How to Edge a Stashbuster Blanket

Oct 28, 2016 4:13:21 PM

Crochet a stash buster blanket

 

I’ve made about 20 Stash Buster Blankets over the last 10 years or so.  I absolutely love them because they’re like painting with my stash yarn. They are made with the odds and ends of left over and forgotten yarns that I can't bring myself to donate but never seem to use either. 

Usually I use yarn that I would never want to wear: eyelash yarn for example.  But they look fun as home decor.  (And I still have a ton of stash eyelash yarn that’s a decade old!)

Last year I moved from a cold place to a warm place (Hello Florida!!!).  I needed a new throw for the couch. Something lighter than the blankets I used to make in California. And in colors reflecting my new sub-tropical attitude.

I raided my stash for yellows, oranges and little pops of pink and red.  If you're familiar with my Stash Buster blanket design, you know it’s based on my 3 Color Tunisian Technique. You're always switching between 3 yarns as you stitch the project. These yarns can be single strands or many strands held together.  The key is that you are working with 3 "groups" of yarn.

I've gotten so many question over the years on how I choose my colors. My favorite blankets all had a "main yarn" that contrasted with the rest of the changing colors and textures. This main yarn (or yarns!) provided a backdrop of continuity for all the change in the rest of the blanket.  So when planning yarns for my current project, choosing this “continuity yarn” and making sure I had enough of it was a critical first step.

Let me explain what this means by showing my yarn choices for each of the 3 "yarn groups" in the project.


homespun

Yarn Group 1

I used a single strand of a bulky yarn here - Lion Brand Homespun to be exact.  This is one of my “continuity yarns” and I use it throughout the blanket as the only strand in Group 1. In fact, I only had one ball in my stash, so I went out and bought 2 more just to make sure I had enough yarn to last for the whole project.

It’s not a yarn I love and I’ve been really disappointed by how it frays and pills with wear. But -  when combined with several yarns in a blanket like this, that problem just isn’t that distracting or obvious. It’s a great low-budget “backdrop yarn” for this kind of project.

other yarn  

Yarn 2

I had enough white eyelash yarn to use throughout the project, so this is one of my “continuity yarns” as well.

I hold it always with another strand of orange yarn that changes as I use up my stash.  The effect is that this group of yarn changes subtly as I work since one strand is always the same while the other changes.

 

Yarn group 3  

Yarn Group 3

I hold 3 strands of yarn throughout this group.  I just used whatever I had in my stash, but I had a rule about how I did that.

I always used one red yarn, one sparkly yarn and one orange yarn.

This group of yarn changes gradually throughout the length of the project in a rather subtle way since only one of the 3 will change at any given time.

 

Besides a balance of continuity and change, I try to pay a lot of attention to the yarn weights when I switch yarns out.  If you replace a thin yarn with a thick one, you will change the gauge (and thus the width!) of your blanket.  You may have made a stash buster blanket with wildly varying width. What happened is that you didn’t keep your yarn gauges consistent as you switched out your yarns.

The other thing I've started doing is crocheting an edging on my stash buster blankets.  The edges of these blankets can get a little floppy: especially the starting edge of the row. Edging the blanket helps balance out any width differences. Even more important, it just adds a nice frame to the controlled yarn mix chaos that unfolds within the blanket.


stash buster blanket

 

The edging you choose depends on your blanket. What finishing touch goes best with the blanket you make?  For this project, I like something that's simple and made with basic stitches. To me that’s in keeping with the spirit of the blanket project itself.  I think there's just so much going on in the body of the blanket, I want to put a nice frame on that. I also want to firm up the edges and add a little weight to them so my blanket drapes well over the edge of my sofa.

Make sure you have enough yarn to make the edging!  My approach is to use my “continuity yarns”and try to bring everything together.

So without further ado, here are edgings that I swatched with a little explanation for each. I'm still deciding and plan to swatch a little more. Based on what I've shown here, which one would you choose?


Edging Group 1

 

First, I did the simplest edgings possible: a row of single crochet.  The difference between the 2 photos is that the photo above is with the S hook (same size hook used in the project), and the bottom version is made with a hook that is half the size, working 2 stitches in every edge stitch.

 

Group 2

 

Then I played with ways of adding a second row to the first.

Top Edging: 2 rows of single crochet with the smaller hook.

Bottom Edging: 1 row of single crochet, 1 row of reverse single crochet with small hook. (compare to big hook below)

Even though my goal was to keep things simple, I decided that I really needed to spice these edges up.

 

group 3

 

I decided to throw more yarn into the mix.

Top edging: First row single crochet with big hook, 2nd row double crochet (double the stitches) with smaller hook and some orange/peach yarn, last row single crochet worked in between ever 2 dc.

Bottom edging: All done with the smaller hook, first row single crochet, 2nd row single crochet with the peach/red yarn and top row reverse single crochet.

It was after I did the bottom edging that I decided that my accent yarn needed to include the white eyelash and the red so that it blends well with the rest of the blanket.

 

 

Group 4

 

Here I'm beginning to experiment with the white eyelash and red accent yarns.  I'm also liking how the smaller hook and greater amount of stitches in the 2nd and 3rd rows of the edging adds an extra weight to the edge of the blanket.

Top Edging: First 2 rows done in single crochet with big hook.  Reverse single crochet with smaller hook and double the stitches for 3rd row.

 

Bottom Edging: It’s almost the same as the top edging. The only difference is that the 2nd row is also done with the smaller hook and double the stitches.  This gave the edging a little more substance.

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Stay tuned - I'm finishing up the blanket now and will post how it turns out.  Any thoughts on these edgings?  Have you tried a Stash Buster Blanket of your own?  Let me know how you like to make them or if you had any challenges that you want to share.

Comments | Posted in Techniques & How To By Jennifer Hansen

Blocked vs. unblocked crochet

Lace requires blocking, otherwise it just looks crumply and distorted! I don’t care whether you’ve knitted or crocheted your lace: just please block it once you’re done! (Case in point: Guess which swatch above is blocked and which one isn’t?)

In this post, I’m going to talk about the different blocking techniques and provide links to where you can learn more about them. (There are many ways to block and everyone has a favorite!)  Then I’ll share my favorite blocking technique with you and the tell you why it works best for me. I haven’t seen anyone else do a write up on the technique I use.

Blocking knitting is the same as blocking crochet. There are so many great tutorials online for how to block. I link to a few good resources down below but want to make sure you understand something: When you read about blocking online, don’t worry whether the particular information you read is about blocking knitting or blocking crochet. The blocking technique described is the same no matter whether you knitted or crocheted your project.

There are really just 3 major types of blocking: Wet Blocking, Steam Blocking and Killing. Take a look at the table below for a description of each. At the end of each row is a clickable link to learn more about each method. (Did I forget anything that you think I should add? Is there a blocking tutorial online that you believe is just head and shoulders above the rest that you think I should include in my table?)


 

So my favorite method for blocking is using the Eurosteam because the results are usually immediate. If you already know how to iron, then using the Eurosteam will be nothing new to you - you handle it just like an iron. Based on your project, you may or may not want to pin it before you block.  But here’s how it’s different from steaming with an iron:

The Eurosteam doesn’t have a temperature control: it is always set to a very low temperature. I have been able to put it directly on everything that I’ve knit and crocheted so far: wool, silk, cotton, bamboo, acrylic….  The weight of the iron helps in evening out irregular stitches.

The steam that comes out of this thing is HIGH PRESSURE.  This is not your typical steam iron. It’s a steamer that looks like an iron.  The steam comes out at very high velocity and shoots through very thick fabrics with no problem at all. You use less water vapor at higher velocity to steam block your projects.

 

 

blocking cotton swatches with Eurosteam

 

So what does this mean as far as result?

Immediate results (no waiting!) and less water means less time to dry.  Sometimes no time to dry - it just depends how many passes I made on my project with the iron.


 

Blocking Valladolid

 

The photo above is how I blocked Valladolid, a crochet shawl that I designed a few months back. This shawl has a geometry that really needs to be pinned when blocked. Because my blocking board wasn’t big enough, I just pinned it to my bed. Then I hit it with my Eurosteam and let it dry about an hour before unpinning it from my bed and taking photos.

For projects that don’t have geometries that need to be pinned, the process is even faster. No pinning, I quickly run the Eurosteam over it and it’s ready to go.  

The Eurosteam also really shines for projects that I try on as I work: like a top-down fitted sweater.  I can just quickly steam the work in progress, try it on, make adjustments and keep going.  Try wet blocking a try-on-as-you-go sweater mid-project. NOT good times and a 24 hour waiting period.  And with traditional steam blocking I typically have to pin the project to get it nice and flat before steaming.  With the Eurosteam, the weight of the iron running on top of the stitches is usually all I need and I can avoid pinning altogether.

 


Comments | Posted in Techniques & How To By Jennifer Hansen

Home Improvement with the Lucet

Sep 15, 2016 12:09:45 PM

Lucet Key Tether

Did you ever consider that your lucet could help with a home improvement project?

Anywhere you need a cord around the house presents a chance to use your lucet.  It gives you a chance to not only make an everyday thing that is functional, but beautiful as well.

For years I’ve had this teak cabinet that requires a removable skeleton key to open and close the door.  I used to store part of my yarn stash in it when my son was a toddler.  Well, of course, one day he removed the key and for the next 3 years I had no way to open the cabinet.  (Living with small children is chaos.)  It felt like Christmas when I found it under the sofa and could open the cabinet again. Almost like new yarn!


Lucet cord cabinet key tether

These days the cabinet stores guest-friendly items in our guest room and I really don’t want to relive that lost key frustration.  I figured that the key needed some kind of cord to keep it tethered to the cabinet. Not just any cord, something decorative and special.

Wool Tree Mill Lucet

Enter the lucet!

I made a cord that picks up the other colors in the room.  I used some cotton yarn from my stash and chose the 3 gimp technique.  When working with gimp cords, it's important to inspect BOTH sides of your cord every few stitches. Make sure you don’t have “hangy loops” on the back side that you can’t see while working.  It’s easy to get into a situation where you finish the cord, turn it over, and find that the back side is no where near as pretty as the side that’s been facing you as you make it. (Gimp cords are made as no-turn cords).


Lucet Detail

I tied the ends of my short cord together and used the gimp ends to form a pretty tassel.  I also chose not to directly attach my key.  Instead, I made a wire ring (I’ve been wire wrangling lately….) and used that to attach my pretty key to its new tether.  I like how it turned out!

If you’ve got projects around the house where a decorative cord might come in handy AND you’ve got a yarn stash, consider the lucet! You don’t even need a lucet to use the technique!

Don’t know how to lucet? I teach a free, 7 day online challenge, in just minutes a day you can conquer this simple technique in only a week.

Already know how to lucet? How would YOU use it to make your house even better?

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7 Day Lucet Challenge

Learn How to Make Your Knit & Crochet Better With a Lucet!

Take the FREE 7 Day Lucet Challenge

 

No Lucet Required! Spend just 30 minutes per day.

Learn how to do more with the yarn you already have.

Join Jennifer Hansen, the designer at Stitch Diva Studios, in this series of daily email lessons to learn this ancient Viking cording technique. She'll teach you the basics of lucet work and how to make 6 kinds of cords.

Comments | Posted in Techniques & How To By Jennifer Hansen

Wire Wrangling

Sep 9, 2016 12:55:45 PM

Row Counter Abacus

 

The blog has been quiet for a couple of months, but I’m still here!  Summer was full of travel and adventure with the family. But now that school is back in session, I’m back in my studio and my inspiration batteries are recharged!

We crafty folk are painfully aware that there are “so many crafts yet so little time….”  And just like so many others, I’ve got more crafts I’d like to try (and supplies for them to boot!) than time to learn and do them.  So as I settle back into my studio for a season of creating, I decided to give myself a treat that would also kickstart my creativity. I gave myself 2 weeks of design time to experiment with a new skill I’ve wanted to try forever: Wire working.  

 

Fortheloveofbunting necklace Brenda Schweder

 

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I didn't have to start from absolute zero. Earlier this year I went to a conference hosted by Craftsy and met the most remarkable woman. I kept seeing her during the day, and couldn't keep my eyes off her magnificent wire necklace.  Of course she’d made it - she was a wire working instructor! I didn't know then that this was Brenda Schweder, instructor of Essential Wirework Techniques.  (Above is the necklace she was wearing, by the way - so sculptural and gorgeous - it’s the next project on my list.)


At lunch I snagged a seat next to Brenda and let her know how much I’d been admiring her necklace. I also confessed how much I wanted to start wire working but how intimidated I was by all the choices of tools and materials. Brenda was so kind and offered to help me get started. She even sent me one of her inventions to play with: Now That’s a Jig.  Her jig (as well as her videos and book) pretty much made my learning curve painless. The jig is an impressive invention, and it’s the only jig really capable of handling 16 gauge annealed steel wire.  (Take a look at Brenda's Etsy store to get a jig of your own and like the Now That's A Jig FB Page to get inspiration in your news feed. She also broadcasts three times a week [M, T and TH @ NoonCentral] from her jewelry FB page)

 

Steel Wire Jewelry

 

Not only did I watch her most excellent online class, but I devoured her book Steel Wire Jewelry as well. And then I watched her new DVD ABC’s of Wire Wrangling recently published by Interweave (available as an immediate download too!). Brenda is a huge fan of annealed steel wire. What's so cool about this material is that it's inexpensive and commonly available.  It was less intimidating for a beginner like me who didn't want to risk mangling expensive fine metals.  I also love the edginess of it. It’s unpretentious, yet solid and so strong. In my opinion, it looks even better when you ding it up. Like an artifact from an archeological dig.  It's got a primal aspect: Definitely not prissy bling.  According to Brenda it's one of the least allergenic metals as well. Composed of just iron and 2% carbon, there's no nickel (the usual culprit with metal allergies).


Wire on the jig

 

So armed with my jig and my learning materials, I set to work. I’ve had an idea for a while now for a row counter abacus that could be jewelry. But then at a moment's notice it could be conscripted for work in counting rows.  I wanted something non-fussy and simple that wouldn't snag knitted or crocheted material. I also wanted to be able to hook it into the project or dangle it from a knitting needle like a stitch marker.  I wanted a sturdy and elegant piece of utilitarian jewelry for knitters and crocheters alike.


Row Counter Abacus for knitting and crochet

After working through countless prototypes and ideas, this is what I settled upon. I've spent the last few days producing a limited run of this new row counter abacus and we've offered it for sale on the website. The beads move to allow you to keep track of 19 rows at a time. If I make more, it will be in other bead choices (any requests?). But for the near future, I'm going to get busy using my new row counter as I come up with some new knit and crochet designs!

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Comments | Posted in News By Jennifer Hansen

Lucet books

 

So you’ve already got a good grasp of lucet basics? Looking to do more kinds of cords with your lucet and more advanced techniques?

Sadly, there just aren’t lots of books on the lucet out there to help you on your quest.  The lucet is truly a niche practice in the fiber arts world.  It's the down side of being attracted to something uncommon and truly unique!


In this post, I’ll give a quick review of 3 resources I’ve found so far. They each offer varying degrees of helpfulness and instruction.  Read on to discover the good, the bad and the ugly with each option. I’ll also share tips on where to buy each one.


Lucet Braiding Book

Lucet Braiding - Variations on Renaissance Cord by Elaine Fuller

 

You can buy this here at Amazon (affiliate link), but it's actually cheaper to buy it on the publisher’s website.

 

This is probably the most comprehensive book I’ve found even though it’s only got 32 pages.  It’s a spiral-bound pamphlet in black and white: 2 Color covers with black and white photocopied pages inside.

 

The book covers about 12 cords and their variations including a section for left-handers.  


While it’s the most comprehensive book available, it’s easy to win that honor when there’s just not a lot out there to start with.  One beef I had is that the book could definitely use more diagrams. It did take me quite some time to plod through some of the more advanced cords without them.  That said, I'm very thankful that Elaine Fuller took the time to document her knowledge and compile this book back in 1998. Because of that, we have at least one solid reference for the technique.


Lucet Cord Making Book


200 Braids to twist, knot, loop or weave by Jaqui Carey Available at Amazon (affiliate link)

 

This book is a much more professional publication than the first one. It's got tons of step-out photography and a wealth of reference material covering all sorts of cord making.  But in regards to the lucet, the material is slim pickings.  I wouldn't recommend this book if all someone really was interested in was lucet. But it's a great reference for anyone wanting to learn about cord-making in general. It's a great resource on making all kinds of different kinds of cords, including the most basic lucet cord.


One thing I really liked was how she shows you how to make lucet cord on your fingers. I had heard of doing this before, but hadn’t been able to visualize exactly how that worked until I saw all the great step out photography in this book.


Advanced Lucet Cord Making Book

 

The Ziggy Stitch Technique and Video:  Advanced Luceting Leaflet and DVD  Available at his website.

Ziggy’s work is truly next-level.  I’ve blogged about his fast grab technique before. You need to check it out before making your next lucet cord. It will change the way you do things.

He has an Advanced Luceting Video and pamphlet available among other cool things on his website. I haven’t had the chance to go through the video and the leaflet yet. But based on what I've seen fron a quick browse, these techniques aren't covered anywhere else.  I'll be taking the info with me to practice on my trip this summer.

This is the best choice I’ve found for someone truly wanting to go to the next level.


Is there a book or resource I missed?  Please comment.  I’m sure I’m not the only person who would like to know!

 

A few more books that people have emailed me about, but that I haven't had the chance to review:

  1.  The Lucette Book by Daniel Phelps - available here.
  2. The lucet is pictured in this 1842 publication on the plates in the beginning pages and it says that instructions are on page 414, but I did not find it on that page.  Perhaps someone else can find?  Direct link hereThe Lady's Assistant in Knitting, Netting, and Crochet Work (second volume; Edinburgh; I. J. Gaugain; London: Ackermann and Co., 1842) by Mrs. Jane Gaugain. Listing page here.

 


_________________________________________________________________________________________


7 Day Lucet Challenge

Learn How to Make Your Knit & Crochet Better With a Lucet!

Take the FREE 7 Day Lucet Challenge

 

No Lucet Required! Spend just 30 minutes per day.

Learn how to do more with the yarn you already have.

Join Jennifer Hansen, the designer at Stitch Diva Studios, in this series of daily email lessons to learn this ancient Viking cording technique. She'll teach you the basics of lucet work and how to make 6 kinds of cords.

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Comments | Posted in Techniques & How To By Jennifer Hansen