Monday, November 14, 2016

For Knitting Only?

  There are some keywords that really matter when you're picking a yarn... If it is listed as a craft yarn, you probably don't want to make a garment with it. If it is called a novelty yarn, it will most likely be something with crazy texture that can be hard to work with. Natural and animal fibers can make beautiful garments, but some can be scratchy, and they usually require special care.


  These are all things that can make an online purchase a scary situation! Not being able to feel a yarn before I buy it often leads me to make the "safe" choice of picking a synthetic, inexpensive acrylic. If it ends up being the scratchiest yarn in the world, then you can always make a bag or some doilies with it, right? I have something that's been sitting in my stash for about a year now, being saved for a special project because it turned out to be a really nice yarn. I finally made a decision to use it, and dug it out to get started. That was when I ran into a slight problem... There's no recommended hook size on the label!

yarn, gauge, knitting, crochet, hook size, Plymouth Dreambaby 4 Ply


  Although there are yarns that are labeled as knitting yarn, it doesn't stop you from crocheting with them. Even though this Plymouth Dreambaby 4-Ply wasn't listed as a knitting yarn, it doesn't include crochet gauge on the label. Yup, sometimes they do that to us. So, what do I do?

yarn, gauge, knitting, crochet, hook size, Plymouth Dreambaby 4 Ply


  There are two simple options. One: Search online! I usually go right to the manufacturer's website to find yarn information. However, it didn't help me this time - There's no crochet gauge listed on their site, either! My second thought was to search for patterns using this yarn and check the gauge for them, but that only led me to a distraction. Searching "Dreambaby 4-Ply" gave me tons of results for "Dreambaby DK", which made me go do a side-check to see if this yarn was discontinued. The answer seems to be "no", although the colors available are very limited. And now I was lost looking at the pretty colors available in the other yarn.


  I get easily distracted that way, and the best thing for me to do is walk away from glowing rectangles. I went back to my yarn, which provided option two: Figure it out by the knitting gauge provided! The label tells me that the recommended needles would be a size 3.

yarn, gauge, knitting, crochet, hook size, Plymouth Dreambaby 4 Ply


  All I have to do is use this chart from the Craft Yarn Council to find the corresponding size hook. Size 3 knitting needles are 3.25 MM, which would be a size D-3 crochet hook. See how complicated these American sizes can be? I think it would be easier for hooks and needles to just be labeled by their measurements.

  However, that's a debate for another time. It was easy to find the corresponding hook size, but I had to do a little extra guesswork before I started my project. This yarn is a nylon blend, nice and soft with a good bit of stretch. Because my tension is always a little too tight, I know my work will pucker if I use the recommended hook (or needle) size. Working with a stretchy yarn makes this problem even worse. Since I want a nice lacy fabric that will get the most out of my yarn, I automatically went up two hook sizes before I began.

yarn, gauge, knitting, crochet, hook size, Plymouth Dreambaby 4 Ply


  And of course, I'm still obsessed with making everything in the Love Knot stitch at the moment, so there's the additional problem of trying to find the perfect length for the loops. I'm glad I went up with the hook size, because the closing single crochet stitches of the Love Knots are pretty tight as-is.

yarn, gauge, knitting, crochet, hook size, Plymouth Dreambaby 4 Ply


  I still don't know what the deal is with yarns that claim to be "for knitting", or why some don't have a crochet gauge available. But I do know that with a little research, it doesn't stop you from using them for crochet. It only took me a few minutes to convert that needle size so I could get to work on my next project. A quick search and the forethought to increase the size for my tension saved me from ripping out a lot of guesswork.

yarn, gauge, knitting, crochet, hook size, Plymouth Dreambaby 4 Ply


  The Craft Yarn Council also has this chart which can tell you the recommended hook size based on your yarn weight. That's great, but none of it will stop me from the perpetual problem of starting more projects! The hard part of beginning the pattern is done and over with, so this one is getting put aside as a "weekend" WIP. Like I really need another one.


Happy Crocheting! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Poppies for Remembrance

  There's something I see in my generation and younger: The importance of history and remembrance has been forgotten. When Stella of Purfylle asked me about crocheting poppies for Australia's Z-Special Unit and the crew of the HMAS HDML 1321, I asked "why poppies?", but I was soon thrown back into memories. A silk flower with a tag on it, remembered from childhood. Something, perhaps, not American? Oh, but it is. This flower has been and still is used as a memorial symbol in America, Canada, Australia, and more. However, it seems to have gone out of style around here... To be as forgotten as the history no one is interested in saving.


  For Veterans Day in America, and Remembrance Day everywhere else... In honor of the HDML 1321's crew and the Z-Special Unit, in remembrance of every fallen soldier, and with respect to a special veteran who has passed - my good friend Don, who taught me the importance of preserving history: Because without recognition of history, we would never have appreciation for the present.

Poppies, for Remembrance.


This pattern creates a flower with a diameter of 3" (7.5 cm) in worsted weight yarn. A lighter weight yarn could be used for a smaller poppy.



Skill level:
Easy
crochet, international pattern symbols, easy





Materials:
Worsted weight (4) acrylic yarn (or any other yarn)
-I used scraps of Caron One Pound in Black and Caron United in Cherry
Hook size H/8 - 5.50 MM
Yarn needle




Gauge:
Not important. One round of 12 single crochet measures 1" (2.5 cm) across.




Notes:
Yarn weight and hook size could be changed for a smaller flower.

Chains at beginning of rounds do not count as a stitch unless noted.

A standing single crochet is used once. In case you're not familiar with this method, it is noted in the pattern where you can replace this stitch. (Or, follow the example to learn!)

Pattern is worked in two pieces and attached using the tails to save yarn and time. If you do not leave sufficient ends for sewing, you can use a separate piece of yarn to sew the pieces together.

Step by step examples can be found in sections of the written pattern. The numbers in bold parenthesis (1-3) are to mark the corresponding photo, and are not a stitch count or part of the pattern.


Stitches (American terms)
Chain
Single crochet
Half-double crochet
Double crochet
Triple crochet

Standing single crochet - Yarn over the hook from back to front, keeping the tail of the yarn to the front of the hook. Insert the hook in the designated stitch, holding the tail securely against your work. Yarn over, pull up a loop (2 loops on hook). Yarn over, pull through both loops.
*In the example below, you see the yarn tail below the hook in step 2. Your tail should be above the hook during this step, not as pictured. (It really requires two hands; without holding the yarn secure during this step, it will just pop off the hook.) You can see in steps 4 and 5 how the tail should be trapped inside the stitch.




Directions:



Bottom piece -

Round 1:
With red (Cherry), chain 3. Make 12 double crochet in the farthest chain from the hook. Join with a slip stitch to the first double crochet made.
(12 double crochet in round)




Round 2:
Chain 2 (counts as stitch!), half-double crochet in the first available stitch (1).
*(2 double crochet, 2 triple crochet) in the next stitch (2). (2 triple crochet, 2 double crochet) in the following stitch (3).


2 half-double crochet in the next stitch, slip stitch in each of the following 2 stitches (1).* Make 2 half-double crochet in the next stitch. Repeat from * to * to complete the round (2). Join with a slip stitch to the beginning chain-2 (3).



Bind off, only weave ends to outer edge of Round 1.


Top piece -

Round 1:
With black, chain 2. Make 12 single crochet in the farthest chain from the hook. Join with a slip stitch to the first single crochet made.
(12 single crochet)

Bind off and weave in all ends.


Round 2:
*Before you begin, check out the method below for adding extra detail to the center. 
With red, join with a standing single crochet in any stitch of Round 1.
(-Or, slip stitch and chain 1. The chain-1 will then count as the beginning single crochet.)
Make a half-double crochet in the same stitch.


*(2 double crochet, 2 triple crochet) in the next stitch (1). (2 triple crochet, 2 double crochet) in the following stitch (2). (Half-double crochet, single crochet) in the next stitch (3).


Chain 1, skip 2,* (single crochet, half double crochet) (1). Repeat from * to * to complete the round (2). Join with a slip stitch to the standing single crochet (or chain-1). Bind off, weave ends (3).



A quick tip for adding detail:
After making more and more of these, I discovered an out-of-the-ordinary trick that saves time. If you would like to add a little extra detail to the center and work over the tail without having to weave it in, check this out:

 After working over the tail for a few stitches, I dropped my working yarn and put the tail on a yarn needle. Beginning from the back, I brought the yarn through the stitches of round 1. I made a few flowers with the details running vertically over the stitches, but decided I liked the horizontal stitches more.


 Stitch back to the beginning stitches of round 2, and run the yarn through the bottoms of the stitches made. Continue working over the tail for the rest of round 2, and you'll have one less tail to weave in!


Attaching:
Line up centers of top and bottom pieces, with petals perpendicular to each other. Use tails of the bottom piece to sew through the top piece, over the bottom of the stitches of round 2. Sew over chain-1 space of round 2 (top piece) and pull tight. Weave remaining tails through pattern to secure.



 Sew over chain-1 spaces to give the petal extra depth.

Weave in remaining ends on the back side.





Why these poppies are important to me:
  I met my friend Don when I was about 20, and heard his stories almost every day after becoming his neighbor. From tales of how he set the outhouse on fire as a kid to running away at 16 to join the army, I learned his whole life history and so much more. While others rolled their eyes at the ramblings of an old man, I listened to the love he had for his fellow soldiers, his respect for his country, and his appreciation for the chance to learn about other cultures.


  Don spent some years in Japan during World War II, never seeing battle but losing many friends. He never asked for thank-you's for his service, but he did ask for respect to fallen soldiers and for their stories to be retold - so much more than what's found in textbooks. He wanted the people and their sacrifices to be remembered, so we would never forget what they lost so we could live the lives we live today.

free crochet pattern, poppy flower, Remembrance Poppies, #LestWeForget

  Also known to be a bit of a prankster, Don would have loved some of the antics mixed into the history of the Z-Special Unit. I crocheted eight poppies - Seven for each of the crew of the HMDL 1321 who lost their lives during Operation Copper, and one extra to represent every other fallen soldier. Crocheting a flower isn't much in return for a life, but it is a step towards commemorating the sacrifice that was made. Saving the HDML 1321 so it can be appreciated by future generations is an even bigger step.

 Find the free crochet pattern for the Z-Special Unit's dagger here.


#LestWeForget

Please share and use #saveHDML1321 to help!




Happy Crocheting!


A Dagger for Courage

  In Macbeth, the dagger represents deceit, treachery and greed. A dagger is often used in tattoo art to convey a broken heart or a lost loved one. From ancient Buddhism to modern Wicca, the dagger is for rituals and other ceremonial purposes. This small, easy-to-conceal blade has been used throughout history to symbolize many things, but for the military, it is a symbol of honor. Representing stealth, intelligence, precision and more, the dagger can be found on many military insignia.


  One emblem was brought to my attention by Stella of Purfylle, and I've become obsessed with learning about this piece of Australian (and world) history. Z-Special Unit was a joint Allied special forces unit that carried out 81 missions in the South West Pacific during World War II. Their last - Operation Copper - was carried out by a crew of eight commandos... And only one survived. 


  Sapper Mick Dennis fought through Japanese patrols, swam over three kilometers under pursuit, and after nine days finally met up with Australian troops to pass on information that was critical to the war. It's a story of bravery that makes you wonder: Where's the movie? Well, I can't make the movie it deserves, but I can crochet. So for Sapper Mick Dennis and the heroic Z-Special Commandos: A Dagger, for Courage. 


free crochet pattern, applique, dagger, HDML 1321


This is no small applique! I couldn't make a tiny piece to commemorate the courageous acts of the Z-Special Unit. This dagger measures 12" (30 cm) from hilt to tip of blade. Easy instructions are given to make a narrower hilt.


free crochet pattern, applique, dagger, HDML 1321


Skill level:
Easy
International crochet pattern symbol, easy




Materials:
Worsted weight (4) yarn
-I used some leftover Caron One pound, only in Black. The hilt and blade are made separately, so you can easily make them in two colors. A few yards are needed for both pieces.
Crochet hook size H/8 - 5.50 MM
(Size H in honor of the HDML 1321!)
Yarn needle

free crochet pattern, applique, dagger, HDML 1321


Gauge:
Not important
-Measuring across the hilt, I have 6 single crochet in 2" (5 cm).

free crochet pattern, applique, dagger, HDML 1321


Notes:
The foundation single crochet stitch can be replaced with a beginning chain and single crochet stitches, and working into the bottom loops of the beginning chain instead of foundation stitches. This will cause the pattern to have a bit of texture across the hilt. 

Chain-1 at beginning of row counts as a single crochet unless stated.

Single numbers in bold parenthesis (1-4) correspond with photos for help. They are not a stitch count or any part of the pattern.


Stitches (American terms):
Chain 
Single crochet
Slip stitch

Single crochet 2 together - Insert hook, yarn over, pull up loop (2 loops on hook). Insert hook in next stitch, yarn over, pull up a loop (3 loops on hook). Yarn over, pull through all 3 loops.



Directions:

Make 20 foundation single crochet (or chain 20, and work single crochet across).

free crochet pattern, applique, dagger, HDML 1321
 *Some daggers don't have a wide hilt! For a narrower hilt, you could make fewer stitches here.



First side, to top of hilt:
Chain 1 (does not count as a stitch), turn. Make 2 single crochet in the first available stitch (1). Make 1 single crochet in each of the next 10 stitches (2). Working in rows: Chain 1, turn, make 1 single crochet in each of the next 2 single crochet (3). I made a total of 9 rows; you may want to make more or less. End on an odd number, so the last row ends on the side of the hilt that has not yet been worked. For last row of hilt: Chain 1, turn, make 2 single crochet in the first available stitch. (Single crochet, chain 2, single crochet) in the next stitch, and make 2 single crochet in the last (4).

free crochet pattern, applique, dagger, HDML 1321



The rest of the hilt:
(Worked in the round) Slip stitch in each side-post space back to first row of single crochet (1). Make 1 single crochet in each remaining stitch of the foundation row (2). (2 single crochet, chain 2, 2 single crochet) in the last stitch (3). Working around: Make 1 single crochet in the bottom of each foundation stitch (4).

free crochet pattern, applique, dagger, HDML 1321



Finishing:
In the last/first stitch (where you began with 2 single crochet), make 2 single crochet. Chain 2, and join with a slip stitch to the first single crochet. Bind off and weave in the ends.

free crochet pattern, applique, dagger, HDML 1321


Blade:

Find the placement of the blade by the stitches that line up with the hilt. Beginning one stitch to the right of the hilt, join yarn with a slip stitch. Chain 1. 

free crochet pattern, applique, dagger, HDML 1321



Work single crochet stitches to width of blade (I made 5).
free crochet pattern, applique, dagger, HDML 1321



(Chain 1, turn, work 1 single crochet in each stitch) for each row until you want the blade to reduce (1). (I worked 6 rows) Chain 1, turn, single crochet 2 together. Continue working even for the same number of rows, and reduce again (2). And repeat (3) until there are only two stitches left in a row. Work for the same number of rows. To finish, chain 2, turn, and slip stitch in the last stitch (4). Bind off and weave in ends.

free crochet pattern, applique, dagger, HDML 1321

*Some twisting at the tip of the blade was a problem for me until I dampened and blocked the piece. If you will be sewing it to something, this won't be needed.

free crochet pattern, applique, dagger, HDML 1321


  I have to say that the lack of a movie about Operation Copper doesn't bother me; I don't watch them anyways. However, there is a book that I can't wait to read. Although I really wanted to be old-fashioned (nerdy) and hold a paper copy of Guns of Muschu, I decided to make the less-expensive purchase of an e-book so I could put my money to better use... The patrol boat that was used in Operation Copper has been sailing the seas all these years, but now she needs our help! After efforts to restore the HDML 1321 to her original condition, the ship sank at her moorings on October 19, 2016.


  I first learned of the HDML's plight through the Purfylle blog. Through a roller coaster ride of uncertainty, Stella has kept me updated on the situation. At first it looked like harbor authorities weren't aware of who the "MV Rushcutter" really was, and the historical HDML 1321 was destined to be scrapped. But now, there is hope! As I write this post, efforts are being made to raise the vessel from the harbor floor. Plans are in place to restore her to wartime condition and make her museum-worthy, but the ship's owners now face bankruptcy. It is a saddening tale as it is, but reading about Ms. Geddes' loss of hope is heartbreaking. 


  Seven men lost their lives on that mission. The chance to preserve their memory is fading away, but it hasn't disappeared yet. I know many of you, like me, don't have much to spare. But all it takes is the cost of your next 400-calorie pumpkin spice latte; that skein of yarn you don't really need because you already have a giant stash; that extra $10 that could have went into your new-boot fund... Please, just one time, instead of spending that cash on something that will disappear soon in the future, put it towards part of saving the past.  

free crochet pattern, applique, dagger, HDML 1321


#LestWeForget

Happy Crocheting!

  

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