Wednesday, June 7, 2006

The World is Flat!

This morning, over a cup of hot chocolate and a slice of carrot cake, I spent a couple of hours with two other fiber-addicts: Priscilla and Carolyn (members of the online ConnecticutCrochet group).  We had a wonderful conversation on topics ranging from crochet/knitting groups, to fibers to drool over.  During our time together one of the questions that came my way was, "What's it like to crochet with ribbon fibers?"

My immediate answer was: "It's dee-lightful!"

But not all see it as I do.  Some don't like the way the fiber twists around and thus do not enjoy the experience.  Whereas I think the possibilities with the ribbon fibers have not been fully explored yet.  And so, with a fresh cup of coffee in hand, I'd like to do so now.

To the top left is a closer look at the leather insert I added to my tank top. Leather has two sides to it ... it has the slick/sheen side, and it has the softer/fuzzier side.  I wanted the slick/sheen side to be dominate so as I crocheted each stitch I ensured that all of my yarn overs had this "ribbon" fiber all facing in the same direction AND laying flat -- slick side facing upwards towards me.  This ensured that most of my stitching would reveal what I think is the beautiful of this fiber.  If I hadn't taken the extra time to untwist the fiber as I had went along, AND ensured that it laid flat against my hook, then I would have wound up with a tight looking stitch that lacked, imho, the beauty it now shows.

Is it necessary to untwist the ribbon each time you want to work with it?  I think that depends upon the width of the ribbon and the crochet technique you're using.  Let's look at the scarf on the right that I created over a year ago. I first worked upthe scarf using an "F" hook and Berroco's pink suede.  The suede is a thinner type of ribbon yarn with a hint of nappy texture.  Since it was a thin ribbon I did not spend time untwising it.  After the initial crocheting was done, I cut wider, silkier ribbon into long strips and wove it through the stitches with a tapestry needle.  Although the wider ribbon was not crocheted in, I did take the time to ensure it did not twist as I wove it between the stitches.  What resulted in the mixture of these two ribbon fibers was a delightful scarf filled with texture and color.

When I created my daughter's Communion Cape last year, I took the time -- a lot of time actually-- to carefully ensure each time I wrapped the ribbon around the hairpin fork that I kept it flat.  I think it really helped Clover Hairpin Lace Toolthe ribbon show off it's true beauty!

As with all fibers, I think it's best to experiment, and with ribbon yarns I think this is especially true -- and I think one of the best crochet techniques for it is the Hairpin Lace technique.  There are several "forks" on the market, and each will do the job beautifully.  Do note that the Clover Hairpin Lace tool you see here (yellow; on the right) expands from a half an inch to three inches.  Whereas the Boye expands from half an inch to four inches, and the Susan Bates pictured here expands from an inch to four inches.
   Does it matter which one you add to your crochet tools?  I don't think so, but if you want the "best bang for your buck" then I'd recommend getting the Boye.  If you're looking to go wider than 4" then give a visit; they have two that measures up to 6"Boye Adjustable Hairpin Lace Fork ... and another that's suitable for learning how to create flowers ... but that's another blog entry for another day.  :)

So, experiment, experiment, experiment!  Take a wide ribbon and work up some hairpin lace.  Note how it looks when you create the stitches with a small hook (a butterfly/bow effect) and how it looks with a large hook.  Susan Bates Adjustable Aluminum Hairpin Lace LoomWhich do you like better?  As you connect your Hairpin Lace strips, do you like slightly twisting your loops, or keeping them straight? 

And as you create your stitches, be it with the hairpin technique, or the regular stitches such as the leather insert I did for my tank top, try keeping the ribbon flat on your hook, and then try it naturally twisting.  (If you're searching for ribbon yarn online, try also looking for "tape" ... it's the same thing.)  

Only in experimenting will you discover what dee-lights you with this fascinating type of fiber!

*IMHO: In My Humble Opinion

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