Friday, September 30, 2016

Freebie Friday - Magic Potholder and Gift Bags That Keep on Giving

Earlier this week we learned all about the various ways we can use single crochet. Today I've got two patterns for you that are particularly suitable for beginners... but you can always make a practice stitch square and turn them into Fingerless Mitts like we did last week!

First, we have the Magic Potholder, the one Grandma's made, and tried to teach us as kids.  Next is a simply shaped bag, it's a little more complicated because it uses increases, decreases and back loop only.  All techniques included in the Tutorial.

Both patterns are available for free on Ravelry so be sure to add Magic Potholder and Gift Bags That Keep on Giving to your queue. 

You can also use these links to download .pdfs for the Magic Potholder and Gifts Bags That Keep on Giving.

The Magic Potholder uses single crochet in the round to create a double thick potholder.

For a 6 inch square potholder I used:
About 75 yards, worsted weight cotton yarn
H/5mm hook

Step by step!

Chain 30 – this chain will be the diagonal corners of your potholder, but once you begin stitching it will tighten up. My fingers show the approximate size of my finished potholder.

Round 1: Single crochet (sc) in back ridge loop of second chain from hook and each remaining chain. Do not turn. 

Rotate work 180 degrees clockwise and sc into the bottom of each chain back to your starting point. You should have 29+29=58 sc

Once you work your way back to your first stitch, do the same thing… without turning just rotate your work clockwise and make your next stitch into the top of the first stitch. You are now working in the round!

Don’t be surprised if the corners are a bit tight, we’re going to use that to our advantage!

See how that tight corner allows it to fold naturally as you continue?  Here’s how it looks flat, opened up, front and back:

Keep working sc round and round until long enough for the folded sides to meet in the middle.
Cut a length of yarn about 4 times the length of your seam, and use it to whipstitch the two sides together.

Once the seam is complete, I use the tail to crochet a chain hanging loop. Use your hook to pull up a loop, chain 10 and slip stitch back into the corner.

Weave several inches of that tail into the fabric and you’re done! 

One final look… I’ve pointed out the line of the original chain.

Notes on sizing: Use an initial chain based on what size finished potholder you need. I find a chain of 30 gives me about 6 inches, 35 about 7 inches, 40 about 8 inches.  Remember that larger sizes will require more yarn.

This is also the one my daughters request the most because it's so easy to coordinate yarn colors to match the rest of the kitchen!

Gift Bags That Keep on Giving is a great next step because it calls for increases, decreases and back loop only single crochet.

I've updated this pattern to include lots of step by step photos.

Be sure to pick up the free pattern on Ravelry here or download a .pdf here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tutorial - Single crochet!

If you already crochet, you know the humble single crochet (sc)  stitch is the basis of almost everything.

There are so many variations, as you know (or will soon realize), crocheters are a creative lot.  If there is a free loop, we will stitch into it.  Backwards. Ha!  This ability to think outside the box is what creates the amazing patterns and textures you see only in crochet.

Today's crochet is not necessarily your grandma's crochet (unless of course you are one of my grandkids!)... or the groovy granny squares some of us may have worn in 1972.  Those techniques are fantastic, and we'll be learning about them but also so much more.

Now that you know how to build your foundation and how to slip stitch to join and fasten off... let the real magic of building stitches begin!

A basic tenet of crochet in US terms is that a stitch is named by the number of loops on your hook when you begin.  So, single crochet begins with a single loop.

Insert your hook under the back bump of your foundation chain

Yarn over (YO)

And pull that loop to the front of your foundation chain.  You now have two loops on your hook.

Yarn over (YO) again

And pull that loop through both loops on your hook.

Repeat for each chain along the length of your foundation. 

Chain 1 to give yourself a little turning room, and turn your piece to work the next row back down to where you started.  Here's what that looks like before and after turning.

For your remaining rows, you'll work under the top two loops of the stitch below.  See that teardrop shape?

Insert your hook under those two loops, and proceed with making your stitch.

Here's what it looks like about halfway through the row. You can see that the teardrop shaped loops in the row below point one way, and the teardrop shaped loops in the row I'm working point the other.

Learning to recognize these loops will come in handy when you have to determine the right side or wrong side of your work.

But wait, there's more!  Some patterns call for an increase, where you work two stitches into the same space.  Some decrease, where you combine two stitches into one. Some are extended, which means you add an extra chain in there for extra fullness and height. Linen or moss or granite stitch and thermal stitch are all variations of single crochet.

Well here... let me show you.

Be sure to check in later this week to learn how to turn the single crochet stitch into something handy in the kitchen (and great for gifts!) as well as something handy to have... in hand.

Til next time!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Weekend update! Back on track...

After last week's derailment, I am feeling back on track this week.  The treatment I receive for Psoriatic Arthritis  (PsA) is as miraculous as it sounds.

After 24 hours I can sit (or stand or sleep) for more than a few minutes at a time.  After 48 hours I can walk more easily and get out of the chair without my cane. After 72 hours, I'm ready to go to the zoo with the grandkids.  True story! I was really tired after a couple of hours and went home, but I did it and loved being outdoors and feeling semi-normal again.

It changes just that quick for me, and I bet it does for lots of other people with lots of other challenges. If you know someone who has really good days and really bad days - believe them!  Anyway... here's what I've been up to this week:

Umm.  :tucks project bag back under the table:
Ok, so I didn't make any progress on  my African flower dragon this week.  But that's ok!  I was counting my spoons and being mindful of how I used them.

I did finish Clue 3 of Shannon Sanchez' Tiberian Shawl MCAL.  All together now... ooooo beads!

I'm using copper lined multi-green beads.  The copper lining gives them extra sparkle without being truly twinkly. I think they are going to be perfect for this shawl.

The general boomerang shape is continued as well.

You can't see all that stitch texture yet, but trust me... once I finish the final clue I'll get it blocked so I can share it in all it's glory next week.

I know what you're thinking... what about that awesome slip stitch Surfing the Clouds by Tanja Osswald?  In my best Doctor Who voice, please imagine me saying "I know." Yes, Eleven is my Doctor, because bow ties *are* cool and so are fezzes and fish fingers and custard and if you don't agree with me, well... that's totally cool because there's room for all of us in the Whoniverse.  *wink*

I FINISHED IT!  I had about 45 yards of yarn left over so it worked out perfectly.

Just look at the detail that comes out during blocking (aka wash, and lay flat to dry, gently stretching to open up the fabric).  Would you have guessed all those swirls and ripples and patterns were in there?  Me neither!

They show up a but better in  the blocking photo because the yarn was wet and therefore darker, but it's still pretty amazing dry!

Truly beautiful and perhaps the very definition of the art that can be found in crochet.

A few more just because eye candy!

Yeah.  Finished object of the week, and maybe even 2016 right there folks!

But I did finish another small project worth mentioning because it used a technique called "hairpin lace".  Hairpin lace is named after a tool that is often shaped like a giant hairpin... the kind Witch Hazel uses.

Nowadays they are often more rectangular, with adjustable ends for the rods.   You can find them at any craft store.

You use the tool to create a strip of loops, and then you crochet over, under and around those loops to make different patterns.

Here's my headband.  The bottom half shows the loops I made with the loom while the top half shows how I crocheted over them.

Here's a closer look after both sides are crocheted...

If you're used to seeing crochet stitches, you'll notice what looks like a shell. Below that you can see 4 diagonal lines - that's because I worked over 4 loops at a time. 

Right down the center you can see the line of single crochet that holds the hairpin loops in place, but because they're worked from alternate sides they zig zag a bit.

If you have no idea what you're looking at or what I'm pointing out, that's totally ok!  Stay tuned and eventually we'll get to this technique and you can learn it too.

It feels good to be back on track this week. Finishing the shawl means I can start another large project. My daughter asked for a blanket for her 3 yr old.  Grandkids you say?  I'm on it!  I think it's a good time to break out the Tunisian knit stitch.

Til next time... keep it real, and take care of yourselves!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Freebie Friday - Slip Stitch Mitts!

Welcome to my first "Freebie Friday", where I'll share an original pattern base on the most recent stitch tutorial.

Earlier this week, we learned how slip stitches are more versatile than joining and fastening off your work.  (If you don't know how to make the six types of slip stitches, check out that page first.)

This pattern is a great way to turn stitch practice squares into fingerless mitts, this tube style is also known as wrist warmers.  Once you know the basics, you can practice *any* stitch into a square and make them into mitts! (If you don't want mitts, use cotton yarn and use your practice square as a dishcloth.)

This pattern is available on Ravelry, where you can favorite, queue, download and print a .pdf of this pattern for free.  You can also find a .pdf HERE.

For all of these patterns, I used:

Size J/6mm hook
About 125 yards soft worsted yarn per pair ( I used Caron Simply Soft)
You’ll also need a tapestry needle and a ruler or tape measure.

We're going to slip stitch into one loop only (which loop varies by pattern).  This is what creates the stretch and texture!  Please see the Appendix at the end for more on how to make sure you’re working into the correct loop. 

Back Loop Only Slip Stitch Mitts - Step by step
Chain 26

Row 1. Slst into the back ridge/bump of the second chain from hook, and each remaining chain.  If you aren’t sure how to do this, I have a video here.   Ch 1, turn. 25 slst

Row 2. BLO (back loop only) Slst into each stitch, ch1, turn. 
It can be difficult to see which loop is the appropriate back loop, so if you get lost, tilt the top edge towards you and look at the row below from that angle.

Here's the view from the front, and turned towards you – there’s that back loop!

Repeat Row 2 to length.  My work is 7 inches wide, and I will work until it is also 7 inches tall.  If you have small hands, you may want to stop at 6 inches in height.

To make fingerless mittens, I’ll seam it into a tube, leaving a space for a thumbhole. 

They also make great "wrist warmers" by rotating the hole to the inside of your wrist.  If you would prefer wrist warmers, just join the entire length without leaving the hole.

To Join:
BLO slst through both layers at the same time (through back loops of both layers at once) for 15 stitches, BLO slst the front edge only 5 stitches, and BLO slst through both layers for 5 stitches.

For the other hand, reverse the order of the joining row, 5 together, 5 separate, 15 together.
 Inverse Back Loop Slip Stitch Mitts – Step by Step

Using FLO at the beginning and end of each row not only help maintain the shape of the square, but adds a nice ribbing!
Chain 31

Row 1. Slst into the back ridge/bump of the second chain from hook, and each remaining chain.  If you aren’t sure how to do this, I have a video here.   Ch1, 30slst

Row 2. FLO (front loop only) slst in first 3 stitches, iB (inverse back loop only) slst in next 24 stitches, FLO in last 3 stitches, ch1, turn.

Row 3. FLO slst across, ch1, turn.
Alternate Row 2 and Row 3 to length.  My work is 7 inches long so I worked until it was also 7 inches tall, ending on an iB row.

Note how different the fabric looks on either side.  You can see why they call it "flat stitch".

To make fingerless mittens, I’ll seam it into a tube, leaving a space for a thumbhole. If you would prefer wrist warmers, just join the entire length without leaving the hole.

To Join:
Join by slst through both layers together for 20 stitches, FLO slst the front piece only for 5 st, and then both layers together for the last 5 st.  I think slst under both loops of the original chain, and the FLO of the last row worked together looks best.

For the other hand, reverse the order of the joining row, 5 together, 5 separate, 20 together.  Now to decide which side I feel like wearing!

Wavy Slip Stitch Mitts – Step by Step (Intermediate)

We can create added texture like these waves by adding taller stitches in with our slip stitches.  This pattern assumes you’ve got the basics down… and also know how to single, half double, and double crochet. 

Ch 28

Set up: Slst into the back ridge/bump of the second chain from hook, and each remaining chain.  If you aren’t sure how to do this, I have a video here.   Ch1, turn. 27 slst

1.BLO Slst into first 2 st, (BLOsc, BLOhdc, BLOdc, BLOhdc, BLOsc, sl) 4 times, Slst into last st

2.BLO Slst in each st across

3.BLO Slst in first 5 st, (BLOsc, BLOhdc, BLOdc, BLOhdc, BLOsc, sl) 3 times, Slst into last 4 st Note: the dcs should line up over slst in the wavy row below, and the slst should line up over the dcs in the wavy row below.

4 -6. BLO Slst in each stitch across

Repeat Row 3

Repeat Row 2

Repeat Row 1

Repeat Rows 4-6

Repeat the whole sequence over again from Row 1

BLO Slst to 7 inches

To Join:
Slst first 15 st through both layers, next 6 front piece only, last 6 through both layers.  For the other hand, reverse the order of the joining row, 6 together, 6 separate, 15 together.


Back Loop Only
Here's how you find that back loop... when you are looking at your work, it's tempting to look at the "chain" of teardrop shaped loops facing you, but these aren’t the loops you're looking for. Tilt your work towards you and look down at the top... and you can more easily see the last row of stitches, and that elusive back loop.

Inverse Back Loop Only
Find that back loop, and with your working yarn *in front of your work*, insert your hook from back to front.

 Yarn over and pull through all loops.