Finding Colors

I love to play in free form crochet for art projects. One of the questions I get most often from crocheters interested in trying freeform is about choosing the yarns for a project.

But often the real key to a successful freeform project is choosing the colors.  I chose the colors for this piece using the advice of the wonderful Jenny Dowde.  She said that one of the easiest ways to get colors that play nicely with each other was to choose a multi-colored yarn. Then you find solid color yarns that pick up tones in the multi-colored yarn.

I choose some Lion Boucle’ in the Wild Berries colorway for this project. Then picked pink, orange and blue yarns from my stash that matched the Boucle’.

If you want to learn more about Jenny’s approach to FreeForm Fiberarts I recommend getting your hands on her books: Freeform Knitting and Crochet; Freeformations, Designs and Projects in Knitting and Crochet; Surface Works.

Slip Sliding Circles

If you like to make hats from the crown down or amigurumi (toys), knowing how to get a tight circle is a handy skill.

My favorite method for these types of projects is the “adjustable slip knot”. This is a technique I first heard about in a class I took with Dee Stanziano, though it took me a while to play with it. I use it all the time now.

The trick with a slip knot is if the beginning tail or the working yarn tightens it. Generally speaking, the working tail is best for projects like afghans, scarves or garments.  But the beginning tail end is ideal for hats and toys, or anything sculptural where you need a tightly closed ring. I call this slip knot an Adjustable Slip Knot, because you can adjust the size of the loop even after you have worked into it.

To make an adjustable slip knot: Wrap the yarn around 2 or 3 fingers to make an X. The working end of the yarn should be on the bottom and the beginning tail should cross over it. Then use your hook or fingers to reach under the bottom strand to pull up a loop from the top strand.

The best thing about the adjustable slip knot is that you don’t have to fight to make all your stitches into the same spot. If your beginning tail is long enough, you can open the loop as you make stitches. This is loads easier to count your stitches to know if you have the right number in your starting round too.

Once you are finished with the first round, you give a gentle tug to the beginning tail to close the loop. Voila! you have a nice snug first round that did not involve any hair pulling.  Now you can proceed with either concentric rounds or working in the spiral to complete your project.

Give it a try on your next project and see if you don’t love this method as much as I do.

Measuring Up

Tape measures are one of the handiest things to have in your project bag. Measurements are an important part of creating crochet projects, especially if you are making garments. Personally I use them a lot when working out designs.

Of course, like all the tools of my trade, I seem to be constantly searching for my tape measure.  So I am always on the hunt for inexpensive tape measures when I’m out shopping. My brilliant idea being if I have one in every project bag, I’ll have one whenever I need it.

I’ve seen a number of lovely “covered” measuring tapes. Some of them even have crocheted covers, and though I’ve admired them, few have instilled in me the desire to purchase one. 

Friday I was at the local hardware store (McGuckins in Boulder, CO), it is one of the best stores for finding amazing and fun stuff to use in creative pursuits.  I discovered some nifty round retracting measuring tapes for the very reasonable price of $1.60.  So I tossed a couple of them in my basket and decided it was time for some experimenting with covering them in crochet.

This gorgeous Aunt Lydia’s Classic 10 thread was in a range of colors that I love, plus it would make it easy to spot my tape in the bottom of most all of my project bags.

I didn’t have a pattern for this. Instead I did my favorite type of crocheting, “Seat of the Pants”.  

I began with the plain side of the tape measure. I started a simple single crochet spiral round and kept holding it up to the tape casing to see if it was big enough.  My spiral tended to “dome” a little in the center, so I wanted to have the final circle be small enough that it would fit tightly around the casing.

Once I reached the size needed, I worked a row of single crochet off the wrong side of the final round. I left a gap between the beginning and ending of the row for where the tape would feed out. I worked a couple more rows to cover the flat edge of the tape casing, then fastened off with a very long tail. The tail would be used to sew the 2 pieces of the cover together.

Next I chained a ring to just fit around the button of the tape, and crocheted 18 single crochet in that ring. The circle on the opposite side was 12 rounds, so I counted the first round on this side as round 3 and worked out from there. Once I had 10 rounds I fastened off and wove in the center tails for both sides as well as the ending tail for the 2nd circle.

I then placed the 2 pieces around the tape measure, lining up the opening on the edge with the tab for the tape. I used the long tail from the first side to whip stitch the edging to the “button” circle, stretching and positioning the circles to fit well on the casing.

The little tab cover was just a chain long enough to wrap around the tab, then rows of single crochet to the length I needed to cover the tab. I folded it in half and used a couple more rows of sc to join the top edges and make a shaped point. Slipped it over the tab and sewed thru the opening of the tab and along the open side.

I now have my own little covered tape measure. Hopefully this one won’t get lost for awhile.

Happy NatCroMo!

It’s National Crochet Month here in the US, and on Ravelry it is being celebrated as International Crochet Month…since that is a very international crowd and there is a fun Party going on over there if you’d like to join in.

This is a month to celebrate all that crochet is and can be.  The multitude of myths about crochet abound, and I am planning to blog about some and “de-bunk” them thru-out this month.  We will also be taking a look at some of my own crochet history, as well as solving some of my crochet “mysteries”.

Starting with one of my very first crochet hooks.  I’m not sure when this crochet hook came into my possession. But best guess is it was around 40 years ago.  Looking at the markings on the hook it is an older Boye J hook.  One side of the thumbrest says, “Boye” , the other says, Size J U.S.A.  It doesn’t have any mili-meter measurements on it. 

So I’m curious, does anyone have any idea when this hook might have been manufactured by Boye? Leave your thoughts in the comments and maybe we can figure out this minor mystery together.