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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Double Strand Basket Weave Scarf



**For those of you keeping up with the program, this is the Scarf of the Month for October. Since I've fallen so behind, I'm going to stop labeling the months in the titles of the remaining scarves. Seems a bit strange to be featuring October's scarf in February of the next year, so just enjoy the free pattern! If you're interested in creating items for charity too, then be sure to check out the notes I've included at the end for why I think this is one of the best scarves to work up for a donation. **


  Working a basket weave pattern with two strands of worsted yarn makes this scarf amazingly warm and cozy - and quick to make, too! Triple crochet stitches and a large hook help you get the project done faster, and the two strands leave your color choices almost endless. You can play it safe with two strands the same color, mix and match your favorite colors, or combine two shades of a neutral.




crochet, free pattern, scarf, double strand, Caron United, tutorial, triple crochet





  The pattern is easy to adjust for a wider scarf, but this piece is plenty warm at 5" (12.5 cm). Using the entire length of both skeins, a 5" wide scarf will finish at a length of 75" (187.5 cm). To increase the width or length, you'll need extra skeins! Need to brush up on your stitches for this pattern? Be sure to check out the links in the stitch definitions. (And psst... Find a whole tutorial for this scarf by clicking here!)




crochet, free pattern, crochet for charity, scarf, tutorial





Skill level:
Skill level, intermediate





Materials:
2 skeins - Worsted weight (4) acrylic yarn
-I used Caron United in Black and Dark Grey Heather
*For a wider or longer scarf, you will need 4 skeins - Two of each color
Hook size N-9.00MM or size needed to obtain gauge
Stitch markers (optional)
Yarn needle




Gauge:
In 4" by 4" (10 cm by 10 cm)
12 triple crochet in pattern stitch
*Almost* 4 rows - 4" should be about 3/4 of the height of the fourth row


crochet, gauge, triple crochet, basket weave





Notes:
Chain-3 at beginning of rows counts as a double crochet stitch

Pattern stitch is worked in multiples of 4. For a wider scarf, increase by 4 stitches.

Have trouble with turning chains? Use stitch markers. The beginning chain-3 will disappear behind the last post stitch. Marking it will make it easier to find.




Stitches and abbreviations:
Chain (ch)
Foundation double crochet (FDC)
Double crochet (dc)
Front-post triple crochet (fptr)
Back-post triple crochet (bptr)




free crochet pattern, basket weave, scarf, triple crochet





Directions:


- Working with both strands of yarn held together -


Row 1:
Ch 4 (counts as dc), FDC 11. (12 dc)


Row 2:
Ch 3, (fptr in each of the next 2, bptr in each of the following 2) two times. Fptr in each of the next 2, make 1 dc in last.


Repeat row 2 for all following rows. Example repeats 74 times for a total of 76 rows.

Bind off, weave in ends.





crochet, free patter, scarf, basket weave, double strand, Caron United



Additional notes about using this scarf for a charity donation:
Translation - Let me convince you to make at least one to donate! But okay, if you're not going to donate, then you might still want to make one for yourself, or as a gift... So you should probably still read this.



1. It's super thick. 'Nuf said, right? Seriously... Double strands of yarn make it extra thick, but if you decide to use a different yarn than Caron United, you need to make a gauge swatch and try it out. Does it stand up on it's own? Then it's too stiff. Even though this scarf is "beefy", it's still soft and pliable. I wouldn't want to wrap myself in something that feels like a carpet; would you?


2. Again, this pattern is thick, but the basket weave design creates little pockets of texture that make the scarf breathable... Without being "airy", if that makes sense. That makes it more versatile to double up on extra-cold days, or wear it loosely wrapped to fight a slight chill.


3. PLEASE, please, please... Please don't even consider getting that cheapest-of-the-cheap acrylic yarn that sells for $1 a skein. I think that stuff's made for crafting, not wearing. It's definitely not for this scarf. You might think you're doing more service by saving money so you can donate more, but you might as well give the recipient a hair shirt. The double strands will accentuate the scratchiness and stiffness. (See next tip for side note)


4. I'm not trying to advertise this yarn; perhaps you have your own favorite non-scratchy acrylic that's priced less. Go ahead and use it. But remember that when you purchase Caron United, fifteen cents from every skein goes to the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation. That's like double-charity, if you'll be donating your scarf.

I have seen United advertised in a few stores for over $4 a skein. Don't buy that. I've also seen it on sale for under $3. If you follow that link above you can find United for it's usual price, which means you can still make this scarf under ten dollars... I go yarn shopping there about once a year and take advantage of their free shipping on bigger orders, so my scarf cost exactly $6.98. If you sign up for their newsletters, you'll find they offer 15- 20% off sales quite often.


5. Whatever yarn you decide to use, make sure it doesn't require any special care! Choose something that holds up well to wearing and washing... And drying.

United is easy-care! I'm pretty sure the label says "low heat", but I accidentally threw a pair of fingerless gloves in the dryer on high... They came out fine! I've done this with a few other acrylics, and although they didn't melt away or disintegrate, you could tell the yarn just wasn't the same as it used to be.


6. Speaking of drying... This scarf doesn't need any blocking! The thick pattern holds its shape well. That's great for charity donations and for gifting to yarn-clueless people.


7. My final thought: Time.

-The triple crochet stitches make it work up quickly, while the double strands and thick basket weave combat the lacy effect of the taller stitch. It almost feels like cheating.

- Got somewhere to go, but time to sit? Throw this project in a to-go tote! The double strands make it slightly more difficult to work on as an on-the-go project, but it's not that hard to carry two balls around in a bag, is it? ;) It's not like you'll be doing stranded color work or anything. The simple repeat of the same row over and over makes it easy to get a few stitches in, even if you only have a minute. Once you make a couple rows, you'll probably be able to work without the pattern, right?

- Let's be honest. Maybe you're not pressed for time. Sometimes, you get tired of working on a project, or you just don't like it, or maybe something came up and now you are pressed for time even though you thought you could finish it when you started... Whatever the issue is, this project can still make a great accessory. As long as you get the "scarf" to measure about 25" (62.5 cm) long, stitch the ends together for a cowl. It's not as versatile as a scarf, but it will still provide warmth for someone in need.




crochet, free pattern, scarf, basket weave, triple crochet, tutorial




Happy Crocheting!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Popcorn Heart Garland




  First, is it okay if I say that I don't actually like popcorn that much? I mean, it's not bad, it's just not my favorite snack. Anyways, on to the real subject: I love crocheting the popcorn stitch! There's lots of variations of the "basic", or classic popcorn.The stitch is usually worked in double crochet, but you can make a popcorn using any of the basic stitches to create a different shape or texture. Then there's other styles of the stitch, such as the milk glass popcorn. And now, there's the "Popcorn Heart" stitch!



free crochet pattern, heart, popcorn stitch, garland, Valentine's Day




  Okay, maybe it's more of a pattern than a stitch... I've been trying to work it into rows, but I still can't get it to come out right. But there's only like, what... Less than two weeks until Valentine's Day! So, who wants to get into some big project right now? Let's make this cute and quick chain garland, and you'll still have time to decorate with it before the celebration is over. I'm going to continue to play around with turning the "popcorn heart" into something more than just a decoration, but why waste this for now?



free crochet pattern, hearts, garland, Valentine's Day,




  Also, that's why you're going to get this as more of a tutorial than a pattern. (Which is where I should warn you that there's about 20 pictures ahead.) I'm still in the experimental stage of this stitch. I haven't tested the gauge, and there's a few variations I couldn't decide on.  But you'll see below some examples that will give you an idea of what hook size(s) you'll want, and you can choose whichever variations you prefer. I haven't even thought about what difficulty it should be, so maybe you guys could give me some opinions!



  • If you want to give it a try, then you'll need to know the chain (ch), slip stitch (sl st), single crochet (sc) and double crochet (dc) stitches.

  • You'll also need to be able to remove your hook and pick up a different loop, so you might want to grab a stitch marker (or two)! 

  • Gather an assortment of hooks that are close to the size of your yarn manufacturer's recommended size. You can use any size yarn you want!


crochet hooks, supplies, free crochet pattern, hearts



*Want the written directions first? Sure! Chain your desired number of stitches, plus three or four (your choice). Slip stitch in the second or third chain from the hook, chain 1 (counts as sc). Now, all in that same stitch: 1 single crochet, 1 chain, 2 double crochet, 2 chain, 2 double crochet, 1 chain, 2 sc. Take the hook out of the working loop, put it back into the first single crochet (ch-1), pick the working loop back up and pull the loop through. Go from back to front, then front to back around the middle slip stitch (in and out of the ch-2 spaces), and slip stitch. Anchor with a slip stitch to the last chain made before heart, or skip one and go into the stitch before it (easier!).


Now do you want that tutorial to make more sense of those variations?




First, you'll need to decide how far apart you want your hearts to be on the chain. (For the tutorial version, I'll be working them 15 chains apart.) Chain the desired number of chains, plus three or four. (Three chains in example, with first chain marked - you'll see why I mark that later!)





Decide how you want to work the point of your heart. You can begin in the second or third chain from the hook. (Red/white examples worked in second chain, burgundy worked in third.)





Make a slip stitch, but do it loosely! If your tension is too tight, the point of your heart will turn into a tiny nub that will disappear under the popcorn.





Chain one (to count as the first single crochet), and make a single crochet in the same space. Hint: If you think you'll have trouble finding that beginning chain-one again, mark it now! You'll need to work into it again later.





Chain one, and make two double crochet in the same space.





Chain two, slip stitch in the same space. (Half of the heart is complete!)





Now, you'll make (almost) all those stitches in reverse order, in the same space. Chain two, two double crochet, chain one, two single crochet. Now, let's turn it into a popcorn heart!





You're going to remove your hook from the working loop. Don't be afraid to pull up a bunch of slack in that working loop before you take the hook out! It will prevent the stitch from pulling out, and it will help you in the end. Trust me.

Insert your hook into the beginning chain-one.




Place the working loop back on the hook, pulling any slack back out of it. Beginner tip: Don't twist that stitch when you put it back on the hook! When you pull your working yarn, it should slide over the front of the hook. If it goes to the back, your loop is backwards.





You're not making a stitch here, so don't yarn over for anything! Just pull that working loop right through the beginning chain. This is the part where you can pull your stitch as tight as you want. The tighter you pull this stitch, the more your popcorn will "pop" out and stand out on the chain.





And to make the heart "pop" the most, let's turn it into a popcorn "ball"! What I mean is turn it into a ball stitch of sorts, which you can see by following this link. Insert the hook from back to front in the first chain-2 space.





Now, insert it from front to back in the next chain-2.





Slip stitch through the chain spaces, and pull the stitch tight.





Finally, here's where you get to make another choice, and I'll explain why I mark that previous chain: You need to anchor the heart to the chain with a slip stitch, or it just flops around. I like making things the difficult way to go into the very next chain, but working all those stitches into the previous chain makes this one tighten up, and it can be nearly impossible to insert your hook in the stitch. I mark this stitch so I can use the marker to pull slack back in the chain, but it's still really difficult to twist your hook around the popcorn and make it into the stitch. It's a lot easier to just skip this tight chain, and slip stitch in the next one.




free crochet pattern, popcorn heart garland

Now you can chain your desired number of stitches again, and repeat the steps for more hearts.





I began working the hearts with a size K - 6.50 MM, and continued working the chain with the same size. When I got to the next heart, I switched to a size I - 5.50 MM. The heart is only a tiny bit smaller, and although it feels thicker, the appearance doesn't change much.




crochet, gauge, hearts

And I worked the next heart with a size H - 5.00 hook. Again, it's only a bit smaller than the last one, but this time the shape changed some, too. This third heart is almost as thick as it is wide!




crochet, free pattern, hearts, popcorn stitch

For the white garland, I worked the anchoring slip stitch into the second chain from the popcorn. It doesn't pull the heart as tight against the chain, but it makes it so much easier to work the stitch!




crochet, heart, garland, free pattern,

At first glance, the pattern seems to remain the same. But if you skip a stitch to make your anchoring slip stitch, then you'll need to think about how and where you'll be using your garland. If it's wrapped around something, the hearts will stick out pretty easily. If you try to hang it freely - let's say, like across an open doorway, the hearts will tend to flop downwards. Which is cool, if you're hanging it up high! But, honestly, it looks kinda dumb if you hang it that way at eye level.



crochet, free pattern, heart, garland

The burgundy garland was made by beginning in the third chain from the hook, for a pointier point. ("Pointier" is a word... Wouldn't you think it should be "more pointy"? Grammar aside, I tried working into the fourth chain for the pointiest point, but I didn't like it.) I also skipped to the second chain for the anchoring slip stitch.



crochet, tassels, heart garland

Since the hearts on my red garland stay put pretty nicely, I decided to add a tassel of all the colors to one end, so I could hang it vertically. I think you could do this too, or add it to both ends, or even attach more tassels on the chain between the hearts... I just don't like it. I like sleek and simple, and don't want a bunch of tasseled decorations around my house. I think I'm gonna take that back off.



thread crochet, hearts, free pattern, garland


And for the Grande Finale, I started working the pattern in thread. You can, too, if you're crazy enough. (LOL) No, I think you really could, if you enjoy working with thread! I started out with a hook that was too big, so I experimented with making three double crochet where you should make two (left). But, it made the heart a bit too wide, so I went back to the original pattern (right). I think I just need to switch to a smaller hook, but my hands are getting tired! I'm setting this one aside for another day.





free crochet pattern, hearts, popcorn stitch, garland

Before we end, let me give you one last warning about skipping that chain... I know the lighting is horrible, but hopefully you can get a good idea of this example by the silhouettes of the hearts: The garland at the right is the red one, made by anchoring in the very next chain. See how the hearts hang at a cute angle? Now, can you see at the bottom and top of the branch where the burgundy and white garlands (skipped a chain) aren't wrapped all the way around? FLOP.




Happy Crocheting!





Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mittens Monday!






  (To those of you reading this today [Sunday], no, I didn't forget what day it is. The hubby and I are still trying to fix a leaking shower drain, so I'm grabbing the opportunity to publish this while he's at the hardware store again. If we get it fixed tonight, I'm taking the day off tomorrow - and a shower, lol. Pretend it's Monday for me, okay? On the bright side, I'm learning all about P-traps, plumber's putty and "pipe dope".) (And why is it called a P-trap, when it's shaped like an "S"?)




  I am the weird one. Something I always heard when growing up, but not something that ever bothered me. Because I wasn't "weird" as in picking your nose in the class photo weird (okay, wait, I used to be able to bend my thumb backwards); I was always into something that nobody else was interested in. To me, I wasn't "the weird one"... I just had different hobbies and talents than everybody else, and they were weird for not understanding - I mean, after all, I can't understand why anybody likes basketball, but I don't go around calling people weird for it, do I? I like challenges. And after all these years of hearing everybody say it's too hard to crochet mittens, I'm wondering why I would ever listen to anybody's opinion.




mittens, crochet, crochet for charity, donate



(Ya'll know I don't mean any offense by that, right? I'm highlighting the fact that I'm different here.)




  In the last post, I was showing you all my finished pieces intended for donation, and shared my mittens in progress. And... Oh, no...(lol) I think I've found my niche. Through all the projects I start and struggle to complete, or don't finish at all, I am now enthralled with making (and completing!) mittens. A simple scarf that should only take a day to complete may become a work in progress for a month, but mittens seems to fly off my hook effortlessly.




mittens, crochet, free pattern, charity





  And, I've become a little obsessed with browsing the Bridge and Beyond blog. I came across this post where Sandy says "you and I clap and dance in the streets when we receive mittens". In my previous post, I was saying a bit jokingly that I should rededicate the Scarf of the Month to making mittens... But I'm not kidding so much anymore. After writing that, I found some inspiration in another post on their blog. Yes, every little bit helps. But if I have this special passion and ability to hook up a ton of mittens in no time, why not use it to do even more?




  I am just one person... One person that finds it difficult to make 12 scarves in a year, like I planned. But I'm one person that finds it easy to work up one of the most needed items - mittens. If I can complete two pairs of mittens in one week, then let's see how many I can make in a year! (Not bragging, but I also completed another scarf, a hat, started a Valentine's Day project, too... Maybe I'm just running more efficiently than usual.)




  Disregard that thought in parenthesis... It's negative. No, I'm going to look at it this way: My ability to finish mittens is inspiring a feeling of accomplishment, which is fueling more productivity. So, against my better judgement, I'm going to start a new theme, and see if I can stick to it. "Mittens Monday" is going to be my challenge to keep making mittens, and hopefully not get bored with it.




mittens, crochet, yarn, charity





  am just one person. One person with a voice that's heard not only here in my own country, but all across the globe - about 10,000 times a month. (I know you hear me... Mwa, ha ha ha ha!.. Sorry. Told'ya I'm weird.) So, maybe you can't make two pairs of mittens in a week... I doubt I'll keep up with that speed, either. But even if you make one pair in a year... Or maybe a scarf, a hat, or even a cotton washcloth... Just one person making one item to help another, you're still one person helping another. It's something we could use more of in this world.




  The fun thing about the mittens I'm making right now is: I'm cleaning out my yarn stash. I found some random skeins of bulky with no labels, presumably for some forgotten project. I thought they were all the same yarn, until I started working with it. So, what was going to be one of my next free patterns is going to be one of many free patterns. Each pair I work up with a different yarn needs just a little bit of change, so I'm going to stick with the same basic form and see what happens. Instead of publishing one pattern with a bunch of variations, it seems easier to write a different one for each kind of yarn.




bulky, yarn, crochet, mittens





  The not-so-fun part for me: If only I had the foresight to not loose my yarn labels back when I was a beginner! I know some of it is from way back then, because one skein is the stuff I bought to knit a blanket with. I wasn't even crocheting yet! Some of it's newer, and I can backtrack what it is by going through my saved labels... Or maybe just searching the blog. But for the oldest skein, I get the "fun" job of tracking down a yarn that not only is label-less; I have no clue where I bought it, what brand it is, or if they even still make it. Hey, I said I like a challenge, right?




Country Loom, yarn, bulky, crochet





  The (maybe-not-so) fun part for you is: Maybe you'll get to experiment, too! Once I get the patterns posted, consider looking in your own stash for some bulky yarn. Try creating your own pair of mittens using the pattern. But... A warning to beginners, or anybody that has trouble working with textured yarn: Check out the last photo, and you'll see this yarn isn't the easiest to work with! Search your stash and see what you find! If your mittens turn out to big or small, think about sending them for a donation. After all, there's people of all shapes and sizes out there needing a helping hand. The gloves I was designing to fit myself came out too long, but now I know where I need to fix them. Someone else out there can enjoy the "mistake" that's only sized wrong for me, and I get to learn from my mistakes. It's not wasted time; it's just earned experience.




crochet, mittens, bulky, yarn



...And you'll need a bit of experience to work with this yarn! It's bumpy, fuzzy, and splits like crazy. I wouldn't recommend it for a newbie, or anybody with vision problems, or for those with anger issues. So if you have some trouble with finding the stitches in all that fluff, you might want to wait for an easier pattern - then you can see how simple making mittens can be! Can you work in the round? Can you increase and decrease? Can you crochet through two stitches at one time? If yes to all three, then you can make mittens, too! Now, how many of you are willing to lend a helping hand?




Happy Crocheting!





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