Tag Archives: tunisian honeycomb

Journal: 27 October 2014

It’s been a bit of a while since my last post, so I’ve got quite a lot of finished items to show you. The fabric I was excited about in my last journal entry is now an A-line knee-length skirt, the honeycomb mitts are finished along with a matching hat, and I’ve resumed the Great Five-Blouse Project. In the interstices of those projects I’ve also been making tatted bracelets, bringing my total up to five. The scarf I was working on in my last post is on hold—I finished off my yarn, but it is not yet a sufficient length, so on my next trip to the store I will need to get more.


The crowns edging works very well for bracelets, although they are a bit wide, so I made a couple more in different colors, and I tried out the braid edging for a less ornate bracelet. I’m especially pleased with how the green one sits—it’s a larger thread than the other two, so I skipped one full pattern repeat and ended with a slightly snugger bracelet that sits happily at the narrowest part of my wrist.


Simple A-line skirt

Simple A-line skirt

The fabric I was talking about last time turned into a skirt in what I think is record time for me—I cut the fabric the afternoon/evening of my last journal post, and finished just at bedtime the following day. It’s entirely hand-stitched, too; having the nice sewing machine hasn’t spoiled me yet. It helps that it’s just about the simplest skirt you can imagine: a knee-length A-line skirt with no frills, although it does have a set-in-side zipper, an in-seam pocket on the other side, and a button and buttonhole tab on the waistband. I’m not entirely thrilled with it—I wasn’t paying enough attention to line up the pattern on the side seams, and the button/tab arrangement is a little hinky (I should probably move the button at some point)—but it will serve. I used the Simplicity 2758 D pattern, which I’ve used before (and more faithfully), but omitted the pleat and pockets and all.

Detail of button and tab

Detail of button and tab

I did find the perfect button for it—too bad I generally wear my shirts untucked, so the button will just about always be covered!

I don’t have any new photos of the Great Five-Blouse Project, but I’ve cut the pieces for the lavender blouse (#4) and started sewing the side seams. I’m planning to do the buttonholes at least by machine, and probably the hem and plackets as well, possibly in a decorative stitch. I started the seams by hand, though, because matching curved seams on the machine is hard and prone to puckers, so it’ll be an interesting hybrid of machine and hand sewing.

Mitts and hat


Mitts and hat in Tunisian crochet

Well, I think I’ve gotten the Tunisian honeycomb bug out of my system at last. After finishing the mitts I had a fair bit of yarn left, so I decided to make a hat in the same style. I ended up a little short of the solid purple for a beanie, so it’s got a fairly wide shell edging in normal crochet. I’m not really a hats sort of person, so we’ll see how much I end up wearing it, but it’s quite comfy and promises to be warm. I’m planning to write up a proper pattern for both, so I’ll not say too much about the construction now, but here are a bunch of photos:

Journal: 4 October 2014

Shawl worked in Tunisian simple stitch and honeycomb stitch

Shawl worked in Tunisian simple stitch and honeycomb stitch

Since my last journal post, I finished the Tunisian-crochet shawl that I was working on, and set to work on two new projects that I am pretty excited about. Actually everything I am going to talk about today will probably eventually get its own pattern post, but in the meantime I want to share what I’ve been up to.

tunisian_yarnFirst, the shawl: this is another project from my big box o’ random yarns. I had three variegated yarns that more or less coordinated and more or less formed a nice gradient from light multi to dark reds (see photo). For the curious, this is Premier Yarns/Deborah Norville Serenity sock weight in “saffron”, “paprika”, and “purple spice”. I also had, not pictured, some of the same brand’s solid-color yarns, including “soft white” and burgundy. I also had a ginormous Afghan hook, although it turned out not to be long enough—I started with a 9″ J hook and replaced it halfway through with a 13″ J hook. My last real journal post talks about how I constructed it; the colors ended up working out such that the last variegated yarn gave out just at the end of a TSS section, which was convenient. I edged it with the burgundy yarn: a row of single crochet and then a row of double crochet shells worked on an H hook. I blocked it to stop it curling, and got an extra 10″ of wingspan out of it. Photos:

Because so very much yarn went into its construction—because of how thick and fluffy Tunisian crochet is, even when you go up several hook sizes—this beast is quite warm and snuggly; I am looking forward to the coming cooler months to wear it.


Honeycomb mitts in progress

As soon as I put the shawl out to block, I set in on my next Tunisian crochet adventure, a pair of mitts, even though I still have another pair of mitts stalled on needles. This was inspired by a honeycomb section of the shawl where the multi yarn happened to line up such that several rows had orange/pink for the posts and green/blue for the back chain, which I thought was just the most beautiful thing. I wanted to recreate this effect in a more deliberate way—using one dark color for all of the posts in a piece and a different, variegated color for all the back chains. This requires working in the round, I believe, which requires a double-ended, proper Tunisian style crochet hook. I had one on hand in size H.

mitts_hookThe yarns are two that I had on hand, (you guessed it!) more serenity sock weight yarn, this time a solid purple and the “teal tease” multi left over from my first pair of knit socks. I think if I were to start again, and start from the yarn store rather than my stash, I would choose a darker solid, either black or a dark grey, and a brighter multi. Part of the inspiration for this project was the stained-glass-like effect you get from framing bright colors in dark, and that is not really coming through in the project. I do really like the sections where the backing yarn is the bright teal, though.

Finally, I have a sewing project I am super excited about. Like, received the fabric on Monday, halfway done with a (lap-sized) quilt by Friday excited. I have been taking a break from the Great Five Shirts Project, so this gets to be the project to break in my new sewing machine.

I don’t know how many of you will be familiar with the Bargello quilting style—if you’re not, do an image search right now. A friend of mine mentioned these to me a while ago and I am a little obsessed. Like, break my post-queen-sized-fully-handstitched-scrap-quilt moratorium obsessed. Like, throw my ethic of “all quilts should be scrap quilts” out the window. The style is so beautiful, and the execution is so clever, that I had to try it myself.


Color pallette

The bargello quilt starts with a bunch of strips of coordinating colors, so I picked up a half jelly roll—turns out you can get Bali Batik half rolls for $15 from amazon, in a whole range of colors. I picked up a green one that doesn’t seem to be available any more. I got 20 strips, each 44″ or longer and 2.5″ wide, in ten distinct batik patterns, shown at right. Step 1 was to sew them together, lengthwise, in some sort of coherent way; I arranged them in a gradient from light to dark of the yellowish greens and then from dark to light of the bluish, then repeating. You actually sew them together completely, into a tube, and then to make the flat quilt you unpick some of the seams.

Quilt mock-up in octave

Quilt mock-up in Octave

The second step is planning the cutting and construction: all basic Bargello quilts start the same way (although there are variations that don’t), but the next step is tricky. The sewn-together tube is cut into strips, crosswise to the original strips, of varying widths, and then sewn together at an offset, creating steps. The widths determine what the pattern will be. I needed a way to mock up the quilt and decide on the widths; I decided to do this in Octave (free knockoff of matlab), which I am fluent in and which has decent graphics capability. It’s a very small piece of code—I gave it a set of colors, and set the widths manually, and it plots a bunch of rectangles of those colors and widths, and warns me if my widths would exceed the total fabric width. After many iterations of adjusting the widths, I settled on one I like, shown above.

bargello_asplodeI’ve done the cutting and started the re-assembly process; at right is a photo of the semi-exploded quilt top. Some of the strips at the center are sewn together. The next step is sewing the rest of the strips together; then I will need to sort out batting, edging and backing, and try out the quilting foot that came with my sewing machine. The final piece will be about 36″ by 40″, plus whatever border happens, so definitely a lap quilt or display piece.

Journal: 8 September 2014

The last few weeks haven’t been great for my crafting schedule, and even worse for blogging purposes: I’ve been slogging away on two fairly large projects, finishing neither, and distracted a fair bit by other things. Real life is such a drag. Anyway, I’ve made progress on my harlequin shirt, which I talked about in my last entry, and cast on and have done about half of a large, snuggly Tunisian crochet shawl. I also had a yarn-dyeing misadventure: I should have read more carefully before attempting to kool-aid dye a cotton yarn.

Shirt in progress

Shirt in progress

The harlequin knit shirt is progressing and looks fairly shirt-like now: I’ve made it past the reconnect at the armpits and am working the slow slog of mostly even rows down the torso. The photo at right shows current progress from the front of the shirt: the shoulders straps, neck hole, arm holes, and then gathering to the circular needle. I ended up ordering additional yarn for it, as the first skein ran out well before the halfway mark. I am kind of ambivalent about the whole project at the moment; the worries about how the colorway will actually look in a garment haven’t subsided, and this is exacerbated by the fact that when I hit the reconnect, suddenly the rows were twice as long as before, so the color stripes get narrower. Furthermore, the more I work, the more every loose edge curls up on itself, so I’m worried I won’t be able to get it flat enough to wear. Ah well; I’ve learned a lot from this project even if I end up having to rip it all out and do something else.


Three yarns that sort-of go together

While I was waiting for the new harlequin yarn to show up, I cast on a shawl in Tunisian crochet. This is using three colors of yarn from my big box of mismatched sock yarns—they’re all multis, and I only got one or two skeins of each color. These three more or less coordinate, all having a pinkish-red overall feel and comprising a reasonable gradient. I decided to supplement with the white yarn I’d gotten in case the surf shawl needed it, and I may also add some burgundy at the end.


Tunisian shawl in progress

The plan is a fairly simple half-circle shawl in Tunisian simple stitch and honeycomb stitch. For the half-circle shape, each row has four increases on average; for the first few rows I made four increases each row, then started doing eight increases every second row, then sixteen every fourth, and am now up to thirty-two every eight rows. Honeycomb stitch doesn’t play nice with single increases, so I am doing honeycomb stitch in some of the even rows in between increasing rows.


Honeycomb stitch in multicolor yarn

Incidentally, this project is making me fall in love with Tunisian honeycomb stitch, which the internet assures me is completely normal to do; it looks lovely and breaks up the monotonous straight lines of ordinary Tunisian simple stitch. In particular, I noticed with the multicolor yarns I’ve been working with that it looks really good with a different color for the posts than for the chains, which happened spontaneously in some areas of the shawl in progress (see photo). I think my next project will build on this idea—I am planning to make mitts in Tunisian honeycomb stitch in the round, making posts out of a solid dark purple yarn and chains out of either (I haven’t decided yet) a) a lighter purple multi, b) a mint-green multi with light purple accents, or c) the white solid.


Shawl center, worked in white and the lightest multi

Anyway, back to the shawl—the way I am dealing with the multiple, multi-color yarns is by setting up a gradient over the whole shawl and then not worrying too much about the details. In Tunisian, it’s easy to mix colors within a row by switching yarns at the far end of the row, after pulling up all your loops and before chaining back. For the first section of the shawl, I mixed white and the lightest of the three multis this way; in the photo at right you can see the rows alternate between having white posts with colored chains vs. colored posts with white chains. The next section is entirely in the first multi; the third mixes the first and second multis; the fourth is entirely the second multi, and so on. To make sure the sections are in some sort of proportion to each other, I’m making them equal area, which means a quarter of each yarn is in the section mixed with the previous skein, a half is in the section with the yarn by itself, and a quarter is in the section mixed with the next color. Instead of counting rows and doing math, I marked the quarter and three-quarters points of all three skeins, and switch sections as close to the marks as possible. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but when I’m finished I’ll put up a pattern with more concrete instructions.

Finally, I should mention my yarn-dyeing misadventures. I’ve run across a bunch of people talking about dyeing yarn with kool-aid recently, and I’ve got a couple skeins of cotton yarn in colors I will simply never use: Christmas multi and a terrible lime green. So I picked up some kool-aid, on a whim, in the grocery store. Then I went looking for more complete instructions, and discovered that acid-fix dye only works on wool and similar fibers, not cotton. Surprise! A few people did say that it worked on cotton as well, but less effectively, so I figured I had nothing to lose and tried it. Welp, here are before, during, and after pictures of dyeing a Christmas-multi yarn in cherry kool-aid:

The thought with choosing cherry would be that the white sections would become red or pink, the red would become darker red, and the green would become brown, and I’d get a warm-colors multi. The result was what I probably should’ve expected: identical to spilling kool-aid on fabric, the white sections turned a very light pink, and the red and green sections didn’t perceptibly change. Ah well, lesson learned, very little damage done—the yarn is of equal utility to me as before, and the kool-aid cost a grand total of $0.28. Next time I’m at the store I will pick up some RIT dye and do this right.