Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Embellishing the Surface

Before I launch into my crafty tute du jour, I wanted to thank all of you for your supportive words, good vibes and powerful prayers. I walked away from court last Friday with my daughter at my side and a month's reprieve from this process. We are not by any means finished, but we are definitely seeing light at the end of the tunnel. I know that all of the positive energy you all sent our way made a huge difference. I am blessed to have each and every one of you in my life.

Needless to say, I've been a bit preoccupied as of late. Now I must qualify this statement, as during the normal course of daily events my mind operates a lot like Times Square on New Years Eve. You can only imagine what it's been like the last few weeks. Yeah, I have no words to describe the current state of my gray matter.

However, despite the anxiety and chaos my family is currently mired in, I have made an effort to stay immersed in craft. Yes, craft seems to be my only source of solace at the moment. Craft is my life preserver in the moments when I feel as though I just cannot endure much more. This is seemingly true for LittleLinoleum as well for she has been drawing and crocheting from the moment she awakes in the morning to the time her head hits the pillow in the evening (in between her myriad phone and IM conversations throughout the day that is).

So, what the heck am I working on you inquire?

Well, lots of things, but last night I was finishing up my replacement for this item, which is fine because I really want to release this pattern to the public anyway. So in order for this to occur, pattern-testing needed to ensue.

The first version of this shawl utilized a less than conventional color scheme. For shawl number two I decided to employ a more expected palette: red; heathered greys; ecru and black. This palette adjustment serves to make the finished object one that I will wear more often than I would have worn the first (and you know, why reinvent the wheel). However, the current color scheme also creates a conundrum that I've had to deal with as a result.

It might not be too evident in the photo below, but crochet intarsia (which I used to create the appliques for this shawl) has a one major drawback - the edges between color changes are a little jagged (a state of affairs that does not occur when doing color work in knitting).

Nonetheless, I chose to use crochet for the appliques on this shawl because I wanted the stiffness that is a direct result of this method. My knitting swatch was just too drapy for purposes of this project. Further, because the colors used for the appliques are similar in tone, the jagged edges in the shawl number one appliques are not that conspicuous.

Enter the new applique colors: ecru and black. Yeah, doesn't get more polemic than that and as a result the jagged edges really bothered me in the finished appliques. So, being the problem-solving yarn addict that I am, I decided to camouflage the edges with a bit of surface embellishment otherwise known as "surface crochet".

What the heck is surface crochet? Well, the description is the title, so to speak. This technique entails crocheting on the surface of existing crocheted (or knitted) fabric. Ever made a front post stitch before? Then in a sense, you've already employed this technique! See below for details.

Step One - Insert hook into fabric, pushing it through the closest appropriate opening. Appropriate means you have to make a choice about which direction your stitches are going to go. Up? Down? To the side? I want to work in an upward direction so I push my hook out of the opening above my insertion point, basically attempting to follow the ecru outline around the skull's eye opening.

Step Two - Yarn over and pull the loop through.

Step Three - Yarn over and pull the loop through the loop on your hook, creating a slip stitch (sl st).

Step Four - Insert hook up and out of the openings directly adjacent to first sl st made.

Repeat steps two and three.

Continue around entire edge. Sl st to beginning sl st to join edging round and fasten off.

Totally easy and time-consuming so it's a good mind-occupier for me at the moment.

Again, many thanks to everyone for your enduring love and support. You all rock!


Deneen said...

I'm glad you updated, I was fretting a bit.

Elena saw me reading this post and begged me "Mommy, make me a skull"-thanks (said sarcastically smiling)

mk said...

I hope the outcome will be what is best for you and the little one.

Your surface crochet tutorial has shown me that your method is easier than mine! I hold the the yarn under the work and pull it up. Not being able to see the yarn or the hook makes it a little tricky, as you can imagine. Thanks for the tute!

stuffed said...

Super sexy. :0)

I'm the opposite. I don't craft when things get bad.

naomi said...

Continued good thoughts going your way.

The new Jolly Roger looks fantastic !

Micky said...

Glad things have let up for the moment.
Love the skully.

sallyanne said...

It's hard to worry and crochet at the same time. At least, to crochet well. Thank heavens for a reprieve. I will keep you in my thoughts. I am just starting to crochet (poorly), so you inspire me every day. Sallyanne

Starfish said...

Makes total sense, and is why I love crochet, it's virtually free form. And I suppose it is fitting to stitch up all your anxiety into a skull...it's like it manifested into it's true form! Wishing you better days ahead!

Robin said...

Glad to hear things are going your way...stress is a BAD thing.

I also like to crochet.knit my way through stress. Not everything goes smoothly though lol!

Skully looks great! The surface crochet is a terrific way of "evening" out the applique.

noricum said...

When I do slip stitch across the surface of crochet, I hold the working yarn in the back.


CopperScaleDragon said...

This is so timely for me! I just finished a bag in black and white with a big skull as the main design element! Now I can rid myself of the jaggies!


MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

Oh, I can do that! Sometimes I do it, not even knowing its a "technique". Yay you!!!

BTW, just getting caught up on you and the LinoJr drama. I'm so sorry. But if there's anything I can do, you let me know.

schwa said...

thanks for showing us how to do that, I need to clean up the yucky edges of my skull purse :)It is my first attempt.

SharaStar said...

Hi, i've linked this site to my blog


as to explain the surface stitches, I hope its okay :D Great tutorial by the way, it helps alot :)

Mary Doukakis said...

Thanks for sharing! Great technique!

Anonymous said...

Regina - Truly, you are a gifted artist. Thank you for sharing.