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Posted in Craft tips

Caring for Wool, Part 1

It’s that time of year. Gifts are being knit, crocheted or woven – often at breakneck speed to meet self-imposed deadlines. (Unless you are one of those who plan their gifts throughout the year …)

Regardless of your process, most of you are making gifts from wool which has special handling requirements. Everyone has their favorite horror story of the gifts they have bestowed, lovingly and painstakingly crafted, only to have the item tossed in the washer and accidentally felted. Can’t you just imagine the grief of seeing your cabled scarf ending up in the dog kennel because of improper care!

Wool garments have been in decline in the past century, so it is no wonder that modern families don’t know how to care for them. A recent video trip down Saville Row in London showed men who were proud recipients of their grandfather’s well-cared-for wool suits, something you don’t often see with polyester. Hence, a little education is in order when we give our gifts.

Fabric Care Symbols

When giving your gifts, it is nice to include care instructions. Your ball band will often have these printed on them. A glance at the symbols can be confusing if you don’t understand them. Here is a little cheat sheet.

While there are more components than these, the most basic are the Washer and Dryer.

The next step helps you determine if and how to use them. Look for a series of dots for temperature, though an X indicates these shouldn’t be used.

A close up of a logo

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For example, these show to machine wash in cold water, but do not tumble dry

The Cleaning Institute and the Textile Affairs websites have more information on cleaning than you thought possible. I learned a lot about general cleaning too.

For a complete listing of care symbols, download this PDF.

Wool Specific Care Tips

For wool specific care, you can’t beat American Wool. This Australian site, Woolmark,  is so well done and full of care tips.

Whether it’s your favorite suit, upholstered chair, or performance wear, the  American Wool Council has care tips for your wool,

Check the care label for stain and spot removal instructions and try to treat as soon as possible. First, dampen the area with cold water or seltzer, then blot dry with an absorbent clean cloth. If that doesn’t do the trick, here are some more specific tips on how to properly treat a variety of stains.

 COCKTAILS

  • Dab lightly with an absorbent, lint-free cloth to remove as much excess liquid as possible. Sponge the area sparingly with a mix of warm water and 1/2 rubbing alcohol.

RED WINE OR FRUIT JUICE

  • Immediately dab the stain with a 3:1 mixture of rubbing alcohol and water.

BLACK COFFEE

  • Mix equal parts alcohol and white vinegar and soak a lint-free cloth in the solution. Gently dab the stained area then apply pressure with an absorbent cloth to draw the coffee from the fabric.

CHOCOLATE, WHITE COFFEE OR TEA

  • Dab gently around the edge of the stain with a cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol. Then follow instructions for black coffee.

BUTTER, GREASE OR SAUCES

  • Lightly scrape the surface of the stain with a spoon or knife to remove any excess oil. Then soak a lint-free cloth in rubbing alcohol and gently dab the area.

BLOOD

  • Remove excess blood immediately with a damp sponge, then gently dab the area using undiluted white vinegar followed by cold water.

INK OR BALLPOINT PEN

  • Dab gently with a lint-free cloth soaked in white spirit. Repeat the action with a cloth soaked in diluted white vinegar or rubbing alcohol.

LIPSTICK OR MAKEUP

  • Rub gently with a lint-free cloth soaked in turpentine or spot cleaning spray or fluid. Rinse with mild soapy water. 

In part 2 we will look at why we like wool and some its characteristics and uses; part 3 will cover some questions we have about superwash wool.

Posted in Book Review, Craft tips, crochet, Crochet Technique

Want to Win the Crochet Jeopardy Game?

All you have to do is ask! So begins Edie Eckman’s best-selling book, The Crochet Answer Book. Subtitled, Solutions to Every Problem You’ll Ever Face, Answers to Every Question You’ll Ever Ask, this little book is one that every crocheter should have in their toolbox.

Every question, I ponder? Nobody says “every” and “all”. That’s hard to live up to. But Edie does a comprehensive and concise job of covering topics from choosing your yarn and hook to finishing. Her catchy chapter titles reel you in: Tense About Gauge; Going in Circles? . . . and Squares and Triangles; A Good Yarn. The Appendix is worth as much as the body of the book. One of my favorite pages there covers common crochet phrases, those sayings that people toss off and you’re left wondering, “What language are they speaking?” Finally, I found it interesting that in her section on reference books, she included this: “Any Japanese stitch dictionary or pattern book you can get your hands on.” My first foray into the world of charted patterns was from a Japanese pattern, so I can relate to her enthusiasm for them.

With cleanly drawn images of both right- and left-handed stitches and techniques, the book is easy to read. The use of wide margins makes it convenient for you to write in your own notes. And its small size – fits right in your hand – means you can keep it in your project bag without difficulty. Then, it is right there when you need it, when you have that question and need an answer. So grab your copy of The Crochet Answer Book today, and you’ll soon be winning the “Crochet Jeopardy” game. I’ll take “Why isn’t my circle round?” for $500, Edie.

Posted in Craft tips, crochet, Works In Progress

No more guilt for crochet UFOs*

*UFO = unfinished objects in your stash

Do you cringe when someone asks you about your unfinished projects? It seems the world is divided into two classes of crocheters: those who work on one project at a time, and finish it before starting another, and those who have multiple projects going at once. The folks in the latter category sometimes are looked at as impetuous and unfocused. “Do you ever finish anything you start?” they are asked. It is even considered a defect of character, like the inability to stick with a project is some sign of discontent or lack of discipline.

A process can be defined as a continuous action, operation, or series of changes taking place in a definite manner.

On the contrary, I have observed that people who are engaged in a variety of projects tend to be more relaxed than their counterparts. To them, their craft is all about the process, not the finished item. Whether it is the feel and color of a new yarn or the excitement of learning a new stitch, each project is an adventure. To these crocheters, it is the action of crocheting that is satisfying. Interestingly, these same people may have three or four books they are reading or multiples of other interests.

The next time someone inquires about your UFOs and WIPs, how will you respond?

  • What business is it of yours?
  • Oh, a few (mumbled.)
  • I’m the proud owner of several exciting and ambitious projects in the works. How about you?
Posted in crochet, Finished Objects, Jewelry, Works In Progress

Here Is What’s Been Keeping Me Busy

Wednesday WIPs is taking a backseat today for two reasons: I’ve way too many WIPs, but I have a lot of finished projects I want to show off. It doesn’t help much that I’ve been gone for so long. What with two trips in two months under my belt, who has time to write. Additionally, I’m still publishing two newsletters a month for The Yarn Store at Nob Hill, teaching classes, and now getting ready for craft fair season.

One project that took quite a bit of time and effort was getting a teaching plan and patterns ready for a project for The Yarn Store (TYS). The store wanted to reach out to the university crowd by offering kits at a reasonable price. The kits are for either crochet or knit and include how-to instructions for beginners, five patterns, yarn and tools in a pouch plus lessons with an instructor. Another woman did the knit portion, and I did the crochet portion. I wrote three original patterns, a photo-tutorial on a granny square scarf in chart form, and an adaptation of the Amazing Grace headband. Since starting this blog, I’ve been updating my color scheme in my patterns, so you’ll notice that they coordinate well with the blog. I also like the bi-fold style layout which looks like this:

Front and back cover
Inside pages

I had to put the watermark on them because they are for sale on Ravelry and in TYS kits. Here is what the others look like.

Continue reading “Here Is What’s Been Keeping Me Busy”
Posted in Craft tips, Jewelry, kumihimo

Brief intro to Kumihimo jewelry

Kumihimo cord was first created centuries ago by a form of finger-loop braiding. Later, tools such as the marudai and the takadai were employed to make more complex braids in a shorter time. For photos and information on these braiding looms, check out the American Kumihimo SocietyHere is a YouTube video of a braider demonstrating the use of a takadai for making complex flat braids. The most prominent historical use of the braided cords was by Samurai as both a functional and decorative way to lace their armor and their horses’ armor. Contemporary Western use includes jewelry making, with or without beads.

A modern kumihimo disk made of firm but flexible foam plastic with notches can also be used as a portable marudai. The disks have 32 notches that create tension on the cords. The foam kumihimo disk is lightweight, portable, and significantly more affordable than the traditional marudai. Braiders can create complex braids up to 24 bobbins and incorporate beads. There are many sizes and shapes of foam disks available. Look for a disk that is sturdy and doesn’t bend easily, otherwise the braider will experience uneven tension. Continue reading “Brief intro to Kumihimo jewelry”