Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Lost Crochet Files - 2

  I love how as I go through my old crochet pictures, I can find a bit of a theme. This time: Squares! One of these is a simple project I remember well, and I need to get around to recreating it. The other... Humph. The other one still leaves me steaming about that chewed-up notebook.

  Let it go... Just let it go. It's hard to let it go. Especially because Notebook-eating Dog's owner has caused me more trouble than just this... But, I'm trying to turn my attitude around so I can get this mess back on track. I mean, it's not a total loss, right? I'm more experienced now! I can take a look at these pictures and at least get an idea of how to make it happen again. So, let it go... Let's get on with it!

  How awesome is this square? Well, that's just a rough-draft of it really, but you can get the concept of where I was going with it. This project was in beginning design stages, one square worked up in yarn and a pattern filled with adjustment-making notes, and the other squares nothing but scribbles on paper. It would have been a garden-themed afghan, full of butterflies and flowers and such. Now, it's just a random puny square, with missing notes and nowhere to go. Finding this picture inspired me to try again sometime soon. I can recreate it. And it will be even better.

  I think this was one of the last projects I was working on before the dog ate my homework. As for the rest of the squares I had in mind for the afghan, they're no more than distant memories. Now I wish I had at least worked up some rough-draft squares in yarn, instead of jotting down ideas on paper. But how was I to know my friend was leaving me with a pattern-eating dog? I can wish and hope and complain, but it's not bringing my ideas back.

  You can't go wrong with a classic granny square, and I'm (re)thinking of using them as a filler in the "garden" afghan. But for now, how about a few in plarn? I remember the birth of this next pattern... My mom can't pick up a lot of weight, and the cashiers at the grocery store are always overloading her bags. Even though she kept asking them not to, they would still pack in too much, double-bagging a dozen or more cans at a time. I decided to make Mom a smaller reusable bag, so the cashiers can't put too much stuff in it.

  But just in case, I made the bottom out of two squares sewn together, for extra thickness. And I made it with an extra-thick handle, so it would be more comfortable for Mom to carry a little more weight. The problem isn't muscles as much as joints, so the extra padding helps. Now that my hands are wrecked with rheumatoid arthritis, I think I should make a few more of these for myself!

  The only thing is... *Sigh* It's the reason I have trouble working with other people's patterns. It's like I just have to break the rules, change the form, think outside the box... Whatever it is, it's annoying, because I can't stop myself from changing my own patterns, too. Instead of making an extra square for the bottom, I think I'd rather cut the material extra-thick or use two strands for one square, work out the gauge, and find the right hook to make it match. Maybe even change the stitch so it's a tighter weave.

And of course, it will be a free pattern :)

Soooo... How about some opinions? Since you're able to make the plarn any thickness you desire, would you bother with cutting the material wider? Or would you rather cut all the material the same and use two strands?

I also have another question... At one time, I was going to make a bunch of reusable grocery bags, and take an extra with me when I shop. Our Walmart has those revolving bag carousels, so I was going to leave the extra bag for the next person in line. Everybody I knew at the time said the idea was "dumb", and they wouldn't take one. Would you? Did I have mean, unimaginative friends, or is it a weird idea?

Will there be a "Plarn Bombing" for Earth Day?

Happy Crocheting!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Booty Shuffle

  Time's getting short and I need to hustle, so I'm busy doing the "Booty Shuffle". Hey, that kinda rhymes... Maybe it should be a song, lol. Anyways, what I mean is that I know a Mommy-to-Be, and she should be just "Mommy" pretty soon! She requested booties in university colors, but I only have them in worsted weight yarn.

booties, baby booties, crochet, accessories

  My money is still tied up in the bank after the whole card-fraud situation. I was going to order some sport-weight yarn the same day that they emptied my account, so I never got to it. If Mommy-to-Be pops early, I might not have them done in time! So even though I'm worried that worsted booties might be too warm for a Spring Baby in Florida, I've gotten started on playing around with designs.

  The first design I tackled was a popular one - The Crossover Baby Booties. This is an awesomely cute and easy design, but I had a little problem: After sitting down with the free pattern I downloaded, I realized there's no gauge or size included. That's the whole reason I was using a well-used pattern! I have trouble making things for babies... The little boogers are all different shaped and sizes, and they grow so quick. Plus, I've never been around many of these strange little noisy creatures, so it's hard to judge if I'm getting the fit correct. I found later that the gauge is available on the Ravelry page, but I didn't think to check while I was working on the booties.

Crossover Baby Booties, FSU team colors, crochet

  Google searching to the rescue! I was still able to use the Crossover design after looking up some size charts, but I added a few of my own touches. I made the uppers and the soles in two different colors for Mommy-to-be's sport's team request, and instead of sewing I joined the pieces with surface crochet. I think they're too bulky in worsted, but cute nonetheless.

Crossover Baby Booties, Ravelry, crochet

  Now more confident with sizes, I set about designing my own pattern. I could see that using worsted weight yarn makes the seams ridiculously thick, so I wanted to go with a smoother in-the-round design. The main part of the toe is more like a sock, so I planned on using something like a short-row design to complete the heel. Somewhere along the line I remembered that I have to feed The Other Half, so I took a break to cook dinner. By the time I got back to the project, I was exhausted and forgot what my original plan was for joining the sections. I kept trying, but couldn't figure out why it wasn't going the way I originally wanted it to go.

baby booties, FSU team colors, crochet

  A bit of sleep and a lot of coffee later, I'm back at it. Oh, yeah! I was going to do a color change, then seal up the sides with single crochet for a contrasting-colored, textured seam. But now I can't decide if I still want to do that color change or not. Or how high I want the back of the heel to be... I'm thinking something like a moccasin or slipper would be cute, but I also like the idea of a more-classic booty.

crochet, baby booties, work in progress, FSU team colors

  Aw, heck, make 'em all! Baby booties take so little yarn and time, I think I could make the kid a pair for every day of the week and still have plenty of scrap. The next job to tackle is a hat and diaper cover to match, but I'd much rather make those in a lighter weight yarn. Still stuck in this "can't go anywhere, can't spend money" limbo, Mommy-to-Be could possibly receive a year's supply of booties for the little snot monster.

crochet, baby booties, FSU team colors

  The expected poop-machine is The Other Half's first grand-baby, by the way. I have a feeling I'll be ordering lots of yarn in these colors. I do have some lighter weight yarn, but it's all in pastel baby colors. Although Mommy-to-Be wanted only garnet and gold, maybe I'll get started on some surprise items anyways. After all, you can't have enough spares with a little laundry-maker around, right?

Happy Crocheting!

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Lost Crochet Files - 1

  Now, I'll try to make a long story short, but you know that won't happen: Many years ago, I had a friend with a dog, and I was supposed to dog-sit for a week. He said she was a good dog, but as soon as he left, the dog went bonkers. Besides chewing up my boots, urinating on my bed (still sleeping on a $150 futon because of it), and relentlessly chasing my cats, the dog ate my homework. She shredded my notebook full of hand-written patterns, a year's worth of work, in the time it took me to take out the garbage.

  Material things... The boots and the bed can be replaced, even though dog's owner won't pay for it. And the cats got over it when they learned the dog didn't like being scratched as much as she liked chasing them. But that book of patterns... That was irreplaceable. And to add to the string of bad luck from years ago, it wasn't long after that when the computer blew up... Almost literally! The power-supply smoked on it, and it was cheaper at the time to buy another PC. I just finally got it replaced before the new year, and I had completely forgotten that I had photos of past projects stored on the drive!

  Obviously, I don't have patterns for these projects anymore. And some of them are pictures of my beginner projects, so you probably wouldn't want to follow the pattern anyways! In an effort to turn these lost crocheted items into something other than lost time, I'm pulling out those photos to share with you. Some of them aren't so pretty, but they're from the days of crochet past. Let's get a look and a laugh at some! Since I've been working with plarn lately, it was a neat throwback to find today's photos.

  For the sake of my dignity, let me start with one of the projects I'm most proud of from my beginner days. I was in the middle of an obsession with plarn, I had recently mastered the triple crochet stitch, and I saw a bag using the front-post double crochet for the bottom edge. I set to learning the front-post stitch, and this bag was born.

crochet, plarn, tote, bag, plastic yarn, recycling, beginner

  I'm proud of completing the pattern in my beginning stages, but it still had its downfalls. This monstrosity of a beach bag is tall enough as it is, but this beginner didn't think about the stretch of the stitch and material. After a year of use as a random tote bag, this now stretched-out project forever resides in my utility closet to hold rags.

plarn, plastic yarn, tote, bag, crochet, beginners

  Hey, check out some of my old experiments! Here's some bangles and earrings, plus a ball of plarn that I had colored. These were just random projects I worked up while testing different ways to color the plastic, and the kids enjoyed the play jewelry.

plarn, jewelry, bangles, earrings, crochet

plarn, jewelry, bangles, colored plarn, plastic yarn, recycling, play jewelry

  And here's a bit of an embarrassment, but one that's still in use. I made this when I first started crocheting. I learned the single crochet stitch, and I was still practicing the double - Which was the reason I was working this mat up in a combination of singles and doubles, plus playing with a few chain spaces. Yup, that's a beginner's edge all right... Somebody obviously wasn't counting their stitches!

plarn, crochet, plarn mat, beginners, recycling, plastic yarn

But hey, it's still being used as a slobber mat by the dog's water bowl. I don't think he notices that the count is off.

Happy Crocheting!

Friday, February 19, 2016

That Darn Plarn

  I got sidetracked again. I still have the patterns to publish for November and December's Scarves of the Month, but I started a project that's leading me over to my other blog. And because getting rid of one/starting a new organization system and (kinda) blogging about it isn't enough work, I picked up a side-crochet project too.

wip, work in progress, plarn, rug, finger crochet

  It's a pattern I started back around the holidays, but my big plarn project came to a halt when I ran out of grocery bags. Two months later, there's bags of bags piling up in a corner because I've been neglecting it. I think I'm well on my way to becoming a slob. I used to keep things neat and organized, and get my projects done. Nowadays, you can find a pile of my work somewhere in the way at any given time. It's starting to make me lose my freaking mind.

plarn, rug, finger crochet, work in progress, WIP, crochet

  Some might say that's okay, since there's not much left to lose...(lol) But I'm doing something about it! I could keeping griping about the people that promise to help even though they never do. I could make excuses about my hands swelling again and work being difficult. I could blame it on the dog that interrupts me a million times a day just to say "here's some slobber"... But none of it is going to get this mess cleaned up!

plarn, finger crochet, chunky plarn, loop method, rotary cutter

  During my breaks from navigating the black hole known as my closet, I've been cutting up bags. It's a perfect side project. If I went from the dusty closet to a yarn project, I'd wash my hands before touching the yarn. And since I'm going back and forth between these projects about 20 times a day, I might not have any skin left if did that. I'm not afraid to touch the plarn with dirty hands, because I know it's not going to get stained, and it's easily washable.

  *On a side note, I've lost rack of the number of bags that are being used for this project. I got past 500, and decided I'll try to measure it by weight when I'm done. That's an example of how many bags I've been hoarding. I lost track past 500.

  The goal was to cut up at least half a bag of bags every time I took a break from the closet project. Some of the bags were really packed together, so they took more than two breaks. But still, I'm cutting these really thick, so it doesn't take much time to knock out 20 bags. I'm still finding it easiest to stack multiple bags and cut with the rotary cutter, and now my bag stash in the corner is gone again.

plarn, loop method, finger crochet, plarn rug, chunky plarn

  But oh! What is it about crafting that can make you start hoarding? While cleaning out said closet, I found a garbage bag full of... Can you guess? Grocery bags. A garbage bag full. Okay, that's not too bad. And then there's that plastic tote... Maybe I shouldn't tell you about the cardboard box stuffed with "special color" bags. That box aside, it's good that I found bags, since I ran out again... Right?

  It would be awesome, if any of them were the right color! I'm making my project with only grey and blue bags (good ole Wally-World), but my plarn stash is full of every other color. Brown, white, yellow... Hey, I found some grey ones in there! Aw, but they have black and red print. No go. If Walmart decides to change the color of their bags (again) mid-project, then I'm going to have to change my color scheme!

plarn, hoarding, grocery bags, finger crochet, plarn rug

  On a side note, that closet-clean-out is getting me even more crochet material. Yay, scrap fabric! Wait... Why did I clean it out of the closet, just to have it sit in a basket on the floor? This isn't working, people! I still have a project using fabric yarn that I haven't published, plus another in the works that I never finished. I think when, if, and ever I deplete these plies of junk, I need to let go of that save-it-for-crochet mentality. If I have to cut it up for material, then that's just more time that I'm not crocheting.

  So who's with me? Are you on the verge of becoming a hoarder due to your crafting habits? Has an organizational "trick" ever led you to more disorganization?

  Here's my new goal for recycled projects: If I can't get to it right now, I have to let it go. I've learned that when things get stuffed in corners or closets around here, they tend to stay there. I'm going to learn to get rid of it before I'm suffocating in plarn and my house is considered a fire hazard, or before I go(?) crazy.

plarn, chunky plarn, plastic bags, crochet, finger crochet, joining, loop method

Now, I need to get back to work. That pile of plarn strips must be lonely. I can hear them asking me to join them.   

Happy Crocheting!  

Thursday, February 18, 2016

And there it went...

  When I woke up this morning, I wasn't rich. I didn't have a ton of savings, but at least I had enough to buy next week's groceries and pay the house payment. Had. I also had a somewhat cheerful post for you. HAD. I can't post it. Shortly before lunch, I was editing the final photo for the post. Then, I started getting a flood of emails to my inbox.

  Debit card alerts. And I'm not the one shopping at QVC or There's only one place they could have gotten my number from: The computer. How? I have anti-everything software, great passwords, and I barely use my card! I already got off the phone with the bank and the card is cancelled, but the charges are still pending. They left me penniless. They even have an email address set up under my name.


  So right now, all I have for you is a sadface. The rest of the day will be spent running antivirus/malware/spyware checks on my PC, changing passwords, and hopefully getting hold of to cancel whatever cost . Wow, they have poor customer service. I'm glad I don't shop there.

  And to the criminal at 224 Milton Road -even-though-you-probably-don't-live-there-and-you'll-sit-at-the-curb-waiting-for-the-package in Pensacola Florida, you won't be getting your $158.93 Garmin GPS. Sorry, I cancelled the order for you. That's over my budget for a device like that. Besides, you're smart enough to figure out my debit card number, but you can't figure out that you already have GPS on your smartphone? Could'a spent my money on something better than that. Oh, and you spelled my name wrong too, DUMMY.

Happy Crocheting!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Homespun Mittens

  These mittens are like fluffy little clouds on your hands. Really fluffy, really warm clouds. Bulky weight yarn makes them work up quickly, and there's only a few increases and decreases to create the shaping. You'll even find a few tutorial photos throughout the pattern to help you out! The simple one-color design can be made more interesting by using a variegated shade, or one of Homespun's "painterly" colors.

free pattern, crochet, mittens, Lion Brand, Homespun

  This pattern creates a basic adult mitten with no cuff, the goal being to use only one skein of yarn. Each size I created left a decent amount of "scrap" - over half a skein for size small. I'm leaving the pattern written for the examples you see, but I've provided extra notes at the end for how much you really could add to the length. Feel free to work a few extra rounds! Each size (as written) is designed to end just past the base of the wrist.

mittens, free crochet pattern, Homespun, Lion Brand

Skill level:
skill level, easy - intermediate

*This pattern is simple enough to be considered "easy", but the choice of yarn isn't easy to work with. If you're comfortable working with Homespun, then you've got this!

Bulky weight (5) acrylic yarn
-I used Lion Brand Homespun in Edwardian
Crochet hook size J/10 - 6.00MM or size needed to obtain gauge
Stitch markers (optional but recommended)
Yarn needle

In 4" by 4" (10 cm by 10 cm)
10 half double crochet
8 rows

Chain-2 at beginning of rounds counts as a half double crochet.

Save time! Work over beginning tail, and tail of thumb after joining.

Work forward: The very first available space after the beginning chain counts as the same stitch. Work into the next available space for the next stitch.

Pattern is written for size small (S). Adjustments are written in parenthesis ( ) for sizes medium and large (M, L)

Stitches and abbreviations:
Chain (ch)
Slip stitch (sl st)
Half double crochet (hdc)
Double crochet two together (dc2tog)


(Example being worked in tutorial pictures is a size medium.)

Begin by creating thumb:

mittens, free crochet pattern, thumb, how to

Round 1:
Ch 3 (counts as base loop + hdc). Make 5 (7, 9) hdc in farthest ch from hook. Join with a sl st to beginning ch-3.
(6, 8, 10 hdc)

Round 2:
Ch 2, hdc in each remaining stitch. Join with a sl st to beginning ch-2.
(6, 8, 10 hdc)

Round 3:
Repeat round 2. For size S, bind off.

Round 4:
Repeat round 2. For size M, bind off.

Round 5 (size L only):
Repeat round 2. Bind off.

To create body:

Round 1:
Ch 3 (counts as base loop + hdc), make 13 (15, 17) hdc in farthest ch from hook. Join with a sl st to beginning ch-3.
(14, 16, 18 hdc)

mittens, free crochet pattern, round 1

Round 2:
Ch 2, hdc in same stitch. 2 hdc in each of the next 3 stitches. 1 hdc in each of the next 3 (4, 5) stitches(*). 2 hdc in each of the next 4 stitches. 1 hdc in each of the next 3 (4, 5) stitches(*). Join with a sl st to beginning ch-2.
Place a stitch marker at each (*) to keep track of flat sides - It's easier to join the thumb if you loose count!
(22, 24, 26 hdc)

mittens, free crochet pattern, tutorial, round 2 - 1

mittens, free crochet pattern, round 2 - 2

mittens, free crochet pattern, tutorial, 2 - 3

mittens, free crochet pattern, tutorial, round 2 - 4

Round 3:
Ch 2, hdc in each remaining stitch. Join with a sl st to beginning ch-2.

mittens, free crochet pattern, tutorial, round 3

Rounds 4 through 11 (12, 13):
Repeat round 3. (8 times for S, 9 times for M, 10 times for L)

Joining thumb - 
Round 12 (13, 14):
Ch 2, hdc in each of the next 11 (10, 9) stitches. Hdc through both thicknesses of stitch of thumb and next stitch of body. Hdc in each of the next 4 (6, 8) stitches of thumb. Hdc through both thicknesses of last stitch of thumb and same as last stitch of body. Hdc in each of the remaining 9 (12, 15) stitches. Join with a sl st to beginning ch-2.
(27, 31, 35 hdc)

mittens, free crochet pattern, tutorial, joining thumb - 1

mittens, free crochet pattern, tutorial, joining thumb - 2

mittens, free crochet pattern, tutorial, joining thumb - 3

Round 13 (14, 15):
Ch 2, hdc in each of the next 12 (11, 10) stitches. Dc2tog twice. Hdc in each of the remaining 10 (15, 20) stitches. Join with a sl st to beginning ch-2.
(25, 29, 33 hdc)

mittens, free crochet pattern, tutorial, dc2tog

Round 14 (15, 16):
Ch 2, hdc in each of the next 11 (10, 9) stitches. Dc2tog twice. Hdc in each of the remaining 9 (14, 19) stitches. Join with a sl st to beginning ch-2.
(23, 27, 31 hdc)

Round 15 (16, 17):
Ch 2, hdc in each of the next 10 (9, 8) stitches. Dc2tog twice. Hdc in each of the next 8 (13, 18) stitches. Join with a sl st to beginning ch-2.
(21, 25, 29 hdc)

Remaining rounds:
Ch 2, hdc in each remaining stitch. Join with a sl st to beg ch-2.

Written for example shown:
Work a total of 2 (3, 4) even rounds. Bind off, weave in tail.

Total number of possible even rounds per 185-yard skein:
S - almost endless. You could make a ridiculously long pair of shoulder-length mittens, but working the pattern as written leaves enough yarn to make 2 pairs.

M - You'll have enough to work 20 even rounds on each mitten, if you wanted to. That would add about 10" (25 cm) to the length.

L - Working a pair will only leave enough for about 12 even rows per mitten, but that will still add about 6" (15 cm) to the length.

Remember: I've designed these mittens to donate to charity! Please consider making a pair to donate, too. If you're working a pair for yourself and you've enjoyed the pattern, think about using that donate button (at the top of the page) to show me some love! Please? Funds for my charity donations are getting low, and so is my yarn stash!

mittens, free crochet pattern, Lion Brand, Homespun, tutorial

Happy Crocheting!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Stolen Identity Stitch Hat

  I love using the double crochet stitch for getting projects done quickly. But when I want to make a project go faster without the openness of the taller stitch, I rely on the shorter half double crochet. It's the stitch I've been using for my mittens patterns, and for the worsted weight gloves I'm still working on because I set that project aside for a hat. Of course, it's the stitch I chose to work the hat, too.

hat, crochet, half double crochet, crochet for charity, donations

  I hate making hats... Not because of sizes, or the way they're created, or because I hate hats... I just hate designing hats, because I never know exactly what to call them. There's beanies, skull caps, ski hats, cloches, bucket hats, tams, berets, and more. I made a beret once and was told it's a tam. I made a ski cap and was told it's a beanie. I give up. Have a half double crochet hat.

crochet, hat, bucket, half double crochet, crochet for charity

  But you know, I hate the half double crochet stitch, too... Not because of the stitch, but because of what it's called. Who names these things? Every time I use this stitch, my mind starts wandering and I start wondering about how the half double crochet and it's taller siblings came to be known as they are. If you think about it, the single crochet is equal in height to one chain, and the half-double is equal to two. Why did this poor stitch get labeled as half of something, while the equal-to-three-chains double crochet gets to steal it's identity?

  I've tried to make sense of it before. And okay, before you think I'm dumb or crazy, I suppose I should explain that the stitches get their names from the number of times you pull through two loops... Single crochet is once, double crochet is twice, triple is three times. So it makes sense that this in-between stitch that doesn't fit the same form would get named as some in-between thing. That still doesn't change the fact that:

Single = 1

Double = 2

2/1 = 1 !

  Half of a double is a single. Math proves it, and you can't change that! Just like I can't change the label this stitch. Despite my wishes, it shall remain known as the half-double, even though half of a double is a single. And math proves it.

half double crochet, hat, frogging

  So, you can see the obnoxious turn my mind takes when working this stitch, which is probably why I didn't pay attention to the size as I once again pondered the naming of the half-double. See, this hat isn't really a pattern as much as it is a form in my head. It's probably been worked by many a crocheter in quite a few variations. Increase flat by so many rounds, then work even until you reach your desired length. You can do it in single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet, triple crochet... You get the point.

  I use that tried and true method of hand measuring for hats. Which, if you don''t know, means increase until you reach the size of your hand. Then work even. Your hat should fit. However, I throw my own variations in there depending on the stitch I'm using. For the solid, non-stretchy single crochet, I work a little past the size of my hand. For taller stitches with more stretch, I work smaller than my hand.

  I'm designing this half double crochet hat to fit a man, so I asked the Other Half to give me a hand with the sizing. He did, and it wasn't big enough yet, so I kept working. In his typical fashion, he took a nap. Not wanting to disturb his "peaceful" sawing of logs (even though sometimes I really want to disturb the snoring), I just assumed that three more rounds would be good. After that, I worked even and had the ends woven in before he woke up.

  When he woke up I plopped it on his head, to sadly realize it was way too big. I know he's not some huge beefy guy, but this wasn't even close. This looked like Fievel wearing Papa's hat.

Fievel, An American Tail
From Google Images, scene from An American Tail

  Could I save it? Roll up the brim and attach an embellishment, making it a woman's hat instead? No, it was too short. Aside from finding a dude with a huge 28" noggin, the only thing left to do was frog it. I picked out the end, ripped back all the even rounds, and took out two rounds of increases. I worked even again from there, and I was able to get three extra rounds more than I originally had.

  It looks horrible on my model, Head. That's because it was designed for a man, and Head is just a dummy with a measly measurement of 20". The Other Half won't model for me. This hat fits comfortably on 22", and will stretch to fit 24". (It's not so long like it is on Head when it's stretched to fit.) The length increased enough that it could be rolled up and worn by someone smaller, like you can see in the first photo. I think I managed to turn it into a pretty versatile hat. Or beanie. Or maybe it's a skull cap...

Happy Crocheting! 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Grumble, Gripe and Gauge

  Today was the day I planned to publish the pattern for my first set of mittens, keeping with the concept of "Mittens Monday". And... This isn't it. Yeah, sorry to those of you who are waiting for it; it needs some... Let's call it splitting up. Well, this is still about mittens! What was one pattern with some notes for adjustments will now get separated into two different patterns. It's not complicated; I just have to take the time to decipher my chicken scratches of notes everywhere.

mittens, crochet, gauge, free pattern,

  I had originally thought the two different yarns I was using were the same brand, but I soon realized that they weren't. That didn't stop me! I made gauge swatches and they matched, so I kept working. What a big surprise when I finished two pairs of mittens in two sizes to realize: They're almost the same size! Oh no, what do I do?

crochet gauge, measuring

  So, I could complain. I could cuss, kick, and throw my notebook down in disgust. But what I will do is... Okay, who am I kidding? I already did all that; I'll just spare you the complaining and give you a lesson/warning. Sound good?

  Alright, let's go over how I was making the pattern: Same pattern, two sizes, and two different yarns, but with matching gauge swatches. I had already planned on an additional round for the larger size to increase the length, as well adding to the length of the thumb. Now, we'll skip ahead to the results: One mitten would obviously be longer, but when I tried them on, they didn't differ in circumference!

crochet, gauge, measuring

  And on to the explanation of this mystery, minus all the math mumbo-jumbo: The yarns are sized close enough to work up the same in a gauge swatch when counted by inches - more specifically, a gauge swatch that was worked flat in rows. By sight, one yarn simply appears "fluffier". I'll throw some guesswork in there and say that maybe - and this is just a guess - I think my tension could vary a bit between the yarns, too. One has a smoother texture that doesn't catch, so I'm more likely to work my stitches with tighter tension. Due to the anticipation of the second yarn splitting, by instinct I work with it more gently.

  But back to that not-really-math, solid reason: Inches are bigger than centimeters. (Duh...) When good ole Americanized me counts my stitches in inches, I'm not getting as close of a measurement as I could be. Sometimes, you have to stop being the sixth-grader that's groaning why do I have to learn more measurements when I already know feet and inches?; and you have to flip that ruler over to get a better gauge. (And get a flat ruler, too. Those tape measures can throw off your measurements.)

gauge, crochet, measuring, centimeters, inches

  Now why should that matter, when four inches equals ten centimeters, and I still have the same number of stitches in both swatches? That's a bit of a phenomenon... When counting the number of stitches together, you get the same count. But if you use those centimeters to measure each stitch individually, one is just a tiny little line wider. It doesn't add enough to a four-inch gauge swatch to make much of a difference by sight, but it's enough to change the finished pattern.   

  Now, let's add some more technical stuff: Thickness. Because I worked those gauge swatches in rows, the thickness of the yarn didn't make a difference. So, let's see a show of hands... Anybody have a guess where I went wrong? Yes, yes, you in the back, screaming "you're working a pattern in the round, dummy, you need to work a swatch in the round too!"... Yes, you're correct. I'm the dummy that worked a flat swatch for a round pattern. I was trying to save time. I was cheating. I was too lazy to work more stitches up in the round. And it made a big difference.

crochet, mittens, gauge, Country Loom, Homespun

  The dummies' explanation of why that changes the size: In small swatches, the flat pattern will just fluff upward, and you think "ooo, fluffy". But if it fluffs out more, then it fluffs inward more, too. When you're making a pattern for something like a hat, or sweater, or you know, mittens... Well, something has to fit inside that pattern. The thickness of the yarn decreases the inside of the hole.

  So I get to translate what all my little marks, numbers and symbols mean in my notebook, and there will be two patterns, even though they're almost the same. They're not the same enough to make sense of all the variations for the two different yarns, and it could get hard to understand. It just has to be two separate patterns, and I wish I had realized that before I went scribbling notes that just confused me in the end. Do you always need to wok a gauge swatch in the round for an in-the-round pattern? Maybe-probably-not if you know the yarn you're using is the same as called for. But if you're using a substitute, and especially if the texture varies, then it's probably a good idea to give it that little extra test.

crochet patterns, mittens, gauge

Happy Crocheting! 


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

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

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

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


- 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!