Dry spell

The whole of June was dry. In terms of rains in Mumbai as well as words from me on this blog. The rains have finally arrived here with a vengeance and I decided to come back and talk.

My stash is in a garage, corrugated cardboard wrapped and clingfilmed. I spent one month working on the little I’d packed for that chimeric granny square bedspread, then I was one month haunting the Weavers’ Centre in Hyderabad and learning about floor looms. After returning to Mumbai and limbo-land, my fingers got itchy. So off I went to the LYS (there is actually one, more a Local Craft Store, and very near by this city’s standards) and picked up some thread to knit a doily. I forgot my half-formed resolution to use thicker fibre for lace, and got the usual #20 equivalent.

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Got a few rounds into it and then decided my daughter and I needed head gear for the sunny walk to and wait at the bus stop. So off I went and got some acrylic yarn and matching thread. That turned into this:

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But I realised my gauge is much looser than the LYS owner thinks, and I ought really to have bought a hook a couple of sizes smaller. So I quickly went off the second hat, but miraculously, perhaps because I was making sun hats, the monsoon settled in. Now I don’t need a hat anyway.

Then I forget how, but I got itchy to crochet a doily. This time I made sure to get a thinner hook, and double the thread. I’m happy now and have got about 33 rounds done of a Japanese pattern, despite having to undo several rounds and redo them. I’m thinking this might turn into another parasol, which would be about as much use as a doily in my house. Not that I have a house at this point.

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Inspired

We had some unseasonal rain here in Hyderabad (where I’ve been visiting for the past few weeks). What I made will not protect against that. It’s entirely decorative, with very little practical application. Only the “Ooh” factor.

Knit lace parasol

Doily on a frame

I’ve long been watching all the gorgeous crochet parasol patterns whenever I come across them, and been wanting to make one myself. I didn’t think I ever would. Then inspiration struck. I’ve been using this modified shawl as a tablecloth on the coffee table in Kochi. I removed it after Chandra began “cruising” (walking with support), because I was afraid she’d pull it off and fall. Not too many eyes view it anyway, or appreciate it. So I thought I’d put it on an umbrella frame a la crochet parasols.

I thought about finding a large enough empty frame, but didn’t. After coming here, though, I saw an old grandfatherly type of umbrella my father had, its original silk slightly moth-eaten, and it struck me as ideal for the purpose. From the thought to the deed took only as long as it took to sew the lace to the spokes, after ripping the silk from the frame. The central cast-on was sloppy enough to allow me to simply poke the top through. I wondered if I should let the excess lace droop around the spokes, but then decided against it.

Instead I ran some spare yarn through, tightened it, knotted it and wove the ends through. And there you have it.

Something I made that actually looks like art! I wish I could get a larger audience for it, though! I think not enough people noticed it in Chandra’s birthday party, stuck as it was over a light above the mouthwatering dinner spread. Plus I was too busy hostessing to point it out to people who’d appreciate it. I think I shall tell my mother to carry it around when she goes out in the summer. She was after all, partly responsible for me doing this, by asking if I could make a crochet parasol like one she saw at a saree exhibition once.

See the frame

Side on

ETA: I only realised now that I haven’t linked to my Ravelry project page on this post. Remedying that right away.

Doily quartet.

I sometimes wonder if I’m going to become a semi-split crafter. Most of the time the only thing that appeals to me in crochet increasingly is thin thread and therefore mostly doilies and lace, while with knitting  I can still manage the bulky cables.  I think of a pattern in crochet and run through the yarns in my stash mentally, and then I shudder at the bulk and density of the probable result. Many projects get shelved even before I take hook to yarn. But doilies – no problem. The lacier the better and any thread will do.

My mind is prejudiced for knitting as being thinner in general than crochet, so it feels as though yarn = knitting. Perhaps it is the general climate of where I live. I can’t really say. Can’t feel it matters, even.

So what’s my point? Nothing. Just thought I’d record what I’ve been thinking for a while now.

Now I’m going to drown you in crochet lace. Doilies, four of them. Run now if you can’t stand the things. Two are filet, and two non. I really enjoy filet, especially in the round.

Japanese filet pattern

This first one is from a Japanese publication, Living with Beautiful Crochet, published by Nihon Vogue. European and Asian crochet lace is always entertaining. Here is my Rav project page for it. And the Rav pattern page. Apart from the fact that this one begins in the centre and is worked outward, I loved that the final row is smooth, picot-less and with no jagged edges. The steps usually formed in filet patterns are my downfall, because I can never quite get them crisp, while picots anyway are a bugbear. This worked up at 24″ with a 1.5mm hook and the thread is a nameless lachha (hank) that has amazing yardage (@Rs 15). I raided Jaishree’s stash for this, since I was visiting her when the itch struck and I believe I hadn’t taken any of my WIPs with me. To ensure I had enough thread, I may have grabbed rather more than I should have, so naturally I had to find another project for the rest of the thread.

Stardust filet doily

This one appealed to me immediately for its unusual shape. I just love how filet uses filled-in and vacant blocks and lacet stitches to create the illusion of shading in just one colour. This is the nearest I’ll ever get to painting or any other creative endeavour. Here are my Rav project page and pattern page. Filet also apparently goes quicker for me than other charted patterns, since you get into a groove counting off the blocks and rows. I enjoyed the bilateral symmetry of this design, which I believe is a vintage pattern and has several sources, including a free download at Freepatterns.com (you need to register at the site, also free). With the same 1.5mm hook, this one’s 18.75″ x 21.75″.

Both these have gone under the plastic on my dining table. I have a vision of making enough different doilies in white and then crocheting them together to make a tablecloth. No idea if it will ever come to fruition.

The next couple were sort of commissioned. A friend wanted a doily in beige or cream, so I made this one.

Clockwork white (cream)

It’s actually called Clockwork White, and is from Magic Crochet magazine #60, June 1989, designed by Chantal Chevalier. As you can see, it has the dreaded picots.  I used a 1.5mm hook with Jyoti thread for a finished size of 20″, but possibly could have used a 1.25mm one for better density. My project page is here, and the pattern page here. Unfortunately one of the stitches caught some colour from something else that ran, so I put this aside to make another one.

Starflower

I chose this one for the unusual design, this time from Decorative Crochet #5 and it’s called Starflower, by Mayumi Sato (see, Japanese again). My project here and the pattern page on Rav here. The petals at the centre were made by a technique new to me, and the doily overall took longer than I anticipated to make. I used the advice of a fellow Raveller, and used a measuring tape pinned to the centre to make the circle mostly uniform in diameter (25.5″ with a 1.25mm hook, density of stitches much better).

We were chatting about blocking and decided we need to have bedsheets pre-printed with concentric circles and squares so blocking becomes easier :) I use my spare bedroom bed for all my blocking. Failing pre-printed bedsheets, we could always mobilise an old plain sheet and use tailors’ chalk to make the shapes. This doily’s gone to its recipient now.

So there you have them, my last four doilies. The filet ones remain my favourites. How about you?

Scratching itches.

I didn’t realise I hadn’t blogged for the whole of December. I have become quite sloppy with my blogging and must be grateful to have any readers left!
So scrambling to fill the gaps, here are a couple of doilies I crocheted in that month.
First up is this one, an oval doily. Ravelry project page here.

I made this because someone on Ravelry was having a problem with some of the instructions and I had the pattern, so I decided to try and see where the problem might be. In the end, I had only two places where something was fishy. I do wish they’d convert patterns like this to charts, because trying to read and follow long written instructions makes me cross-eyed. Anyway, here goes.

Thread: Some of the Jyoti brand thread I got on my last visit to Hyderabad. Since it was white, there wasn’t a problem about whether the colour would run. About half a 50gm skein. Very good value.

Hook: 1.25mm

Pattern: Oval Doily #3 by Lucille LaFlamme from Leisure Arts #2791, Oval Doilies to Crochet. The Rav page for the pattern is here. I had the following points to note:

  1. In Rnd 3, I fell one stitch short, but I fudged that.
  2. In Rnd 13, the third Ch4 should read Ch5, but that is obvious when you come to that point.

Time: 4 days.

Size: 15.5″ x 10″ Despite using smaller thread and hook than recommended, I got the recommended size. Funny. I wouldn’t have thought I was a loose crocheter.

Extra #1 I hated the picots in the last row. I’m never happy with them. I try using beads in some cases.

Then Jaishree came visiting one weekend. We’d been talking when I visited her about which of us was a tighter or looser crocheter, because we found we use different size hooks for the same size thread. We’d even begun a doily to check how much bigger or smaller our final doilies would end up, but that pattern somehow got shelved. So this time, when I stumbled across some doily patterns at the non-English websites of Coats and Clark, we picked another, smaller pattern and began that. I picked up what remained of the Jyoti skein and she used a pink skein of Jyoti. Here’s mine. Ravelry project page here.

And here are the details.

Thread: Would you believe there is still some thread left from the Jyoti skein? If you believe the yardage requirements given in the patterns, this 50gm skein has amazing length…either the cardboard cores in the recommended thread account for a lot of the ball weight, or this thread is lighter, or something.

Hook: 1.25mm. I apparently have a death grip on my hooks, because towards the end of this doily I broke the handle on this one. It was quite upsetting because although I heard the crack, I foolishly believed it wouldn’t break completely immediately. But it did, and I finally resorted to reinforcing it with packing tape and pins to finish the doily. Very kindly, however, Jaishree brought me a spare for future use. I really love these hooks and haven’t used any others for thread since getting them.

Pattern: Tulpe (Tulips) from Coats and Clark GmbH (Germany). The Rav page for the pattern is here. I went looking for the non-English patterns, becuase I knew they’d have doilies. And I love the European doilies for several reasons, including the fact that they are charted, and they have unusual designs and motifs and shapes, plus it isn’t all pineapples. I found this one and a couple more, including one on the French site.

Time: 3 days.

Size: 15.25″ I still don’t know what size Jaishree’s ended up, but possibly it would be larger, since it was already larger at a comparative stage before she’d finished it.

Extra #1 Nothing much. Nice elegant pattern, quick results…

So. These two FOs of mine are not in the order they ought to have been (there’s a whole block missing after that shawl I blogged about last time) but these were handy to link to and write about.

Sometimes I just get an irresistible itch to make something with thread and hook. And then I can’t resist scratching.

All in a rush

Oh dear! I hadn’t realised that I haven’t blogged in ages! It’s a good thing most of my online friends see me around on Ravelry and the mailing lists, else someone might have been worried. No? Which raises the valid question, what good is this blog? What purpose does it serve (aside of occupying cyberspace)?

Luckily for you, it is not a question I am not going to answer in this post. Instead, I’m going to smother you in a flutter of doilies (what is the collective noun for doilies?).

Here’s #1, Kaleidoscope and its specs.
Kaleidoscope Doily

Thread: One strand each of a plain yellow-orange and an ombre, both in size 30, of Coats Mercer.

Hook: My current favourite size, 1.00mm Pony (the grey handle)

Pattern: Kaleidoscope doily by Julie Bolduc from JPF Crochet Club (it’s a free pattern). Here’s the Ravelry page for it, and my project page. I’d made it before, in a pale blue baby yarn and found it cupping, which I thought might be a gauge problem. I really enjoy the different patterns created with filet and net stitches.

Time: Overnight

Size: 9″ across

Extra #1 As I said, it’s a pattern I made before, but I had the inexplicable urge to make it again, perhaps to see how my skills have progressed since the last time I made it. At least my tastes haven’t changed in the patterns I like.

Moving on, here’s doily #2.
Crystal Fan doily

Thread: One of my thread finds in Hyderabad, Jyoti thread. This is size 20-ish and liable to fade. It’s locally made but what impressed me is that the wrapper has washing instructions and a pattern for an edging on the reverse! That’s the first time I’ve seen something like that on an Indian product for sale in India. The fading is disappointing, though. To work with, the thread is quite good. It didn’t chafe my fingers or leave colour on my hands. The next time I spotted it, I picked up cream and pale pink and white, since these are less likely to be dramatically affected. I saw some skeins which had faded just from being on the shelves.

Hook: 1.25mm Pony (the blue handle)

Pattern: Crystal Fan Doily by Linda Mershon from The Ultimate Doily Book by ASN, #1185. Here’s the Ravelry page for it, and my project page. I was attracted by the unusual shape. Blocking it was a bit tough, but then I’m finishing-challenged in any case. The beads were my own touch, in a desperate ploy to escape the picot curse :p Actually I picked up beads as well in Hyderabad and was in a “bead-y” phase.

Time: 4 days. We had a lot of power cuts while I was in Hyderabad and there was little else to do until I got a new battery for my laptop which replaced the one which kept dying after 30 minutes.

Size: 15.5″ across

Extra #1 Hmm. I  liked the shape.

#2 Oh, and now I have this one and a few other doilies on my dining table, sandwiched between the protective plastic cover and the cloth underneath. The husband thinks I’ve gone overboard, but I’m basking in my own brilliance at thinking of the idea, and so have added variously-coloured motifs as well to the melange.

This one’s gone far, far away to live…
Bruges lace doily

Well, not that far, actually, just about 4 hours away by train. It’s gone to live with Jaishree who drew the short straw and landed me as a partner in a swap. This is the first time I’m showing a Bruges lace crochet piece on this blog, but let’s follow the established pattern, shall we?

Thread: Red ombre rayon (sold as “silk” or “art silk”) just under one cone.

Hook: 1.25mm Pony (the blue handle), which seems to be usurping the place of favourite.

Pattern: Nameless square Bruges lace sample from a German book I have in the English translation, called simply Crochet. Published by Verlag für die Frau in the erstwhile East Germany. I bought the book along with a companion book on knitting/crochet at a book sale in JNU sometime in 1997 or so. Most of the patterns are charted, with some rudimentary written instructions. This book was actually how I learnt symbol crochet, teaching myself. I’ve made other pieces from this, I shall save them for later, since I don’t have too many details on any of them. Somehow I’ve never had the confusion over US/Rest of the World terminology, perhaps because I intermingled patterns from both sources willy-nilly. Also, at that point, I was not aware I had to be afraid of symbols…alas, perhaps I should have been introduced to socks as well at that vulnerable juncture.

I chose this pattern for two reasons. One, I wanted to give Jaishree a doily which she wouldn’t have in her formidable library (or photographic memory). As you can imagine, that was a challenge, because she appears to have almost every pattern ever published in the Western hemisphere (only half-kidding…). I knew she didn’t have this book, though, so that narrowed my choices between one of the patterns here or in a Finnish book I have.

The other reason for choosing this doily was that I wanted to make an entire piece of Bruges lace (well, the crochet imitation, at any rate). I’d tried it a few years ago and there’s evidence of it at my parents’ house, but that used a granny centre, so it wasn’t wholly Bruges crochet. Now that technique is something I can cross off my list. Whew.

You only use double (UK treble) crochet and chains, besides longer length stitches for the “spiders” at the centres and turns. Good fun, though you need to keep close track of where to turn. Here’s my Ravelry page.

Time: 4 days. I had to do it quick, because I’d almost forgotten that I had to swap it! Luckily Jaishree reminded me so I only waited till I got back to Cochin and could access the book again.

Size: 12″ across

Extra #1 I think I’ve said it all up there. This would be my debunking doily, I think, as a fellow crocheter has now seen it close-up and while she wouldn’t be rude enough to tell me what she thinks of my skills and finishing, I can well imagine!

Leaving you a-flutter…

Not a test

Jaishree's Doily #1

This one is #1 in Jaishree‘s doilies. So called because she gave me the thread and the pattern. I only have the pattern, so I’m not sure where it came from. Let me know if you recognise it. It is also in my Ravelry notebook, but that doesn’t have any other information.

I made it with a 1.25mm hook and just over one skein of the local ‘DMC’ cotton, which looked too small, but Jaishree assured me would make a 15″ or so doily. I’ve never seen this thread before but have worked with similar stuff earlier. It has an unmercerised appearance and has a picture of what looks like Shivaji on it, but is mysteriously named “Sultan Supreme”. It is apparently priced at Rs 3.00 and is made by Dass Thread Mills, who are (or have) “Regular users in India” (?!) How economical! A whole doily for just three rupees.

I was attracted by the unusual shape and the fact that it doesn’t require fastening off anywhere to achieve it. Badly blocked as usual. It is about 11.5″ from edge to edge. (not 15″) I had to frog the later rows a bit because I didn’t look at the chart properly (I usually work from my laptop, rather than printing out a copy.

This does not affect my stock inventory of doilies, however, since I gave away my -Along doily (crochet version, I’m keeping the knit one since it was my first knit doily) to a friend who’s been transferred and is leaving for Port Blair.

I have a couple of projects I need to be testing, but cannot get up the desire. Sigh.

Oh, did I tell you, I was away for a week with some girlfriends on a tour of Kerala and ended the trip by staying over at Jaishree’s place and raiding and looting her stash of thread and patterns. That last bit was definitely the highlight. I also stole from her a skein of “Baroque” thread (I suspect they used to supply the original DMC earlier but no longer do so, perhaps), which has 400m of mercerised cotton. I’m really lusting after these and wondering how I never saw any of them before. Jaishree and I are doing a sort of test-along, because my current favourite hook is 1mm, while she uses 1.whatever, and also crochets slightly looser than I do. So we’re making the same pattern with the same thread to see what difference that makes in size. I madly crocheted on the Inter-city express from Trivandrum to Cochin and finished about 15 rows. Need to pick it up again. Sometimes the mojo needs a good kick.

As you would imagine, Jaishree’s place has crochet covering every imaginable surface. She does lovely work.