renew

Today is the first day of Chinese new year. I made this bamboo as a gift. Pretty happy with how it turned out.

I thought bamboo generally symbolizes good luck because it’s sold in every Chinese shop that sells plants. But with a quick search on the internet I learned that it also represents renewal (because of how quickly it grows), flexibility/strength, and longevity — so, resilience, tenaciousness.

Tenacious” is a word that I’d like to be described by. I don’t give up, or perhaps more truthfully I find it hard giving up on things or people. Some would say that I’m not very good at letting go. Other have said I’m stubborn. I’d like to think that I’m tenacious. But I guess a way forward would be to cultivate flexibility, to renew or reorient my approach to how I’m tenaciously connecting to some things.

Anyway, I’d also say that the crochet slip stitch is a very bamboo-like stitch, because it makes a firm fabric and therefore tenacious, it is however also very flexible and stretchable, almost like a knitted rib.

Here I’d like to share a loosely formed recipe for making the bamboo. It’s kind of like free-formed crocheting, and how tall the plant is depends on the vase you’re using, but there are some basics to it, in case anyone would like to give it a try.

I used:

Caron Simply Soft for the bamboo stalk because of its sheen

Patons Astra for the yellow rings and caps

Bernat Super Value for the leaves

5.5 mm hook for the stalk

3.5 mm hook for the rings and caps

Tapestry needle

Popsicle sticks

Vase with pebbles

Stalks are made with back loop slip stitch (tutorial).
With larger hook and lighter green, make a chain of desired length. I started with 25 ch for the tallest, and 21 and 15 for the other two. Then sl st BLO until piece is about 1.5″ wide. Without fastening off, sl st to join the seams together lengthwise, making a long tube (the sl st seam will be on the outside; the piece won’t be turned inside out after seaming). Fasten off.

Rings are made around the stalks with surface slip stitch (tutorial).
With smaller hook and yellow, attach yarn where you want the ring to be at the back seam of the stalk. sl st in every stitch in the rows crosswise (not just the stitch that appears as a “v”, but also the stitch in between the “v“s, so that the rings would protrude a bit). Fasten off after every ring made and pull the tails inside the stalk.

Caps are made with magic ring (tutorial) with 8 sc inside the ring, sl st to join with first sc, then fasten off and leave a long tail for sewing. Attach ring to the top of the stalk.

Leaves may be a little tricky to explain… I regret not taking progress photos, very sorry. It took quite a bit of experimentation but I settled on this method and I think the results are quite lively looking. I hope this makes sense.

With smaller hook and darker green, ch 5 to 7 (this is the stem you’re sewing to the stalk, so its length depends on how you want to position the sprig of leaves on the bamboo), dc in second ch from hook, *[ch 1, dc in ch just made] two or three times (depending on how long you want the leaf to be), ch 2, sl st in 2nd ch from hook, sl st evenly into the dc’s made earlier (roughly 2 sl st per dc), sl st into the last ch of the stem*. At this point you can sl st down every ch of the stem then fasten off with tail for sewing, or you can make another leave by sl st down just a couple of ch on the stem, then repeat * to *, and sl st down every ch of the stem, fasten off and leave a tail for sewing.

Sew the leaves to the stalks as desired.

Assembly:

The bamboo stalks are supported by popsicle sticks on the inside. I used popsicle sticks because it’s the only thing I can find to use at home. The width of it and the thickness of the crochet fabric takes up the interior of the stalks so they don’t need more stuffing. I’ve had to connect a couple of popsicle sticks together for the taller two stalks by simply overlapping the ends of the sticks and gluing them together with white glue (hot glue would be a better choice).

To determine the lengths of popsicle sticks you need, measure how deeply you want the sticks to extend toward the base of the vase. I would want the sticks to actually touch the base of the vase to make sure the sticks don’t wobble too easily. Determine the length of stick that is sticking out of the end of the stalk. It would be the same for all the stalks. Then measure how tall each stick will need to be according to the length of the stalk.

Pour a layer of pebbles into the vase. I think smaller stone chips at least for the bottom layer are better for stability. Insert the stalks and arrange as desired, then pour on more pebbles. I used different glass ones on top for interest.

I later added a red ribbon around the stalk for gift-giving that is not pictured because it blocked the bamboo too much. But that also helps with the stability.

I didn’t have any other new year decorations but thankfully there are emojis 😊🎋

Wishing everyone good health and happiness in the year of the 🐀

new year sweater

I’ve always wanted to make a granny stitch sweater. I wear the sideways sweater a lot in the fall and winter for layering. The open stitch pattern makes it not too warm for indoor heating but the thickness of crochet makes it warm enough for the amount of time I spend outdoors in public transit or walking from one place to another in the city. So I wanted a similar sweater but different, and granny stitch would have the similar effects.

The patterns I came across are usually worked flat with the front, back, and sleeve pieces seamed together, like this one, and this one, which look fabulous. But I wanted to make one that is crocheted top-down and in the round so that it incorporates the granny corner stitches in the yoke as raglan increases.  

I found this video tutorial on Oana’s crochet channel, which is brilliant, especially the way it started with the foundation “arches” made of ch’s and dc’s. There’s no written pattern; it’s more of a formula to make what fits and try on as you go. I’ve made some modifications for worsted weight yarn and larger hooks. If you’d like to try doing something similar, you’d have to watch Oana’s video first for the following to make sense.

The finished measurements of my sweater:

Bust: 36″ around
Arm opening: 14″ around
Sleeve length: 17.5″ from underarm
Length: 18.5“
Neck width: 8.5“
Neck depth: 3″

I used about 1200 yards of worsted weight yarn and an 8 mm hook, as well as 6.5 mm hook for edgings. 

My modifications:

Yoke foundation chain (with larger hook): The sweater begins with a foundation chain of “arches” or loops made of ch’s and dc’s. I made 6 arches for the back of neck, 2 for each of the sleeves, and 4 for the raglan increases, and omitted ones in the front, so it’d make a smoother neckline. So altogether I started with 14 arches.

Note 1: I had to take away some stitches in the raglan increase, so that it is [2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc], because it was starting to buckle with the original [3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc] combination.

Note 2: I turn at the end of each round.

Row 1: first raglan increase (ch 3, 2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc), 3 dc in next 2 arches, raglan increase (2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc), 3 dc in next 6 arches, raglan increase (as previous one), 3 dc in next 2 arches, last raglan increase (2 dc, ch 1, 3 dc).

Rows 2–3: increase at the start of the row as per the video (ch 3, 3 dc between first and second dc of the row), then work raglan increases in ch 1 spaces, and granny stitches across, then increase at the end of the row (4 dc between last dc and beginning ch 3 chain of last row).

Row 4: increase at the start of the row (ch 3, 2 dc between first and second dc of the row), then work raglan increases in ch 1 spaces, and granny stitches across, then increase at the end of the row (3 dc between last dc and beginning ch 3 chain of last row).

I then join the front with 3 arches, so that now the yoke is joined in the round.

I worked 5 more rounds around the yoke, then joined the front and back at the underarm. Then worked until the piece is 18″ in length from shoulder.

For the sleeves, I started with joining yarn in the stitch at underarm (where the front and back joined), then worked 2 rounds even, then worked a decrease round.

For the decrease round, I didn’t follow Oana’s video for sleeves, which involves a decrease row of sc stitches. I wanted the entire sweater to be granny stitches, so here’s what I did.

Sleeve decrease round: ch 3, 2 dc in same space, [2 dc in next sp, 2 dc in next sp], work granny stitch around, sl st in top of beginning ch to join.

Round after decrease: ch 3, 2 dc in same space, work granny stitch around, until the group of stitches in [] of previous row, skip the 4 dc in [] (i.e. treat it as one group of granny stitch), work granny stitch in next sp to end, sl st in top of beginning ch to join. 

After the first decrease round, I worked decrease round every 6th row three times, then worked 3 rounds even, then worked another decrease round, and a final round.

For all the edging I switched to a 6.5 mm hook and worked 3 rounds of sc stitches around the neck opening, cuffs and bottom of the sweater. Generally I work 3 sc in each ch 3 space, and one sc in each dc around the cuffs. 

And that’s it, no seaming. And It’s a very quick make, I finished it in a few days. I’d like to try making another one with different colours in the yoke so the raglan increase stitches stand out more. 

Hope 2020 brings you many good things ♥