Thursday, October 13, 2016

Finger Crochet Plarn Square

  Although this pattern could be made with a hook and yarn, I have something special for you: Let's do some recycling and get rid of those plastic bags fast with Giant Plarn (finger crochet) Squares! Combining make-your-own plastic yarn with the finger crochet method will make it hard to match the gauge for this project. But if you follow my instructions, hopefully you will be able to create a two-round square that will measure about 10" (25 cm) across.

Ahem, did you hear that? Ten inches in just two rounds - and no hook needed!

free crochet pattern, square, plarn, finger crochet, tutorial

  When I started experimenting with plastic yarn and finger crochet, I found it extremely difficult to keep the even tension needed to make neat stitches. The one main answer to solving this is: Practice. With my first few tries, I lost the loops off my finger. So, I won't claim that this will be easy and you're going to be crocheting "in no time", but don't give up!

  There's a picture tutorial to go along with this pattern, if all you need is a little help making the stitch. And I also have a treat for you video lovers: You can watch me crochet this "giant plarn" square from beginning to end! In the video tutorial I'll show you how to join your plarn loops, make the double crochet stitch with finger crochet, and give you tips for continuing more rounds of the pattern.

free crochet pattern, square, plarn, finger crochet, tutorial

Skill level:

free crochet pattern, square, plarn, finger crochet, tutorial

*See notes for additional materials you may need*
Plastic yarn (plarn) made in the "loop" method
-About 20 bags per square (mine take 18 bags + one extra loop)

free crochet pattern, square, plarn, finger crochet, tutorial

In 4" by 4" (10 cm by 10 cm)
2 rows of 6 double crochet

Or in the round, one round of 12 double crochet should measure 5" (12.5 cm) across

Chain 2 at beginning of rounds does not count as a stitch

A hook can be used to create this pattern if you're not comfortable using finger crochet. In the video, I show you the hook that would most likely match the gauge, but I didn't know the size at the time. It is a size Q - 15.75 MM.

If you have trouble finding your beginning stitch, you may want a stitch marker.

See video after written pattern for help.

(American terms)
Double crochet
Slip stitch

free crochet pattern, square, plarn, finger crochet, tutorial
 Chain 2 does not count as a stitch.
*See the video for how to start without a slipknot!

free crochet pattern, square, plarn, finger crochet, tutorial
 To make a double crochet, yarn over your finger from back to front.

free crochet pattern, square, plarn, finger crochet, tutorial
 Insert your finger in the stitch (here being the beginning loop).

free crochet pattern, square, plarn, finger crochet, tutorial
 Yarn over and pull a loop through, rotating as you would with a hook. You may find it easier to use your thumb to help bring the material through the stitch.

free crochet pattern, square, plarn, finger crochet, tutorial
 Yarn over and pull through two loops. Again, notice how the use of your thumb can help you pull through the loops.

free crochet pattern, square, plarn, finger crochet, tutorial
 Also notice that my tight tension has created a short loop here. Pull those loops up to avoid tight stitches! Each loop should be the same height as the loop before it.

free crochet pattern, square, plarn, finger crochet, tutorial
 To complete the double crochet, yarn over and pull through the last two loops.

free crochet pattern, square, plarn, finger crochet, tutorial
 See that hooking motion? Don't just grab it with your thumb!

free crochet pattern, square, plarn, finger crochet, tutorial
And there you go! The double crochet stitch is made the same with finger or hook... But it takes some getting used to, if you've never tried this method. Check out the video for more tips!

Directions for square:

free crochet pattern, square, plarn, finger crochet, tutorial

Round 1:
Chain 2, make 12 double crochet in the beginning loop. Join with a slip stitch to the first double crochet.

Round 2:
Chain 2, make 1 double crochet in the first stitch. (3 double crochet in the next stitch, 2 double crochet in the following stitch, 3 double crochet in the stitch after) 3 times. 2 double crochet in the next stitch, 3 double crochet in the following stitch. 2 double crochet in the same as the first stitch, before the beginning chain-2. Join with a slip stitch to the first double crochet.

Bind off, weave in the ends.

Video tutorial:

  I'm still new to making videos, but I gain experience with each one. Things I learned while editing: I say "so" and "quickly" way too often, and I need to learn to keep my work farther from the camera. Also, I didn't realize that I was recording on the wrong setting. Sorry about the quality. I won't apologize for those other minor nit-picky details, because I'm still learning. But I did notice that I speak in an odd rhythm that confuses closed captioning, so I am really sorry if you need it. Despite its flaws, this video tutorial still shows you the project from beginning to end.

-  -  -  -  -  -  -

  I had fun both with this project and making the video. I hope to bring you more uninterrupted-by-cat, Rip-van-Winkle-snoring-free video tutorials in the future. If my plans for these squares work out, then there will be a few different projects I'll be sharing for them. But it does take some time to make the material for the squares! I need to go back to playing with yarn for a day... Just a day! This post will continue to be updated with any projects that result from the squares.

free crochet pattern, square, plarn, finger crochet, tutorial

Happy Crocheting!

Update: There's now a video available for how to create the material used in this square.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Pin or Toggle?

  I've gone on one of those "trends" of mine again, if you haven't noticed... There's been a lot of shawl-creating going on around here! And for as much as I have trends of my own, I'm not really trendy or fashionable. I've gotten into the habit of spending work-at-home days in jeans and tank tops, not bothering to accessorize or add to my wardrobe. (At least I make an effort to put pants on.) So now that I have these shawls popping off my hooks, I'm a little lost about what to do with them.

  Well, I've at least discovered that a simple shawlette can and will dress up those plain tanks and jeans! But, there's definitely a right and a wrong way to go about it. First of all: How to wear it? The answer really depends on the shape and size of your shawl. The "fairy" shawl I made is light enough to tie in the front for a casual look. But what about that Love Knot monstrosity that I made? Big enough to be a throw blanket, tying that one only creates a huge, awkward knot. That is when I realized that sometimes you have to accessorize your accessories.

crochet, shawl, pin, toggle

  To the rescue: A tutorial over at Simply Collectible Crochet for how to make a shawl toggle. I immediately knew I had to make one when I saw it. Now, off to the craft store!... Only to find almost no selection of buttons. I had a choice of round, round, or round buttons; wooden or plastic. I thought "oh well, these will have to do" as I picked out the biggest of the wooden ones.

crochet, shawl, pin, toggle, buttons

  I wasn't happy with my choice, so I hit up the craft department on my next trip to Walmart. I was surprised to find more of a variety than the craft store! But still, not the oblong toggle buttons I was looking for. Just one column over from the buttons, something else caught my eye:

crochet, shawl, toggle, pin, kilt pin

  What is a kilt pin? I'm new to this device, but I would guess it must be for pinning a kilt. ;) Can I use it for a shawl? After browsing through some images, I did find quite a few varieties and styles, but I didn't find any being used as a shawl pin. I worried about the sharp point damaging my work, but I (carefully) used the kilt pin to display my Angel Cakes shawl.

free crochet pattern, Angel Cakes Shawl, Caron Cakes

  It worked, but I could see how a real shawl pin or a toggle would be so much better. The kilt pin leaves a gap unless you pin about six rows together, and doing that scrunches up the shawl. Besides, I don't need all those sparkles when I just want a casual wrap! It looks out of place with a tank and jeans. My plain wooden buttons were starting to look a little more interesting, so I finally gathered my supplies and pulled up the tutorial to make my shawl toggle.

  *Warning* This procedure requires a needle and thread (yarn, actually), but just about every person on the face of the earth will be able to handle it... Except for me. (See post "I am a Sewing Dummy" for reference.)

Can anybody spot what the problem will be here?

sewing, crochet, shawl toggle, fails

Yeah, I didn't see the issue before I started. I figured it out soon enough, though:

crochet, sewing, fails

And after switching to a smaller needle that would fit through the buttonhole, I promptly made another mistake by starting in the wrong direction:

crochet, sewing, fails

But in the end, it was pretty easy to create my toggle. Mistakes behind me, it was only a minute before I was weaving the yarn in to finish.

crochet, sewing, shawl toggle

  I'm so glad I found that tutorial! I owe a big thanks to Simply Collectible Crochet for my new shawl toggle, and newfound confidence in wearing my work. The weather is cooling off and it's a perfect time to wear my shawls, but they can be so troublesome to keep on. Although the kilt pin does work, options are limited. I think the toggle gives you so many more ways to wear your shawls.

crochet, shawl, shawl pin, kilt pin

crochet, shawl, shawl toggle

crochet, shawl, shawl toggle

  As for a "real" shawl pin: I've still failed to find one anywhere but online. Even though I can drool over some amazing handmade or vintage pins, I can't fit them into my budget. The kilt pin was two dollars and some change; the buttons to make the toggle were only $1. I used a piece of scrap for the yarn, so I'm not even considering its cost. The laugh I had over more sewing blunders was priceless.

  So, what do you think? Do you prefer a shawl pin or a toggle? Or would you rather have an easy-to-tie shawl that doesn't require an accessory? I used to think the latter, until I made a toggle. Now I think I'm going to have to start scouring craft stores for buttons to make more!

crochet, shawl pin, shawl toggle

Happy Crocheting!
PS: Yay, now I can wear my Grannies in a Love Triangle Shawl! Maybe I'll finally get around to publishing that pattern...

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Rug and a Bug

  Are you familiar with the saying "snug as a bug in a rug"? That never made much sense to me... I would think a bug in a rug would always be in fear of being stepped on or vacuumed up... And that's how I feel now. Hurricane Matthew is nearing, and after yesterday's reports of "we're in no danger from this storm", I thought we'd be fine. But today the news has changed to "hunker down", and I'm pretty scared. I rode out Hurricane Andrew in south Florida as a kid. Over a decade ago now, we dealt with four storms (Charley, Francis, Ivan, and Gene) back to back in this area. Now living in a mobile home, I'm not ready for this.

  And to top it off, I'm fighting another bug. I need my coffee to give me strength through this, but I'm strictly on tea. Okay, that's a bit of a lie, because I had some coffee earlier. But now I've switched to tea, because the coffee made me feel worse. (Lesson learned.) And before my coffee-deprived, bug-infested brain takes this post rambling any farther away from crochet, I should get to the project that's getting me through my fear of the coming storm:

crochet, fabric scrap, rug

  Progress! That's what we love to hear about, right? Forget all that whining. I finally sat down last week and cut up the next sheet that was needed for my fabric scrap rug. But progress was slower than I wanted, because I had a funny feeling that I didn't have as much material as I did when I cut up the first sheet. I was able to make twelve squares from the first fitted king-size sheet, with some scrap still left over.

crochet, fabric scrap, rug

  The plan was to make more of the same squares with a second color, and alternate them when joining. I took some of the material from the second sheet and created mock squares to see how the design would go:

crochet, fabric scrap, rug

  I didn't like the example as much as I had liked the idea in my head. If the colors were more contrasting, I think I would enjoy it. But this combination of off-white and beige squares just didn't appeal to me. Besides, with that feeling that I would be short on material, what would I do if I couldn't make enough squares?

  So, I decided that I would use the second color to add more rounds to the existing squares. Again I used the strips to mock what the design would look like, and I liked it so much better. It was a safe plan, too, in case I ran out of "yarn".

crochet, fabric scrap, rug

  After adding one round to one square, I knew it would take about five strips of fabric to finish another round around each one. I sat down and joined the strips in little balls of five, and I became sure that I wouldn't have enough to do more. Still, I had planned on leaving each square unfinished, so I could go back and add on if my predictions were wrong. My coffee-deprived brain forgot that plan however, and I finished off one and wove in the ends.

crochet, fabric scrap, rug

  I had a minor face-palm episode when I realized what I did, but it didn't really matter in the end. Remembering to leave the rest unfinished, I worked one round of the second color around each square. Some ended a few stitches short of finishing, so it's a good thing I have some scrap left over. After working all the squares, this is all I have left of my pile:

crochet, fabric scrap, rug

  I didn't know exactly how many were left, but I knew it wasn't enough to continue. What about a round with a shorter stitch? One of my squares only used four of the strips I had joined, so I continued working a round of single crochet with it. I only got across one side of the square before it ran out:

crochet, fabric scrap, rug

  Now that I knew it would take four or more strips for each square, I counted the rest. Twelve left. Nope, not enough! I'm perplexed as to how two sheets of the same size gave me two different amounts of material, when I know I cut the strips the same width. It took six to seven strips to create each of the original squares, and I was left with scraps. If I could have finished each square in only six strips, then maybe the second color could have worked out. But it would have left me with absolutely no margin for error.

crochet, fabric scrap, rug

  The next thing will be to cut up a dark blue sheet for joining these squares. I considered using the join-as-you-go method, but I think I'm going to stick with the one-seam join that I love. I'm a little disappointed that my rug will be smaller than I planned, but I don't have a choice. The only other scrap sheets I have are different kinds of fabric - Flannel and microfiber. The flannel is saved for another project and doesn't match this color scheme, anyways. And cutting up microfiber for fabric yarn is an adventure I've yet to tackle.

  I had a bunch of things planned for this week - Publishing the pattern for the Love Knot scarf I made, working on a tutorial, and putting the final touches on the pattern for that cowl that kinda got forgotten already... But honestly, this cold knocked all plans out of me. The most of what I'm doing is curling up under my fluffy blanket and crocheting when I'm not shivering.

  But I'm still keeping an eye on the skies and an ear tuned to the news, because reports of devastation are already coming through. There's no doubt that Hurricane Matthew will be bad... The uncertainty is where it will be the worst. They're forecasting up to 60 MPH winds in my area; worse on the coast and to the north. We already have six inches of water under our house, and we often lose electricity in high winds. You might not see me until next week!

  So in just in case that happens, I'd like to say now that I'm thinking of those in the path of the storm, and others already affected by it. Please be safe. My anxieties and thoughts for you all will be poured into my stitches until the storm passes. When I really can't do much other than worry and wait for news, at least there's still that good old yarn-y comfort to turn to.

Happy Crocheting!

Update: I'm back! We went to stay with my dad for the night while the storm blew through, and most everything turned out fine for us. There's been a lot of cleanup going on around here (just yard debris) amid lots of mud. I'm mosquito-bitten and tired, so I probably won't get back to crochet or posting until the weekend is over. But thankfully that's all we have to worry about. We're still keeping those affected by (and still in the path of) the storm in our thoughts. And let's all hope it doesn't make that loop back to us.

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