I am 100% hooked on crochet at the moment. Being an instruction following kind of person rather than a free spirit inventor, I bought myself a few books.
Actually more than a few, but my obsession with Vanessa Mooncie and animals will have to wait. Now I'm just practicing some patterns and stitches.
The first crochet book I'd ever seen that I found visually appealing was Crochet Workshop by Erica Knight. This scarf is a quickie take on a pattern from that book.
I was faced with sitting still for a few hours (also referred to as watching a gymnastics competition) and decided my fingers could be busy so I took along the book, some chunky cotton and a hook. By the end of the competition I pretty much had an infinity scarf made.
This book doesn't use diagram charts and I guess for a beginner that might make things easier, but I'm becoming familiar with the charts and actually kind of like them in addition to a written description. The stitch pattern is fairly simple and is made up as follows: (I'm not going to reproduce the whole pattern as that would be naughty, so if you don't understand the abbreviations you need to buy the book! :) )
After making a chain of the desired length and a turning chain, the pattern repeat is: 1tr, 2ch, 1tr, miss 2ch, 1 puff stitch in next ch, miss 2ch: repeat. (note this is the version of a treble that is sometimes called a double - I haven't yet got my head around who are the brits and who are the yanks in this field)
The first bit gives the open V shape and then the puff stitch is made by drawing four loops through the stitch you're working into all before yarning round the hook and pulling it through all of them. From memory I think I used a size 7 hook
I was using some leftover chunky cotton yarn that I'd bought at Easter time. My width and length was determined simply by how much leftovers I had. The original project in this yarn is my June instalment of Secret Valentine Exchange but I hadn't heard if it has reached it's destination yet.
Once I ran out of yarn, and was confident it would fit over a head, I gave it one half twist then attached the short ends together. It makes a neat infinity scarf.
And you can wear it lots of ways :)
In the same book there are instructions for various crochet stitch samplers. The first one I had a go at (before the scarf above) was a basketweave stitch. This is a series of treble crochets working into the front or back of the stitches below to create a really fun textured pattern.
Using the cheap, leftover acrylic practicing yarn I had lying around I quickly found myself making a scarf for P
I thought it would be fun to use the three colours and then decided it should be like the sewn scarf pattern from Oliver + S Little Things To Sew and have it's own hole to put the end through.
That turned out to be easy as I simply stopped crocheting at a mid point on one side and then turned back. Once I had a hole of sufficient height I did the same on the other side before joining them again at the top and continuing on with full rows. It seems this making stuff up part isn't so hard after all!
The hole is a bit deeper than it needs to be, and a bit too far from his neck, but it works and it's a cute scarf. I imagine made up in some really nice wool this could be a great stitch pattern for a scarf.
I felt like I was ready for some of the good stuff now, and to make myself a scarf. I went back to the infinity scarf pattern I'd used for A's scarf and hit up FibreSmith for some lovely wool.
I went in with the book in my hand as I don't know my Aran from my Sport and had no idea what the weights and lengths would equate to. It turned out what I needed was this Aran 10 ply, and their own hand dyed wools are just divine.
In the store was a knitted scarf using the same type of wool and including a superfine strand of fluffy stuff (technical term until I find the link) - here we go, superfine 2 ply silk/mohair
It felt so nice with the mohair bit added, so I bought three skeins of the wool and one of the mohair and I turned the world off and crocheted non stop for a week.
It's hard to photograph the true colour of this yarn. It's darker than it appears here, but by lightening it up a bit you can see the variation in the browns and greens that are throughout. Essentially it looks like a very dark brown with grey/charcoal tones.
For this one I followed the pattern, although I didn't bother testing the swatch as I figured a slightly different sized scarf wouldn't matter. I crocheted to the same length as the pattern but hadn't counted rows as I went and I ended up using almost all of the yarn and the mohair and the wool pretty much ran out together. Bingo!
Part of the reason I suddenly found myself needing a scarf was the oiliness of my coat that I'd just finished. I pointed it out to Leslie at Fibresmith that, having sold me that super oily fabric I was now back having to buy her wool to make a scarf to go round my neck. Clever shop keeping, hey.
The puff stitch wasn't really any trickier to work using the two strands at once, but I discovered the real problem lay when you had to rip back. I'd made a mistake at one point and need to go back about five rows. The superfine mohair thread didn't always get pulled through every puff stitch perfectly, and while that didn't matter so long as you were going forwards it was a nightmare if you need to go backwards. Getting it right first time was the plan from that point on.
It's quite long and weighty and deliciously soft and warm. The morning after I'd finished it I wore it on the school bike commute and we all got caught in a downpour. It kept me lovely and warm even when wet and I was very pleased to find that the hand dyed colour didn't run at all!
I'm guessing that wearing a brand new garment in a downpour is not how you're meant to "block" your new woollen garment.
So now I've further stalled from my boring, daunting and tedious tasks by writing about my procrastinating, I better get back to them.
One of them, in fact is not boring at all. It's daunting, very much so, but also super exciting. I'll go work on that one!
Patterns and instructions: Crochet Workshop by Erica Knight
A's scarf: Panda soft cotton chunky yarn in Shadow, size 7 hook
P's scarf: Acrylic yarn, probably 8ply from Spotlight, size 5 hook from memory
My Scarf: Aran yarn (x3) and mohair (x1) from Fibresmith, size 5 hook