Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Circular Math

circumference of a circle = 3.1416 (pi) x diameter (which is radius x 2)

area of a circle = 3.1416 (pi) x radius squared.
(If radius=2.5 formula would be 3.1416 x (2.5 x 2.5)= 3.1416 x 6.25 = 19.635

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Babette Blanket: Day 3

It's going much faster than I'd expected. I'm not loving the yarn - too much acrylic. But it will be easy to take care of & one of the few yarns I could find that has 23 different colors to use. I'm a little worried it will be too many colors. I've never used so many before. Only time will tell.

The pattern was featured in the Interweave Crochet Spring 2006 edition. You can download it here for $6.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Loopy & Luscious Scarf Finished!

Finished this scarf from Knitty Winter '02 -
Loopy & Luscious 

Breeze to make on size 19 needles using Rowan KidSilk Haze in color 628 a deep chocolate brown. 

Other yarn is Crystal Palace Yarns Raggedy Print in color 9165, a variegated blue that looks very denim like. 

It's super easy to make - just cast on 44 stitches and do garter stitch (knit every row) in Kidsilk for 4 rows, then 1 row of Raggedy. I tied off the Raggedy at each end and left a tail, adding to the raggedy appearance. 

Use circular needles since it's only one row of Raggedy you just push the stitches to the other end & pick up the Kidsilk where you left off.

Great to wear. Very light and airy - just keeps the chill off. I've never used Kidsilk before - what a delight! Very soft - not scratchy or itchy at all.

TWIN: mattress top is 39" x 75"
Twin flat sheet: 66" x 96"
Twin Blanket: 66" x 90"
Twin Comforter: 69" x 90"

EXTRA LONG TWIN: mattress top is 39" x 80" ** Most popular size in college dorms
Extra Long Twin Flat Sheet: 66" x 102"
Extra Long Twin Blanket: 66" x 95"

FULL/DOUBLE: mattress top is 54" x 75"
Full/Double Flat Sheet: 81" x 96"
Blanket: 80" x 90"
Full Comforter: 84" x 90"

QUEEN: mattress top is 60" x 80"
Queen Flat Sheet: 90" x 102"
Blanket: 90" x 100"
Queen Comforter: 90" x 95"

KING: mattress top is 76" x 80"
King Flat Sheet: 108" x 102"
Blanket: 108" x 100"
King Comforter: 106" x 98"

CALIFORNIA KING: mattress top is 72" x 84"
California King Flat Sheet: 102" x 110"
Blanket: 104" x 108"

Receiving Blanket: 29" x 32" or 30" x 36" or 36" x 36", 23" x 23"

Stroller Blanket: 30" x 40"
Porta Crib (mattress top is 24" x 38") use receiving blanket
Small Cradle Blanket (mattress is 15" x 33") 15" x 30"
Large Cradle Blanket (mattress is 18" x 36") 18" x 33"
Crib Blanket(mattress top is 28" x 52"): 28" x 42" or 30" x 40" or 36" x 42" or 36" x 46"


Infant - 2 years: 24" x 30"
2 - 6 years: 30" x 36"
7 - 11 years: 36" x 42"
12 years and over: 48" x 60"

Lapghan: 36"x 48" often used in nursing homes & wheelchairs
Adult: 50" x 70" (10/1/10: 50" x 72" made afghan that fit over single bed perfectly)

Standard 20" x 26"
Queen 20" x 30"
King 20" x 36"

In trying to figure out what size I ultimately wanted my Babette Blanket (The pattern was featured in the Interweave Crochet Spring 2006 edition. You can download it here for $6.) to be I did some research on standard mattress, sheet, blanket & comforter sizes. I know I've done this before but I can't find the papers so I'll put it here so I can find it again. Flat sheet measurements are from bedding industry standards. Everything else is sort of an average that seems about right. Crib blankets & receiving blankets seem to have the biggest variances - there's pretty much every size possible available. I listed the most prevalent.

Mattress depths vary widely be manufacturer. Measure the depth of the mattress before designing the blanket/quilt/comforter. Standard & older mattresses average 9 - 12", while newer pillow-top mattresses are 14 - 16" deep and up. These deeper mattresses obviously rquire more depth & width to cover the mattress completely. Be especially careful about making covers for very fluffy comforters such as down-filled. They tend to puff out the fabric, so there is much more area to cover than the dimensions listed on the package. Take several measurements of the comforter after it has been fluffed to decide how big to make the cover.

How to Figure How Many Granny Squares You Need For an Afghan

There are a number of things you need to keep in mind when figuring how many squares you'll need to make an afghan or blanket.

1. Make several squares in the pattern you've chosen.
2. Block and measure the squares. Blocking is especially important when assembling a blanket out of squares. It's one of the few times I actually block my work. The time and headache saved in assembly more than makes up for what you spend blocking. I have photos and written instructions on the process I follow here.
3. Decide how you're going to assemble your squares. The assembly method you choose will affect the finished size of your blanket. Whipstitching or single crocheting the blocks together won't afect the size much. But joining with a decorative stitch can affect the outcome. Even just a 1/4" added on a join can add 4 - 5" to the overall size of a king blanket using 4" squares. So if you're choosing something fancy like that you're going to have to piece a few together to figure out what the size is of your blocked, assembled square.
4. Divide the length and width of the blanket you want to make by the size of your finished squares (including whatever you added for assembly). This probably won't be a round number, so you'll have to decide whether you want to round up and make a slightly larger blanket, or round down & make a slightly smaller blanket. (Keep in mind that if you round down you can add a decorative border.) Then multiply the number of squares you need across by the number of squares you need for the length and you'll have the total number of squares you'll need to make. 

3/21/08: Here's a note from

on Ravelry about receiving blanket sizes: I gave my neighbor 3 that were 23” square (i.e. fast to knit!). She insists they are the perfect size. When the babies were little enough to fit under them, they didn’t make Mom and Dad too warm. When they got bigger (now 9 months later) they get used as blankies for swings - and aren’t so heavy that they make the motors work too hard. (She uses the 36” square ones for playing on the floor, though, and that works well). My comment: If you're a Ravelry user check out the link to her blankets. They're really fun!

9/20/08: There's been much discussion on Ravelry about different sizes, with many people agreeing that 23 - 24" squares are great for newborns.

"Janem" also provided the following helpful info: Bev’s Country Cottage website gives suggestions for different size blankets.
This is basically what she recommends….
Blanket Sizes (approximate) For preemies, blankets without ‘holes’ are best.
Small Preemie: 18” - 20” square
Medium Preemie: 20” - 22” square
Large Preemie: 22” - 28” square
Full Term Baby: 28” - 36” square
Baby 30” x 36” = crib sized (6” granny squares= 5 across x 6 down ~ 30 sq)
Children 42”x 48” (6” squares= 7 across x 8 down ~ 30 sq)
Lapghan often used in seniors homes 36” x 48” (6” squares= 6 across x 8 down ~ 48 squares)
Adult Afghan (Will fit across top of bed) 48” x 72” = twin sized. (6” squares= 8 across x 12 down ~ 96 squares)
Adult Double Bed (Will fit across top of bed) 60” x 84” = full sized. (6” squares= 10 across x 14 down ~ 160 squares)

Please post a comment if you have suggestions or real-life experience with any of this!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Babette Blanket - How to Crochet Better Granny Squares

I'm a self taught crocheter. I used a book to learn, and I didn't read very much - just looked at the pictures. And I really only learned enough to do free form crochet - I've only done a couple of crochet projects using a pattern - so I haven't really tried to understand very much.

Following are a few things I learned when making the Babette Blanket. The pattern was featured in the Interweave Crochet Spring 2006 edition. You can download it here for $6.

I'm assuming that's the reason I always have so many problems translating what the Babette Blanket pattern is trying to tell me what to do. There are always so many options on how to do a simple action. Like 2sc. Do I go into the front loop, the back loop, through the chain but not the bar below it, throught the chain & the bar? Each option gives a completely different look to the stitch. When you combine that with all the options for all the stitches in combination and then throw in needle size and tension it's taking me days to get my gauge swatches done. I also find myriad other little issues as I'm working that aren't addressed in the pattern. I'm guessing it's because I never learned "the standards". Or maybe it's just that I'm absurdly picky and have very strong opinions about what I like & I don't like. And then there's the whole problem of remembering what I've decided to do. Usually there are sticky notes on top of sticky notes stuck all over the pattern. Most of it is a matter of personal preference. But in the end consistency is important to me. (Although with so many squares I'm sure I can include all these different techniques into the blanket and no one will notice but me...)

So here's a list of my issues & actions I've decided. I've got to write it down or I'll never remember what I've decided & will be lost when the project gets pushed aside for a while as something new catches my eye....

1. Double Crochet: go through the chain or the chain & the bar?

Here are squares done each way:
The square on the left is just through the chain - not through the bar below the chain. the square on the right is through both the chain & the bar. Needless to say - the first thing that is very apparent is that blocking is crucial. I have no idea why the right square is so much more "tweaked" than the left square. Looking at the two squares side by side I couldn't see much of a difference so decided to block them up & call it a day.

After blocking it was easy to see that I prefer to dc under the chain but above the bar. I prefer the lacey-er look - and there's a bit of a bumpy ridge on the right square that I don't like the feel of. Plus, the rows seem more apparent and the whole structure is more pleasing to me.

2. Blocking - do I really have to?

As soon as I saw the squares this morning I knew the answer to that one. The blocked squares look so much better - and will be so much easier to assemble.

I've got my blocking down - I've got a couple "Quilter's Cut & Press" boards that I picked up at JoAnn's with a 1/2 off coupon. They're just big enough to be useful - but not so big as to be awkward. They stash behind my desk & fit perfectly on the kitchen counter. They've got a grid printed on them so I can pin to perfect squares. As the end of each day I grab the board, pin up the squares, hit them with a little steam from the iron and set them aside. Next morning I wake up to perfect squares. As far as I'm concerned a squares not finished until the last end is woven in & the square is blocked. I crochet the ends in as I go - so all I've got at the end is the last bit I tied off.) If I waited until the end to weave in the ends & block the squares I can say with certainty the thing would never get assembled....

3. What size hook?

The pattern calls for "E". Plymouth Encore DK yarn I'm using says "F" or "G". I used a 5 needle when I knit a baby blanket with the yarn and that looked good. My crochet tends to be pretty loose - so I started with an "E". I realized the squares have to be relative in size. Two 2-round squares have to equal one 4-round etc. The first few squares (2 round) looked good - pretty lacey after blocking. The 4 round square required a fair bit of stretching to get to size, but I thought I could make it work. The 8 round square was impossible to block out to the full size it needed to be. Pulled out the "F" hook. The 2 round squares are a bit bigger than ideal - but the 4's on up are great. I'll go a bit tighter on the 2 round squares & try to be looser on the bigger squares.

4. What's going on where the colors join together?

This is how it looks when I "join with a sl st in top of beg ch-3". The color from the row below goes into the color of the new row. Fixed this by joining the new color, then slipping the stitch in the top of the beg ch-3. Probably something they teach in Crochet 101...

5. What's going on with the holes where the round ends?

For some reason I'm getting a hole where each round ends. I solved this by doing Ch 2 instead of Ch 3 at the beginning of the round. No idea why it works, but it does...

6. What's going on with the corners?

There's an extra little loop showing up in my corners. After looking at it I realize it's because my dc is going under the chain, but over the bar. That's the bar showing through. Solution: in the corner I do 2dc, ch2, 3dc.

Now my corner is clean!

So here's my version of the instructions combining all my changes:

Using "F" hook:

Round 1:
Work over tails as you go!
Ch 4.
(dc, [ch2, 3dc] 3x, ch2, dc) all in 4th ch from hook.
Join with sl st in 3rd ch (hook below the chain, but above the bar) of beg ch4. (For color change: attach new color, then sl st in 3rd ch (go below the chain but above the bar)of beg ch4) Do not turn. (Run the tail up one of the crochet stems to the chain level so you can crochet over it on the next round.)
Check work: each side should have 3 stems. Each corner should have 2 chains.

Round 2:
Ch2. dc in next dc (hook below the chain, but above the bar)
in corner space: 2dc, 2ch, 3dc.
1dc in each of next 2 dc spaces (hook below the chain, but above the bar).
Continue until the beginning. Finish as in round 1.
Check work: each side should have 7 stems. Each corner should have 2 chains.

Continue on in this pattern.

Hopefully this will jog my memory when I've been away from the project for awhile!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Babette Blanket

Using scraps from the Garter Stitch Blanket I'm starting the Babette Blanket. The pattern was featured in the Interweave Crochet Spring 2006 edition. You can download it here for $6.  I'm using Plymouth Encore DK and an E crochet hook.

The first few squares caused me to figure out a few tweaks to the pattern that seemed to work better for me. On the color changes I tied on the new color before doing the final slip stitch to join the round. The blue & yellow square on the right shows how it looks - no weird jog. The square on the far left shows what I mean where the purple meets the blue on the top in the middle.

I also think it looks cleaner on the corners to do 2dc, ch2, 3dc in the ch2 space - then dc in each of the dc to the next 2ch space. Again - just looks a bit cleaner (blue & yellow) than the way the pattern is written. Or at least the way I interpret the way the pattern is written. I'm a completely self-taught crocheter & I'm not sure I really understand how to read a pattern. I'm much better at looking at the finished piece & then figuring out how to make my piece look like I want it to.

I've found a bag pattern, Inga's Bag that uses this same basic square. If you're feeling adventurous you can look at this pattern and make squares of different sizes and put them all together. Or you can use my diagram for a scarf made out of the same squares.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Garter Stripe Baby Blanket

Garter Stripe Baby Blanket

Plymouth Encore DK: 1 skein each of 13 colors*
Size 5 circular needle.

I used the "Kiss My Shadow" online stripe generator to come up with the pattern, limited to 1, 2 or 3 row stripe widths. It's a fun toy to play around with - I did it quite a few times until I found a version I liked.

From there its was easy:

Cast on 140.

Knit in garter stitch following stripe pattern to desired length. Mine ended up being 30" wide by 36" long.

I'm not a big fan of acrylic, but I know moms like it because it's machine washable, and I was looking for something that came in a lot of colors and was relatively inexpensive. The Encore, at 75% acrylic & 25% wool wasn't quite as soft & cuddly as pure wool would be - but it was considerable cheaper and should be easy to care for. The color selection is fantastic. I chose strong bright colors - but it also comes in baby pastels.

The benefit of the garter stitch stripe is that the blanket is interesting from both sides.

*13 colors I used: 4379 (Celery). 1304 (Seafoam) . 999 (Burgundy). 848 (Navy). 9601 (Red). 1382 (Yellow).217 (Black). 515 (Wedgewood Blue). 233 (Lavender). 1384 (Purple). 1385 (Hot Pink). 1383 (Orange). 1317 (Teal)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Artyarns dilemma

I bought two skeins of Artyarns Handpaint Stripe to make the Multidirectional Scarf in Modular Knits by Iris Scheier. I made the scarf once before in solid colors. This time I wanted to try a self-striping yarn since that what was what had propelled Iris Schreier to develop the multidirectional technique. I figured what better than to use than her yarn.

Wrong assumption. I'm not happy with the way the stripes look. They're more blotchy than stripey looking. Fortunately - I have the second skein so I can just set this aside for now and try something new. Maybe it will look better over time...

Time to hit the bookshelf. I found the Misty Garden Scarf in "Scarf Style". It looks pretty in a blotchy sort of way - so it seems like it will work. Not liking this either. Reminds me too much of all the afghans Granny made in the 70's. And the colors are too bold - not blending together. I've still got the other ends of each skein to try something else.