Monday, January 25, 2016

Thanks to Coffee and Crochet


  I live in Florida, right? The land of sunshine and palm trees? The place that northerners come to stay warm in the winter? The Sunshine State? Well, we got our sunshine today, but it sure took it's time warming us up! That's why I was super-thankful for crochet and coffee this morning.


coffee, crochet, scarf, pattern


  Just to be clear: I do live in that part of Florida that has cows, not coastline. But, at least I have one palm tree! I grew up even farther south than this, and only saw frost maybe three or four times before my eighteenth birthday. This is cold-to-me. So, anyway... This morning I had to wake up before 4 a.m. to send the hubby off for an early workday. On early mornings the dog and cats don't care that it's not time to eat yet... I better get in gear and get them fed, which means taking the dog out... In the dark, and this:


frost, cold weather, crochet


  Walking around with my flashlight, the whole yard was sparkling. Even though I hate the cold, it was quite beautiful. Is that what makes people actually want to live in that frozen white stuff you call snow? Maybe I should try to go see it sometime. But only if I can take lots of hot coffee and warm crochet accessories with me!


frost, cold weather, crochet


  At least while walking around in the dark, I can wear my crochet goodies with no fear of ridicule. I hate wearing scarves because every time I do, somebody feels the need to inform me that "it's not snowing, you know"... Yeah but I'm cold, so shut up. I wrapped up in my favorite scarf this morning, and it worked wonderfully to keep the chill off while I walked the dog, and again later when I went out to snap some pictures of the yard.


crochet, scarf, broomstick lace, free crochet pattern


  It's amazing how much happier you can be when you're warm. Usually, I would be walking around sniffling and grumbling about my numb fingers. Just by adding a crocheted hat and scarf to my Florida-snowsuit*, I was able to enjoy the beauty of the frosted yard instead of being completely miserable.

*A Florida "snowsuit" is my million layers that everyone makes fun of, because I don't own any clothes that are really suitable for this weather. My heaviest jacket leaves me cold at 60°. An outfit for seriously cold days before crochet was:

Undershirt
Long-sleeve shirt
Short-sleeve shirt
Hoodie
Jacket
Leggings/stockings
Jeans
Toe socks
Regular socks
Old toe socks with-the-toes-cut-off, pulled up as leg-warmers

  I've been told I look like a homeless person. And I don't think that's funny, but I guess you can laugh if you want to. I'm cold, and I'm doing whatever I can to stay warm. Since learning crochet, I add a scarf and a hat, leaving one of the shirts and maybe the hoodie behind. Sometimes I still wear the hoodie, like this morning when it was freezing. And I really could crochet myself some leg warmers, but I kinda like recycling my worn-out toe socks.



frost, cold weather, crochet


  Are you starting to wonder why I'm rambling about what I wear when it's cold? Alright, I'll get to the point: This morning as I was enjoying my favorite scarf, it got me thinking... As soon as the animals are fed and the dog's done outside, I get to go in and be warm. And have COFFEE! I used to work in a steel building with a concrete floor and no heat. I couldn't stand it on cold days. Now, I get to go back in to my heated house, sit down with a cup of coffee, and bury myself in the warmth of my work.


  There's plenty of people that still have to work in that cold, while barely making a living. And there's others that don't have a place of warmth or shelter. So instead of being miserable today, I decided to get to work on some more charity donations. I'll be sharing more about that later... Today is just for coffee and crochet!


frost, cold weather, crochet


Happy Crocheting!

P.S. Welcome to Florida... Frost this morning, and 81° before the sun went down. Ditch the scarf. Still keep the coffee :)

Monday, January 18, 2016

September Scarf of the Month - Chocolate Pocket Scarf


  The Chocolate Pocket Scarf uses basic stitches worked into front and back loops to create simple texture. This is a great pattern for beginners to practice  the double crochet stitch and working into the front and back loops of stitches! The simple pattern repeat makes this a great project to take with when you're on the go. Directions and photo tips are given for the crab stitch border shown, or beginners can follow the instructions for working an easier basic single crochet border.


crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, double crochet, easy


  Make this scarf with the pockets as written, work up an extra long scarf without pockets, or save some yarn and bind off early - This pattern leaves you many choices! The finished length of the version I made with pockets is 78" (195 cm) long. The width as written is 6" (15 cm). You can easily add more stitches for a wider scarf, but this pattern is plenty warm and cozy as-is!


crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, beginner, easy, double crochet




Skill level:
crochet, skill level, easy






Materials:
Worsted weight (4) acrylic yarn
-I used Red Heart Super Saver in Coffee... *In an effort to clean out my stash, I'm using what's left of a jumbo skein, and I still have a ton left over. (See the picture before the border tutorial to see how much is left!) One regular size skein will be fine for this project. 
Crochet hook size K-9.00MM  or size needed to obtain gauge
Yarn needle
Stitch markers (optional, but recommended)




Gauge:
In 4" by 4" (10 cm by 10 cm)
13 double crochet
6 rows




free pattern, crochet, scarf, gauge




Notes:
Chain-3 at beginning of rows always counts as one double crochet.

Use stitch markers to mark pattern repeat. If you choose to not use stitch markers, something like a saftey pin may be desired for creating the pockets.

Tips and pictures included for help with creating the pockets and working the border!

 

free pattern, scarf, stitch markers


Stitches and abbreviations:
Chain (ch)
Foundation Double crochet (FDC) - optional
Double crochet (dc)
Slip Stitch (sl st)
Single crochet (sc) - for beginner's border
Reverse single crochet/crab stitch (rev sc) - for advanced border

Back loop (b/L)
Front loop (f/L)

Begin/beginning (beg)
Space (sp)
Stitch (st)
Repeat (rep)




free pattern, crochet, scarf, pocket, double crochet, easy, beginner




Directions:

Row 1:
Chain 4, make 17 FDC. (Or, you can ch 20, and make 1 dc in each chain beginning in the 4th ch from the hook.) (18 dc)


Row 2:
Ch 3, turn. 1 dc in each of the remaining 17 FDC.


Row 3:
Ch 3, turn. 1 dc in b/L of each of the remaining 17 dc.


Row 4:
Repeat Row 3.


Row 5:
Ch 3, turn. 1 dc in the f/L of each of the remaining 17 dc.


Row 6: 
Repeat Row 5.


Row 7:
Ch 3, turn. 1 dc in each of the remaining 17 dc.


Row 8:
Repeat Row 7.


Row 9... (122)
Repeat Rows 3 through 8 to the desired length. Do not bind off; continue to work border and create pockets.

Example repeats pattern 19 times.



free pattern, crochet, scarf, easy, double crochet



Border:
If creating pockets, you may want to count your rows and fold them over now, pinning in place with a locking stitch marker of safety pin.

If not creating pockets but you wish to add a border, you can follow these directions without folding the ends over. 


(Advanced border)
To create first pocket - Fold the last 10 rows of the pattern over the next 10 rows. Slip stitch to the 20th side post.
Ch 1 (does not count as stitch). *Make 2 rev sc in each side post, working through both thicknesses to corner of pocket. Make an additional st in the corner sp. Rev sc in the space between each post across. Make 2 more rev sc in corner sp.* 2 rev sc in each post sp up length of scarf, stopping to fold scarf over for pocket at the 20th space from end.  Repeat from * to *, then work 2 rev sc in each sp to beginning ch-1. Join with a sl st to beg rev sc. (See pictures for tips!)


crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, tutorial

*I removed the stitch marker from the joining space of the pocket, but here you can see the other marker still in the corner space. Holding the sides together while creating the pockets will save you the headache of missing a space!



crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, tutorial

*Once you join the spaces to create the pocket, you will chain one before working the reverse single crochet border, working into the same space. The chain-1 does not count as a stitch, unlike in the beginner's border.   


crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, tutorial, reverse single crochet

*You may still want to mark the chain-1! Once you work the first reverse single crochet, it will twist around. And working into the beginning stitch to join can be difficult! Mark the chain-1 before the beginning stitch so the marker won't be in the way when you join.


crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, tutorial

*Work an extra stitch in the corner space before working across.


crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, tutorial

*After working across, work an extra stitch in the corner space.


crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, tutorial

*An extra tip for beginners working the basic single crochet border: You will be working in reverse order of these directions. The second pocket for the advanced border will be the first pocket for you.


crochet, free pattern, scarf, reverse single crochet join, tutorial

*Here's where you can cheat at joining the reverse single crochet. Remember, we're going to skip that difficult-to-find beginning chain, and join in the first rev sc made.


crochet, reverse single crochet join, cheat, tip, tutorial, free pattern, scarf

*Remove the hook from the stitch, and flip the pattern over to the reverse side. Place the working loop back on the hook, and insert the hook in the beginning reverse single crochet as for a basic single crochet. Slip stitch to join, and you're done!

...Well, almost. You still have to bind off and weave in those ends!   



(Beginner's border)
Ch 1 (counts as fist sc). *Make 2 sc in each post space up to the 20th space from the end. To create pocket: Fold over end, work 2 sc through both thicknesses to corner. Make additional sc in corner sp. Make 1 sc in sp between each post across. Make additional sc in corner sp.* Repeat from * to *. Make 2 sc in each remaining space before beginning ch-1. Make 1 sc in same sp as beg ch-1, join with a sl st to ch-1.

Bind off, weave in ends.

**The directions for the border made sense while I was creating the scarf, but after writing it out, I saw room for confusion. Just to be clear: Each pocket will not be 20 rows long - Just 10 rows for the front side of the pocket, and the ten rows that create the back side of the pocket will remain on the body side of the scarf . 


***One last tip!! I find this yarn to be too scratchy for scarves! So, why am I using it for scarves? Because I've found the miracle cure! It's a well-known tip that you can soften scratchy acrylics by using some hair conditioner, but I may have found the best one out there! After running out of the usual cheap stuff, I grabbed my own conditioner to soften some yarn... And the result is: Amazing! It's still cheap to buy, too! And unlike the other cheap stuff I've been using, the yarn stays soft, even after washing it in the laundry without it. Or, you can just keep washing it with this conditioner, so it will be forever scented with its wonderful coconut-y tropical scent... Either way, it will be awesomely soft!
(And no, they're not paying me to say that. It just works!)



crochet, free pattern, scarf, pocket, easy, beginner, double crochet, simple texture



Happy Crocheting!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Crochet Hooks and Knitting


  I told everybody I'd get back to knitting some day, and it's finally happened! Well... I should say it's happening. Maybe - It's starting to happen? I seem to be accomplishing the craft of knitting, although it appears to need much improvement. Once upon a time, I could produce a finished knitted project that didn't look like a kindergartner's first attempt, but my tension and technique is pretty rusty.


crochet, knitting, crochet cast on


  Still, I'm excited to be knitting again! I have all these vintage needles and all this yarn, and the only thing I ever do is crochet. It's nice to sit down with a different craft for a change. I've got a lot of practicing to do before I'm back to making anything other than dishcloths, but you have to (re)start somewhere! I think one of the biggest mistakes I made was picking up these newer plastic needles. They don't glide so well with this Red Heart Super Saver, and I can tell it's throwing my tension off.


crochet, knitting, crochet cast on, tension, plastic needles


  So, the biggest thing that's been holding me back from knitting again was casting on. Not only did I forget how to do it by hand, I always hated trying to measure out the correct amount of yarn. I would either run out of yarn before I cast on all my stitches, or I would end up with an extra foot of a tail. Plus, I'll admit that my casting on never looked very nice... Some loops too big, others too tight, and once in a while there'd be a twisted one... Yeah, not casting on is the part I love about crochet.


  Ta-da! Thanks to Jenn over at Roving Crafters, now I can cast on with crochet! It's perfect for me! There's actually a whole series of tutorials in the post for how to knit with your crochet hooks, which I tried, but it's not for me. No offense to Jenn... The tutorials are awesome, and they helped me remember which way is "knit" and which is "purl". But, I tried to knit with one knitting needle and a crochet hook, then I tried with two crochet hooks. Jenn makes it look so easy! Maybe it's because I was once a knitter? Or just because I'm such an inexperienced knitter? The whole experience was very awkward for me. I found that I prefer to keep knitting with two needles, but I LOVE being able to cast on with a crochet hook.


crochet, knitting, crochet cast on, Roving Crafters


  So, if you're a crocheter that isn't a knitter... Yet... Then stop looking at my horrid attempt at becoming a knitter again, and go check out the tutorials! (And don't even try to say something nice about my knitting like "It doesn't look that bad", because I'm stretching it into a better shape for the photos, and cutting out the worst of it to try to keep a little of my dignity... Oops, there it went... Oh well. The best thing about that swatch is the crochet cast-on!) I'm going to have a go at fixing these stitches that I dropped, but I bet I'll be ripping the whole thing out soon. My purls are too tight and my edges are wonky, but at least I'm doing it again!


Oh, wait... Does this mean my pile of WIP's will be growing some more? Darn it, Jenn, I'm supposed to be downsizing! (LOL)


crochet, knitting, crochet cast on, dropped stitches


Happy Knitting!    
(Thanks to Roving Crafters!)

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