Friday, October 31, 2008

revisiting the one-hour-scarf

Months and months ago I offered to help out with some charity scarves for Christmas...

Well, Christmas seemed such a long way off at the time... and then I got interested in other projects, and pushed the scarves to the back of my mind. All of a sudden it was time to think about handing them in... and I hadn't even started yet.

So I thought I'd just round up some of the scarves I have made recently, and use them... Only then I realised that I needed to send in MEN's scarves!

This is where the one-hour-scarf pattern definitely came in handy! I made a few modifications to the original pattern. Used 3 strands of yarn and an 8.0mm hook, starting out with 100 chain.

Click here for the original pattern

Are you familiar with that word game, where you have to change one letter in each row... until you have the new word? Maybe I'm not explaining it very well, but someone will know what I am talking about!

Anyway, to keep my interest in the scarves, I decided to play a colour game with myself. I chose three colours for the first scarf. Then removed one of those colours and added a new one for the second scarf. I kept changing just one colour each time, until I was back where I started.

charity 9 of 100

Maybe a visual will help.

See on the top right I have burgundy/navy/green... then below that is burgundy/navy/blue... then below that is burgundy/khaki/blue... etc.

Yes, I'm easily amused... but it got me through those nine scarves, and I can finally get them off my conscience.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

doing a happy dance!

Remember how excited I was to BORROW a 20.00mm crochet hook?

Well, you can imagine how excited I am now that I have my very own!

It looks suspiciously like it belongs with a chess set, doesn't it?

20.0mm wooden hook

I found this little gem at Lincraft... thanks to an anonymous tip off from one of my wonderful readers. A huge thank you to my confidential informant!!!

When I first wanted to purchase a hook this size, I was looking at the crazy price of $30 for the hook plus an additional $30 for postage... a total of $60... arghhhh! Mr Goldfish told me not to worry, that he would make me one. I'd have loved that, and one day it might still happen, but (and no disrespect intended towards Mr Goldfish here) it did take him three whole years to put up a clothes line in the back yard...

Not wanting to sound like an advertisement, but it was only $9.99... so I decided to indulge myself and pick up a tunisian crochet hook too. Tunisian hooks actually look like a cross between a knitting needle and a crochet hook.

I've been intrigued by tunisian crochet, so I had a little play with the new hook this afternoon. It's always fun to learn a new technique. If anyone out there is thinking about experimenting with this method - don't be afraid of colour work. Often changing colours in your work will increase the degree of difficulty, but I honestly think that with tunisian... using a second colour makes it easier to discern between the stitches, and therefore easier to pick up the technique. That's my thoughts anyway...

tunisian practice

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

yeah... yeah... yeah...

I know I made certain promises... to myself and to others... about not purchasing any more garments for recycling...

but I couldn't help myself...

hello... my name is laughing purple goldfish... and I'm an addict

for felting - savers 1008
these ones are for felting... to be made into bags or baskets...

for frogging - savers 1008
and these ones are for frogging...

of course, you understand why I couldn't say no

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

something new to try...

Spotted this at the op shop the other day, and I couldn't leave it lying on the shelf:

pink ribbing

Two rolls of lightweight pink ribbing. I guess it's the type that would be used as a trim on t-shirts or similar, but of course I won't be using it for that!

Actually... I'm not entirely sure what I will use it for! My initial thoughts are to crochet it into a rug or a bathmat using a giant hook. But maybe that's a bit obvious?

I'm open to all sorts of suggestions. Any other ideas out there???

Monday, October 27, 2008

recycling yarn from a jumper

Much of yarn recycling is trial and error... and everyone develops their own little techniques along the way. I have put together a series of photos which step you through my recycling process, to give you an idea of what is involved.

You will certainly have a million questions for me, especially once you actually start experimenting with the process. Ask away... I'll share everything I know with you!

There seriously are loads of photos here, but the basic steps I follow are:
  • air the garment
  • remove trimmings and tags, and undo seams
  • unravel each piece
  • wind into a skein
  • wash
  • dry
  • ball

If you are a beginner, I would recommend starting with a single coloured garment, preferably in a simple stockinette. I would avoid cables, fair isle, and anything complicated... until you have had a little practice first. Stick with a standard jumper if possible, and avoid cardigans, coats, or anything with a zipper. A hand knit would be ideal, if you have access to one. Avoid any yarn which looks fluffy or furry or hairy or boucley... because they will be difficult to unravel.

Before I start, I always check the seams. There are 'good seams' and 'bad seams' when it comes to recycling. Overlocked or serged seams are BAD. You will find that the yarn has been cut at the end of every row... so you will end up with lots of short yarn pieces... ugh! So always check the side seams and inner arm seams.

Don't worry if the shoulder or neck seams are overlocked. Because they run across the top of the garment and not down the sides, they are not of concern.

so... some examples of bad seams:



and these are good seams:



So... if the side seams are bound together by overlocking - BAD!

As for hand knits... all of their seams are GOOD... you don't even need to check them!

Time to get started now...

I don't bother washing the garment before I start. Two reasons... Firstly, I don't want to risk any felting or matting of the yarn fibres which would make it more difficult to unravel. Secondly, the yarn is cleaned much more effectively if you wash it AFTER it is skeined.

in the wind
So I just leave it out on the line for a while, just to 'freshen' it before I start working with it.


I use an unpicker and a pointy pair of scissors to remove tags, labels, buttons, zips, and any other trimmings.

chain with writing
Then I unpick the seams. Most store bought jumpers are seamed using chain stitch, which is wonderfully easy to undo. See the way the chain stitches form little arrows, pointing down in the photo? Well that tells you the direction to unravel in. So cut the top one, free the tail... and pull... it should unravel in seconds.

So now you have all the seams undone (this one had a seam down the centre of the back piece for some strange reason - probably a design feature)

Now it's time to start unraveling each piece, generally working from the top down. The cast off edge forms the same V stitches as chain stitch, and again they point in the direction you need to unravel. So start at the top end and snip, free a tail... and away you go.

Sometimes you might have a hard time getting started. If it's a nightmare for you, just chop the top few rows off, and then start unraveling. You will only loose a few yards of yarn, and it will save your sanity!

roll hold
I like to roll the garment piece, so I can grip it nicely while I unravel.

I have heard this kind of display referred to as 'yarn barf' and I think it's a wonderful description.

Anyway, if I am working indoors and am going to be able to skein the yarn immediately, then I just pile it on the floor as I unravel. If I am working outdoors I would wind into a ball as I go, and then skein from that... because you really don't want to get this in a tangle!

You can wind your yarn into a skein using two chairs like this...

Or using a skein winder if you have one. This one was a fabulous gift from Mr Goldfish last Christmas... and I love, love, love it!

Once it is all wound on, you need to tie the skein in a figure eight. Use some scrap yarn. I like to use a contrast from the yarn you have wound, so that the ties are easy to locate and removed after drying. I recommend using a light colour, because you would cry if the colour ran from your ties onto you nice new recycled yarn.

First divide the yarn in half as pictured above.

Then pop a scrap piece of yarn through like this...

fig 8
And back through again, forming a figure "8" with the tie.

Finish with a double knot.

I like to do this in six places around the skein to prevent tangling.

Wash by soaking in warm water and wool detergent. I'm a big fan of Martha Gardener's Eucalyptus Wool Mix, but I'm not sure if it is available outside of Australia.

Gently submerge the skeins. I prefer to soak all the yarn together, so that if it happens to lose any colour, all skeins will be affected evenly.

If possible, I leave it to soak overnight.

Then in the morning, I rinse it in a bucket of cold water.

Of course, with our current water restrictions here... that rinse water gets recycled directly onto my garden...

one towel
I gently squeeze the excess water from the yarn, and lay the skeins on an old towel.

two towels
Then I lay another old towel on top.

Roll it up, and walk up and down the length of it for a minute or two. This helps absorb a significant amount of water from the skeins.

Then I hang each skein on a plastic coat hanger to dry. I also use a second hanger to 'weight' the yarn slightly, and help stretch some of those kinks out.

If the weather is wet, then I put the coat hangers along a curtain rail in a sunny window and dry the yarn indoors.

When dry, cut the ties off and place the skein back on to the winder or chairs. Find the end and wind into a ball. Click here for my ball winding tutorial.

Interestingly the yarn I have claimed from this jumper is not that nice. I'm actually a bit disappointed with it. It looked nice in the garment, but is now a bit ugh! See the sheen in the balls. That is the rayon component. I liked that sheen until I started unraveling...

You can actually see the cotton and rayon strands here.

The rayon is harsh and grabby and kind of brittle. It actually reminds me of over bleached hair. I'm thinking it may well become hair on a creature or doll at some point. If I want to knit or crochet with it I think I will have to ply it first. I might even ply it with a different yarn to make my own special blend.

I guess the thing is, not to give up... occasionally you get a bit of a dud (like this one) but that just pushes you to think of alternate project ideas.

Most of what I have learned on this topic is through experience, but if you would like to check out the tutorial I first read on the topic, then click here.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

crazy curlicue

You guessed it! I just had to test out the '3-2-1 and you're done' curlicue scarf pattern using my crazy yarn...

It's a little busy, and at first I found it a bit too full on... but I'm starting to like it... just a little

crazy curlicue scarf

Saturday, October 25, 2008

3-2-1 and you're done! it's a curlicue scarf

Curlicues are so simple, and so fun...

pink curlicue scarf

This is my 3-2-1 Curlicue Scarf, and if you can remember the name - you can remember the pattern.

work a row of loose chain as long as you want the scarf to be

row 1 - work 3 dc into each chain

row 2 - work 2 dc into each stitch

row 3 - work 1 sc into each stitch

it's as easy as that 3-2-1 and you're done!

I used a 6.0mm hook and 8ply/DK yarn. Then I used a novelty yarn for row 3 to provide some contrast. Experiment with whatever yarn you like!

Friday, October 24, 2008

scrappy happy scarf...

Much as I love the elegance of those beaded scarves, I also adore the 'scrappy look'. I guess there's a time and a place for both, really. A dressier look for 'going out' and a more casual feel for 'running about'

These scrappy scarves aren't everyone's cup of tea. Mr Goldfish is really not a fan. He hasn't gone so far as to say that he hates them... but I can tell that he does! He can't cope with the unfinished look of the loose ends. As for me... I think they're FUN

And if you love the idea of a scrappy scarf, but would prefer to knit... click here to see the knitted version.

scrappy scarf

scrappy scarf - ends


These scarves are just as easy as they look! They're made using my crazy yarn
and an 8.0mm crochet hook. Work a row of chain stitches, the length you want the scarf to be. Then work a row of dc. At the end of each row, join in a new colour, leaving a tail which will become the tassel (just tie a firm knot to join) Then continue working in rows of dc, working between the posts (rather than into the top of the stitches) When you are happy with the width of the scarf... you are finished! Just trim the tassels, if desired.

Click here for more information on crazy yarn.

Below is a neck warmer. Made the same way as the scarf, just shorter... and worn with a pin to hold it in place. I think I worked this one on a 10.00mm hook, but it's a bit too 'gappy' for my liking. If I was to make another one, I would go down to a smaller size.

neckwarmer wirh pin

neckwarmer - closeup

So there they are, my scrappy scarves... not exactly elegant... but then again, neither am I!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

my green challenge

green yarn from dawn 003

I know that it looks almost completely felted... in fact, you can hardly identify the individual strands of yarn here. But I am going to see if I can revive this yarn. I have a bag full of it... I haven't counted, but there's probably about ten balls. It was given to me by Dawn who is a fellow Crochet Lover. You might remember that Dawn very generously gave me a ball winder a little while back.

I'm assuming that the yarn has not been stored kindly over the years, and that is why it has felted a little. It also has a strong cigarette smoke odour.

So my plan is to gently unwind and skein the yarn, then wash and dry it, and ball it again. That's as far as the plan goes at this stage. I'm not sure what I will make with it, but some ideas will probably come to mind as I am handling it.

Fingers crossed for a successful revival...

green yarn from dawn 001

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

another beaded scarf

finished scarf

I'm really loving this 'beaded scarf thing' at the moment...

My purple one is finished now. I used an assortment of reclaimed beads, some of them were from the tangled necklaces I showed you all earlier. I just love the pizazz and extra colour which the beads bring to the project. I was having so much fun with the beading that I ended up adding longer strands than I did on the previous scarves. Click here to see my green one and my cream one.

If you are interested in making a similar scarf, take a look at this stitch pattern

closeup beads