Friday, December 5, 2014

Free Pattern: Mixed Material Bag


  *Everyone congratulate my kid for her first design! No, she didn't write the pattern or crochet it herself, but I gave her designing freedom when I said I wanted to make a bag. She chose the colors, shape, and size of this awesome idea. She picked the yarn, decided how it should be assembled, and added her sense to the creation of the button and flap.*



  So as a result, two colors of plarn and some Caron Simply Soft mixed together during the creation of this bag to give recycling a softer side. Alone, plarn can be lumpy, bumpy, and uninteresting. Combining two different colored panels of plarn with a gusset, strap and closing flap of soft yarn in a rich jewel tone add character and contrast to this mini messenger tote.



Variations:
A real button can be used instead of a crocheted one, just check for fit before making the button hole loop.
Create a few simple square pockets to attach to the front from your leftover Simply Soft.
Don't want to work up the more complicated decorative strap? Copy the simple single crochet gusset pattern and use that instead.
The front and back panels can be made in plain single crochet, too, for beginners.



Finished size is about 11" (28 cm) across by 12" (30.5 cm) tall. The gusset is a little over 2" (5 cm) wide.







Skill level:








Materials:
Worsted weight (4) yarn:
Caron Simply Soft (less than one skein) - Color used is Pagoda
Single strand plarn, cut 1" (2.5 cm) wide *also see notes*
  -2 balls each of white and grey, or colors of your choice (25 bags per ball)
Crochet hook size G/6 - 4.25 MM or size needed to obtain gauge
Smaller hook or needle to weave in ends





Gauge:
In 4" by 4" (10 cm by 10 cm)
15 rows of 15 sc




Notes:
Remember when working, two strands of plarn should be held together.

*If you prefer using the "loop" method of joining plarn, I suppose you could cut the loops 1" (2.5 cm) wide, and just use one strand of loop-joined plarn. I haven't made a swatch this way to know if the knots will change the gauge.

Before you cut all of the plarn for this project, work up a small sample. Make another swatch with Simply Soft to check if the gauge of your plarn matches.




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

Single crochet two together (sc2tog)
  Insert hook, pull up a loop. Insert hook in next st, pull up a loop (3 loops on hook). Yarn over, pull through all 3 loops.

Single crochet three together (sc3tog)
  Insert hook, pull up a loop (2 loops on hook). (Insert hook in next stitch, pull up a loop) twice (4 loops on hook). Yarn over, pull through all 4 loops.

Double crochet (dc)




Directions:



Front and back panels (make one in each color plarn):





To begin, ch 40 with double strands of 1" (2.5 cm) wide plarn.


Row 1:
1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of remaining 38 chs. (40 sc)


Row 2:
Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), turn. 1 sc in each of remaining 39 sts.


Rows 3 - 21:
Repeat Row 2.


Row 22:
Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), turn. 3 sc in next st. Sc3tog twice, 3 sc in the following st. *2 sc in each of the next 2 sts, 3 sc in the following st. Sc3tog twice, 3 sc in the next st.* Repeat from * to * 2 more times. 1 sc in the last st.


Row 23:
Repeat Row 2.


Row 24:
Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), turn. Sc3tog, 3 sc in each of the next 2 sts. Sc3tog. *1 sc in each of the next 2 sts, sc3tog. 3 sc in each of the next 2 sts, sc3tog.* Repeat from * to * 2 more times. 1 sc in the last st.


Rows 25 - 43:
Repeat Row 2.


Bind off, weave in ends.



Button:
Need help with a magic circle? Click here.
Begin with one strand of each color plarn and one strand of Simply Soft. Make a magic circle, ch 1 (counts as 1 sc). Make 11 sc in circle. Tighten circle, join with a sl st to beg ch-1. Weave in ends to the center, use tails to attach to front panel.
*Instead of worrying about your button's gauge, check for fit when working the border of the closing flap. You can alter the ch-6 buttonhole if needed.





Gusset:

Row 1:
With Simply Soft, ch 126. 1 sc in the 2nd ch from hook and each of remaining 124 chs. (126 sc)


Row 2:
Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), turn. 1 sc in each of the remaining 125 sc. (126 sc)


Rows 3 through 9:
Repeat Row 2. Bind off, weave in ends.



Front Flap:


Row 1:
With Simply Soft, ch 10. 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of remaining 8 chs. (10 sc)

Row 2:
Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), turn. 1 sc in the first st, 1 sc in each of the remaining 9 sc. (11 sc)

Row 3:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 9 sc, 2 sc in the last. (12 sc)

Row 4:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in the same st. 1 sc in each of remaining 11 sc. (13 sc)

Row 5:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 11 sc, 2 sc in the last. (14 sc)

Row 6:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in the same st. 1 sc in each of the remaining 13 sc. (15 sc)

Row 7:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 13 sc, 2 sc in the last. (16 sc)

Row 8:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in the same st. 1 sc in each of the remaining 15 sc. (17 sc)

Row 9:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 15 sc, 2 sc in the last. (18 sc)

Row 10:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in the same st, 1 sc in each of the remaining 17 sc. (19 sc)

Row 11:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 17 sc, 2 sc in the last. (20 sc)

Row 12:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in the same st, 1 sc in each of the remaining 19 sc. (21 sc)

Row 13:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 19 sc, 2 sc in the last. (22 sc)

Row 14:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in the same st, 1 sc in each of the remaining 21 sc. (23 sc)

Row  15:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 21 sc, 2 sc in the last. (24 sc)

Row 16:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in the same st, 1 sc in each of the remaining 23 sc. (25 sc)

Row 17:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 23 sc, 2 sc in the last. (26 sc)

Row 18:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in the same st, 1 sc in each of the remaining 25 sc. (27 sc)

Row 19:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 25 sc, 2 sc in the last. (28 sc)

Row 20:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in the same st, 1 sc in each of the remaining 27 sts. (29 sc)

Row 21:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the remaining 28 sc. (29 sc)

Row 22:
Ch 1, turn. Sc2tog. 1 sc in each of the remaining 26 sc. (28 sc)

Row 23:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 25 sc. Sc2tog. (27 sc)

Row 24:
Ch 1, turn. Sc2tog. 1 sc in each of the remaining 24 sc. (26 sc)

Row 25:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 23 sc. Sc2tog. (25 sc)

Row 26:
Ch 1, turn. Sc2tog. 1 sc in each of the remaining 22 sc. (24 sc)

Row 27:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 21 sc. Sc2tog. (23 sc)

Row 28:
Ch 1, turn. Sc2tog. 1 sc in each of the remaining 20 sc. (22 sc)

Row 29:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 19 sc. Sc2tog. (21 sc)

Row 30:
Ch 1, turn. Sc2tog. 1 sc in each of the next 18 sc. (20 sc)

Row 31:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 17 sc. Sc2tog. (19 sc)

Row 32:
Ch 1, turn. Sc2tog. 1 sc in each of the next 16 sc. (18 sc)

Row 33:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 15 sc. Sc2tog. (17 sc)

Row 34:
Ch 1, turn. Sc2tog. 1 sc in each of the remaining 14 sc. (16 sc)

Row 35:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 13 sc. Sc2tog. (15 sc)

Row 36:
Ch 1, turn. Sc2tog. 1 sc in each of the remaining 12 sc. (14 sc)

Row 37:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 11 sc. Sc2tog. (13 sc)

Row 38:
Ch 1, turn. Sc2tog. 1 sc in each of the remaining 10 sc. (12 sc)

Row 39:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the next 9 sc. Sc2tog. (11 sc.)

Row 40:
Ch 1, turn. Sc2tog. 1 sc in each of the remaining 8 sc. (10 sc)

Border:
Working down side: sl st in 1st available post sp, ch 1 (counts as 1 sc). 1 sc in each of remaining 38 side post sps. Ch 1, 1 sc in the same sp. 1 sc in each of the next 8 bottom post sps. (1 sc, ch 1, 1 sc) in next post sp. 1 sc in each of next 19 side post sps. Ch 6 (check button size), sk 1 post sp. 1 sc in each of next 18 post sps. (1 sc, ch 1, 1 sc) in next. 1 sc in each of the remaining 8 post sps. Ch 1, join with a sl st to beg ch-1. Bind off, weave in ends.


Strap:

Row 1:
With Simply Soft, ch 127. 3 sc in 2nd ch from hook. Sc3tog twice. 3 sc in the next ch, 1 sc in the following. *3 sc in the next ch, sc3tog twice. 3 sc in the next ch, 1 sc in the following.* Repeat from * to * 12 more times. (127 sc)

Row 2:
Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of the remaining 126 sc. (127 sc)

Row 3:
Ch 1, turn. *Sc3tog, 3 sc in each of the next 2 sc. Sc3tog, 1 sc.* Repeat from * to * 13 more times. (127 sc)

Row 4:
Ch 3 (counts as 1 dc), turn. 1 dc in each of the remaining 126 dc. (127 dc)

Row 5:
Repeat Row 3.

Row 6:
Repeat Row 2.

Row 7:
Ch 1, turn. *3 sc in next st, sc3tog twice. 3 sc in the next st, 1 sc in the following.* Repeat from * to * 13 more times. Bind off, weave in ends.


Assembly:




All seams use one strand of each color (2 strands) plarn and one strand of Simply Soft.

Measure at least 3 times the length of the seam before cutting material.

For a true whip stitch: Insert needle through both post spaces from back to front. Bring yarn over top, insert from back to front for next stitches.
*When I whip stitch, I do it backwards, from front to back. Does it make a difference? I don't think so.

Add the button:
Attach the button to the front panel by its tails to stitches 20 and 21 of Row 25. Secure with a knot on the back side, weave in ends.

Attach the front and back panels to the gusset:
Using 3 strands threaded on a yarn needle, whip stitch through the post spaces only. You will have 43 vertically, 40 horizontally, and 43 vertically again. Bind off and weave in ends for each separate seam.

Attach the strap and closing flap as one seam:
Begin at the outer edge of the gusset on the front panel side. Whip stitch the 9 side-post spaces of the strap and gusset together. Picking up closing flap, miss the first border stitch, whip stitch across back panel. Miss the last border stitch. Work across the gusset towards the front panel to attach the other end of strap. Bind off and weave in ends.





  So, I had the recipient model her mind's creation for the pictures (she chose her outfit and got all jazzed up for them)... And we didn't get the best ones because she was excited to check out her new bag, and you know, play with her friends and stuff.




Then grandma and grandpa picked her up and she took off with it!





In the pictures, she has a binder in the bag. There's still room for a pencil case, cell phone, and some other random stuff without it bulging. I think it makes a great homework (or artwork) bag to take to a friend's house for study time. Or as she mentioned, it will be perfect for her video games...


Happy Crocheting!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Yarn Tales Tuesday


Time For the Holidays:


  Okay, everybody, it's that time of year again! Time for joy, cheer, pumpkin pie, and running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Many of you are finished with your holiday crochet projects, and many of you are probably buried in yarn and to-do lists. I'll make this week a "quickie" in respect of this busy time.




  Psst...Can I let you in on a secret? I'm not done with my projects!




  Why does it sometimes seem like the time of year that's emphasized for joy and good wishes usually leave us ragged and worn out? I'm glad I don't have to deal with the extra hassle of living in the snow, but in my area, we do suffer some fallout from the weather: Snowbirds! No, not the feathered kind that sing at your window in the morning, the shorts-and-tee-shirt-wearing kind that invade town every year telling us that the 50-degree weather is wonderful. 




  These are the same people that invade shopping centers and streets, slowing down checkout lines and traffic. The same people that add hundreds of people an hour to Walmart on Black Friday, while Walmart still only has 3 registers open. The same people that...help our economy?




  That's right! It's popular for the locals to complain about our migrating residents upsetting the normal rhythm of life, but we have to remember the benefits of having some new faces around. Sales increase at local stores, the flea market explodes, and cars line the streets at yard sales.




  People spend more money during the holidays and when traveling. That means if you want to sell your crochet and crafts, this can be a very beneficial time of year for you, too. You may not live in an area that has to deal with "Snowbirds", but consider the amount of people who travel out of town (and into yours) to visit friends and family. There's bound to be some vacationers around who haven't seen your work before, and may be interested in purchasing your goods. Whether it's through impulse buying or for gift-giving, you can take advantage of the season. Craft fairs, local shops and flea markets are all great places to sell your handmade goods. I find that it's more difficult to push the sale of one expensive item, while I see frequent sales of smaller, less expensive gifts.




  Even if you don't sell your goods, do you deal with "Snowbirds" in your area? Do the locals always complain about them? The stores get more crowded and the traffic gets heavier, but I tell people to "grin and bear it". Our seasonal visitors may seem like a nuisance, but they provide support for local businesses and contribute to the pockets of artists, designers and inventors.




  Like with other migrating species, I often find if you stop complaining and look at the brighter side, you might hear a beautiful song and find some entertainment. Many of our visitors have led fascinating lives, and have interesting stories to tell. You may find something in common with one of them if you just smile and stop to say "Happy Holidays". They're not so bad after all, because at the least, they usually have a smile in return to brighten your day.
  


Happy Crocheting!
    

Friday, November 21, 2014

How to: Make delicate Thread-Weight Plarn

  I wanted to create plarn for more delicate projects, but had some difficulty working with it while joining strips. Follow along to learn a little bit about my trials with plarn, then get familiar with how to prepare the material for a thread-weight project.



  To make plarn using the loop method, loops are cut from the body of the bag then ran through each other to create a knot. Because the loop method tends to be stronger, I tried it after cutting the plastic as thin as possible for a lighter weight plarn. The material is so weak this way that it often breaks when you try to tighten a knot, no matter how gentle you are with it. And then I discovered that the knots, which are usually unnoticeable in a heavier weight project, are very noticeable in a thread weight project and they catch on smaller steel hooks.



  I went back to my preferred spiral method. Although there's nothing you can do to avoid the weakness of the plarn at this stage, you can cut it 1/2" to 3/4" (1.2 to 1.9 cm) wide, and try to avoid breaks when joining by being gentle with it. It can be worked with as-is, but if anything causes the slightest tug, the material will stretch or break. It's also very easy to accidentally push smaller hooks right through the plastic.



  The answer to the problem was a drop spindle. Plastic yarn is fun and easy to spin, because you don't have as much of a problem with slubs or having fiber everywhere. The only thing you really have to worry about is not over-spinning the plarn, because it will snap quickly.



  *A warning: I was sitting in a chair to spin, and had the spindle raised above head level. I over-spun the plarn, and it snapped right next to my face. The end of the broken plarn slapped me right in the eye, and it had quite a bit of velocity when it hit me. To top off my clumsiness, the spindle landed on my bare foot when it fell and gave me a nasty bruise. It's not like this is the most dangerous activity, but maybe I got hurt because I wasn't expecting any danger. So...like, don't poke your eye out or break your foot or anything, okay? Pay attention to what you're doing, and keep it away from your face.



  *Don't worry if you don't have a drop spindle, I'll show you how to use a few simple household items to create one, when we get to that step.  



Materials:
Grocery bags
Scissors or rotary cutter and cutting mat, or both

*It's difficult for me to use scissors because of a hand disability. I purchased a rotary cutter, and it has saved me so much time and effort! It took some time to get used to cutting bags with the cutter, but it was well worth it. A rotary cutter can at least save you some time with cutting off the tops and bottoms of the bags, even if you still use scissors for the spiral cutting. Having to keep the loops out from underneath the bag while cutting is a bit of a pain until you get the hang of it.



Directions:





For thicker plarn projects, it's okay to be a bit sloppy when cutting. Jagged edges or uneven spots blend in  once worked up. When cutting bags for thread weight plarn, you need to be more careful. Try to get the bag smooth and cut as straight as possible. Pull the bottom seam straight, run the inside seams flat with your finger, and straighten the handles as best as you can.
*Tip: Most grocery bag handles turn inside out once filled and carried. If you handles aren't straight, they probably need to be turned in. Then you can perfectly line up the seams of the bag.





Cut off the top and bottom of the bag.





Unfold the seams, so the remaining body of the bag forms a tube. Flatten the bag out again.





The open ends should be on the sides, and the side seams will be the top and bottom. Fold up the bag from the bottom. Leave about 2" (5 cm) unfolded at the top. This unfolded section will be referred to as the "spine".





Starting from the bottom, cut a 1/2" (1 cm) strip, stopping once you are through the folded portion. Make sure you cut all the way through the fold, but do not cut through the spine.





Continue cutting strips of the same size until you reach the end of the bag. If there isn't enough, or too much material at the end to make an even strip, cut all the way through to the top to remove the final portion.





Unfold and straighten the strips. You will have a bunch of loose strips and the uncut spine at the top.





*Here is the difficult part if you use a rotary cutter. It isn't clear in this photo, but you will see how the strips are located underneath the spine. You will need to move them before every cut to avoid cutting through the material. Position the bag as shown in the photo, with the spine in the middle and the cut portions to each side.
If using scissors, you will be able to hold the bag in one hand while cutting with the other, so that the strips are open and there is no risk of cutting through them. Hold with the spine at the top, but slightly towards you, and the strips hanging down.





Follow the line in the photo for your first cut here. It will be a diagonal cut from the outer edge of the bag where the bottom strip meets the spine, to the inside of the first strip at the top of the spine.





Once the first cut is made, you will be able to "unravel" this strip from the body. It will now become part of the next strip at the bottom.





From this point on, no cuts will be made from the outer edge of strips. Cut from the inside of the bottom strip to the inside of the top strip.





This cut strip can be "unraveled" like the first. If you are using a rotary cutter, note how in this picture, you can somewhat see the outline of the bottom of the strips underneath the spine. Remember to pay attention! Move them out of the way by pushing them towards the uncut portion, or pull the next few strips out past where you are cutting.




Continue cutting in the same manner to the last strip. For the end strip, run your cut at the same angle as the rest, there just isn't another strip to cut into.





Now you have a big pile of plarn! With the material cut this thin, the plarn is very delicate, so try to keep it organized, and don't move it around too much. It's a real pain having to untangle the pile when it gets knotted up.





To spin the plarn, you can just twist it in your fingers while rolling it into a ball. This takes quite a long time to accomplish, though.  A drop spindle can be very helpful.





If you don't have a drop spindle, follow this link to learn how to make one from simple household items, like the one I'm using.





Now, follow along to spin your material. Make a leader yarn out of some scrap plarn. Simply tie the material into a loop. This loop needs to be long enough to go from the under the round piece to over the hook.





Insert the shaft of the spindle into the leader yarn. Twist the leader one time, loop it over the spindle shaft for a slip knot.





Bring the other end of the leader yarn up behind the hook, then through it. You want to have at least one inch (2.5 cm) of a loop after the hook.





 Run the end of the plarn you will be spinning through the loop of the leader yarn.






Twist the spindle counterclockwise to spin the plarn.





When the plarn has enough of a twist, remove it from the hook and wrap around the shaft of the spindle. Place the material back in the hook again; keep spinning.





If it twists tightly around itself (like shown) when you remove the plarn from the hook, you are spinning it too tightly. Let go of the spindle, holding the plarn, and let it untwist itself slightly until the kink is removed.





Roll it up into a ball, and you're done!





Well, almost done... It's really important to work up a gauge swatch before you go cutting up a bunch of bags. Grocery bags vary in thickness, so you can't guarantee that your plarn will match my plarn's weight.





Thread-weight crochet plarn is great for jewelry projects.
Check out these patterns using the same material:


Poinsettia Flower Brooch:
The bags used for this project were delicate boutique-style bags which were much thinner than the average grocery bag. You will see how it was necessary to cut the bags into 3/4" (2 cm) wide strips to obtain the same gauge.

Sunswirl Earrings
This pattern was made with plain ol' grocery bag plarn. The gauge is exactly equal to #10 crochet thread with the bag cut into 1/2" (1 cm) strips.


  It's been a long time since my first tutorial for How to Make Plarn! The original version includes instructions for joining using the splice method.


Happy Crocheting!

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