Alpaca Hug

Alpaca Free Form Neck Cozy

Just finished the Neck Cozy for Angie’s Fundraiser.  I am pleased with how it came out.   The alpaca makes for a cozy neck warmer with softness like a hug.

Hoping now that it will catch the eyes of a few folks at the Silent Auction next Sunday, April 18th in Denver.  Event details on Ravelry.

Additional photos:

Alpaca Free Form Neck Cozy
Button detail of Cozy
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Crochet for Crochet’s Sake

March is National Crochet Month and I’ve been giving some thought to why I love crochet so much?  

FreeForm Doodle Lace

Is it the enjoyment of the action of crocheting itself?  Or is the attraction having a lovely item to wear or use?  Do I crochet for it’s own sake or to create an object? Basically it comes down to a question of Process or Product.  

For me there is added to the concept of process the allure of designing.  Much of my design work is process.  Swatching and experimenting with various yarns, hook sizes and stitch patterns just to see what I get.  I may have absolutely nothing in mind when I start this process, my only goal is exploration.  Often times these experiments add to my knowledge, but that may be the only gain. 

Does that make the process a waste of time?  Personally I don’t view knowledge or entertainment as a waste,  so for me the process stage of design work is very rewarding.  As I like to tell my students in the various art and craft classes I’ve taught, “There is no such thing as Failure, there is only Discovery.”  

The process of crocheting is one that I have always enjoyed as well. 

My return to Crochet as my main hobby came about 12 years ago when I hurt my ankle and was forced to spend a great deal of time off my feet.  I found crocheting and it’s rhythm to be very soothing.  

I was also re-intrigued with the idea of “weaving” with a hook, using a single tool to create fabrics in a variety of dimensions and shaping.  All these years later that fascination is still fresh for me.  To suspend expectation and just revel in what comes off my hook. 

Taking your Yarn for a Walk Fragments
FreeForm fragments from Jenny's Class

Maybe this is one of the reason’s I love to play with FreeForm crochet.  Gathering up a variety of harmonious colored yarns of various textures and weights and then creating “fragments or scrumbles” is very relaxing to me. 

Often I am asked what I am making, or what will those become.  Most of the time I have no idea.  Seems I may be deeply entrenched in the process side of crochet.   Eventually I do make a product with my hours of stitching, but the joy in the process is why I continue to crochet.

If you are curious about FreeForm crochet and have never tried it there is a great CAL/Game going on in the NatCroMo Party group on Ravelry.  It’s not too late to give it a try, and it’s a wonderful introduction to freeforming.  

Or check out some of the beautiful and inspiring books out there.  I recommend, Jenny Dowde, Myra Wood, Prudence Mapstone and Renate Kirkpatrick as great authors to start with.

Yarn!!!

I already have a stash that is, shall we say, a bit out of hand.  This problem is not helped when I go down once a month for PJ Jam at the LambShoppe in Denver.   

Playing for hours in the shop with my stitching pals surrounded by glorious yarn enticingly displayed.  Let’s just say….Resistance is Futile.   

My treasure pile of Yarn

Somehow these 6 had to come home with me.   

Berroco won the most attention.  2 hanks of the luxurious Ultra Aplaca, a wonderfully affordable Aplaca/wool blend.  Also the gorgeous glowing blue hank is Berroco’s Lustra, a wool/tencel blend that has a beautiful sheen.   

Still in an Alpaca mood I found a beautiful hank of Misti Alpaca Chunky in a light lavender color.  This is 100% baby alpaca and so soft that I just want to use it for a pillow.  

Next I was attracted to the display of sparkly mohair blends (remember we discussed this novelty yarn addiction of mine in a recent post).  So Trendsetter’s Dune was added to the pile.  

Now a bit of green was needed to balance the purple alpacas and the sparklies.  So I added the ball of Frog Tree sport weight 100% Alpaca.   

4 Hanks with a Destiny

Amazingly enough there are valid reasons they all needed to be added to my stash (well, maybe not the Lustra).  Currently the destiny of the 4 hanks above is a secret, but I hope to give you some clues soon.

Happy Little Hearts

I’ve been having fun playing with crocheting hearts.  

There is a bake sale fundraiser for my oldest son’s after-school care program every February.  I’m really not all that talented in the kitchen, especially when it comes to baking at altitude.  I decided this time to use up some of my worsted cotton and make heart shaped facial scrubbies for the sale. 

Handful of Hearts

I played around with various patterns I found online and made 10 hearts.  I wasn’t 100% happy with how they were coming out and kept tweaking the patterns.  Then today decided to try a completely different approach and since it is a quick fun little pattern thought I would share it with all of you. 

Here is the little Heart I came up with. 

Little Heart

Sample in photo is worked in Crème de la Crème (Coats and Clark) 100% cotton with a size H-8 (5.0 mm) hook and came out 3 x 3 inches.  You can use any yarn or thread you want to get various size hearts.  Use the appropriate size hook for the gauge of your yarn.  

Little Heart Instructions

Stitch Chart (c) Andee Graves/M2H Designs

Row 1: Chain 7, work a single crochet in the back bump of 2nd chain from the hook. Single crochet in back bumps of each chain to end. (6 sc)

Row 2: Chain 1, turn, work a single crochet in each stitch across (6 sc) 

Row 3-6: Repeat Row 2 four times. 

Row 7:  Turn square to work on one side of square, work 5 Double crochet(Shell) in the end of the 3rd row.   Loosely slip stitch in end of 6th row.  Turn square to work on next side, loose slip stitch in first  stitch,  work Shell in 4th stitch of side, slip stitch in next corner, ch 1. 

Round 8:  Work 6 sc evenly spaced on next side, ch 3, work 6 sc evenly down side. Work 2 sc in first dc, 2 hdc in next dc, 3 dc in next dc, hdc in next dc,  slip st loosely in 5th dc of shell, tight slip st in corner of original square, loose slip st in next dc, hdc in next dc, 3 dc in next dc, 2 hdc in next st, 2 sc in last dc of 2nd shell. 

Finishing:  Can end Round 8 with slip st into first sc of round…or use a needle join for an invisible joining of the round.

How do you get Ideas?

This is the first question many of my crochet and knitting pals ask when they find out that I’m a designer.  Funny thing is…ideas are rarely the problem for me.  Just looking at yarn and hooks in my stash or flipping thru stitch dictionaries can start up my creative engine.

Some of my Inspiration

But–keeping the focus to make those ideas grow into designs is a whole nuther story for me.

In fact, I’m currently working on finishing the sample and pattern for a design I have already sold, while constantly fighting the distraction of new ideas.  For me,  handling the material is often the medium for growing new ideas (sort of my own version of a petri dish).

Back when I was doing lots of art work with polymer clay, I’d approach the studio with dread, thinking I had no ideas to work up.  Then I would start conditioning some clay.  Just running it thru the pasta machine and mooshing it around with my fingers would often start an avalanche of creativity that lasted for hours.

The same goes for yarn inspiration.  Simply working with the yarn is almost guaranteed to get my strange geeky brain throwing off all kinds of sparks. 

Fortunately I do have some self-control these days, although I do have to grab one of my sketch pads and jot down some quick notes before promising myself I can revisit them as soon as I finish what I am supposed to be doing!

Now if I could just come up with such will-power regarding chocolate….

Chainless Fears

Crocheted All Shawl worked in Rayon multi-colored yarn
My First All Shawl

My favorite foundation to use in my designs is the Foundation Single Crochet (FSC).  And it’s all Doris Chan’s fault–since I first discovered this technique in her books “Amazing Crochet Lace” and “Everyday Crochet.”

I had a deuce of a time getting the hang of the FSC,  as I had never worked a foundation the way Doris described. But I persisted because I REALLY wanted to make some of Doris’s gorgeous garments.

Doris’s All-Shawl pattern was to be my “ah ha!” moment.  I figured I could manage  the eight foundation single crochet stitches necessary to make my own All-Shawl.  Although I have to admit I first tried working SC into the back bump of the chains as a substitute– it didn’t work.

The real beauty of starting your projects with the foundation single crochet is that it produces a wonderfully elastic edge.  In contrast, a chained foundation gives you a rigid and constricted edge. While that might work for some projects, an elastic foundation is critical for garments like a skirt or gloves, which need to be able to stretch over various body parts.

I’ll be the first to admit that the FSC  is not the easiest technique to learn.  But  once you figure it out it is FanTasTic!

If you learn techniques better by viewing a video this is a good one to check out.  Or this one is helpful as well. 

If written instructions are best for you, Doris’s books have wonderful illustrations and instructions in them, or the glossary pages in the back of the “Interweave Crochet” magazine has both the FSC and FDC instructions and illustrations.

If you are on Ravelry.com visit the Everyday Crochet Group where this thread has awesome advice from Doris Chan herself as well as helpful suggestions from other folks on how they have gotten the hang of the FSC.

The Twists and Turns of a Moebius

I am a geek.  I freely admit this.  So it is fitting that the first design I ever sold would reflect my geekery.

Lace With A Twist Wrap – DRG Publishing Photo

I had thought a lot about making  a Crocheted Moebius as a sort of Poncho/wrap.  I had seen many patterns, but most were having you make a rectangle then add the twist and seam the ends together.

One of the lovely things about crocheting a moebius is that you can make a “true” moebius.  Taking a flat foundation, you twist it 180 degrees before joining in a ring.  That twist is the trick.

In case you aren’t certain what a moebius is, here is a photo of one made from a strip of paper.

Paper Moebius Strip

In Geometrical language a Moebius is an object with only one side and one edge.  Though, as you can see from the photo,  it appears to have 2 sides and 2 edges.

If you make a moebius yourself with a strip of paper you can test this.  Cut a strip about 1 inch wide and 10 or 12 inches long.  Twist the strip once and staple the ends together.  You can use a pencil to draw a continuous line that will meet up with the beginning point.

That line is drawn on the one side of the moebius.  When I made my moebius for these photos I used pinking shears on one edge so you can see how the edge becomes continuous.

That continuous edge works to your advantage when crocheting a moebius .  Each crocheted round creates what appears as a row on either side of your foundation round.  So it gives the look of 2 sides.  It’s a bit mind-boggling at times (one of the reasons I like geometry) and looking at the finished garment you would be certain there are 2 separately worked sides.

One trick with working rounds this way is to turn each round, otherwise you end up with one side of the foundation that is the “Right side” and the other the “Wrong side”.   By turning at the end of each round and working back the way you came you avoid that problem and the finished garment will appear more balanced.

Being the geek that I am, crocheting a moebius is a great deal of fun.  I find it lovely to work 1 round and end up with double the fabric length.  I know that technically I am not really doing less stitches for the accomplishment…but it is still a fun illusion.  For “Lace With A Twist Wrap” after 13 rounds from foundation to finishing it’s a wrap.

Addendum January 3, 2013: I’ve had requests for this pattern from a number of folks. I don’t own the pattern, it belongs to Crochet! Magazine/Annie’s Publishing. You may be able to acquire a back issue of the March 2010 magazine or if you get a digital subscription. Or contact Crochet! Magazine thru their website www.crochetmagazine.com. Hope that helps those of you on the search for this pattern.