My Life in Knots

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Entralac in the Round Afghan tutorial

People have asked what pattern I used for my first afghan and my simple reply is none. It's a technique not a pattern. A kit was sold years ago through Herrschners to get the technique instructions with all the yarn needed to make an afghan, but, they have been contacted before. They do not sell the afghan and it is not copy righted. I was actually taught through word of mouth how to do this technique, it's what got me interested in crocheting.
All you need in skills are the following
Tunisian Simple Stitch (some what explained in this tutorial) - TSS
Chain - ch
Slip Stitch - ss

Standard crochet hook , I used a size I here (mm size isn't necessary you just want a hook 1-3 sizes larger then recommended on yarn)
30oz WW yarn for a pram cover
needle for weaving in ends

To Start:
Step 1: deciding what size to make. For a pram cover I make 2 initial diamonds, for a baby afghan or crib blanket I start with 3, for a throw or twin sized afghan I start with 7. You will get use to this technique and be able to make that decision on your own. I'm going to start you on a pram cover (stroller cover or just a smaller baby blanket)
For each diamond you want to chain 10 stitches, since we are doing a pram cover we want 20 stitches, then add one to the end of your count ( 2 diamonds = 21 chain, 3 diamonds = 31chain, 7 diamonds = 71 chain...)

Here's the beginning chain of 21
Step 2: TSS beginning.
Insert hook in second chain from hook, yarn over and pull up a loop. Now insert in next chain, yarn over and pull up a loop. Repeat this 4 more times until you have 7 loops on your hook.

Step 3: working off loops
Yarn over and pull through 2 loops on the hook, you will have now 6 loops left on your hook . Yarn over and pull through 2 loops on hook, you now have 5 loops on hook. Yarn over and pull through 2 loops on hook, you now have 4 loops left on hook. Yarn over and pull through 2 loops on hook, you will now have 3 loops left on hook. Yarn over and pull through 2 loops on hook, you will now have 2 loops left on hook. Yarn over and pull through 2 loops on hook, you will have one remaining loop on hook.
This is the basic Tunisian Simple Stitch or TSS, see not so scary or hard to achieve and I promise after even a pram cover in this stitch you'll get really good at gauge. The individual diamonds are small though so keep going as gauge isn't a huge concern for this project and it will come to you. Also, given the texture TSS creates the blanket becomes busy and you don't notice changes in gauge or mistakes very easily.

Step 4: the next row
Now look at the work. You should see it looks different then regular crochet work. There are vertical bars visible on the front of the stitch comprised of just one strand of yarn. You want to insert your hook under this bar, yarn over and pull up a loop. Repeat this across until you have 6 loops on the hook.

Next you will insert your hook into the next unworked chain from the beginning chain, yarn over, pull up a loop. Now work off just as in step 3

You want to repeat step 4, 3 more times. You should be able to look at the diamond formed and see 5 vertical bars running from side to side, as well 5 vertical bars from top to bottom. It gets very easy to count rows worked in TSS.

Step 5: Binding Off
Since Tunisian is related to Knitting similar terms are used. If you do knit you will be able to see the similarities in techniques between the two.
Now to bind off, you have one loop on your hook. Place hook under next vertical bar, yarn over and pull through, now pull that through the 1st loop you had on the hook as well as if completing a slip stitch.

Do this across 5 times, when you get to the corner you want to insert hook in same chain as the last stitch was made, yarn over and ss to bind off.

You have completed your first diamond!

Step 6: Next (an subsequent) diamond (s)
You can see in this image I am pointing to the next unworked chain.

Insert hook into this unworked chain, yarn over and pull up a loop. Repeat this 5 more times until you have 7 loops on the hook. Now you simply repeat step 3 working off the loops.

Keep going repeating steps 2-5. When you get to step 5, binding off and you are at the last stitch, insert hook in the one last remaining unworked chain ss and fasten off.

You have completed your foundation row of diamonds!

Step 7: Adding a second row of diamonds

You want to attach your yarn into the upper corner of one of the diamonds. I suggest doing this to the diamond on your right if you were to lay the piece out flat in front of you.
You have many options here as well, there are no rules. You can now make each round a different color or the same color, you can make each diamond a different color (though you'll have a massive amount of ends to weave in) you get to decide. Here I used baby blue for the foundation row and switched to white for the second row of diamonds.
Now work the TSS across utilizing the vertical bar on the diamond from the first row of diamonds.

Work until you have 6 loops on the hook. When you get to the next diamond insert your hook into the corner where the 2 diamonds on the first round meet. Yarn over and pull up a loop, then complete step 3, working off the loops.

You are going to continue this for 4 more rows, when you place the 7th loop on the hook you will be going into the next row of diamonds on the foundation row, yarn over, pull up a loop and then working off the stitches.

Complete the bind off from step 5 and you have added your first diamond to the second row of diamonds.

Step 8: working a corner
Now you are at the corner of your piece as you see in the image just above. You need to create a foundation row of chains to be able to work the TSS.
Chain 6 from where you presently are. It will look like the image below

This will now be a combination of how you worked the TSS on the base chain as well as how you worked the last diamond you just completed.
Insert hook into2nd chain from hook, pull up a loop and go across repeating the TSS until you have 6 loops on the hook.

Now you will insert the hook into the corner where the blue and white are meeting in this above image. Yarn over, pull up a loop then repeat step 3 to work loops off.
Now repeat step 7 until you have formed another diamond.

You have completed your second diamond and worked a corner.
Step 9: you need to work another corner as in step 8

Step 10: work another diamond as you did in step 7

Step 11: work 2 more corners as you did in step 8

When you get to the bind off on the last diamond, ss into the corner to join it to the bottom corner of the very first diamond you made and then fasten off.

You have now completed the second round. You will continue adding round after round in the same manner until the afghan is the size you desire. For a pram cover I work the foundation of diamonds then 10 more rounds of diamonds. You have the flexibility to chose how many though you will see the afghan grow.
At the very end you may chose to do a sc around the edge to control some minor curling you will get from the Tunisian stitch. After laundering the curling eases up a bit but will always be there if you don't sc. I prefer to hold the wrong side to me and sc around, I find this controls the curl the best instead of holding the afghan right side to me and sc around.

This is not a stash buster per say. As the afghan grows you will require larger and larger amounts of yarn for each round. If you have 1-2 skeins of a color you can work a round in it, but, I really prefer to have all the yarn I would like to begin with, you don't want to be working on the 20th round of diamonds, get 1/2 way around and then run out of yarn if you intent was to make that whole round in one color. You will literally be ripping out thousands of stitches at that point.
I don't use cotton or wool, I find this is best for acrylic yarns. The fabric created is very dense! A twin sized afghan is warmer then most down blankets I own If you're taking a trip to the Arctic circle, wool may be for you, however, you will find even on the coldest winter day it would be too much. As for 100% cotton, well being so dense the laundering of an afghan in cotton would be impossible in a regular machine, it's far to heavy and when wet actually broke one of my machine belts (learned from trial and error), also the texture created I don't find lends itself well to cotton over the long run. It works alright on a pram cover and possibly crib sized afghan but on a larger afghan the cotton starts to untwist with wear and tear.
These take awhile to make even for fast crocheters. This was the first thing I ever learned to crochet so in the beginning a twin sized afghan took me about 1100 hrs to complete. I then went on and made many more before going insane because I knew no other stitch or how to read a pattern. Now, years later, crocheting much faster, a twin takes me about 400-500 hrs to complete. That would be about 2 months, working at this for 8 hrs a day. It's well worth the effort, but, don't get dismayed. In the beginning it will go fast as the first few rounds don't have many diamonds, as you go along and you have say 150 diamonds to complete in one round, it takes longer to do then the second round where you had 6 diamonds. It will finish eventually and the nice thing about the unique edge created is that you can really stop where ever you like and keep the full effect.
Any questions leave a comment or email me and I'll help the best I can.
I have been thinking of making another myself. If anyone wants to be part of a CAL (crochet a long) please leave a comment, if there's enough interest I'll start one.


First Tunisian Bikini Top

For certain reasons I can not purchase a bikini top for my daughter nor do any patterns I have found work for her. So I had to set out to design one myself. I chose Moda Dea ticker tape in fiesta because 1. I got 5 skeins at the dollar store (only used 2 for the top have 3 left if she wants a bottom to match) and 2. it actually has some stretch to it that lends itself well to garments.
I made a few samples with sc, dc, tss, tks, tps and had her pick which type of stitch she liked. She decided she liked the look of the TSS the best.

I made a base chain of 26 for each cup and then worked up from there. What I had her do was take a piece of scrap material and cut out a cup that would work. I then used it as a template to place the cup on as I worked to see that it was forming correctly. With a few right and left hand sie decreases in certain places I had a nice full cup. Made the second one changing the right hand to left hand decreases and visa versa. The neck strap was worked in TSS as well I just got to a point where I decreased to 4 stitches wide and then kept going for 20 rows to form a strap.
I then edged the entire cup, each separately, in a series of sc, hdc and dc. Along the bottom I did a dc, ch 1, skip next stitch, to make a channel. I then chained a long length to make the bottom strap and threaded this through the bottom of the cups and made a lacing through the breast bone area between the cups.

It took me about 3 hrs to complete, up late last night after work as she had a trip today to a local beach and wanted a top to wear. She grabbed it and ran out the door this am so I have no idea how it fits her or if it worked out, but, we'll see.
I however, won't be posting modeled pictures, sorry! I don't model bikini's and certainly not putting my almost 17 yr old on the web in hers. So these are the best pics you'll see and I'll try and update how it worked out for her.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Pineapple Shawl from.....

This is a preliminary picture of the shawl I have been working on. I wanted to try it out, wa sbored with my current WIP's and had 5 balls of Aunt Lydia's Fashion Thread size 3. I figured I'd try this pattern out, but, with a J hook and 1 strand of thread.
Well this wasn't working for me after several rows, like row 22. I ripped it all out and started over with a K hook and 2 strands of thread held together. The size was now going well for what I wanted but around round 26 I ran out of thread UGH. I had to run to walmart at 1am to aquire more to finish. However, Walmart only had 2 balls left. I bought them knowing this wouldn't be enough. Got home worked on it more and more on sunday. Half way through one of the balls of thread the ball was full of snags, tie off's that were fraying, not one, one I could have delt with, liek every 5 inches. So I had to rip it all out again back to round 26. Took this bad ball of thread back to Walmart, got the 2 balls they now had, went home to unwind these first to make sure I could work with them. I got started again, round 29 ran out of thread.
I ran this time to AC Moore as I knew I bought Walmart out. AC Moore had 2 balls to purchase, which I did. Came back home, worked on this more Monday to rip it out 2-8 rounds 3 more times because I was making dumb mistakes.
I finally finished off the last point on the final pineapple and need to border the whole item guessed it...I ran out of thread. I don't have time today to go find more so it will have to wait until this weekend to be finished. Turned out very nice though. I haven't measured the size but to me it's a perfect shawl size, can wrap full around the shoulders and cross in front slightly but not too long in the back. Could be tied at the waist for decoration or a beach cover up as well.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Arts and Crafts Home

I am going to try to set up a diagram to explain my yard and house. I often say the style and no one understands what it is. I found a useful link to explain Arts and Crafts Style Homes (Craftsmans).
What we have is a stucco sided craftsman with the triangular roof supports, open floor plan (in the craftsman style not the contemporary style as in new built homes these days) a low pitched roof with exposed rafters, exterior chimney with many windows.
Now we know originally the home had the traditional craftsman colums with stone bases on the porches. We still have the colums, they were removed and placed in the basement when the porches were converted to what is called a Hollywood porch. Portions of the stone foundations are under the porchs.
When we removed the carpeting we found evidence in the floor that shows there were traditional colums with built in's between the dining room and living room. The built ins no longer exist in our home and we have not found the colums to them. I believe they were taken out to run forced hot air ducts up to the second story, so now we have bump out walls where these built ins would have been.
We do have the original mitered molding. What this means is instead of having window and door molding nailed to a wall it's really 3 dimensional. The tops of the molding are mitered and fit over the top of the molding. The molding itself looks very simple in these homes, straight lines with no adornment of carvings, but, it's very intricate in many parts that fit together like a puzzle.
Now our yard, it's odd. To start we are on a corner lot, if you stand on the front street and look at my house to the left is another street, to the right is my neighbor. We have 80 ft of road front here. On the other side street if you look at my house we have 200 ft of road front here. From the front my lot extends back 200 ft, but, at 120 ft the back yard takes a right turn as well. This is where it gets hard to explain. Basically we have more then one building lot and our yard runs back behind out house and we also own the yard behind the neighbors house. If you were on the side street there would be room to build a home on our back yard with a yard behind that. This is what I need to draw out so people understand.
Here is my rough drawing. there is lots more space behind the pool and garage but I didn't draw this to scale. Here's the key. P= peonie, H = holly, L=Lilacs, A = arbovitae, B = box wood, GS = golden Splash, R = rose, S = Snowball bushes(not sure if they are what think links to but this is the closest I have found to them). On the wooded side there is actually a 1.5 ft path that runs by th ehouse the rest is full of hemlock, pine trees, rhodadendrons, azaleas and such.
So I have been working on the side yard by the neighbors house, weeding out all these bushes and plants. I have mowed and weeded the back yard, uncovered the old reminants of a flower bed and have some more hostas to put in around the box woods.
Eventually we would like a deck off the back of the house and to move the pool over so it's directly behind the house off the deck, because what I cna't show on the picture is that the back yard is a hill, a slow sloping hill so you can walk up and down it, the front yard I refer to as the grass wall, it's to steep to even climb. So a nice deck will help level out most of the yard and make it usable space, which it really isn't right now. On the side next to the neighbors I want to put in a pergola and a new walking path. But, I am trying to keep the landscaping informal. It is now for the most part and it's not fitting with the craftsman style to have really formal manicured hedges.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

What's That?

Ok quick background story here. We moved into our new house in July of '06 and saw quiet a few things around the yard that were very nice. In cleaning out the home, that was packed from ceiling to floor with just stuff, I found a lot of floralist type items, books and refrence guides, old newletters for gardening and home maker groups and the like. Then the sellers agent came by one day to see how the house as coming along. She had grown up with the family that owned the home for the last 55 years so knew the hostory well. She told us all about the previous owners and the fact that the wife was an avid gardener, the regional garden clubs advisor on african violets and well known in the gardening community. Now don't I feel horrible, because I am NOT a gardener. I have been basically been given the gift of these wonderful gardens and no idea what this stuff is.
Now the husband passed away some years ago, the wife was in a nursing home her last year and a half of life and then passed on. In these years the house was left neglected. There are noset beds of flowers, nothing has been pruned, weeded or cared for in years. We have an old flag stone retaining wall that had caved in before we even looked at the home, the grass is 1/2 dead, many bushes and trees are 1/2 dead and what flowers we can find are over grown and not in proper beds you can see any longer (I have found the remains of some brick or stone borders)
So I am out trying to clear some things up and figure out what I have out here.
I do know certain plants and can readily identify them. We have very mature lilac trees in various varieties, I have 2 climbing rose bushes and have found about 6 cutting rose bushes, discovered some more peonies today and box woods. Theres a lot though I have no clue what it is.
This is a bush outside the back door on the right side of the house, that was full of tiny white flowers last week but they are now dying.

close up and then the whole thing

these are on the left side of the house, I believe azaleas
no idea what these are I refer to them as the snow balls
heres one of the full treessorry it's side ways blogger wasn't letting me upload images.

more on the right side of the house

I couldn't get a good picture but this stuff is all over the yard not sure if it's on purose or if it's weeds.

some really over grown peonies on the right side of the house

these are what the boys refer to as the 007 flowers
no idea are they weeds?
I don't find them really attractive and if someone can identify them as weeds I can rip them out.

And then I found this

it's t the right of the peonies in the 2nd picture, the tallest thing you see here. The leaves are green on green spotted they aren't bugs or eggs. I have no idea what this plant is.
There is much more but the memory card was full and I have a TON more work to do.
If anyone can identify anything here I'd greatly appreciate a comment, or even if not sure but you think it might be I could then google it and see if it matches and then get care instructions.
You can right click and chose open in new window, to see a larger image.