August 4, 2014

New Hook & Tunic

This post is a two part-er!
Up first, something new: A crochet hook review

I love to attend Scarborough Faire here in Texas. Most years I go to get henna, good food, and a bit of a sunburn. This year I saw something new. One of the wood shops sold hair sticks and clips, but also had a small selection of handmade crochet hooks! They were all from Morgan's Mane, and lucky for you readers, she has an Etsy store! My go to hook is a 5.00 mm/H/8, but as I didn't see any I bought one up a size at an 5.5/I/9. These hooks vary in lengths and styles, but the one I went with was a dark stained rosewood hook that is about 5 inches long. It is one of the more plain styles with a finial shape on the end, but I didn't think I would like feeling something more elaborate in my palm. Also, knowing the type of wood reminds me of the types of wands in Harry Potter and how they are identified by wood, core, and length... brings a smile to my face.

The hook itself feels lovely in my hand. The butt end nestles right into the outside edge of my hand at my pinky joint, is light, and feels strong. The neck is nicely tapered to a fairly tight return to the hook. Comparing the shapes to my go to hook, you cannot see any difference in quality or shape. I do wish that it was a slick on yarn as aluminum is. There is a slight pull, like a vibration, and it forces me to hook slower and a little looser. All that said, once I got used to it, it turned out to be a great little hook. I can't help but think that any of these custom beauties would be a great gift idea for anyone in your life who crochets.

On to part 2!
I bought the hook without having an plans to use it anytime soon, but as these things go, less than a week later I saw a pattern calling for an I hook! The pattern is free from Lion Brand yarn with an account. I have found so many good ones, though, that there is no reason not to make an account.

New Lace Tunic
Until now I have not been ambitious enough to tackle people clothing, especially since that dog sweater I attempted didn't fit right... but as this pattern is two large rectangles, I figured I could attempt it.

First thing I did was go find some yarn. I had on hand 5 skeins of Caron Simply Soft in Dark Country Blue. I had intended to use it to relearn to knit and make a Coraline Star Sweater, but I have given up on that idea. I compared the amount of yarn needed and realized I had almost enough and ran out real quick to find another skein.

The pattern itself is actually not too hard to follow. Choose your size and go from there. Once you have the foundation done, it repeats 4 rows to length, with a trim row on the other end as well. What I did have trouble with, was they way they worded those rows. Once you know the pattern it is simple, but that wall of text made it hard to put down your work and find your place again and then remind you what row you were on. I made myself a cheat sheet of the 4 rows simplified so I could easily look at my working row and know where I left off.

The center of each row repeats along the length, and each row has different ends.
I made a 1x since I like my sweaters a bit roomy. I know my yarn is a bit thicker than the one it calls for, but it is on the thin side of a worsted weight yarn and feels lovely. So for me, a single set of those 4 repeating rows takes anywhere from 26-30 minutes to do. As each panel has roughly 50 sets to achieve the length called for, I am estimating that making the front and back pieces took about 25 hours each, total of 50 hours. I started work on this in late May... Competed it August 2nd.

The ease of the pattern stops at finishing. Once you have the two rectangles finished you have to sew them up just right to make it into something wearable. That took me another 2 hours or so. The pattern says "seam up the sides (leaving a space for the arm holes) and across the shoulders"... it fails to say HOW to seam... So for the outside edges I simply stacked them up right and did a single crochet along the edge. Then turned the garment inside out so the seam would be on the inside.
sc seam up the inside.
I then marked out the shoulder seam as directed and tried my best to do some sort of a diagonal seam. This was difficult since the pattern has so many openings and chain spaces. Since I was unsure, I left the shoulder seam open on the ends with long tails so I could rip it out if needed. When I tried it on. with the cowl folded down, I had these like 80's pointy shoulders. It was not a good look. I think this happened because not only is the sweater a bit large on me, but the 7 inch shoulder seam is too long for my shoulders. The fix I came up with was to unseam the cowl to leave it loose and hang over the shoulders naturally, like cap sleeves. I tacked the bottom corners of the cowl together and then tacked that to the bottom of the arm hole opening. Took an extra hour to unseam it and figure out the fix.
The cowl, unseamed and tacked.
Once it was on I can't help but feel like this is not even a sweater I would try on or even buy in a store... which is a shame. Also, the whole thing is really heavy, so I guess the thinner yarn was needed. I do really like the length and it is super warm, but I doubt that I will wear it in public. It's more like a body-blanket than sweater... with some leggings and a camisole it would be comfy winter lounging wear.

I guess I am happy that I managed to make people clothes that fit me, but sweaters are hard, and after 50 hours of making panels I really wanted it to turn out stellar.

Difficulty: Pattern says Intermediate... gonna agree with that, maybe add a "plus" to that.
Time to completion: ~55 hours