Don’t Fear the Picot

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Ah picots, very possibly the most feared and hated stitch in crochet.  Personally I avoided the picot stitch for a very long time. When I would look at stitch dictionaries I would skip over any stitch patterns that contained picots. Or if I used those stitch patterns, I would eliminate the picots.

picot-edgings

In the past I had primarily seen picots used as a decorative element for edgings or borders. These tiny stitches can turn a plain shell stitch into a lavish embellishment, or make “points” have sharper definition.

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In many of the Japanese stitch dictionaries I own there are stitch patterns where the picot is used as part of the overall fabric not just on the edge. I found this an exciting new way of looking at the picot.

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In my designs I’ve kept with using the picot as an edging embellishment. I used the picot in my “Shells on the Aegean Neck Cozy” to embellish the button hole. The picot directions in that pattern tell you to: “Chain 3, slip stitch in top of previous stitch”. The previous stitch I’m referring to is the stitch made before the “chain 3”.

One of the biggest difficulties I had with picots is that I like to work with a larger hook than usual for the size yarn. I especially like to do that when crocheting garments or wraps. Picot stitches tend to work better with a firmer fabric though, so if you want to add them to your project you need to keep that in mind.

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My little heart “Crocheted Love” uses a modified picot to create the point at the bottom of the heart. I only have you chain 1, instead of the usual 3, before anchoring into the previous stitch. You could try making the heart with more chains in the picot for the bottom point and see how you like it.

There are some yarns that are a little trickier to get good picots from. Highly textured yarns or extremely limp yarns with fibers like rayon or alpaca in them are the most difficult. It is possible to do a picot with these yarns, the resulting stitch will just be a bit different from the traditional picot. I recommend using a smaller hook to help give the picot more structure.

How do you work the picot?

The problem many folks run into is the picot distorting their stitches. When the picot is anchored to a single strand, it tends to pull and distort the stitch it is worked into. This is solved by catching 2 strands when anchoring the picot stitch.

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Picots are started with a short chain, usually 3 chain stitches.  I have occasionally seen picots made with 5 chains, I tend to prefer the look of the 3 chains.

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When anchoring the picot on the previous stitch, you next insert your hook into the top of the stitch under the front loop (1) and then under the side loop of that same stitch (2).

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It is important to be sure to capture 2 strands of yarn with the slip stitch that anchors your picot. Whether that is working into a regular crochet stitch or…

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into a chain stitch. When anchoring a picot into a chain stitch I insert my hook thru the V and behind the back bump.

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You can achieve different looks by how tight you make your picot’s anchoring slip stitch. The picots on the left shell are worked with a loose slip stitch, the picots on the right shell are worked with a tight slip stitch. The differences are subtle and either way is acceptable, you just want to be consistent thru-out your project.

I have found that making my anchoring slip stitch tighter helps off-set my tendency to work with larger hooks. I’ve only tested this working with “worsted” weight yarn and an I/5.5mm or J/6mm hook. I haven’t attempted picots in any of my “extreme” projects where I work “fingering” weight yarn with an I/5.5mm hook or “worsted” weight with a L/8mm, M/9mm or N/10mm hook.

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Practice you picot stitches on a long strip of single crochets, work a second row of single crochets and place a picot every other stitch. I make strips like these to practice stitches and try out new yarns. Even if they don’t come out perfect, they make great ties for gift bags or embellishments for greeting cards.

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For another practice project, try making my “Simple Double Crochet Hat” but on the last round of the brim single crochets work a picot after each odd numbered sc.

You’ll find after some practice that you won’t have to fear the picot anymore.

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The Greatest of these is Love

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13:13

This bible verse has resonated with me thru-out my life, no matter where my spiritual travels have taken me. The idea that the most important thing that we strive for in life is to live in love.

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This is entirely appropriate, since today is Valentines Day, a holiday that celebrates love. Though some folks view it  as a “greeting card” holiday that focuses on romantic love, I like to look at it a bit more broadly.  I have always enjoyed celebrating it as a holiday about love in all it’s forms.

The love for our children. The love of dear friends that lift us up thru life’s challenges. Even the unconditional love of our beloved furry family members. The love that is expressed as compassion and kindness for our fellow humans on life’s journey.

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Recently I was talking with a crochet friend about how we crochet love into the projects we make. Whether it is love for the person whom we will be gifting the finished project to, or love and compassion for others when we are making projects for charity. There is even the love of our craft that is crocheted into every stitch as we make something for ourselves or (as is the case for me about 60% of the time) a project sample for work.

The image I used for the Crochet Love picture is the stitch diagram for my very popular heart pattern “Crocheted Love” from 2013. This heart has been popular with other crochet bloggers to build on in their blog tutorials and such. This has led to some interesting interpretations of the pattern.

Today I wanted to show you some quick tips on making these hearts. They only take a little bit of yarn and time to whip up to include on a card or as an embellishment for a gift item to celebrate the holiday of love.

The biggest stumbling blocks seem to be where to work the slip stitch that creates the point at the bottom of the heart and the final slip stitch that anchors the last “bump” at the top of the heart.

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This is a close-up of the stitch diagram for the point of the heart. The conventions for showing the orders of operation in diagrams have the arrow pointing under the chain stitch, but you are actually working behind the chain stitch to get to the double crochet just made.

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My hook goes under the front loop at the top of the stitch and under the top wrap of the stitch. The lighter weight purple yarn in the photo above shows the path I insert my hook thru.

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This image is the hook in place.

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Yarn over and pull thru all the loops of yarn, including the working loop on the hook.

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Tighten the finished slip stitch.

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Make the next 2 dc stitches in the same stitch of Round 1 as before, and continue following the stitch instructions for Round 2.

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This is a close-up of the stitch diagram for the end of Round 2.

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When you finish the last 7 treble crochet stitches you will need to anchor it with a slip stitch.

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Work the ending slip stitch between the final dc stitch and starting chain of Round 1.

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Tighten the slip stitch to create a seamless finish to your heart.

As a little extra bonus today I am including the instructions for making a single crochet border around the heart.

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You can use this border to give a more finished look to a single heart or to connect 2 hearts together.

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For the heart above I cut out a heart shape from heavy card stock, using one of my hearts as a pattern to draw the heart shape. When I cut it out I trimmed the shape a bit smaller to leave room for the border stitches.

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I then sandwiched the cardstock heart between the yarn hearts while I crocheted the border. This makes the heart extra sturdy for hanging from a garland.

Instructions for Single Crochet Border

After finishing Round 2 of Crocheted Love Heart – Do Not Fasten Off, chain 1, starting with first Treble of Round 2 – (sc in next st, 2 sc next st) 4 times, sc in next 5 sts, 2 sc next st, ch 1 and slip st in top of last sc made, 2 sc next st, sc next 5 sts, (2 sc next st, sc next st) 4 times, slip st to first sc of round.

After finishing the border you can cut the yarn and weave in the end, or chain to the desired length to use as a hanging cord for the heart.

If you make your 2 hearts with a bulky yarn and appropriate sized hook your hearts will be a generous size and you can insert some stuffing before completing the border to make a sweet little pillow.

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I am going to spend part of my Valentines Day in my traditional celebration of consuming Dove Dark Chocolate hearts. I hope you all have a wonderful Valentines Day and that your life is full of love.

A Crochet Valentine Party

Seems like the weeks are zipping by in 2017. I’ve been busy with my big de-clutter and organize the house project as well as getting all my new technology talking to each other.  Sometime today my newest bit of technology will be arriving, a new camera. This is one with a lot of bells and whistles, my first DSLR.

I just keep telling myself that learning how to use all these new hardware and software technologies will help keep my brain agile. Either that, or my head is going to explode from technology overload.

Fortunately yesterday I got to have some great low-tech fun with my crochet friends at our Bi-monthly crochet group. This is the Casual Crochet group that meets at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe on the 2nd and 3rd Wednesday morning of each month.  Since this gathering was close to Valentine’s Day I brought in cards and chocolates.

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The shop has been collecting hearts made from yarn for a yarn-bombing event next Monday. So we all crocheted some hearts to include.  This heart is my Crocheted Love heart from a couple years ago. The pattern is here on the blog.

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We also celebrated with Margie, who finished her Fans & Lace Blocks blanket that she had started as part of our CAL.

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Claudia and Anna Marie both got started on a cowl project. Claudia was helping Anna Marie learn the Foundation Double Crochet stitch. Looking forward to seeing how their projects are coming along next week.

Time to head out to pick up boys from school. I will hopefully be back to my regular blogging schedule soon, as you can tell, things have been a bit busy of late.

Vivianne Shawl

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This is my newest M2H Designs pattern the Vivianne Shawl. The name Vivianne means “full of life” and the colorful striping and sparkly beads make this a very lively shawl.

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I used only 3 hanks of Berocco’s “Vintage” worsted weight yarn in different colors to create the uneven color changes. Originally I thought I would use 2 hanks of the dark blue, but I decided I wanted to have approximately the same amount of yarn in each color. Because the shawl is worked top down the rows get longer and the sections of color play out in pleasing proportions. I also mixed things up a little by working a stripe of the next color before ending the preceding color. This stripe has beads added using the “hoist-on” method for a bit more bling and liveliness.

Vivianne Shawl 3 - Andee Graves/M2H Designs

The final 2 border rows are continued in the last color and feature beads added to the stitches to create sparkly drape along the bottom edge of the shawl.

This pattern is available for purchase in my Ravelry Shop for $4.99. In addition to concise text instructions, the pattern contains stitch charts for the body of the shawl and the border, plus photo tutorials for adding the beads.

The Argument with the Smart Phone

I’m betting most of you can tell from the title that I’m not having fun with my new smart phone. In fact, you might be wondering why I have a new smart phone? Simply put, the old phone died. Like really died, is completely Dead, can never ever be revived.

There are days I truly dislike technology. It is great stuff for staying in touch with friends, family and my fans. But when it really comes down to it, I’m a low-tech kind of person. I like to make things with my hands, which is why I have a blog and video channel about crafting and art.

Pen View

My old smart phone was a Samsung Note 2, I had it for 4 years. All I had needed to do in that time was replace the battery and the case a couple of times. I had wanted to upgrade it this past Fall, but the Samsung Note series was having some difficulties. Primarily, the batteries were catching on fire. So there were no Notes to be had. I don’t even know if the Note is ever coming back.

With the death of my old Note 2 I needed to replace my phone. It died the Monday morning before I left on my trip to Phoenix for CHA. So it was a bit of a scramble that week deciding on what phone to get and then getting the new phone set up so that I had what I needed on it while traveling.

After consulting with my husband, and whinging about the unavailability of the Note series, I decided to get the Samsung s7 Active. It’s a hardy phone and I’ll probably have it another 3-4 years.

Unfortunately, getting it to talk to my computer has been a pain. Which is what the argument has been about. I was able to use my old phone as a media device with my computer, making it very easy to upload files from the phone to the computer using a USB cord. This was especially handy for my videos and photos.

I know there is very likely a simple fix for getting this new phone to play nice with my computer. Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of patience for figuring out new tech, so it has been an painful and frustrating couple weeks. I’ve actually decided to take a break from it for a few days as I tackle other tasks.

I’ve been swatching and sketching this week in preparation for submitting some proposals to publishers. We will see if anything comes of that. Submitting proposals is not a guarantee of them being accepted for publication. I like what I’ve come up with and may publish these designs in my own pattern line if the publisher doesn’t want them.

This weekend my husband has promised to help me figure out all the smart phone and computer stuff. Hopefully that means I’ll be back on track very soon.