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New Crocheted Shawl – A Spine of Skulls

A few months ago, I came across an acrylic yarn with a metallic sheen to it.
I’m not one to necessarily buy loads of acrylic yarn but the glossy, polished look of this yarn drew me in and I find myself going home with a number of metallic black skeins.  I had no plan in mind…
***My fellow fibreartists, I KNOW you have been there too! “Ooooh, pretty!  I’ll just pick up a couple of skei-….No, probably should grab four-….five!  Five!  To be sure I have enough for whatever I decide to do with it.” Your head is nodding along to this…right?  I’m not alone here!***
…so, no plan in mind but I figured I’d come up with something.  Eventually.
Some time later, I was visiting Len’s Mills in Kitchener with a friend and we came across a variegated version of the same yarn:  black with shades of silver grey and splashes of a metallic grasshopper green.
I admit that description doesn’t make it sound all that great but it isn’t as bad as all that.

IMG_1569 (1)
Close up of the variegated yarn

But my friend dared me to grab a couple of skeins and make something with it.  So of course, I did.
***It was a DARE!  I HAD to! (Because you know, it takes a lot (read: a wee bit) of convincing to get an yarn addict like me to buy more yarn.)***
Both colourways sat in my craft room for a time until I finally decided to tackle a new skull shawl project.
I knew I didn’t want a shawl made completely of the variegated yarn.  It’s incredibly busy and I find it camouflages any pattern you try to make.  Your eye can’t focus on the overall shape because the colour splashes are too intense.
But as granny skull squares within a body of black…I like it.
The skulls in this pattern are based on the Skull shawl pattern by kungen ooh marks but the rest of the shawl is from my brain and I haven’t written it down…yet.
In case you do wish to try your own version, I used three skeins at the same time, one black skein on either side and the variegated skein for the middle portion.  So each row had me switching between all three and back again.
I’m really happy with how this shawl turned out.  It’s pretty sharp and, in addition to functioning as a lovely shawl, it works well as a extra layer, for those of us who like to dress a bit more bohemian with tons of layers 🙂
Modeling it over two long  full skirts and a pair of Docs.

It’s somewhat large in size (84″ across the top and about 38″ from top to point) but I like the flexibility the size gives to its function…it can be worn so many different ways and drapes so nicely!
I considered keeping this one…but it’s headed to my Etsy store today!

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Skull projects! Are we surprised? Nah.

The past few weeks have been an awesome and yet ridiculous and blurry mishmash of back-to-back work assignments, custom orders, teaching crochet and a last-minute trip to Florida.
Not necessarily in that order.
I’m not complaining at all!  I like to keep busy and Florida…well, there was no snow…
….’nuff said.
And I had a ton of time to work on some knitting projects, so overall, pretty happy with how things are progressing.
The fall out to being so busy is that I don’t update my blog nearly as often as I should.  So, for this post, I thought I would show a few of the items I have completed over the past couple of weeks.
They are all skull patterns.  I know.  You’re not surprised! 🙂
I’m especially proud of the acrylic version of the Solid Body Skull Scarf that I made as a custom order.  (Pics and description at the bottom of this post!)
Believe it or not, I do have some other projects on the go as well…but they’re works-in-progress and there isn’t much to show…yet.
The weekend that I taught crochet in Cambridge (see my blog post about that here), I also completed a few skull shawls for Black Orchid Designs to sell in their shop.  They had requested a few more shawls so the week leading up to the classes, anywhere I went, I was crocheting.  On the subway, in a waiting room, getting my hair done, even while walking…hooking, hooking, hooking!
The extra awesome thing about selling with Black Orchid is that the owner, Kerri, is willing to ship the items if they sell online, so they are also listed in my Etsy shop.

I haven’t made a light white/grey variegated shawl in a while. While on a shopping trip with Kerri, we came across this yarn and it was just begging to be made into a shawl. With fringe of course, for some extra movement! Available in my etsy shop.

I crocheted this shawl with super bulky acrylic yarn…skulls as big as my hands! Available on Etsy.

We HAD to have some red happening! This shawl I started awhile ago and then it got lost in the never-ending drawers of yarn in my craft room. Quite an interesting yarn with glittery, shimmery sections that seem to make this shawl a tad more formal than the others. Available in my etsy shop.

In addition to shawls for Black Orchid Designs, I have also been working on a couple of custom orders.
The first one was so much fun to make…mainly because it is made from alpaca and I LOVE working with alpaca fibre.  The black base is a worsted 80% alpaca/20% acrylic brushed fibre, twisted with a teal alpaca/silk lace weight yarn. The awesome part is that it weighs practically nothing!
The black base is a worsted 80% alpaca/20% acrylic brushed fibre, twisted with a teal alpaca/silk lace weight yarn.  The awesome part is that it weighs practically nothing!
The second custom order was a bit more challenging.  The customer wanted a skull scarf that was similar to the original red/burgundy/grey/black wool scarf that I made a few months back, see the picture below. (I also provide the free pattern here.)  
But… she wanted it in acrylic so I had to spend some time visiting yarn shops and trying to match the colours.
Eventually I found some balls of lace weight acrylic that seemed to do the job.  I had to use a smaller crochet hook than for the wool scarf above and it took me quite some time due to my schedule…but it is complete and on its way to Scotland!
And here is the completed acrylic version!  The colour changes are somewhat sharper as the wool yarn (above) is variegated and the acrylic scarf was made with four separate skeins, but I’m pretty happy with how it turned out!
Skull scarf in acrylic....It was hard to match the colours and I had to create the colour changes myself...but not too shabby if I do say so myself! :)
Skull scarf in acrylic….It was hard to match the colours and I had to create the colour changes myself…but not too shabby if I do say so myself! 🙂

So yes, incredibly busy these days…but still creating and playing with yarn!
In other news, I have been teaching myself brioche stitch…now THAT is an adventure in patience and soon to be its own blog post!

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The Magic of Blocking

Over the weekend, I experienced some…shall we say….incredibly effective blocking results with a crocheted item.
I am now the proud owner of an XL skull shawl 🙂
It has been in process for the past few weeks.  I wasn’t making it to fill an order or anything, it was more of a side project. Something that may actually end up being for me 😉 Continue reading The Magic of Blocking

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Fastest Skull Shawl on Record!

A few days ago I received an order from someone in the United States.  They are to be in a play and came across one of my items on Etsy that would be perfect for the character.
They wanted this skull shawl:
Aqua Acrylic b
…but in a variegated purple.
Not a problem as I had colour options available on my Etsy listing.
It was a rush order, as they needed it as soon as possible, so yesterday morning around 9am I started work on it.
Last night at midnight, I finished!
Variegated VioletNot sure how I managed it but I’m thinking it’s thanks to the beautiful day yesterday (nothing like sitting with some yarn and a book out on the porch!), the couple of hours of commuting I had to do for work (sometimes having to ride the subway is a productive thing), the few hours spent watching Back to the Future Part I & II last night (with friends who were cool enough to be down with my crocheting through the movie) and the fact that the shawl was made with a super bulky yarn 🙂
I think it’s the first time I have finished a complete project of this size in one day.  New record!

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Asymmetry and Variegated Yarn – Interesting Dichotomy

I have spent a lot of time looking for asymmetrical crochet patterns online and I have a pretty good library now of possibilities.  Not sure why but such shapes are more pleasing to my eye than the typical triangular shawls…as much as I like making those!
Most recently, I have also learned that asymmetry affects the resulting variegation from dyed yarn…unexpected, but makes sense.
A few weeks ago, I was on the hunt for a new pattern.  I wanted something easy and brainless.  A pattern I could memorize and work on in the car, while travelling, or while relaxing and watching the last season of House.
This one fit the bill!
So easy to make! A simple sc/ch/ch/sc repetition that created a gorgeous and dense (almost knit-like) fabric. I used a sock yarn, Blue Faced Leicester and nylon blend, which I chose due to the gorgeous popping colours!
What I didn’t realize was that the variegation would slowly change due to the increasing width of the body of the scarf.  You can see the change in the above picture.  The initial tail (top of pic) has some very short, repetitious strips of colour.  They start to fan out slightly until they culminate in three large spots in the middle.  From there, the variegation thins out even more and takes on a more edgy, jagged striping pattern.
Worth noting for future projects….asymmetry will affect the variegated results.
Overall, I continue to quite like the result.  It’s chic and classy!
Oh, and it’s up in my Etsy shop 🙂

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The Mind's Edge – A Skull Shawl without a pattern

Skull Fringe

I just finished blocking this shawl a couple of days ago and I’m pretty happy with it.
SIDENOTE: I’m not necessarily overly ecstatic about the photos though since the yarn is closer to purple than blue and the resulting shots seem to lean too far in a blueish direction.
Making this type of shawl is incredibly relaxing as the mesh body is a pretty simple repeat.  Not to mention, it crochets up fairly quickly.
The edging is where everything changes. Continue reading The Mind's Edge – A Skull Shawl without a pattern

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Newbie knitting: Jumping in Headfirst!!

The beginning of a shawl!
The beginning of a shawl!

Doesn’t look like much but it’s the result of over an hour of knitting with the help of videos and online forums!
I’m a newbie knitter and recently, after finishing a shawl that was completely garter stitch and yarn overs, I decided I wanted more of a challenge.
A friend suggested a shawl pattern by Stephen West.
Definitely a challenge for someone who has spent the past few months garter stitching over and over!
I am now headed into Row 9 and have had to learn (or relearn) techniques like:
Purling! Haven’t done that in awhile
Yarn overs between knitting and purling
And stuff like this:
yo, sl1 wyif, k1
It’s difficult but I think I’m getting it!
I have been using YouTube videos and online forums to figure it out.
It’s amazingly satisfying it is to finish a complicated row…a row where you were pretty much talking yourself through it and trying not to panic….to then count the exact number of required stitches on your needle at the end! Yep, did it right!
More pics to come!
Oh, and a shout out to Indigo Dragonfly! I’m using their sock yarn and it’s fantastic!! Soft merino/cashmere/nylon blend 🙂
Onwards and upwards….or downwards in the case of this pattern!
Wish me luck!

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Blocking with Rods: a yarn artist’s best friend

Today I completed my very first knit shawl.
It was ordered by a friend back in October and I have to say thank goodness she was so patient with me as it took some time!
I had no idea how long a knit shawl would take me and expected that it would be similar to my various crocheted projects.
Yeah, not so much.
It didn’t help that I chose 5mm circular needles to make it…perhaps larger would have been better for my first large knitting project….but regardless, I washed and blocked it two days ago and today, it is finished!

Completed knit shawl!
Completed knit shawl!

Anyway, back to the purpose of this post.
When I blocked this piece, I decided to use these metal rods that I picked up at a hardware store months ago.  They are heavier than the rods you use for blocking lace, but for this worsted yarn and open edging, they were perfect!
I saved so much time by weaving the rods through the edging and then simply pinning them out with my T-pins.
Close up of the metal rod I used for blocking
Close up of the metal rod I used for blocking

Metal rod pinned by T-pins
Metal rod pinned by T-pins

You can find these at any hardware store I believe and only cost me a few bucks.
The only downside that I could see was that the edges were somewhat rough, so I had to be careful when weaving them through the stitching.
Otherwise, a perfect time saver!

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Searching the far corners of the earth…to finish a shawl! (AKA Ravelry…you saved my project!)

Sometimes, you have to go all out to complete a piece of art, even when it’s a lovely piece of fibre art like this shawl!chainmail skull shawl with silk edgingThis is only the second time I have crocheted this pattern.  It is a blend of a couple of different crochet projects I have come across, but the actual pattern isn’t available….yet.
It presently lives in my head, and in the pages of illegible handwriting  found in my crochet notebook.
The second time turned out better than the first….although I love them both!

First attempt
First attempt

Second attempt
Second attempt

The skull portion of the second one improved slightly as I tweaked the stitches and tried different combinations and counts.  I can only hope it will get even better with the third one, which I have already started!
I presently refer to  it as the chainmail shawl since many who have seen the pictures comment that, upon first glance, it looks like chainmail. 🙂
So,  searching the far corners of the earth?  Yes.  Yes, I did!
What happened was that a couple of months ago, I ordered two skeins of a lovely silk peacock coloured yarn from Expression Fibre Arts.  After I shared a picture of my new yarn on my Facebook page (I was SO excited!), a customer contacted me and placed a custom order for a skull shawl made from that exact yarn.
Shawl made from my two skeins of peacock colorway silk yarn
Shawl made from my two skeins of peacock colorway silk yarn

I was originally concerned that I wouldn’t have enough yarn, but it worked out well and when I was done, I had about 50g left.
The same customer then requested a chain mail skull shawl with the skull edging done in the same peacock yarn.
50-60g remaining?  I thought that would be enough…so I said sure!
She needed it by a certain date as it would be a birthday present.  The date in question gave me a few weeks and I couldn’t foresee a problem.  I had the time.  I had the yarn.
Turns out, I didn’t.
My peacock yarn ran short….by THIS much!
That space between the arrows...that's how much yarn I needed.  One row!  about 3 grams!  That's it!
That space between the arrows…that’s how much yarn I needed. One row! about 3 grams! That’s it!

On the right at the arrow is a hanging yellow thread…from that point to the upper left arrow…the completion of that final row was all that remained!
What a pain!
I considered changing up the pattern but it had worked incredibly well and there wasn’t much I could change to save yarn.
I checked with Chandi at Expression Fibre Arts but she was out of that yarn.  Of course!  Because it’s awesome!
Next stop…
Ravelry has this amazing feature called “stash”.  It’s where you can record all the yarn you have and link to that exact brand of yarn online.  It will store your amounts along with the details about that yarn so that you can keep track.  You can even specify whether you’re willing to sell/trade each yarn or not.
The extra awesome thing about it is that you can nose around and look at OTHER people’s stashes!
So I did.
I found everyone on that site that had the “Peacock 2 Sparkle Silk Fingering Weight” and I sent them a desperate email!  Whether they were selling their skein or not, I wrote to about a dozen people from all over!  I asked if they would be willing to sell me just a wee bit…5 grams or so…20 yards give or take…to help me finish a shawl.
Many responded that they hadn’t even started working with their skein so they had no idea how much they could spare.  But finally, one awesome lady from British Columbia offered to mail me 5 grams!
Her awesome, fantastic, amazing 20+ yards of peacock yarn arrived in my mailbox four days before the birthday that required this shawl!
Lovely little ball of yarn!  When it arrived, I almost kissed the envelope!  ....almost.
Lovely little ball of yarn! When it arrived, I almost kissed the envelope! ….almost.

So a couple hours to finish off the row and the edging…another day and a half or so to block the shawl (It was hot and humid…took forever to dry!)…half an hour to take a few pictures…..and then off in the mail for overnight delivery with a few hours to spare!