Monday, December 24, 2007

Snowflakes and Cameras

Our household needs another camera. This post should have gone out over a week ago, except that I was waiting to get my hands on the camera and then transfer the photos over to the 'puter.

Not only do I need ready access to a camera, it would be nice if I could develop some skill in using it. Oh, well. That's another task for another time. I can see some improvement from when I started this blog. I suppose there is no Secret Photography Genius waiting to be unleashed here.


Here at the Doily Underground, we do more than knit doilies. Sure, you all know that I knit other things. However, knitting is not the only thing I do. I spin. I dye. I braid. I weave (mostly narrow wares). Etc.

I also crochet. At this time of year, I crochet snowflakes. I have a serious weakness for crocheted snowflakes. Over the years, I've made dozens of them. I usually give them away, of course. Most people seem to think that they're rather cute, and not a sign that the maker is seriously unbalanced.

Scattered among this post are a few of the ones that are still around the house. I don't know if they'll stay here or if I'll pass them along to the next unsuspecting soul in need of a holiday gift.

My doily knitting habit provides the raw material for the snowflakes. I crochet them from the remnants of the threads I use for knitting doilies. The snowflakes don't take much thread.

I get the patterns from various sources. Some are off the internet. Some are from various publications one can find in the needlework stores, things from Dover or Leisure Arts and the like. One of my favorites is a German crochet magazine with a Christmas theme. Someone kindly gave that to me a few years ago. I try to restrain my buying habits, because how many snowflake patterns can one household absorb? (Let's not get into my knitted doily pattern collection.) I probably have a few hundred different snowflake patterns scattered among the various booklets, magazines, and internet print-outs.

Snowflakes are quick to crochet. They rarely take more than an hour per flake. The ones I do are usually less than 6 or 7 rounds. They're excellent stress relief. It's fun to have something to show for such a small amount of work.

After I've done a pile of them, it's time to get them ready for gift-giving. I prepare a blocking board, usually cardboard but sometimes styrofoam. I put plastic wrap on it so the snowflakes don't stick.

I prepare a blocking solution of Elmer's glue (or any white glue) heavily diluted with water. It doesn't need to be very gloopy. Then, I dump all the snowflakes in the solution until they're soggy.

I remove a snowflake, squeeze out most of the liquid, and carefully pin it out on the blocking board. I pin the points and anything else that needs pinning. I can manually stretch out some of the other parts of the snowflake if necessary.

After all the snowflakes are pinned out, I let them dry. (Big surprise, right?) After they're dry, I unpin them. I add a hook to a suitable point. The hook is often something simple like an opened-up paper clip. Then I give them away, except for the ones that hang around the house for a while.

I used to care passionately about realism in my snowflakes. They had to have exactly 6 points or they weren't worth making. Now I now longer care. They have to be fun to make. That's all.

What else do I crochet? Lace, of course. I like doilies, mostly the smaller ones. I don't like crocheted doilies as much as knitted doilies, but they're still fun to make when I'm in the mood. I include the amazing multi-motif crocheted tablecloth patterns in the doily category. I also have a weakness for lace edgings. In the yarn category, I find that crochet is good for afghans, cloths in general, some household items such as rugs or bags, and toys. I tend to prefer the elasticity of knitting for clothing items.


A project report: Since my last post, all I've done is part of a sock.

It's another toe-up sock with a short-row heel. The yarn is a patterned yarn from Regia. It's very cheerful -- narrow stripes of red, blue, green, aqua, and black, separated by narrow bands of gray and white checks. It's very easy to count the rounds on this one!

I should probably do an afterthought heel to keep the color pattern looking good. Since these socks are for me, and since the sock-knitting is for stress relief, I'm not going to bother with that detail. I'd rather knit the sock in one piece, with only the beginning and ending yarn to darn in. A friend of mine was impressed at my ability to turn one long piece of string into such a complicated shape. I smile when I think about that. It is part of the magic of knitting.

I've also thought about doing a toe-up sock in the way that top-down mittens are made. I'd make the toe and foot from one end of the yarn ball. I'd make the heel from the other. I'd join the heel in as I got there, similar to the way that the thumb of a top-down mitten is joined to the hand. Maybe I'll do that for some future sock project. Or maybe not.

Since the photo was taken, I've done another few inches. I'm happily going 'round and 'round. I won't have to decide on the leg length for a while longer.

This morning, I managed to do another several rounds on my Icelandic yarn sweater. That had been waiting until I had time to ball up some skeins of yarn. I finally had the time to wind a few more balls, and thus I can continue for a while. This is the sweater of simple stockinette with a staghorn cable going up the middle of the front. I still haven't decided what the top part is going to be like. It might be a square-set drop-shoulder. It might be another raglan.

I'll try to take a photo of the sweater when I've done enough for it to look interesting.

1 comment:

fleegle said...

Just think how lovely it would be if you hung all of them on your Christmas tree! Wow!

I used to tat snowflakes and actually made a mobile of them once. Who know where they are now.

Thanks for all the wonderful posts this year and I hope there will be many more to come!