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.

Knitted Cocoon Shrug

Have you ever completed a craft project and felt a bit disappointed with the outcome? I’m sure we have all been there… I know I have quite a few times. You kind of feel like you wasted your time and possibly money on the supplies.

For the longest (a few years to be sort of exact) I finished knitting a rectangle that would ultimately become a shrug – all that was left to do was seam it together. I folded it and placed stitch markers on the sides so I knew exactly where I needed to seam, but then I folded it up and placed it in a corner and kept reminding myself that I had to finish it. I would put it on my desk and in other places so that it would be in my line of vision, but, it just wasn’t working. Not really sure why I was procrastinating. I was possibly thinking that it was going to be more difficult than it really was. Truth be told, I enjoy crocheting and knitting, but I am just not fond of those projects that require seaming at the end to complete them.

But then I finished up another project that requires seaming (hexagons for a Christmas Tree Skirt) and I thought to myself that there was no way I could start seaming this project if I still hadn’t finished the one from years ago. So, I took the rectangle out of the corner and procrastinated for a few more days and then finally sat down and got to work. And guess what, I realized that all that procrastinating was for nothing. I seamed up the sides of the shrug in about an hour. I did one side while watching television and the other side laying in bed before going to sleep. Finishing it prompted me to get out of bed and try it on and that’s when the feeling of disappointment came over me. I tried it and my first thought was “Eh.” The pattern was one size fits all, but, I think if I was a little taller I would like the way it fit in the back better. And while the picture accompanying the pattern had the sleeves coming down about 3/4 of the way on the model’s arm, on me the sleeves end before my elbows. Maybe trying it on over my pj’s didn’t help give me the best impression of the shrug, but, considering that I was fussing with it so much to get it to look just right I don’t know if my thoughts will change. Ultimately, I ended up folding it back up and placing it in another spot. At least it’s done, so, I can to get to work on seaming the hexagons that I am determined to get done before my Christmas Tree goes up this year. I have some time so fingers crossed I will get it done.

 

 

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.

Etsy Shop – CraftedByFran

After making jewelry for a few years and creating pieces to give as gifts, sell to friends and at a few local craft fairs, I finally decided to open an Etsy shop. Truthfully, I’ve been thinking about it for a while but held back because I thought it would be difficult.

So, what did I think it would be difficult? Figuring out shipping costs for one. I did a little research and discovered that this stumps many would-be Etsy sellers. There were a few other things as well: the whole creating a listing, taking good pictures, do I have to give my pieces “names?” And a few other silly little things. In the end, I am opting to offer free shipping and decided not to give most of my pieces a name since they are one-of-a-kind. And after creating my first listing and learning how to navigate the process it became a lot easier and not as daunting. Let’s be honest, trying anything new is a learning process. Soon enough I’ll learn what works and what doesn’t. There is one thing that always gets me… Tagging. Which ones work best and which ones don’t. I have that same issue with my blog posts sometimes.

Below is the link to my shop. Feel free to like a piece, like my shop or maybe you’ll find something perfect for you.

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Here are some of the pieces available now…

 

Christmas Crafting

With Christmas just a few days away I finally got my cards in the mail the other day. I was so gung-ho about making them super early this year – I took out all of my supplies for them back in late October and put it on my crafting table all ready to go, but, got sidetracked with a few other Christmas crafts I wanted to get done first.

So, while I only have one main door to hang a wreath on – as most people – I ended up making three new wreaths this year. I only planned on making a new garland wreath to replace the one I made a few years back but while searching for ideas for that one I came across a yarn ball wreath that I had many of the supplies for – mainly yarn – and then I got an email that described how to make an ornament ball wreath in perfect detail. I tried making one of these a few years ago and didn’t have much success.

Up first… the Garland Wreath. While my local craft store did have those green wreaths I could have just bought and decorated I wasn’t too fond of the way they looked – that’s actually what my original wreath is made with and I never really liked it because of it – so I opted to wrap an 18″ grapevine wreath with garland. After that was done I then decorated it with various Christmas picks. I bought and returned quite a few of them before I was happy with the layout. This is actually the wreath that made it to my front door.

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Then there’s the Yarn Ball Wreath. I used different shades of green yarn I had leftover from different crocheting/knitting projects to wrap various sized Styrofoam balls. I then mapped out their placement on a wire wreath form and attached them using a hot glue gun. I then added in some red shatterproof ornaments for a pop of color and to make the wreath a bit more festive.

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And finally, my favorite, the Ornament Ball Wreath. This was definitely the most time consuming, but, worth every minute. To begin I wrapped a Styrofoam ring with red ribbon tying a loop with the ribbon at one point so the wreath could be hung. I then lined the inside and outside of the ring with alternating sized shatterproof ornaments. I then filled in the flat part of the ring with various sized ornaments and finally – the part I couldn’t get too crazed with – I filled in the gaps with smaller sized ornaments. It’s very easy to go from beautiful to gaudy when adding the ornaments.

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After the wreaths I moved on to making snowflake ornaments. I got the wire forms (6-inch) from Fusion Beads and then it was just a matter of decorating them with pearls, crystals and seed beads in colors that reflected the holiday season or the intended recipient’s favorite color. This was made all the more easier since I recently organized all of my jewelry supplies into storage containers.

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After a few wire mishaps (thankfully I bought extra wire forms) and a couple of wire gashes all of my snowflakes were done. After taking this picture I threaded all of them with coordinating ribbon so they could be hung from a Christmas tree, in a window, or wherever.

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And finally… My handmade Christmas cards. While getting started is always a daunting task, by the third card I am full speed ahead. I even got a jump on next year’s cards by making a few extra this year. We’ll see if I still like them in a year’s time or I may just have other ideas of what I want to make by then.

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Happy Holidays!!!

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(And yes, I did make this as well.)

Two Bracelets and a Ring

I decided to take a break from my knitting projects last week to work on some jewelry pieces that I have wanted to get done. In all honesty my arms and wrists needed a break from all of the shoveling I did from when I was snowed-in.

Up first was something super simple… Yarn Wrapped Bangle. I got the idea from a craft email I receive every day from Martha Stewart’s website. All I needed to complete this project was yarn (you can also use ribbon), tacky glue and a plastic bangle. It doesn’t matter the color or pattern of the bangle since you will be covering it up. The one I used had sequins on the inside and only cost $2… You can’t beat that!

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To start off I wound a few yards of yarn into small ball and glued one end to the inside of the bangle. I let the glue dry completely and then started wrapping the yarn tightly around the bangle. Every so often I stopped to make sure there weren’t any spaces between the yarn and around the midway point I added some glue to secure the yarn in place.

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It didn’t take long before I had a completely new bangle.

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After that was done I moved on to a Cabochon and Seed Bead Ring. I got the idea for this piece from the February 2013 issue of Bead & Button Magazine in an article called Ring Tones. I used two different color size 15 seed beads, an oval cabochon, an adjustable ring and prestiffened felt for my beading foundation. I was able to find the ring and felt at my local Michael’s store and I ordered an assortment of cabochons from Fire Mountain Gems (www.firemountaingems.com) for under $3 so I have plenty more to use if I want to make more rings or pendants and such. As for the size 15 seed beads, I had one of the colors and then took advantage of a sale at Beada Beada (www.beadabeada.com) and ordered an assortment of colors that I normally wouldn’t pick just to have a nice assortment for future projects.

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To start off I cut a piece of the felt to fit into the bezel of the ring. While the directions called for using two or more pieces of foundation I opted to use only one piece since the ring I was using had a very shallow well.

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Next up, I glued the cabochon to the center of the felt. After it completely dried I began to stitch the seed beads around the cabochon using the beaded backstitch. I started with a round of yellow and then added a second round of yellow on top of that round so that those seed beads would come up the sides of the cabochon. I then stitched two rounds of turquoise seed beads around the yellow.

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It wasn’t long before I was done and my embroidered piece was ready to be adhered to the ring. While I did have jewelry glue (which I used to glue the cabochon onto the felt) I opted to use Krazy Glue to adhere the entire piece to the ring so I could be sure it would stay put.

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I was really happy with how it came out and I can’t wait to wear it. And now that I know how to embroider on felt I am looking forward to making other pieces of jewelry.

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And finally the last piece I made was a bracelet that I also came across in the February 2013 issue of Bead & Button Magazine called Crystal Bridges. The bracelet is made with 12mm bugle beads, 4mm pearls, 4mm bicone crystals, 3mm fringe drops, size 11 & size 15 seed beads, 4x1mm daisy spacers and a two-strand slide clasp. While the article did have suggested colors for the bracelet I opted to go a different route and made my bracelet in shades of blue. I had Swarovski Crystal bicones in my beading stash that I wanted to use so I based my other colors off of them.

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To start I created the base of the bracelet by using the crossweave technique to add the bugles and pearls. On a comfortable length of Fireline I threaded a size #12 beading needle onto each end and then centered a bugle bead onto the thread. Then with each of the needles I picked up a pearl and with one of the needles a bugle bead and then crossed the other needle through it. In total I added 32 bugles for the bracelet to be approximately 7 1/2 inches. Just to note, if the size needs to be adjusted the number of bugles beads on the base must be an even number for the top embellishment to work.

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Following that I added the top embellishment. I once again used the crossweave technique to add the pearls, size 15 seeds beads, bicones   and daisy spacers.

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Once that was done it was time to add the clasp. This was a little backwards to me since I am accustomed to adding a clasp to piece of jewelry only once it’s completely done. Once again I used the crossweave technique to add size 15 seed beads and a bicone crystal to attach the clasp to the bracelet. In all honesty the bracelet could be worn like this and you could forgo the side embellishment, but, if you want more of a unique piece I think it’s necessary to keep going – which is what I did.

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To add the side embellishment – which consists of the size 11 & 15 seed beads and the fringe beads – I worked in a simple bead weaving technique.   To start I added one size 11 seeds between each of the pearls.

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I then added five size 15 seed beads by stitching my thread through the size 11 seed beads I had just added, which basically left the size 15   seed beads arching around the pearls. I was concerned at this point because the size 15 seed beads weren’t sitting flat. I kept playing with the thread   by pulling it snug and then loosening it in an attempt to have them fall flat, but, it didn’t work. Luckily the final step rectified the problem.

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Finally, I added the fringe drop beads by sewing through the three middle size 15 seed beads from the five I added in the previous step.   Basically the fringe drops sat next to the size 11 seed beads. I ended my thread and my bracelet was ready to wear. Unfortunately I’ll   have to wait a while to wear it since the colors are more for Spring/Summer.

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The Runaround Knit Cowl

It’s my first project of the New Year and it’s a simple and versatile one! It’s called The Runaround Cowl and I came across it on a Lion Brand Yarn Facebook post. Originally it came from a blog known as Smashed Peas and Carrots and can be found here: Smashed Peas and Carrots: The Runaround Cowl

As for supplies, all you need is one skein of Lion Brand Homespun Yarn and Size 15 knitting needles. While Homespun yarn does come in an array of colors I am not too fond of the heather and striping colors so I chose to stick with something neutral – Cream.

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At first I was a bit unsure of how the end product was going to look. I started and wasn’t too happy with how it was working up and it took some getting used to working with the yarn. Sometimes my tension is a bit too tight and that can make working with this yarn a little frustrating.

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Unfortunately once I got on a roll I somehow ended up with an extra stitch and instead of trying to correct the problem I opted to just start over. This is one of the reasons I prefer crocheting over knitting, it’s much easier to correct any errors. The second time around I was much happier with how it was looking and after a few hours of knitting I reached my desired length of 55 inches – I decided to make mine a few inches longer than the directions said. I will also note that while the directions state to bind off in pattern I decided to bind off by knitting my last row, I just find it easier to do that and I figured it wouldn’t alter the look of the cowl since I was going to stitch the two ends together.

I then weaved in the ends of my yarn, created a twist and stitched the ends together. And voila I had a new cowl! Once the weather gets a little warmer I’m sure this will become one of my go-to scarves.

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Runaround Cowl

Courtesy: www.smashedpeasandcarrots.blogspot.com

Cast of 25 stitches

Row 1: *K1 P1, Repeat from * across, K1

Continue with this pattern until cowl measures 50 inches or your desired length.

Bind off loosely in pattern.

Weave in tails.

Sew short ends together with a yarn needle making sure that you have made one twist in the cowl before sewing ends.