Small Projects

When an adult-sized sweater or afghan is too big a project, here are some smaller project concepts to consider:

THURSDAY, JANUARY 23, 2014

Pixie slippers morph into socklets

After making a bunch of pixie slippers for gifts (they are really quick to make), I found myself wondering if the basic concept couldn't be modified to make a little sock.  After all, I don't really need the flap at the top (which is just about a quarter of the square), and it would be nice to avoid the pointy toe for everyday use.  And it would be nice to use different pattern stitches, something smoother, more sock-like than garter or ridged single crochet.

And if you can get a real sock from one 50-gram ball of sock yarn, you'd get a pair of footlets out of the same amount of yarn, if you had a pattern that worked.

So that was the challenge.  First question:  What shape would I be making?  Well, if you make one pixie slipper,

Here's the basic pattern -- This doesn't look like a square!

But with a loose gauge it can stretch
Fold in a triangle, ws facing, stitch along the
bottom and halfway up a side ..




Turn outside out, fold down the top, and here you have a pixie slipper, with loose ends that need to be tucked in.
cut off the pointy toe and the flap at the top,
OMG! She cut the fabric!
Actually, it is starting to look like a bootie/socklet thing


and then take out the seam that held it all together, here's the shape that comes out:
And here is the shape to make ..

Second question:  What is the easiest way to make this shape?

Well, "easiest" can mean different things to different people.  For me, an intuitive shape is to stitch in the round (a coil) starting at the ankle, increase out to the toe, then join a little seam for the toe and along the bottom edge.  This photo shows a cut edge (bottom of photo) that is the top of the sock.  The two short straight sides going out on each side join to be the center back. The two long straight sides coming in are the center bottom.  The little dip at the top is going to get joined for a toe seam.  Should work.  Here's how:

1.  Choose a pattern stitch.  I chose chain-1 net stitch:  Setup row:  on a chain stitch foundation (even # of sts) the desired length, sc in the 2nd ch from the hook.  *ch1, sk1 ch, sc in next st.  Repeat from * across.  End the row with a sc.  To continue in a round, ch1, insert hook in the first ch sp of the row - that joins it in a round and starts the coil - and sc1.  There is a jog where the first row starts.  In finishing, use the starting tail to make a neat join and smooth that point.  Then, *ch1, sc in next ch space.  Repeat from * around.

Note:  the size I am describing here is to fit my foot, which is 9 ( ___ ) inches long.  Half that is 4.5 ( ___ ) inches, a relevant piece of information later on.  If the size you want to make is bigger or smaller, substitute your numbers in the ( ___ ) so the statements are true for you.

2. Start at the top of the sock, with a foundation row that is as long as my instep - because it has to slide over it.  The point where the end of the foundation row joins the beginning - to make a round - is the middle of the top front of the sock.

3.  Before continuing in a coil, take a moment to place a marker in the 2nd sc of the row just finished.  Increase 1 pattern stitch on either side of the marker in each round.  Each time you reach the marker, move it to the stitch above it in each round - it will alternate between a sc and a ch. To increase 1 pattern stitch:  (sc, ch1, sc) in the closest ch space on either side of the marker. In one row there will be just a ch1 between the increases.  In the next round there will be a (ch1, sc, ch1) between the increases.  Keep the increases close together at the center top of the piece.

4.  Continue in the pattern as set until the piece is as long as the foot.  By that, I mean that the measurement of the last round completed, when the piece is laid flat (2 layers), is as long as the foot.  So I stop increasing when the long edge is 9 ( ___ ) inches long.  Finish with a sc in the ch sp just before the next increase.

5.  From here on, continue in rows.  Ch2, turn.  Sc in next ch sp.  (ch1, sc in next ch sp) across, ending with a sc in the ch sp just before the next increase.

6.  Ch2, turn.  Sc in next ch sp.  (ch1, sc in next ch sp) across, ending with a sc in the ch2 turning chain at the beginning of the previous row.  Repeat this row until the piece measures 4.5 ( ___ ) inches from the foundation edge to the last finished row.  Remove marker.

The row ends make the toe. The last worked row will be joined as the bottom seam.  Here's how:

7.  (WS facing) After the last row, sl st to the ch2 at the beginning of the last row, joining the short toe end into a round.  Ch1.  Stitching across the row ends and point at the toe, sc in the same ch sp.  *ch 1, sk 1 row end, sc in next ch space. Repeat from * around, keeping in patt across the stitches at the toe point all the way across the other row ends, ending with sc in the sl st space where the toe end was joined into a round.  Fasten yarn, but do not cut.

8.  Lay the piece flat to join the toe seam, with the long open edge centered on top, looking at the two layers of the toe next to each other.

9.  Lay yarn along toe edge over to right side to start joining the short seam.  Draw up a loop in a ch sp at the corner.  Enclosing the yarn along the edge when convenient, sl st in the ch sp on one side then on the other, zigzagging across.  At the left edge of the toe, fasten yarn, but do not cut.

10.  To join the bottom seam:  Place marker in a sc on one side of long open edge, about 2/3 of the way to the heel (this does not have to be exact).  Insert hook in ch2 sp at the beginning of that last row, at the toe.  Draw up a loop, making sure the excess yarn is not held too tightly.  Since this excess yarn is short, on the inside of the toe, there's really no point in dealing with tucking it in or fussing with it -- it would take more trouble and fuss to cut it, start new, and have to tuck in both loose ends.  *Ch1.  Sl st in corresponding ch sp on opposite side.  Repeat from * back and forth, joining the seam, ending with a sl st in the ch just before the marker, with about 1/3 of the seam left open.  Move the marker to the last sl st made. Continue with the heel shaping.

Bottom seam including heel shaping
11.  The heel whorl:  Decreasing and continuing in a coil, *sc in next 2 sts.  Sk next st.  Rep from * around the remaining opening one time, ending with sc around the marked slip stitch .  Then, (sk next sc, sc in next sc) around and around until 6 sts remain.  Lay the piece flat, and slip st the remaining seam together, inserting hook through both layers.  Fasten off.

12.  Weave in the loose ends.
Finished socklet




This was made using Cascade Sateen worsted weight, for a quick bedsock, stitching with a 4.5mm hook.  This made a slightly loose gauge so the sock stretches to fit my foot neatly.  Normally, I would look at the recommended knitting needle size on the yarn label, and use that size hook.  If I didn't like how that gauge works out, I adjust the hook size to something I do like.

Next, the same thing in sock yarn, so I can wear it with real shoes.  Onward.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 4, 2014

Revisiting the Slam Dunk Pixie slipper

Here is a pattern originally posted 12/19/07 - golly, ages ago!  Thanks to a visitor comment, I'm thinking it might be relevant to revisit:  




And speaking of gifts and last minutes, here is an idea for a little bootie that you can work in a lot of different ways. It works great in knitting (just plain old garter stitch, knit every row). I have done it a lot in crochet, too, using single crochet in the back loop only.

Basically, you make a square, but don't cut the yarn when you're done. To make the square easier to stitch together, knit as many ridges (on one side) as there are stitches. If you crochet, single crochet (in the back loop only) as many rows as you have stitches. The gauge will work out.

Then, fold the square so it is a triangle, so the yarn is hanging down at one end of the fold.


From that corner, stitch two folded sides together -- that is the sole of the bootie. Then turn the corner and stitch about a third or halfway up the other side. The point where the crochet hook goes through the edge in the photo is about how far up to stitch. Now fasten off and tuck in the loose ends.

Fold down the top flap that didn't get stitched, and you've got a cool goofy Pixie Bootie.

If you stitch tightly, it makes more of a slipper and doesn't stretch much. This is good with very sensible sturdy yarns.

If you stitch loosely, it is really stretchy and is more of a bedsock, for those of us with cold feet. This is nice for soft cozy yarns, even chenille (which was never made for the ages)

About sizing: Everyone is different, but here is a general guideline of how many stitches to start with, whether you knit or crochet:


3 sts/inch
4 sts/inch
5 sts/inch
6 sts/inch
3” square – ornament, good for holding little gifts, too
9
12
15
18
5” square – baby bootie
15
20
25
30
7” square – kid size
21
28
35
42
9” square – lady’s medium
27
36
45
54
11” square – large
33
44
55
66

(Thank you to Susie in Phx for the editing suggestion - I didn't know how to include a table when this post first published.)

It is always safer to make it a bit bigger than not big enough. If it turns out that the square is a tad too small, consider single crocheting around the square one time to add just a bit more before stitching the seams.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2013

Simple crocheted garland

Over at SueDee's there was a little tree, and it had a little garland, and it was red.  To make that (it is knitted), you cast on as many stitches as you want the garland to be long, and knit a row.  In row 2, (k1, yo) across, ending with k1, to double the stitches.  In row 3, knit back.  Repeat the last two rows a couple more times, then bind off.  Massive increases (in knit or crochet) make a corkscrew, which is fun.

I thought it was a bit dark and wide for a small tree, so I crocheted a simple little garland with picots.  I used Cascade Yarns Sunseeker and a 3.75mm hook.  It is a DK weight yarn with a strand of metallic running through it for a little glitter.  While a tighter stitch means the garland takes longer to stitch up, it also means that the picots will hold their shape better and not be all floppy.

Setup:  Chain 6.  Slip stitch in the 3rd chain from the hook (makes 1 picot).  Chain 1.  Double crochet in the last chain from the hook.  Chain 3.  Insert hook in the top of the double crochet just made, as if you were going to do the last yarnover and pull through to finish the double crochet.  Yarnover, and pull through all loops -- that makes another picot.  Chain 1.  Double crochet in the same stitch as the previous double crochet.

Here is the repeat:  Chain 6.  Slip stitch in the 3rd chain from the hook (makes 1 picot).  Chain 1.  Double crochet in the last double crochet made.  Chain 3.  Insert hook in the top of the double crochet just made, as if you were going to do the last yarnover and pull through to finish the double crochet.  Yarnover, and pull through all loops -- that makes another picot.  Chain 1.  Double crochet in the same stitch as the previous double crochet.

Repeat until the garland is as long as you want, or you run out of time or yarn.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2013

Watch cap to crochet


right side facing
Watch Cap to crochet
1 skein (100 grams, 120 yards) bulky weight yarn – sample shown in Pacific Chunky from Cascade Yarns
8mm hook

The size in this pattern is for an adult cap.

Markers, optional (you don’t need them if you can read your stitches, but variegated or textured yarns can be difficult to read.  It may be handy to use markers until you are comfortable with the stitch) – 4 markers in 1 color, a 5th marker in a different color to indicate beginning of round.

Note:  If there is no number given with a stitch, just do one of it – so ‘sc’ means ‘sc 1’.
Note:  The sample hat uses a bulky weight yarn and a big hook, so the fabric comes out more open than it would if you used a smaller yarn and smaller hook.

Pattern stitch (stitch in the round):  Set up a base of (2sc, ch1) around, ending with ch1.  *Sc in next sc.  Ch1.  Sc in next sc.  Skip next ch.  Repeat from *.

What happens from one row/round to the next is that you sc ONLY into the sc – NEVER into a ch – except in round 2, when the pattern stitch hasn’t started yet. The chain stitches are fillers that make the fabric more dense and also prevent the sc from stretching out of shape the way sc does if unattended.  So you sc into the sc before and after a ch, then ch.  It makes a dense fabric that is good for washcloths, too.  But here it is a hat.

To increase:  (sc, ch, sc) in the next sc.

To start:  ch3, slip stitch in last ch to form a ring.
Round 1:  (ch1, sc in ring) 5 times. Ch1.  Place round-beginning marker in first sc to mark beginning of round.  Remember to move the marker each round to the first stitch worked in the marked stitch.
Round 2:  Work into the chain stitches in just this round, as follows (the pattern stitch hasn’t started yet).  [(Sc (attach marker to this stitch), ch, sc) in next sc – increase made.  Sc in next ch] around 1 time.  5 increase points set up.

Now the pattern stitch starts:
Round 3:  *Inc in marked st, moving marker to first sc of increase. (Sk ch, sc in next sc, ch, sc in next sc) to next marker, ending with ch.  Repeat from * around.
wrong side facing
Round 4:  *Inc in marked st, moving marker to first sc of increase. (Sk ch, sc in next sc, ch, sc in next sc) to next marker, ending with sc.  Repeat from * around.

Repeat rounds 3 and 4 for a total of 7 rounds from the beginning, until there are 39 sc around (59 stitches, including the chain stitches), ending with ch1 before the next marked stitch.

Laid flat and stretched just a little, the piece should measure 7” across for an adult size (or 5” across for a baby size, 6” across for a child size, or 8” across for a tea cozy size).  If you decide to work more or fewer rounds, stop increasing after a repeat of round 3 for the stitches to work out right.

From here on, continue in pattern, with no more increases:  (sc in next sc, sk ch, sc in next sc, ch) around and around until hat is desired length or until only a few inches of yarn are left.  Slip stitch in the next 3 stitches to smooth the edge.  Fasten off and tuck in loose ends.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2013

Pillow cover to crochet, on the diagonal

 Pillow cover to crochet – on the diagonal
Materials:  2 balls (100 grams) worsted weight yarn.  Size G/4mm hook
Yarn needle
Bobbin (optional)
a pillow to cover, about 15 inches wide

The fabric should be a tight-ish gauge because it is a pillow cover, and I don't want the fabric underneath to be part of the visual effect.  Also, the pattern stitch has lots of chain stitches in it, so in a looser gauge it is a bit lacy.

Pattern stitch:  
Increase row:  ch1, turn.  (Sc1, ch2, sc1, ch2, sc1) in next ch2 space.  *(sc1, ch2, sc1) all in next ch2 space.  Repeat from * to end of row.
Decrease row: first decrease row:  ch2, turn.  Sc1 in next ch2 space.  *(sc1, ch2, sc1) all in next ch2 space.  Repeat from * to end  of row.
For additional decrease rows:  work as first decrease row.  At the end of the decrease row, sc1 in sc1 at beginning of previous dec row.  The last row will just be:  ch2, turn, sc in sc.

To start:
Row 1:  Ch2.  (sc1, ch2, sc1) in 2nd ch from hook.
Work Increase Rows until end of first ball of yarn.  When there isn’t enough yarn to finish another row, stop at the end of the last row where there was enough yarn to finish the row.  Do not cut the yarn that is left over – wind it onto a bobbin to keep it out of the way, if desired.
Other side - does not look diagonal
Join the next ball of yarn at the beginning of that row and continue with Decrease Rows until 1sc remains.  Knot the yarn, but do not cut it.

Finishing:
Lay the square flat.  Fold in the 4 corners to meet in the middle. That is the shape you will end up with.  Starting in the middle with the leftover yarn (possibly on a bobbin), thread the yarn needle, and use the yarn to sew a seam from the middle point to one corner.  Fasten and cut the yarn at the corner, tucking the loose end to the inside of the cover.  *Returning to the middle, thread the yarn needle with enough yarn to sew a seam to the next corner, and sew that seam, fastening off as before. ** Insert pillow form and repeat from * to ** for the remaining seams to finish.

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2013

Toddler cardigan to crochet


Crocheted Toddler Cardigan

The main thing about this piece is the use of color:  there are 2 solid shades (A and B) and 1 coordinating variegated yarn (V).  For the pattern, work 2 rows of A, 1 row of V, 2 rows of B, and 1 row of V.  That is the color pattern for the body.  Make one sleeve from each solid color.  Do the edging in the variegated.  Honestly, if you apply this to just about any toddler sweater pattern – knitted or crocheted – you will end up with a cute sweater. 

Here are the notes for making this particular version.

One 50-gram ball EACH:  Sateen DK yarn in lavender, blue, and variegated.
6 buttons (optional)
Split ring markers (or safety pins)
Suggested hook: 4mm
Measurements of finished piece:
Chest: 24”
Armhole depth: 5”
Sleeve to underarm: 9”, including cuff; 8-1/2” before cuff
Wrist: 6”
Underarm to lower edge: 6-1/2” before edging;  7” including edging.

Gauge:  5 stitches/inch; 3-3/4 rows/inch

Notes:
This is worked in one piece from the lower edge to the underarm, with the back and fronts continued separately and joined at the shoulders.  The sleeves are worked from the armhole down to the wrist.

All three yarns are used in the body, alternating (2 rows blue, 1 row variegated, 2 rows lavender, 1 row variegated).  When changing to a new color, drop the yarn you are finishing and pick up the new yarn.  Do not cut the yarn unless the instructions say to.  Once you have started all 3 balls of yarn, there should be a strand waiting for you at the end of the row when it is time to switch colors.  In changing colors, hold the new yarn loosely for the first stitch so it does not pull along the edge.  Don’t worry about the strands of yarn along the edge – they will be covered with single crochet when you do the edging.

Draw up a loop”:  Insert hook in stitch indicated.  Yarnover.  Pull the yarnover through only the stitch indicated.

Pattern stitch:  (multiple of 4 stitches, plus 1 more). 
Row 1:  ch1, turn.  (Sc1, skip 1 st, (dc1, ch1, dc1) in next stitch, skip 1) across, ending with sc1.
Row 2:  ch3, turn – counts as 1dc.  Dc1 in last st of pr row.  *(sk1, sc1, sk1, **(dc1, ch1, dc1) in next st.  Repeat from * across, ending at **.  Dc2 in last st.

The edges are finished with single crochet and a finishing row of crab stitch.  Basically, that’s all there is.  For more specific instructions, starting at…

Lower edge of body:
Foundation pattern stitch:  Ch2, sc in 2nd st from hook.  *Yarnover twice, draw up a loop in same chain as sc just made.  Yarnover, pull through 2 loops to make a skipped space.  Yarnover, pull through 1 to make a base chain loosely (you will insert hook into this chain soon).  (Yarnover, pull through 2 loops) twice to finish a double crochet.  Ch1.  Dc in base chain just made. (Foundation V-stitch just made)  Yarnover.  Draw up a loop in same base chain. Yarnover, pull through 2 loops to make a skipped space.  Yarnover, pull through 1 to make a base chain.  Yarnover, pull through remaining 2 loops to finish a single crochet**. Repeat from * for a total of 32 foundation V-stitches, ending at **.  The piece should measure about 24 inches long.  It is important that there is a multiple of 4 pattern stitches:  half for the back, and a quarter each for the fronts.  This is a foundation version of Row 1. 

Continue in pattern stitch, starting with Row 2, being sure to change colors in this sequence:  2 rows blue, 1 row variegated, 2 rows lavender, 1 row variegated, for a total of 23 rows from the start, or just a touch over 6 inches, ending with 2 rows lavender.

Allowing 8 V-stitches at each end of the last row for the fronts, attach a pin/marker in the sc to mark the underarm point.  There should be 16 V-stitches between the markers.

One front side:
Next row:  Continue in pattern, stitch to the first marker, ending with a stitch in the marked stitch.  Work even for 15 more rows, cutting and rejoining the yarn as needed in the first few rows to re-establish the color pattern.

Neck shaping:  Next row, leave 2 pattern repeats unworked on the neck edge. 
·         If that is at the beginning of the row, fasten the yarn (but do not cut it), drape the yarn over to the 9th stitch from the edge, where you will rejoin it with a slip stitch, make a turning chain, and continue the row. 
·         If that is at the end of the row, simply leave the last 8 stitches unworked. 

Next row:  Leave 1 pattern repeat unworked on the neck edge.
·         If that is at the beginning of the row, fasten the yarn (but do not cut it), drape the yarn over to the 5th stitch from the edge, where you will rejoin with a slip stitch, make a turning chain, and continue the row. 
·         If that is at the end of the row, simply leave the last 4 stitches unworked. 

Repeat the last row 1 more time.
Work even 3 more rows.  Finish off and cut yarns.  Total number of rows:  44

Back:
Rejoin yarn in the same first marked stitch at the bottom of the armhole.  Continue in pattern to the next marked stitch, ending with a stitch in the marked stitch.  Continue in pattern, setting up and changing colors to stay in pattern, until the back is as long as the front just worked – 44 rows from the lower edge.  You should end with the same color row.  Finish off and cut yarns.  Remove first marker.

Other front side:
Rejoin yarn at remaining marker.  Continue in pattern, stitch to the end of the row.  Work even for 15 more rows, rejoining the yarn as needed in the first few rows to re-establish the color pattern. 

Neck shaping:  Next row, leave 2 pattern repeats unworked on the neck edge. 
·         If that is at the beginning of the row, fasten the yarn, and rejoin with a slip stitch on the 9th stitch from the edge to make a turning chain, and continue the row. 
·         If that is at the end of the row, simply leave the last 8 stitches unworked. 

Next Row:  Leave 1 pattern repeat unworked on the neck edge.
·         If that is at the beginning of the row, fasten the yarn, and rejoin with a slip stitch on the 5th  stitch from the edge to make a turning chain, and continue the row. 
·         If that is at the end of the row, simply leave the last 4 stitches unworked. 
Repeat the last row 1 more time.
Work even 3 more rows.  Finish off and cut yarns.  Total number of rows:  44

Remove the 2nd marker. 
Join shoulder seams.  Decide which side you want to be the right (public) side of the fabric.  Here is one way to join seams:  Hold two edges with right sides together.  Join yarn at one end, with a slip stitch.  *Ch1.  Inserting hook through both layers of fabric, slip stitch in the next stitch (or row ends, if you happen to be joining row end edges together).  Repeat from * across.  Fasten off.

Sleeve (do twice, once with each solid color)
With the right side facing, join yarn at underarm.  Looking at the gauge, you want to have 5 stitches over 3.75 rows around the armhole edge.  Set up a base row of slip stitches around the armhole, working 58 stitches around.  Stitching the pattern stitch into a row of slip stitches gives a more finished look than stitching into the row ends of the body. 

At the end of each row, slip stitch into the top of the turning chain at the beginning of the row – that way you won’t have to join a seam later.

Continuing in the pattern stitch, but staying with just the one color, work even 1 row.  Maintaining pattern stitch, decrease 1 stitch at the end of each row until 30 stitches remain.  Work even until sleeve measures 8-1/2”.   Fasten off.

Repeat on other side with other solid color for second sleeve.

Cuffs and edges
Cuffs:  With the variegated yarn, and right side facing, join with a slip stitch at end of sleeve.  Ch1.  Single crochet in each stitch around.  Join with a slip stitch to starting chain to finish row.  *Ch1, turn.  Sc across row.  Join with a slip stitch to starting chain to finish row.  Repeat from * for a total of 5 rows.  After the last row, right side should be facing.  Do not turn.  Ch1.  Sc1 in each stitch around, working from left to right – that is crab stitch.  Join with a slip stitch to first ch of row.  Finish off.  Repeat on other sleeve.

Edging:  Starting at the center back neck, with right side facing, join variegated yarn with a slip stitch.  Ch1.  Sc around the edge of the whole piece:  Sc1 in the top each stitch.  Sc2 in each dc row end.  Sc1 in each sc row end.  (Sc1, ch1, sc1) in each outside corner to increase (like at the center neck corners or the bottom center front corners).  When you get back to the center back neck, finishing the row, slip stitch in the starting ch1.

Buttonholes:  Pin a marker in each stitch where you want a buttonhole along the front edge.

Next row:  ch1, turn.  Sc in each sc around, increasing (sc1, ch1, sc1)in the ch1 at each corner as set up in the previous row.  When you reach a pin, ch1 but do not skip any stitches – this makes a small buttonhole.  Finish the row with a slip stitch in the starting ch1. 

Next row:  ch1, turn. 
Here’s how to reinforce the buttonholes:  When you reach the sc before a ch, draw up a loop in that sc and in the ch1 space – so there are 3 loops on your hook.  Yarnover, and pull through all three loops to finish the stitch.  Draw up a loop in the ch1 space and also in the next sc – so there are 3 loops on your hook.  Yarnover, and pull through all three loops to finish the stitch.

Sc in each sc around, increasing as before at each outside corner, and reinforcing the buttonholes as defined.  Finish the row with a slip stitch in the starting ch1. 

After the last row, right side should be facing.  Do not turn.  Ch1.  Sc1 in each stitch around, working from left to right – that is crab stitch.  Join with a slip stitch to first ch of row.  Finish off. 


Sew buttons on opposite front edge to match the buttonholes.  Tuck in loose ends.

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2013

Two quick crochet patterns for a bulky weight chenille yarn


 The other day, I discovered Pluscious by Cascade at SueDee's, my local yarn shop.  It is a nice, soft chenille.  Now chenille is not made for the ages.  It is just very thin strands holding a lot of fluff in place.  It is fun while it lasts.  These are basic instructions for a pillow cover and a beret - and any bulky weight yarn should work fine.  This yarn caught my eye, so I made a couple of one-skein amusements, and here they are:

Little Pillow, or an owl
1 skein Pluscious yarn, by Cascade
4.5mm hook/H    (I used this hook because that is what the label suggests.  I switched to a K/6.5mm hook for the beret, below, and stitched in half double crochet, and that worked just fine, too)
Yarn needle
10-inch pillow form
Eyes and beak, if you want an owl
Measure out 1-2 yards of yarn from the end of the skein, to reserve for finishing.  Tie a slip knot and attach a marker to the knot.  Wind that back into the skein.  Starting at the other end of the skein:
Chain (ch) 3, slip stitch (sl st) to form a ring.
Round (rnd) 1:  ch3 (counts as 1 double crochet (dc) and 1 ch).  (ch1, dc1 in ring) 7 times.  Join with sl st to ch space (sp) at beginning (beg) of rnd.
Rnd 2:  ch2, *dc in next ch1 sp, dc in next dc, (dc, ch, dc) in next ch sp (corner made), ** dc in next dc.  Repeat (rep) from * 3 more times to set up 4 corners, ending at ** in the third repeat.  Join with sl st to ch sp at beg of rnd.
Rnd 3:  ch2, *dc in dc to ch1 sp at corner.  (dc, ch, dc) in ch sp.  Rep from * around 3 more times, then dc to end of rnd, and join with sl st to ch sp at beg of rnd.
Repeat rnd 3 until you reach the marker, ending at the end of a round.  Fasten off and cut yarn.
Thread the remaining yarn into the yarn needle.
Place the pillow form in the center of the crocheted piece, with the corners of the pillow pointing to the middle of the sides of the crocheted piece.  Fold up the corners of the crocheted piece to meet at the middle of the pillow form.  Run the yarn needle through all four corners and knot to secure the center.  Cut the yarn.  Sew the diagonal seams with a running stitch:   Starting at the center, sew  to the corner to join two sides together.  Running stitch allows you to adjust the tension of the seam.  Remove the needle, leaving a tail of a few inches for finishing.  Thread the other end of the yarn into the needle, and work a running stitch to the opposite corner.  Leave a few inches for finishing, and cut the yarn.  Repeat for the other diagonal.  Secure and tuck all loose ends to the inside.

Notes:
1.  Because you are increasing 8 stitches per round in double crochet, the piece will not lie flat – double crochet lies flat if you increase about 12 stitches per round.  With a 10-inch pillow form, there will be excess fabric.  Wrap a bit of yarn around a corner, a few inches in, to make what might be considered an ear or a tuft or a little foot.  Knot and cut yarn, tucking loose ends to the inside.  Repeat for other 3 corners.  Because your square did not lie flat, these bits will be on one side of the pillow.
2. If you use a 12-inch pillow form, there will not be excess fabric.
3. This piece is stitched loosely, so you might not want to use stuffing without a case – the stuffing would just come through the crocheted fabric.
4. If you used half double crochet instead of double crochet, the piece will lie flat and be a bit more solid.  But you would also need more yarn.
5. To make it be an owl, attach eyes and beak.

Pluscious Beret
1 skein Cascade Pluscious yarn
6.5mm (K) hook
1 marker
To start:  chain (ch) 3, slip stitch (sl st) to form a ring.
Round (rnd) 1:  ch1, half double crochet (hdc) 8 in ring.  Place marker to indicate last stitch (st) of rnd.
Rnd 2:  continuing in a coil, 2hdc in each hdc around.  Move marker to last stitch made at the end of each round - this is for orientation more than anything else.
Rnd 3:  (1hdc in next st, 2hdc in next st) around.
Repeat (rep) rnd 3 until piece (pc) measures 6” across – this is not an exact number.  If the pc measured 5.5 inches the last round, but then is 6.5 inches at the end of the next round, better to have it a little bigger.
Next rnd:  work even, with no more increases.
Repeat this round until the pc measures 12 inches across.  Again, if the pc measures a little less after the last round, but is a bit big after the next round, better to have it a little bigger.
Decrease rnd:  *hdc in next 3 sts, skip next st.  Rep from * around once.
Band:  Next rnd: (ch1, skip 1, single crochet (sc)1) around.
Continuing in a coil, (sc in next ch sp, ch and skip the next sc) around until the band is about 3 inches wide.
Sl st in each of the next 2 sts, and finish off.
Weave in loose ends.


FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2012

Quick diagonal scarf in my new favorite stitch


I just finished this scarf for local yarn shop, Golden Fleece, using a new yarn they have:

Schoppel Gradient scarf to crochet

1 ball Schoppel Gradient (280 yards, worsted weight yarn)           
8mm crochet hook

Chain (ch) 3. 

Part I - Increasing:
Row (r) 1:  (Single crochet (sc) 1, ch1, sc1) all in 3rd ch from hook.
R2 (Increase Row):  ch2, turn (turning chain made).  Sc in last sc of previous row (pr r).  (ch1, sc1 in next ch space) across row, ending with (ch1, sc1) in turning chain space of pr r.

Repeat Increase Row until there are 15 sc across row (13 rows total).

Part II - Holding steady:
Next row (Decrease Row):  ch1, turn (turning chain made).  Skip 2 sc from previous row, sc in next ch space.  (ch1, sc1 in next ch space) across row, ending with (ch1, sc1) in turning chain space of pr r. (14 sc across row.)

Repeat Increase and Decrease rows until the piece is about 66 inches long.  There should be a few yards of yarn left.

Part III - Decreasing:
Ending the scarf:  From here on, do only the Decrease row, until there is 1sc in the last row.  Finish off.

Tuck in loose ends.  Enjoy.

Geek notes:
1.      The sample scarf came out to be about 67 inches long and 5.5 inches wide, for a total of 368 square inches, with a few yards left over.  Theoretically, then, I could have made:
          *  An 8’ wide scarf or cowl that would be 46 inches long/around by having the rows be 22/21 sc across, or
          *   Two short (36” long) scarves that are 5 inches wide each (13/12 sc across row).

2.     To figure how much yarn you need to decrease to finish, figure out how much yarn makes 1 row – stitch 1 increase row, then carefully take it out and measure how much yarn you used in that row.  Multiply that by HALF the number of sc in that row.  Then tie a little knot at that point.  When you get to the knot, undo it, and start decreasing for Part III.

3.     To figure out how far a skein can go, you can do a little figuring at the end of Part I if you have a food scale.  Figure the square inches of the triangle you have (short side x short side) divided by 2, _____ (A).  Weigh the triangle you have, _____ (B).  Notice the total weight of the ball of yarn (100 grams or 3.5 ounces).  Then solve for X:

B/A = 100 or 3.5/X

For a narrow scarf, with just a few stitches and such a big gauge, the numbers can be a little squishy, so don’t bet your life on it in this case.

SUNDAY, JULY 29, 2012

Flower and Leaf


Computer card games can be really addictive.  I have managed to go almost two weeks without playing, with the result that I am crocheting a lot more - washcloths, sweaters, shawls, and even some fiddly stuff, like this carnation and leaf.  The card games are still on my desktop, and I can see them, but now I have to make a conscious choice about what I want to spend my time doing.  As almost anyone knows, this is not as simple as it looks. The flower and leaf, on the other hand, are remarkably easy to make, look clever, and take not very much yarn at all.  Whatever yarn you use, it is good to use a hook that will make a fairly firm stitch, and not too loose.  The crisp definition of the leaf, especially, wants a firm gauge.  A loose gauge makes a more frilly flower, where the loopiness of the stitch competes with the loopiness of the gauge.

About the flower:  This is made from a hank of embroidery floss, using a 3.5mm hook.  Ch3, slip stitch in the last ch to form a ring.  (ch3, sc in the ring) at least 6 times, or as many times as you can squeeze in.  I did 11 in this case and had enough in the one hank of embroidery floss.  The fatter the yarn, the fewer chain loops you will have.

Continuing in a coil, *ch3, sc in next ch space, (ch3, sc in same space) 5 times.  Repeat from * around one time.  Ch3, slip stitch in the starting ring on the underside to position your yarn to use in sewing the flower in place.  Finish off.  A friend of mine made these instead of pompoms on hats for her granddaughters.

Now to go with that flower, you might want a leaf, especially if you happen to have some non-flower color, like green or black (as in this case), and not enough to make a flower.  The easiest way, for me, is to use foundation stitches.  That way, I can make the leaf as long as I want without having to plan ahead.  One version: Ch2, fsc, fhdc, fdc, ftr, fdc, fhdc, fsc.  Ch1 (optional: sl st in same base ch, ch1) and rotate piece to work back along the bottom of the stitches just made.  Sc in base of last fsc made.  Hdc, dc, tr, dc, hdc, sc all along the row, ending up where you started. Sl st in starting chain to finish off.  Leave a tail of a few inches to sew leaf in place.  For a short, stubby leaf, skip the dc, tr parts.

If you really don't like foundation stitches, ch6.  Sc in the 2nd chain from the hook.  Working along the chain row, hdc1, dc1, hdc1, sc1.  That should get you to the end of the row.  Ch1, sl st in the same st, ch1, and rotate the piece to continue along the remaining loops back to the beginning:  sc1, hdc1, dc1, hdc1, and sc1 in the last st.  Slip st into the chain at the end to have a little closure to finish off.  Leave a tail of a few inches to sew the leaf in place.  For a longer leaf, ch8, and work up to a treble before going back down to a single. Of course, there are lots of variations, but it can be satisfying to find something simple that does the trick just fine.

When I run across a little more of a flower color that looks good with this bright red, I will add one or two more flowers to fill out the pin - that way the pin backing won't show.  It is just so easy to do.

MONDAY, JULY 2, 2012

Kitchen Kloths


Interesting that the subject should turn to boring stitching.  I happened to have a skein of worsted weight acrylic left over from mending an afghan.  Being acrylic, it is a little scratchy, so I made some of my favorite scrubby things for washing dishes.  Each is rather small (5-7 inches across), so it can be squeezed dry with one hand -- wringing out acrylic can be uncomfortably squeaky.  I'd make them bigger if I were using cotton.    Used a 5mm hook.



1.  SC Circle.  Ch3, sl st to join in a ring.  Rnd 1: Sc6 into the ring.  Place marker in last sc to mark the end of the round.  Rnd 2: Continuing in a coil:  sc2 in each st around (12 sc).  Move marker up each round.  Rnd 3:  sc2 in each st around (24 sc).  Rnd 4:  sc 1 in each st around.  Rnd 5:  sc2 in each st around (48 sts).  Rnds 6-8:  work even - sc1 in each st around.

For a smaller circle: Rnd 9: (sc in next st, sk1, 5dc in next st, sk1) around.  End with sl st in first sc of round.  This is an increase round, working 6 stitches in the current round over 4 stitches in the previous round.  Rnd 10:  ch2, dc2 in same st (half shell made).  (sk 2dc, sc in next dc, sk 2 dc, 5dc in next sc) around, ending with 2dc in same stitch as starting half shell, sl st in top of ch2.  Fasten off.  Remove marker.  Tuck in loose ends.
For a larger circle:  Rnd 9: (sc2 in each st around (96 sts).  Work even for 7 more rounds.  Sl st in the next 2 stitches to smooth the edge.  Fasten off.  Remove marker.  Tuck in loose ends.

2.  Heavy SC Hexagon.  Ch3, sl st to join in a ring.  Rnd 1: (ch1, sc1 in ring) 6 times.  Place marker in last st to mark end of round. Rnd 2: Continuing in a coil, (sc, ch, sc) in each sc around (skipping the chain stitches).  This sets up the 6 corners.  Move marker to last stitch made in marked stitch each round.  Rnd 3:  *(sc, ch, sc) in next sc (this is an increase, and you do this 6 times each round, always in the first sc of the increase of the previous round), skip the ch, sc in next sc, ch1. Repeat from * around.  Rnd 4: *(sc, ch sc) in next sc, skip the ch, sc in next sc, ch1, sc in next sc, skip the next ch.  Repeat from * around (6 times total).  Rnd 5:  *(sc, ch sc) in next sc, skip the ch, sc in next sc, ch1, sc in next 2 sc, skipping the ch in between, ch1.  Repeat from * around (6 times total).

This sounds really complex.  The stitch is (sc2, ch1), but staggering the stitches in each round so the ch1 is between the 2 sc in the current row.  Always sc into a sc.  Never stitch into a chain (except for the corner/increases).  It makes a dense fabric that is basically single crochet but does not stretch the way sc usually does -- the chain stitches keep the single crochets in place.  Start each side with (sc, ch, sc) to increase in the first sc of the increase in the round before.  Each side ends with either ch1 or sc, and that is just fine.  This sample has 9 rounds all together.  When yours is as big as you want, slip stitch in the next 2 stitches to smooth the edge, fasten off and tuck in the loose ends.

3.  Bag stitch Triangle.  Ch3, sl sto to join in a ring.  Rnd 1: (ch1, sc1 in ring) 6 times.  Place marker in last st to mark end of round.  Rnd 2:  continuing in a coil, (ch1, sc1 in next ch1 space) 6 times.  Do not move marker just yet.  Rnd 3: *Ch1, (sc, ch1, sc - 1 increase made) in sc below next ch. Ch1, sc in sc below next ch.  Repeat from * around - 3 increase points made.  Move marker from rnd 1 to last st made into that sc.  Rnd 4: ch1, (sc, ch, sc) into middle ch of increase in previous row, then (ch1, sc into sc below next ch) across the side to next increase point.  Repeat rnd 4 for pattern for desired size of cloth (4-6 inches across is a good size, but that is just a suggestion, moving the marker every 2nd round, when you stitch into the marked stitch.  Finish off with 2 slip stitches, cut yarn, remove marker, and tuck in loose ends.

4.  Crazy stitch Square.  This is worked on the diagonal, starting at a corner (lower left in this case) and ending at the opposite corner.  To start, increase:  Row 1: Ch5.  Sk 2 ch, dc in next 3 ch to end row.  Row 2: ch5, turn.  Sk 2 ch, dc in next 3 ch. Sl st in ch2 space of pr row.  Ch2, dc3 in same ch2 space.  Row 3:  ch5, turn.  Sk 2 ch, dc in next 3 ch. *Sl st in next ch2 space of pr row.  Ch2, dc3 in same ch2 space.  Repeat from * across.  Repeat row 3 for pattern until the 2 sides are desired size of square - the sample has 7 rows before starting to decrease.  Then decrease:  Row 1: ch1, turn.  Sl st to next ch-2 space.  *Ch2, dc3 in same space.  Sl st in next ch2 space of pr row.  Repeat from * across, ending up with one less block than in previous row.  Repeat this row until only 1 block remains.  Ch1, turn, sl st to the corner.  Fasten off and tuck in loose ends.

Washcloths or dishcloths or coasters are portable, no-stress ways to meditate on some nice stitches, keep your hands busy for a few minutes without having to think too hard.








TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2011

Following up on PC's post...

Practical Crocheter had some great ideas for handmade gifts this holiday season. The great thing is making your own can save money too! Here are a few more ideas:
  • A set of coasters (preferably cotton or wool). These are great for hostess gifts too, and they don't require you to know much about the recipient's tastes.
  • Going with the cup theme, you can make a sleeve for a travel mug. For extra insulation, make it a bit big, and then felt it. These are great for people who love having something warm in the morning, but don't want to burn their hands or put a bunch of paper in the trash!
  • To make something really special, but inexpensive, get a ball of thread and start making snowflakes! Little snowflakes can be attached to earring findings or made into necklace pendants. Several little snowflakes strung together can make a choker necklace or garland. Of course, larger snowflake are lovely on a tree or in a window. Just don't forget to starch them to make them look nice!
If you have young people in your life, they might not be so excited about receiving handmade gifts, but if you show them some neat things to make, they may be interested in the gift of your time! For children, consider making "gift certificates" for free needlework lessons. When combined with a treat at the local coffee shop, such a gift can make a tween feel very grown up.

If you want to make something for a young person, you may also consider having something other than what you make be the focal point. For example, the amulet bag to hold an iPod (as Practical Crocheter suggested) might be better received if it also contained a small gift card for downloads. It may seem silly, but giving handmade gifts alongside more mainstream gifts is a good introduction for people who don't know to care about things handmade.

Happy Stitching!

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2011

'Tis the season!

Have you looked at the catalogs lately? With all the manufacturing gone overseas, we are living in a great time for handmade gifts! Flipping through some magazines and catalogs, I find myself muttering, “I could make that -- I could SO make that” a lot. If you have already hatted and scarfed everyone you know, have you tried slipperswrist warmers, and washcloths? Flat little envelope purses, just big enough to carry your music and earbuds, with a strap to make it an amulet purse around your neck, are silly-easy to make and can help use up little bits of fabulous yarns in your stash.

The best way to have a fabulous stash is to buy only yarns in colors that speak well to you. If you buy only yarns you really like, your leftovers will be gorgeous.

Make sure the product is gift-worthy by paying attention to finishing details, like tucking in the loose ends.

SATURDAY, JULY 25, 2009

Alternate edging for wrist warmers




If you are using bigger yarn -- like worsted weight, with a 5mm hook -- this version of shell stitch may make finger holes that are too big. In this case, use: (2dc, ch1, 2dc) for the shell stitch. To join on the last edge, use (2dc, sc1 in ch space of shell on opposite side, 2dc) to join.



Here is an alternate edging where it does not matter whether you have an even or odd number of rows in the square:



Ruffled edging: Ch5, sc in the middle of the block, **ch5, sc between this block and the next block, ch5, sc in the middle of the next block, repeat from ** to the corner, ending with ch5, sc in the corner. Repeat this side for 3 sides. Do pretty much the same thing on the 4th side, EXCEPT: instead of ch5, do (ch2, sc in middle of corresponding loop on opposite side, ch2).



Then finish off.



For a dressier look, try using a smaller yarn/hook, like fingering weight (baby or sock weight)and a size E hook or so. You would still be making a 6-inch square (maybe 6-1/2 inches) then edging it. The thing is that the holes created at the end by joining the shell stitches will be smaller.

SATURDAY, JULY 18, 2009

Wrist warmers to crochet

The stitch for this is a variation on Crazy Stitch from Victorian Crochet, published by Dover in 1974, with an introduction by Florence Weinstein. It is a handy stitch.

Wrist warmers - a basic pattern

Suggested yarn/hook: dk yarn with 4mm hook

The idea is to make a square about 6 inches on each side, then edge it in shell stitch, joining two opposite sides to make holes for fingers, and for decoration. There are different ways to wear this. But to get started:

R1: Ch4, dc in 3rd and 4th ch from hook, leaving a ch-2 space. This makes a little block.
R2: Ch4, turn, dc in 3rd and 4th ch from hook to make another block. Sl st in ch-2 space from prev row -- this anchors the corner of the current block. Ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make another block. At this point it looks like a little heart, or like three little blocks.
R3: Ch4, turn, dc in 3rd and 4th ch from hook to make a new block. Sl st in last ch-2 space from prev row to anchor the block. Ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make a new block. Sl st in next ch-2 space to anchor. Ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make a new block.
R4: Ch4, turn, dc in 3rd and 4th ch from hook to make a new block. Sl st in last ch-2 space from prev row to anchor the block. (Ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make a new block. Sl st in next ch-2 space to anchor) across. End with ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make a new block -- there is no place to anchor this, so this is the end of the row.

Repeat R4 until the piece measures about 6 inches on each side edge, ending with an even number of rows.

This size fits a lot of hands, but if you want it larger or smaller, this is where you make that decision. Make more rows if you want it bigger; fewer rows to make it smaller. Remember that the edging will add about 2 inches to the width around, so you want the square to be too small to fit around the hand.

Now start decreasing:
R1: Ch1, turn. Sl st between the 2 dc and in the ch-2 space to get to the corner. (Ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make a new block. Sl st in next ch-2 space to anchor) across. Repeat this row until only 1 block is left. Do not finish off.

Edging:
Now make a round of shell stitch around 3 sides of the outside edge. Each shell stitch spans 2 rows -- the reason for the even number of rows. The edging on the 4th side is joined to the edging on the 2nd side to make the holes.

Here is how to work this round:
A slightly different shell stitch: Starting at the point where you finished the square, and working along the outside edge of the piece, *(2dc, ch2, 2dc) in the next space between two blocks. Sc1 in the next space between two blocks to anchor the end of the shell. You should end up ready to make a sc in the corner, but don‘t. Then actually increase at the corner by making (sc, ch1, sc) in the corner. Then repeat from * until 3 sides are done, ending with an increase on the 3rd corner.

On the 4th side, do pretty much the same thing, EXCEPT: do a different shell to join this side to the opposite side: do (2dc, ch1, sc1 in ch space of shell on opposite side, ch1, 2dc) across. End with a sc in the last corner and slip stitch into the top of the first dc of the round. Finish off. Make 2nd the same.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2008

Kitchen kloth in heavy single crochet

The handiest thing I like in a kitchen is a small bit of fabric that can pass for a dishcloth, light potholder, or sponge. Not too big -- about 8 inches across means it is small enough to squeeze out with one hand but also big enough and solid enough to use for just about anything, even a light hot mat or coaster for under my teapot. It needs to be made out of cotton, to be absorbent.

But the real trick is the pattern stitch.

Single crochet by itself will stretch out of shape and become all lacy over time. Any bigger stitch will have bigger spaces between the stitches. I want a solid fabric. But I don’t want it to be too thick and solid -- I’m not trying to make wall board.

This is where heavy single crochet can come into play: This is like a fabric of single crochet with chain stitches thrown in. The chain stitch keeps the single crochet from stretching out of shape -- chain stitch is often used to lock in a stitch (like in Cluster stitch).

This can work over any number of stitches, but for the sake of these instructions, start with an even number. Here is the base row: Ch1 to turn, *sc1 in next two stitches, ch1. Repeat from * across, ending with 2 sc.

As usual in crochet, this stitch has you inserting the hook under the top two loops of the stitches in the previous row.

In the next row, ch1 to turn. *Sc1, ch1 but do NOT skip 1, sc1 in the very next sc, skip the ch of the pr r. Repeat from * across, ending with ch1, sc1.

Notice that you are making a ch in between the 2sc of the previous row and skipping the ch1‘s.

In the next row, ch1 to turn. *Sc1, skip the ch of the pr r, sc1, ch1 but do not skip 1. Repeat from * across, ending with sc1, sk the ch, sc1.

Notice that the chain stitches are squished between the single crochets, adding bulk, and it’s all basically a single crochet fabric. And yet, if you stretch it, the single crochet stitches hold their shape very nicely.

Repeat the last two rows for the pattern stitch. The number of stitches should stay the same in every row. This makes a satisfying fabric for a dishcloth. For the sample pictured here, I used a worsted weight cotton (like Sugar and Cream) and a size I/5.5 mm hook. My gauge came out to about 3 stitches per inch -- so starting with Ch24 works well.

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