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 little DIYing and Knitting

How has your summer been going? Have you knocked off many things on your never-ending to-do list or DIY list? I’ve been able to do a little crafting for items that have been on my list or jumped to the top of my never ending list overnight.

As a blogger I sometimes have a hard time taking photographs… Meaning, the background is never what I want. I always find myself moving things around my counter or on my kitchen table to get the right shot. During these warmer months I am fortunate that I can head out into my backyard and take pictures on my picnic table without too much worry of obstructions in the background… Grass isn’t bad as background I think. It’s especially difficult when I take pictures of some of my jewelry pieces or yarn projects… I have to wait until the light is just right (which is still usually in my kitchen) and set up a snack table with a white foam board as a backdrop to get the “right” shot. But, sometimes you want a little more color and personality than just a plain white board and I personally think that the white background isn’t always complementary. So, I did a little DIYing and created some backdrops myself. Now I know that you can purchase more sophisticated and professional looking one’s online, but, I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted and I am one who believes that if I can do something myself instead of paying someone else to do it then I might as well do it. Also, I just love creating things. It’s one of the ways I learn new things and get ideas for other things.

So, one day while I was at my local Jo-Ann’s I picked up project paper in two different patterns – quatrefoil and chrysanthemum – and decided to give this DIY project a go. I began by cutting a piece of the decorative paper bigger than my foam board. After covering my work surface with newspaper I sprayed the foam board with adhesive spray and carefully placed the paper on top of it, smoothing out any bumps. After letting the glue dry overnight, the following day I folded the excess paper around the edges and taped them to the back. To ensure that I would get smooth corners I cut the paper on an angle there before folding it over.

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And now I have two colorful and decorative backdrops than I can use for an array of things!

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Next up… Flower Crowns. Last year I went to the Renaissance Faire in upstate New York – I had wanted to go for years. I truthfully had no idea what to expect, all I knew was that the description made it sound like fun, and it was. So much so that I went again this year. While there last year I was tempted to buy a flower crown, not sure what stopped me. Oh yeah, I know, the fact that I would never wear it. I won’t even put a hat on my head when it’s freezing cold outside! This year my friends daughters were coming along for the fun; although only the eldest one ended up going. So I decided to make them flower crowns to wear!

Supplies needed are silk flowers, floral wire and tape, wire shears and a hot glue gun.

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After measuring the girls’ heads with the floral wire I wrapped the ends with the tape and began gluing flowers to it.

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And it wasn’t long before I had completed both flower crowns.

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And finally, my knitting project, which at the moment is a WIP – a work in progress. I finally taught myself Entrelac and I am quite excited about it (Hmmm… maybe I need to get out more!) Anyhoo… It’s been on my to-do list for years and I just never got around to it, but, I made it a point to hunker down this summer and learn. And thanks to YouTube the pattern didn’t seem as confusing as I initially thought. Oh, and I am sure you may be wondering… Entrelac is an interlace knitting pattern that creates a textured diamond pattern.

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Here’s a close-up shot of it… While it may look as though it’s different strips of yarn woven together it’s the complete opposite, the entire scarf is knitted in one piece with a series of triangles and squares. It sort of reminds me of a basketweave pattern, but, on an angle. Using yarn such as this one – Lion Brand’s Amazing – really helps one to appreciate the pattern because of the color variations.

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And that’s been my summer thus far on a crafting perspective!

 

T-shirt Yarn Infinity Scarf

Thanks to large knitting needles and t-shirt yarn I was able to complete the infinity scarf I recently posted about in less than a week. Working with the t-shirt yarn was a lot easier than working with typical yarn. I didn’t have to worry about it fraying our accidentally splitting the yarn with the needles; it’s not the ideal yarn though for most projects, i.e. a blanket. While I did have two skeins of Loops & Threads T-shirt Yarn (which is unfortunately discontinued now) on hand to complete the scarf I only needed one skein.

I ended up knitting the scarf twenty-seven inches and then sewed the ends together so that it would be long enough to loop…

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Or an ideal length for wearing long.

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As for my next yarn project, I’m undecided. It’ll either be a scarf (surprise surprise as those are my favorite things to knit or crochet) or a shrug.

 

T-Shirt Yarn Infinity Scarf

Materials:

T-Shirt Yarn (one skein approximately 100 yards)

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 wear long.)

Bind off.

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

 

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.

 

Where are the Beads & Yarn?

While as of late most of posts have been about baking (i.e. the Spatula) I have been working on some yarn and bead projects and today I would like to share with you some of the yarn projects.

I recently completed three scarves…

A button-through cowl I made with Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick yarn in Barley. This was a quick cowl to crochet thanks to the nature of the yarn (hence the name of the yarn) and the easy pattern working with double crochets. I believe I was done with this in less than three hours!

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Next I completed another cowl using another Lion Brand yarn, their Landscapes yarn in Desert Spring. It’s a beautiful self-striping roving yarn that’s also great to work with. Well, it was great yarn to work with once I wound it up into a ball as opposed to pulling it out from the skein. I did that during my first go at making this scarf and the yarn began to fray which affected the outcome of the cowl. Thankfully I bought 2 skeins of the yarn – even though the pattern only required one – so I was able to start over with much better results. One other thing, the pattern called for the cowl to be knitted in the round but I opted to add a few extra stitches and just sewed the ends together.

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And finally using Red Heart With Love yarn I crocheted a puff stitch scarf. I had a slight mishap while making this scarf. I knew that it was looking a little funny while working on it but it wasn’t until I finished and needed to add the border around the scarf that I knew for sure what I had done wrong. I didn’t end one of the rows on the right stitch so every few rows the last stitch was sticking out which prevented me from adding the border. So, I had to take the scarf apart and crochet it again. Thankfully it was a quick pattern to stitch up so I was done in no time and done correctly

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And currently on my crochet needle is a toddler blanket for a friend’s daughter – I actually made a smaller version of this blanket last year as a baby gift for another friend. I’m about half-way done and just about to start working with another skein of Lion Brand’s Pound of Love yarn in Honey Bee. As with the button-through cowl, this blanket is just a series of double-crochets.

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