Wednesday, August 19, 2015

[CRAFTING, crochet] Jute Coasters Update

After finishing the first jute coaster, I was curious how it would compare to one made as written.

Jute on left, acrylic worsted yarn on right.

The jute coaster is 5" in diameter, weighs 1.2 oz, and took over two hours to hook.
As described on the previous post, I needed to modify the pattern for size, down to only four rounds from seven.  I used a Magic Ring instead of a chain round, worked the first cluster round with fewer loops, and then dropped one cluster round and one border round entirely.

The yarn coaster is 4.5" in diameter, weighs 0.3 oz, and only took forty-five minutes to hook with all seven rounds.

Stacked, for diameter comparison.

Doing this comparison gave me confidence that I made the right choice for materials and pattern tweaks.  I'll definitely work with a DK or worsted weight yarn for inside-the-house and gift coaster sets, while the heavier jute will be perfect for use on our screened porch.

[GARDENS] Tomato Tuesday!

I'm a day late on this, but ... TOMATOES!!

The Atlanta area has endured heavy storms the last couple of days.  Thick, sheeting rains that feel more like standing under a waterfall than a shower.

When I went out to check on things this morning, I found my sole Beefsteak tomato with a broken stem.  I splinted him with a bamboo kebab skewer broken in thirds for even placement around the stem, and then wrapped it several times up and down with floral tape.

Fingers crossed that the branch heals.  

The Roma clusters are bulbing out nicely, and the Basil in the bottom of the Beefsteak planter is happy in its new home.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

[CRAFTING, crochet] Jute Cluster Coasters

One of the crochet projects on which I'm working is a set of coasters made with jute twine.

I chose jute twine because (a) it's cheap at only $1.48 per 190 ft. roll at our local Lowe's, (b) it's a natural fiber, and (c) it will hold up well to light outdoor use. I wanted a design with simple, clean lines - a smoothly worked round with an elegant border, but that doesn't look too much like a lace doily. After spending entirely too long browsing the Ravelry database, I finally settled on this design by ChezPascale.

Cluster Coaster, © by ChezPascale

Because jute twine is thicker than medium-weight worsted yarn, especially so once the twine's been kissed by Georgia's sweltering summer air, I needed to modify the pattern somewhat.
  • I had to use a 'J' hook for the twine instead of the suggested 'H' for yarn.
  • I used a Magic Circle to start and an Invisible Slip-End to finish, to avoid start bumps and end gaps.
  • The first row of clusters is worked with 5 loops instead of 7, as the full cluster wouldn't go into the previous row's SCs.
  • And to keep the final diameter near 4", I skipped the third cluster round and the second border round.  I need coasters, after all, not jute saucers and plates.
The other projects on which I've been working require a consistently firm tension, so the change to jute is difficult.  The feel of it is jarring; it's scratchy and stiff - coiling off the roll rather than flowing off a ball.  It's also difficult to insert new stitches into previous rounds, as the stiffness doesn't lend easily to insertion space.  What would've taken me an hour (at most) to accomplish with yarn took well over two hours with this twine (nearly four with the requisite row frogging and pattern tweaks of a 1st WiP).  The result is pretty, and it's strong, and it will be durable - but my hands and arms are quite tired after working with it all afternoon.

The first of eight coasters, w/pattern modified for twine

One coaster down, seven to go!