All Those Tails!!!

Whenever I talk about Free Form Crochet to other crocheters, they all bring up the dread part of yarn work: Tails!

They are correct, there are a lot of tails to contend with when doing Free Form work. I am not terribly fond of weaving in tails myself. Years of working as a designer have taught me some patience with the task.

Way back in the mists of time I remember learning to embroider and my Grandmother telling me that the back of your work should look as neat as the front. Seemed like an impossible task at the time, but it became something I strove for with all my making. Whether I am embroidering, sewing, crocheting or knitting.

I actually find crocheting to be the easiest to create a tidy back to my projects. As a rule the fabric creation has enough body to it that there are always good places to tuck away the tails. When I weave in ends I always pick one side of the project to be the “right” side and look at that side after I’ve woven in my needle to be sure it doesn’t show. I use a bright silver colored needle because it is easy to see a glint of it on the right-side if I’ve woven wrong. I also try to weave my tails in different places on the scrumble so I don’t create a stiff or thick spot.

In Free Form there is also the option of using the tails to sew pieces together. In the scrumble above I wove in all the ends, but left 2 of the longest at the edges to use later when I am joining them to others in my final project.

This photo is the same scrumble from the back after I finished weaving in my ends. This is also the same scrumble that you see from the back in the very first picture.

I was left with quite a pile of tails after I finished the weaving in for all 3 of my little scrumbles. I save these bits to use as stuffing for dimensional projects. When they are wool or mostly wool I also save them as filler for my needle-felting projects, or to use to add color to the outside of those projects.

Other ways I’ve seen Freeformers deal with tails: Tie them together using knots and cut off close to the knot (You want a good tight surgeon’s knot if that is what you chose), or bring the tails to the front of their work and use them as design elements in the finished project.

There really are a lot of choices in Free Form for dealing with tails, they don’t have to be a terror. I hope you will give Free Form a try, for me it is the pinnacle of “Zen” crochet. A bit like coloring with color pencils.



Coloring with Pencils, and with Yarn

I’ve made some progress on the page I was coloring in Franklin’s “I Dream of Yarn” book. For those of you that have asked, you can purchase this wonderful coloring book online or in some brick-n-mortar stores. When I Googled: “Franklin Habit, I Dream of Yarn” I found it available thru Target, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Knitpicks. You also might want to check your local yarn shop to see if they are carrying it.

I’ve also been doing a little coloring with yarn this week. I’ve been playing with some Free Form crochet.  Some of these are going to a new home with a yarnie friend, once I figure out which ones make the cut. The others will become a pillow for my big comfy papasen chair in my design office. A few of you may recognize the yarn from my post about picking colors for Free Form.

Tomorrow I’ll show you what I do about the mess of tails that is part of the Free Form creative process.

Time out to Color

Today was a very busy day. Sadly there was not much crochet in it. There was yarn, the sorting of and moving of, but no yarn with hook action. Sometimes in the life of a crochet designer and busy mom, the background grunt-work has to take over a day. Even if that day is during National Crochet Month.

I took a little time to relax this evening though and play. Instead of hook and yarn I decided to play with color pencils and my lovely Franklin Habit book “I Dream of Yarn”. This was my first time actually coloring in it. I’ve sat down with it numerous times since acquiring it, just looking at all the lovely drawings has been happy making for me.

But to be honest I have been a bit afraid to put color to them because then they would be done. Or, gasp, I might “ruin” them. Yup, even I have that nasty little voice sometimes that beats me up and tells me I’ll do it “wrong”. Today I told the little voice to pack her bags and go on a long trip. With everything that has been going on for me and my family the past month I needed some soothing coloring time with my buddy Franklin.

I decided to start with this wonderful drawing of lots of people knitting and crocheting. It reminded me a bit of crochet motifs with just the shaping of it, and the wonderful support I have from other yarnie friends from all around the world.

I think this picture will end up being extremely colorful, I want to make each of the little people have different color garments and projects.

If you haven’t gotten into the whole adult coloring book scene I understand. I haven’t been doing a lot of it, I usually want to draw my own pictures to color. But there is something very relaxing about taking a half hour to color a picture that is already there. I enjoy making color choices and playing with how I will texture and shade my colors.

Of course, when the drawings are fun fantastical versions of Franklin’s dreams of yarn (that really could be mine as well, though mine would have loads more crochet hooks) it is even more fun. Afterall, yarn is our common thread.

Meet Collette

This is Collette. I actually purchased her awhile back, but our weather had been so cold and snowy I couldn’t get outside to photograph her.  After the past weeks 60-70F temperatures I finally got outside and did a photo shoot with her. She is going to be my model for a number of my M2H Designs patterns, so you will be seeing her a lot.

This is just a quick post today. But I wanted to remind you that you have until 8 p.m. Mountain Time (Denver, Colorado) to enter the drawing to win an E-book version of Karen Whooley’s new shawl book, “A Garden of Shawls”. Hop on over to my review of the book and comment to get your name in the drawing, I’ll be announcing the winner on my Monday March 20th post.

Some Pretty Crochet

Today I decided to make a little PWT shawlette for myself.

I love this “Folio” yarn from Berroco Yarns and had a little bit of green left over from another project. I thought it would go nicely with some raspberry colored that I also had.

I made a swatch and did the calculations to figure out how big a shawlette I could make. Looks like this will be about 32 inches wide and 16 inches long at the point.

I’m going to add some beads to the next to last body row and to the border for some bling. This little shawlette will be more like a necklace than a shawl. I’ll show you the finished project tomorrow. I’m hoping to wear this to my class I am teaching or I may use it to demonstrate adding beads to our shawl projects.

Swatching Experiments

Today I have been making swatches for my Playing with Triangles Shawl class this weekend at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe.  These are to show my students what a difference changing the size of hook can make to your fabric. I used Ella Rae Cozy Worsted for my swatches.

Swatch #1 I used a 4.5mm size hook. Swatch #2 I used a 5.5mm size hook. Swatch #3 I used a 6.5mm size hook.

I think I will make a fourth swatch, since I wasn’t completely happy with how the fabric came out in swatch #3. I’m actually going to go down half a millimeter in size to see if I like that fabric better.

Playing with Triangles Class

Today was my Casual Crochet group at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe. We had 8 people there, counting myself, there was lots of fun showing off finished projects and those that are still in progress.

Margie had one of her “Frida’s Flowers” afghans with her.  She is making 2, one in pastel colors and one in bright jewel tone colors. She had the bright one with her today. I just loved the black background motifs.

I also found out today that my class this Saturday has 3 students already. That means I have room for a few more students. If you are in the area and want to learn more than you thought there was to know about crocheting a top-down triangle shawl come join me for my “Playing with Triangles” class this Saturday.

The class starts at 12 noon and goes until 3 p.m. It will be 3 full hours of the basics and beyond of working triangle shawls with any yarn and hook combination that appeal to you. You can sign up for the class online at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe website, or call or stop by the shop.

Speaking of classes. Today registration opened for the Chain Link – CGOA Conference in Chicago this July 26-29. You can sign up for classes and get your tickets for all the fun events. Online registration is open until July 20, 2017.


Another Hat for Thing 2 – part 4

Last night I finished Thing 2’s hat. It was just in time as the weather took a turn toward freezing cold temperatures again. This morning he happily wore his new hat to school, though getting a clear photo of him wearing it was a bit of a challenge.

The only part I had to finish yesterday evening was the ribbed band at the brim of the hat. This gives the classic ribbed look around the face, but it also acts to draw in the fabric of the crown and sides for a snug fit around the ears.

For my ribbing I use post stitches. For those of you that have never worked post stitches, their name comes from the fact that they are worked around the “post” of a stitch instead of under the top 2 strands of a stitch. This gives them much more of a textured look and changes how the fabric behaves.

With a taller stitch like the double crochet it is quite easy to see the “post” of the stitch and to work around the center of this post when working post stitches. For a stitch like the Half Double or Single crochet that becomes a bit more fiddly to find.

The first time I tried using post stitches for my ribbing I decided to do what I call “skinny” post stitches. Instead of working down into the stitch, I use the very top of the post just under the “v” that makes the top of the stitch (the bit of brown yarn the arrow is pointing to in the photograph above). This creates a slimmer looking stitch because the base of the post stitch isn’t stretched around the thickest part of the other stitch.

For the ribbing affect I alternate my post stitches, so I needed an even number of stitches. I generally start with a FPhdc, and end the round with a BPhdc. The first round of ribbing is the trickiest.

Once you have finished that round it just becomes a matter of working FP stitches into FP stitches and BP into BP.

For a Front Post half double crochet (FPhdc): Insert the hook from front to back to the right of the post you want to work around, then bring the hook from the back to the front under the top of the stitch to the left of the post (indicated by arrow in photo above).  Yarn over and pull up a loop thru all the stitches, yarn over and complete your hdc. The post of this new stitch will be sitting on the front of your fabric.

For a Back Post half double crochet (BPhdc): Insert the hook from back to front to the right of the post you want to work around, then bring the hook from the front to the back under the top of the stitch for the left of the post (indicated by arrow in photo above).

Yarn over and pull up a loop thru all the stitches, yarn over and complete your hdc. The post of this new stitch will be sitting on the back of your fabric.

Finished BPhdc.

Once I finished the ribbing for Thing 2’s hat all I needed to do was weave in my beginning and ending tails. The tail at the crown is fairly easy to weave in, I’m just careful not to pull the tail too tight and create holes in the crown. For the ending tail at the brim, I want to be sure the tail is woven in so that it doesn’t create a tight spot in the fabric. I weave on the inside of the hat and keep my weaving restricted to 1 “column” of stitches.

I’m always careful with my end weaving to be sure that the tails are well secured. Hats get lots of handling and I want to be sure that this hat doesn’t become un-raveled. The very final step for me was to make an identifying tag that has our family name and phone number, just in case this hat gets misplaced. Hopefully the contact info will insure that the hat makes it back to us.




Another Hat for Thing 2 – part 2

Last night I had crocheted on the new hat for Thing 2 for 10 Rounds. I used the same increase formula I used in my “Little Bitty Noggin Cap” pattern here on the blog, with 8 increases each round.


I worked the increase by making the first stitch like a normal stitch, inserting my hook under both strands at the top of the stitch.


For the second stitch of the increase I work into the back loop of the same stitch. This creates an interesting texture on the crown of the hat and decreases the size of the hole made for the increase.


The finished increase looks like this. If you look at the hole under the first stitch you will see that it is similar to the other stitches. The hole you see under the second stitch is obscured once the next regular stitch is worked.

I had measured Thing 2’s head circumference (22″) and asked him how he wanted his hat to fit. My husband prefers his hats to be fairly loose, so I actually add ease to the size of them. Thing 2 wanted his hat to be a bit snug, so I calculated that I would want 21″ for the finished circumference, negative ease of 1 inch. That meant a target measurement of 6.69″ for the diameter of the crown before I started working evenly.

Unfortunately, though the math works out, the stitches don’t always cooperate. The expansion of the diameter can be affected by the height of the stitches being used in the hat. Once I had reached 10 rounds for the crown I knew that another full round of increases would make the hat too large. But there is a simple work around for that.


In Round 11 I only worked 4 increase points, instead of 8. I used this same method of limited increases in my Simple DC Hat pattern as well. At the end of Round 11 I had 84 stitches around the circumference. Knowing my number of stitches is a great way of checking my target measurement too. I knew that I had 4 stitches per inch, so 84 stitches = 21 inches.

Now I’ve got a lot of rounds of working evenly (without increasing or decreasing) before I’m ready to create a ribbed brim.


Another Hat for Thing 2

One of my crochet traditions is making hats for my family. A couple of years ago I realized that my husband and sons all considered hats for Christmas part of our holiday traditions. This year I made a hat for my husband for Christmas using a cake of Premier Yarns’ “Sweet Roll”. But I didn’t make hats for the boys. I had made a hat for Thing 1 at the start of the school year that he was still happy with and Thing 2 had his hat from the previous Christmas that he liked.

The other day Thing 2 asked me if I had seen his hat. We looked all over the house and even checked in the cars, but it was nowhere to be found. He checked in the Lost & Found at school that day, still no hat. We had to accept that his hat was gone.


I decided to start a new hat for him as part of my NatCroMo celebration since making something for someone else is an important part of crocheting love for me. The original hat had been worked in some discontinued yarn “Lion Wool” that I had in blues, teals and navy. I didn’t have more of that color, but I did have this colorway that I thought he would like. I took the photo above while waiting for an appointment today. The lighting was indirect natural sunlight and the colors on my monitor are showing a bit warmer than the actual colors of the yarn.


By this evening I had finished 10 rounds and will be starting the sides of the hat tomorrow. I took this photo using my daylight fluorescent lamps and played with the Pro settings on my smart phone camera to adjust the white balance and the exposure. The color and detail are good, but now they are a bit cooler than the actual colors.

I’ll experiment more tomorrow to see if I can get a better color match. At least the hat is coming along nicely and Thing 2 has approved the colors.