Crocheted Hexagon Christmas Tree Skirt

I started this project way back in January. I actually posted a little about it in my Elusive Magic Ring post. By the way, I still cannot do a magic ring, but, I am not letting it hold me back. I am sticking with my chain 6 and join with a slip stitch method to get around it. So, why did it take me so long for me to complete it? Well, while I easily found enough skeins of red & gray yarn in the same dye lot I was having trouble doing the same for the green I wanted to use. After a while I just gave up looking. But then September rolled around and I knew that if I wanted to finish my tree skirt for Christmas this year I would have to find it. And so, luckily one day at my local Michael’s I came across three skeins in the same dye lot and I picked up a fourth one that looked similar just in case. I crocheted 12 green hexagons and I finally had the 36 I needed to make my Christmas Tree Skirt.

I began by laying out all of the hexagons on top of my old Christmas tree skirt to ensure that the 36 hexagons would be enough. It ended up being a little smaller than my old one, but not by much. I also wanted to make sure that I laid the hexagons out in a pattern that I liked. I basically placed them haphazardly but also made sure that there weren’t too many of one color in one area. I probably switched the hexagons around once or twice before finally settling on the design.

And once I did I began stitching the hexagons together to create columns.

And then I stitched those columns together to form the tree skirt. As you can see, my new skirt isn’t that much smaller than my old one. I was initially think of adding 2 hexagons to each column (one on top and one of the bottom) but I decided against it because I felt that the skirt would be too big and it may take away from the overall design. Also, if I did that I would then need to add another column on each end consisting of 5 hexagons each to balance it out, and I just didn’t have enough yarn to do that. I only had 1 skein of each color left over and that would give me another 12 hexagons and with the added hexagons I was thinking of I would have needed an additional 24 hexagons… Eeek!

And to make sure I can easily place this around my Christmas tree I left two columns unstitched. Choosing one near the center just made the most sense.

I think it looks perfect under my tree…

 

Hexagon Christmas Tree Skirt

Yarn: Bernat Chunky Yarn (3 skeins each of Berry Red, Dark Green & Gray Heather – you should get 4 hexagons from each skein)

Crochet Hook: L / 8.0 MM

Hexagon Pattern:

Round 1: Ch6 and join with a slip stitch in the first chain*. Ch1 and then Ch2 more, dc in ring, ch2, *2dc, ch2* 5 times into ring. sl st to join last ch to the top of the first series of 3 ch. (You will have 6 sets of 2dc + 2ch. The 2 dc will become the sides of the hexagon and the 2 ch gaps will become the corners.

*Alternately you could start with a magic loop

Round 2: Ch3, dc in next dc stich, *[dc, ch2, dc in chain gap from previous round], dc in next 2 dc* (5 times). dc, ch2, dc in last corner gap. sl st to join last ch to the top of the first series of 3 ch. (Each hexagon side now has 4 dc stitches, separated by a ch 2 space)

Round 3: ch3, dc in next 2 dc, *[dc, ch2, dc in chain gap from previous round], dc in next 4 dc* (5 times). dc, ch2, dc in last corner gap. dc in remaining 1 dc. sl st to join last ch to the top of the first series of 3 ch. (Each hexagon side now has 6 dc stitches, separated by a 2 ch space)

Round 4: ch3, dc in next 3 dc, *[dc, ch2, dc in chain gap from previous round], dc in next 4 dc* (5 times). dc, ch2, dc in last corner gap. dc in remaining 2 dc. sl st to join last ch to the top of the first series of 3 ch. (Each hexagon side now has 8 dc stitches, separated by a 2 ch space)

 

sl st – slip stitch

ch – chain

dc – double crochet

 

Once you have all of your hexagons made lay them out in 7 rows. Your 1st and 7th row will have 4 hexagons each, your 2nd & 6th will have 5, your 3rd and 5th will have 6 each and the middle row (row 4) will also have 6, but, you will leave a space in the middle for your tree / tree stand to go through. The hexagons will be staggered so that the final skirt will somewhat look like a hexagon as well. You may have to use your imagination to see it.

Once you like the pattern, begin by stitching the hexagons together into columns.

Once you have your columns done, stitch them together to complete the skirt. When you have decided which half of your skirt will be the top and which will be bottom (or in terms of laying it down for the tree, which will be the back part and which will be the front part) be sure not to stitch one side of middle column to the adjacent column so you can easily place your skirt around your tree. You can use leftover yarn to tie the two columns together while the skirt is around your tree to prevent it from moving around.

Crocheted Keyhole Scarf

Earlier this year I got a request to make a keyhole scarf (it can also be referred to as an Ascot scarf). It’s a short scarf that sits at the upper chest. As opposed to other scarves this style stays put because one end is inserted into the keyhole of the other. Since I truly had no clue how to make one I started looking for patterns online similar to the picture of the one requested. Once I found a pattern I set it aside figuring I would have time to make it by the deadline of September. Eventually I picked up the pattern to give it a good read over and instantly got worried. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to actually make it. The words leaf, keyhole and neck in the pattern through me for a bit of a loop. I decided though that I would practice on some extra yarn that I have stored away – I have a bin of yarn in my basement with remnants from past projects. I clean it out every now and then because I realized you don’t really need a few yards of random shades of yarn.

So, I picked a yarn that was similar in weight to the yarn I planned on using for the actual scarf. And I must say actually working on something with your hands as opposed to reading and imagining how to do it are so opposite. Once I had the yarn and crochet needle in my hand the pattern made sense and the scarf was a cinch to crochet. I decided to work thru the pattern from the first leaf, to making the keyhole and then a bit of the neck (all those words that through me for a loop at the beginning.) Once I got to a decent point I showed the sample to the recipient of the final product and they were happy with it. I then went and purchased the actual yarn.

And started working on it…

It took me less than a week (probably the quickest I’ve ever gotten a yarn project done – well, except for some ruffle scarves I made a few years ago. I was cranking out two a day after someone requested like 10 of them) and the scarf was done. This is a pic of the scarf just completed but before washing and blocking it.

After washing and blocking the scarf it laid flat.

Here’s a pic of the keyhole…

What the scarf looks like without one end being inserted into the other…

And a not so great shot of me wearing the scarf, but, it gives you an idea of how the scarf fits.

Most importantly, the intended recipient was delighted with it and is planning on wearing it on her upcoming Alaskan cruise!

Unfortunately I cannot share the pattern I used to make the scarf, but, if you would like to make it yourself the pattern I used was the Rita Ascot Scarf by Emily Johannes.

 

Crocheted Tote Bag

You may recall a little over a month ago I posted about having trouble mastering (really just figuring out) the Magic Ring in Crochet. I was making a bunch of hexagons – which by the way has been put on hold as I haven’t been able to get 4 skeins of the shade of green I want from any of my local craft stores, seems like I will have to order it online – and the starting point was to make a magic ring and it just wasn’t working out for me. So, I ended up bypassing this step and in lieu of it made a short chain and joined it with a slip stitch to get my hexagons going. Well, fast forward a week or two and once again I was faced with a pattern that required a magic ring as the starting point. The thing is though, I couldn’t crochet a chain and join it with a slip stitch as this project was for a tote bag and a small hole in the bottom of a tote bag could prove disastrous for any small items in the bag. So, I had to bite the bullet and figure this out once and for all. It’s really not as serious as it sounds to be honest, but, the thing is with crocheting (and knitting) the more stitches and techniques you learn the more items you are able to make and the easier it is.

So, I attempted the magic ring once again and guess what… I actually got it. And, I figured out why I was having issues with it before, the yarn I was using was too thin. Not for the project, but for me to figure out how to make the magic circle. Maybe I wasn’t holding the yarn with enough tension or something, but, I just couldn’t get it before. The yarn I used this time was Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick Yarn. A super bulky yarn that comes in an array of colors and one that I have used quite a few times before to make scarves and blankets.

After all this set-up, you may be wondering what exactly it is that I made. Well, I did mention it was a tote and below is a picture of said tote. The pattern is from Two of Wands and is called The Red Hook Afternoon Shoulder Bag. You can purchase the pattern on her blog or purchase a kit on Lion Brand’s website. Initially I was thinking of using a more muted color but, when I went to buy the yarn I was drawn to this raisin color. While I haven’t actually used my tote yet, I am thinking it might be perfect for carrying around yarn projects as I am working on them. Or, for carrying around the plethora of magazines I get every month (and week) that I never seem to have time to fully read. I’ll admit while I was working on this I was unsure at times if I was getting it right… Especially in the beginning when I was increasing each round (and may have missed or added a stitch or two), but, once I got about midway through the project I knew that it was turning out okay. And it sounds silly, but, once I completed the opening for the handle I was quite pleased (and excited). I think it’s the idea of learning new steps, it opens your mind to creating other projects and seeing things differently. All of sudden I understood how to make a button-hole if a pattern called for it.

It’s the perfect size for me to carry around yarn projects, a book, magazines, etc…

Now I just need to stitch together the rectangle I finished three years ago so it can resemble a cardigan that I can actually wear. Oh yeah, and get those final 4 skeins of green yarn so I can finish my new Christmas Tree Skirt before Christmas this year!

 

 

The Elusive Magic Ring in Crochet

I have been crocheting for quite a few years now and I still get stumped when it comes to certain stitches and I’ll admit that I will avoid certain patterns if it includes an unfamiliar stitch. Like those FPDC that I see sometimes, which simply stands for Front Post Double Crochet. HUH? I just pass those over. Eventually I will break down and try it, but, for now, I will stick to simple stitches that still create beautiful pieces. I am more apt to try these different stitches when it comes to knitting. Which is kind of a little backwards since with knitting if you mess up it is a bit more complicated to remove all the loops from the needles to rip out the yarn from the “bad” part of the pattern and then reinserting the needles once again. With crocheting you simply remove the one loop from your hook, pull the yarn and then reinsert the one loop back on to your crochet hook. Maybe I just like to do things the hard way. Although, some will argue that knitting is the easier of the two because it involves only two stitches, knit and purl, whereas crochet has more. For example that FPDC I mentioned before, as well, SC (single crochet), dc (double crochet), hdc (half-double crochet) and so forth.

I recently came across a pattern that I wanted to make that I am a bit off season for now. Well, a season late you can say. It’s a Christmas Tree Skirt. I have been wanting to make one for a while, but, I just didn’t care for the patterns I saw. And then, right before the holidays I found one that I thought would be perfect. It was a bunch of hexagons stitched together to form the skirt. I figured hexagons I could handle, although the stitching them together not so much. It’s not that I can’t handle it, but, if you read my A New Year post you will know that I still have a shrug I made over three years ago that I haven’t stitched together. I’m a procraftinator who doesn’t like stitching things together. But, I figured if I start now I have a solid 9-10 months to get it done. And then I started and instantly ran into problems. I’ve crocheted shapes before so I was fine with that, but, the starting point was to create a Magic Ring and that’s where I hit a major hiccup. I watched tutorials online and finally thought I had gotten it, but, it just didn’t seem right. I felt like I had too much yarn in the ring and then that the ring wasn’t “thick” enough for me to stitch my other stitches around. The advantages of the magic ring is that you are able to pull the yarn so you end up with a closed circle in the center, as opposed to the open one you get if you crochet a short chain (about 6 chains) and then join it with a slip stitch. Which is perfect if you are crocheting in the round and/or making amigurumi – the Japanese art of making small yarn creatures. I thought, is a small hole in my hexagon worth this headache. No it’s not. So, I decided to ditch the magic ring and went the chain and slip stitch route instead and found a better pattern for the hexagons and am about a third of the way done crocheting them. I still have to get the yarn for the other two colors. I want a certain shade of red and green to go along with the silvery gray I got and of course since its right after the holidays the colors are out of stock at my local craft stores. Well, they did have some but, they all weren’t the same lot numbers and I already learned my lesson about lot numbers! Quick story, I knitted a blanket for a friend’s baby and one of the yarns wasn’t the same lot number as the other ones. So, when I finished the blanket that one section of the blanket stood out from the rest. That’s when I went and checked the labels and saw that one of the labels had a different number from the rest although was the same color, hence, me learning the hard way about lot numbers. Thankfully she loved the blanket and didn’t notice the difference until I pointed it out to her. That was my first big knitting project actually!

So, maybe I will master the Magic Ring one day, just like those FDPC’s, but, for now, I am happy with my simple method of a chain and a slip stitch to start my crocheting in the round. Besides, I don’t think my hexagons are looking all that bad with the small hole in the middle.

Christmas Wrap-Up

How was your Christmas? Mine was good… Filled with great times, great food and great cookies! As I’ve done in years past I had a Christmas baking marathon and baked various cookies to give as gifts. I took my last sheet of cookies out of the oven early in the day Christmas Eve. This year along with the usual rugelach and malted chocolate chip cookies, I made another batch of these vanilla spritz cookies along with peanut butter cookies and oatmeal cookies. YUM! And, there was also a batch of Gingerbread Men, one of who was a bit angry after losing part of his leg.

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And luckily this year I got my handmade Christmas gifts done in plenty of time, okay, with about a week to spare. This for me is good, since it gave me enough time to wrap them with pretty ribbon bows. I made two Afghans and an earring and bracelet set.

The first afghan was made with Lion Brand’s Thick & Quick Yarn following their Cromwell Court Afghan Pattern. Here’s a pic of the start…

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And the finish product…

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The second afghan was made with Lion Brand’s Vanna’s Choice Yarn following their 5 1/2 Hour Throw Pattern… Truthfully it took me longer than the 5 1/2 hours and since it involved crocheting three colors together I opted to wind the three colors into a ball to make crocheting a lot simpler.

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And the finish product…

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And finally the earring and bracelet set that I made using tila beads, superduo beads, seed beads and crystals just using basic beadweaving techniques.

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I also squeezed in some time to make my Christmas cards once again this year.

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I hope you are all enjoying the holidays and that you all have a wonderful New Year!

 

 

Knitting Update – Entrelac Scarf is Done!

You may recall that about two months ago I posted about an Entrelac scarf I was working on. Well, I am happy to say that I have finally finished it and am very happy with the final outcome. I really love how the colors change throughout the scarf and the overall diamond pattern that Entrelac produces. While I would love to make something larger using the pattern I think I am cool with a scarf for now. While I finally did get the hang of working Entrelac it did take quite a few tries to get the scarf going and there were a few hiccups along the way that I was fortunately able to correct before I got too far along. Besides, I have a few other projects I want to work on before adding anything else to my knitting/crocheting to-do list. Here’s a link to where you can find the pattern as well as a YouTube Video link that will help you get started: Freckles and Purls
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Which leads me to what is currently on my knitting needles… A shrug. Granted right now it doesn’t look like much but once I get all 40 plus inches knitted and do some stitching I am completely sure it will look like a shrug. Hopefully!
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I did sneak in a quick project between the scarf and shrug… These cute coffee mug coasters that I was able to crochet in less than two hours with yarn that I already had in my yarn stash. I found the pattern on a fellow blogger’s website, Repeat Crafter Me.
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Stay tuned to find out if my shrug ends up looking like a shrug!

A Blanket Down, A Scarf To Go

I recently completed the toddler blanket I was working on and am very happy with how it came out. While I have crocheted/knitted my fair share of blankets, this was the first toddler blanket I completed and was a little unsure about the size I wanted to make it…. I obviously didn’t want it to be on the smaller side which would be more appropriate for a baby, but, I also didn’t want it to be so large that it would be too big for a young child. Ultimately the final size of the blanket ended up being 40 x 50 inches, which I think is a decent size for a young child.

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I’ve already moved on to my next yarn project… An infinity scarf (you can never have too many scarves) made with t-shirt yarn. While there a quite a few tutorials online on how to make your own t-shirt yarn I opted to buy mine. I first came across t-shirt yarn when I saw an Arm-Knitting Project using Lion Brand’s Fettuccini Yarn. After visiting the Lion Brand store in NYC I opted to pass on purchasing the yarn for the project – they didn’t have enough skeins of the yarn in the color I wanted and it just seemed like the scarf would end up being a lot more bulky than I would like. Not long after that while at my local Michael’s I came across t-shirt yarn from their Loops & Threads brand and it was more reasonable priced (about $3 skein on clearance than the $9/skein for the Fettuccini Yarn) and didn’t seem as bulky. I decided to scrap the idea of learning how to arm-knit and decided to make an infinity scarf just by regular knitting. So far so good…

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Lion Brand Pound of Love Delectable Shell Afghan – modified from here

Materials:

2 Balls Lion Brand Pound of Love Yarn

Crochet Hook – Size H-8

Directions:

Afghan

Chain 173

Row 1: Double-crochet in 5th Chain from hook, *Skip next  2 chains, 5 double-crochets in next chain, skip next 2 chains, double-crochet in next chain, chain 1, skip next chain, double-crochet in next chain, repeat from * across.

Rows 2 – 95: Chain 4, turn, *Skip next Chain 1 space, double crochet in next double crochet, skip next 2 double-crochets, 5 double-crochets in next double-crochet, skip next 2 double-crochets, double-crochet in next double-crochet, chain 1; repeat from * across, double-crochet in 3rd chain of turning chain. Do not fasten off.

Border

Round 1: Do not turn; work single-crochet evenly spaced around entire outside edge of Afghan, working 3 single-crochets in each corner; join with slip stitch in first single-crochet.

Round 2: Chain 1, single-crochet in same single-crochet as join, skip next single-crochet, 5 double-crochets in next single-crochet, *skip next single-crochet, single-crochet in next single-crochet, skip next single-crochet, 5 double-crochets in next single-crochet; repeat from * around; join with slip stitch in first single-crochet. Fasten off.

Weave in ends.

 

T-Shirt Yarn Infinity Scarf

Materials:

T-Shirt Yarn (being that I haven’t finished the scarf I am unsure of how much yarn I will ultimately use, I do have 2 skeins that are 100 yards each)

Knitting Needles: US 19 / 15 MM

Directions:

Cast on 10 stitches

Row 1: Knit 2, *Purl 2, Knit 2; repeat from * across. Repeat Row 1 until piece measures your desired length (either to loop around your neck or the classic way – topping it over a top)

Bind off.

To finish, sew the ends together and weave in the ends of the yarn.