Friday, November 10, 2017

My first

This was a long and an interesting journey. I have contemplated crocheting a cardigan for myself for a very long time and I am not sure just how many times I have started one. Every single one has ended up in a frog pond and this was a close call too. There were many issues along the way, I had doubts until the very end.
My main concern all the time was the drape; what if I end up having a very stiff piece of clothing. I did a swatch but as we know, swatches don’t always tell the whole truth and I was afraid that my little crocheted square was a liar, because she was so lovely and soft. But there was not enough of her to be able to be sure. 

Then I was not sure, how I would like the look of the crochet in a large piece… again the little square was fine. 
How do I get straight edges? 
I was making a cardigan, top down, raglan shaping, so the crochet was back and forth… then I wanted to crochet the sleeves in the round. But if I had done so, the outcome would have been different. So, I had to turn every time I came to the beginning of the round, and I was worried of not having enough knowledge to do it neatly.

As a starting point I had this simple and beautiful Dune crochet cardigan pattern by Melissa Thibault, but right away knew I had to make changes as my gauge was off. There is no shaping for the back piece, so I needed to figure out how to make short rows for the back. I wanted to make a longer cardigan, but that would be an easy modification. I love the look of the cardigan without the button band, but I realized soon enough that I needed to add something to stabilize the edge. Now that I have made the first one and with lots of --- should have’s, I am better prepared for the next one. Because there will be the next one at some point. My cardigan ended up not being simple and beautiful like the original, because I had to camouflage all my mistakes...

I loved the learning. I loved hitting all the problems along the way and trying to find solutions to them. I loved having to rip and having to start over. This was a challenge all the way through and I can see so many mistakes there that need to be fixed in the next one, so I cannot stop now.

The yarn I used is Lang Yarns Donegal Merino (190m/50g), tweedy and very soft. I used little over 400 grams, that is little bit over 8 skeins. It is not as much as I would have estimated. I thought that I would use much more. 
A little while ago I found an interesting podcast (all the shownotes)
/videocast (on Youtube) called The Crochet Circle by Fay Dashper-Hughes. There is a section in the podcast where she asks herself questions and finds answers to them and one of the questions was how much more of yarn crochet uses compared to knitting. To my astonishment garter stitch uses more than double (treble) crochet. Of course, simple stockinette in knitting uses the smallest amount. I could not find the episode where she compares knitting and crochet, but it is there somewhere. I enjoy her podcast a lot. She podcasts once a month, every first Friday of the month, but luckily her podcast is one of the longer ones.
The buttons I ended up using are quite heavy and they are almost too big, but in a way, it adds to the roughness of the yarn and the look, so I chose them.
There are the backing buttons there, every single one different. I was quite proud when I thought of adding this little rust color accent to the button band, as it is row of simple crab stitches, but I did it using two colors and that made me feel clever.
I am sure it has been used somewhere and most likely I have seen it, but when I was making it, I did not have any tutorial on hand and sort of made it up.

Then do I like the look of the crochet? I do, I really do. It has this bohemian flare to it which I seem to like a lot. It is not polished and neat, it fits well into my country style living… whatever that is. The drape; it does not drape as nicely as stockinette cardigan would drape, but it is not stiff or hard at all. There is lots of body to the cardigan, and somehow it feels more like a jacket than a soft cardigan. I used 4mm hook and the drape could have been better with bigger hook, but 4mm was as big as I could see myself working with. I love small needles and hooks. If I had used a zipper instead of buttons, this would be lovely and sturdy jacket.

When I finished the cardigan yesterday and put it on, I looked at me in the mirror for a long time and my very first thought was; now, it is too late to rip this. I was so fixed into ripping, trying, making again and again, that I was astonished that there I was, wearing the cardigan and there was no way of going back or fixing any part any more. (Well, there always is, just find the buried ends and pull…)

This was interesting and feels like an accomplishment. Finally, I can tick off the crochet cardigan from my list. It has been there for many years.

Wool with you,

Thank you so much for all your comments lately. And excuse me for the bathroom pictures and the other ones where the color is so off. I am alone at home at the moment and there was no one to take good pictures and I could not wait to show you this. Taking pictures on a dress form is not the same as taking them on a human form.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Love cats, respect the pussy

I know you are not used to me being political here on the blog and I have stayed away from political subjects. But I am a mother of three girls and while raising them, or letting them grow to be the wonderful women they are today, has not always been easy and interpreting the world to them has sometimes been challenging. I need to write about this now. The popularity of the #MeToo Movement has once again shaken me up. The title for this post is strong and you might not be happy for me imprinting this slogan into your brain, but I need to say it out loud now. This is for the sake of all the women and for all the little girls growing to be women.
I began my cat journey a long time ago. There is a connection between women and cats. (And right away, I think that cats, regarded as feminine creatures, are described with adjectives selfish, where the dogs, masculine, men’s best friends are always thought loyal and trustworthy.) Cats have nine lives, they need them all to survive one.
My series of these nine cats will be about these nine lives and so far, I have done four, I am making the fifth one.
Every single one takes (all hand embroidered; the original pattern for the body was bought, but I developed the head into cat’s head and have also done some work on the body parts) so much concentration and effort and a long time to make that it must be three or four years since I made the last one.
One of the cats has broken body (I will add bandage to her yet), as there is lots of domestic violence women suffer and we have a high rate for domestic violence in this country.
I remember when I was working with the eyes, I battled with them because even though her face is calm on the surface, her eyes are watery. I will return to my cats one day and finish the series.
Finland, then Grand Duchy of Finland, part of the Russian Empire, was the third country in the world and the first in Europe to grant women the right to vote in 1906. In the Parliamentary Elections in 1907 the first women were elected to Parliament, and they were the first ones in the world. We, one of my daughters and me, have thought about inventing a drink called “06”, a drink that would represent women and voting and would have six units of strong alcohol in it, but we are not yet sure what the drink should be, one shot or a long one. Every time there is an election and after casting one’s vote, one should toast with “06” for all the women who made it possible in 1906 for us to vote today, to have the tools to change the world for the better. I guess this “06” could be a worldwide drink as those women (19 women altogether out of 200) in 1907 were the first ones in the Parliament in the whole world.
My Mom was raised in a family where boys were more deserving than girls. My father grew up to believe that his big sisters were there to pave the way for him. Both my parents grew up to be so much more than they were brought up to be. My Mom had a fulltime job and, yet she managed to balance between mothering and working brilliantly, my father somehow got the vibes of the fifties and sixties, was a wise man and I was brought up to believe to be equal to men.
I made my first little pussy cat in January. When I started to see the women’s marches and the pussy hats, I felt a strong connection. I know sometimes good causes need drastic actions, but the only strong measures I believe in are strong and powerful words, maybe spiced with little bit of wool, cloth and knitting.
The suffrage movement was not politically correct, strong standpoints had to be taken to make the changes we (not all of us yet) enjoy.

Thus, even though you might not like this, I will say it anyway: “love cats, respect the pussy”. 

To my Finnish readers, my daughter translated this into Finnish: “helli kattia, vaali vittua”. And that is a strong, a very strong statement, but then, she is a tough cookie.

Wool with you,

PS. I was raised up to use clean language and avoid profanity; there was the threat of mouth being washed with soap if the language was off, but I know both of my parents would approve.