Going Round and Round

This Thursday, 3/14, is one of my favorite days of the year: Pi Day! I love geometry and Pi is an important number to many of the calculations I use as a designer. Most of the time it is all about the circles.

For those of you that love to do some coloring, I have a new coloring page for you. You can download the page right here.

Since March is Crochet Month I thought we could revisit my blog post on crocheting circles from Pi Day 2017. In that post I gave you the basic formula for crocheting flat circles in single, half-double, double and treble crochet stitches.

Let’s talk today about some other helpful tips when crocheting circles. First off: crocheting continuous rounds. For me these are all about the stitch markers. I use stitch markers in each increase stitch, with a different color stitch marker for my final increase stitch (it also marks the last stitch of the round). After I make 2 stitches in the marked stitch I move the stitch marker up to the 2nd stitch made.

I think the trick that I geeked out about the most was how to keep track of which round I am in when crocheting continuous rounds. The number of stitches worked in each increase section will be the same as the number of Round. For example: in Round 5 I would work 3 plain stitches, then 2 stitches in the next (marked) stitch, 5 stitches total.

You can experiment with both of these techniques in my “Simple Double Crochet Hat” pattern here on the blog. Work it in a worsted weight yarn for a fun quick basic hat to chase away Springtime chills. Worked in a plain solid color this hat makes a great base to add decorative crocheted embellishments to.

If you want to experiment with making sure your hat fits who it is intended for, you can use Pi to help you. I have a detailed tutorial from 2011 here on the blog on making a hat fit using my “Pi Recipe”.

Have a wonderful Pi Day and celebrate all things Round this Thursday. I’m hoping to have some actual pie as part of my celebration.

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Reading the Pattern

Sierra Swoncho – I Like Crochet – February 2019

This past week I seem to be getting a few messages about my “Sierra Swoncho” pattern that was published in the February 2019 issue of “I Like Crochet”. It is marked as an intermediate skill level pattern, and uses a simple stitch pattern and increases for the majority of the garment.

One thing that is really key in working this pattern (and any pattern for that matter) is reading carefully thru the information at the beginning of the pattern like abbreviations, special stitches, and pattern notes before jumping into the pattern instructions.

For this design in particular, I used stitch marker placement to simplify the pattern instructions. So reading carefully for where you place the stitch markers is very important.

I also designed it with the option of changing the bust sizing. Often in garment patterns it is assumed that a small sized garment is for a small bust, and that a large size garment is for the largest size bust. As my readers know women’s bodies come in an endless variety of sizes, including large busted small women and small busted large women. I wanted this design to reflect that variety.

The other thing that seems to be confusing some folks is my stacked rows foundation that creates the neckline. For those of you that are struggling with that my blog post: “2 by 2 Cowl pattern” may be of some help. I also have a video on my YouTube Channel that demonstrates working a stacked rows foundation.

I hope these tips will help those of you that may be struggling with this pattern.

The Joy of Stitch Charts

Many of us that love to crochet are very visual people. It’s the reason I love stitch diagrams also know as stitch charts. I find them easy to understand and I can get a feel for what a stitch pattern will look like just from looking at the stitch diagram.

When I design I often draw rough stitch charts for my notes. I find it easier to make changes as needed without having to worry that I missed changing something in the text directions. Once I have it all figured out between swatching and stitch charts I am ready to write the text directions for the pattern.

Even before I knew about stitch charts I drew my design notes, using images and brief notes about the stitch order. So the first time I saw a stitch chart I was enthralled. They were exactly what I had been looking for all along.

Before I started designing professionally I was always on the hunt for patterns that included stitch charts. My favorite patterns use both text and charts for the instructions. Now that I am designing, most of the crochet books I purchase are stitch dictionaries, and my favorites are the Japanese published books.

Some Japanese Pattern books I bought in 2014.

Another reason I love stitch charts, they can be understood by everyone, no matter what languages you speak or read. I can’t read the Japanese writing, but the stitch charts and swatch photos overcome the language barrier. There is an element of educated guessing when working this way.

This coming Saturday I will be teaching a class at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe called “Stitch Chart Boot Camp”. In the class students will be working from stitch charts only, learning tips and tricks in how to make decisions about the final project. In this class students will work from a stitch chart to create a lovely motif. You’ll learn what the all the symbols in the chart mean and how they can vary depending on the country of origin.

If you are in the greater Denver area, please come join me for this class. You can enroll online at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe website.

For the Love of Crafting

Valentine’s Day is only 9 days away. So it is time for some quick crafting projects to show the special folks in our lives how much we love them.

Today I’m going to be sharing ideas for crafting a bit of love for your family and friends. First off, I have a new coloring page for everyone. You can download this PDF to print and color-in however you want.

20190205 Valentines Coloring Pg – Andee Graves M2H Designs

I have been enjoying coloring books and pages for some time and have decided that I really love having the option to print out the pages I want to color. I have to confess many of my physical coloring books remain uncolored because I didn’t want to “ruin” the images.

Having the option of printing out the pages I am going to color means I can color without worry that I’ll be unhappy with the outcome. It also gives me the chance to play with different coloring styles and mediums. One time I might use only color pencils, the next I’ll get out my Chameleon color-tones markers, or maybe I’ll use both.

When printing out the page from a PDF you can also play with the size of the page. For this Valentines design you can print it out smaller to make the image fit on a regular size greeting card base, or color the page and then cut out the individual elements to use on a smaller card.

The two little cards in the photograph were made using that technique, I used 3 Glue Dots to adhere each heart to a plain card that I had added color to with a marker. I really like using the Glue Dots, no mess on my table and super quick to craft with. The package in the photo was one that I got on my recent trip to the AFCI Creativation show in Phoenix a couple weeks ago. 

For those of you that may not be as much into coloring as crocheting, today’s coloring page includes a stitch chart for the heart motifs that are drawn on the page. This heart may be familiar to those of you that have been visiting my blog for awhile.

It is an update of my “Crocheted Love” heart from 2013 that I revisited last year in my pattern “A Pocket Full of Love”. If you need help with the picot stitch that forms the point at the bottom of the heart you can find a tutorial on my post “The Greatest of these is Love”.

The third craft I am looking at for making fun gifts for Valentine’s Day is needle felting. I’ll be teaching a quick class this Sunday from Noon – 1:30p at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe on how to make these adorable little heart pins.

Students will be provided with a kit of materials that will include a crocheted heart and the fiber to felt a 3-D heart in a contrasting color. The handout for the class will also include the pattern to crochet your own little hearts to needle felt onto.  You can visit the Longmont Yarn Shoppe’s website to enroll in the class.

Update February 8, 2019: My crochet heart coloring page is featured on FaveCrafts. If you are in search of more coloring pages check out their site, but be prepared to get lost on there in the fun of looking at everything.

My October Classes

Wow! 2018 decided to go into high speed. October is half finished, but it isn’t too late to take some classes with me.

I’m teaching 3 classes before October is finished. All 3 classes are great ones for adding to your gift making skills as the holiday season is just around the corner. Best of all they are small projects so you will have plenty of time to finish up a few for the special folks on your gift list.

Saturday, October 20th 1p- 4p  “Curly Sheep Pin”

at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe, Longmont, Colorado.

This sweet little needle felted sheep pin is a wonderful gift item. In class I’ll be covering tips and tricks for needle felting small items, embellishing with mohair locks and how to create a very densely felted piece that will last for years to come. Basic needle felting experience is great, but not required. You will leave the class with your finished pin and the skills to make an entire flock of sheep as gifts for the holidays.

Saturday, October 27th I will be teaching at the Brown Sheep Fiber Arts Schoolhouse in Mitchell, Nebraska. This is a wonderful facility located just across the highway from the Brown Sheep Company. Roomy well-lit classrooms are the perfect place to learn new skills. Mitchell, Nebraska is only 14 minutes from the Scotts Bluff National Monument, so this is a great place to come for a fun weekend.

8:30a – 12:30p “Slippers that Fit!”

There are so many variables when you are crocheting wearables, even if you follow a pattern precisely you may not get the fit you want. In this crochet technique class you will learn what measurements you need and how to use those measurements to make slippers that always fit no matter what size yarn or foot you are working with.

1:30p – 4:30p “Sweet Angel Ornament”

Needle felting is a wonderful craft for creating lightweight wool ornaments for your holiday decorations. You’ll learn how to work with a variety of needle felting sculptural techniques to create a dense long-lasting felted ornament that will be loved for years. Project will introduce using a template for starting your sculpture, creating shapes separately then joining to your sculpture and directional gathering of fiber to create 3 dimensional shapes. Class is ideal for those that have a little experience with needle-felting already

Click on any of the class names to go to the enrollment pages for more information on taking one or more of these classes.

Mountain Wildflower Afghan Square

It’s almost time for the singing to start with my birthday just around the corner. I have been considering the idea that I will continue to celebrate my birthday every year but I won’t add any more years. Theoretically it sounds good. So starting this year I am 55 forever. It is a nice round number.

My tradition the past 4 years has been to publish a complimentary crochet pattern for an Afghan Square here on the blog as a birthday gift from me to my readers. This year’s square is my “Mountain Wildflower Afghan Square”. It is Block #20 in the 2018 Moogly Afghan CAL as well.

This year I had a lot of fun playing with 2D texture. I used ch, slip st, sc, hdc, dc and cluster stitches. I am having you turn for some rounds, each round instructions are marked either RS or WS to help you stay on track.

There are times when you will be working toward a chain space that have a hdc before them. I wanted to talk a bit about the hdc before you get started crocheting and share the following photos as a guide.

The top of the hdc can look a lot like it is part of a chain space. This is good to keep in mind when working Round 7 of this square. In the photo above, the 2 pink arrows are showing the 2 chains of the ch-2 corner sp, the yellow arrow is the top of the last hdc before the chain space, the aqua arrow is the skipped st.

Sometimes it helps to get your finger behind the hdc to guide your hook.

This is the completed single crochet before the ch-2 space.

I used 4 colors in this square with 9 color changes. I’ve also listed the amounts of each color of yarn needed for 1 square, so you can have fun using up some of your scrap yarn stash. You could even use 9 different colors if you want. I have listed the amount of yarn needed for the 4 colors and there are break-outs in curly brackets for the amounts in each of the 9 color changes.

I chose the lighter green color for the third and fourth rounds to give the feel of leaves around the center flower.

Mountain Wildflower Afghan Square

Designed by Andee Graves

Skill level:       Intermediate

Finished Size:   12” (30 cm) square

Materials:

Yarn

Worsted weight yarn in 4 colors

Sample uses Red Heart “With Love” 100% Acrylic (7 oz/198 g, 370 yds/338 m),

Color A: #1201 Daffodil (sample used approximately 18 yards/9 grams) for Rnd 1 {2 yds/1g} & Rnd 10-11 {16 yds/8g}

Color B: #1538 Lilac (sample used approximately 16 yards/8 grams) for Rnd 2 {4 yds/2g} & Rnd 12 {12 yds/6g}

Color C: #1562 Jadeite (sample used approximately 42 yards/21 grams) for Rnd 3-4{8 yds/4g} , Rnd 8-9 {17 yds/9g} & Rnd 13 {16 yds/8g}

Color D: #1621 Evergreen (sample used approximately 36 yards/18 grams) for Rnd 5-7 {17 yds/9g} & Rnd 14 {17 yds/9g}

Hook

J / 6mm

Notions

Yarn/tapestry needle

Stitch markers

Gauge

First 4 rounds of pattern = 4” across square

Abbreviations/Special Stitches

Right Side (RS): The side of fabric that will be considered the visible side of the fabric.

Wrong Side (WS): The side of fabric that will be considered the hidden side of the fabric.

Adjustable Slip Knot Start: Make your slip knot so the beginning tail tightens the loop on your hook. If you need further help with this technique I have a video, and a blog post that demonstrate it with more detail.

3 double crochet cluster st (Cl): (YO, insert hook in indicated st or sp, YO pull up a loop, YO pull thru 2 loops on hook) 3 times, YO pull thru remaining 4 loops on hook.

Beginning 3 dc cluster st (Beg Cl): Ch 2, (YO, insert hook in indicated st or sp, YO pull up a loop, YO pull thru 2 loops on hook) 2 times, YO pull thru remaining 4 loops on hook.

Loose slip stitch (loose slip st): Insert hook in indicated place, YO, pull up a loop thru place and loop on hook keeping loose like making a chain st.

Joining slip st (slip st): Insert hook in indicated place, YO, pull up a loop thru place and loop on hook, continue to pull up on working loop until original loop is tight.

V-stitch (V-st): (dc, ch 1, dc) in indicated place.

Standing Double Crochet (Standing dc): make slip knot in yarn and place loop snugly on shaft of hook, yo and insert hook into indicated st, yo, pull up a loop, (yo, pull thru 2 loops on hook) twice. If substituting for a chain start of a round, do not work the first 3 chains of the round instructions.

Pattern Notes:

Stitch counts at the end of each round and row are shown in italicized brackets at end of each round or row.

When instructions specify “sl st loosely”, this means work those slip stitches similar to a chain stitch and do not pull the working loop to tighten them as in a joining slip stitch. You will be working into those loose slip stitches.

Instructions

Rnd 1 (RS): Begin with flower center color (Color A). Starting with adjustable slip knot, ch 4, 11 dc in 4th ch from hook, sl st to top of beginning ch-4 of Rnd. Fasten off. [12 dc]

Rnd 2 (RS): Change to flower petal color (Color B): With RS facing, attach new color in any dc from Rnd 1, Beg Cl in same st as join, (ch 2, Cl in next st) 11 times, ch 2, sl st to top of Beg Cl. Fasten off. [12 ch-2 sp, 12 Cl]

Rnd 3 (RS): Change to Color C. With RS facing, attach new color in any ch-2 sp, ch 1, 3 sc in same ch-2 sp, (3 sc in next ch-2 sp) 11 times, sl st to first sc of Rnd. [36 sc]

Rnd 4 (RS): Round to Square – Continue working with RS facing, ch 1, sc next st, [*ch 2, skip next 2 sts, (hdc, dc) next st, (dc, ch 2, dc) next st, PM in ch-2 sp just made, (dc, hdc) next st, ch 2, skip next 2 sts,* sc next 2 sts] 3 times; Repeat from * to * once, sc next st, sl st to first sc of Rnd. Fasten off. [8 sc, 8 hdc, 16 dc, 12 ch-2 spcs]

Rnd 5 (WS): Change to Color D. With WS facing attach new color into next ch-2 sp to left of a marked corner ch-2 sp, ch 1, 2 sc in same ch-2 sp, [*sc in next 3 sts, (sc, ch 2, sc) in marked corner ch-2 sp, move up st marker to ch-2 sp just made, sc in next 3 sts, 2 sc in next ch-2 sp, sc in next 2 sts,* 2 sc in next ch-2 sp,] 3 times, Repeat from * to * once, slip st to first sc of Rnd. [56 sc, 4 ch-2 sp]

Rnd 6 (RS): Turn, ch 2, skip st where joined, *hdc in each st until reach marked corner ch-2 sp, (hdc, ch 2, hdc) in ch-2 sp, move up st marker to ch-2 sp just made,* Repeat from * to * 3 times, hdc in each st until reach start of Rnd, slip st to top of beginning ch-2. [64 hdc, 4 ch-2 sp]

Rnd 7 (WS): Ch 1, turn, sc in first hdc, *sk 1 st, (hdc, dc) in next st, ch 1, (dc, hdc) in next st, skip next st, sc next st**, (hdc, dc, ch 2, dc, hdc) in marked corner ch-2 sp, move st marker up to ch-2 sp just made, sc in next hdc,* [Repeat * to ** 2 times, Repeat * to * once] 2 times, Repeat * to ** once, skip next st, (hdc, dc) in next st, ch 1, (dc, hdc) in next st, skip next st, slip st to first sc of Rnd. Fasten off. [16 sc, 32 hdc, 32 dc, 4 ch-2 sp]

Rnd 8 (RS): Change to Color C. With RS facing, attach new color to a center ch-1 sp with slip st, *skip 2 sts, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in next sc, skip 2 sts, slip st loosely in next ch-1 sp,* [^skip 2 sts, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in next sc, skip 2 sts, (sc, ch 2, sc) in marked corner ch-2 sp, move st marker to ch-2 sp just made^, Repeat from * to * 3 times] 3 times, Repeat from ^ to ^ once, Repeat from * to * 2 times. [8 sc, 64 dc, 20 ch-2 sp 12 loose slip st]

Rnd 9 (WS): Turn, ch 1, *sc into ch-1 sp on Rnd 7 enclosing slip st from Rnd 8, ch 2, skip 2 sts, (sc, ch 1, sc) in next ch-2 sp, ch 2, skip 2 sts*, Repeat from * to * once, [sc in next sc, (sc, ch 2, sc) in marked corner ch-2 sp, sc in next sc, ch 2, skip 2 sts, (sc, ch 1, sc) in next ch-2 sp, ch 2, skip 2 sts, Repeat from * to * 3 times] 3 times, Repeat from * to * once, slip st to first sc of Rnd. Fasten off. [60 sc, 16 ch-1 sp, 36 ch-2 sp]

Rnd 10 (RS): Change to Color A. With RS facing attach yarn with slip st to first ch-1 sp in from right hand corner, ch 1, sc in same ch-1 sp, [*ch 1, skip next sc and ch-2 sp, V-st in next sc, ch 1,** skip next ch-2 sp and sc, sc in next ch-1 sp*, Repeat from * to * 2 times, Repeat from * to ** once, skip next sc, V-st in marked ch-2 sp, move st marker to ch-1 of V-st just made, ch 1, skip next sc, V-st in next sc, ch 1, skip next ch-2 sp and sc,^ sc in next ch-1 sp] 4 times, In 4th repeat of [ to ] end at ^, slip st to first sc of Rnd. [16 sc, 40 ch-1 sp, 24 V-st]

Rnd 11 (WS): Turn, ch 1, [*sc in next ch-1 sp, sc in next st*, Repeat from * to * 2 times, (sc, ch 2, sc) in marked ch-1 sp, move st marker to ch-2 sp just made, sc in next st, (Repeat from * to * 2 times, sc in next ch-1 sp, skip next sc,) 4 times] 4 times, slip st to first sc of Rnd. Fasten off. [116 sc, 4 ch-2 sp]

Rnd 12 (RS): Change to Color B. With RS facing attach new color with a standing dc in any sc along the middle of a side, [dc each st until reach ch-2 corner, (dc, ch 2, dc) in ch-2 corner sp] 4 times, dc each st until reach beginning of Rnd, slip st to top of first dc. Fasten off. [124 dc, 4 ch-2 sp]

Rnds 13 (WS): Change to Color C. With WS facing attach new color with a standing dc in any sc along the middle of a side, [dc each st until reach ch-2 corner, (dc, ch 2, dc) in ch-2 corner sp] 4 times, dc each st until reach beginning of Rnd, slip st to top of first dc. Fasten off. [132 dc, 4 ch-2 sp]

Rnd 14 (RS): Change to Color D. With RS facing attach new color with a standing dc in any sc along the middle of a side, [dc each st until reach ch-2 corner, (dc, ch 2, dc) in ch-2 corner sp] 4 times, dc each st until reach beginning of Rnd, slip st to top of first dc. Fasten off. [140 dc, 4 ch-2 sp]

Finishing

Weave in tails and block.

If you don’t want to make an entire afghan using this block pattern you can hop on over to check out the 2018 Moogly Afghan CAL and find some more block patterns to try out.

Just for Fun Crochet

The strange thing about being a crochet designer and teacher is how little time I actually get to crochet. Especially crocheting just for the joy of it. Every once and awhile I break free and decide to crochet something just for fun. Recently my fun project was also about creating a lovely handmade gift for a very “crochet-worthy” friend.

Amanda, Me and Meghan

Amanda is the oldest daughter of one of my closest friends that I met soon after moving to Colorado back in the 1980s. She and her sister Meghan are like my nieces. Amanda is soon to be a mother for the third time and this baby is a girl. We had a party for her the second Sunday of August and I wanted to bring her a crocheted gift for the new baby.

My thinking when I was deciding what to make was that I wanted to use cotton. It’s a wonderfully breathable fiber and the yarns I was looking at are easy to care for. A definite advantage for a busy mom. Cotton is also a good fiber if baby is teething and wants to chew on the item.

I decided I would make a “lovey” for this gift. I like those little blankets with a head and arms in the center. They can do double duty as a cover and a toy. I wanted to make a bunny because the ears are perfect for little hands and good to chew on when baby has sore gums. To take the above photo I placed an empty water bottle underneath.

It was time to dig around in my stash and see what I had on hand. Since Amanda is so special to me I was willing to use some of my discontinued and carefully hoarded favorite yarns. In particular Bernat “Cottontots”. Easy care and wonderfully soft I was very sad when Bernat discontinued this line. The balls I have in my stash are all that I have available to use, fortunately I had a good selection of colors that would work well for the blanket part of this project.

I also needed a color for the bunny’s head and arms. I had a ball of Hobby Lobby’s “I Love this Cotton” in a nice tan that would be perfect. It didn’t take an entire ball for this project so I have enough left-over to use again. I find this yarn to be a little stiffer when crocheted up, but for a sturdy fabric it worked great for the “toy” parts of the lovey.

Since this was to be a gift for a baby I wanted the nose and eyes to be crocheted and firmly sewn in place. Fortunately I had some Katia “Mississippi 3” in lots of different colors, including black and a bright pink. Being that this is a fine weight yarn like a fingering or size#10 thread it would allow me a bit more latitude in the shaping for those pieces.

I started out my project by making the bunny’s head. Almost all the loveys I have seen just use a simple ball shape for the head. But I wanted my bunny to have cute little round cheeks. I also wanted ears that would stand up pretty well, so I would need a double thickness in the fabric. For the arms I wanted rounded paws on slender arms.

After some trial and error I had settled on the size and shaping for the ears, cheeks, head and arms. I had also worked out what I needed to do for the eyes and nose. Now it was time to crochet up all the various parts, that is the easy part, the challenge is sewing it all together.

Once I had the head finished I knew I didn’t want the typical attachment to the blanket. I had picked a circular center out stitch for the blanket so that it would give the look of a dress on the bunny. I crocheted the first 2 rounds in the same yarn as the head and arms, then switched to the soft purple Cottontots for the major part of the blanket.

I wanted the blanket part to be large enough to cover baby’s torso and legs in her car seat. So after I used all the purple yarn I used some yellow and green to complete the blanket edging. I wanted the yellow for the feel of little butterflies since Amanda is decorating the baby’s room with butterflies.

I finished the entire project with a day to spare. I even had time to crochet a pretty flower for the gift wrap, which is a good thing since I forgot to add a card. Amanda knew who it was from when she saw the crochet on the outside of the gift.

I have been asked by a number of folks about a pattern for this little lovey. I am working on how to do that since I used so many discontinued or hard to find yarns. I also did not measure the gauge of my work. Hopefully I will have a completed pattern available by March 2019 as part of my National Crochet Month celebration.