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Yarn Tests for a New Tunisian Crochet Filet Design

Yarn tests for stitch close up photos: color, plying, thickness, etc.
This blog post is third in a short series about the development of a new Tunisian crochet pattern pdf.

Two kinds of yarn tests.

I did two kinds of yarn tests for my new Tunisian crochet filet scarf (first blogged here).

#1. For Tutorial Close Ups

I’ve learned to take three things into account: the yarn’s plying, color, and thickness.

Yarn plies: I have the best luck with a single ply yarn. More than one ply can add a distracting texture, especially in close ups. I love the look and colors of the purple yarn in the first photo, but its plies worried me. (Each individual ply of this unusual 100% cashmere yarn is twisted, but there’s no twist holding them all together.)

The color(s): Yarn colors also matter for Tunisian crochet filet close ups. A single light color shows texture depth the best. I tend to avoid variegated yarns, with exceptions here and there.

Extreme close up of a good quality crochet thread makes it look old and hairy.
Opera crochet thread is known for its polished, silky beauty. This extreme close up is not its best look.

Subtle color shifts can be a real plus with Tunisian crochet, though! I think this might be because it helps the eye distinguish forward pass loops from return pass loops. (Four Peaks images are good examples of this. Strong contrasting color shifts would normally be distracting. This isn’t the case for Four Peaks because of the small, fine-grained Tunisian simple stitches.)

Yarn weight: If I’m taking close up photos, and the camera has a good zoom lens, why does it matter how thin or thick the yarn is? How about using a crisp crochet thread? I discovered the hard way that I have better luck with a thick yarn. With thread and skinny yarns, the individual fibers show up too much in each loop. Even slight fuzziness is magnified. It makes the yarn or thread look old, shaggy, and worn out.

#2. A Winter Yarn

I fell in love with my first Tunisian crochet filet design in wool. That would be…Warm Aeroette! (Hence the “warm” part.) Traditional filet lace has mostly been a cotton thread kind of crochet project. Maybe that’s why I didn’t think of wool at first.

Until Aeroette I’d only had Tunisian crochet filet thoughts in bamboo (Ennis), silk (Aero), and cotton (dishcloth test in my Lotus yarn). It’s thanks to Warm Aeroette that I discovered how nice Four Peaks is is in a toasty aran-weight wool.

I needed to test with classic wool yarn to know Aeroette better. Could it work in something other than Aero’s fancy silk? Unlike Four Peaks, the wool yarn I used isn’t thick; it’s a fingering/sock weight fine-micron merino wool. (Fine-micron merino has a lot in common with cashmere.)

Thin fingering weight gives the tall Tunisian filet stitches a fine-grained texture. In a thick wool like the Mochi Plus (blue photo above), the filet-style lacy eyelets could look clunky or lumpy as a scarf. Would be a lovely afghan border though!

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New Tunisian Crochet Pattern PDF: What Takes So Long?

Both sides of Tunisian crochet often look nice if it's a lacier pattern.
           —-:—-
This blog post is the second part of a short series about the birth of a new crochet pattern pdf. The third is here.
Update: Downloadable PDF for the new Tunisian crochet Warm Aeroette Scarf is officially in the shop.

 

Behind the scenes of a new Tunisian crochet pattern

Pictured is draft #4 of Warm Aeroette Tunisian Crochet Scarf.

I’m a slow, deliberate pattern publisher.

Draft 4 of Warm Aeroette Tunisian Crochet Scarf. Almost done!

I love crocheting and so I think I chronically underestimate how much work it really is! Not only does a step almost always take longer than expected, I don’t always know when I need to recharge. (Each of these is a “step”: a stitch diagram, a photo tutorial, pattern testing, sizing, tech editing, etc.)

The Aeroette pattern has a longer title because this is a downloadable single pattern. The title needs to tell crocheters (and search engines) as much as possible in one line.

Three things can slow down new Tunisian crochet patterns for me:

Each design seems to bring unique issues!

For Aeroette, starting the scarf in one corner is a biggie. It merits a nice step by step photo tutorial. It’s a rare construction method for Tunisian crochet. Also, the best pattern wording evolves slowly sometimes. For Aeroette I’ve revised the wording of how and where the beginning and ending picots go a few times for clarity. Tunisian crochet pattern language has its own conventions.

Temptation of creative design details.

Doris is the same way and we laugh about this. Maybe optimize X, or add Y feature? What about this or that variation? I’d better swatch it in a very different yarn to make sure the design is not dependent on the yarn I’m using.

How educational it is. 

Aeroette started out originally as a practice project for a class on the Aero Tunisian Filet Lace Wrap. My goal with Aeroette is that it serve as a new Tunisian crochet skill building experience.

Sometimes I print a 2-to-a-page draft like you see here, to save paper. To save printer ink, the photos and captions are temporarily tiny. Most images are step-by-step tutorial photos that will all go on a back page. That will make printing them optional to save everyone’s printer ink.

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Answers: The Electra Wrap Love Knot Pattern

Banner of Love Knot 'Flowers'

I’m seeing new questions in new places about my Electra Wrap love knot pattern.

Electra, a crochet design, continues to attract attention and I’m really happy about that. I’ve blogged questions and answers about Electra here so that people can find them easily when they Google the pattern.

Q: What is this design? I’m having trouble figuring it out!

A: Maybe you’re seeing only a photo with no source (such as in Pinterest or Tumblr). Probably it’s one of the photos below. This is the Electra Wrap love knot pattern. It was designed by Vashti Braha (me) in 2012, and published in Interweave Crochet Magazine in 2013. I released a newly updated version of the Electra pattern in September, 2014.

Maybe you mean that you’re having trouble figuring out how it was crocheted. Well, the Electra Wrap is all about visual illusions. It’s actually just a simple rectangular wrap. The stitch pattern is 100% crochet love knots. A big reason for the Electra effect is the triangular grid structure. It’s an uncommon look for love knots. A square mesh grid of love knots, on the other hand, is so common that it’s practically a cliché. My newsletter issue #62 contrasts these two basic types of crochet lace grids.

Q: Yes but it looks like more than just that! Why?

A: Three reasons:

  1. The flowery stars. A beautiful feature of triangular lace grids is how triangles tile into hexagonal six-spoked shapes.
  2. This starry flowery lace is love knots. You can crochet triangular lace grids with many different stitches. Love knots bring their own unique magic. They also show off special yarns…see #3.
  3. I used yarn that is so elegant it dazzles the eye. I’m serious! I’ve worn the Electra Wrap in conferences, guild meetings, yarn shops, and love knot classes. Even when a person is familiar with crocheting triangular lace grids – and the love knot stitch, and sees it up close in person, Electra is still a bit mysterious. The yarn’s a factor.

Q: How did you add all those tiny sequins?

A: I paid the yarn to do that! Tiny sequins were spun right into the yarn for me. (I’d personally never add the sequins by hand because this would interrupt how quick love knots are to crochet.)

Here’s the deal with the yarn. A mystery-enhancing effect of this Electra Wrap love knot pattern is it’s crocheted double-stranded. Each love knot shows off two yarn strands. Each strand plumps up and doubles the 3-D loft.

I held one strand of fine mohair yarn together with one sequined strand while I crocheted. Electra’s yarn specs:

  • Glossy sequined strand: S. Charles Collezione Crystal (85% polyester, 15% cotton; 144 yd {131 m} per .88 oz {25 g}; CYC “#0 Lace Weight”): color #11, 3 skeins.
  • Glittery mohair strand: S. Charles Collezione Luna (71% super kid mohair, 20% silk, 9% lurex; 232 yd {212.5 m} per .88 oz {25 g}; CYC “#0 Lace Weight”): color #25, 2 skeins.

Even the tiniest sequins can be hard to crochet with. They catch on yarn strands as you pull loops through loops. The solution is to buffer the sequins with fibers. Mohair is great for this.

Q: I need to use different yarn, though. Can I? Should I?

A: YES you can, absolutely. The proof is in all the different yarns people have used for their lovely Electras. See this Electra project gallery in Ravelry.

I can think of lots of reasons why one should use a different yarn, and why one should not.

Definitely use the yarns I used if:

  • …You want that ethereal, fairy godmother, fashion couture mystique. I can’t imagine a better yarn combination for this. The yarns I used are top of the line fashion yarns from a venerable Italian mill. They are pricy and yet they’re a bargain. Their high quality is clearly evident in the finished Electra Wrap. It’s part of the mystique. (Hint: it’s the ultimate gift.)
  • …You’re susceptible to swooning while you’re crocheting. I’m not exaggerating when I say that crocheting Electra kept taking my breath away. I finished two of them quickly. I didn’t want to set down my crochet hook! I fantasized about Electra when I was away from it! If you’ve ever “pined” for a crochet project you’ve fallen for, then you know what I mean. The rest of you might be laughing at me right now 🙂
  • …You want practical warmth as well as maximum magic and weightlessness. The mohair in this yarn combo gives other practical benefits, too. (I wrote a newsletter issue about this.)

Use different yarns if:

  • …You’re allergic to mohair. Mohair and love knots have a special affinity. Both add a weightless magical something. One way to get a mohair effect is with a brushed synthetic yarn. Other natural fibers can also add a halo. Angora is an obvious example. Halo is a lace-weight brushed baby alpaca yarn.
  • …You’ve stashed some skinny yarns and bling threads that are difficult to crochet with by themselves. Electra can be a great stashbuster project for these. See this blog post about fun with double stranding.
  • …You want more of a casual daytime layer. Use thicker yarns – two strands held together, or singly. Maybe you want more of a boho artsy look. Try artisan space-dyed torn silk ribbon yarns, or irregular hand spun textures.

Q: I’m confused about the Electra Wrap love knot pattern in the magazine. Can you help me with that?

A. If you have the 2013 magazine version of the pattern and need help with it:

  1. Contact the magazine. The company has pattern support staff for their patterns. They also have a forum called Crochet me.
  2. Ask a question any time in Vashti’s Crochet Lounge – lots of friendly, helpful crocheters there. It’s a Ravelry group. Chances are good that your question has already been answered there. Interweave Crochet magazine fans also have a Ravelry group.
  3. I urge you to buy & download my expanded 2014 edition of this Electra Wrap love knot pattern from the DesigningVashti shop, or my Ravelry shop. It has a stitch diagram, how-to photos, and other details that help students in my love knot classes.

A stitch diagram is essential for this design. Due to space limitations of printed magazines, the 2013 Electra pattern version is missing a stitch diagram and other helpful info. A stitch diagram reveals how simple the construction really is. It breaks the spell (those multiple visual illusions I’ve described above).

Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter where I announce discount codes for new patterns and yarns. Get your feet wet with my three-part series on Love Knot basics and tweaks. (Link goes to the third in the series, and links to the first two are at the top of the entry.)

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Tunisian Crochet Lace Scarf Pattern Preview

New Corner-to-corner Warm Tunisian scarf with filet border

Fresh off the hook: Warm Aeroette Lace Scarf. Just uploaded these photos. I’m very proud of it. My goal was to take the popular Aero Tunisian Wrap design, which is crocheted in fine silk, and make a warm wool version with a filet-style border. I used a fingering weight (sock weight) merino wool.

And Two More Goals

The second goal was to do a stepping-stone version of Aero. Originally, Aeroette was going to be a Tunisian crochet lace scarf pattern for a class.

It’s a simpler combination of Tunisian crochet stitches that are put together like filet crochet lace, the same way as Aero. This makes it a great way to understand a more dramatic filet-like Tunisian crochet lace scarf pattern. Like, Aero. The Ennis Wrap, also.

C2C and P2P Shapes

The third goal was to take the start-in-one-corner Aero and make it a rectangle instead of a triangle. In other words, corner-to-corner or C2C. Both Aero and Ennis are “P2P” (crocheted point to point.) I love making P2P and C2C lace shawls with Tunisian crochet! You increase steadily along one edge, then decrease steadily to end up at the far corner of the triangle.

The rectangular Aeroette is a similar crocheting experience. You start at the first of four corners (instead of three). Steadily increase, and then decrease, like with Aero and Ennis. End up at the final fourth corner and you’re done: it’s already edged!

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Crochet Mobius Cowl Wearing Styles

Simply add a mobius twist to an infinity scarf to multiply the ways it drapes.

A crochet mobius cowl pattern adds an easy mobius twist to a crochet infinity scarf (a.k.a. long loop scarf). This instantly increases the stylish ways to wear it!

Starlooper Ring Scarf: Turn it into an infinity scarf. Or not! Nine ways to wear it.
If you had to pick only ONE of these nine images, which would it be?

Have a look at this image I created for the downloadable new Starlooper Mobius Cowl crochet pattern. This montage of NINE images means I don’t have to pick just ONE wearing style to display.

I love a good crochet mobius cowl pattern because it flatters the face and neck effortlessly, no matter how it settles on the shoulders. Plus, of course, they offer easy warmth. You might enjoy an early newsletter issue I wrote called “A Fever for Crocheting Cowls” LOL!

For Starlooper I used a special kind of crochet star stitch pattern. It’s naturally a bit offset, reversible, and has accordion-like pleats. It’s also fast, soft, and warm for fall. (One of many star stitches.)

I’ve been learning ways to create draping montages like this image for years. Want to see earlier ones? Here’s Shakti Scarfythings. Check out Undaria!