Thursday, October 29, 2015

On the Hook: Crocheting with Tencel from Teresa Ruch Designs

In September, we featured this lovely hand dyed 100% tencel yarn from Teresa Ruch Designs.  The color and shine caused a lot of chatter among our members on Ravelry as everyone planned their next project.  Many mentioned they had worked with a tencel-blend yarn in the past but most had not worked with a yarn entirely made of tencel.  This was my first experience with 100% tencel as well and I have to say, it was quite a treat!

Tencel (also called lyocel) is a man made fiber that is created from wood pulp.  Yes, wood pulp.  It is an environmentally friendly cellulosic fiber that acts like other plant-based fibers.  Absorbent and breathable, it can be used like silk or bamboo and has a lustrous shine to it.  And just by holding it, you can tell that this yarn will have incredible drape.

One of the biggest questions asked by our members was, how do I block tencel?  Do you soak it?  Spray blocking?  Steam?  What would be best to showcase this gorgeous fiber?  I did some research and didn't come up with a definitive answer.  Some said soaking was best while others suggested a spray blocking.   So I did what we should do when faced with such a question: test out my desired method on a test swatch.

I promised our members that I'd create a bonus pattern with Teresa Ruch's yarn so I already had a gauge swatch to test my blocking.  After watching this video from Knitting Daily, I saw how the tencel behaved when wet.  When dry, it's very strong and when wet, it stays very strong.  I decided that I would try to soak and block the swatch.

On the left is a swatch from the pattern that has not been blocked.  On the right is my gauge swatch that I soaked and then aggressively blocked (I figured, if I'm going to block it, I might as well see how far I can go with it).  The tencel held up beautifully with the soak.  The fiber stayed nice and strong.  My stitches opened up giving me a lacy look.  And my yarn's shine was still very much there.  Big win for the tencel!

Now on to that pattern I promised...

With this yarn, I wanted to design a scarf using an open stitch that would allow the yarn to drape.  After playing with some stitches, I settled on a double crochet cross stitch where you skip a chain, double crochet in the next chain, then work behind that stitch and double crochet in the skipped chain.

As I stitched away, I thought about what to do for the edging.  I liked the way each row finished off so I really just needed to focus on the ends of the scarf.  As the silky texture of the yarn slipped through my fingers, beads came to mind.  Just a little extra sparkle would be a great pairing for this scarf.

Before I give you the pattern, I'd like to leave you with a couple notes.

I didn't block my finished scarf as aggressively as I did my gauge swatch.  I wanted it to still have that slinky drape.  When blocking, my width didn't stay exactly where I blocked it.  It relaxed about an inch.  I think part of this is because of the yarn and part is because of the stitch itself.  The cross stitch has a little stretch to it (which you will see when working it up).  But like I said, I still wanted my scarf to have that slinkiness to it so it's not that big of a deal.  The yarn holds the blocking well and I'm quite happy with it.

Also, tencel is crazy thirsty.  It immediately soaked up the water and went to the bottom of my tub.  I expected it to take a long time to finish drying but much to my surprise, it didn't take longer than most other yarns.

The scarf was designed using the Tencel 3/2 DK weight yarn but you can easily use the Tencel 5/2 lace/light fingering weight with a smaller hook and smaller beads.  With the lighter weight yarn, you can choose to make your project wider for more of a wrap than a scarf.

There are a few different ways to add beads to your crochet and knit projects.  My favorite is to use a string of Super Floss and add the beads when I need them.  Watch this video to learn more about this beading method.

I hope you enjoy your finished scarf as much as I enjoy mine!  It's becoming one of my favorite accessories!

Crisscross Applesauce Scarf
by Aimee Hansen

Size H crochet hook
Size G crochet hook
Teresa Ruch Designs Tencel 3/2 DK Yarn
Size 6 seed beads (optional)

Pattern Notes:
In this pattern, we will make the double crochet cross stitch.  First, you skip a chain or stitch and double crochet in the next chain.  Then, working behind the stitch you just made, double crochet in the chain or stitch that you skipped.

The chain 3 at the beginning of each row counts as the first double crochet of that row BUT the chain 1 at the the beginning of the row does not count as a single crochet.

In double crochet cross stitch pattern, 11 pattern stitches across x 7 rows high = 4"x4".  Because of the stretchiness of this stitch, gauge is not important.

To make the scarf wider, increase beginning chain by a multiple of 4.

If you would like to use the lace/light fingering weight and make a wrap, use a size F or G hook depending on how open you'd like your stitches.  Increase the beginning chain by 4 chains to the size of your liking.  Continue the pattern repeats till your piece is as long as you'd like.  Do not change your hook size for the last row of edging.  For beads, use size 8 or 10 seed beads.

Finished Measurements:  Approximately 75" long x 8" wide unblocked; 92" long x 9" wide blocked.

ch - chain
sl st - slip stitch
sc - single crochet
dc - double crochet


With H hook, ch 36. 

Row 1:  DC in the 5th ch from hook (the 4 skipped changes count as first dc and one skipped chain).  Working behind the last st, dc in the skipped ch.  *Skip 1 ch.  DC in the next ch.  Working behind the last st, dc in the skipped ch.  Repeate from * to last ch.  DC in the last ch.  Turn. (32 stitches; 16 cross stitches)

Round 2:  Ch 3.  *Skip the next st.  DC in the next st.  Working behind the last st, dc in the skipped st.  Repeat from * to the last st.  DC in top ch of the turning ch.  Turn. (32 stitches; 16 cross stitches)

Rows 3-120:   Repeat row 2.  On the last row, continue on to edging.  (32 stitches; 16 cross stitches)


Row 1:  Ch 1.  Sc in the first st.  *Ch 3.  Add a bead to the loop on your hook.  Skip 2 stitches.  SC in the next st.  Repeat from * across.  Turn.  (12 single crochets, 11 ch 3 spaces)

Row 2:  Ch 1.  Sc in the first st.  Ch 1.  Add a bead to the loop on your hook.  Sc in the middle ch of the next ch 3 space.  *Ch 3.  Add a bead to the loop on your hook.  SC in the middle ch of the next ch 3 space.  Repeat from * across.  Ch 1.  Sc in the last st.  Turn.  (13 single crochets, 10 ch 3 spaces, 2 ch 1 spaces)

Row 3:  Ch 1.  Sc in the first st.  *Ch 3.  Add a bead to the loop on your hook.  Skip 1 sc.  SC in the middle ch of the next ch 3 space.  Repeat from * across.  Turn.  (12 single crochets, 11 ch 3 spaces)

Rows 4-6:  Repeat rows 2 and 3 one time.  Repeat row 2 one more time.

Row 7:  With your G hook, ch 1.  Sc in first st.  *Ch 2.  Add a bead to the loop on your hook.  Sl st in the back ridge of the last ch made.  Ch 1.  Add a bead to the loop on your hook. Sc in the middle ch of the next ch 3 space.  Repeat from * across.  Ch 3.  Sc in last st.  Fasten off.

Turn your piece and join your yarn to the bottom ch of the first row's beginning ch 3.  Repeat rows 1-7 of edging.  Fasten off.  Weave in all ends.

Making this pattern?  Remember to link up your project on Ravelry.  We'd love to see your finished project!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

September Classic Review: Teresa Ruch Designs Tencel

One of my favorite things about Yarnbox is how it pushes us all to try something we may not have thought to try.  That was the case with our September Classic box featuring Teresa Ruch's Tencel 5/2 light fingering weight and Tencel 3/2 DK weight yarns.  Not a fiber blend with tencel in it but yarn made of 100% silky tencel.  What a treat!

Tencel is a man-made natural fiber created from wood pulp.  It has a slippery texture kind of like silk and bamboo with a glorious shine to it.  It's a durable fiber and a great non-wool alternative for warmer climates.  This tencel has incredible drape to it making it perfect for garments, shawls and scarves.  Teresa Ruch hand dyes her yarns in rich colors that glow under the yarn's sheen.  The color received many delightful squeals from our members.  I heard one refer to the pearl as liquid silver. 

Since there were two different yarn weights this month, we featured two different knit patterns as well as a crochet pattern for the DK weight.  I'll post an additional crochet pattern that I've been working on next week on our blog.

Kristin Hansen designed this elegant Late Summer Shawl with the light fingering weight tencel.  This pattern's stitch work is the perfect compliment to any of the above colorways resulting in a finished piece that could be worn as a shawl or a scarf.

Our second knit pattern was the Shifted Cowl designed by Andrea Sanchez.  Worked in the round, this pattern features panels of both lace and cables worked in the DK weight tencel.

Designer Marie Segares joins us with her crochet pattern, Ella's Rhythm Shawl, with the DK weight tencel.  Using an easy to remember stitch pattern, the design is ideal for advanced beginners and anyone wanting a pattern where the stitch work highlights the yarn's beauty.

So many wonderful options with tencel!  If you missed the September Classic box, check out the Overstock Shop to see what goodies you can add to your stash.

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Click here to get a Yarnbox Classic subscription of your own!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

September Luxe Musings: Clever Camel

This September shipment of Luxe marks a full first year for this subscription! Our first Luxe shipment, which was sent out in September 2014, featured beautiful 100% Mongolian Cashmere from Jade Sapphire. Since then, we've been sending out beautiful blended fibers and unique 100% exotic fibers once a quarter to members all over the globe, and pairing them with useful tools, notions and extras.

While, when you count them up, there have only been five Luxe shipments, each one has been something fresh and new for many of our members, and this September Luxe is no exception. Featuring five skeins of 100% Camel fiber from Jones & Vandermeer, this box is packed to the gills and sure to surprise even knitters who have been at it a long time! I personally had never felt camel fiber (outside the occasional camel coat) until the samples for this box arrived, and was surprised to feel how soft, silky and beautiful it is in person. Jones & Vandermeer specialize, kind of like Yarnbox, in searching the globe for beautiful, sustainable fibers of the highest quality to introduce to their customers.

Clever Camel has 110 yards per fluffy skein, giving each of our members a total of 550 yards to play with. We chose from the sophisticated palette offered four of our favorites. The pattern is showing in Light Natural, the color of the animals themselves, and topped with Snowden Grey, Poppy and Agate.

Speaking of the pattern -- the talented Toby Roxane Barna joined us for this box, creating a basic and beautiful wrap with lace details that will transition beautifully into Fall and through Winter as a scarf. Desert Dunes is squishy, soft, and warm -- we had a great time styling this in the photoshoot and it was hard to take it off at the end!

Of course, no Yarnbox Luxe shipment isn't complete without absolutely divine extras. This quarter we were pleased to be able to deliver a Sirka counter to each member of Yarnbox Luxe. These handy tools work for knitters as well as crocheters, counting off several steps in a single project, tracking three separate projects on a single counter, or just keeping track of some rows! If you got the Sirka counter and still need help, be sure to check out the Tutorials section of the Sirka website.  Included on the packaging of each Sirka counter was a code for a discount on a matching Bento Box. These Bento boxes are a great way to store your Sirka (although it will survive alone as well, being made out of extra-sturdy plastic!)

We were also able to feature some beautiful, lightly-scented handmade soaps from one of our members! It's always exciting when a member is able to be featured as a designer, dyer, or extra provider. Paula Capasso has been a long-time Yarnbox member and now her beautiful, homemade soaps were featured in miniature form in every September Luxe box. Paula developed the light and soothing Chamomile & Lanolin scent especially for us. You can find more of her soaps through her Etsy shop, Hickory Hollow Soap

All in all, we couldn't be more pleased and excited to be starting out another year of Luxe, and we have some beautiful surprises in store for December's shipment, too. Starting in December, ALL Luxe boxes will now feature both a knitting and crochet pattern! 

Did you fall in love with this Luxe Box?
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Join Yarnbox Luxe today by clicking here. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

September Socks Review: Rain City Knits

Solid or variegated? With sock yarn, it seems like anything goes -- crazy colors, bright, wild variegation, and intricate patterns are all reasons why sock knitting continues to make the top of our list for projects to do. Of course, it's not always best to combine all of these things into one single sock, so when we feature a great designer known for intricate patterns, like Rachel Coopey, we like to partner her work with a great semi-solid yarn dyer like Rain City Knits!

Rain City Knits has a great selection of semi-solids (including some fantastic neons that you might want to explore on your own!) We chose some of our favorites for this shipment to satisfy both the 'Muted' and 'Bright' lovers in our membership. It was fun to see them arrive and brighten up mailboxes -- surprisingly, one of the most sought-after colors was the Steel Grey!

Rachel's patterns never disappoint, and we were pleased to finally share the news that not only would this box feature a pattern from her, but also our latest box (just shipped out last week) would have a double-whammy surprise from this great designer! We really can't wait to for you to get your boxes this month. This pattern is called Jacinta, and features sweet cables on the delicate Wasabi colorway.

Stay tuned for even more exciting things happening in next month's Socks subscription! 

Thinking of adding a Socks subscription to your life?
Click here to order one today! 
Note: Socks ships in a bag, not in the box pictured above.