Saturday 29 August 2015

Gauge: Tips from a Reluctant Convert

Hi everyone! 

This week I've been madly trying to get a new pattern worked up and written down, so I am not up to date on my CALs to share with you *blushes* 

However, over my designing work the last few months I have dealt with gauge for the first time. This is my story about how I discovered that not only is gauge important, but you need to trust what it tells you! 

What is Gauge? Why is it useful?

Testing your gauge is finding out how many stitches and rows you make to fit specific dimensions. It's used a lot in clothing (to make sure that you end up with the correct size) and in projects where you have a limited yarn supply (to make sure that your yarn usage will match the usage in the pattern).

There are often little gauge pictures on yarn bands as well, to show how the manufacturer thinks the yarn will work up using the recommended hook/needle size. 

Your own personal tension and style will also affect gauge.

I have never, ever before in my life bothered with gauge. I'm rarely using the recommended yarn or hook, and as long as I am consistent in my style and tension across the piece, it'll work out fine, right? Plus I don't make a lot of clothing where size is important, which helps me get away without it!

How do you work out the Gauge for a project?

There are a million and one tutorials online for how to check your gauge and fix any problems. I thoroughly recommend Googling "Crochet Gauge" if you need more detailed assistance.

Normally, to check gauge you make a swatch using the same yarn and hook as for your project, at least 6 inches wide and 6 inches tall. Then, you measure the middle 4 inches (i.e. 1 inch in from each side), and count how many stitches across make up 4 inches, and how many rows up make 4 inches. 

If this doesn't match the gauge given in the pattern, then you might need to change your hook size up or down, or pull your stitches taller or shorter. 


Here's my big lesson in gauge/swatch making - trust the answers it gives you!! 

In the last two projects I have been designing (both will be released in the next few weeks!), I decided to start with a gauge swatch to calculate how many pattern repeats/squares I would need to make the size I was aiming for. Careful measuring, enough mathematics to give me a headache, and I had an outline of the pattern to start with.

After 1 row of the first design, my piece was way too big. I frogged back and made it shorter, so the row was the same size as the finished size.

After 3 rows, the piece was way too small!! By not trusting my gauge on the first go round, I had made a lot of extra work for myself! 

In the second design, which is made up of squares, I decided after the first 2 rows of squares that it was two squares too wide, so I undid the extra squares and went on my merry way to make a square afghan. Got to the end and... you guessed it... it's too short and too narrow! By EXACTLY TWO SQUARES. After thinking I was finished, I had to go back and add in an extra 60 squares.

So! Long story short - if you are going to bother making gauge swatches, trust them!!

Have you bothered making gauge swatches? Have you ever used them in designing?

Wednesday 26 August 2015

Busy August Days

Hello you!

I shall start with exciting news: Our little blog hit the 100.000 hits mark in total. I know that this is not much for many blogs but it is a lot for us! :) Thank you for your visits, your hits and of course your lovely comments!

We spent the last couple of days at my parent's house in Northern Germany. I might have mentioned that my dad is quite ill, so it was good to spend time with my parents. There were some doctor's appointments as well and along with visiting friends, it kept us busy. Oh and I can't forget Pelle, my parent's baby cat. Such a cutie!! She was quite fond of my yarn though... I fear some of the yarn is now covered in cat drool. Oops.

I am pattern testing for Michelle. It is such a lovely idea she came up with and I enjoy trying out the pattern - had to learn several new stitches though! Rest assured though: I managed. :P I also tried the join-as-you go method for the first time and after several fails, I can now do it. At first I did the slip stitch from the wrong side and thus the seam was so bulky! All fixed now! My main color is black while Michelle used white: I am excited to see how different the two works will look!

Next week I shall give a five-day class about neo-medievalism. I know what I want to teach but there is heaps of preparation involved, so I guess there won't be much crochet this weekend. Sighs. 

How will you spend your weekend?

Take care

Thursday 20 August 2015

Summer Mosaic & Around the Bases CALs - Update #3

Hello everyone! 

It's that time of the week again - see how my CALs are going at the moment :) 

This week was popcorn week! ChiChi suggested doing the popcorns in a different colour to the rest of that row/section, and who am I to refuse to learn a new skill. Since I'm doing this CAL as a stashbuster, the popcorns were a great opportunity to use up some smaller scraps. 

Lots of popcorn colours! Green, three different purples, and blue :) 

I really love how this afghan is coming out so far - bring on next week!! 

This week we paused work on the large circle motifs to make some squares! I did have to make one little change to the pattern - in Row 5 I had to change the long stitches in the corners to dtr, otherwise there was no way the poor thing was going to sit flat.

I haven't done any blocking yet - I will just do that at the end when the blanket is all put together (or not, it might even out nicely by itself!). 

I suspect at this point that the circular motifs will become octagonal, and then the squares will be in the centre two positions. We shall see if I'm right over the next 4 weeks! 

And the rest

I've put aside the CALs and the order pile for the moment to try and get a prototype baby blanket done! Cross your fingers for me that I can work fast enough, and also get the instructions written in an understandable way ;) Photos soon!

What projects have captured your attention this week?

Sunday 16 August 2015

Leaping Stripes Mania

Hello all!

Some of you might have noticed I have been absent for some days. I had a bit of an accident while running two weeks ago and my ankle/knee didn't take the introduction to the forest floor too well. My knee is less green/blue and more yellow now though and I can use my ankle a lot better. No sports for another couple of weeks though. Sighs.

On the other hand: the weather is so nasty today, I wouldn't want to go running anyway. It hasn't stopped raining since I got up. Probably good for nature and especially the fields though: It has been incredible dry here for the last couple of weeks. My parents were on holidays in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania on vacation for some days and apparently it hadn't rained there for weeks. Poor nature! 

I have a confession to make... I have fallen in love with the leaping stripes and blocks pattern from Tamara Kelly (Moogly) and just can't stop making crochet blankets and beanies with it! 

Four of the beanies have gone to my Dawanda shop but they aren't popular. Perhaps I should have put them into the shop when it wasn't 35 °C degrees outside? Oooppss. 

Anyway, I hope I will sell them at some point, so I can buy more yarn! At the moment I am trying to use my yarn stash as I have soo many balls of yarn! Do you know the feeling? 

I started another blanket (leaping stripes of course) with Stylecraft Special DK last Friday. It is still very much at the beginning but hop over to our instagram account if you want to see a sneak peek!

What are you working on at the moment? Stash Busting too or still in yarn buying mood?

Take care

Wednesday 12 August 2015

Summer Mosaic & Around the Bases CALs

Hi everyone! 

For at least the next couple of weeks, you're mostly going to get CAL updates from me - I hope that's ok! I'm so excited about the two CALs I'm currently working on :)

Clue 2 of Julie Yeager's enticing Summer Mosaic Mystery CAL came out on Saturday, Australian time. This week we made our circles bigger, and added more overlay stitches. They kind of look like clocks at the moment!

I love the colours - it just looks like a tumble of summer to me :) 

Around the Bases CAL by ChiChi Allen

I've written about this one before, a few weeks ago, when I was figuring out which square to use in the centre. There's a round up of lovely big afghan square patterns in that post if you want to have a look! 

This Monday (Australian time), the "First Innings" pattern was released. It was pretty straightforward, and I've already used up almost a whole scrap piece of one colour! Stashbusting for the win :D

So bright and cheerful, and I can't wait to see how it ends up! 

I hope you are all managing to keep up with your projects and WIPs! 

Saturday 8 August 2015

Captain Poprocks' European Jaunt!

Today we have a very special guest post for you - from our excellent friend Pat who recently travelled with Captain Poprocks to Paris and the UK! 


Greetings! You haven't met me before, but recently I and my partner Deniz were granted the privilege of escorting Captain Poprocks on his European tour. The Captain couldn't wait to get going, and insisted on helping me pack.

First stop was Paris. We stayed at a little hotel on the Rue de Saint-Andre-des-Arts, a 13th century street in the 6th Arrondissement. We stayed on the top floor, and the Captain wasted no time in planning a parkour escape route, should the need arise.

While we were in Paris, we made sure to see all the sights. First stop: La Musee du Louvre (The Louvre museum). It was high season in Paris, and crowds were huge. Luckily Deniz had heard of a little-known side entrance, the Porte des Lions (Lions' Gate). No crowds here, so we just walked right in!

Another bonus of the side entrance was that you enter very close to the Italian Renaissance painters, and that means you're very close to La Joconde aka The Mona Lisa.

After a few hours exploring the enormous museum, it was time for lunch. As we were in Paris, we naturally got baguettes and pastries and ate them in the park.

Another place we went to was the Conciergie, originally a palace and then a notorious prison during the French revolution. The fireplaces in La Salle des Gens d'Armes (Soldiers' Hall) were huge - more than enough to roast an entire hippo!

The Captain, with his natural good looks and charisma, obviously stood out wherever we went. The fact that he is a hippo meant he was forever being followed by a crowd of enthusiastic fans. Blending in proved extremely difficult. But every now again he was able to camouflage perfectly, like this time at the Jardins de Luxembourg:

We had purchased Paris Museum Passes, which includes entry to many Paris attractions. It really is worth its weight in gold, however, because it allowed us to bypass the queues. Well, most of the time. At Sainte-Chappelle, we had to wait in line. The Captain was not impressed - he's used to the VIP treatment!

Luckily, the wait was definitely worth it!

After a few days in Paris, we headed north, where we met up with friends Sam and Emma in Edinburgh.

A highlight of the Edinburgh trip was a ghost tour, which included exploring the underground vaults of the old city, and Greyfriars Kirkyard. Deniz was a little scared, but the Captain's bravery helped a lot.

After a few days in Edinburgh, it was time to head further north, to the wild Orkney Islands in the north of Scotland. The Captain did his best to navigate, but ultimately it was Deniz who led us to our destination.

The Orkneys lie off the north-east coast of Scotland. Although they are incredibly remote and incredibly cold, they have been inhabited for thousands of years. They are home to a number of stone circles and ancient sites from 5000 BC. As the people who built these ancient structures were illiterate, we don't know much about them. But didn't stop the Captain from trying to uncover some of their secrets.

Even though it was the middle of a Scottish summer, the weather here in the Orkneys was more like Kangaloon in winter. We visited the village of Skara Brae, the best preserved neolithic village in the world. It was rediscovered in 1850 when an enormous storm stripped away the earth that was covering it. It was a fascinating place, and it's hard to imagine that these old stone huts are older than the pyramids in Egypt!

We also visited Skaill House, an old manor very close to Skara Brae. Both Deniz and the Captain were intrigued by the secret compartments hidden in the library.

After finishing up in the Orkneys, it was time to head south, back to Edinburgh and then all the way down to London. Travelling first class of course. 

Everyone enjoyed the British Museum, which includes such treasures as the Elgin Marbles, Lewis Chessmen, and of course, the Rosetta Stone. Without this artefact, archaeologists may never have translated hieroglyphics, the script of the ancient Egyptians.

London also meant an opportunity to catch up with our old friends, Joyce and Matt, and also an opportunity for the Captain to make some new friends. Joyce took us to The Smokehouse, which would not have looked out of place in Surry Hills or Newtown. The food was delicious!

Despite a Tube strike, we managed to escape London for the Cotswolds, a beautiful area between London and Wales. While we there we took a day trip to Bath, which gets its name from the ancient Roman Baths at the heart of the city.

The spring that feeds the baths produces more than a million litres of water a day, and it shows no signs of stopping. Ancient peoples believed the spring to be sacred, and the waters to have healing properties. I decided it was best to try some, just in case:

After a few days in the country, it was time to head back to London, so that we could go back to Paris. We had a lovely dinner with Catriona, who then took us out for a very Parisian dessert: crepes with nutella.

After a whirlwind two and a half week tour of Paris, Scotland and England, it was time to bring the Captain home. It's hard to pick highlights, as there were so many fun experiences and amazing things to see. Wherever we went, he had people coming up to us and asking about the Captain - without a doubt, he's a great conversation starter!