns that have halo or are fuzzy are going obscure the lace pattern. They are also difficult to rip or tink when you make a mistake.
I choose wool because it is the easiest to block and lace needs to be blocked to look its best. Synthetics have to be “killed” and the finished pieces just don’t look as good. Wool also has a bit of grip and the stitches won’t run free very quickly if dropped.
Of course you can choose any yarn you want. You want to work with what makes you happy. To stay happy in your knitting I suggest swatching with the yarn and the needle you want to use. Then you can know before putting in a ton of work that you will love the finished piece.

Pi Shawl

Modular Knitting

Garter Joining Photo Tutorial

Buy this pattern in either my Ravelry or Payhip store.

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Twisted Granny

Each month through my weekly newsletter I share special stitches and techniques that go with the monthly pattern release, then I collect them all here in case someone missed something.

If you would like to received the weekly email and see the techniques as they come out sign up for my newsletter on the “Links” page.

Color Changing Tips – below
What is a mobius? – YouTube video
Cluster Stitch – TikTok video
How to begin a mobius – YouTube video

Color Changing Tips While this design contains color changing don’t let that scare you away.  It is easy to change color and because the color is changed often between just two colors, you can carry the color not in use up the back.  That eliminates all the extra ends from cutting the color at each color change.

To change color, work until the last two loops of the last stitch remain on your hook, unless it is a chain, I’ll cover that in a minute.  Drop your current color and pick up your new color.  Finish the stitch with your new color.  Ta da, color changed!

If the last st is a chain, finish the round, but do NOT join.  Drop current color, insert hook where indicated to join, pick up your new color and use it to join.  Now the color is changed and you can continue with your new color.

To carry the color up the back will take a bit of remembering first of all and then a bit of finessing.  When I get back to the joining for a round, I pick up the old color and catch it as I join the round.  I then catch it in each step of the first stitch of the round so that it is sitting there when I return again.

Here is a picture for you to look at.  I will work on a video later this week and put it up.

You can buy the pattern in my Ravelry or Payhip store.

Cluster Stitch Video

Carry and Change Yarn in Crochet

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Seasons of Country Sophistication – Spring

Each month through my weekly newsletter I share special stitches and techniques that go with the monthly pattern release, then I collect them all here in case someone missed something.

If you would like to received the weekly email and see the techniques as they come out sign up for my newsletter on the “Links” page.

Chart Reading – below
Magic Ring Start in knitting – Photo Tutorial and TikTok video
Centered Eyelet Stitch – Photo Tutorial and TikTok video
Cheater Seam – YouTube video

Chart Reading Tips

First, do you knit left handed or right handed?  Not sure?  Right handed knitters take their stitches off the left needle and place new stitches onto the right hand needle.  Lefties take their stitches off the right hand needle and place new stitches onto the left hand needle.  This has nothing to with picking verses throwing, only which way the stitches move from needle to needle.


Now that that has been settled, if you are a right handed knitter you will read the charts starting at the row or round number and work towards the other end.  For right side rows and all rounds you will work the chart from right to left.  For wrong side rows, you will work left to right.  Lefties you will begin at the opposite end of the row or round number and work towards the number.  For right side rows and all rounds you will work from left to right.  For wrong side rows you will work right to left.


Next thing to know is that not every row or round is always charted.  The pattern or chart should clearly state if all rows or rounds are charted and should be numbered accordingly.  Some charts have set up rows, others start with a number other than one and many charts have only the right side charted.


All patterns with charts should have a legend or key for each symbol’s meaning.  Not all symbols are universal and even within a pattern the same stitch many have more than one symbol.  It is very important to watch these details.  Some symbols have different meanings depending on if they are on the right or wrong side.  Again that will be indicated by the pattern and the legend.


Charts are read from the bottom up.  Most knitters cover up the rows or rounds above where they are working with magnets or sticky notes.  This way if you can read your knitting you can see if what you are doing looks right.  I prefer to cover up the rows and rounds I have completed, because I like to see where I’m going and not get confused by something I have already done.  The choice is yours.  If you are not to a point where you can read your knitting then seeing what you have done may not be much help.


Most patterns do not start with the chart on row or round one, some do.  So you will have to follow some written instructions until the chart begins.  Reading the symbols is fairly easy.  They just stand for stitches that many knitters already know; knit, purl, yarn over and different types of decreases.  It will be slow at first but just take each row or round one box at a time.  Each box represents one stitch on the needle.  Look at the stitch on the chart, look at the legend, then work the stitch.  If there are a series of knit stitches, count them, work them.  Go one step at a time.  Right handed knitters do not need to change any of the directions from the legend, just work everything the way it is written.  Lefties, here we go.  If the legend says that this symbol \ is a slip, slip, knit, they lied to you.  No really, for lefties the decreases are opposite of what is written.  So lefties, when you get to a \ knit two together and for / slip, slip, knit.

On many charts, there will be long areas of plain knit stitches in a row or round.  One of the things I like to do before I begin knitting is to find these areas and write a tiny number in one of the boxes in that area.  The number is how many knit stitches there are between other stitches.  This saves counting later while working the pattern.

You can buy the pattern in my Ravelry or Payhip store.

Photo Tutorial of Magic Ring Start

Centered Eyelet Tutorial

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WIP or UFO?

WIP – work in progress

UFO – unfinished object

All makers have these. Some keep them hidden in a closet or a tote under the bed. Others are on display on a shelf in the studio, shop or the back of the couch. Mine are in a chest that one of the dogs lays on in my studio window. Well most of them are any way.

So what is the difference between a WIP and a UFO?

That’s a personal question. In this post I’m going to help you with that journey and deciding what you have, WIP or UFO and what it needs to become, if anything.

I classify a UFO as a project that I haven’t worked in over a month. I currently have one exception and that is the dragon I am crocheting. He is very detailed and takes concentration. I usually only get to work on him once a week while everyone else is away for the evening. But if I get behind on something and need to make it up that dragon time is now gone.

Another way to classify a project as a UFO is how long since you have thought about that project? Maybe it was put in time out because you needed to learn something new or ran out of materials. For me one of those two things would keep that project in the WIP category.

Keep or Rip?

I challenge you to take some time and do the following exercise. Commit to set aside a certain amount of time each day to work on this until it is finished. Even 15 minutes will be progress. You can also just do a step a day. It will make more sense as you read. You might want to write things down as you go along to remember why you classed something the way you did. I encourage to be completely honest with yourself as you work through this process. This is personal doesn’t have to be shared with anyone. When the conclusion is to rip, do it immediately. If that gives you pause I understand. Start ripping and if you’re like “okay good”, keep going. If you are dying inside, stop, ask why and maybe reassess the situation. This process is exactly that, a process and it meant to be helpful, though at times it might be hard too.

Collect ALL of you projects and place them somewhere in a pile that they will be safe from others. If you have to clean up the project to add it to the pile, is it because it has been sitting and waiting on you for more than 4 or 5 days? Or is it because it is what you worked on last night? If it is the former, you choose your time frame, clean it up and add it to the pile. The latter, leave it there.

Pull out the projects, you are truly currently working on and put them back where they need to be. If you keep something to work on, on the go, in the car, front sitting room, wherever, if it something you work on often enough that you know it’s a WIP, go put it back.

Sort what remains by craft if are a multi-crafter. This isn’t necessary but might speed up some of the process.

Is there a particular craft that you are enjoying at moment? Is there one that just isn’t your thing right now? Choose one of these answers and start there.

Enjoying This Craft

If you are enjoying craft, that is great. Move on to the Project Questions Below.

Not My Thing Right Now

You’ll want to ask yourself some questions.

Why isn’t thing your thing right now? Is this a new skill that you are still honing or maybe something that you tried and didn’t really like? Or it’s an old friend and it just isn’t their turn.

Keep honing the skill. What I have found most helpful as I learn a new craft, is to NOT start a new project until I have finished the last one. Good intentions I know, but it is easier to commit to and build a good habit, when doing something new. Also purposely setting aside time to work on this new skill. That may mean sacrificing other making time to do this. Don’t try to hone a skill in the middle of the project you need that skill for. Set that project aside and start something small that has many opportunities for you to practice the new skill.

If you didn’t really like it, ask why? Is this something that needs another try? Or do you just need to find a new home for that materials you have? It took me at least half a dozen tries over the course of 2 years to teach myself to knit. Then I did it backwards, but that’s a story for another day. If you can go to a group and get some pointers that might be helpful.

If the skill is an old friend and it isn’t their turn, I have a few of those, cross stitch and embroidery to name a couple, decide how much space they can have in your craft space and stick to that.

Project Questions

When you think about or see this project what feelings does it bring up? Make a pile for each different emotion you first feel. Some examples are happy, dread, sadness for whatever reason, or even anger.

When your projects have been classed by feelings then choose one feeling to work with and ask the following questions for each project. I have included questions for for each of the example feelings I gave. Use these as a guide to your own questions for these same feelings or others that you felt.

Happy

How long has it been since you worked on it? Why?

Do you want to continue? Can you continue? What if you ran out of a material that you can no longer get?

What is the time frame for finishing it? This could be based on an event that it needs to be finished by or just how long you are willing to let it be around. I have a wedding shawl that I have been working on for about 8 years now. I am about half way. I don’t work on it monthly and very occasionally not even yearly, but it is a project I love doing and at my leisure.

If you have the materials to finish and you want to finish, you should keep it. Don’t put it away yet, one more step.

If you want to finish it but can’t do to lack of materials, try to think of something you can remake it into. If not then rip it and stash the materials.

Dread

Did you see this project and hang your head and think “oh no…”? Why?

Was it for someone and doesn’t fit for any reason?

Just not enjoying the project?

If it doesn’t fit but was for a particular person, why doesn’t it fit? Can you modify it to fit this person? Was it a baby gift and now that child is 3 years old? You can make it be a gift for someone else, donate the finished piece if you’re close or rip it and stash the materials.

If you aren’t enjoying the project you have a few more questions to answer. Is it for a person that knows about it? Do they have an expectation of what the finished piece looks like? Did they pick out the pattern? If no, then you can change the pattern to something that you enjoy more. If yes then you maybe have a conversation with that person and change the pattern. Another thing to consider is how much more would the project take? Is it a sweater that needs blocked and seamed? Maybe a friend can do that for you or yo pay your local shop to finish. I think if you are beyond 70% or to the completed object, finish it. The reason being is that even if you love the new chosen pattern some the eh is going to come toward the new project. You know your threshold and the piece you are making. Also take into consideration other obligations you currently have and what is coming up.

If you aren’t enjoying it and it is a commissioned piece, ask the above questions and think about your client and then decide what to do.

Sadness

Sometimes a project ends up tied to a person or event, even one that the finished piece has nothing to do with. I was pregnant with my 4th child and started knitting a blanket for him. I miscarried at 16 weeks and had to have a D and C. That project lived for a long time in a box where I couldn’t see it. Then a few years later I needed the needles in that project. I got just the tips and left the rest in the box. More years later a young family at church had their first baby and gave him the name we gave our 4th child, Azariah. I knew then it was time to pull that blanket out and finish it. I did. It was still hard and sad but it was time.

When a project brings sadness I think that situation needs to be looked at from a couple of different perspectives; emotional and practical.

I know that the emotions I would have felt ripping out that blanket or throwing the yarn away would have been heart wrenching, so I kept it, with no plan in mind, just kept it. That is where the practical comes in though. Do you have the space to just keep it? As a maker that mostly knits and crochets, most of my projects are small and don’t take up much space. If you are a welder, wood worker or it’s a project car… Well that might be a different story. Right now it might be okay and you have the space to keep the project just because. That’s good if that’s what you want. I even moved my blanket to our new house 50 miles away, but again small.

An emotional and practical rolled together is wherever you decide to keep it you need to be aware of it so that the emotions don’t ambush you. Also if it’s time to move house and you stumble on it while packing, that could be a set back. So while holding on can be helpful in the moment, don’t let it unnecessarily prolong emotions that don’t need to be. The box I stored the blanket in was the ONLY box like it in the entire house. I also stored on top of the highest cabinet in the bathroom. I moved it out of view of the mirror over the sink even. I still have the box. It has other mementos from that time. We have moved again and it is buried deep in the craft closet. While the sadness of losing him is still there, I have moved forward and can share. Protect yourself now and your future self as well in this process.

Anger

Is it the person the project is for or the project itself?

I don’t have a personal example for me, but I have recently watched my teenage daughter go through this. She had a boyfriend in Colorado. They decided to try the long distance thing when we moved to New Mexico. They are both under age and don’t drive. So text, letters and phone calls only. Ok cool. My daughter started a pair of socks for him for Valentine’s day. She is also working on a blanket for his birthday in July. Avoiding the sweater and we all know why. She makes her socks from the toe up. She had just gotten passed the heel on the first sock when they started having issues. As I write this they still haven’t solved anything. During the last 3 months of talking and texting my daughter became close with him and considered him not only her boyfriend but also her best friend. So when he decided not to talk to her any more those socks only brought anger out in her. She put them in time out for a bit and then decided to rip them and remake the yarn into finger-less mitts for her brother.

If the anger is about a person that the project is for then I say put the project in time out until the issue with that person is resolved. If the person is no longer in your life and you still have anger toward the project because of the person, rip the project and stash the materials. It is going to be hard to find happiness in that project again.

If the anger is the project, then ask why? Go back to the questions in the “Not My Thing” section above and start there.

I hope this has helped you class your projects by emotions. Next up is the practical part.

What to do With the Keepers

Now that the materials form the frogged projects have been stashed what do you do with the keepers? Don’t put them away just yet.

I have started something new that has been very helpful for me recently and I can see my future self saying “thank you” already.

I have a project sheet in each project. It is similar to the info found on Ravlery, for those familiar. Electronic is great, until it is isn’t available for whatever reason. I can also see these details at a glance and without having to pull my phone out and open whatever app. I use the same project name on Ravelry, my app and on this piece of paper.

To encourage you to fill in a sheet for each project and put it with it I have made it a freebie for those who subscribe to my newsletter and email me to ask for it. This way it is always available, even after I change the free gift.

Sign up for my newsletter here. Email address is azariahs1982@gmail.com.

I hope that if you ventured down the path of going through your projects it was helpful and that you feel better on the other side.

Until next time,

Happy Making!

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Real Life Teaching Moments

If you are a parent you know the term and if you are of the millennial generation you have probably heard someone say it to your parents, “teaching moment”.

The moment that something happens, be it unusual, totally random or the perfect practical example of something from a recent conversation and you decide to use that moment to teach about what is going on. It can be how could you have reacted better in this situation, to see how they handled that or we aren’t the only people x, y or z happens to.

I, as a parent of three, who are all currently teenagers, have had many of these moments. That has translated into my crochet and knitting style, not just in person at class or group but also in photos and recordings.

When something odd happens in my crocheting or knitting I want to share it with you. Usually it is happening because of something I didn’t think of in advance in a new design or because I made a mistake, either way I want you have the benefit of my learning. As such if it is something that just isn’t practical to replicate or I’m not going to be able to for some reason, the photos and maybe videos will be happening live and on the spot; a teaching moment.

Because of this some the photos won’t have perfect lighting and there might be some extra background stuff. Videos might have other stuff going on around it and people walking through the frame in the background. I do have an external mic for my phone now so hopefully the sound is good.

Much of my crafting is spent outside. I now live in the city, still with the children and the dogs. I also live on a main street now and where trains go by. I will do my best to avoid the extra noise as much as possible but it might not always happen. I also love to go downtown or to the mall and people watch while I work. I’m getting over being shy about recording in public so don’t be surprised if you see something from one of those places too.

Until next time, wherever you are,

Happy Making!

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