Saturday, 2 May 2015

Golden Compass Square

I've been fiddling with this square off and on for about six months now. It's had a few different looks, the final one is version FIVE! LOL.

Then, once I had the design to my liking, the next struggle was naming it. For those of you who don't know me, I have the gift of the gab - I can talk the hind leg off a mule - and I write the same way. So, naming stuff is usually not an issue for me. I love alliteration and I love puns, but for this square, finding an original name was just not working for me. So I asked in my group for some help.

Compass Square? Cross Hairs? Dianthus flower? Compass Rose? Guiding Light? They're all good names, but nothing was really punching it for me. So, I did a bit of research on compass roses - do you have any idea how many different kinds of images there are for them? Or how beautiful they can be? Here's a small sample of my search hits:

Aren't they just beautiful?

Now, as I searched and scrolled and gathered inspiration, I kept getting images from the movie "The Golden Compass". I've read the books many years ago and liked them, although I've not seen the movie, but the name started ringing in my head. Originally I started working this square in purples and blues, but I knew that if I was going to name it the golden compass, then I needed to switch colourway. So, here are versions one to four of the square for you to have a laugh at, lol, but also hopefully for you to get inspiration. Designing isn't always a light-bulb or lightning strike moment. Often it involves swearing, frogging, cursing, throwing things across the room and lots of general grumbling - having said that, I love it. ;) You are only limited by your imagination, and you alone know how wonderful it is. <3
Version 1
Version 3
Version 2


Version 4

One final thing before we start hooking together - the four main compass points (North, South, East, West) are known as the Cardinal Directions. This was ALMOST the name of the square - my husband is a priest in the Anglican Church, so it really tickled my funny bone. So, without further ado, here's what you need and how to make it. <3

Golden Compass Square

This pattern is worked in USA terms. I used a 4mm hook and 8 ply yarn to achieve a six inch square.

Special Stitches:

Treble stitch (TR): Yarn over hook (YOH) twice, insert into fabric, draw up one loop, YOH once, draw through the first two loops, YOH once, draw through next two loops, YOH once, draw through final two loops

Back Post Single Crochet (BPSC): watch this excellent tutorial

Front Post Treble (FPTR): Make a treble stitch inserting the hook into the fabric the opposite way you would for a BPSC. Check out this tutorial

I also have a mini photo tutorial in the pattern. <3

Spike stitch: A spike stitch is a stitch worked into a round prior to the one that you would ordinarily work in. For example, in round six you work a SC spike down into round four in the corners.
Pattern Details:

Starting and finishing your rounds:

I start each round with a standing stitch, having tied off EVERY round. The following tutorials are for standing DC, but the same principal applies to other stitches.

Or watch a great video here:

I tie off each round and cut the yarn, even when the next round is in the same colour. I use the invisible join, you can watch a tutorial here:

If your square turns out to be a different size:

I worked this pattern using a 4mm hook and 8ply yarn to achieve a six inch square. You may alter hook and yarn accordingly to your wishes, however, your square may be a different size. Everyone hooks differently, measure your work as you go and if necessary add or leave off rounds. You can find a great tutorial on sizing your square here

When do I change colours?:

I have made two variations of the square, one using three colours, one using four. You can change colours wherever you wish, but if you want to achieve either of the looks I have created, for the gold, red and blue version, R1: colour A, R2: colour B, R3: colour A, R4 & 5: colour B, R6: colour C, R7: colour B, R8: colour A, R9: colour B.

For the 4 colour purple and blue version: R1: colour A, R2: colour B, R3: colour C, R4 & 5: colour B, R6: colour D, R7: colour B, R8: colour D, R9: colour B.


ch4, slip stitch to join 

R1: ch4 (counts as treble - this is US treble, not UK - yoh twice), make 15 more trebles (16)
R2: Working BETWEEN the stitches of round 1, *2dc, ch1* in each space around – (48)

R3: Start in any DC to the left of a ch1 sp. This row consists of SC in each DC and each chain 1 space – EXCEPT – every 12th stitch is a Front Post Treble around a Treble from round one. See photographs below. (48)
Starting the FPTR
YOH Twice
Pass the hook behind the TR

Draw up your first loop
YOH & draw through first two loops
YOH & draw through second two loops

Almost done!

Round 3 Finished
YOH & draw through final two loops

R4: Starting 2 stitches before a FPTR in R3: back post SC in each stitch around – (48)

R5: Start 2 stitches before the FPTR in round 3, SC6, HDC1, DC1, *(DC, 1 TR, ch1, 1 TR DC - this is the corner, so all in one stitch), DC in next stitch, HDC, SC7, HDC, DC* - repeat twice, then (DC, TR, ch1, TR, DC), SC1.

R6: Start above a FPTR from round 3, 8SC, then (1SC into ch space between 2 trebles from row 5, ch1, then spike stitch SC down to row 4, ch1, then SC in ch space between the 2 trebles from row five again), then starting in the next treble, work 15SC. Repeat twice more and make one more corner followed by 7SC. (68SC, 4 spike SC, 8 ch1 Spaces).

R7: Back post DC around - corners are back post around the SC in the corner space, DC in the one chain space, chain 2, DC in the one chain space back post DC along the next side. (76DC, 4 ch2 spaces).

R8: HDC around. Corners are 2HDC, ch2, 2HDC into the chain space of round 7. (92 HDC, 4 ch2 spaces)

R9: BPHDC around - Corners are HDC, ch2, HDC in the chain space of round 8. (100 HDC, 4 ch2 spaces).

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Variegated yarn - what do I make with it?

What do you use variegated yarn for? Well, for starters....

I'm not the be all and end all of crafters, far from it, but I've made my fair share of mistakes in yarn choice, and so when a lady in my group asked for ideas of what to make with variegated yarn, I found I had quite a few projects to share. It really got me thinking, it's a secret group and there were lots of good answers and great points, but nobody outside of those 300 men and women would see it - so I knew I had to put it here.

I'm going to classify variegated yarns into two types, although there's a multitude of ways to separate them, for the purposes of this article, two will suffice. I'm going to classify them by the length of the colour changes. What is that? It's how frequently the colours change. You can take into account well blended yarns that take a while to move from one colour to the next, but really, if you work up one stitch, and the next one is a different colour, that's a short colour change indeed and makes for a much busier fabric when you are done. When you get half a dozen or more stitches that are the same colour before even a hint of the next colour, I'm going to call that a long colour change, although it's probably more precisely a medium. ;) Confused? Good. Let's start. 

What not to do!

It's easy enough to prattle on about what you should do for this or that, but I think that this kind of post calls for an epic fail to start with lol. Ok, maybe not an epic fail, but something that didn't turn out the way that I had imagined.

It is really important to match your yarn to your project. You don't have to use what the designer used (often it's not available where you are anyway, right?), or you want to try it in a different weight - that's fine, but really give it some thought. Close your eyes and try and picture your yarn worked up in the pattern, or if you are a clever cookie and use Ravelry, browse the projects made by others and get a feel for what YOU think works and what doesn't. At the end of the day, as the crafter, it has to satisfy you, before it leaves your hands.

Now, here is a good example of what not to do. Although it came up nice, and my Aunt loved it, the colour variations in this gorgeous yarn took away from the beautiful lacy design of the hat.

Yet, the same yarn (different colourway) used in a wrap came up just gorgeous - lesson - don't use it in the round unless it's for a plain pattern or an overall effect (like one round) - or you may lose the detail.

Here's another example of losing the detail in the yarn colours - however, this was the effect I wanted to achieve. This is a floor rug for my toddler's bedroom. I wanted it fun and funky, and I'm working out the pattern to write up (I'll do another in plain colours so you can see it down the track ;) ). I didn't want the focus on the stitches, but the overall fabric, so this "Jelly Bean" style floor rug is an example of using it for effect.

Reducing the effect:

So, you've found a pattern you want to use your yarn in, but you're worried about losing some of the detail - you can counter this by working with solid colours as well. In this case, I alternated it with two of the solid colours in the variegated yarn. You can still clearly see the ripple pattern, but the edges are a little "blurred" which I rather liked. This was a baby blanket I made and the mother loved it too!

Another thing you can do is double strand (that's using two strands of yarn at once) to dull the effect - especially handy for short change yarns. This is a "mug hug" that I made for my son's teacher at Christmas. The yarn was coarse but thick, excellent for durability and insulation, but it was a little jarring on the eye when worked up. So, I had a think and worked the pattern using two strands, the variegated, and a red - one of the colours in the variegated. As the two yarns twisted and twined, the red tended to mute or block some of the changes physically, so it was a much gentler effect. Still bright and bubbly, still very warm and durable, but nothing to make you lose your lunch over. ;)

So what should you use it on?

Well, that's entirely up to you. Shawls are always a popular choice, although depending on the yarn you could end up with a load of colour in one place and sparsely in another - an imbalance if you like. Sometimes you have to just "suck it and see". The more you work with variegated yarns though, the better the feel you will get for them.

 Sometimes it will work, and sometimes you'll spend an evening frogging and cursing and winding - but it's an experience you won't forget, and a lesson you will have learned.

My final tip:

Never be afraid to try! You might love what you end up with, or you might hate it. I had this ball of cheap thick yarn that I bought on impulse, and then had trouble finding a use for it. Doubled up it made a great basket (I use it to hold yarn for WIP's) and with the remainder I made a beanie for my son. I called them the ugly as sin basket and beanie lol. However, the reaction in my group when I shared them was love. We're all different. ;)

Sometimes, if you're very very lucky, you can fluke the perfect match. I made this swatch yesterday. If I had a million years I couldn't do it again lol. This is tunisian gobelin stitch, and I thought I would try it to see how it looked with this short change yarn. What luck when I realised that with the random number of stitches that I chose, that I had made the exact correct length so that the colour changes occur on the ends of the rows, and that each row is repeated eventually to make a very deliberate looking fabric. I'm thrilled to bits with how this looks and I'm now working out what to do with the pattern for the rest of the ball. So go on, give it a try, and be open to frogging and finding something else, or, finding that perfect thing first go and sitting back and enjoying some intentional or unintentional beauty! <3