Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tunisian Panels: The Marco Jacket

This one's fresh off the hook because I wanted to wear it to the Portland CGOA conference two weeks ago. It's really 4 experiments in one!

1. I used an obscure stash yarn that worked out great for tunisian crochet. It's Austermann Marco Stretch in "Winterberry" (a warm heathered rose). I've never used a bulky wool with a lot of lycra in it for a sweater so I didn't know what kind of drape I could expect, and whether I'd even be able to block it to my measurements. (Not much info on the 'net from users of this yarn, not even in Ravelry.)

2. The yarn is discontinued so I had a finite amount: would 10 skeins be enough for a jacket? To be on the safe side I went with cropped and shaped sleeves, cropped length, and minimal collar and front overlap. The yarn seemed sporty to me so I pictured a zip-front hoodie style, and would add pockets and a hood with leftover yarn. It ended up reminiscent of a boxy Chanel jacket style when I edged it. That's Yvette trying it on backstage after the conference fashion show.

3. The yarn was like felted spaghetti to work with and looked lumpy in every crochet swatch I tried except tunisian simple stitch (tss). The tunisian fabric came out stretchy, smooth, and soft & spongy enough for my kitten! I was not in the mood for long or cabled tunisian hooks, so....panels, right? I haven't seen many sweaters done this way lately. Making the panels was great fun, but how did I want to join them? I decided to make the seams a decorative element, so more swatching! (But check out ARNie's join-as-you-go tutorial) Correction added 9/30: See ARNie's comment on this entry; this link is part of Cindy's Crochet Pages. Great job Cindy! Thank you.

4. The last experiment concerned shaping. I wanted to do it all--tapered set-in sleeves, back neck drop, shoulder slope, waist. I knew it would help streamline the yarn's bouncy bulk, but this amount of shaping and shortrowing in tunisian was new to me. Using a 12mm hook and big yarn made it fun because some shaping was accomplished with merely adding or subtracting a few jumbo stitches.

I'm very pleased with the results, although I wish the yarn blocked better. There's a pic of me wearing it on Margaret's blog--scroll down to the 2nd photo. At the conference people especially liked the contrasting stitch textures, and some thought the seams were cables :-)

I would definitely construct a garment with tunisian panels again. I created a way to make "panel maps" in Garment Designer, which should simplify writing the pattern for many sizes. (Here's a hazy pic of the map I worked from.)

I had about 1 ball's worth of yarn left over. I paid $3.19/ball for this yarn about 4 years ago at, so not bad for a $30 sweater, huh?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Ins and Outs of INTERMESHING

I took Margaret Hubert's class on Intermeshing at the CGOA regional conference held in Portland, Oregon last week. Intermeshing is like crocheting two separate pieces of fabric, usually simple filet (chain 1, double crochet in the next double crochet), but you are interweaving them as you work a row of one piece and then the other, so it's a whole new way of experiencing filet crochet. The possible variations are infinite!

Although I had learned how to do this intriguing technique months ago thanks to Bonnie Pierce's downloads (scroll halfway down) and James Walters' excellent material generously made available via the internet, intermeshing is a type of crochet that is also exciting in a class setting. When I saw that Margaret was offering this class, I knew I had to be there.

I brought enough yarn for two very different swatches: one is that new Glow in the Dark yarn (white) by Bernat paired with a ball of blue discontinued Debbie Bliss yarn; my son loves how brightly the Bernat yarn glows in the dark, so I plan to turn this swatch into a small pillow that doubles as a nightlight. This yarn glows all night long! It glows brighter and less green than my camera captured here.

Margaret's class project was a simple bag and that's what I'll turn my second swatch into, so I brought colors for me: a deep rich red chenille (discontinued Reynolds Paris) paired with charcoal Lion Brand Cotton Ease. (see first photo, above.)

Intermeshing requires a certain kind of focus at first. I find that after awhile I can get into a comfortable rhythm, but until then, the logic of it is tricky for me--especially the beginning and ending of rows. Can you spot all the errors? Keep in mind that the edge is meant to end with a solid vertical bar of blue....

Below is my first swatch from months ago, in size 10 threads, turned into a wrist cuff. I was curious how it would look to pair a variegated thread (Manuela) with a solid neutral color (Cebelia). I wear it often because it goes great with jeans, but as a jewelry design I think it would have more punch if both colors were solid instead of variegated. Photos of it "in action" can be seen here.
I recommend Margaret's class to anyone interested in learning intermeshing. She brought some inspiring samples and her class handout is first-rate. I haven't shown any variations here, but Margaret had an afghan with a combination of intermeshing variations. Check out her blog entries about the class (scroll down to Sept. 16 and Aug. 3).

Update: see also this site about "Double Filet" as intermeshing is called in the UK (thank you, nic):
In the US for 2010, Susan Lowman will be teaching a class on this technique at CGOA's Chain Link conference (July, Manchester NH).