Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Yarn Tales Tuesday






A New Year




  This will be the last Yarn Tales Tuesday article of 2014! YTT was started with the intention of prompting discussions about crochet, needle art, and yarn-related subjects. I began writing this series in August of this year, and so far, it's been a success!






  Sometimes, I use YTT to just rant about things that have affected me personally, but I still keep it yarn-related in some way. From educational posts about checking your gauge, to silly subjects like Bi-Polar Craftitis, these articles have been (for the most part) fun to write. They don't always inspire the discussions that I had hoped for, but sometimes it's just a way for me to get a load off of my mind. Many of you have thanked me for information, let me know that you got a laugh, and helped to build my confidence in ways you may never know.




  I want to use this last Yarn Tales Tuesday of the year to thank everybody. Every time I see one of my posts or projects get a like or a share, and every time I receive a comment I know that someone appreciates my work. Thank you to Subscribers, Followers, repeat visitors, and even to those of you who are visiting for the first time for taking the time to stop by to see what I have to share.




  Thanks also goes to Free Indie Crochet Patterns, Crochet Pattern Bonanza, Crochet at Play, Daisy Cottage Designs, Knot by Gran'ma, and All Free Crochet for sharing my patterns. Just like it takes work to design and create crochet, it also takes work to share and link to patterns. Whether it's a big website with a ton of employees or a fellow blogger working alone, I appreciate every time one of my patterns, tutorials, or posts are shared. If you've shared my work and I don't know about it, then thanks goes to you too, and please contact me so I can give credit.




  Additionally, I want to thank the staff and my fellow Makers at +Guidecentral. This blog business doesn't make enough to keep me in yarn and hooks. Thanks to this innovative D.I.Y. site, I've been able to earn a little side cash for more supplies. It has also provided me with an easier way to create crochet tutorials that often correspond with my free patterns. Fellow Makers also contribute daily to my crafting inspiration with their beautiful and interesting creations. Whenever I get "burned out" on creativity, a quick look at what the Guidecentral community is crafting will get the ball rolling again. And make me go to the craft store for supplies!




  For those of you who are interested, I've set some new goals for the upcoming year to expand the Crochet is the Way business. Some of them are realistic and already in motion, and some of them may be a bit harder to reach. Hopefully I will be able to achieve some of the more unrealistic goals, but even if I don't, Crochet is the Way will still have more to offer in 2015. I don't want to spoil any surprises, but a big one will be, hopefully, a store!




  I find that to reach a goal, it helps if you tell someone about your plans. Have you set any crochet-related goals for the new year? If you're planning on finishing that project you've been putting off, or perhaps you're ready to learn a more advanced stitch, let us know about it!




Hope you've enjoyed the Holidays and have a Happy New Year!





Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Yarn Tales Tuesday






Crocheted Gifts





  Did you make anything to gift for the holidays this year? Has the recipient asked for something specific, or did you just make it for a surprise? If the receiver has already opened their present, what was their reaction?









  So, I've asked you my questions...Now let me answer them myself: I think I may have failed! Late in the year, I got a request from my mom for a Christmas-themed table runner. I gave her the Lacy Fall Table Runner I designed, and she wants one for the holidays.




This is as far as I've gotten with it.









  Sure, I could have made the Fall table runner in holiday colors, but no-oooo. My creative brain had to get the bright idea to design a different one. And sometimes, that leads me to a good place. But sometimes, it leads me here. I have a vision in my head, and I've had some difficulties making it work. Now, I have the pattern written out. I just have to rush to complete the squares. She said not to worry if I can't finish it, but doesn't that still leave you with that "I failed" feeling?




  I really hope I can get it done. At least she could have it for Christmas, for the kids opening their presents and stuff. So I'm going to quit writing and CROCHET! In the meantime, share with us what you've worked on!





Friday, December 19, 2014

How to: Rolled Double Crochet Variations






  From bags to baskets, from hats to mats, the Rolled double crochet stitch can be used to add texture, strength, and thickness in your crochet projects. Don't confuse this stitch with the "Roll" stitch, which is also known as the "Bullion" stitch. I recently made a Guidecentral Guide for how to make the original version of the Rolled double crochet stitch, which you can view here.



  Although I always tell everybody to never get discouraged, this will be difficult for beginners. If you are new to the regular double crochet stitch, or if you're still confused over turning chains and the beginning of the row, these stitches will be very challenging. Checking out the original Guide will show you more of the step by step process for creating a double crochet stitch and what the work should look like as you turn, as well as some extra pointers for what stitch to work into.



  I'll be covering a condensed version of how to make the original stitch at the beginning of this tutorial. Some of you may want to check out the Guide for extra steps (*cough*...and maybe sign up with Guidecentral so you can "like" my Guides *cough*). The Guide will show you how to work double-thick and double-sided versions of this stitch into a pattern, which won't be covered here.




  Anyways, this tutorial is going to show you some Rolled double crochet variations. It was difficult to work them into the Guide, but I still wanted to share them with everybody. So, let's get to it!







The original:

A regular Rolled double crochet is made by working backwards through the top of a double crochet, then into the same loops as the bottom of the stitch.

For the beginning of the row, insert the hook in the current stitch from back to front.





Insert the hook from front to back into the same loops as the bottom of the stitch.





Slip stitch, then chain 3 to count as the first double crochet.





For all other Rolled double crochet in the row, yarn over, insert hook in the next stitch from back to front.





Insert hook in the same loops as the bottom of the stitch from front to back.





When you swing your hook around to the back, it will pinch the stitch and look like this:





Complete a double crochet. For each additional stitch, the top loops of the next stitch will be pulled slightly to the front, as a ridge begins to pop up below the current row.





The texture will be entirely on the side facing you.






As a return row of regular double crochet is worked, you can see that the opposite side of the fabric is basically flat.





Variations:

For all variations, you will begin the row in the same manner as the original version, working into the designated loops for that version, instead of into the whole stitch.

Remember to yarn over for a double crochet for all other stitches in the row.


Front loops only:

Insert hook in the front loop of the next stitch from back to front.





Insert hook in the same loops as the bottom of the stitch, from front to back.





When you swing your hook around to the back, it will pinch the stitch and look like this:





Complete a double crochet.






You can see that a row of front loop rolled doubles will leave a thinner ridge with less thickness, but with more character.






As a return row of regular double crochet is worked, you can see that the back side of this stitch is still basically flat.





Back loops only:

Insert hook in back loop of next stitch from back to front.





Insert hook in the same loops as the bottom of the stitch, from front to back.





Complete a double crochet.





This stitch has the same texture as the front loop version, with the unworked loops slanting in the opposite direction.





As a return row of double crochet is worked, you can see that this stitch is also flat on the back side, but with a little bit of extra texture from the unworked loops.





Compact version:

With this version, the very first stitch can be worked without a turning chain. Insert the hook directly into the bottom of the current stitch.





As you pull up a loop, don't pull up extra length. Snugly tighten the loop so that it compresses the stitch underneath it.





Complete the double crochet.





This stitch creates less of a ridge on the front side, with just some extra thickness added to the row.





As a row of return double crochet is worked, you can see this stitch adds more texture to the opposite side.





The back of this stitch still has no ridge, but more of the thickness shows on this side.





Create your own version:

Experiment with different combinations to make your own textures. Here is an example with alternating regular double crochet and rolled double crochet.





This combination I made looked a bit messy from certain angles, but I think it would look better if all the rows were worked this way. Compared with the other rows' straight-lined ridges, this texture looks out of place.





As a return row of regular double crochet is worked, you can see that the alternating combo actually has some pretty interesting character.






Backwards compact version:

I saved the most difficult for last. This version requires you to work the stitches with the yarn in front of the work.


Insert the hook from back to front in the same loops as the bottom of the current stitch. Move the yarn to the front to grab with the hook.





After you pull up a loop, keep the yarn to the front of the work.





Complete the double crochet.





This stitch looks exactly like the regular compact version, but the texture pops to the front.





Other design ideas:

There are just too many techniques you could use to make these stitches even more interesting! Imagine changing colors on the return rows so that the ridges pop out in a contrasting color...Or using beads in any of the rows...And what about weaving ribbon through the regular double crochet of the return row?



That would look beautiful on a small clutch or bag.




Or how about using surface crochet to fill in the gap of the return row with another color?



Although one-sided, this makes a super-thick fabric that would be great for hats or gloves.




And I know all of you will use your creative minds to come up with even more ideas!

You can be sure you will be seeing some Crochet is the Way patterns using these stitches soon...

But I'm interested to know: What kind of pattern would you use these stitches for?





Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Yarn Tales Tuesday






The Crochet is the Way Name
Today I get a bit of an attitude. For those of you it's not aimed at, thank you for your support, patience, and understanding. For those who are insulted, you probably need to be




  Over the years, quite a few people have commented about the name of my business and this blog. A few more experienced business owners have even suggested that I'll never get anywhere with a name like that. From "what's that supposed to mean" to "that's a long name", people's remarks have left me wondering: Did I choose the wrong name? Is it all a big mistake? 




  With all due respect to those thinking they know better, it's perfect, and I'm keeping it. I think a name should either be your name, or have a story behind it. And my business's name has a BIG, long story behind it.




  Most businesses are started as just that: A business. My business was started as a project. Quite a few major life events led me to start crocheting. Then a stubborn, unique personality brought out the designer in me. A love of challenging, complicated tasks and a need to busy myself resulted in the Crochet is the Way blog. But where did it all begin?


This is what "work" means to me now...But where did it all begin?



  Let's jump past childhood, let's skip and not even think about the marriage that didn't work out, and land in my current place and frame of mind: Well, let's start just before my current frame of mind, but in the same place. The town I live in, no offense to anyone who lives here, is just...Blah. It's a nice place, there's just not much that interests me here. And no work.




  I ended up here after temporarily moving in with my parents, as a scared, pregnant, divorcing twenty year old. Nobody wanted to hire me, knowing I'd be on maternity leave in a few months. I was lucky to have the support of my parents, and a knack for being able to learn anything. In the time before delivery, I was able to convince a friend-of-a-friend to give me a chance and hire me as soon as I could work.




  This isn't going where you probably think it is... After I gave birth to my son, I started working at a mechanic's shop. The guy was working alone, answering phones, doing paperwork, along with the automotive work. I convinced him I could help him out, as a secretary, plus sweep the floors and run for parts "and stuff". Plus, as I mentioned, I have an ability to learn just about anything. I suggested he let me help him out with cars, but I guess he thought I was joking. I got the response: "You're a girl, you don't want to do this kinda work! You'll get all greasy!" But from hanging with my brother and other guys, I already had some minor mechanic's skills. How many 18 year old girls do you know that can change their oil, spark plugs and wires, fuel pump, alternator, starter, belts, tires, and more?   




  I got bored at my new job in the first day. An hour of no phone calls, sitting at a table with no paperwork to do, I went to see what the boss was up to. He was under a car that was on a lift, fighting to remove a drive shaft. (Here's where some of you will go "Huh?") I grabbed a pry bar, stuck it behind the universal, held on to the caps and popped it loose. He looked at me with his mouth hanging open for a second, then used some four, five, and six-letter word combinations. Then we talked.


A peek into that big metal case that makes your car move...Looks easy enough, right?



  To make a long story shorter, between watching him work and sitting down with books, I learned more and became so much more than a secretary and shop-sweep. I spent two awesome, greasy years as a transmission technician, rebuilding the second most important part of a car besides the motor...or behind it, in a rear wheel drive...(mechanic humor). Then, out of nowhere, he announces that he's closing the shop in two weeks. Oh, "four-letter words". Time to find another job...




  Not in this town. Every shop I went to shot me down. I ended up with a boring, underpaid industrial cleaning job, while doing some automotive work on the side. Both were on-again-off-again, and I spent days with nothing to do. My future began to unfold from there as my life began to unravel.




  Sitting in front of the television, rebuilding a computer for a friend (did I mention I learn anything?), the program I was watching on PBS ended, and something new came on. A knitting show! Perhaps it was the-forces-that-be that led me to leave the t.v. on. For some strange reason, I had frequently been noticing people knitting on t.v. and in public. Then this program came on, and I dropped my screwdriver as the lady on the screen made lace with dropped stitches.




  I picked up some supplies, spent a few weeks learning how to knit, and made some scarves, hats, and started a blanket. Then, darn you PBS, a crochet show came on. And, as we all use the intended pun, I was hooked. I first used crochet to make a border around my knitted scarves. Then, I dropped the needles and stuck with my hooks. It's been so long since I've knitted anything, I think I've forgotten how. I even unraveled the blanket I had started to knit, so I could crochet it instead.




  It was all just busy work back then; a side hobby. I got up at three in the morning to go clean offices and (eewww!) public bathrooms. (Seriously, people, thank the cleaners when you see them at work.) Done before noon, I used the rest of the day to get under a car or into a transmission, if I had the work. When work got slow, I scrubbed the grime out from under my fingernails and picked up my yarn. The guys all thought I was nuts.




  Maybe I am. There seems to be some sort of addiction involved when one truly loves needle arts. A shiny hook feels like holding pure gold in your hand; yarn feels like an extension of your own fingers. Ideas for projects run through your head when you're not crafting, and you read patterns out loud in your sleep. 




  I only crocheted a few things by actually following a pattern. I didn't have a problem reading patterns or charts, it was just that I always tweaked something in it to make it my way. Then I figured out how to just make it. Although they often ridiculed me for my new hobby, I was able to make some extra money from my circle of guy friends. Which was good, because I had quit the cleaning job, and I ended up breaking two ribs and had to take some time off from everything else. I used crochet to repair a few of my buddies' fishing nets (one in rainbow, as a joke!), made some fishing pole covers, and some other miscellaneous things that were special requests.




  But things started changing. I'd had aches and pains for a long time, but I never let it bother me. I'm cursed with clumsiness combined with an adventurous spirit, but I'm blessed to have a high pain tolerance to go with it. I've been through cuts, bruises, broken bones, dislocations and concussions. I bounce back. Or, at least keep rolling. I loved my job as a mechanic, but I sure felt it after a day full of wrenching, running air tools, beating on stuff with a hammer (a.k.a. mechanic's favorite tool!), and carrying parts up to 100 pounds. I'm 5'4", and at the time, 130 pounds. It took a toll. 



  Then: BOOM! Forget just dealing with minor aches and pains, something was wrong with me. I didn't pay it much mind when I had the same cut on my finger for about a month. I was in the middle of building a pergola from scrap wood, using hand tools. I just figured I kept splitting it back open while working, and that's why it wasn't getting better. Then, my knuckle swelled up to the size of a quarter. Uh oh. Infection?




  I dumped peroxide on it, bandaged it up, and went on. Doctor? I don't need no stinking doctor! Call me stupid if you want to. At the same time this was going on, I started having to buy new clothes. Hmm...Smoothies for lunch were working! So I thought for a few months. In the course of two months after dropping my first size, it went from friends complimenting me on how good I looked, to people accusing me of being a drug addict. I thought I could have some kind of cancer.




  The doctor said I had a kidney infection and gave me antibiotics. I had days that I was fine. I also had days that I was miserable. I felt like I was burning up with a fever, the smallest amount of exercise left me worn out, and I was weak. Now at 96 pounds, I had lost over 30 pounds after completely losing my appetite. I took my time with automotive jobs, and needed help to complete tasks needing strength. When my hands broke out in an uncontrollable rash, I had to completely give up all mechanic work.




  At first, I didn't think anything about that, either. I've had sporadic bouts of eczema caused by allergies before. I simply needed to find out what was causing it... Then, my hands...Oh!...my hands that do everything for me; the hands that fix everything that's broken; the hands that I need to make a living; the hands that everyone else in my life relies on because I am superwoman ... 




  Every knuckle in my hands swelled up to the point that my skin split in the course of a day. Hot and itchy. Throbbing. I could barely put my own clothes on. Okay, now it's definitely time to go to the doctor. Diagnoses: Rheumatoid Arthritis. Swelling. Rash. Loss of appetite. Eventual joint disfigurement...Bad.




    "Take it easy", they say. "Get lots of rest" is their advice. Out of respect for my viewers, I refuse to use profanity here. But to be honest, my response to what was supposed to be my new life is: "Four-letter word" that! I am not the kind of person to relax. Doing something is how I relax. Free time and idle hands give me too much time to think about things that are best left alone. 




  Besides, with this disease, I think I'd go 100% crazy if I didn't have a distraction. When treatments weren't helping and my hands were completely inflamed, I thought I'd go nuts. At one point, I broke down when my hands wouldn't stop itching and burning with searing pain; so bad to the point I was screaming "cut them off, cut them off!"...Nobody could help me. What was there left for me?




  Fearing for my sanity, I poured herbal treatments down my throat. I relentlessly searched the internet for suggestions. With no television (not that I can sit and watch it anyways), no more friends, and a pile of plarn in a cabinet, I slathered salves on my hands, covered them in rubber gloves, and crocheted. It was the only hobby I had left that didn't cause any strain on my hands. I wrote down every pattern. I typed them up on the blog. And my hands started getting better.




  And that's where the Crochet is the Way name came from: It's an explanation. In present time, Crochet is the Way to get my sanity back. But the blog was started just before R.A. completely stopped my life. Just another side project. Well, more than that, really. It was my own mental experiment. I had a deep curiosity towards where my yarn addiction came from. I wanted to know what drove other people to knit and crochet, too. Back then, I already had so many reasons to crochet. The name just fit. Crochet is the Way...to relax. Crochet is the Way...to recycle (plarn!). Crochet is the Way...to financial freedom; or at least to save yourself some money. I fell in love with crochet for the many benefits that can come from it.




  But did people like my patterns? Was I writing them correctly? I don't fit into this world (so I thought) of yarn and frilly things. I like heavy metal, I work on cars, and I don't have enough tattoos yet. Can I make it in the yarn community? I'm only here because I have to be...Because a stupid disease robbed me of my ability to do everything...Well, at least that's what I told my "tough guy" buddies that made fun of the girl that used to rebuild transmissions now making baby booties...The truth is, I like it. I love it. Still, afraid that little old ladies armed with knitting needles held up in an "X" would shun me from their social circles, I quietly posted my work in a tiny corner of the internet, waiting to see what would happen.





   Crochet has become my way to everything. As it turns out, little old ladies with knitting needles aren't so bad, after all. They're to busy with "knit one, purl two" to hold up their needles against you. Anyways, this skill is not just a bunch of little old ladies. I've met people with other disabilities, people with mental problems, people needing an outlet for stress and people who just need an outlet for their creativity. I've met people my age, people older, and people younger. I say "people", because it's not just a bunch of ladies, either. And I think that's cool.  




  As for my fear of being shunned, it was ridiculous. I'm used to a community of people that are cutthroat, competitive, and downright rude. Insulting. You have to work your butt off to prove you have any skill, and when you've worked your hardest, you have to keep working it off to prove you "still got it". People that stand there and tell you that you're doing it wrong, while not bothering to give you a hand. People that, when I couldn't fix their cars for free anymore, well...It turns out they weren't my friends anymore.





  Crochet is the Way to find a new community. One where people tell you "good job", even when you think you could have done better. People that show their appreciation for your work. People that accept you, no matter who you are, because you share a love of yarn and hooks. Maybe they don't share your love of bands with names like Mushroomhead, Devildriver and Snot, and they might not know the difference between a spark plug and a solenoid, but they look past that to see the beauty in your stitches. Crochet is the Way isn't just about my own story, though. Crochet is the Way is everybody's story. Through pain, sickness, stress, loss, heartbreak, and even some good times, crochet has been there for many of us, being the way to...something.




  So, this is only to those who doubted my choice in a business name: "Four letter word" off. Crochet is the Way for me to get my life back. To mean something again. To make a difference in the world, like you never will. Because I use my skill to teach; to give. I'm too busy helping people learn how to improve their skills and better themselves to belittle somebody over something as trivial as a name. What can you say you do with your skills? 




  And to those who don't worry about labels, and enjoy what's inside the package, keep doing good in the world. Continue sharing your understanding, loving personality with others. Because the truly good people can look past differences, and only see what they have in common. Because sometimes, all it takes is to not insult somebody to let them know they can make it in this world.





Friday, December 12, 2014

Free Pattern: Holiday Trio






  If you need a quick accessory or want something extra for decorating, this pattern combo has you covered for the holiday season. Christmas trees, candy, and snowflakes are all made easier with the help of a step by step tutorial for each pattern. Each piece can be made in under a day, and can be customized to suit your own taste.




 







Skill level:






*Two of these patterns begin with a magic circle. Click here for help.


Plarn Candy Drop Ornaments

  Any kind of plarn could be used for this project, but milk jug labels have a different texture and gauge. The combination of bold, bright colors and candy-colored pastels found on these labels are difficult to find in plain bags.

  Plastic means you can decorate outside, too! However, consider your surroundings. These are quite small, and PLASTIC - Which usually means a choking hazard for children, pets, and wildlife. Please don't use these any place where they could be a danger.

Skill level: Easy

Materials:
Crochet hook size I/9-5.50MM
Plarn (plastic yarn) cut from milk jug labels, 1/2" (1.2 cm) wide
Smaller hook to weave in ends
Ornament hooks (optional)

Gauge:
Not important. With hook size I/9-5.50MM, entire motif measures 1" (2.5 cm)

Notes:
Click here for pattern tutorial. This Guide will show you how to cut the plarn for the project and give you step by step instructions for this pattern.

Stitches:
Slip stitch (sl st)
Chain (ch)
Single crochet (sc)






Directions:

Begin with a magic circle.

Round 1:
Chain 1 (counts as 1 sc), mark stitch as beginning if needed. Make 5 more single crochet in the magic circle. Pull circle tight. (6 sc)

Round 2:
Do not join. Starting in the beginning ch-1, make 2 sc in each stitch (mark first sc if needed). (12 sc) Join with a sl st to beg sc. Bind off.

Finishing:
Secure last stitch. Pull up a loop about the circumference of your finger. Holding loop secure, finish weaving in ends. Add an ornament hook to this loop.


-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -


Christmas Tree Earrings:

  This pattern can seem very complicated if you haven't used this technique before. There are no true "rounds", only an excess of stitches worked into the stitches of the starting chain. The entire pattern is actually worked in only one row.

  It's obvious that you could use this motif as anything you want, you don't have to make earrings. But do you want to customize these? Consider using colored beads, or any bead shape and size you wish. These little trees also look cute in white or icy blue thread. What color would you use?

Finished size of motif is less than 1" (2.5 cm) diameter, with an adjustable height.

Skill level: Intermediate

Materials:
Steel crochet hook size 7/1.65MM
Size 10 crochet thread
Tip-drilled, drop-shaped beads (click here for the ones I used)
Craft glue (optional)
Needle or smaller hook to weave in ends
Jewelry assembly materials (jump rings, fish hook findings, pliers)

Gauge:
Not important. First "round" of stitches in first chain (triple crochets) is less than 1" (2.5 cm).

Notes:
For a step by step tutorial, click here. This Guide will show you tips on beading, give step by step instructions for stitches, explain how to shape the piece while weaving in ends, and follows how to assemble the earrings.

Stitches:
Slip stitch (sl st)
Chain (ch)
Single crochet (sc)
Half-double crochet (hdc)
Double crochet (dc)
Triple crochet (tr)






Directions:

To begin, chain 14. In the 5th ch from hook, make 4 triple crochet (skipped chs count as 1st tr), slide up a bead, ch 1. (Make 5 more tr in the same st, slide up a bead, ch 1) twice.

Skip 1 stitch in the starting ch (or count to the 8th st from the tail), make 5 double crochet. Slide up a bead, ch 1. (Make 5 more dc in the same st, slide up a bead, ch 1) twice.

Skip 2 chs in the starting ch (or count to the 5th st from tail), make 5 half-double crochet. Slide up a bead, ch 1. (Make 5 more hdc in same st, slide up a bead, ch 1) twice.

In the second-to-last starting chain, make 5 single crochet. Slide up a bead, chain 1. (Make 5 more sc in the same st, slide up a bead, ch 1) twice. These stitches will tighten up the last chain the in starting chain, making it disappear.

Chain 6* for top of tree and hanging loop. Slip st in the 4th chain from hook and each of next 3 chains.

*Making something other than earrings? You may want this loop larger, or not want a loop at all. Add and skip more chains for a larger loop, or chain 4 and begin in the second ch from hook for no loop.

Bind off, secure stitch, run tail through center of each available starting chain to bottom. Weave in ends.

Finishing:
For earrings, add a jump ring to loop made by skipped chains. Attach a fish hook to the jump ring, close ring.


-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -


Snowflake Earrings:

  These are so beautiful, you could use them for almost anything. One single motif makes a lovely pendant, or you could connect two or three together for a dramatic choker. Use your choice of beads and thread color to customize.

Finished size of motif is 2" (5 cm) measuring from tip to tip.

Skill level: Easy

Materials:
Steel crochet hook size 8/1.50MM
Size 10 crochet thread
Tip-drilled, drop-shaped beads (click here for beads used)
Craft glue (optional)
Smaller hook or needle to weave in ends
Jewelry assembly materials (Jump rings, fish hook findings, pliers)

Gauge:
Not important. First round measures less than 1/2" (1.2 cm) in diameter.

Notes:
Click here for a step by step tutorial. This Guide will help you keep track of your stitches. Pull stitch as tight as possible when adding a bead. Keep loose tension for the rest of the project, or slip stitching in the chains will be extremely difficult.

Stitches:
Slip stitch (sl st)
Chain (ch)
Single crochet (sc)







Directions:

Begin with a magic circle.

Round 1:
Chain 1 (counts as 1 single crochet). Make 1 more sc in circle. Insert hook, pull up a loop, slide up a bead and pull thread tight. Yarn over, pull through both loops on hook (one bead sc made). Make 3 more sc in circle, ch 4. (Make 2 sc, 1 bead sc, and 3 sc in circle. Ch 4) 3 times. Pull circle tight. Join with a slip stitch to beginning ch-1.

Round 2:
Turn. *Sl st in next available ch-4 space. Chain 5, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in next ch. Ch 3, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in next st. Sl st in the chain at the base of the "Y", and sl st in each of the remaining 2 chs. Sl st in same ch-4 space. Ch 7, sl st in the 2nd ch from hook and in next ch. Ch 3, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in next st. Sl st in the ch at the base of the "Y", ans sl st in each of the remaining 4 chs. Sl st in the same ch-4 space again. Ch 5, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in next ch. Ch 3, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in next st. Sl st in the chain at the base of the "Y", and sl st in each of the remaining 2 chs. Sl st in the same ch-4 space again, ch 4.* Repeat from * to * 3 more times. Join with a sl st to beginning sl st. Bind off, weave in ends at the back of the motif.

Finishing:
Add a jump ring to the tip of any ch-7 spike. Attach a fish hook to the jump ring, close ring.

In case you would like to make a matching necklace: I find that as a pendant,the motif flops around too much when attached by a single spike. Add a jump ring to each ch-5 spike on either side of the ch-7 spike. Attach another jump ring to each, then add one more to each for hanging from a chain. You can see an example in the background of the main display at the top of the page.







Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Yarn Tales Tuesday






Bi-polar Craft-itis





  (Again, I'll keep things short this week due to the busy holiday season.)

  I've discovered that I may have a condition. I've seen signs of it for most of my life, and there doesn't seem to be a cure. This is my opportunity to connect with others who may also have this condition. Together we can find support and gain the confidence to deal with the life-disrupting side effects of having such an affliction.




  Wait, affliction? Let's go back to calling it a "condition", I like that better. I'm not afflicted, I'm not sick, and the only way I want to hear the word "disorder" is if you're talking about my office, because we're not talking about a sickness here. "Bi-polar Craft-itis is a condition that affects many crafters and D.I.Y. enthusiasts all over the world. This mental state is characterized by piles of mixed craft supplies in the home and an uncontrollable urge to travel to the craft store for more materials.  





  Other symptoms of this condition include, but are not limited to: Hoarding of crafting materials, sticky glue fingers, pondering what you can make out of trash, paint in your hair and eyebrows, mood swings while crafting, a trance-like state when watching D.I.Y. shows, and frequent utterance of the phrase "Ooo, I can make that!". 




  Signs to look for if you think you or a loved one has Bi-polar Craft-itis:
  • Lack of ability to purchase a gift for someone, preferring to make one instead


  • Inability to walk past a craft store, and consequentially being unable to decide on only one thing once you're in there


  • A constant need to create


  • Addiction to craft supplies such as yarn, paper, or fabric, etc


  • A feeling of loneliness when not surrounded by at least three ongoing projects





  If you suspect you or a loved one has this condition, talk to a physician about how his/her office would look much better with an accent wall and how you can crochet a seat cover for those little rolling stools that doctors always have. Although there is no cure for Bi-polar Craft-itis, those affected may continue to live a full, craft-filled life, finding support and D.I.Y. ideas on the internet and at craft fairs.




-Do you think you might have Bi-polar Craft-itis? Isn't it distracting sometimes? What is your favorite craft? Obviously, mine is crochet! 

I've been working on building an assortment of various craft tutorials for +Guidecentral. If you're interested, you can check them out here:

  

  Have fun!





  

Friday, December 5, 2014

Free Pattern: Mixed Material Bag







  *Everyone congratulate my kid for her first design! No, she didn't write the pattern or crochet it herself, but I gave her designing freedom when I said I wanted to make a bag. She chose the colors, shape, and size of this awesome idea. She picked the yarn, decided how it should be assembled, and added her sense to the creation of the button and flap.*




  So as a result, two colors of plarn and some Caron Simply Soft mixed together during the creation of this bag to give recycling a softer side. Alone, plarn can be lumpy, bumpy, and uninteresting. Combining two different colored panels of plarn with a gusset, strap and closing flap of soft yarn in a rich jewel tone add character and contrast to this mini messenger tote.




Variations:
A real button can be used instead of a crocheted one, just check for fit before making the button hole loop.
Create a few simple square pockets to attach to the front from your leftover Simply Soft.
Don't want to work up the more complicated decorative strap? Copy the simple single crochet gusset pattern and use that instead.
The front and back panels can be made in plain single crochet, too, for beginners.



Finished size is about 11" (28 cm) across by 12" (30.5 cm) tall. The gusset is a little over 2" (5 cm) wide.







Skill level:











Materials:
Worsted weight (4) yarn:
Caron Simply Soft (less than one skein) - Color used is Pagoda
Single strand plarn, cut 1" (2.5 cm) wide *also see notes*
  -2 balls each of white and grey, or colors of your choice (25 bags per ball)
Crochet hook size G/6 - 4.25 MM or size needed to obtain gauge
Smaller hook or needle to weave in ends





Gauge:
In 4" by 4" (10 cm by 10 cm)
15 rows of 15 sc




Notes:
Remember when working, two strands of plarn should be held together.

*If you prefer using the "loop" method of joining plarn, I suppose you could cut the loops 1" (2.5 cm) wide, and just use one strand of loop-joined plarn. I haven't made a swatch this way to know if the knots will change the gauge.

Before you cut all of the plarn for this project, work up a small sample. Make another swatch with Simply Soft to check if the gauge of your plarn matches.




Stitches and abbreviations:
Chain (ch)
Slip stitch (sl st)
Single crochet (sc)

Single crochet two together (sc2tog)
  Insert hook, pull up a loop. Insert hook in next st, pull up a loop (3 loops on hook). Yarn over, pull through all 3 loops.

Single crochet three together (sc3tog)
  Insert hook, pull up a loop (2 loops on hook). (Insert hook in next stitch, pull up a loop) twice (4 loops on hook). Yarn over, pull through all 4 loops.

Double crochet (dc)




Directions:



Front and back panels (make one in each color plarn):





To begin, ch 40 with double strands of 1" (2.5 cm) wide plarn.


Row 1:
1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of remaining 38 chs. (40 sc)


Row 2:
Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), turn. 1 sc in each of remaining 39 sts.


Rows 3 - 21:
Repeat Row 2.


Row 22:
Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), turn. 3 sc in next st. Sc3tog twice, 3 sc in the following st. *2 sc in each of the next 2 sts, 3 sc in the following st. Sc3tog twice, 3 sc in the next st.* Repeat from * to * 2 more times. 1 sc in the last st.


Row 23:
Repeat Row 2.


Row 24:
Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), turn. Sc3tog, 3 sc in each of the next 2 sts. Sc3tog. *1 sc in each of the next 2 sts, sc3tog. 3 sc in each of the next 2 sts, sc3tog.* Repeat from * to * 2 more times. 1 sc in the last st.


Rows 25 - 43:
Repeat Row 2.


Bind off, weave in ends.



Button:
Need help with a magic circle? Click here.
Begin with one strand of each color plarn and one strand of Simply Soft. Make a magic circle, ch 1 (counts as 1 sc). Make 11 sc in circle. Tighten circle, join with a sl st to beg ch-1. Weave in ends to the center, use tails to attach to front panel.
*Instead of worrying about your button's gauge, check for fit when working the border of the closing flap. You can alter the ch-6 buttonhole if needed.





Gusset:

Row 1:
With Simply Soft, ch 126. 1 sc in the 2nd ch from hook and each of remaining 124 chs. (126 sc)


Row 2:
Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), turn. 1 sc in each of the remaining 125 sc. (126 sc)


Rows 3 through 9:
Repeat Row 2. Bind off, weave in ends.



Front Flap:


Row 1:
With Simply Soft, ch 10. 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of remaining 8 chs. (10 sc)

Row 2:
Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), turn. 1 sc in the first st, 1 sc in each of the remaining 9 sc. (11 sc)

Row 3:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 9 sc, 2 sc in the last. (12 sc)

Row 4:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in the same st. 1 sc in each of remaining 11 sc. (13 sc)

Row 5:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 11 sc, 2 sc in the last. (14 sc)

Row 6:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in the same st. 1 sc in each of the remaining 13 sc. (15 sc)

Row 7:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 13 sc, 2 sc in the last. (16 sc)

Row 8:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in the same st. 1 sc in each of the remaining 15 sc. (17 sc)

Row 9:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 15 sc, 2 sc in the last. (18 sc)

Row 10:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in the same st, 1 sc in each of the remaining 17 sc. (19 sc)

Row 11:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 17 sc, 2 sc in the last. (20 sc)

Row 12:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in the same st, 1 sc in each of the remaining 19 sc. (21 sc)

Row 13:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 19 sc, 2 sc in the last. (22 sc)

Row 14:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in the same st, 1 sc in each of the remaining 21 sc. (23 sc)

Row  15:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 21 sc, 2 sc in the last. (24 sc)

Row 16:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in the same st, 1 sc in each of the remaining 23 sc. (25 sc)

Row 17:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 23 sc, 2 sc in the last. (26 sc)

Row 18:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in the same st, 1 sc in each of the remaining 25 sc. (27 sc)

Row 19:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 25 sc, 2 sc in the last. (28 sc)

Row 20:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in the same st, 1 sc in each of the remaining 27 sts. (29 sc)

Row 21:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the remaining 28 sc. (29 sc)

Row 22:
Ch 1, turn. Sc2tog. 1 sc in each of the remaining 26 sc. (28 sc)

Row 23:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 25 sc. Sc2tog. (27 sc)

Row 24:
Ch 1, turn. Sc2tog. 1 sc in each of the remaining 24 sc. (26 sc)

Row 25:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 23 sc. Sc2tog. (25 sc)

Row 26:
Ch 1, turn. Sc2tog. 1 sc in each of the remaining 22 sc. (24 sc)

Row 27:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 21 sc. Sc2tog. (23 sc)

Row 28:
Ch 1, turn. Sc2tog. 1 sc in each of the remaining 20 sc. (22 sc)

Row 29:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 19 sc. Sc2tog. (21 sc)

Row 30:
Ch 1, turn. Sc2tog. 1 sc in each of the next 18 sc. (20 sc)

Row 31:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 17 sc. Sc2tog. (19 sc)

Row 32:
Ch 1, turn. Sc2tog. 1 sc in each of the next 16 sc. (18 sc)

Row 33:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 15 sc. Sc2tog. (17 sc)

Row 34:
Ch 1, turn. Sc2tog. 1 sc in each of the remaining 14 sc. (16 sc)

Row 35:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 13 sc. Sc2tog. (15 sc)

Row 36:
Ch 1, turn. Sc2tog. 1 sc in each of the remaining 12 sc. (14 sc)

Row 37:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 11 sc. Sc2tog. (13 sc)

Row 38:
Ch 1, turn. Sc2tog. 1 sc in each of the remaining 10 sc. (12 sc)

Row 39:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 9 sc. Sc2tog. (11 sc.)

Row 40:
Ch 1, turn. Sc2tog. 1 sc in each of the remaining 8 sc. (10 sc)

Border:
Working down side: sl st in 1st available post sp, ch 1 (counts as 1 sc). 1 sc in each of remaining 38 side post sps. Ch 1, 1 sc in the same sp. 1 sc in each of the next 8 bottom post sps. (1 sc, ch 1, 1 sc) in next post sp. 1 sc in each of next 19 side post sps. Ch 6 (check button size), sk 1 post sp. 1 sc in each of next 18 post sps. (1 sc, ch 1, 1 sc) in next. 1 sc in each of the remaining 8 post sps. Ch 1, join with a sl st to beg ch-1. Bind off, weave in ends.


Strap:

Row 1:
With Simply Soft, ch 127. 3 sc in 2nd ch from hook. Sc3tog twice. 3 sc in the next ch, 1 sc in the following. *3 sc in the next ch, sc3tog twice. 3 sc in the next ch, 1 sc in the following.* Repeat from * to * 12 more times. (127 sc)

Row 2:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the remaining 126 sc. (127 sc)

Row 3:
Ch 1, turn. *Sc3tog, 3 sc in each of the next 2 sc. Sc3tog, 1 sc.* Repeat from * to * 13 more times. (127 sc)

Row 4:
Ch 3 (counts as 1 dc), turn. 1 dc in each of the remaining 126 dc. (127 dc)

Row 5:
Repeat Row 3.

Row 6:
Repeat Row 2.

Row 7:
Ch 1, turn. *3 sc in next st, sc3tog twice. 3 sc in the next st, 1 sc in the following.* Repeat from * to * 13 more times. Bind off, weave in ends.


Assembly:




All seams use one strand of each color (2 strands) plarn and one strand of Simply Soft.

Measure at least 3 times the length of the seam before cutting material.

For a true whip stitch: Insert needle through both post spaces from back to front. Bring yarn over top, insert from back to front for next stitches.
*When I whip stitch, I do it backwards, from front to back. Does it make a difference? I don't think so.

Add the button:
Attach the button to the front panel by its tails to stitches 20 and 21 of Row 25. Secure with a knot on the back side, weave in ends.

Attach the front and back panels to the gusset:
Using 3 strands threaded on a yarn needle, whip stitch through the post spaces only. You will have 43 vertically, 40 horizontally, and 43 vertically again. Bind off and weave in ends for each separate seam.

Attach the strap and closing flap as one seam:
Begin at the outer edge of the gusset on the front panel side. Whip stitch the 9 side-post spaces of the strap and gusset together. Picking up closing flap, miss the first border stitch, whip stitch across back panel. Miss the last border stitch. Work across the gusset towards the front panel to attach the other end of strap. Bind off and weave in ends.





  So, I had the recipient model her mind's creation for the pictures (she chose her outfit and got all jazzed up for them)... And we didn't get the best ones because she was excited to check out her new bag, and you know, play with her friends and stuff.




Then grandma and grandpa picked her up and she took off with it!





In the pictures, she has a binder in the bag. There's still room for a pencil case, cell phone, and some other random stuff without it bulging. I think it makes a great homework (or artwork) bag to take to a friend's house for study time. Or as she mentioned, it will be perfect for her video games...