Crochet A to Z: Ribbing

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click the link at the top of my blog!

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Hi lovely followers! Today we’re going to talk about the ribbed stitch, which is a super easy way to add texture to your crochet. There are several different ways to achieve ribbing, but we’re just discussing one today.

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Ribbing is fantastic for adding texture and stretch. Here’s a blanket I made for our puppy using the ribbed stitch – it holds up quite well under her rigorous play! It’s great for cuffs on sweaters and socks, as well as for scarves and blankets. And it looks quite similar to knitted ribbing, which makes me happy as I love the look of knitted fabric. 🙂

To do this stitch, all you have to do is crochet in the back loops of the stitches. (You can also do front loop crochet, which makes a cool pattern, but it isn’t this chunky, squishy kind of ribbing. It’s fun to experiment with, though, so feel free to give that a go!) You’re just working under one loop instead of two, which yields this cool effect.

So basically instead of inserting your hook under two loops like this…

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You’ll be going under just the back loop, the back part of the “V,” like this!

I hope that makes sense – I didn’t get a picture of this in progress, but there are plenty of YouTube tutorials out there if you search ‘back loop crochet’ or ‘crochet ribbing.’ They explain it much better than me. :}

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It creates a really cool look, I think, and I love that it’s so easy to do. You may have gathered by now that I’m a very lazy crocheter, so I love easy stitches that look complicated. 🙂

Have you used crochet ribbing before? What are your thoughts? Your comments are always appreciated – thank you for all your support! 🙂 ❤

Crochet A to Z: Questions Every Crocheter Receives

(How is it that I’m an English major in my fourth term of college and I STILL don’t know how to spell “receives”?)

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click on the page at the top of my blog!

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It was really hard to think of a letter for “Q.” I wanted to do something about frequently asked questions, but this whole post series is meant to address frequently asked crochet questions, so that would be sort of redundant. So instead, I thought I would write about questions I get all the time…and from talking to other crocheters, I’ve learned that many of them get the same questions!

My title isn’t entirely accurate in that not every crocheter receives all these questions, but they are pretty common. 🙂

Q: Where did you get your felted purse/octopus hat/Yoda coffee cup cozy/ratty fingerless gloves/other creative item?

Whenever you leave the house in a crocheted item, people are bound to ask about it – especially the stranger it is! To which I tell them truthfully: “I made it!”

Q: Really?

Yes, really. (Usually accompanied by nervous shuffling of feet, tugging at a strand of hair, and eyes darting around and failing to make eye contact: do they think I’m bragging? Do they not believe me? Do they think it’s the ugliest thing in the history of the world and are trying to come up with something nice to say?)

Q: That’s so cool! I can’t even knit a scarf!

-inwardly wincing-

Now, there’s nothing wrong with knitting – knitting is awesome! But it does get a little old having crochet constantly be mistaken for its two-needled cousin. I usually reply with something like: “Me neither! This is crocheted.” Said with a smile so they know I’m not being snarky. 😉

Q: Ooh, you crochet? You should open an Etsy shop!

I’ve gotten this one dozens of times, and it’s very flattering! It makes me happy that people like the things I make. My problem is that making any profit from an Etsy shop is tricky when you’re selling handmade stuff – people do it for sure, but I haven’t figured out how yet. 😛 I’m not a natural businesswoman, haha. Sometimes when people tell me this I want to ask them if they have any idea what handmade stuff would cost if you factored in the labor and materials involved. I doubt anyone would buy an amigurumi Rey for $50, even if that’s what I should be charging for my time involved, and all the yarn and accouterments!

But people really do mean well, and it’s nice to have support from random strangers who took a minute to compliment my crocheted scarf. 🙂 If any of you guys have experience with opening an Etsy shop, I’d absolutely love to hear from you – I’m still trying to get mine off the ground!

Q: Ooh, you crochet? Will you make me something?

I’d love to!

If I can afford the yarn! 😛

I’m mostly kidding. I will always happily make stuff for someone who asks, unless it’s a random person I don’t know very well, in which case I will definitely make them pay for the yarn. 😛 I mostly use Red Heart Super Saver, which is scratchy and sometimes unpleasant, and I feel a little funny about giving that to another person. 🙂

I’ve done some really fun commissions for people, and I love doing that, so I’m always happy when someone asks me to make something for them. There’s no greater compliment!

Q: Claire, why is there a yarn scrap in the driveway/bathtub/dog’s mouth/open-air tipi/your hair?

Okay, maybe not every crocheter gets this question. But yarn scraps have appeared in all these places before. 😄

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What’s the strangest place you’ve ever found a yarn scrap? Do you have any questions that people ask you all the time?

 

Crochet A to Z: Pattern Reading

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click on the page at the top of my blog!

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Pattern reading…also known as “deciphering the Greek that is crochet patterns.” When I started crocheting I was overwhelmed by the cryptic code of patterns. It looks overly complicated, but we’re going to break it down step-by-step so it’s more manageable. 🙂

First of all, why should you even bother to learn to read patterns? After all, there are so many YouTube and photo tutorials out there that you can get by without them. That’s definitely true (I learned to crochet from both of those things), but sometimes you’ll really want to make a pattern that doesn’t have a tutorial – for example, in a magazine. If magazines had tutorials, they’d be the length of Les Miserables. So sometimes it’s inevitable.

Let’s take the Mint Green Owl pattern as an example. I’m using US crochet terms in this post – we’ll be talking about US vs. UK crochet terms later in the month. 🙂

First of all, you’ll want to read through the Materials, Pattern Notes, Special Stitches, and Abbreviations. Not all patterns will have all these categories. Materials covers what you need, as you probably guessed. 😛 Pattern Notes refer to anything special in the pattern, like for the Mint Green Owl it specifies that you’ll be working in unjoined rounds. Special Stitches are any, well, special stitches (that aren’t standard). And some patterns have an Abbreviations list.

We’re going to go over the abbreviations now – shorter names for each crochet stitch. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it should act as a good starting point. It’s not alphabetical because I’m actually not that good at the alphabet (which is sort of ironic given the theme “Crochet A to Z.”)

Sc = Single Crochet
Sl st = Slip stitch
Ch = Chain stitch
Hdc = Half-double crochet
Dc = Double crochet
Tr/Tc = Triple crochet
Sc2tog = Single crochet 2 together (this is a decrease)
Hdc2tog = Half-double crochet 2 together
Dc2tog = Double crochet 2 together
Inc = Increase
Rnd = Round
FO/TO = Fasten off/tie off (cut the yarn)
St = Stitch
Sp = Space
Ch-sp = Chain-space (the space made by a few chains)

Now that you know some abbreviations, let’s move on to the pattern.

BODY

Rnd 1: Ch 2, 6 sc in 2nd ch from hook.

Rnd 2: 2 sc in each st around.

Rnd 3: *Sc 1, 2 sc in next st* around.

Rnd 4: *Sc 2, 2 sc in next st* around.

Rnd 5-12: Sc in each st around.

Okeydokey!

Rnd 1: Ch 2, 6 sc in 2nd ch from hook.

Writing this out longhand:

Round 1: Chain 2, 6 single crochets in 2nd chain from hook.

So, you’ll make two chain stitches, and then go into the second chain from your hook. Remember to never count the loop on your hook – so you’ll be inserting the hook into the chain directly after the slip knot, or into the very first chain you made. Make your first single crochet, then make five more into the same space.

Rnd 2: 2 sc in each st around.

Writing this out longhand:

Round 2: 2 single crochets in each stitch around.

This means to increase six times. Some patterns will put a stitch count at the end of the round, which would be just a number in parentheses like this: (12 sc). I forgot to do that when I wrote this pattern. :}

Rnd 3: *Sc 1, 2 sc in next st* around.

Round 3: *Single crochet 1, 2 single crochets in next stitch* around.

The asterisks just mean to repeat the stuff between them all the way around. So you’ll start by making one normal single crochet, then into the following stitch, you’ll make 2 single crochets in one (an increase). Then one normal single crochet, then two into the following stitch. Repeat this around.

Round 4 is very similar, except you’ll be doing single crochets normally before you make 2-in-one.

Rounds 5-12 are just single crochet around.

So this is a very basic pattern, but I hope it gives you an idea of how to go about reading them. If there’s a complicated pattern you’re struggling with, feel free to get ahold of me and we can try and figure it out – I am by no means an expert, but I’ll give it my best shot! (I mean, don’t illegally copy a pattern, but leaving a couple lines in the comments should be fine, depending on what pattern, or use the contact form.) 🙂

What do y’all think of pattern reading? Unnecessarily complicated? (Sometimes I think so!) Thank you again for all of your support throughout this A to Z Challenge! ❤

Crochet A to Z: Owls

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to view previous posts, click here!

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The crochet world is obsessed with owls.

No, really.

Do a Google search for “crochet owl” and you’ll find over 8 million results. On Ravelry, one of the most comprehensive pattern databases, there are over 700 crochet owl patterns. It’s clearly a phenomenon. I have two guesses as to why this may be: One, because it’s a pretty simple shape to crochet (at least in the typical stylized amigurumi way), and there aren’t too many parts to make. And two, just because owls are ridiculously cute. (Also, Harry Potter references.)

One of my very favorite owl patterns is this one from Bunny Mummy, because it’s so creative and unlike any of the other hundreds of owl patterns. :} I’ve made this pattern before, and it’s so much fun to play around with the different colors. I also think this Baby Owl Ornaments pattern is the cutest thing ever, and is totally worth a look! And the Owl Family Amigurumi from Repeat Crafter Me are just precious. The first owl I ever made, because I am certainly not immune to this trend, was from a pattern in Amigurumi World by Ana Paula Rimoli. She also has a super cute free pattern on her blog, and in her latest book, Crochet On the Go, there’s the most adorable owl book bag. I have to stop adding links now because I could go on forever, there are simply too many adorable patterns out there!

I use owls as one of the first crochet projects when I’m teaching for the reasons I’ve listed above: simple and quick. Although there are hundreds of patterns out there already, I designed one specially for my crochet classes so I could incorporate some different techniques. We’re going to talk about amigurumi (stuffed toys) later in the month, but my goal here was to make the simplest pattern possible. I wanted a pattern that didn’t involve decreasing, because increasing is confusing enough when you’re just learning. I needed something that used a larger crochet hook than normal, because I like to start people off with larger hooks so it’s less frustrating. And it had to be a quick project, just a few hours’ work. My beginning crochet students usually finish it in 2-3 classes, which is very exciting for them because they can have a finished stuffed animal in just a couple weeks! It makes a great jumping-off point to progress to more complicated amigurumi.

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This owl has already made an appearance on my blog, but I thought I would republish the pattern for today’s post. :} Because I think it has a place in this crochet series, being a very simple pattern, and also because I’m taking four college classes this term and don’t have the energy to come up with original content every day. 😛

We’re going to talk about reading patterns later this month, and I’ll be using this pattern as an example! So don’t worry if you don’t understand the abbreviations, as we’ll be going over all of this.

First up, here’s the video tutorial I made for this pattern…nothing spectacular, as it was filmed on my iPhone, but maybe better than nothing, haha.

MATERIALS

  • Worsted weight yarn in desired colors:
    – Owl body color (I used Red Heart Soft in the pictured mint color, I don’t know the exact name though – this yarn is so lovely and soft, as you can tell by the name)
    – Owl wings color (dark green for me)
    – White for eyeballs
    – Small amount of orange for beak
  • I (5.50 MM) crochet hook. Normally I use a G (4.00 MM) hook for amigurumi, but like I said, it’s easier to use a bigger hook when you start out. That being said, you could use a smaller hook if you don’t want holes in your finished owl, but naturally that will make the owl smaller. My owl is about 2.5″ tall and wide.
  • Polyfill stuffing (or yarn scraps to stuff your owl)
  • Something to use for the pupils:
    – You could sew two small black buttons on
    – Or you could embroider the pupils with thread
    – I went the quick and easy route and just did a dot with a marker
  • Yarn needle to weave in ends (if you’re a beginner, this is just a needle with a larger eye so a tail of yarn can fit through it, also known as a tapestry or darning needle. I never keep track of mine so I always end up buying extra packs. #crochetconfessions)
  • Stitch marker to mark the beginning of your round. You could use a typical one that you buy at the yarn store, but if you lose them like I do or you don’t have any, you could do a bobby pin, paper clip, or scrap of yarn.

NOTES

This pattern is worked in unjoined rounds, so use a stitch marker to mark the first stitch of each round. US terms are used throughout.

BODY

With desired color (mint green for me):

Rnd 1: Ch 2, 6 sc in 2nd ch from hook.

Rnd 2: 2 sc in each st around.

Rnd 3: *Sc 1, 2 sc in next st* around.

Rnd 4: *Sc 2, 2 sc in next st* around.

Rnd 5-12: Sc in each st around.

Stuff the owl. Fold the opening closed and sc across it, stitching through both layers. Fasten off, weave in ends.

WINGS (MAKE 2)

With desired color (dark green for me):

Ch 5. Sc in 2nd ch from hk and in next 2 chains. Make 3 sc in the last stitch. Turn to work across the other side of the chain. Sc across. Fasten off, leaving tail for sewing.

EYES (MAKE 2)

With white:

Rnd 1: Ch 2, 6 sc in 2nd ch from hook.

Rnd 2: 2 sc in each st around.

Fasten off, leaving long tail for sewing.

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BEAK

Ch 3. Sc in 2nd ch from hk and in last ch. Fasten off, leaving long tail for sewing.

ASSEMBLY

First of all, here are all the owl appendages before you sew them together.

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Sew the eyes to the owl base. Attach buttons for pupils if desired, either with needle and thread (recommended) or glue.

Sew the wings to the sides of the owl.

Attach the beak by threading the long ends through to the top of the owl, tying a knot, and sewing the rest of the beak down.

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In this picture you can see how I pulled the orange ends up through the owl’s head (body?) and tied a knot. I’m going to take each orange end separately and use it to sew the beak down so it doesn’t flap around like in this picture. Then I’ll weave them in. If you have a different method, feel free to use that.

And you’re done! Congratulations! 😀

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We’ll be using this pattern tomorrow to learn how to read crochet patterns, so stay tuned for that if you’re new to the Greek-sounding world of crochet terminology! Until then, I hope owl of you have a wonderful day. ;P

 

Crochet A to Z: Nerdicrafts

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to view previous posts, click here!

Man, I really hope this is the right letter in the alphabet, because I don’t know the alphabet that well even when I’m not running on less than 7 hours of sleep. *sings alphabet song in head* I’ve been really excited about this post, though, so let’s forge ahead! 😉

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Hello there, lovely followers and friends! Today we’re talking about two of my favorite topics: crochet and fandom! Happy day. 🙂

I absolutely love combining the two together; there are so many ways to do so! There are tons of nerd crafts out there, from books, movies, TV shows, games, and who knows what else. If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you’ll know what a huge fangirl I am…and my favorite kind of craft to do are the ones that are inspired by whatever fandom I’m into at the moment.

 

One example of fandom based crochet would be amigurumi based on the characters. These make fantastic presents. I’ve crocheted Obi Wan, Luke Skywalker, and Yoda amigurumi for several of my Star-Wars-obsessed friends, and they were received with amusement and the obligatory exclamation of, “Did you make that?!” I love giving crocheted things as gifts, and it makes it even more special when the gift is from a fandom the recipient likes. In the picture above, you can also see a crocheted Rey and BB-8, which have both been coveted by the aforementioned Star Wars friends, but they’re not getting them. Rey and BB-8 have a special spot on my bookshelf. :}

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Here’s a Baymax keychain I made a while back, from Disney’s “Big Hero 6.” It’s a super good movie, and Baymax is the cutest robot ever. It’s fun carrying around a fandom keychain because it can start some conversations, and although I’m an introvert, I never object to talking about my favorite fandoms!

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And because I will never stop fangirling over this picture, I had to include it. I crocheted Iko, a robot from The Lunar Chronicles, and took her to a book signing to give her to the author, Marissa Meyer. She squealed over her and it made me so so happy – I love her books and was absolutely obsessed with them a few years back, so I really wanted to make something for her! She was super kind to be so sweet about Iko, and it was an amazing experience. You can see I’m totally geeking out in that picture, haha. 😀

Another way crochet can collide with fandom is through cosplay. For the uninformed, cosplay is basically a less embarrassing way of saying “dress-up.” You’ll see hundreds of cosplayers at conventions such as Comic-Con, dressing up as anything from Iron Man to Rapunzel. (I’d like to know why WordPress thinks “Rapunzel” is misspelled. How many times have I talked about her on this blog before?!) I’ve only been to two Comic-Cons, but it was really fun to see all the cosplayers – it’s such a cool community!

Anyway, for my first Comic Con I was Olivia Dunham from the TV show “Fringe,” after developing a mild obsession with the main character. If my family members are reading this post, they’re probably laughing at the understatement of that sentence. :} (Fun fact: my middle name is Olivia!) It was super fun, but nobody recognized me (because, sadly, “Fringe” is not that popular of a show, and it’s been off the air for a while anyway). So for Wizard World Comic Con this February, I wanted to go as something more recognizable, and I wanted to CROCHET the entire cosplay.

Because that wasn’t overly ambitious at all.

I actually overestimated my skill set on this particular project. I wanted to be Jyn Erso from Star Wars: Rogue One and I found a really cool crocheted cosplay from The Scarlet Stitch on Tumblr. The blogger was kind enough to give me some details on her cosplay, which was basically that she winged the whole thing, making it up from a mental image. Which is insanely talented. So I ended up digging out a store-bought sweater and crocheting something the same size. It took me what felt like FOREVER. I also made a holster to hold a plastic blaster, and that was really tricky to crochet. But! I’m super pleased with how it turned out, would you like to see?

The costume went over really well at Wizard World, and I actually had people want to take pictures with me! I met a bunch of other crocheters and even connected with one of them online after I got home. It was amazing to meet other like-minded people who also like fandom and crochet.

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Here’s a Star Wars family reunion – I’ve never seen a Maz Kenata cosplayer before, I think she did an amazing job! It’s a little unlikely that Jyn would be cheerfully smiling in the presence of Orson Krennic, on the left, but I guess for Comic Con it works. 🙂 And that’s the aforementioned Star Wars friend on the right; he’s as obsessed with Luke Skywalker as I am with Olivia from Fringe. 😛

I think I could write for a thousand more words about fandom and crochet, but I think this will suffice for now. 🙂 I really love crocheting nerdy things, and I’d love to hear about any experience you guys have with it! Do you like combining crafts and fandom? 😀

 

A Vaguely Easter-related Post

Hi lovely followers! Happy Easter! ❤ I hope you all have a wonderful day, whether you celebrate Easter or not. 🙂

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Bower Bird pattern from Lucy of Attic24. I love her designs! This was made as a gift for my Confirmation sponsor. I’m Catholic and was Confirmed three years ago, and your sponsor is essentially the person who guides you through the process. My sponsor just happens to be one of the sweetest, smartest people I know, and I’m still learning from her even though she doesn’t technically have to deal with me anymore. 🙂 I like crocheting her gifts for Easter to show my appreciation. ❤ I tried to pick sort of Easter-egg-colors.

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Not really craft-related, but I took Moana on an impromptu road trip with my family yesterday. She loved soaking in the sunshine and the scenery… she looks right at home with the water! I don’t think she really appreciated coming to live with me in the Pacific Northwest, because the climate is just a little different from what she’s used to. 🙂 So I like to take her to rivers and waterfalls when I get the chance. 😀

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And finally, here’s our long-suffering puppy Maisie with a crochet daffodil in her hair (also from Attic24). 🙂 I can’t wait until her hair grows so we can do it in ponytails and updos! 😀 Don’t worry, I took it out right after the picture. She’s a patient little thing…sometimes. 😉

I hope you all have a fantastic day! I’ll see you tomorrow for more Crochet A to Z. 😀 I just want to thank you for all your support, likes, and comments – they really do make my day, and I appreciate it more than you know! ❤

Crochet A to Z: Mandalas, Magazines, and Maisie!

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to view previous posts, click here!

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I debated for ages and ages over what to choose for the letter “M,” but in the end I just couldn’t decide on one topic. I know, this is kind of cheating, but I couldn’t bring myself to cut any of these! I did for other letters, but not for this one. So we’re going to talk briefly about each of these – I hope you’re okay with that!

Mandalas

I must confess I still don’t know how to pronounce ‘mandala,’ so I would welcome any guidance on the subject. I believe there is a spiritual significance to mandalas, which I would be really interested in learning more about. But in the crochet world, the term is mostly applied to colorful crochet circles with intricate patterns, and they’re absolutely stunning to behold!

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I made this mandala from the Sophie’s Garden pattern from Look at What I Made. I’m going to link you to the Sophie’s Universe Crochet-A-Long, which is the most amazing crochet thing I’ve ever seen. I really want to make it someday. It’s a huge, square blanket with the most incredible pattern. Trust me, just click through to see it.

Attic24 has done some beautiful mandalas on hula hoops, hanging them from the ceiling like dreamcatchers. Here’s one post where she talks about it. Colorful and inspiring!

The queen of mandalas would be Marinke, or “Wink,” from A Creative Being. Her blog is a beautiful, inspirational place where she’s shared many free crochet patterns. I made a bunch of her patterns while I was exploring the world of crochet mandalas, and like so many people in the crochet world, was inspired by her. Sadly, she suffered from depression, and crochet wasn’t enough to save her from it. The whole crochet world isn’t the same without her. 😦 There was a movement to crochet mandalas for her, and a tag #wearingflowersinmyhairforwink. I think about her whenever I crochet a mandala, or curl up under my Sophie’s Universe blanket.

Magazines

As you might imagine, there are a ton of crochet magazines out there, and I’m definitely not an expert. I just want to share my favorite ones with you. I think crochet magazines are a fantastic source of inspiration, and it’s super fun to get something in your mailbox.

I’ve been subscribed to Interweave Crochet for probably around four years now, and I haven’t thrown away a single issue. Unfortunately, I got the first year digitally on my Kindle Fire, and after it stopped working I was unable to access the issues. Sad face. If any of y’all know a way to access stuff like that, please do tell! Apart from that mishap, though, I have all my issues and look back through them often for inspiration. I’ve also gotten a year or so of Love of Crochet, which is a lovely magazine too!

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Here’s most of my collection. You can get a pretty good feel for the magazine by the variety of covers here – I know, never judge a book by its cover, but at least you can see the wide array of designs here! The patterns in Interweave Crochet are just amazing – the ones they select really push the boundaries of crochet and use new, exciting stitches and yarns. It’s really fun to look through. I swear I sound like a spokesperson…I wish I was sponsored by them, haha, but this is just me genuinely gushing.

There are also some cool online crochet magazines, some free and some not. A while back I actually had two patterns published in Crochetvolution, and you can see them here and here if you’re interested. 🙂 Unfortunately Crochetvolution is no longer running, but the back issues have some fantastic patterns in them and are definitely worth exploring!

Maisie

Because this is totally crochet-related.

We got a new puppy, a Chinese Crested Powderpuff named Maisie, and she is absolutely the most PRECIOUS thing on the face of the earth. So I’ve been posting pictures of her on every single one of my social medias, and my blog is no different! Behold:

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She’s the sweetest, cutest little puppy, and I’m sure I’ll be crocheting her sweaters in the future…remember the blanket I talked about in my frogging post? It was for Maisie! ❤

This post has been all over the place! Which one of the “M” things was your favorite? I think you know mine – it’s hard to resist a fluffy little puppy – but I like crochet related things too. 🙂

Crochet A to Z: Love Knot

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click here

Happy Good Friday… it’s hard to believe it’s almost Easter. Seems to have snuck up on me this year!

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Today I’m excited to introduce a super cool, unusual stitch to you. It has several different names, such as the Love Knot, Solomon’s Knot, Knot Stitch, or Lover’s Knot, but Love Knot seems to be the most common (and it fits with the alphabet challenge). Here’s what it looks like:

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There are many different ways you can incorporate the Love Knot into your projects – the above example is just four rows of it. I learned this stitch maybe a year into my crochet journey, and I was so excited because it works up really quickly – look at all the holes and laciness! It isn’t very durable, so it’s best for stuff like shawls or scarves that won’t get manhandled a lot. It’s the perfect stitch for spring and summertime.

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You can also use it in stitch patterns like this. I dubbed this one the “Lacy Love Knot” stitch pattern, rather originally, and you can find the directions here if you’re so inclined. It’s a surprisingly versatile stitch, and it’s really easy to make.

The love knot is just a chain and single crochet – that’s it! I’m going to show you how to make a small sample like in the first picture. To do that, we’re going to make a foundation row of love knots and work back across.

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Start with a slipknot on your hook and make one normal chain, just for a foundation. You can see the chain in the bottom left-hand corner of the picture above. Now we’re going to make a series of love knots – make an odd number of them for this love knot mesh to work out.

To make a love knot, pull up the loop on your hook until it’s longer than usual. The length will vary depending on what pattern you’re using, usually from a half inch all the way up to two inches. I like the half inch or 3/4 inch the best…try a half inch to start. You can see how that looks in the photo above.

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Then, yarn over and pull through loosely so you don’t tighten that chain. You just made a super elongated chain stitch. Now, we’re going to make a single crochet into that space – see the pink strand of yarn in the chain? In other words, we’re going into the back bump of the chain, if you’re well versed in crochet terminology.

Just insert your hook, pull up a loop, and complete the single crochet as usual.

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Here’s what that would look like when you’re done.

You’ll need an odd number of love knots to make this mesh work out. Count them by the single crochets.

At the end of the first row (if you can even call it a row), turn the work so you can go back across.

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You’ll be skipping the first three love knots and working into the fourth one, where I’ve inserted the yarn needle. Make a single crochet into that stitch.

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After that, make 2 love knots, skip the next love knot, and single crochet in the one after that. Repeat across. This forms the mesh pattern.

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Here it is at the end of the second row (or first row, if you don’t count the foundation chain). We ended with a single crochet. Next you’ll be making 3 love knots and turning the work, just like you did at the end of the previous row.

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For each subsequent row, just do the three love knots, turn, and single crochet in the first love knot. Then do two love knots, skip one, and single crochet in the one after that. You only have to remember this one row and just repeat it. You should end up with a mesh sort of like the one in the picture above.

If you want to get a straighter edge on the top, for the last row you can try this: make 2 love knots and turn, then single crochet in the first one. Then, all the way across, just make one love knot, skip the next, and single crochet in the one after that. This will form a straight line across the top. You might want to make the love knots a little longer, though – try pulling up a 3/4″ loop instead of a half-inch one, just so the edge doesn’t pull in. Feel free to experiment; this is just a suggestion for a starting point.

It’s a very basic pattern, but gives a lovely result, I think – and is perfect for showing off variegated yarns like this one! Love knots are also great for using fancy yarns, as long as they’re not too slippery, because then the single crochets will slide around a little bit. I’ve seen some fantastic shawls and the like done with textured yarns, because the love knot shows off the texture perfectly. It also doesn’t use a ton of yarn, so might be a good way to go to get the most out of your skein.

When you’ve mastered the love knot, there are lots of beautiful patterns out there for you to try! Check out this lovely Knot Stitch Shawl from Crochet Spot. I’ve been wanting to make this for years, and I think I might have the perfect yarn to try it out. Crochet Spot also has a great pattern for a Knot Stitch Capelet that I also love.

Have you tried the love knot before? What do you think of it?

Crochet A to Z: Keeping Tension

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click here

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Hello! Today I thought it would be a good idea to talk about one of the biggest issues that plagues beginning crocheters – how to keep tension. This is basically the Goldilocks dilemma: how to crochet not too loosely and not too tightly.

Keeping tension is similar to gauge, which we talked about earlier this month. Both of them have to do with how loosely or tightly you’re crocheting. However, keeping tension refers more to the process of tensioning the yarn – what goes on while you’re crocheting – while gauge is more like the end result, since you measure after you’re done. So gauge is actually kind of reliant on keeping tension.

In short, keeping tension is making sure the yarn doesn’t come out from the ball too quickly, and you have some tension between it and your project. Does that make any sense? It’s easier to understand when you’re wrestling with it yourself. 😛

I think it all comes down to how you hold the yarn – because even if you have the perfect yarn and hook combination, if you’re holding the yarn sloppily, your crochet will be super loose and hole-y. And it can be really hard to learn how to hold the yarn – people always want to move right on to crocheting without spending time on holding a cumbersome crochet hook and winding the yarn around their fingers in a complicated manner. So I’m not going to suggest anything ridiculously complex. I just want to show you a couple ways to hold the yarn to help you keep your stitches consistent.

First of all, there are two main ways to hold your crochet hook: like a pencil or like a knife. I’ve found that the pencil hold works best for me, and it also lends itself to faster crocheting, I think, simply because you don’t have to move your wrist as much. I’ve always been better at using a pencil than a knife, probably because I’m a writer and not an assassin, so it makes sense I would gravitate to the pencil hold. I read a great article in an Interweave crochet magazine that showed about six more ways to hold your crochet hook (mine is called the “chopstick hold,” I recall), but the article said they all fell under two main categories: underhand and overhand grip. Or in layman’s terms, pencil and knife. :} If one doesn’t work for you, try the other way!

Also, the crochet hook you use can play a big part in your tension, too. I crochet more loosely with tapered crochet hooks than I do with inline. Metal or plastic will make a difference, too, as well as if your crochet hook has a handle on it or not. Handles can be a little cumbersome with the pencil hold, in my experience, but that certainly doesn’t have to apply to you! It might just be the way I hold the hook. 🙂

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This is how I hold my yarn. This is also how most of my students do it, possibly because they learned from me, but also possibly because this is, in my humble opinion, the simplest way. I’m all about the easy way. 🙂 I’ve done it this way since the first time I picked up yarn and hook, and I’m pretty much just gripping the yarn in my fist on my left hand. Not very dignified or fancy, but it does the trick. My left pinkie finger is doing most of the work here, pinching the yarn so it doesn’t come out too quickly. Then when I go to make a stitch, I sort of “scoop” the yarn with my hook from my left index finger. Actually, if you want to get a look at this in action, check out my crochet owl video tutorial here, because it is really hard to get a picture of myself crocheting! I apologize for that.

You can also wind the yarn around your pinkie finger so your finger has to do less work. I don’t like the feeling of the yarn sliding along my finger, though. Since I’m a fast crocheter, it gives me yarn burn. This works really well with slippery yarns, however. If you’re crocheting way too loosely, maybe this method is worth a try.

There is absolutely NO wrong way to hold your hook or yarn! If it works for you, it’s right. 🙂 I’m really interested to hear how other people go about keeping tension – I’m always looking for new methods to try, and it’s fascinating to see how my fellow crocheters do things! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.

Crochet A to Z: Joining and Making Granny Squares

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click here

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I’m very excited about today’s post, because I absolutely love granny squares. In case you’re unfamiliar with them, they’re a crochet motif that’s a staple in most crocheters’ knowledge. They’re one of the first things I learned to crochet, and I’m super glad it worked out that way, because they’re very satisfying to make but not too hard. They’re also one of the first things I teach new crochet students, and it’s always a big hit. There are just so many things you can do with granny squares – my favorite is making blankets, but bags, pillows, and scarves are popular choices as well.

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Here’s a whole stack of granny squares I made for a puppy afghan. They’re pretty fast to make, and rather addictive. All you need to know is the chain, double crochet, and slip stitch, and I’ll walk you through it step by step. We’ll also be talking about joining the squares together so you can make the aforementioned projects with them. Of course, it’s super fun to just make a massive granny square and use that as a blanket – my mom made a beautiful multicolored afghan that way. So there’s that option too, if you don’t want to worry about joining. In fact, one of my crochet students made a gorgeous color blocked afghan that’s a giant granny square, and three more are working on massive granny squares. It’s quite a popular project!

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Basic Granny Square

First, let’s talk materials! You can make granny squares with absolutely any crochet hook and yarn combination. Just make sure the crochet hook goes with your yarn (look on the yarn label to see the recommended size). I like making them with acrylic worsted-weight yarn and an I (5.50 MM) hook. An H (5.00 MM) hook would make them a little smaller. I also love how they look with a K (6.50 MM) hook, because it makes a more open-weave pattern. For a nice cozy afghan, definitely go with an H or I hook – my mom makes most of her afghans with H hooks, I think, and they’re so warm and cozy. If you’re making a blanket, I would really recommend acrylic yarn for its washability.

I’m going to do a picture for each round and give you the directions under it. There are fantastic tutorials on YouTube if you want to see a step-by-step for each stitch!

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Round 1: To start off, leave a long tail so you can weave it in later (more on that later in the month). 8 inches should do the trick. Make 4 chain stitches, and slip stitch into the first chain. This forms a little ring where you’ll be making the first round.

Chain 3, and make 2 double crochets into the ring. This makes your first “cluster,” or group of 3 stitches. Chain 3 for the first corner.

Make 3 double crochets into the ring, and chain 3 for the corner. Repeat these steps two more times, so you have 4 clusters and 4 corners. (Which is fairly intuitive, as a square has four corners. I’m no mathematician, but I did pass geometry.)

To join the square and finish the round, stick your hook into the space created by the first chain 3 and make a slip stitch. Then slip stitch into the top of the next two stitches. Make one last slip stitch into the big corner space. Your first round is done! {above picture}

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Round 2: Start by chaining 3 and making 2 double crochets into the same big space. Chain 3 for the corner, and make 3 more double crochets into the same space. You can see how this looks in the picture above. This forms your first corner – you can see it’s made up of 2 clusters and a chain-3.

You’ll be making 3 more of these corners all the way around. First, chain 1 to make the side space – your sides will get longer and longer with each subsequent round. Then go into that next big corner space, it’s in the upper left-hand corner in the picture. Make 3 double crochets, chain 3, and 3 more double crochets.

Repeat this process – chain 1, make 3 double crochets, chain 3, 3 double crochets into the corner – two more times, until you’re back at the start. Chain 1 to make the last side space. Then make the joining slip stitches as described at the end of Round 1.

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Round 3: Start by chaining 3 and making 2 double crochets into the same corner space. Then chain 3 for the corner and make 3 more double crochets into the same corner space.

Now we’ll be working along the side. Chain 1 to make a side space. We’ll be working into the next space, which is a little smaller than a corner space – that’s because it’s a side space and is made with a chain 1. Remember from Round 2? Into that space, make just 3 double crochets. That’s what we’ll be doing into all the side spaces from here on out.

After each cluster, remember to chain 1. In the corner, make 3 double crochets, chain 3 for the corner, and make 3 more double crochets to finish up the corner. Then chain 1 and make the next side space. Continue in this manner around until you reach the first corner, and make your joining slip stitches. Round 3 is finished! {above picture}

Future Rounds: Follow the directions for Round 3; you’ll see the only difference is that the sides get longer, so you’ll be making more side spaces. There will still only be 4 corners each round. You’re chaining 3 in the corners and chaining 1 between side spaces. It’s that simple; that’s why I love the granny square, because there’s only one round to remember once you get going!

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Joining Granny Squares

Once you’ve made a bunch of granny squares, you’re probably going to want to join them together. This can be a scary thought, but there are some very easy ways to do it if you don’t want to tackle a complicated seam. I’m going to share some links to my favorite joining methods.

First, though, I like to decide on an order for the squares, which is sometimes the hardest part! This is the order I decided on for our puppy’s, Maisie’s, blanket. I like to take a picture of it so when the order gets jumbled up (which it will, if there’s a puppy afoot), I can remember where they go. That’s a tip I learned from my mom, who has joined many granny squares in her life as well. 🙂

For this afghan, I’m joining the squares as you go. This basically means I’ll be adding another row on each of them (a dark pink – I’m really bad at color names), and connecting them as I go. This is great because you don’t have to do any extra seams at the very end, but it’s a little more complicated to learn at the beginning. However, it’s well worth the time. Here is a fantastic tutorial by Lucy from Attic24, which is just about the best crochet blog in the history of crochet blogs. Her afghans are absolutely gorgeous, and I have gotten a TON of inspiration from her!

You could sew the squares together, which is often the first thing people think of for joining squares. I haven’t personally done this, but it’s good to know how to do. Here’s a lovely tutorial from Bunny Mummy, another one of my favorite ever crochet blogs!

One of my personal favorites is one that I learned from Astri at Apple Blossom Dreams, which is included with her AMAZING Granny Rose Crochet-A-Long. I would be remiss if I did not mention the granny roses in this post, because they’re a huge part of what hooked me on granny squares. Astri is the sweetest person ever and was super supportive as I learned to crochet and started my own blog. Her crochet-a-longs are super fun, too! 🙂

Also, check out this list of 12 different ways to join granny squares on Moogly. There are some wonderful methods in there, and you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for your project.

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I hope you enjoyed this post; like I said, I’m a little overly enthusiastic about granny squares. There are so many opportunities to mix things up – I didn’t even get into changing colors! What are your thoughts on the famous crochet square? Have you made granny squares in the past? 🙂