Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rowan crocheted top: Les Lilas sont en fleur ("Blooming Lilacs")

For the first time, Rowan published a whole book devoted to crochet designs this year; usually, you can just find a couple of crocheted garments scattered amongst the knitted designs of the Rowan publications.
As usual with Rowan, the photography is wonderful, and makes this a truly special book to own and leaf through. A few designs made it straight to the top of my to-do list, starting with Santorini. I just loved the simple lines and discreet eyelet trims, and the ballerina, rolled-down neckline.

A few technical notes on the design:

Ease of execution: This top was rather easy to make. It is basically a tank top with attached collar. The instructions are crystal clear - do be aware though that the wording is British, and not US crochet lingo! (UK double crochet = US single crochet, UK treble = US double)
Dislikes: My only real complaint would be that the instructions ask for way more yarn than is really needed. I have almost 2 full skeins left out of 8, and because I had ordered it over the Internet, I cannot return them.
The body was rather quick to make, but I felt the collar took forever! Probably also because I was moving houses as I was crocheting it, and because you just want to be done at that point ;)
This was the first time I had to do seaming on a project. Not that tricky, but very time consuming. I think starting making garments with Doris Chan’s seamless designs has spoiled me a little for the more “traditional” designs.
Changes: I did make the back slightly smaller (just as I go down a size for the back in garment sewing!). I wish I’d make the whole top a little smaller as it is rather wide at the shoulders, and it will probably grow a bit more as I wear it.

The yarn I chose for this is French: Esterelle by Bergère de France, a mercerized cotton in the same weight as the recommended yarn (4-ply fingering). The colourway is named "Hibiscus", although this is undeniably lilac to me, all the more so as I crocheted this as the whole town centre of Montpellier was fragrant with lilacs blossoming everywhere - hence the top's name.
The yarn was a delight to crochet - shame it is being discontinued by Bergère de France, but hopefully it has been / is being replaced by a yarn in a similar weight and quality.

Aptly enough, I finished crocheting this in the Eurostar, right under the Channel.
To those of you friends expressing the wish they knew how to crochet... trust yourself, and give it a try! I thought for years that crochet just wasn't for me. I started teaching myself on my own, only six months ago. There are tons of tutorials out there, including very nifty YouTube videos.
Besides what you can find of the internet, a couple of books that I've found tremendously helpful are The Crochet Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden, and The Happy Hooker (where the cheesy taglines in the manual section - probably just right for teenagers, but just a bit... much for dear old me - are amply made up for by the ultra explicit drawings and explanations).

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Still no Internet!

Hello everyone :)
I've been settling into my flat, but the Internet provider company is (yet again) late in hooking me back up... I'm trying to take this philosophically - getting annoyed won't solve anything anyway! - and to enjoy the silver lining: much more reading and stitching time, although I do miss being in touch with you all, and hope that everyone understands the situation. I'm currently blogging from an eeePC, with a very erratic connection.

I just treated myself to a few days in London, after a particularly stressful last month. Not quite sure how I managed to get it all done, but I did :) And  my stay in London was a lovely reward, albeit too short!

While in London I met dear Nicki at last - it was wonderful. We've been friends online for about 5 years and this meeting was way overdue, especially as we'd hoped to meet last year. My only regrets are that we didn't get to meet earlier, and that we both forgot to take a picture as a souvenir! To those of you who know Nicki yet haven't met her, she is even lovelier IRL than online, and that's quite saying something :)

To those of you wondering, I haven't touched my sewing machine in ages - it is still packed away in the study/sewing room to be, as I'm still waiting to get a bit of furniture to get everything organized.

What I have been doing, though, is crochet - nope, I'm not off the hook yet, and I hope my sewing friends aren't overly discomfited by this. Crochet has been perfect to carry around in the train, and even while moving - taking a half hour off here and there to pick up a project has proven quite soothing for my nerves, and this couldn't have been possible with sewing of course - not when you barely have the corner of a sofa to sit on ;)

I just took pictures of my last completed project, a lilac Rowan top that I literally finished in the Channel tunnel on my way to London, and which I'm quite happy about;  but I realized I did have some pictures of one of my previous finishes already uploaded on Flickr - a little shrug that's been quite useful in the bizarre (read: abnormally rainy and cold) weather we've been having here. So that's what I'm showing here, pending pictures of my other projects. This cute little shrug that was a freebie on Ravelry. The good news is, it's now been made available even to those outside Ravelry :)
You already saw it in its almost finished state (I only needed to weave in the yarn's ends), but outside shots do make a difference - and you get a peek of my lovely town :)

(The jean skirt is a Burda pattern that I sewed up last year.)

To those interested in making this, here are the alterations I brought to the design for a smaller fit:
  • I used a 4-mm (G) hook instead of the recommended 5-mm (H)
  • reduced the back width. My beginning row was 9-inc.-12-inc.-28-inc.-12-inc.-9.
  • started triple crochet stitches right from the third row, instead of below the armhole, to avoid a too-dense fabric (as the crochet hook is now smaller).
That's quite enough for now!
DO take care, everyone. I hope to be back online soon, so I may catch up on some long-delayed blog reading!