Thursday, June 18, 2015

On Creating Crochet Lace: Fiber Choice Counts!

Hello everyone - I hope the beginning of summer (well, it will be here officially this weekend!) has thus far been good to you.

As some of you may know, I've been conducting a wee test of my Frosted Espresso Cardigan, which publishing rights have reverted back to me and I'll be releasing it once the test is complete. This cardigan is comprised of two different lace patterns - one very open (on the upper sleeves and back) and a puff-based design along the sleeve bottoms and front/neck. This design was intentional - my goal was to have pretty lace in the back and something slightly warmer in the front and along the sleeve openings, where (at least I) find that a little extra warmth is a good thing. For the sample, I used a duo of Rowan yarns held together: Rowan Fine Art (with a fiber makeup of: Merino Wool: 45%, Mohair: 20%, Silk: 10%, Polyamide: 25%), and Rowan Kidsilk Haze which is 70% Mohair and 30% silk. It produced a great looking sample. (Go here to see my previous blog entry about the Rowan yarns.)

Because two different lace/patterns are used, gauge is important, as well as good blocking abilities. I've provided photos of my two original swatches (and I do apologize for the less than spectacular shots, but you get the idea).

I wanted the back and upper sleeve lace sections to open up when blocked. Because of the fair amount of wool content in the Rowan Fine Art, not only did my sample swatches block nicely, but there's still some give to both of them (although, admittedly, I was more aggressive with the lace swatch than the puff-based swatch).

Andean mist from my stash in colorway Chaiten
I have no issue with testers making fiber substitutions - that's the nature of making one's own projects. My testers decided to swap out two yarns held together for one: Berroco Andean Mist, since it was on sale at Webs earlier in the spring. While I've not used it for a project, I do like it, since it's comprised of some wonderful fibers - suri alpaca and mulberry silk. It's also incredibly lightweight and lofty, which I know appealed to one of my testers. I even, albeit briefly, thought about using it (since I'm making a cardigan for myself during this test), but opted for a two-yarn cocktail somewhat similar to my original Rowan blend - LB Collection Silk Mohair (70% mohair, 30% silk), and Lion Brand Sock-ease (75% wool, 25% nylon). The Sock-ease has a higher wool content and nylon, allowing for spring and memory. As you can see in the photo, I swatched with what I had on hand, and liked how the swatch behaved. I still had to purchase more of both yarns, but I was glad to have found a nice match for these two stash skeins.

Fast forward to now, and one of my testers has brought to my attention that perhaps more of the open lace repeats should be included in the pattern, since she really needed to block the h&%# out of her shrug ("to within an inch of its life" were her exact words). While I am willing to tinker (and have pursuant to her request), I do feel this is also a case of even though one achieves gauge (which my tester did with the Andean Mist and an H hook), that perhaps a fiber with some wool in it might have behaved better for her, and I have photos of a little test I did to illustrate the point ... which I'll share in the second installment of this blog post, which will occur in a few days. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Summertime Fun

This absolutely scrumptious handspun alpaca is a dream
to work with. I so love alpaca!
Happy Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday everyone. I must admit, it's been an up and down week - I was thrilled to announce the winners in the Spring Flingy Thingy giveaway on Monday, but I'm really sad to see the two months of making come to an end. The good thing? Since not everything was completed (and I'm looking at you, my Espresso Cardigan test), I still get some residual fun in June.

While I have no finished objects to show (for the moment), I thought I'd share some of the fiber that's currently on my hooks.
I'm looking forward to showing everyone
what this summer loveliness became.

Additionally, I realized a few days ago that in all the Voie de Vie Spring Flingy Thingy information and goings-on, I actually failed to post the final art blog installment in my local yarn shop tour from last year. Even though our local tour for this year is over (for a few weeks now), it's the LYS tour/hop season for many, so this is still current. For anyone who missed the earlier installments, Day 1 is hereDay 2 is here, and Day 3 is here. Again, these art diary entries are from the largest local LYS tour in the Puget Sound from 2014. I thoroughly enjoyed creating these art diaries.

I hope everyone has a great, fiber-filled weekend. And enjoy the sunshine if you get some.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Spring Flingy Thingy is No More

Happy Monday everyone! It's June (yikes!), and the Voie de Vie Spring Flingy Thingy is done. Tout fini. Completed. While I'm just a little sad to see it end (I've been enjoying working on designs for me from Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace), I've got some yarny prizewinners to announce!

My very own WASPs Cowl
Initially, here's how I ended the two months - I literally, finished this project yesterday, 5/31, in the late afternoon - my second WASPs cowl - this one not a book sample, but for me, me, me. I made mine larger in circumference by about 7" or so and not quite as high as the original. I am so thrilled with my final yarn choices as well as how the top stripes are (by design) just a little lighter in color than the bottom. I do love a great tunisian crochet project, and this certainly is one of them.

And now onto the prize draw. Over April and May, people had a plethora of ways to win an entry into this final prize draw (and I've written about the ways both here on the blog as well as in my Ravelry group). One could gain as many entries as one wanted, just as long as that person completed one of the social media/tasks on the list. I kept a running spreadsheet throughout the two months of every entry by date (as best as is humanly possible) and then today had numbers drawn from I am so thrilled that the winners were chosen from 120 entries. I cannot thank everyone enough for all of the combined social media love you've shown Voie de Vie this spring. For a wee independent designer/artist such as myself, the new social media friends made this spring are amazingly wonderful. I'm interested in quality, not quantity, and everyone who is now a part of Voie de Vie is certainly quality in my book. So, the winners are (drumroll, please):

Laurie Baker (Rav id: laurbaker) (who started to follow me on Instagram) - 
you've won an electronic copy of Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace + 3 skeins of Drops Cotton Merino

Lisa Hodge (who started to follow my Pinterest art blogging board) -
you've won an electronic copy of Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace + 2 skeins of Berroco Abode and 1 skein of Berroco Blackstone Tweed

Ellen (for a comment on Wisdom Begins in Wonder's blog during the LLGG blog tour) -
you've won an electronic copy of Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace + 4 skeins of Neighborhood Fiber Co.'s Rustic DK + a nifty NFC carrying bag

Jenni (Rav id: JollyLamb) (for the completion of her purple Markham Headband) -
you've won a custom e-book of any five of my individual patterns + enough Lion Brand Yarn Company Wool-Ease Chunky to make the Flying Blanket

And the grand prize:

Denae (Rav id: denmoma) (for leaving a comment on the Dream in Color blog during the LLGG blog tour) -
you've won an electronic copy of Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace + enough Cascade Yarn's Highland Duo to make a Cochran Puffy V Shoulder Warmer + a rather impressive clear project bag + a scenic seaplane flight for two around the Puget Sound from Kenmore Air
Thank you to the wonderful yarn producers who so generously provided yarn (both for the book as well as the Spring Flingy Thingy) - Dream in Color YarnsLion Brand Yarn Company, Cascade Yarns, and Neighborhood Fiber Co. as well as Kenmore Air, who provided such a friendly, atmospherically awesome backdrop for most of Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace.

I'll contact the winners shortly - what a great way to start June.