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Babette Blanket turned into Hexagon cover

April 12, 2010 - - 9:16 PM

Instead of the Babette Blanket, I have decided to crochet a Japanese throw with hexagon flowers.

The book is “Organic Cotton Knits: Easy on the Skin” by the publisher Ondori. The pattern is called Hexagon multi-cover (六角モチーフのマルチカバー).

This is my first piece for the project.

The photo was processed with the “Old Toy Camera” Photoshop action by Dave Ward.

(3) Japanese craft books: How to read a Japanese pattern – Crochet

April 10, 2010 - - 9:31 AM

When you are looking at a Japanese pattern for the first time, you are probably wondering what to do. Here is some information to get you started:

Start with something small or manageable like an amigurumi or a scarf. You will soon find, that finding your way through these visual instructions is much easier than you have imagined.

If you have decided to try a particular pattern and have trouble figuring it out, there are still more ways to get help:

  • There are language tools – add-ons – for your browser that translate text found on web sites for you.
    For example, there is the Google Bar for the Internet Explorer and Foxlingo for the Firefox, which I am currently using. The results are mostly helpful in some way, but sometimes the translations might sound like  plain non-sense ;-). You simply have to give it a try to see if it gives you any additional information for your particular project.
    If you want a little tutorial how to go about it, then We’re all Mad here has one for you.
  • If you cannot copy and paste text into the translation tool, because your pattern is from a physical book or an image that does not allow for text recognition, then there are many kind people you can ask.
    There is, of course, Ravelry (highly recommended), where you can become a member of the Japanese Knitting and Crochet Group. Just reading through their forum was extremely helpful for me.

Good luck with your Japanese crafting!

(1) Japanese craft books: Where to find Japanese books or patterns

March 12, 2010 - - 4:18 PM

1. Buying Japanese books

If you have a local book store that does sell Japanese craft books, then you can consider yourself lucky.

If you don’t, then you can shop online:

  • There is Amazon.co.jp, which has an “In English” link (in the top right corner). If you click it, it shows most of the content in English, so you can order books without understanding Japanese.
    As the other Amazon websites it is safe to use and the delivery is fast and reliable, but it is not exactly cheap, if you have to pay shipping costs.
  • Yesasia.com is available in English and under certain conditions the shipping is free internationally. Like Amazon it also recommends other products you might be interested in.
  • Usually you go to Etsy.com for exquisite handmade objects, but you can also look there for Japanese craft books. The advantage is that you can ask questions about the publication to the seller. You are also likely to support the same kind of addicts you (probably) are yourself ;-).

If those three stores do not satisfy your needs, you can find even more links on Crafting Japanese.

2. Downloading free Japanese patterns

There are at least two sites that offer free patterns:

  • Pierrot offers so many patterns on their page, that you probably do not know where to even start. Thankfully there is an overview by category.
  • Clover also features many patterns on their site.

Dancingbarefoot has an excellent overview of links to these and other sites. If there are any other sites you like to visit, then please tell me about them.

The next post will be about understanding the Japanese craft books, you have acquired.

UPDATE: Another great site with free patterns is Atelier.

Series: Japanese craft books and patterns

March 8, 2010 - - 3:15 PM

Lately I have been quite fascinated with Japanese craft books. To get an idea of what kind of books are out there for people who love knitting, crocheting, sewing or beading, check out Crafting Japanese.

Why would you want to take a look at these publications for junkies of handmade stuff? Well, they are different!

  • First of all, they are comparatively easy to understand most of the time.  They use lots of pretty pictures as well as diagrams and symbols to guide you, especially the international crochet and knitting language.
    Of course, it does not hurt, if you can read Japanese, but the point is that usually you do not have to in order to create the project.
  • The Japanese culture has created a unique visual aesthetic. The style you see in the publications reflects this view in its photography, the handmade objects themselves, the choice of patterns and colors as well as the use of materials. The style ranges from Zen simplicity and timeless elegance to stunning complexity or overloading cuteness.
  • You learn different ways of crafting and have the chance to experiment with new stitch patterns, techniques and materials. I love the challenge of trying to understand how a piece was designed so I can create it myself. Japanese publications have certainly influenced the way I knit and crochet.

In the following blog articles I will show you, where to get Japanese books, magazines and patterns, how to read the diagrams and symbols and how to understand and translate Japanese at least partially.

UPDATE: I have found a comparision of the American and Japanese style of presenting and knitting lace. Although the review is three years old now, there are many valid points in there I do agree with.

Babette Blanket – Doing research

February 18, 2010 - - 5:41 PM

After buying the yarn I sat down and did some research on the internet. If you pick a popular pattern by Interweave you can be sure, other crocheters had some great tips and tricks how to go about it.

Always a great place to start is Ravelry. Besides the project pages there is a Babette group called “Babette & Hexagon Blanket Crochet Anonymous“. There I found four helpful techniques for making the perfect square:

  • Magic ring: When starting a squares you do not crochet a chain but you use a technique regularly used in Amigurumi. This way you do not have a hole in the center, but instead a neat beginning. There is an image tutorial and a video at “Hook & Needles“.
  • Starting a DC in the round without a chain: In order to not make the chain stitches stand out, you can start your round directly with a double crochet instead of the chain stitches. Please watch this video by TXCr1cket to find out how.
  • Changing color in the round without a chain: When you change color and still want a clean color change then try this method by Hypercycloid.
  • Changing color in the corner: In order to make the bumps less visible Hypercycloid also suggests to do the color change in the corner. This way the square will look neater.

I am so glad, I found this advice, because I will be able to use it for other crochet projects 🙂 .

Babette Blanket – Choosing a yarn

February 13, 2010 - - 6:51 PM

My project has actually made some progress, because I have decided on a particular yarn. Not only did I finally focus on what to get, but I actually went out and bought all the skeins.

Contrary to my first idea of mixing blues and reds, I settled for a natural palette of white, light gray, semi-dark gray and bluish black. The reason was that I could not find more than one red and blue tone that would look good together as well as the fact that this subdued palette reflects my current color mood much better.

Other yarns were either too expensive or I was not able to get them in my area. Since I wanted the tones to match, I thought it would be too risky to order the yarn online, because so far I have not encountered an online store that deliberately matches the colors of the presented photographs with the actual color of the yarn. If you know of a store that takes great care in achieving the correct color of their yarn products, please let me know.

Babette Blanket by Kathy Merrick

January 17, 2010 - - 7:54 PM

This will be my big project for 2010.

You can see many wonderful variations of this pattern at the “The Babette Blanket” Flickr group.

I will not use Koigu (though it probably is wonderful), but another Merino yarn, that I can actually afford. After knitting a test swatch, to see if I understand the pattern (easy :-)), I have also decided that I will keep the color palette simple and use only red and blue tones. I love the original Babette blanket, but since I want to look at it every day I am looking for something less colorful (psychedelic?).

(2) How to destash – Cotton

January 8, 2010 - - 2:44 PM

If you do not feel like making dish cloths, tea pot cozies and pot holders (and for some reason I never do), then you need some other projects that make use of your cotton yarn.

Cotton is not my favorite choice of yarn, but from time to time I buy a few skeins for a specific project. Therefore I never have more than one to three skeins of one particular cotton yarn and color left over.

Following projects look rather tempting to me:

I would love to know how you reduce your cotton stash!

Now I have to think about what I will do about my hills of sock yarn turning into mountains.

(1) How to destash – Acrylic

January 2, 2010 - - 9:09 PM

After I admitted to myself, that I had a stash problem, my focus is now to slowly reduce the amount of yarn piling up around me.

When I started knitting in February last year I didn’t mind using acrylic yarn to learn. Of course, as soon as I knew how to knit a straight row I wanted higher quality yarn.

I don’t like acrylic fiber on my body, because it just doesn’t breath. So wristwarmers or hats were not an option. Besides, I like to knit something practical and useful from time to time.

So here are options that I will try this year to get rid off all my eeky acrylic yarns:

  • Japanese scrubbies are called “Tawashi”. You can find a very detailed crochet pattern including photos at craftstylish. There are less knitting than crochet patterns, but there is a translation from a cute Japanese fishy pattern translated by Rhonda White at knittingknonsense.
  • If you sew or know someone you does, you could go for a pincushion. I think I will either try this knitted pattern by Kris Patey or this crocheted frog at Roman Sock.
  • I am definitely in need of a clothes pin bag. There is a crochet pattern over at myrecycledbags made with plastic yarn. I have actually found a knitted version at craftster for free, but since I own Home by Debbie Bliss, I will try her version from the book.

Do you have any others ideas, what acrylic yarn could be used for? I would love to hear them.

Next I will try to figure out, what to do with my cotton yarn.