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You can Make an Ocean with Crochet

15 Mar

Not too long ago I came across the Sólás Caomh pattern by Jodi Euchner in an Interweave Crochet magazine. I became enthralled with crochet cabling. Most people think of knitting and the “scary” extra needle. But I had to learn how to do this wonderful new technique, but not in a baby blanket size, on a blanket that would fit a 6’1″ man – this had potential disaster written all over it. My knitting/crochet class was a little skeptical of my plan (they often are, but most times, it’s valid) but they still helped me tinker some pattern adjustments and the tricky new stitches.

The Manly Blanket

I decided to use a J hook (6 mm) and bulky weight yarn. I picked out a Clover “Soft Touch” crochet hook that’s an ergonomic design and a great price. Let me tell you, this saved me many a painful hour working with the hook. I never had to take a break or slow down because I was doing too much with my hands. It’s high enough up and has a flat neck where  you place your thumb and forefinger that makes working with it very comfortable. Mind you, this hook works best if you hold the hook like this:

Knife Holding Position

and not like this:

Underarmor position (my own misnomer)

My friend crochets the latter and had a hard time gripping the hook with the ergonomic chunky flat head. (Pictures courtesy of the Crochet World blog.)

Next, I used Ella Rae “Seasons” in color 19. It’s a bulky weight yarn that is “chainette”, which means that it’s not wrapped around itself, but is like an icord or crochet chain of yarn. I liked this style of yarn better, because I had ZERO splitting.

To make a blanket this size, I went up two yarn weights and two hook sizes larger than the pattern, then I added six stitches to the beginning and end of the pattern rows the whole duration of the blanket. This meant I casted on 135 stitches instead of 23 and added six more stitch repeats to the beginning of the row before doing the first cable set.

There are three separate cable types in this pattern and each is a little different. For help understanding how to do a Front Post or Back Post click on the links to understand how it works. Even if you know how to do these stitches, check out the videos anyway, because it’s a dude doing the videos. He has these big beefy hands and you sit there wondering, “This is a work of counter-nature.”

The part that is the hardest to understand in the pattern is FPdc or FPtr behind the stitches you worked, but it’s not a BPdc or BPtr. What this is trying to tell you (but hard to visualize), is you will be working the stitches as a FP, behind the stitches you just worked, but still in FRONT of the body of the project. Crochetme has a blog post all to help you out with this pattern.

To complete the edging I did the first two rows in the same color as the blanket and only used white for the last and final row. I liked the look of it better and called the white accent my “sea foam” to the ocean colored blanket.

Back to work on my knitted sock – don’t judge that I’m not crocheting!
-Stacy C.

The Button-up Dog Sweater – Pattern Review

25 Sep

 Hello again my peoples,

I have a quick review on a cute doggy sweater. Why make your dogs sweaters?! Well, if you have any that are under 20 lbs, or even 30, they get cold in the winter. And if you’ve ever gone to Petsmart to find one, you know how expensive they are – so quit judging!

This pattern is called the “Button-Up Dog Sweater” by Anna Tillman and I used Hobby Lobby’s “I Love this Yarn!” in Antique White, because it’s soft, acrylic and machine washable! (You’re probably wondering what I was thinking knitting a white dog sweater, I liked the picture and it’s pretty, ok?!). Anyway, I started up this dog sweater in Nov. 2011 and stopped putzing with it not long after. Why? Because this was written for an animal book, not a knitting tome. This pattern is part of the book, “Doggy Knits,” by Anna Tillman and it was actually written for TFH Publications, which is actually an animal focused publication house, not one crafting or knitting. That being said, there are definitely some areas in the patterns where the technical editor didn’t quite get how the wording is poor in some of the patterns – this one is no exception.

The pattern works at the beginning just fine, but when you get to the armholes, the spacing in between is too far about and above them is just a little too long. If you look at the picture for the pattern, you can see that the sweater poofs out more than it should for the size of the dog, this is a common complaint on revelry.com about the directions. I would cut out 2-3 stitches in between the arm holes and end the piece about 1/2 inch earlier than it suggests. My guess would be to allow the dog room to move, but the sweater is constructed in such a way that the sweater moves to the “pit” of the dog leg making movement more easy. The bagginess just bunches up into the dog’s neck serving no purpose.

Picking up around the neck was another adventure – one that took three other expert knitters to decipher the instructions to understand the direction to pick up stitches. This is how it works:

Pick up from the left “lip” up the left side, around the collar and down the right side (including the right “lip”).

I also found that picking up every stitch works a lot better than trying to follow her “pick up” instructions because they don’t work. You end up either needing too many or have too few. Also, If you make the button holes to her specifications, you need ginormous buttons. I made a few that way and decided to only yo once instead of twice and I still used large buttons (1″ diameter) and I felt better about them closing then the ones made with two yo’s.

 Other than those few glitches, it’s smooth sailing. It’s not a bad pattern/book, but it’s just not very clear and there are some technical “issues.” There are really cute dog sweaters to choose from and reading this book aided in me designing my own pooch sweater. In the end though, my model looked GOOD putting on a show!

Working on tiny needles and showing a sweater who’s boss,

-Stacy C.

Color-blocking Necklace Pattern

16 Jul

I love to do simple, but chic crochet jewelry. If you’ve seen my Etsy shop(shameless plug), you’re aware of that. Well, I do want to share some of my knowledge with the rest of you and have a simple pattern for my color blocking necklace crochet necklace:

Color block necklace

Hook: 5 mm (H)
Yarn: Pictured, Pattons Silk Bamboo (pink) and Fantasy  Naturale (blue)
(Sport, worsted or Aran yarn works [3-4 weight])
Gauge is not important for this pattern. But you can adjust Ch stitches to desired length.

The whole shebang

With MC chain 180 st
Sl st into first ch st to make a loop
Continue chaining for another 180 st
Make between 4-6 chained looped being sure to sl st for each one
weave in ends

With CC 9-11 st (the number is dependent on the “girth” of your necklaces)

For the back “closure” strip
SC 3 rows

For the side strip
SC 11 rows

To sew color blocking strips to necklace, wrap the strip around the entire “girth” of necklaces and sew the ends closed. While you are sewing them closed, be sure to put the needle through several chained stitched each time to ensure the strip stays in place. Weave in ends.

Hope you have fun with this and rock the sidewalk runway!
-Stacy C.

Giveaway and the Springtime Bandit Finale!

12 Jun

The time has come my knitting peeps, to talk of many things – but I’m done on the Springtime Bandit! Almost. This is the last installment about this pattern and my adventures in advanced lace knitting.

Let me start off by pointing out the edge chart shows both RS and WS rows, which means you have to pay attention to EACH row. (Really, you get the hang of it after a couple of WS rows. Just don’t  get lazy!) The reading of the pattern is still the right side only before you have to go “backward” once you get to the middle (green) square. Let’s take a look at the chart, shall we?

The mighty third and ending chart

Doesn’t look intimidating AT ALL. I decided from the beginning of this chart to show it who’s boss and I took some strategy methods to make this crazy chart portion one of the least mistake and problem sections of this project. How did I do this? So glad you asked.

First, I wrote on every row of the chart and marked the K stitches so I wouldn’t count incorrectly in the “moment” of the row. Look closely at the first few rows (you can click on it for a closer look):

“Write” out the pattern

You will see that I wrote a number in the center of the K stitches and ran a line through the rest. This helped me know that I had to do so many K stitches before moving on to the next type of stitch. When you do this, be sure to use a non-black ink pen (pencil runs when highlighted and is hard to see), ensuring you don’t confusion your K shorthand with the actual pattern. Then, I wrote on the side of the main chart how many stitches are in each section before and after the pattern repeat (sill 14 stitches for repeat). This helped me know when I was getting to the end of repeating and needed to have enough stitches for the last portion of the row. I did all of these notations before I even started this chart because I knew I would get overwhelmed and wouldn’t want to start and stop between knitting rows.

Another helpful tip was to use a two color highlighter system. I highlighted the row I was on alternating colors making sure I didn’t confuse what row I was on by accidentally looking at the one below. One color was for the RS and one was for the WS. Of course after I did this chart I found out about a new discovery - highlighter tape. I was floored! You can put down this piece of tape, then pick it up and move it up a line. I really want to try this for next time.

To finish out, I steam ironed it which worked wonders with the cotton. I’ve washed it since I’ve ironed it and it really maintained its shape. Look in awe at the end result!

FINISHED!

The Prize

(GIVEAWAY!) To celebrate the end and for my loyal readers, I have a giveaway! I’m giving away a large skein of Lily Cotton, Sugar ‘n Cream Twists. This skein is 603 yards of cotton possibilities and with this size you can make a shawlette or scarf and still have enough left over for a washcloth! This giveaway is open until July 9, 2012, at 11:59 p.m. To enter leave a comment telling me your favorite lace pattern and whether you love or hate lace. For extra entries, follow me on twitter or retweet a post (leave another comment letting me know your Twitter handle). I will announce the winner on July 10, 2012.

Loving my lace fever,
-Stacy C.

Tackling Lace (and the Springtime Bandit) Part 2

5 Jun

Hello again boys and girls,

I hope my last post helped you with basic lace chart knowledge and/or the tricky Springtime Bandit. In this post I’m going to cover the second chart (aka body chart). This is where the fun happens and where it starts to get a little harder. (How could it get harder?! It does, simmer down, you can do this.) I will say, for a three charter, at least it gets incrementally tougher and not all in your face at once.

At this point, I suggest placing a stitch marker after the green square (halfway point of the row). This let me know if I had properly done the row to that point. There’s nothing more frustrating than pulling out 100+ stitches when you get to the end of a row verses 50. Another way to help with pulling out stitches is a lifeline. There’s a lot of different ways to use/place a lifeline and this video from verypinkknits and article from knittingdaily.com should help. I’m not a big fan for many reasons and prefer the stitch marker method; but I offer all options to my readers to keep down murder rates of  lace and/or others with needles.

Look at the progress!

The body chart starts off with 67 stitches and repeat the chart (12 rows) four times. Once again, this chart reads right side only, go backward at the mid-row point, and only shows RS rows. The first round of the chart is simple because there isn’t a pattern repeat. When you get to the 14 stitch repeat portion, you will read it this way:

Row 1: k2, yo, *k5, vov, k5, sk2togp, repeat from * until the last 12 stitches, this brings you to the midpoint. Going “backward”, yo, k5, vov, k5, *sk2togp, k5, vov, k5, repeat from * until the last 2 stitches

Remember, as you are doing this chart, you will increase the number of repeats for each pattern round. By the time you get to the last chart repeat you will be doing the pattern repeat five times before you continue to the middle stitch. This is the way it’s supposed to work because it needs to grow to fan out for the triangle shape.

One other thing, If you look at the left-hand side of the picture, you can see my chart is marked up. It might seem overwhelming, but it really helps you keep on task. As I (and another reader) found out, going over the chart with this kind of intense care helps you see where you might be reading the chart wrong. I never like to mark things up, books, handouts, worksheets, etc. (I know, that’s what they’re there for, duh!). I like to keep my stuff look nice and new for as long as possible; however, I decided this was for the greater good. Once I marked the pattern in my own secret code, it was as if the pattern came alive and took root in my brain! Using a charts only pattern really leaves a lot of room for the reader to skim over the right way to read the project or misread a key element. An extra “tip,” if you’re working from a book, take a photocopy and mark the duplicate up. Your book still stays nice and spiffy – ta da! (Geeky, I know.)

At the end of this section you should have 167 stitches – no arguments. It’s a requirement to go to the next phase.

Finishing up the Father’s Day Gifts,
-Stacy C.

Taking Basic Crochet Slippers a Notch Above the Rest

2 Apr

Hello readers, I was hoping to squeeze this last post in March to close out Crochet Month. Well, we’re ending it on April 1, around here! This doesn’t mean the last of crochet on this blog, not by a long shot, but I’ll stop mentioning the featured style for another 11 months! :-D

Spring into the season with these babies!

Today, is another highlight on a relatively easy crochet project, Crochet Slippers by Zoom Yummy, that I made in Red Heart’s Stitch Nation Bamboo Ewe in Beach Glass and Caron Simply Soft in Chocolate. (Of course the final project is available for purchase in my Etsy store… :-D)

Let me just prefice this post by saying the original blog post is very helpful with all the pictures for the different steps; however, I’m the kind of person who see it all in one place when I’m actually in the middle of the project and understand how the rounds are supposed to look. I decided to condense it all in this post before I go on to giving any tips and modifications. Please note, I didn’t change her pattern at all, this is exactly from the original post and all credit is due Zoom Yummy for the following:

Round 1: ch 5, join with sl st

Round 2: 3 ch, 7 dc into center of ring, join sl st

Round 3: 3 ch, 1 dc into 1st st, 2 dc each stitch after, join sl

Round 4: 3 ch, 1 dc into 1st st, 2 dc into each stitch after

Round 5-13: continue crocheting in spiral, 1 dc into each dc

Round 14: TURN, 3 ch, 1 dc into second stitch frm hook, make 20 dc (1 dc into each following dc)

Round 15-21: turn, 3 ch, 1 dc into second stitch frm hook, continue 20 dc (same as 14)

Round 22: turn, 3 ch, 1 dc into first stitch frm hook, continue 21 dc (1 dc into each next dc), another 1 dc into last stitch

Round 23-25: turn, 3 ch, 1 dc into second stitch frm hook, continue 22 dc (1 dc into each next dc)

Round 26: turn, 3 ch, 1 dc into first stitch frm hook, continue 23 dc (1 dc into each next dc), another 1 dc into last stitch

Round 27-28: turn, 3 ch, 1 dc into second stitch frm hook, continue 24 dc (1 dc into each next dc)

Finish off and weave in ends

Fold end in half and see it together. Make sure it’s turned out, then face seam facing forward.

Edging: tie yarn to the edge of the slipper, this counts as the first stitch.

2 ch

Then make 1 sc into the next bigger “hole”, make 1 ch, repeat

Finally make 1 sl st to join with the 1st

Finish off and weave in ends
###

Of course these are available in my Etsy shop!

Hope this abbreviated version helps the cliff noters, like me. Now on to my assessment and modifications: You’ll note the pattern doesn’t tell you what weight yarn or hook to use – even what size this final product makes.* This was hard, because I really had to look at multiple finished projects on ravelry.com to get an idea of where to even start. I made this first pair by using a yarn weight of 4 (or worsted), size H (or 5 mm) hook and ended up with a 8/9 in women’s sizes.

Additionally, to make this size, I jumped from round 10 to 14, cut out round 25 and 28 and still ended up with this bigger size. If you want to follow the pattern to a T, I suggest you use a yarn weight of 3 or even a 2 (DK or Sport weight) and possibly a smaller hook. My stitches are in the middle of tight and loose, they might slightly lean toward a little lose when I’m tired, if that helps you better gauge my assessment.

A couple of style modifications: I noticed that after Round 4, when you start another round and ch, using more than 1 or 2 ch stitches made the round more hole-y. I like my slippers to be tight for a little more warmth and only ch 1 before each row until Round 14. For the edging, I noticed the ch, in between sc stitches made the top wider. Except for the beginning pair of ch, I only sc stitch around the top.

Real classy

Pattern clarification: there was only one part where I got hung up on the pattern and that was how to start the edging. This is

where the pictures came in very handy, I threaded the yarn through, with the tail inside the slipper. Then, I made a slip not making sure the loop wrapped around the slipper. If you look closely at the slipper, that is how the loop counts as the first stitch, by wrapping around the edge stitch.

This is a great pattern, I know I pointed out a lot of hang ups and problems, but the pattern is a base – a starting point. What makes vague patterns great is you can make the finished product your own. But if you’re like me and want to know how to start; or pattern watchers who need to follow every step, this post was to help you own the slippers you make.

Working my Fancy Foot Style,

-Stacy C.

*I have since seen an adjustment with pertinent information to the pattern size. “(Oh, one important thing! These slippers were made to fit my feet, which are size 40 – Europe / 6.5 – UK / 9 – US. To adjust the size of these slippers to your feet you may need to change the number of rounds between the round 5 and 13 and the number or rows between the row 15 – 21 of this post. AND… I used worsted weight yarn and G – 4 mm hook to make the slippers.)”

Waves of Crochet Beauty

14 Mar

Continuing with Crochet Month, I’m featuring an easy crochet pattern. We’re still early enough in the month I figured  you can now move up to reading patterns – and if you’re a seasoned vet, no reason not to hook something up in no time to celebrate. But if all else fails and you’re super lazy, but want this scarf, you can buy it from me – no really, you can here. (It’s my blog, I can peddle my wares if I want to :-p)

I came about making this scarf because one of the knitting groups I’m in decided to choose our own pattern but stay in the same item category. I decided this was individual enough for me to participate and I would put aside my own work and  make a crochet item to continue this month’s theme. Well, I’m already done and haven’t gone back to the group, yet. Does this mean I fulfilled my quota? I do! :-D

The multi-color creation. Also for sale in my Etsy shop!

This pattern is the “One-Skein Scarf” created by Denise Cozzitorto and is found in “Stitch N’ Bitch Crochet: Happy Hooker” by Debbie Stoller. Even though it calls for one skein, I barely used half of my “I Love This Yarn! Stripes” by Hobby Lobby in Jazz Stripe. I had this skein left over from another project and decided to crochet this happy looking scarf for the Spring season.

I was VERY conscientious to follow the pattern to every step. I had to go back a couple of times and take out my own flare. It was hard, I like my flare, but I wanted to help those who don’t normally follow patterns. Let me tell you, this is SUPER easy but looks like so much more. I had fun making this because the hooks are towel rod size making it finish so quickly. As you can see on ravelry.com, it only took five days to get it all done.

I followed the pattern out of the book (review of said book is another blog post) and had very little trouble understanding the instructions. I only got held up on the section where I made the shell pattern at the end of the scarf.

Half-way done and it still looks amazing

Below is an elongated explination:
Sl St in the last stitch (at the end of the edge before you start working on the short end)
Working across short edge of scarf, sk first row-end dc, (in skipping a stitch, you are actually skipping a row, so you don’t do anything in the first row stitch)
shell in next row-end dc, (do the shell pattern in the second row stitch)
sk next row-end dc (don’t do anything in the third row stitch)

Once I figured out this portion it was smooth sailing.

So much fun playing with this accessory

Extra note: there’s a reason you foundation ch loosely, it’s because you eventually go back to the foundation and make shell stitches inside of them. If you don’t ch really loose, the pattern tends to bend instead of laying flat.

This pattern not only finishes quickly, but there is very little finishing. The yarn fringe starts and stops at the same end, talk about easy peasy. Blocking really is optional with this project, the only curling occurs if you didn’t chain loose enough.

If you haven’t tried using a pattern in crochet, I really encourage you to try this one. It will be gentle with you and then, you will want to conquer the crochet pattern world.

I hope this pattern gets your hook engine running,
Stacy C

Chain, Chain, Chaaaain. Crochet Chains Made to Wear

3 Mar

March is National Crochet Month, so here at theyarnfix, we’re kicking things off right with this fundamentals piece. What better way to start of a big month of fiber crafting then at the basics? Chaining is the starting point for Crochet and then you move to SCs, HDCs, DC, and TCs (click here for your crochet stitch helper guide), which can get very confusing and hard really fast. While re-learning crochet, I went back to fundamentals and started looking at pictures with simple chaining as the basis for patterns. You can actually make a lot of chic jewelry simply by using chaining. Below are some pictures of my chain necklaces (Shameless plug, also available for purchase in my Etsy store!):

This is really something any seasoned or un-seasoned crocheter can do and actually use. If you want to try making your own fiber accessories, here are some tips:

1) Have fun. Let your imagination run wild. It might “just” be changing, but as you can see, I tried my hand at multiple looks with this simple technique.

2) You can chain multiple necklaces separately and sew the ends together; or you can SC or sl st a couple of stitches at each end to keep them whole. But you can always just wear multiple chain necklaces at once and have fun color pairing.

3) If you want a smaller, tighter necklace use 100 stitches as your base number. If you want one that falls a little lower on your breast bone use 120 stitches, and for one even lower use 140-160. To make a multiples necklace with two or more chains, increase the next necklace by five to seven stitches. This means 120 for the first one, 125 for the second, etc., that way you get a little bit of gap between them.

4) Add embellishments. Whether it’s a flower, buttons or an anchor strap, test out some looks to make your neck piece a little more snazzy.

It only takes me about one to three hours to make a necklace, depending on my design. A three-tiered number, sans embellishment takes me about an hour. Accents take a little more time, maybe 20 minutes to an hour. So, if you’ve made all the hats and scarves you could give a person, try thinking of creating one of these beauties that can be worn in any season. Now’s the time to refine technique, make it unique and create your own patterns. So, the next time you make a crack at how you can “only” make really long chains there’s actually something cute you can do with them!

If you have any questions about how I made specific necklaces shown above leave a comment and I will be glad to impart some of my design secrets.

Back to my creativity zone,
-Stacy C.

Flower Power! Basic Crochet Flowers – Pattern and Tutorial

27 Feb

If you’ve caught on from the last couple of posts, I’ve rediscovered crochet. Somehow, after diligent knitting, I’m having no trouble working my hook! I would be a professional hooker if I could be – pun intended!

Check out this beautiful necklace with a flower accent. (For sale in my Etsy Shop.)

But I’m having a blast making gifts and adding to my Etsy Shop.

While designing my crochet necklaces, I also discovered how to create my own crochet flowers using some basic steps I’ve seen repeated in patterns.

There are a bazillion patterns and ways to make crochet flowers making it confusing as a beginner, or just looking for a simple design. I tried looking at videos but didn’t get how to make them until someone broke down a pattern for me. After a couple tries, with several patterns, I’ve found it’s really fun to make them any way I want. I know this is just one way to make a crochet flower but it is the most popular way. If you want to create your own, below are basic pattern tutorials on how whip up your own accent piece:

Small Crochet Flower 

The smaller flower

For the Center: Chain 3-4 stitches
Slip stitch into the first stitch (making a loop)
SC 5-6 times into the center of the the loop
Slip stitch into the front stitch of the first SC

For the petals: (this is where you can have fun)
All steps done in one repeat occur inside the same stitch
*slip stitch or sc into the next stitch
(if you slip stitch, you can sc next for extra petal definition)
chain 1-2 stitches
SC or HDC 2-3 times
chain again (same number as the first chain)
slip or sc (again, what you did at the beginning of the petal)
repeat from * to the last loop
slip stitch into the original first stitch tie off

Large Crochet Flower 

Small and large buddies

For the Center: Start similar to the small flower, but add 1-2 stitches more for a larger size

Outer Loop Section: this section builds the height for your bigger flower
After you slip stitch into the first SC, *chain 1-2 stitches
Skip a stitch then SC into the next stitch, repeat from * to the end
Slip stitch into the first stitch of the chained row

For the petals: very similar to the smaller version, but you use bigger stitches, again for height
All steps done in one repeat occur inside the same stitch
*slip stitch or sc into the next stitch
(if you slip stitch, you can sc next for extra petal definition)
chain 2-3 stitches
HDC, DC  or TC 2-3 times
chain again (same number as the first chain)
slip or sc (again, what you did at the beginning of the petal)
repeat from * to the last loop
slip stitch into the original first stitch tie off

Extra Notes and Tips:
Don’t worry about gauge or hook size, use what’s comfortable for you. But, if you want a really small crochet flower, the smaller the needle, the smaller the result. The same goes in reverse for large flowers and needle size. I typically use a G (4mm) for the small and a 7 (4.5mm) for a large.

The thing that really got me, was making the petals in the same stitch. You will have 4-7 stitches made inside the stitch from a previous row. Don’t worry, that’s what gives the petals their shape.

This is my practice before moving on to needle tatting! I might start with crochet tatting first…

Yarn Dreaming up a Storm,
-Stacy C.

Keep Your Headband on, it’s CROCHET!

6 Feb

That’s right, folks, I finally have a crochet post for my yarn peeps! (Don’t get too noisy with your cheers, Susann Marie doesn’t know, yet – and I don’t want her to ruin the party!) This started out as a knitting blog, but I’ve always wanted to be more inclusive of all yarn crafts – the biggest being crochet (stop boo-ing, Susan Marie!!! :-p).

Flower headband

For several years I’ve wanted to make more flowers from my yarn. I’m a girl, I like flowers, why not make more in my knitting? Well, if you haven’t figured it out by now, there are a LOT more flower patterns with crochet than with knitting. Who knew flowers were needle biased?!

Anyway, I wanted to start exploring more classy yarn jewelry patterns after my successful knit-braided necklace and decided I had to branch into crochet if I was going to be a yarn crafter of chic creation proportions. I found Headband with Flower by Creativeyarn and I thought, “simple and sleek.” I made this pattern with Knitpicks’ Wool of the Andes in Cranberry.

The headband is pretty simple, it’s just three chains connected at the ends. You simply single crochet at the beginning and end of chain two and three to connect them so it’s easy to tie it at the back of the head. Perfect project for the new (or relearning) crocheter. I barely knew what I was doing and was able to figure it out. For those yarn crafters who can chain until the day is long, now you know what you can make!

NOTE: For the absolute beginner, I highly recommend this video and her subsequent beginner crochet instructional videos. Watch these before you continue on with this project.

The instructions for the flower were a little difficult to understand (she’s Italian and there is something lost between translation of language and European crochet shorthand). Here’s what worked best for me when someone helped me get it:

The slip stitch is a little weird if you’ve never done it, check out this video. For those who need to know where you are on this crochet map, at this point, you have done “hole” for the flower.

Crochet Flower

Round 1, chain three, then you double chain another 15 by using the hole as your row to dc (double crochet) into. At the end of round 1, you’ve completed the inner circle and should have 16 stitches. (Congratulations, you’ve made it passed the inner circle! :-p)

Round 2, double chain in the same “space” you just slip stitched, then you double crochet 2xs in the same “space” between each dc you previously made before you move to the next one. You should end with 32 stitches. At the end of round 2, you’ve completed the second circle.

Round 3 is pretty self explanatory. At the end of round 3, you’ve completed the “links” between the second and third circles.

Round 4, you are making the petals. When you single crochet (sc) into the previous sc, you’re giving the petals their concave shape.

Well, reader, I’m feeling pretty good right now about not only finishing a super cute, functional crochet project, but also able to go back and explain what I did. This was as much for me to go back and remember as it was to help you. Hope you enjoyed it and are able to make plenty of flower heads for people to wear. More crochet entries to come!

Now, back to work on my darn, endless blanket! (A blog post for next time)

-Stacy C.

Ears-Warmer, not the Princess Leia Kind

29 Jan

Sorry, Star Wars geeks, I mean fans, but this following blog is all about a stylish winter headband. But stay awhile, I’m pretty proud of this project. There are several reasons this finished project rocks, 1) I used up a leftover skein, 2) I blended two completely different patterns and 3) the final product is SUPER stylish and matches my scarf.

Covers up my cold sensitive ears

I made this scarf using Lion Brand Yarn, Superwash Merino Cashmere in Slate. I used the Cabled Headband, by Martha Stewart Design Team as the foundation for the shape of the headband and used the CashSilk Fern Scarf pattern as the base for the lacey-bits (love it! Lacey bits, hehehe).

Some of my regular readers will recognize the mention of the last pattern because I made a modified scarf from that pattern. I wanted my headband (used with leftover yarn from the skinny scarf project) to match my neck accessory. If you know me, you know I like symmetry and complementary accouterments, so it HAD to match my winter staples.

Here are adjusted pattern notes:
Make I-cord to pattern
Use the garter stitch part of the headband pattern repeat steps 3-4 until there are 26 stitches on your single point needles
At 26 stitches SS 4 rows
Start Cashsilk Fern adjusted pattern – (RS) K4, pattern, k4
(WS) P4, pattern
Continue following the garter stitch pattern for the headband
You basically make sure you always have a border of four stitches before you move onto the pattern. You don’t repeat the pattern, you only do it once then move on to the next row.

This pattern knits up nice and quick. I was able to make it in about a weekend. Oddly enough, this was the same weekend I flew out to do my interview for my new (and current) job! I must have subcontiously known that I was making something I would need.

In this post, I also want to encourage any yarn crafters to play with your patterns. I know the first step is to get some of you to READ a pattern, let alone deviate; but the more you use a pattern the more you can actually design your own creations! I almost made my own pattern by using pieces of different ones and made something very special and unique. If you have the skeleton foundation for your piece, add elements of things you’d really want, fringe, a lace repeat, or cable add-on. It’s ok to make it look so you – just be sure you’re really confident of your math skills (adding and comparing stitch numbers) and you’ll be fine.

P.S. a note about blocking – I did my usual iron blocking and I’m really glad I did. Even with steam and on the right fabric setting, I had to block three times. The reason being, the SS is really hard to beat down to a flat pulp. But once I was satisfied with the way the project lay, it stayed really well.

Gotta catch up on my Valentine’s knitting,
Stacy C.

Dirty Bathroom Secrets

16 Jan

Every wonder what your bath mat would look like on your table? Neither have I, but I decided to take this pattern and make it a table runner instead.

I took the “Everyday Bath Mat” by Lisa Mason from her book “Yarnplay at Home” to make a table runner for my friend Staci’s (please note it’s not me, she spells it wrong :-D), then, upcoming nuptials. I did my standard and let her pick a pattern from

Beautiful Wedding Present

several to choose for her wedding gift. I was actually supposed to make “Georgetown Table Runner” from the “Yarnplay” book. Well, I had to improvise when it turned out I ordered the wrong book, but she didn’t know – at least she didn’t until she read this. How can you blame me for buying the wrong book? The titles are really similar and there weren’t any table runners in the book I ended up buying.

I was desperately looking for a similar pattern to “Georgetown” and thought, “I can make ‘Everyday Bath Mat’ work, so what if it WAS supposed to go on the bottom of the bathroom floor?!” I took my pound (really it was 710 yards, but it’s really big) of Bernat  Cotton Country Colors and adjusted the pattern to only have nine of the 13 knit/seed stitch repeats. Then I intentionally went off book to make it longer. Note, you use the double strand method (knit with two strands of yarn) with this pattern, so if you’re planning on making something really long buy another skien. I could have made this longer if I bought another skein, but at this point, I decided it was a table top runner instead. (Something about ordering your yarn before you look at the pattern.)

You could also adjust the repeated rows down to six and make it narrower and longer. As you can see, it’s really easy to have fun with this pattern, even if it was destined to be a train wreak, and make a multitude of simple projects using the core of this pattern.

Side story about blocking this project – it sucked using conventional methods in a humid climate during summer. I tried wet blocking (for the last time) and it did not work out so well. It ended up smelling musty in the towel after a couple of days, so I washed it (all the while worrying about colors running, but it’s variegated, “Who cares?!” I reassured myself) and ironed it – twice – to get it that nice, flat shape. From that point on, I only iron-block my projects.

I don’t know if anyone else has had as many battle scars from a knitting project and still made it work. I’m sure there are funny stories out there of failures, but I need to know more of these success-failures. THAT needs to be a knitting book!

On the Bride's Table

All these patterns that you will end up with something awesome at the end, no matter what! Oh, yeah. I’m gonna take down pattern comments and try to fail and end up succeeding – if I don’t have a break down first – then write a knitting best seller of the compilation!

Going to finish my blanket that is a repeat of this story,
-Stacy C.

These Pop-Overs are for Wearing, NOT Eating

16 Dec Well-loved

Whilst you can’t eat these “pop-overs” I know you’ll still love them.

I made a pair of these “#53 Flip-Top Mittens” by Patti Pierce with Hobby Lobby’s “I love this yarn!” in Grey Beard last year, before I started this blog. They have served me so well, I had to do a pattern review so you too can stay extra warm this winter.

Finished Product

(For my Houston peeps, I’m sorry, but maybe you can use some really thin yarn to pretend you’re cold ;-D). I call them pop-overs because when I described them to a non-knitter that word was the best way to explain it – and it stuck.

I chose this color because I knew white and other lighter colors would get nasty fast and I would have a devil of a time knitting a darker color. It took me about three days to knit these mittens over the Christmas break. Granted, I had a lot of personal time to knit these up, but if you’re an intermediate knitter it should take you a week – two tops – if you only have a couple hours at a time to spend.

This was my first time knitting a functional knitting accessory. Instruction for the lace pattern is easy. I can’t recall having a problem with the first section. I found the thumb part a useful tutorial for my first pattern to set live stitches on a hook and continue knitting the rest. I could actually make sure these mittens fit while I was knitting them by sliding my hand in between the double-pointed needle round to get the best fit.

You can see the ribbing on the back

A note of confusion on the pattern: the ribbed pattern for the popovers. The way you knit up the pop-over part is NOT the same for each mitten as stated on the pattern. It could be if you know exactly how you’re project is supposed to look while knitting in progress; but if you are blindly following the pattern (like I was), the way you pick up the stitches and start knitting the rib does matter. I ended up knitting the rib in the back and as my picture shows, the inside brim is rolled up a little. But it works and I don’t mind (as much) anymore.

As always, I made a pattern adjustment. I decided to close the thumb because I thought it was dumb to be able to cover your fingers but leave your coldest digit uncovered. Thumbs don’t have finger friends to help keep warm!

Well-loved

Below is the change I made to the thumb:

(I had an eighth of an inch of my thumb peeking out at this point)
K2, K2Tog* (*repeat)
K1, K2tog, K2
K1, K2tog, K1
K2tog (1 stitch left over)
Slip yarn through leftover stitch to finish.

I’m so glad I wrote down and saved this part! It was almost a year ago that I made it. It pays to be so organized :-D

Bopping to the next knitting project,
-Stacy C.

Not a Fern, a Piece of Art

29 Nov

The time has come for me to start cranking out some pattern reviews and I’m starting with my modification of the CashSilk Fern Scarf that I found on Ravelry.comI made this beauty with Lion Brand Superwash Merino Cashmere in Slate. Let me just preface this post by saying I was on the huge hunt for a skinny, somewhat lacy scarf and it took FOREVER to find anything close to what I was hoping to find.

The CashSilk Fern Scarf actually knits up twice as wide and a little shorter than what I did but it’s a great pattern that was easily modified. This pattern is relatively easy and gives a great fern/lacy look that appears much harder than it took to make.

There was one stitch that really tripped me up at first – the sskp. SSKP is not a normal stitch and it took me a bit to figure this one out and here’s how it’s done: slip two stitches, knit one stitch, then pass the previous slipped stitches over the knitted stitch. Easy, right? Right… I’ll break it down further, it’s basically a modified left slanting decrease or a S1K1Psso and this video will show you how to do it if you’re still having trouble (but remember, you slip two, knit one, THEN pass the stitches over).

The other note knitters should make is you MUST have a system to keep up with the row you are knitting. If you don’t consistently use a row counter, like myself, get to know the knitting pattern chart. I had to go back to it so many times to make sure I was on the right row. If you are off by one, it will mess up the look of the scarf so you have to pay attention unless you want a dead fern scarf. It’s not hard too keep up but “free spirit” knitters might hate the attention to detail, but it’s worth it.

My modifications: They start at the beginning of the pattern. I CO 36 stitches. Then I knit four rows garter stitch for a base border at each end. When I worked the pattern I slipped TWO stitches at the beginning and end of each row and only repeat the pattern once.

I knit this one longer than the pattern calls for because I wanted to be able to loop it around my neck and still have a some length. I didn’t iron it out once I was done because I like how skinny it looked when it folded over on itself. Which, works out for the knitting finish hater that I am.

Keepin’ it Classy,
-Stacy C.

Update 11/30/2011: This scarf, while not thick and a little dainty, keeps your neck WARM. After a couple of hours it feels like someone turned on the electric blanket. Not only cute but functional.

Glitter Yarn is a Girl’s Best Friend

25 Aug

This post is giving you the 411 on “Cable Braided Necklace” pattern a non-knitting girlfriend showed me.

An accessory your girlfriends will envy

I’m gonna be honest, when I first learned about knitted jewelry I was thinking of some PRETTY ugly stuff. The kind of homemade crap even a grandmother would think twice before embarrassingly flaunting in front of her friends. I already get flack from some of my friends for knitting and I would be DAMNED if I made something ugly. Imagine my surprise when a knitting “muggle” found this pattern, shared it with me and I was impressed.

This little gem is knitted on matchsticks (aka size 4) in two strips. It is a simple enough pattern and the only stitches you need to know are K, P, YO and K2tog. I used the sport weight yarn from Lion Brand Yarn Vanna’s Choice Glamour in Jewel to make this lovely accessory.

A couple of tips on this pattern: make it longer and you have to braid it a certain way. I used the right weight yarn and followed gauge but it still knitted a little short for a necklace. I don’t have a huge neck (I hope, oh fudge, another girl complex added to the pile) it just isn’t long after braiding. I suggest doing 18-20 total repeats at least before you bind off. Leave a foot-long tail at the beginning of the second strip and at the end of the first strip. You will need long tails for the button strap and to sew on the button.

A chick could rock this at the office or work!

After I finished my strips I steamed ironed my strips (I highly suggest it for blocking it’s super quick and easy), then I started on the braiding. The directions are pretty clear on how to start but I was a little uncertain on how to braid. Here’s an easy explanation, pull the top strip though the closest unfilled hole from the last one filled and pull through the bottom strip. You do this every time for each hole and always top pull through the bottom strip.

Not a bad way to spend a sickly couple of days,
-Stacy C.

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