Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Yarn Tales Tuesday

Crochet for our Furry Friends

  The days are getting shorter, and so is my time frame for finishing projects. My work days get more hectic during the winter months, because I don't have as much natural light for taking photos. Combine that with getting the plants and animals taken care of before the sun goes down, plus the upcoming holidays, this time of year just gets busy!

  Speaking of taking care of animals, I must be crazy. I've got something new eating up more of my time:

Awwww, right?

  So, I'm a sucker for a cute kitten. I rescue various cats from time to time because my neighborhood is overrun with them. They always manage to show up at my door. There's a great vet in my town that will spay and neuter them for whatever you can donate. These new little guys are the latest rejects I've taken on. 

  I always hope to adopt them out, because I already have these two ladies:

  I don't want a house full of cats, and I already have a group living outside keeping the mouse population down around our acres. However, I think I'm stuck with both of my new charges. My adorable little buddy Gilligan here is blind in his left eye:

  He had an infection when he was born and the eye didn't recover. It looks pretty gross, so nobody wants him. Sad.

  And then I have this little firecracker:

   There's nothing wrong with Jump Steady, except for his attitude. He doesn't make a good house pet for a family with kids, or an elderly person, or anyone who likes their ankles intact. He attacks anything that moves, and he likes to try to claw your eyeballs out. If you let him outside, his favorite game is "see how high we can get in the tree". Hopefully I can calm him down and eventually find him a home. 

  So, it's not really fun to work with yarn all day in a house with two kittens. It's cute at first when they start to play, but when they unravel half of your project, or in Jump Steady's case, end up hanging by their claws from your leg after chasing a yarn tail, it gets old quick. Distracting them with toys usually works for a while. 

  I realized I haven't crocheted any toys for my furry friends lately. The oldest cat has always been too cool to play with anything at all, so she doesn't really care. But I used to work up quick plarn rings for my calico, because she would play fetch with them like a dog. When Cornelius Peanutbutterus decided she didn't like that game anymore, I stopped making them. 

  I've never crocheted anything for my dog. He doesn't play fetch, he plays "take and destroy". I always wanted to design a doggy sweater for him, because I've never found a pattern for one that fits a dog this big. But...

  Have you ever seen those super-tough dog toys sold in stores? You know, the ones that advertise a lifetime warranty, impossible to destroy? The ones with $25 and up price tags?

  Tater Salad eats them in 20 minutes. I've never thought it would be safe to give him a crocheted item. I have premonitions of choking and intestinal compaction at the thought. It would surely be wasted work, at least. He crushed a doorknob once, and damaged another. Have you ever had to replace a doorknob and locks because of a dog? 

  He destroyed an entire wall...twice. After the first time, we bought new drywall and insulation, rebuilt the wall, and had it taped and spackled, ready for paint. A WHOLE WALL, from floor to ceiling. We replaced over two sheets of drywall, plus had to buy the rest of the supplies to repair it. At least we hadn't painted it yet before he tore it up again. A crocheted sweater, lovey or toy could be a great gift for a smaller, well behaved dog. But I don't have one of those. 

  He just gets plain old T-shirts cut up and tied into a sweater. 

  He manages to shred them in 20 minutes, too. Maybe he just doesn't want a sweater. I guess he doesn't like walls or doorknobs, either.

Seriously, though, he's a pretty well behaved dog, until I leave him alone.

  That's what's important to remember when creating crocheted items for animals. A cute little crocheted mouse makes a great toy for a kitten, but the owner needs to be responsible when providing such toys to our furry friends. Ends can come loose, animals can chew through fabric, and material and stuffing might be consumed. 

If you create items for animals, remember:

  • Secure your ends very well. I like to use some thread to sew through the strands of yarn, even after weaving in the ends.
  • For character toys, it is better to embroider features onto the item, rather than sewing on buttons or eyes. These can come loose and become a choking hazard. For something such as a mouse, embroider whiskers on it instead of having bits of yarn sticking out. Cats can quickly chew through loose yarn.

  • Animal fiber yarns can be an additional hazard. Not all of them do it, but I've seen some cats go nuts and try to eat (not just chew: EAT) items made with animal fiber.

  • I don't like to use loose fiber stuffing in any animal toy. Not only is it a hazard to the animal if it comes out, it's also a big mess to clean up. I use bunched up scraps of fabric. Old T-shirts or denim, worn out washcloths, and larger sewing scraps are great to roll up for stuffing. For cat toys, you can tie up some catnip in a scrap of fabric to use for filling.

  Finally, remember to warn the pet owner of these hazards if the toy you create is not for your own. You might be friends with your friends' pets, but you might not know of that animal's destruction level behind closed doors. Some pets seem well behaved, but they'll do odd things like eat your hair while you sleep. Make it clear to the pet owner that this should be an interactive toy for pet and owner to play with together, and the toy should be removed when the pet is not supervised. Outfits and accessories should also be removed from the pet when the owner is not present.

  I feel a bit guilty now that I realize I've been forgetting my furry friends while creating crochet projects. I'm planning on devoting some of my time to designing some pet-friendly patterns and perhaps making some extra to donate to the local overpopulated shelter. The temperatures are dropping, and many homeless pets could use a warm blanket or bed. It's just so hard to go the the shelter to drop something off, and not come back with something cute and furry...


Friday, October 31, 2014

Free Pattern: Frost Flower Scarf

  Made in a chilly blue color, this pattern is reminiscent of swirling ice formations. The color might be as cold as ice, but this scarf will definitely keep you warm and toasty. It's long enough to be folded over and worn in the keyhole fashion for double the warmth, but the pattern is also easy to add more length if you wish. Continue to the end of the page to learn how to make the acrylic yarn used much softer for wearing.

  The name of this pattern was inspired by the formation of magical and evasive frost flowers rarely found in nature.The broomstick lace of this scarf looks as mystical as the phenomenon it was named for. Although there is a knitted stitch called "frost flower lace", don't be confused! Stumped for a title for this pattern, I cast out for help on social media. Since I haven't seen snow in my lifetime, and don't plan on it anytime soon, I never could have thought of this on my own. A big thanks goes out to +Nasrin Akther at Sewing for Life for naming the "Frost Flower" scarf!

Finished length is 60" (152.5 cm), and about 6" (15 cm) wide. *See end of pattern for notes about width.


Skill Level:

Red Heart Super Saver worsted weight (4) acrylic yarn (light blue)
Crochet hook size I/9-5.50MM or size needed to obtain gauge
Wooden dowel or other object with a circumference of 4 1/2" (11.5 cm)
Yarn needle or smaller hook to weave in ends

4" by 4" (10 cm by 10 cm) = 2 rows of broomstick lace, 15 sc across.

Broomstick lace can be made on many objects other than a broomstick. Before you go purchasing a dowel to create this pattern, look around. This scarf was actually worked on a piece of broken shovel handle. If you don't have one object the proper circumference, try using two things held together. Broomsticks usually have a circumference of about 4" (10 cm), so you can add a knitting needle or wooden dowel with rubber bands to make up the difference.

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

Beginning (beg)
Space (sp)
Yarn over (y/o)

*Click here for a step by step photo tutorial to make this broomstick lace pattern.


Row 1:
To begin, ch 20. Make 1 sc in the 2nd ch from hook and in each of the remaining 18 chs. (20 sc)

Row 2:
Beg with current loop on hook, pull up a long loop about 2" (5 cm). Place the long loop on the broomstick, removing hook. (Insert hook in next st from back to front. Pull up a long loop, place on the broomstick) in each of the remaining 19 sc. (20 long loops on broomstick)

Row 3:
Insert the hook through the first 5 long loops on the broomstick. Remove the loops with the hook. Y/o, pull through all 5 loops. Ch 1 (counts as 1st sc in this group). Make 4 sc in the same 5 loops. *Insert hook in next 5 long loops, remove from broomstick. Make 5 sc in the same 5 loops.* Repeat from * to * 2 more times. (20 sc)

Rows 4 through 64:
Repeat Rows 2 and 3.

Do not bind off.


Ch 1, turn. Pull up a loop in each of the next 4 sts (5 loops on hook). Y/o, pull through all 5 loops. Ch 4. (Pull up a loop in each of the next 5 sts. Y/o, pull through all 5. Ch 4) 3 times. Working down the side of pattern: *Insert hook in next available long loop sp. (Pull up a loop, y/o, pull through 1 loop) 6 times (7 loops on hook). Y/o, pull through all 7 loops. Ch 4.* Repeat from * to * 32 more times. Working across bottom side of pattern: (Pull up a loop in each of the next 5 sts. Y/o, pull through all 5. Ch 4) four times. Working up the side of pattern: Repeat from * to * 33 times. Join with a sl st to beg ch-1.

Bind off, weave in ends.

The large loops in this pattern make it quite stretchy. Adding the border helps to keep the length about the same, but the width measurement changes slightly. When finished, this scarf measures 7" (about 18 cm) wide.

Once it is washed, blocked, and worn, the weight of the fabric pulls the slack out of the loops, and the width changes to about 6" (15 cm).

We all know acrylic yarn can be uncomfortable to wear. Wash the finished pattern with shampoo, then give it a rinse with some conditioner to soften the itchy fabric. Your neck will thank you!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Yarn Tales Tuesday

Crochet Tutorials on Guidecentral

  If you follow me on social media, you've probably noticed quite a few links being shared from a website called Guidecentral. I'm a new Maker there, and I've been busy creating Guides about crochet. The stitch tutorials and crochet patterns I make there are still free for you, but Guidecentral gives me the opportunity to earn a little money with each Guide I create. Although I'm still posting patterns here, and my heart will always be with the Crochet is the Way blog, a girl's gotta make some cash, y'all! To help you expand your crochet and craft skills, I'd like to take the time to introduce you to this community of crafters.

What it is:
  Guidecentral was created with the intention of bringing a community of crafters together in a place where everyone can share their ideas and skills. Makers create craft tutorials to share with you, and you can show your appreciation by following that Maker and liking their Guides. You can access these Guides through the Guidecentral website, or download and use the app.

  Whether you're looking for crafty inspiration, need help with a current project, or you're just interested in a new skill, Guidecentral is a great place to discover new things. You can search for what you're looking for by topic, materials used, and category, or just browse the newest Guides available.   

How it works:
  Makers put their awesome skills to use creating "Guides", which are tutorials with step-by-step pictures and instructions. No matter what the category, each of these Guides are created with the same format, so it's all easier for you to use. Makers are able to make a little money creating these Guides, and the information is all free for you!

  I recommend joining Guidecentral, even though you don't have to sign up to view the Guides available. When you log in, you can follow Makers you like, or "like" a specific Guide so you can keep track of what you want to create. Giving any Guide a "like" can help that Maker earn a bit more money, which is a nice way to show your appreciation for their hard work.

Who it is:
  Who can be a Maker? Anybody with a craft skill, camera, and the ability to create a Guide. There's already a great variety of people from around the world sharing their ideas on Guidecentral!

Read more about the Maker Program

  Makers provide the skills and projects, but there's a wonderful team of individuals keeping everything together behind the scenes. They are the masterminds, creators, and hard workers that make Guidecentral possible.

Learn more about Guidecentral and the Team

  Among these people, I owe a big, huge thank you to Community Manager Bianca Smith, the person responsible for getting me started in the Maker program. She not only introduced me to Guidecentral, but has gone above and beyond to help make my Guides available. Visit the Guidecentral blog, where Bianca writes about events, crafts, and the people of Guidecentral. Each Monday, a new Maker is featured on the blog.

Check out Maker Mondays, where Bianca introduces you to the people creating Guides

Read my Maker Mondays Feature

What's available:
  I know many of you are interested in more than just crochet, and that's why Guidecentral is such a great place. So far, my Guides have been for nothing but crochet; however, I do hope to expand the variety of craft ideas available under my own profile.

Check out the Guides I've been creating:


  And don't forget to check out other Makers' Guides, too. There's an impressive assortment of tutorials and projects to browse. You can find beauty and style ideas, home decor designs, recipes,and even technology tips. Whether you're a part-time hobbyist or a full-time crafter, it's a perfect place for information and inspiration.

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