Saturday, 19 April 2014

Last Minute Easter Baskets

It's Easter Saturday and I am crocheting some mini Easter baskets just in time for Easter Sunday. These cute little baskets are perfect for using up small leftovers while conducting experiments with yarn and hooks.

I found out about this simple pattern through Sara of Tangled Happy.  You can find the pattern details on mrsbrownmakes. These baskets are worked in a spiral, amigurumi style.

The baskets on the pattern page are made with DK yarn and a 3.5 mm hook.  I chose to dip into my tin of remnant 4-ply cottons and work two threads together with a 3.5 mm hook.  The small amounts of variegated colours are perfect for blending with solids. I would have preferred more of the brighter colours but the whole point of stashbusting is to use what's there.

Colour Experiments

Tangled Happy and mrsbrownmakes show a photograph of these baskets worked in solid colours.
Today I blended variegated yarns with solids, and then two solids together.

Colour Blend 1: variegated mint + solid lemon yellow / variegated mint
+ solid white
This tiny project is just right for using up tiny amounts of lemon yellow and white. The mint was used throughout, blended with the lemon until it ran out and then the white: Two from the stash 'busted'! 

It fascinates me how the simple blending of either yellow or white can change the perception of the mint colour.

'Vari Mint': Super Saver Australian Made Craft-Crochet-Knitting 100% soft cotton 50g/skein. Col #36019 Lot #4895
Yellow: Panda Regal 4 Ply Cotton 50g/165m per skein, made in Brazil. Col #75 Lot #161897
White: unidentified/no label.

Colour Blend 2: variegated blue + solid navy blue
I like the contrast of the solid navy against the variegated blues.  I think it adds extra definition to the stitches. It reminds me of the fine texture of thin wicker baskets.

Variegated blue: Yatsal Craft Crochet Knitting 100% soft cotton 50 g per skein, made in China. No colour number
Navy blue: unidentified/no label.

Colour Blend 3: variegated sand + solid apricot
I had a tiny amount of sandy coloured variegated yarn with no identification. Would it be enough for an Easter basket?  The previous baskets weighed about 4 grams. I figured that I would need 2 grams of each colour for 1 basket. Out came the scales to check. Hooray - there's enough.

The apricot was the brightest and prettiest solid colour left in the tin. I wondered whether it would make a warm natural effect with the sandy colours.  When it was worked up, I felt it looked too 'muddy' for an Easter basket so I pulled it all apart to find a different blend, but not before taking a photo for future reference. 

I didn't mind the lighter shade against the apricot and that led me to the next blend.

Colour Blend 4: solid natural + solid apricot 
I like the textured effect of the two solids together. The natural colour softens the apricot into a dusty pink.
Colour Blend 5:
variegated sand + solid natural

Natural: Sullivans International Natural Soft Crochet & Knitting Cotton 4 ply 50 g/skein, made in China. Col #36001 Lot #2327.
Apricot: Super Saver Australian Made Craft-Crochet-Knitting 100% soft cotton 50g/skein. Col #36004 Lot #4587.

I might try blending the variegated sandy colour with the natural colour next. It is evening now and too dark to take pictures.

(20 April 2014: ETA photograph at left)

Hook Experiments

I seem to have collected a bunch of 3.5 mm hooks.  Three baskets are great for seeing how three different hooks manage the same project and yarn type.  I like my aluminium hooks which have plastic handles on them so the yellow-handled one is my first choice for the green/yellow/white basket.

The doubled thread combined with a smaller than recommended hook makes for tight crochet. Great for baskets, but harder to insert the hook.  I am worried I might break the hook from the handle when pulling through the stitches. I have a different hook which is bent and coming loose from its plastic handle because of the wear and tear of tight tension!  I don't want that to happen to this yellow-handled hook so it's time for a change.

I remember having success with one of the coloured anodised hooks, but which one?  I used both today and discovered their differences.

This photo allows one to compare the tapered heads, placement of the thumb rests and to see the scratches on the yellow anodised hook.

Aluminium hook with yellow plastic handle
yellow hook

red hook
Shorter length overall than the other hooks.

Weakness is the join between hook and handle; not as robust as other hooks.

Wider handle is easier on the hands but I found my hand holding it close to the hook end and not making full use of the handle; perhaps because of the extra effort required to insert it into the tight stitches.

Tapered head
Same length as red anodised hook.

Manufactured in one piece.

Thumb rest is shorter and closer to the head than that of the red anodised hook.

Tapered head.

Sharper tip made for easier insertion but gave resistance and friction as it pulled through the stitches; possibly  a fine burr in the throat. On closer inspection, the hook has been roughened up by lots of scratches.
Same length as yellow anodised hook.

Manufactured in one piece.

Thumb rest is longer and further back from  the head than that of the yellow anodised hook.

The tapered head is shorter than that of the yellow anodised hook. It feels wider and makes wider spaces between stitches.

Tip not as sharp, harder to insert into stitches but smoother to pull through;  a smoother finish and faster working.

So far, for this project, the red anodised hook is winning! 

Claire Brown of mrsbrownmakes suggests that each basket takes about 10 to 15 minutes to crochet.  It takes me a little longer because the tight tension is hard on the hands and wrists and I have frequent rest breaks. Even so, I would allow 25 minutes for each basket. Remember it takes time to weave in ends too.

When it comes time to weave in the loose ends, I have four threads instead of two because of double threads from two yarns at a time. When there is a double thread to weave in, I split it and weave each individual yarn separately in different directions. It leaves a neater finish.

I am not bothering to make a separate lining for my baskets because I want them done in a hurry, they don't necessarily need a lining for my Easter egg purposes and I am lazy today!

These tiny baskets will fit four miniature solid eggs or two filled mini eggs or one standard hen egg-sized Easter egg (The eggs are 2.5 cm, 3.5 cm and 6 cm tall respectively).

This picture should give a sense of scale.
The yellow and pink covered eggs are the same size as hen eggs.


1 comment:

  1. Lion Brand have just published an article on working with multiple strands of yarn for colour, texture or bulk. It includes some tips for managing multiple strands at a time.