Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wednesday Wishlist






Have you ever really wanted to try a new product, but it's not in your budget?
Do you fall in love with projects, but you know you just don't have time to make them right now?
Would you donate an item to charity if it meant you got to play with the yarn for free?

Here are my picks of the week:





Bernat Mega Bulky:

Image from Yarnspirations.com


  Bernat wasn't kidding when they named this yarn Mega Bulky! This stuff is huge! I fell in love with with Mega Bulky during my last yarn shopping trip. But, at $9.99 for 64 yards, it's not in my budget right now. I'm looking to make a new afghan, I'm pressed for time, and I know that it would be done in a flash with 4 rows of 4 single crochet to 4" (10 cm). But how many skeins would I need to make a full-size blanket? I can't spend over $30 on a project right now.

  Do you ever think "Ooo, I wanna make that!", but when you add up how much the project will cost, you just laugh (or get really sad)? Trying to get an idea for how many skeins I would need for my afghan, I was checking out the free pattern for this Big Waves Throw on the Yarnspirations website:

Image from Yarnspirations.com

  Click the picture to get the pattern. The folks at Yarnspirations.com are nice enough to put together a package for you to complete one of their projects. Although I really like this feature, scrolling down to the final price just about gave me a heart attack. Nope, a new afghan with Mega Bulky just isn't in my $30 budget right now. And this yarn is sooooo soft. Sigh.

  I know, plenty of you would suggest that I purchase one skein for a scarf or hat, or some smaller accessory, but the answer is no. No! No, I want a blanket, and I'm putting my foot down! Until then, maybe I'll get lucky enough to afford a few skeins for a small pattern and a review, but even that will have to wait.




Red Heart Boutique Twilight:

Image from redheart.com

  Ooo, shiny! Sorry, I can't help it...With bright, vivid colors that practically glow combined with a touch of sparkle, this bulky yarn attracts attention right away. Seriously, click the picture to follow the link, and check out all the selections available. I want a skein in every color!

  At $5.99 a ball, it seems like a better choice to fit my budget, but I surely can't buy one in every color. I have to face a dilemma with this one: With so low of a budget, should I spend my money on fashion yarn, or should I be looking at more practical, useful options? I need to keep that afghan in mind. There's always Granny Squares, right?




  For right now, I need to keep my yarn spending to a minimum. Unless I win some awesome giveaway, I'll have to scratch the Mega Bulky off of my list...wait for someone to gift me a skein...work harder so I can afford what I want again! But I still have to pick up something new once in a while, or my patterns start to feel redundant, all made in the same brand of cheap worsted acrylic. The less expensive ball of Boutique Twilight seems like a smarter choice to get me through that "I need new yarn" feeling, without breaking the bank.




What would you choose if you were in my situation? Take a little longer to save up, while still buying odds and ends, or stop buying anything and go through yarn detox until you save enough for everything? I'm not broke, I just have to be smart with my money right now, and remember that (unfortunately) yarn isn't really a necessity.




Click the donate button on the right if you can help me out! I love to play with yarn, even if I don't get to keep (or make money from) the item I've made. All donations will support my Scarf of the Month program. Every month, a new scarf (or set) will be designed to donate to charity. As a thank you for your donations, the pattern will be provided for free the following month!





Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Yarn Tales Tuesday






Saving the Yarn:
The next step




  Last week, we left off where I was debating whether to cut this skein of yarn to save myself some hassle. This week, let's see how far I've gotten with it:


  The final decision was to break out the scissors. I don't like it, but it's what I have to do before I loose my mind over $5 of acrylic yarn. In the end, I figured it just wasn't worth the frustration. Having already weighed my options and reconsidering the project this skein was designated for, I'm now prepared to start severing the knots that have kept me tied down. Well, almost. I imagine I can hear the yarn crying, "Don't cut me! Please untangle me!" and I feel bad about it. Then, realizing yarn can't talk, I regained my sanity and formed a plan.     




  Why plan ahead before cutting the yarn? I feel I owe it to this skein, since it was my lack of thought that caused its injury. I thought it would be smart to use some forethought this time, and at least make a goal to get equal parts out of the skein. I know it won't be perfect, but I'm going to stick it out and try my hardest.



  At the time that I took this picture, I had two sections partially untangled. One side was a bit under 1 oz (28 g), and the other was about half its size. I had a terribly tight knot to fight with, and considered just cutting it already. Just as I was about to snip, I realized where the problem was. Two loops in the knot were tightened together, with another loop tangled around both of them. Then, the whole mass of a knot twisted a few times, and flipped around the yarn coming from the skein. Seeing the correct route to take, I untied the mess in a few minutes with a sigh of relief.




  Remember last week, when I was hoping for the "yarn gods" to bless me with the power to save this skein? I thought my "prayer" was answered at last. After days of fighting and cussing while still determined to keep this yarn in one piece, I had finally made some progress! I thought I should put the scissors away. I thought I could begin to roll it into a beautiful, organized ball of potential project. I thought I would be able to relax with my coffee for a few minutes during a break. I thought the stereo would get a break from blasting heavy metal in anger, and I could go back to more quietly blasting heavy metal for fun. I thought wrong.




  I'll spare you the next few minutes of the story that involve R-rated language and scenes of violence. Let's just say this: There's a knot somewhere inside the skein, and I can't pull it out. If I pull one way, the yarn just won't budge. If I pull the other way, the whole skein starts to turn inside out. After letting it invert a bit, thinking I could find the knot, the second side quit moving, too. It's like there's an invisible troll living inside this skein, grabbing whatever tail you try to unravel, and tying it into a new knot again.




  Okay, it's time to accept defeat. But, at least I was able to get both ends untangled to about the same length. Get the scissors. Ready? Hold your breath and...



  Cut! Ooo, ow, oh, that hurt! I think I can hear my yarn whimpering! Shh...It'll be okay, yarn...We'll still turn you into a good project, I promise!




And now it's time to start again:


  Where? I don't know. I'm a little lost right now, but I'm sure I'll figure it out. For now, the drink of the day is herbal mint tea. (Screech! Hit the brakes!) What, no coffee? I'm feeling a bit down, the weather's been bad, and I just don't have the heart for my caffeinated friend today. But don't think I won't put some rum in that tea to give it a kick! I'm confident that the coffee maker will be up and running again tomorrow, and hopefully so will I. Until then, let's tone the heavy metal down a bit with a song of the day by Taproot (video will play), and look forward to brighter skies and less knots.









Friday, January 23, 2015

Free Pattern: Surface Crochet 3-D Roses






  Many crocheters have stood by the classic rolled rose pattern over the years. Although it's a foolproof, beautiful pattern, as an advanced crocheter, I got bored with it (no offense to the old, tried-and-true rolled rose). While creating a tutorial for three dimensional surface crochet, I noticed the shape of a flower petal forming in my stitches. These beauties soon rolled off my hook.




  Each rose is created from the same pattern, and shaped differently while weaving in the ends. Three different methods of weaving will allow you to create five differently shaped roses. You can follow the written directions here, or for step by step help, see this tutorial.




  What would you use these roses for? Maybe put them on a garland, use them as three-dimensional appliques, attach them to hair accessories, bags, scarves, pillows, afghans...you get the point, right? What about for weddings? The possibilities are endless!




  The finished size of the basic rose, without shaping, is 5" (12.5 cm), while the rosebud is cinched into a 2.5" (6 cm) ball.



From the top middle to the left: Version 4, version 2, version 3, version 1.



Skill level:






Materials:
Worsted weight (4) acrylic yarn
  -Red Heart Super Saver used for White and Red
  -Caron One Pound used for pink
Crochet hook size J/10-6.00MM or size needed to obtain gauge
Smaller hook or yarn needle to weave in ends
Stitch marker (optional)




Gauge:
In 4" by 4" (10 cm by 10 cm):
6 rows of 12 double crochet






Notes:
The base of the pattern is worked without joining rounds. Use stitch markers for the beginning chain spaces of rounds, if needed.

Need help with the surface crochet for this specific project? See this tutorial on Guidecentral.

For more about different ways to use surface crochet, you can see the original tutorial here.

The directions for the surface stitches in this pattern may be confusing, so let's use the first round of raised stitches as an example: When working over the chain-3 space of Round 2, you will actually insert the hook in the chain-4 space of Round 3 to pull up a loop.
-Any time the stitch directions would include "yarn over", the yarn will come from the actual chain-3 space. Where the stitch directions would be "pull up a loop", the yarn will come from the chain-4 space below.
*For example: If you were to make a double crochet, yarn over from above the chain. Pull up a loop from below it. To (yarn over, pull through 2 loops) twice, you will pull up the yarn from above the chain.




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

2 double crochet cluster (2dc cl) - (Yarn over, insert hook, pull up a loop. Yarn over, pull through 2 loops) twice (3 loops on hook). Yarn over, pull through all 3 loops on hook.

Beginning (beg)
Skip (sk)
Space (sp)




Directions:

To begin, chain 3, join into a ring with a sl st in the farthest chain from the hook.

Round 1:
(Ch 2, sl st in ring) 4 times. Ch 2, sl st in next chain-sp.

Round 2: *Mark the first chain spaces of the following rounds, if needed.
(Ch 3, sl st in the next ch-2 sp) 4 times. Ch 3, sl st in the next ch-3 sp.

Round 3:
(Ch 4, sl st in the next ch-3 space) 4 times. Chain 4.

Round 4:
*Sl st in the next ch-4 sp from back to front. (Ch 3, 2 dc, 1 hdc, ch 3, 1 hdc, 2 dc, ch 3, sl st) in the same sp.* Repeat from * to * 4 more times.

Round 5: (surface crochet)
Turn as if you are going to work in rows. Allow the yarn to fall underneath the work to prepare for the surface stitches. Working on top of the chain-3 spaces of Round 2: Pull the yarn up from under the work. *Sl st in the next available ch-3 sp, before the sl st in the middle of the chain. (Ch 4, 2dc cl) in same sp. (Ch 4, 2dc cl, ch 4, sl st) in same space past the sl st.* Repeat from * to * 4 more times.

Round 6: (surface crochet)
*Sl st in the next available ch-2 sp of Round 2, before the middle sl st. (Ch 3, 1 dc)in the same sp. (1 dc, ch 3, sl st) in the same sp past the middle sl st.* Repeat from * to * 4 more times.

Round 7:
Sk one ch-2 sp. (Sc in the center ring, pulling up a loop from the next available ch-2 sp. Ch 1.) 4 times. Insert the hook in the next (skipped) ch-2 sp from under the beg st. Pull up a loop from under the beg st, complete the sc, and ch 1.

*For all versions other than original version 1, you will need to leave a tail of at least 8" (20 cm).* Bind off. Place your hook under the last ch-1 space, pull the tail through the center to the bottom side. Decide which version of the rose you wish to make before fully weaving in your ends. For version 1, weave in ends now.




Version 2:

This was difficult to capture in a picture because it kept falling over, so if you want a rose that will sit flat, this one isn't it! Weaving the ends this way will create a tight-petaled, full-bloom style rose, with the bottom petals facing downward.


Weave the tail through the stitches until you reach the outer chain-4 spaces of Round 3. Pull the tail under the base loops of all Round 4 stitches (follow the ch-4 sps). Once you've gone all the way around, follow one more chain-4 space to overlap where the tail started. Hold down the center of the rose, and pull the tail tight. Secure the tail, weave in ends.




Version 3:

This method creates another full-bloom rose by pulling the center surface rows tighter, but leaves the outer stitches for a flat bottom.

 
Weave the tail towards the ch-3 spaces of Round 2. Pull the tail up to the top side through a ch-3 sp. Leave the stitch loose to weave back under it later. Working on the top side of the stitches from Round 4, pull the tail back through the next ch-3 sp to the bottom side. Leaving the stitches loose, continue weaving through the ch-3 sps until you get to the first st. Pull the tail under this st. Weave the tail under all the loose stitches as for a whip stitch. Pull the tail tight to pull the center surface crochet stitches together, leaving the base row flat. Secure the tail and weave in ends.



Version 4:

This version can be worked two different ways. The first way looks quite a bit like Version 2, but much more compact, with the bottom petals curling upward.


Weave the tail to the outer edge of Round 3. From the top side, insert the hook through the ch-2 sp of Round 2, and through the ch-4 sp of Round 3. Pull the yarn up through both sps. From the bottom side, insert the hook in the next available ch-4 sp of Round 5, between the 2dc cl sts. Pull the tail through to the bottom side of the work again. Repeat for the remaining ch-3 and ch-4 sps. This will create long stitches on the back side of the work. Weave the tail back and forth through these long stitches once you have woven through all of the designated chain spaces. Push down slightly in the center as you pull the tail tight.

Want to turn it into a rosebud? Push harder on the center, inverting the pattern as you pull the tail tight. The bottom side will now be the top, with the final row of surface sc creating a base.


Secure the tail, finish weaving in the ends.



Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Yarn Tales Tuesday






Saving the Yarn:
The culprits





  This week's subject will need a continuation. I just can't deal with it all at one time. Some of you will understand. A few of you will think I'm nuts and tell me to throw it out. Many of you have been in the same situation.




  Let me begin this endeavor with a quick comment: I love my kids. And I love my pets. But sometimes...Ugh. Sometimes as a parent (and pet owner), you have that moment where you envision Homer shaking Bart Simpson by the neck as he says "Why you little...!" But you take a deep breath, count to ten, take another deep breath and count to one hundred as steam rolls out of your ears, and then...Then you fix it. Whatever it is.




  My it is the subject of the following weeks. It started with one simple question: "Mom, do you have some blue yarn I can use?"

  "Sure, I have blue yarn! Do you want royal blue, powder blue, blue blue, or teal blue?" (Gesturing to acrylic craft yarn...)

  "I want that one" (points to the skein of more costly Navy acrylic that I'm about to start a project with).

  "Well, I'm going to use that one to make you a new hat. Can you use a different color?" 

  "I only need a little to tow my truck with. Please?"




  And that's where I made the biggest mistake with my yarn. "Sure, buddy, how long do you need it to be?" After being told he needed to measure, and I was busy at the time, I let him walk off with a skein, trusting it would come back only a little shorter. You can guess what happened, right?





  This is what happened. Here is my new free time. I still get to sit down with my coffee and some heavy metal, but it will include knots and four-letter words until this is done. Let me explain what you might not understand from the picture: The parts that are rolled up are both ends of the skein, coming out of the same end of the skein. After looping around the entire length of the skein, one end goes back inside the center, and comes out the other side. Then somehow, it meets the other end of the skein again. And...they're tied in a knot. Again. 




  The first knot is in the center of the looser tangle, closest to the rolled parts. Then both of the tail ends of that run through a mass of loops a few times. And as I traced the ends past where they are looped around, I discovered the second knot. I may have made it even worse when I tried to pull extra slack from the center of the skein. That's when I found out that the ends also pass through the middle of the skein sideways, as if my boy was using the skein as an embroidery canvas. 




  Ugh. Time for more four letter words, and maybe time for scissors. I just can't take it anymore, but I refuse to throw away yarn that can be saved. You remember seeing the little good guy/bad guys on a character's shoulders in cartoons? I have a set of them with me now. The bad one with the pointy little beard is whispering in my ear "It's a five-dollar skein of acrylic...Throw it away! Just throw it away!". And the good guy in the white dress is yelling "NOOO! No! Don't throw the yarn away! You can save it! You have to save it! You will save it!".  



  Maybe I watched too many cartoons as a kid...




  In my head, the good guy jumps over to the other shoulder, takes the bad guy's pitchfork, and shoves it up his...ahem...anyways... So, I'm putting it down, for now. I don't want to throw it away. I just can't deal with it all at one time. Just when I think I made it past a knot, I find a new one. And just when things are going well with the untangling process, I lose my grip on the ball I'm working with, sending it rolling across the room for a cat to catch. Can somebody remind me why I have a sensitive, caring side?






  Oh, that's right, cute little pets! I forgot the part about my furry little "friends"! Sometimes it seems like my design ideas come to a halt because of pets. I had an awesome idea for salvaging this yarn. I'm pretty sure some cutting will happen, so...Granny squares. Yay, a new afghan! It will look so nice on my couch! Oh, wait...never mind cats' claws in the project that took me three months to finish, I have a bad dog, too. 





  Tater Salad weighs about 120 pounds and slobbers everywhere. He knows he's not allowed on my couch. After repeatedly finding fur on the couch in the morning, I started pushing the coffee table against it before I went to bed. Ha! Now get on the couch, bad dog!




  Right. So, after repeatedly finding fur on the couch even after I blocked it off with the table, I set up a motion-sensor night vision camera. This first picture was taken 20 minutes after I went to bed:




  I swear he's looking right at the camera, thinking "Like that's gonna stop me". And, here he is, nice and comfy, after going right across my coffee table to get to the couch:




  With his head on the pillow and everything. Ugh. And for the grand finale:




  That would be him going across my table again, to get off the couch. Time stamp on photo - exactly the same time my alarm clock started going off. Did I mention he knows he's not allowed on the furniture? The next picture in the group was of me coming out to start the coffee. And when I did, he was on his bed, where he's supposed to be, looking as innocent as the boy who said "I put your yarn back for you, Mom". Thanks.




  Have your attempts with yarn ever been thwarted by the loved ones in your life? Maybe they don't appreciate yarn or the final product the way us yarn lovers do. Maybe the big, smelly dog just wants a nice afghan to cuddle with, and he just doesn't understand why he can't have it. Maybe the kid doesn't really want a new hat.




  And maybe, just maybe, the "yarn gods" will bless me with the power to untangle this skein. Until then, the drink of the day is coffee (as always), the band of the day is Mushroomhead (video will play), and I see the use of scissors in my near future.








Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Free Pattern: #CatHeart and Friends Motif





  First of all, let me point out, like I will multiple times throughout this post, that I lack embroidery skills. I'm not satisfied with the final result here. Seriously, once you scroll down a little bit, I bet you're going to laugh. But the crocheted part, and basic idea of the pattern still work out. Thread and a needle just don't work out for me. So, this pattern looks a little...off. But there's a point to this post! I decided to sacrifice my self-esteem, and show you my work as-is, so I can use it for an opening.




  This is a less serious pattern than usual, and more of an example for what's soon to come on the Crochet is the Way blog. I'm not diving into the major details yet, this is just a cute, "look what you can do" kind of post. I had some problems, and also some fun creating this pattern, and I want this to be an "introduction" of sorts into the new series.




  So what's coming? Design. I'll be working on tutorials for those of you who have always wanted to design your own patterns, but don't have the knowledge yet, or for those of you who are already designing, but need a little help. Although these how-to subjects will be geared more towards helping you create what you want, they will still include some patterns, as well as helpful tips for beginners. This pattern is a little piece of proof for the variety of what you can create once you learn skills like shaping, adding details, and joining pieces together. I'll be pointing out the problems I had while making Hashtag CatHeart (like accidentally creating #MouseHeart), so you can begin to pick up on a few issues.


But first, where did this pattern come from?




Question: "So, what is Hashtag CatHeart?"

Answer: "I don't know..."


  This was a recent conversation with my kid. She's always coloring, doodling, and drawing, and she did this little character. Why? I don't know, and neither does she! I asked multiple questions using the "who, what when, where, why" format, and finally received the answer of "I just thought it up, and I like it".




  So why all the drilling questions? I thought it was cute, and I wanted to use it. But, if I'm going to design a crochet pattern with it, I wanted to make sure it wasn't from a licensed product out of a TV show or video game. Nope! It just came out of my kid's wonderful brain. I asked her if I could crochet her design, and provide a free pattern, and she said "cool". That's "cool", because although I know some of you might be asking the same question about what in the world #CatHeart is supposed to be, many of you will agree how adorable it is.




  I decided it would make a cute crocheted motif for an applique or some jewelry. I also decided to stop worrying and wondering what it's supposed to be, and just make it. Since the original designer can't explain it, I came up with the best answer: She's in that tween stage of finding herself through creation, and hashtags are a big source of comedy in our house. To explain why:



  My other half isn't tech-savvy. He doesn't know the difference between an email and a text. He can't sign in to his email without help. If you tell him to type in a URL he says "Huh?", and he has absolutely NO clue what a hashtag (#) is, or what it's used for.

  We still love him, though, because he helps me untangle yarn and makes pancakes for breakfast. Anyways, when the kid and I were having "obnoxious convo" time, we were making up funny hashtags. Every mother's top moment (not) in life: When their kid blurts out "Hashtag, I farted!" (Sorry.) Here comes the other half's famous question...

  "What is a hashtag, anyways?" The kid quickly drew one, and he says "You mean a pound sign!?" So, now it's an ongoing argument (in fun) over whether it's a hashtag or a pound sign. I say let's play tic-tac-toe!


Where's the hashtag?

  Why does #CatHeart have to be preceded by "a pound sign", if it's just a cat/heart? I don't know, she insisted on that title. I guess designers can call their creations whatever they want, can't they? It's better than her original #IFarted, because I don't know how to crochet that one! Follow along whether you want to create this cute little 1" (2.5 cm) motif, or you just want to read up on the highlights of the new Design Series, and the problems I faced while making the pattern come to life. I'm not really teaching anything here, just pointing out some subjects we'll be learning soon. That way, if you're new to the blog, and you're interested in any of the subjects, you can subscribe, or bookmark the page so you can check back for updates. To find these details:

  • Look for the bullet points after the main written pattern.






Skill Level:






Materials:
Size 10 crochet thread
-I used a combination of DMC Traditions in White for Color A, and Aunt Lydia's in Dark Royal for Color B. (Many other color combinations would work well, such as reverse blue and white, black and white, pink and white, or pink and black. Black and orange would be cute for Halloween.)

Steel crochet hook size 7/1.65MM or size needed to obtain gauge

Smaller hook to weave in ends

Tapestry or yarn needle




Gauge:
First 2 rounds of pattern (24 single crochet) measures 1/2" (1.25 cm) in diameter






Notes:
Many techniques can be used to create the facial details for this pattern.You may chose to use surface crochet, or your own embroidery techniques.

Sew-on eyes, beads, or felt pieces could also be added to create the facial details. Use your imagination, and create this pattern from your own mind's eye!




Stitches and abbreviations:
Magic circle
Chain (ch)
Slip stitch (sl st)
Single crochet (sc)
Half-double crochet (hdc)
Double crochet (dc)

Single crochet two together (sc2tog) - Insert hook, pull up a loop. Yarn over, pull through one loop (2 loops on hook). Insert hook in next stitch, pull up a loop (3 loops on hook). Yarn over, pull through all 3 loops.

Single crochet cluster (sc cl) - (Insert hook, pull up a loop. Yarn over, pull through one loop) twice. Insert hook, pull up a loop, pull through all 4 loops. - Also see pictures under the Nose instructions.

Picot tip for sc cl - Chain 2, slip stitch in top of sc cl made.

Beginning (beg)
Space (sp)




Directions:


Begin with Color A, make a Magic circle.


Round 1:
Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), make 11 sc in circle. Tighten circle, join with a sl st to beg ch-1. (12 sc)


Round 2:
Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), 1 sc in same st. Make 2 sc in each of the remaining 11 sc. Join with a sl st to beg ch-1. (24 sc)


Round 3:
Ch 6, 2 dc in same st. 2 dc in the next st. 2 hdc in the following st, 1 hdc in each of the next 2 sts. 1 sc in the next st, sc2tog twice. Ch 3, sc2tog twice, 1 sc in the following st. 1 hdc in each of the next 2 sts, 2 hdc in the following. 2 dc in the next st, ( 2 dc, ch 6, sl st) in the following st. Sl st in each of the remaining 4 sts.


Round 4:
Sl st in the ch-6 sp, ch 1. (2 sc, ch 3, sc cl) in same sp. 2 sc in each of the next 3 sts. 1 sc in each of the following 8 sts. Sc cl in ch-3 sp, make picot in top. 1 sc in each of the next 8 sts, 2 sc in each of the following 3 sts. (Sc cl, ch 3, 2 sc, ch 1, sl st) in ch-6 sp.

Bind off, weave in ends.





  • Here's an example of how you can "fudge" a mistake in a pattern. Let me be clear about something first: I don't like "fudging" anything. I prefer to rip out my stitches and correct the mistake. But sometimes, you can get away with it. On this motif, I missed one half-double crochet in Round 3, which left me one stitch short in Round 4. Although any experienced crocheter would spot my "fix", the shape of the pattern still came out the same. Because Round 4 (before the chain-space) ends with "2 single crochet in each of the next 3 stitches", and I'm one stitch short, I divided it out to "3 sc in each of the next 2". For a more intricate pattern or a garment, the stitch count should be corrected in Round 3. But, since this motif was only to practice adding the facial details, I let it go. In the new series, we will cover how to find and fix your mistakes, as well as use the same skills to change existing patterns. This section of the tutorials will be geared more towards beginners, but can also be helpful to designers.





Adding facial details:

As stated in the Notes, you can chose to add facial details any way you want, but here are the instructions for the way I put it all together. Just an additional note: My embroidery skills s-u-c-k. I'm sorry. No, I don't mean I apologize, I mean I have some sorry embroidery skills, and I need to learn to do a better job. But at least I try.


Eyes:
Create each eye over the 3rd and 21st single crochet post of row 2 with Color B.

(For MouseHeart, make each eye with a French Knot.)

  • I actually learned surface crochet because my embroidery skills are so terrible. Throughout the new series, we will be learning how to use surface crochet to add details and shaping where you might lack or maybe just dislike certain skills...My problem here is both. So...This is #MouseHeart. He/she wasn't meant to be, but happened anyways. Because of my horrible embroidery skills, and lack of thought. This is my attempt with a needle and thread, the French Knot, and what I think is called the Loop stitch. Even though I pretty much messed up the rest of it as a cat, the biggest problem here was the round eyes. After making my best attempt at a French Knot, I still couldn't figure out why I just wasn't seeing a cat. I see a mouse. Because cats' eyes are slanted, not round! (And I need to learn embroidery!) This makes a lesson on why to plan a pattern based on your skills. I know I suck at embroidery, and I probably should have just purchased some sew-on eyes or used beads instead. And once I figured out the problem with the shape, I felt a little dumb. But like I said, at least I try...And now we have a cute little mouse motif to go with #CatHeart! But, I don't know...My other half calls it a Cat/MouseHeart. Maybe it's just a total fail.






  • #MouseHeart is a great example of another part of the series: Making multiple things from the same pattern. If you plan to make original design pieces to sell, it helps to have a "pattern base" for some basic patterns. Along with cat and mouse, using the main heart pattern, different colors, (and better embroidery skills), I could borrow the pattern for this base to create a dog, a fox, maybe a rabbit, and probably some other animals. In addition to that, this simple motif could be used as an applique, or for jewelry, magnets, key chains, etc. 



For #CatHeart:

Thread a needle with a single strand of Color B. Bring the thread up from behind the work.






Insert the needle on the other side of the post, leaving slack in the loop.






Bring the needle back up through the beginning post space and through one strand of the loop.






Run the needle back through the second post space again.






Bring the needle back through the beginning post space, and under the other strand.






Find the post space between sets of (2 dc) in the next round, insert the needle.






Pull the thread through, secure with a knot at the back.






And repeat for the second eye.







Nose:
The tails of the nose will also create the mouth. Leave a tail of at least 8" (20 cm) on each end of the motif.



  • The way the nose is attached is actually an example of what not to do when designing for sale items. But, if you're designing a pattern for your own use, and you know the back will be covered, then make a thread mess on the opposite side if you like! I made a mess of mine, well, because I have no choice (you know, because my embroidery sucks...), but also because I want to sew another plain motif to the back of it for thickness, so it doesn't really matter. In the new series, we will discover some shortcuts that can save you time and material, but also when not to use them.



Using Color B, begin with a magic circle.

Ch 1, sc cl (see pics) in circle. Tighten circle, bind off. Weave beg tail to the point.

To make a sc cl in the circle: (Insert hook, pull up a loop. Yarn over, pull through one loop) twice. Insert hook, pull up a loop (4 loops on hook).






Yarn over, pull through all four loops.






To complete the nose, bind off, tie tails in an overhand knot, tighten gently to a point.






For the next steps, I skip the needle and just use a crochet hook. You can choose to use either.



  • Because my skills with a needle need improvement, it's easier for me to work my magic with a hook. Another part of the new series will teach you how to use multiple tools for the same technique, to find what you're most comfortable with.



Attach nose piece, point down, by pulling both tails to the back, through the chain-3 space of Round 3.






Insert the hook through the post space of the second stitch from center in Round One.






Pull the thread up. You can pull it all the way through if you want, or just drop the loop for the next step.






Insert the hook through the corner space of the nose.






Pull the thread through.






Insert the hook through the next post space up in the same round.






Pull the thread through the post space to the back.







For Mouth:


Insert the hook from the front into the post space between sc2tog, and pull the thread through.






Insert the hook under the thread going through the chain-3 space, pull through, and then to the back through the chain-3 space.






Pull thread up to the front through the next post space. Insert the hook under the stitch made in the last step.






Pull the thread through the same post space to the back side again.






Repeat for the other side of the mouth. Before tying off ends, place your hook underneath the nose piece to keep the stitches from pulling.







Whiskers:


  • Surprisingly, the whiskers of both motifs were the hardest part of this pattern for me. Although I have some studying to do myself before creating a tutorial for how to create facial details, size, shape, and placement will be some of the Design Series subjects. The size, depth and angle of your details can change the entire appearance of a pattern, so it's important to work these issues out before you design! #MouseHeart came to life when I added too many strands to the whiskers, which changed the shape of the nose, ruining the attempt at making a cat. The rounded eyes were already a bit off, then the large knot of double strands widened the nose too much. But, by leaving the whiskers a bit longer, the pattern easily became a mouse.  



For both motifs, I simply used a few of the leftover thread scraps I had after the embroidery. Use pieces of thread at least 2 1/2" (6 cm) long.

#Catheart:


Use one piece of thread for each side (2 total).







Insert the hook under the thread at the top corner of the nose, double a piece of thread over and grab with the hook. Pull halfway through to create a loop.






With the hook through the loop, grab the tails of the strand with the hook.






Pull through as for fringe, tighten gently. Repeat for the other side.






Trim the strands of the whiskers to about 1/2" (1 cm).






#MouseHeart:


Use two pieces of thread for each side (4 total)


Holding both strands together, pull through exactly as for #CatHeart.





I left the strands for these whiskers 1" (2.5 cm) long. I think it's possible to trim them and still save this as a cat, if your embroidery skills are better than mine. I like the look of the 4 strands of whiskers, but the nose and eyes need to be different.



Finishing:


If you're using this motif as an applique, or your back looks nice and neat, you can skip this step. For those who would like to make an ornament or use for jewelry, and maybe the back of it looks so horribly bad that you won't even take a picture of it, you will need a second motif. Attach the second motif to the embroidered main piece with a whip stitch in the back loops.




Conclusion:


  So, these have only been a few highlights for what's to come in the Design Series. Honestly, I'm still kicking the idea around a bit, because I'm undecided on how I should organize the series. I'm already working on what to create tutorials and tips for, but I need help choosing whether some skills should be separated from others. I welcome your opinions, so please help me think about it! -

  At first, when you think of someone designing their own crochet patterns, you probably think of someone with advanced skills. But what's to say a beginner can't design a scarf with their own combination of single crochet, chain stitches, and a special choice of yarn?

  Who's to say that a beginner shouldn't sit down and try to crochet a cute little character that their kid drew, like I did? If you have the ambition, and someone to teach you, you can learn anything! Once you learn how to make something as simple as a chain and slip stitch combination, you can begin to learn the basics of creating shapes.

  I think that adding tutorials for some basic, easy skills and tips would be very helpful. But as an advanced crocheter, I also understand that tutorials for beginners can be redundant and boring, if you already know the skill. Should I separate the lessons for beginners into their own series? I'm afraid the more advanced tutorials will take on a snobby "you can't do this yet" feeling.

  At the same time, I worry that combining information for beginners in an advanced tutorial will be too much information, and could get confusing. I considered creating the tutorials using as many tips as I can include with the subject, then highlighting different skill levels throughout the post. What skill level are you, and what do you think would be best?