Monday, July 29, 2013

Wide Linked Treble Crochet Tutorial

One of the problems with inventing stitches* is coming up with suitable stitch names.

Take the Wide Linked Treble Crochet (wltr), which makes up the main body of the just-published Sedona Top. Wltr is tall and lacy, with a hint of knitted drape, and more than a hint of Tunisian about the technique. It starts with a single yarnover, picks up two more loops in unlikely places, and has extra chains in the middle of the stitch.

It's basically a treble with flourishes - but what in the world do you call it?

("How about 'Fred'?" suggests Tallulah the Turtle. "Thanks, Tallulah," I say. "I'll bear that in mind for next time.")

Taking into consideration the stitch qualities - treble, linked, spaced one stitch apart - Wide Linked Treble seems reasonably appropriate and concise.**

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Linked stitches are most often worked into the horizontal strands of the previous stitch, which gives a pleasing (if rather regimented) appearance of horizontal lines running across the front of the work, and a dense, stable fabric:

Traditional Linked Treble Crochet,
worked back and forth (2 rows)

Wide Linked crochet, on the other hand, is worked into vertical strands of the previous stitch, with extra ch-1s added between each stitch. This opens up the work, breaking the horizontal lines and giving a lacy, almost criss-cross effect:

Wide Linked Treble Crochet,
worked back and forth (2 rows)

A row of Wide Linked stitches will use less yarn than a solid row of traditional stitches, giving you more bang for your yarny buck. Like traditional stitches, Wide Linked Crochet can be made taller or shorter according to your preference, by increasing or decreasing the initial chain stitches in each row, and the number of loops pulled up. (For a really lacy appearance, omit the initial yarnover.)

As with Tunisian crochet, you may want to increase your hook size when working Wide Linked crochet, to achieve a better drape in the finished fabric.

Some suggested uses for Wide Linked crochet include: garments, cowls (worked lengthwise or widthwise), shawls, and blankets.

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If you'd like to try Wide Linked Treble Crochet for yourself, here are the basic stitch instructions (video tutorial follows):

All crochet terms are American.

Ch multiple of 2 + 1 for base.
All rows: Ch 5 (counts as first wltr + ch-1), turn so top of ch is facing you,
yo, ins hook into back loop of 3rd ch from hook, pull up a lp, ch 1,
ins hook into back loop of 2nd ch from hook, pull up a lp, ch 1,
ins hook into 3rd st from hook, pull up a lp,
[yo, pull through 2 lps on hook] twice, yo, pull through 3 lps on hook, ch 1.
First 2 wltr made.
*Yo, ins hook into left vertical strand of center segment of previous st, pull up a lp, ch 1,
ins hook into left vertical strand of bottom segment of previous st, pull up a lp, ch 1,
ins hook into 2nd st from hook, pull up a lp,
[yo, pull through 2 lps on hook] twice, yo, pull through 3 lps on hook, ch 1.
Repeat from * across, omitting final ch-1 at end of row.

Note: the Sedona Top pattern instructs you to ch 6, rather than 5, when turning to begin a new wltr row. (This number seemed to work best with the project yarn and hook size used.) You may chain either 5 or 6 when turning - whichever helps you maintain proper row height. (If chaining 6, pull up initial lps in the 4th and 6th ch from hook rather than the 3rd and 5th.)

Tips for Wide Linked Treble Crochet:
  • Don't forget to chain 1 between each treble, and skip a stitch between trebles when working into row below.
  • In plain pattern stitch (with no increases or decreases), trebles are always worked into trebles from row below; ch-1s between stitches are always skipped over.
  • Watch your row ends - it's easy to miss a stitch there. Work final treble of each row into 4th turning chain from previous row.
Eyes glazing over at all this crochet shorthand? Here's a video tutorial:

In my next post, I'll share a free pattern for this quick and easy Summery Cowl, featuring Wide Linked Treble Crochet:

Thanks for viewing, and happy crocheting!

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*I'm probably not the first person in crochet history to use this stitch - but I've never personally come across it in a pattern, and it doesn't show up on any of the standard stitch lists. It's something I worked out for myself - so in a sense I feel that I've invented it. :)

**Concise when you consider the alternative: Treble with Single Yarnover, Worked into Vertical Strands of Previous Stitch, with Extra ch-1 at Each Step, then Skipping a Stitch and Chaining 1 when Done.

"I still think 'Fred' would be a good name for this stitch," says Tallulah the irrepressible.

"I think you should retract into your shell now," says Mrs. M.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

First Tomato

Tomatoes are ripening. Calloo, callay!

I picked the first one last night for our supper: a perfect beauty of a tomato, sun-warmed and heavy in my hand.

In its garnet heart is written a tale of hot days and warm nights, of falling rain, buzzing bees, and green leaves breathing in the summer air.

What to do with this paragon of a firstfruit? Gratin de courgette et tomate? Pasta with fresh tomato sauce?

No - the first tomato of the year should never be desecrated by cooking. It must be enjoyed fresh and virginal from the vine:

A tiny sprinkle of salt, a chiffonade of basil are enough.

(Also on the plate are potato salad  - warm and eggy and rich with homemade mayonnaise - and a mushroom-Swiss burger.)

"Wow," says Mr. M as he takes the first juicy red bite. "It's so deeply ... tomato-y."

As it should be. :)

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Monday, July 22, 2013

A Shorter (and Smaller) MS Benefit Ride

A week ago Mr. M saw an ad for a small MS benefit ride in our very own county. (This ride has been going on for years, but somehow we'd never heard of it until now.) No fundraising was necessary - riders could register online, or simply show up, with an entry check made out to the National MS Society. I opted for the latter.

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Saturday morning dawns beautifully clear. The heat/humidity wave has broken in the night, and we are breathing freely for the first time in days.

Registration takes place in a village park, on a few picnic tables. An assortment of cyclists - young, old, middle-aged, some families with small children - is gathering to hand in checks, sign waivers, and choose from the assortment of free goodies available.

Hanging overhead is a sample jersey designed by ride organizer Kay Lum in honour of her mother and sister who battled breast cancer. (You can read the story of the jersey here.)

I choose a seat cover for Iris (who needs one badly):

The flowery seat cover goes well with my rather hippie-looking backup water bottle cover....

There are four courses available on today's ride: 10, 30, 40, or 60 miles. I have decided to do the 40 as I am still feeling lazy after Bike MS. Riders can leave whenever they like, so Tallulah and I set out as soon as we've registered.

Tallulah the Turtle is sporting a new lime-green helmet (having lost her other helmet on a fast descent in Colorado)....

For the first several miles we have the road to ourselves. I snap some orange milkweed:

(After last week's epic wildflower post I've decided the only wildflower photos I'll take today are of ones I missed last week.)

A very nice birdhouse:

Finally I hear voices behind, and am passed by a group of three. What fun to have other cyclists around!

Soon after this I am caught by a gal of about my own age. We chat and ride, and decide to stick together as our paces are nearly identical. (I find out later that her name is Kathy, and she's from south of Madison.)

One of many handsome barns we will pass today:

A sign on the road...

..and a happy face banner...

...signal the first rest stop.

Breakfast burritos are being served, and I enjoy one with a side of sausage and bacon. Protein is good fuel. :)

On to the second stage of our ride. The morning continues lovely and dry, and the road is filling up with cyclists (many of them faster than I):

On this leg we are joined by Don, who rides an older mountain bike. Don tells us that he took up cycling after heart surgery last year, and has lost 80 pounds in 9 months(!). He's a friendly soul, who asks everyone he meets, "What's your story?"

The course is hillier than anyone expected. Here are Kathy and Don following me up a hill:

(Later in the day I will be following Kathy up the hills as she turns out to have more long-range climbing stamina.)

Another imposing barn:

The next barn has an elegant lamp:

Cheerful words (like "Nice view ahead!") and happy faces in the road encourage us on our way:

It is a nice view:

At the bottom of the hill is Rest Stop #2. A table with umbrella, two coolers (one water, one Gatorade), a few snacks, and some sunscreen. What more do you need?

At this point the routes diverge: 40-milers turn right, and 60-milers turn left. For the last few miles, Kathy has been talking of doing the 60 instead of the 40. "I'll do it with you, if you really want to," I offer. So we turn left and head out on the next leg of the journey.

We cross a railroad bridge. "Watch for Trolls" is the message here:

No trolls that I can see - only an empty track. (But perhaps the trolls are staying hidden.)

The day begins to heat up. Rest Stop #3 offers some welcome shade...

...and also a Mexican restaurant, where some of the riders have gone in to imbibe margaritas. (I stay outside and drink Gatorade.) :)

More hills follow - some of them surprisingly steep. But every uphill has its compensating downhill:

Some lovely barns ahead:

And a new barn quilt for my photo collection:

We're riding through Amish country now. We pass a farmhouse where three small Amish girls, barefoot and adorable, stand in the yard and wave to the passing cyclists. (How I wish I could take their photo.)


Along the way is a glorious stretch of wild chicory. I MUST get off the bike for pictures:

Kathy turns back to see what's keeping me. I tell her that this is my favourite wildflower, and she asks me if I'm familiar with prairie flowers. (I admit to knowing some of them.) She leads hikes for the Sierra Club, including prairie hikes, but wishes she knew more about the flora.

With 2 rest stops to go, I am running out of steam for photos. (A saddle sore has reared its head and my right foot is going numb on the bottom - which was the precursor to my tendon troubles last month. I begin to wonder if there's a pinched nerve somewhere.)

We take a welcome break at Rest Stop #4 (an Amish country store).

"Doing okay, Tallulah?" I ask.

"Fine," she replies.

"How's the new helmet?" I inquire.

"It's good," she says.

"You've been awfully quiet today," I say.

"Because I couldn't get a word in edgewise," she responds. "You and that pink-jersey gal have been doing all the talking."

(Poor Tallulah - she's used to having me to herself.)

Back on the road, Kathy and I decide to skip the last rest stop and just finish the ride. It's getting hotter and stickier and we're both ready to be done.

We pass a friendly horse tethered on the verge:

(And this turns out to be my last photo.)

We finish well, and I have time to run home for a quick shower before coming back to enjoy the wonderful lunch provided for the riders. (Unfortunately I leave my camera behind so don't get any pictures of the cheerful gathering. But the burgers are outstanding.)

A good ride in good company for a good cause. Also some surprisingly stiff little climbs, and some beautiful roads I'd never seen before. I will go back and ride some of them again this summer.

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Many thanks to the sponsors and organizers of this great local ride!

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Simple Pleasures: Baby Basil and Blue Chicory

It's been blazingly hot and humid all week.

How hot and humid? Well, I planted some basil seed and it sprouted in TWO DAYS:

(I already have 6 full-grown basil plants, but they are Not Enough.)

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Spotted on yesterday morning's (hot and humid) ride:

Wild chicory - the essence of summer. What other flower has such elegantly nautical-looking stamens, striped in cool blue and white? Just looking at them makes me happy.

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What's making you happy today?

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Published Again!

Drum roll, please....

Never mind the drum roll, let's have some photos!

Photo courtesy of Love of Crochet

Presenting the Sedona Top (by yours truly), now available in Love of Crochet's Weekend Crochet 2013* issue.

Weekend Crochet 2013 contains 28 wonderful patterns, all using 3 skeins or less of yarn.

The Sedona Top was designed specifically for this issue. Swatched in NaturallyCaron Spa, the final garment was stitched from Lorna's Laces Honor, a luscious hand-dyed alpaca/silk blend (DK weight).

Original swatch in NaturallyCaron Spa

Finished garment in Lorna's Laces Honor

A simple tee with elegant details, the Sedona Top starts with an eyeleted neck and shoulder band, stitched in a long strip, which is then turned and worked downwards from the strip's long edge to form the body. Buttons and loops at shoulders are optional, and can be replaced with a seam if desired.

Photo courtesy of Love of Crochet

Wide linked treble crochets make up the body of the tee, yielding a lacy, drapey fabric. This stitch uses surprisingly little yarn and gives a subtle striped effect to the top. (I will be posting a tutorial soon for this easy and lovely stitch.)

Sedona is worked flat, front and back, then seamed at the sides. It's easily customisable for size: simply increase or decrease the upper and/or lower portions of the tee to suit your preferences. (Note: the fabric blocks well to measurements, but elongates when worn to create a clingier fit. For a drapier tee choose a size that is greater than your bust measurement.)

Blocking before seaming (the cardinal rule!)

After blocking, waiting to be mailed to magazine

Also included in the pattern: an optional belt which matches the neck and shoulder band.

Thanks to Love of Crochet for publishing this design - it's very exciting for me to be appearing once more in print.

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*Love of Crochet website's preview page does not include photos of all the great patterns in this issue - there are several which are not pictured (mine included). Pick up an issue to see them all. :)

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