Friday, November 14, 2014

Free Pattern: Fall Napkin Ring Revise

  When I designed the original Beaded Fall Napkin Rings, I tried to make an easy pattern that didn't require assembling separate pieces. After I posted the pattern, I started to make another set of them with larger beads. During the process, I realized that the original pattern isn't symmetrical. It doesn't affect the functionality of the finished piece, but it does cause the beads to sit slightly off-center.

  This bothered me, so I set about re-designing the rings, and rushed to publish the new version. Forgetting my dislike of weaving in any extra ends, I decided to make the pattern in pieces. It only took me about ten minutes to make the two separate pieces, then maybe another five minutes to join them together. I have to admit that it was much easier than the first design.

  The new and improved pattern is so much easier to follow, works up faster, and has symmetrical beads. The original version is pictured on the right in the following photo:

You can see that with the tiny seed beads I used, the piece looks symmetrical, but it's not. The following new pattern works better with the larger beads. View the original pattern here or check out the step by step tutorial if you would like to compare the differences.

Skill Level:

Worsted weight (4) acrylic yarn
- I used Red Heart Super Saver in "SH Browns". After looking on their website, it appears to be discontinued. Worsted cotton is interchangeable, just check your gauge.
Hook size I/9-5.50MM or size needed to obtain gauge
Yarn needle or smaller hook to weave in ends
Beads - 5 per piece

4" x "4 (10 cm by 10 cm) =
14 rows of 14 single crochet

To use smaller beads on worsted weight yarn, use a drop of glue on the tail of the yarn. Twist tightly and allow to dry. Thread all of your beads before beginning.

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

Beginning (beg)
Repeat (rep)
Space/s (sp/s)
Yarn over (y/o)


Strip A (3 beads):

Row 1:
Ch 3, make 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in last ch. (3 sc)

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

Row 3:
Repeat Row 2.

Row 4:
Ch 1, turn. Insert hook in next sc, pull up a loop. Slide a bead up to the stitch, y/o, pull through both loops on hook. 1 sc in last st.

Rows 5 - 7:
Rep Row 2.

Row 8:
Rep Row 4.

Rows 9 through 12:
Rep Rows 5 through 8.

Rows 13 through 15:
Rep Row 2.

*(Ch 1, sl st in the next available post sp) 14 times. Rotate to work across bottom. (Ch 1, sl st) in each of the next 3 sc.* Rotate. Repeat from * to *. Ch 1, join with a sl st to beg ch-1. Bind off, weave in ends.

Strip B (2 beads):

Row 1:
Ch 3, make 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in last ch. (3 sc)

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

Row 3:
Ch 1, turn. Insert hook in next sc, pull up a loop. Slide a bead up to the stitch, y/o, pull through both loops on hook. 1 sc in last st.

Rows 4 through 12:
Repeat Row 2.

Row 13:
Repeat Row 3.

Rows 14 and 15:
Repeat Row 2.

Ch 1, turn. (Sl st, ch 1) in each of the next 2 sc, in each of the next 14 side post sps, in each of the following 3 sc, and in the remaining 14 side post sps. Join with a sl st to beg ch-1. Bind off, weave in ends.

*I have to apologize for not knowing the correct term for my seam. I always thought it was another version of the whip stitch, but a true whip stitch is brought back over the stitch. This seam is woven back and forth. Please, leave a comment (and a link to your blog if you have one) if you can give us the name of this stitch.

Pin the pieces together in an "X" shape before joining the ends. Strip A should be on top of Strip B, with the beads facing you.

Thread about 8" (20 cm) of yarn on a yarn needle. Start by folding so that the ends of the strips meet, with the beads on the inside. Weave the yarn through the back loops only of the first corresponding stitches of each strip. Pull the yarn through, leaving about a 6" (15 cm) tail. From the current side you are on, insert needle in the back loops of the next sts, pull through. Continue to the end of this strip.

Holding the next strip ends together, weave back and forth through the back loops of the sts.

Pull both ends to tighten and settle the stitches. You want to make sure there isn't a gap between the strips, or you'll have a big space and a single thread dangling in between them.

While weaving in the ends, work towards the center of the strip, where the middle bead is. Secure the strips together by weaving the yarn through the middle bead stitch.

Finish weaving in the ends. Turn right side out.

As I stated in the original pattern, I would love to see these starched to stiffen them, but I still haven't solved the problem of the beads becoming cloudy, and it shows even worse on these larger beads. I'm still open for suggestions if anyone has one.

So far, I've tried store-bought fabric stiffener, home-made liquid starch, and diluted craft glue. The glue dried clear on the beads, but with bumps, bubbles, and bare spots, so then I had to take the time to peel it all off of each bead.

Again, maybe they're better left as-is.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Yarn Tales Tuesday

Crochet Inspiration

  The designing part of my brain has become blocked again...I guess sometimes I just get burned out and need a break. The extra-busy time of the holidays is fast approaching, and I might as well take a bit of time to unwind while I still can.

  When I say "unwind", I don't mean stop. I can't stop crocheting...I think I begin to suffer symptoms of withdrawal if I'm away from yarn and a hook for too long. What I mean by "unwind" is to change things up a little. Aside from designing some new things outside of my comfort zone, I have some yarn-oriented cleaning and organizing to do, plus some yarn-related crafts I've had on hold.

  Of course, this means there could be a few less free crochet patterns being posted for a few weeks, but I'm focusing creating better projects in the meantime. While I'll be backing off of posting patterns, I'm going to be adding some new tutorials, tips, and ideas.

  Now, let's dive into my new motivation:

  One of my other biggest hobbies is gardening. You'll find me outside when I'm not buried under a pile of yarn. I have 5 acres of plants to take care of, so there's no such thing as a true "break" in my life, there's just something else to do. Whenever I develop another case of "designer's block", quitting is never the answer for me. It only means it's time do do something else!

  I often rediscover my creativity when I'm taking care of everyday life tasks. The Fmelted Plarn Toothbrush Holder was invented when my wall-mounted toothbrush holder fell off while I was cleaning it. My Deca-stitch Cowl 2.0 was created in the favorite color of a dear friend who passed, and these Men's Fingerless Mitts were designed in the middle of a cold winter for my other half. Life usually jumps in and provides a reason for me to create something new.

  But lately, Life has stepped back and given me the time to design what I want to design. I've been experimenting with flowers, headbands, and some jewelry. Until now...I only have one project in design queue, but it's something very large that I can't begin until I can afford all of the material at one time. Hopefully I can create some new stuff before I finish posting my recent group of patterns.

  So as I mentioned, it's time to go do something else. Winter is on it's way, and I need to be taking care of my plants and making sure the animals will be cozy. I often carry my camera with me when I'm out on the property, and I've been snapping some great photos of nature in my backyard.

  Coincidentally, I've found my inspiration after all. What better muse is there for creativity than Mother Nature? The bold, beautiful colors and many fascinating shapes found outdoors often lend their influence to design. Why not use them in my crochet?

  I'm not talking about recreating plants and animals; I've already covered that. I'm thinking something more along the lines of an afghan with stitches and colors revolving around the interesting image of this recent thunderstorm:

  I love the contrast of the blue/gray sky against the rich green of the grass and the dramatic lines in the clouds. Unfortunately, the spiderweb-like orange and yellow lightning streaking across the sky wasn't captured in the picture, but I'd like to find a way to also work it into the design.

  And if that's not inspiring enough, I've have plans for the following photo, too. I'd like to create a garment of some kind, I just haven't made up my mind over what it will be.

    Perhaps you can give me some hints about what you'd like to see. Why not take some inspiration from my readers, too? I can't make everything for everybody, but I sure could use a jump-start right now.

  Use the comments section to leave a suggestion for what you think I should make next. Would you like to see a tutorial for something? I'm up for a challenge, so don't hesitate!

  Has something in nature ever inspired you to design your own crochet pattern? Do you get the motivation to create from everyday life situations? Let us know about it with a comment or by sharing a link to your own post.

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