Sunday, July 31, 2011

Yarn testing

When buying yarn, I usually look at how soft the yarn is, how smooth it is to work with, and also how much it costs per meter per skein. During my first months of crafting, I couldn't seem to find yarn that I was satisfied with in the shops in my city. Almost all the shops I went to had yarn that was too thin, too rough or too itchy when worn.

Most of the projects I make are hats, scarves and amigurumi. I like buying yarn that is smooth to work with but affordable. Good thing a friend showed me this wonderful yarn shop in the next city (the same shop where I got all the hooks and needles I use now). They sell a nice variety of yarns there, but most of them are too expensive for me, when you consider the price per meter. Still, that's where I always get my stash.

After trying out a few brands and types, I settled on the Excel yarns as my staple. The colors are nice, the yarn is smooth, and it feels like it's made of cotton, when in fact it is 100% acrylic! The material it's made of ensures that it's very affordable too! You can say that it's worth the effort of going all the way to the next city to get 'em. Some novelty yarns, Bernat yarns, and Lion Brand Cotton-Ease appear in my stash too, but Excel for me is always the pinaka-sulit or, in English, best for its value.

I do wish I could find yarn I like in my city though. Which is why I still keep an eye out for some craft shops and other local brands of yarn. I've been reading a few entries by fellow Filipinos about Monaco yarns. They say it's okay to work with, so as soon as I saw a store selling Monaco yarns, I bought a few skeins in one of my favorite colors.


Rusty-orange, one of my favorite colors

Trying this out now by making a hat. I really hope it doesn't turn out to be itchy/scratchy, 'cause I did notice that it's not as springy or soft as the Excel yarns. If it does satisfy at the end, I just might stick to this brand! It's only 18php for one ball!

Magic loop vs. Chain 2 (or 3)

Which is better, the magic loop or the usual chain 2 (or 3)?

Surprisingly, I've noticed a lot of people asking this question. I think it's because the chain 2 (or 3) method is easier to do, but the magic loop provides a cleaner finish.

Personally, I would say a magic loop is always best. You can control the size of the hole created at the beginning, or you can even eliminate the hole altogether! It really is worth the time to understand and learn how to make it. It gives you a choice!

For example, when you create a hat that is made from top to rim, starting with a chain 2 or 3 could sometimes leave a hole at the top of the hat. You can sew it closed after working, but that would mean extra work (albeit little). But with a magic loop, you can just pull the end of your yarn to adjust the size of the hole or close it!

You can look at these two photos to compare:


This was created with a "chain 3, DC in 3rd chain from hook, 8 DC all around".
See, leaves a hole in the middle! Depending on the size of your hook, the hole could be so big!


This was created with a magic loop and 9DC in loop.
I've already pulled the end of the yarn to close the hole. See how nice and closed it is?


You can watch one of Teresa (Crochet Geek)'s instructional videos here to learn how to do the magic loop.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sometimes I despair...

...when I accidentally interpret some instructions in the wrong way 'cause I'm a lefty.

I knit the right-handed way, but I crochet as a lefty. Good thing the Crochet Geek and other online resources provide instructional videos for lefties now. Good for future lefty crocheters. When I was starting out, I could only imagine things from my point of view.

Confusion.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Crafting for a cause!

It's really interesting what you can do with knit and crochet crafting. I often get funny looks from people (sometimes, even from friends!) when I tell them I knit and crochet. But what they don't know is that we can make all sorts of practical things -- hats, scarves, washcloths, cozies, etc. And the beauty about hand-knit and crocheted items is that they're all custom-made and made with love!

They're not a dying craft and they're not just for grandmas!

Speaking of grandmas, I find this 91-year old lady pretty amazing: she knits breasts for a cause!


You can find the full story here.

Another movement that is crafting for a cause is the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project. Sounds amazing, doesn't it? It combines math, science, arts and crafts, and environmental awareness! Amazing. Click the link above to learn more about it. You can actually begin your own satellite reef in your area to contribute!

Many firsts

When I started learning how to knit and crochet, I couldn't ever finish any project I'd begin. I would get daunted easily by the complex stitches in patterns that I liked. Plus, I'd been jumping from job to job and couldn't find the time to do anything. It didn't help that quality crafting materials were hard to come by here in the city.

After a year of on and off crafting, I kept all my hooks and needles away, wrapped up all my yarn into one messy plastic bag. It was depressing. Then one holiday season, I took it upon myself to clean out my room. I found my old yarn stash and realized what a waste of yarn it was. I then took out my needles and hooks and tried making little projects.

I couldn't seem to finish anything at first, because all my needles and hooks were on the thin side and thus made making projects a bit more tedious and less varied. I also started looking up patterns online and realized that I was still lacking in equipment! Asking around, a friend pointed out a certain yarnshop in the city. Here I found everything I was looking for: needles and hooks of different sizes, soft yarn, thick yarn, novelty yarn.

Now, I feel that there are hardly any limits with these crafts. Once I began using new materials, I started being very prolific with my projects. I made a lot of hats, a few scarves, some amigurumi and some bags. It felt really good; I felt like I found my niche. I tend to get very crazed about a multitude of things without making any follow-through, so it was wonderful to find something that I still haven't getting tired of.

As I said, I became very intense about completing projects, and I started several new projects at once. Everything was a first time and it was exciting. Here are some of my "firsts":



^^ My first knit hat!
Was pretty proud of this 'cause it was also my first attempt at fairisle designing.
(Special thanks go to my sister for modeling all my hats for me)


^^ My first crochet hat!
I found this really fun pattern online and it was my first time to use a crochet hook that was thicker than 2.5mm LOL. Pattern from here.


^^ My first attempt at amigurumi (crochet)!
Found a really cool pattern for this dragon here.


^^ My first amigurumi of my own making!
Here I didn't follow any pattern, so it was my first original ami. TMNT!


^^ My first crochet bag!
I found a copy of the book "Crochet Bags!" by Candi Jensen in the bargain bin of a bookstore, and this is the first one I made.


^^ My first knit bag!
Pattern was from Kelley Deal's book "Bags that Rock".

I've already made a lot of things now, and a lot more other firsts, but these are the most notable for me. :)

I wish I was more conscientious about writing down the patterns for my own creations!

Hooked and crazy!

I recently pooled some of my resources to invest in a set of Susan Bates crochet hooks. Until a couple of days ago, I only had 4 hooks to my name, and they were made of acrylic/plastic. The material of the hooks never bothered me until I got a chance to try out a Susan Bates aluminum hook. I must say, the yarn does slide more smoothly now.

Coming from a tropical country, I don't have to worry about aluminum crochet hooks getting too cold and giving my fingers and joints the aches. But I did have my eye on a set of bamboo hooks, which never turn cold, just 'cause they're light and environmentally friendly, and the yarn doesn't slide off when you're idle. Too bad I didn't have enough money for it.

The only quality hooks and needles I can get locally here in Manila are from brands like Aero and Susan Bates. These brands are my personal favorites.

So yeah, I finally invested in a whole set of aluminum hooks, and I'm happy :)


Set included sizes from 3.75mm to 6.6mm. I bought the 8.0mm, 9.0mm and 10mm hooks separately. Still cheaper than buying online!

Welcome! Bienvenue!

Welcome!

This is my first ever post for this blog and I'll use it to talk about why I created this.

I learned how to crochet and knit back in 2008, after graduation. I was a bum and didn't know what to do. Job-hunting got me depressed so I tried looking for new things to do and discover. By chance, I found my sister's old, old knitting needles and decided to try 'em out. No one I knew could teach me how to use them, so I had to figure it out on my own. Guess how I learned -- By watching videos on Youtube! Good thing I've always been into crafting; I took to these yarn crafts easily.

After learning the basics, it took me a while to start coming up with my own projects. I've always found it difficult to be very original and creative, so I focused first on trying out other people's patterns. It was a good thing; it taught me lots of essential techniques.

But now though, I'm trying to force myself to do my own thing. Hence, this blog.

The internet has been very useful to me (and to everyone else I know). I got to discover other people's blogs and websites for crafting. Everything I've seen so far has been so inspiring and encouraging!

Still, I can't seem to find it in me to come up with my own projects that I can really be proud of. I am almost never satisfied. I know myself though, and I know that I won't get anything done unless I pressure myself (haha). This personal blog is supposed to whip me into shape.

Someday, I hope to achieve what others have been able to do for me -- inspire!