Crochet Really Round Circles

Have you ever noticed how working a flat circle in larger sizes with regular increases you end up with a polygon shape. The stitches between the increase points make a flat edge. These can be fun shapes, but what if you want the pleasing curve of a really rounded edge for your circle?

Today I’m posting a pattern for a 10 round flat circle that comes out really round, as well as the tips and tricks to make even larger flat rounds that will be really round.

The simple formula to remember for working flat circles is:

Number of stitches in Round 1 = Number of increases in each following round.

You can learn more about the number of stitches recommended for the first round for different stitch heights in my post: Another Pi Day Celebration. For my example today I’m using the half double crochet stitch which needs 8 stitches in the first round.

There are 2 methods of crocheting in the round: Continuous Spiral or Concentric Rounds. For today’s pattern I am using the continuous spiral method. It eliminates the noticeable joins and chains to get to taller stitch heights each round. It does mean you need to keep track of the final stitch in each round. I use a stitch marker that is a different color than my increase stitch markers. If you prefer to work concentric rounds you can apply these same tips for getting a really round circle.

When working circles you want your increases to be evenly spaced each round. My favorite way to keep track of my increases is to use stitch markers. In the case of our half double crochet circle, I place a stitch marker in each stitch at the end of Round 1. I also add my end of round stitch marker in the last stitch.

For all the following rounds I work 2 stitches in the marked stitch then move the stitch marker to the second stitch made. When I work the next round of the circle I crochet 2 stitches in the newly marked stitch and move it up the same way. The photo above shows the end of Round 2 with 8 increase markers (orange) and the last stitch marked with a larger yellow stitch marker.

If I continue increasing in this same style after about 5 rounds it becomes noticeable how the increases line up like the spokes of a wheel. The stitches on the last round will begin to flatten out along the edge giving an octagonal shape instead of a circle. The more rounds worked the more this becomes exaggerated. The photo above shows a completed 10 round circle worked this way.

The trick to creating a really round circle is to break up those “spokes” of increases. The easiest way to do that is to move your increase points before starting the next round. The stitch markers are still really handy, especially as you work larger rounds.

When working circles, whether really round style or the traditional spoke style of increases, the number of stitches in each increase section of your circle will be the same as the Round number you are working. Example (photo above) in Round 4 you will have 3 unmarked stitches and 1 marked stitch for 4 stitches in each section. This holds true no matter what height and number of stitches you begin with in Round 1.

End of Rnd 4 before starting Rnd 5: green arrows indicate where to move Increase St Markers

To break up the spokes of increases you will need to move your increases to the approximate center of each of these sections. Example: after completing Round 4 there are 3 unmarked stitches between each marked stitch. You will shift your stitch markers over to the middle of the unmarked stitches.

Let’s get you started crocheting your first Really Round Circle. For this pattern I have included suggested hook size and the gauge I got, but you can play with hook size and even yarn size to get a fabric that appeals to you. I worked my circles with a worsted weight acrylic yarn, if you used 100% cotton these rounds make great hot pads for your table top.

Really Round Circle

By Andee Graves

Finished Size: 10 Rounds 7.25 inches/18.5 cm diameter (across center),

Gauge: 5 Rounds = 4 inches/10 cm.

Yarn: Worsted Weight Acrylic Yarn, approximately 42 yards/38.4 meters, .67 oz/19 grams for one circle.

Hook: US Size I/9 (5.5.mm) or size needed to obtain gauge

Notions: 8 stitch markers in one color (Increase stitch markers), 1 stitch marker in different color (End-of-Round stitch marker), yarn needle for weaving in ends.

Pattern Notes: Stitch counts for each round are shown in italicized square brackets at end. Once you are sure of you count at end of Round 2 or 3, you may find it helpful to weave in the beginning tail to get it out of your way. Always move End-of-Round stitch marker to last stitch of each round as completed.

Instructions

Rnd 1: Start with an adjustable slip knot (YouTube Video here), Ch 2, (sc, 7 hdc) in 2nd chain from hook. Pull gently on beginning tail to tighten center. With increase stitch markers place 1 in each stitch, place End-of-Round stitch marker in last stitch. [1 sc, 7 hdc]

Rnd 2: 2 hdc in each marked st, moving increase stitch markers to second st made in each stitch. [16 hdc]

End of Rnd 2, ready for Rnd 3.

Rnd 3: (Hdc in unmarked st, 2 hdc in marked st, move stitch marker to first st made) 8 times. [24 hdc]

End of Rnd 3, ready for Rnd 4.

Rnd 4: [Hdc in next st, 2 hdc in marked st, move stitch marker to second st made in marked st, hdc in next st] 8 times. [32 hdc]

Rnd 5: Move each Increase st marker back 2 sts from original marked st. [2 hdc in marked st, move st marker to second st made in marked st, hdc in next 3 sts] 8 times. [40 hdc]

Increase St Markers after being moved to start Rnd 6.

Rnd 6: Move each Increase st marker forward 2 sts from original marked st. [hdc in next 3 sts, 2 hdc in marked st, move st marker to second st made in marked st, hdc in next st] 8 times. [48 hdc]

Increase St Markers after being moved to start Rnd 7.

Rnd 7: Move each Increase st marker back 3 sts from original marked st. [hdc in next st, 2 hdc in marked st, move st marker to second st made in marked st, hdc in next 4 sts] 8 times. [56 hdc]

Increase St Markers after being moved to start Rnd 8.

Rnd 8: Move each Increase st marker forward 3 sts from original marked st. [hdc in next 5 sts, 2 hdc in marked st, move st marker to second st made in marked st, hdc in next st] 8 times. [64 hdc]

Increase St Markers after being moved to start Rnd 9.

Rnd 9: Move each Increase st marker back 4 sts from original marked st. [hdc in next 2 sts, 2 hdc in marked st, move st marker to second st made in marked st, hdc in next 5 sts] 8 times. [72 hdc]

Increase St Markers after being moved to start Rnd 10.

Rnd 10: Move each Increase st marker forward 4 sts from original marked st. [hdc in next 7 sts, 2 hdc in marked st, move st marker to second st made in marked st, hdc in next st] 8 times. [80 hdc]

Step Down to finish Circle: Hdc in next st, 2 hdc next st, hdc next 2 sts, sc next st, slip st next 2 sts. Fasten off and weave in ending tail.

Note: If you are wanting to crochet larger circles you may need to experiment with the length of the step-down in for your final round.

The Secrets to Crocheting the X-stitch

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links.

There was a little delay getting this post finished because we were preparing for adding a new family member. The little sweetie in the photo above. We have been wanting to get a kitten for about 7 months and this week everything came together for Ms. Areya (R-ree-Yah) to join us. I confess, part of the delay is because I am having way too much fun getting kitten cuddles. This is our first baby kitten in 14 years, so we are all enjoying her tiny time, she is just 8 weeks old. You will probably see her photo-bombing the blog a bit over the next couple of months.

Now back to learning about crocheting the X-stitch…

The X-stitch is one of my second favorite stitches to use in my crochet designs. The fabric you can create with it is stretchy and has a pleasing texture. I often think that crocheting it is a little like dancing the two-step; 2 steps foward, 1 step back.

One thing I have noticed about this stitch (and a lot of crochet stitches) is that the written directions for working the stitch can sound very intimidating, when actually working the stitch is fairly easy.

Because there are not standardized terms for the name of all crochet stitches you can encounter a lot of different X-stitches. There are versions of the X-stitch out there that use taller stitches and more skipped stitches, so remember to check the stitch definitions in the pattern you are working to be sure that you know which version is being used.

My favorite version of this stitch is very simple. It is 2 double crochet stitches, worked into 2 stitches, with the second stitch worked over and around the first one. After reading that you are likely thinking I’m nuts to say it is simple.

In my Cliffhouse Cowl pattern I defined the X-stitch as: Skip 1 un-worked st forward, dc in next st, working around 1st dc, dc in skipped st.

Let’s break it down with an illustration.

Step 1: Skip 1 un-worked st forward (indicated by pink arrow),

Step 2: dc in next st (indicated by green arrow),

Step 3: working around first dc, dc in skipped st (indicated by pink arrow).

In this step you are crocheting around the post of the first stitch at the same time as you are working your double crochet in the top of the previously skipped stitch. The first stitch is surrounded by the second stitch.

Stacked or Staggered X-stitches

Stacked X-sts
Staggered X-sts

When you are working rows or rounds of the X-st you can stack them or stagger them. You’ll get 2 very different looks to your fabric depending on which you choose.

Cliffhouse Cowl –
Andee Graves M2H Designs

For my Cliffhouse Cowl the X-sts are stacked and worked in the round.

Spiraling Crosses Hat –
Andee Graves M2H Designs
Spiraling Crosses Gauntlets –
Andee Graves M2H Designs

In my Spiraling Crosses Hat and Spiraling Crosses Gauntlets the X-sts are staggered and worked in the round.

The stitch chart above shows both stacked and staggered X-sts worked in the round. The purple stitches are the 2nd dc of each X-st. When working staggered X-sts your join for each round will move to the right if you are right-handed, and to the left if you are left-handed (assuming you hold the hook in your left hand).

At the start of each X-st round the beginning chain 3 acts as your first dc of your first X-st. The lovely part of this is that your join in the finished project will not be as obvious as it can look with other stitch patterns.

Second X-st of Round

It can be a little tricky to see where your next X-st should be worked after working that starting X-st in your first round. The stitch that you joined to for your foundation looks like it should be your first skipped stitch (indicated with yellow arrow this is the stitch that the slip stitch join was worked into for the previous round or foundation), but it is the next stitch over (indicated with pink arrow) and the first dc will be worked in the next stitch (indicated with the green arrow).

When you get to the end of your round you will finish your last X-st and then slip stitch tightly in the third chain of your beginning chain 3. I find it really helps to place a locking stitch marker in that third chain at the beginning of the round, then when I get to the end of the round it’s very easy to see where to join to.

My favorite locking stitch markers are made by the Clover Company. They are flexible and durable and come in a couple of sizes, colors and styles. I have lots of the orange and green ones that I’ve added to my project bag over the years. If you can’t find them locally you can purchase them on Amazon, just click on the photo above and it will take you right to them.

The new stitch markers from Clover that I have been falling in love with are the “Quick Locking Stitch Markers”. They come in sets of 2 colors for each size, or you can get the variety pack that has a nifty carrying case with 3 different sizes. I really love these markers because they are super flexible and they are little sheep shapes. If you can’t find them locally just click on the photo above and it will take you right to them on Amazon.

Needle Felting for Repairs

One of my least favorite things in crochet or knitting is dealing with the loose ends once a project is finished. Needle felting can be a big help in securing those ends though, especially if your project is worked using a wool blend yarn.

Recently one of my friends had an issue with some mittens she had knit. When weaving in ends she had some extra strands on the outside of her fabric. We looked at the mittens trying to figure out how she could weave in the ends. They were going to be super short and there was a good chance they would pop loose.

Needle-felting to the rescue! I grabbed my size 40 felting needle, my “egg” felting surface, and a small steel crochet hook (not shown).

I cut the strand in the center, and had 2 short ends.

I then pulled the 2 loose ends to the wrong side of the fabric by inserting a small crochet hook in from the side.

I turned the mitten inside out and gently pulled on the ends to be sure I didn’t have any excess yarn on outside of mitten. I inserted my felting surface behind the fabric and snugged the fabric where I would be needling tight to the surface.

I then gently needled the ends close to where they came thru the fabric. I checked the outside (right-side) of the fabric regularly to make sure my work wasn’t visible. I wanted to secure the ends but not decrease the stretch of the fabric. Once I was sure the ends were well secured I trimmed off any excess yarn.

You can use this same method with any knit or crochet project. Especially if the project is worked in a wool or other animal fiber yarn. Needle felting can secure other types of fiber, but you may want to test it out before relying on it for your final project.

Needle felting can even be a great way to secure the cut end of longer tails that have been woven in. Especially helpful on items that get a lot of use like hats, mittens, scarves and blankets.

For longer tails, weave in like you usually do, but before cutting the yarn use your felting needle to secure the end. Then cut close to the needle felted spot to remove excess yarn.

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links.

One of my favorite tools is Clover’s Single Needle Felting Tool. It is much easier on my hand than just holding the plain needle. The ergonomic shaping also allows for more control of the needle while working.
If you can’t find this tool locally it is available online at Amazon.com. Click on the photo below to go straight to it.

Time for an Easter Basket

Easter is coming up in just a few weeks and I have a fun little pattern for you to crochet a basket for Easter goodies. This basket is small enough to be perfect for toddlers or as a special gift container.

The trickiest stitch in this project is the Back Post Single Crochet (BPsc). The single crochet isn’t a stitch you usually think of as having enough of a post to work this stitch. You are working it using the top loops of your stitch so that the newly made stitch is sitting on the back side of the stitch. Following is a photo tutorial to help you make this stitch.

Step 1 – BPsc
Step 2 – BPsc
Step 3 – BPsc
Step 4 – BPsc
  1. Insert the hook from back to front of stitch working into.
  2. Insert the hook from front to back of next stitch.
  3. Yarn over and pull up a loop thru both stitches (2 loops on hook).
  4. Yarn over and complete single crochet, Back Post single crochet made.

All rounds in this project are worked concentrically. Each round ends with a tight slip stitch to join. The next round will start with a chain stitch to get to stitch height. For best results you want to be sure that your slip stitch is very tight and that your beginning chain stitch is a little smaller than typical.

Tight Slip Stitch – Step 1
Tight Slip Stitch – Step 2

  1. Make slip stitch as usual.
  2. Without letting working yarn feed out, pull on hook to take out slack from slip stitch.

Happy Spring Basket

designed by Andee Graves / M2H Designs

Skill level:    Intermediate

Finished Size: 4.5” diameter at base, 3” tall in basket, and 6.25” with handle.

Materials:

Yarn 

Red Heart “With Love” (100% Acrylic), 7 oz/198 g; 370 yds/ 338 m, Color #1502 Iced Aqua

Red Heart “With Love – Stripes” (100% Acrylic), 5 oz/141 g; 223 yds/ 204 m, Color #1973 Candy Stripe

Hooks

I-9 / 5.5 mm

Notions

Yarn/tapestry needle

Stitch markers

Gauge:

Barely over 3″ at end of Rnd 4

Special Stitches or Abbreviations:

BPsc — Back Post Single Crochet

PM – Place stitch marker

Pattern Notes:

Basket is worked double-stranded with a smaller than usual hook to create a stiff fabric. It begins with a flat circle worked in joined rounds for the base, then the first round of side is worked as back post stitches to create a sharp edge to bottom of basket.

Handle is worked without cutting the yarn. A couple rows of single crochet are switched to working in joined rounds for length of handle, then a couple more rows of single crochet. Work is fastened off and then sewn to the opposite side on top edge of basket.

Instructions:

Base

Rnd 1: Working with 2 strands at same time, make an adjustable slip knot, ch 2, 7 sc in second ch from hook, slip st to first sc of round. [7 sc]

Rnd 2: Ch 1, 2 sc in each st around, slip st to first sc of round. [14 sc]

Rnd 3: Ch 1, (sc in next st, 2 sc in next st) 7 times, slip st to first sc of round. [21 sc]

Rnd 4: Ch 1, (sc in next 2 sts, 2 sc in next st) 7 times, slip st to first sc of round.  [28 sc]

Rnd 5: Ch 1, (sc in next 3 sts, 2 sc in next st) 7 times, slip st to first sc of round. [35 sc]

Rnd 6: Ch 1, (sc in next 4 sts, 2 sc in next st) 7 times, slip st to first sc of round. [42 sc]

Side

Rnd 1: Ch 1, BPsc in each st around, slip st to first st of round. [42 BPsc]

Rnd 2 – 8: Ch 1, sc in each st around, slip st to first st of round. [42 sc]

Handle

Row 1: Ch 1, sc in next 5 sts.

Row 2: Ch 1, turn, sc in next 5 sts.

Row 3: Ch 1, turn sc in next 5 sts, slip st to first st of row.

Rnd 4 – 25: Ch 1, sc in each st around, slip st to first sc of round.

Row 26: Ch 1, sc in each st.

Row 27: Ch 1, turn, sc in next 5 sts.

Row 28: Repeat Row 27. Fasten off with 10 inch tail

Finishing

Count over 19 sts from both sides of the start of handle along top edge of basket. Sew loose end of handle to top edge of basket with a whip stitch to the remaining stitches opposite the handle start. Weave in all loose tails.

I hope you have a wonderful time making some baskets. Pop on over to my guest post at Mooglyblog.com for the pattern for crocheting the grass shown in the basket.

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links.

If you were wondering about the stitch marker I was using in the post for the grass pattern it was from this set of Clover stitch markers. I really like these markers because they are light weight, come in a variety of sizes and best of all…they are shaped to look like little sheep. Click on the image above and it will take you to where you can purchase them on Amazon.

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 Anatomy of Your Stitches

No matter what your crochet skill level it is helpful to understand the anatomy of your stitches. This is especially handy when you are weaving in tails or repairing crochet fabric. It is also very useful when teaching crochet so you can show your students what to look for while working on their projects.

The anatomy of a Chain Stitch

The first stitch most of us learn in crochet is the chain stitch, it is used in many ways in crochet patterns.

Vs on front of Chain Sts

The tops of the stitches are the V that you see in the above photo. They are what the working loop on your hook becomes as you make each stitch.

Back Bumps of Chain Sts

The chain stitch doesn’t have a “post” or “legs”. There is simply the back “bar” or “bump”. You will see either term used in patterns. It will depend on the publication what terminology they chose. This back bump is formed by the working yarn each time you pull thru a new loop with your hook to make a chain stitch.

The anatomy of a Single Crochet Stitch

The single crochet stitch is usually the first regular crochet stitch we learn to make after the chain stitch. The instructions for this stitch are: insert hook in stitch, yarn over, pull up a loop, yarn over, pull thru both loops on hook. But where do all those various loops end up?

Like with the chain stitch, the working loop on your hook is key. When you finish a stitch you have a working loop of yarn on your hook (yellow arrow pointing to it in above photo).  That loop becomes the top of the next stitch you make, no matter what stitch you are crocheting it will still become the top of the stitch.

When looking at your single crochet stitches as you make them (this is the Right Side row) you can see 2 “legs” (vertical yellow lines in above photo), these are the bottom of the loop you pulled up thru the stitch. Looking at the single crochet stitches from the back side (this is the Wrong Side row) you can see the top of that same loop (horizontal yellow lines in above photo) just below the top of the stitch.

If you turn your work over and look at the stitches from the back you can see the path of the working yarn coming into the stitch and out of the stitch (marked with bright pink and arrows in above photo) forming the “post” of the stitch and the new working loop (top of next stitch) on your hook. The aqua and pink line shows the top of the stitch that had been the working loop previously.

The above image shows all the parts of the stitches in 2 rows. The top row is the right-side row being worked and the next row below is the wrong-side row stitches being worked into. Agua lines highlight the tops of stitches, yellow lines show the second loop made for the single crochet stitch, pink lines and arrows show the path of the working yarn and “back legs” of your stitches. If you look closely you can see that the pink back legs are wrapped around the top of the stitches in the third row below.

How do I work into my foundation chain?

Answering and understanding this is one of the most important skills to have in your crochet tool box. The typical start for a crochet project is to chain a length and then work back into the chain. Of course this often leads to the questions  about how to work into the chain. Which loop do you work under and how many of them?

 

Traditional method

One of the first ways I learned to work into a chain was by going into the center of the V on the top of the chain and catching the back bar and top leg of the V in the stitch being made. This is the more traditional way of working into a foundation chain.

 

Trad method free loops

This leaves a single strand at the base of the stitches in your first row. This can work well if you are working pieces of a garment that are going to be seamed together along the base of the foundation rows.

Trad method showing twist

The first row worked into the chain using the traditional method tends to have quite a bit of twist to it before you work additional rows.

Shells worked into chain

It also is more stable when you are starting a stitch pattern that requires multiple stitches worked into some of the chain stitches of your foundation. For example…shell stitches.

Another option is to work under both legs of the V on each chain stitch. I find this to be the most difficult way to work into the chain. It does give you a very stable foundation and the single strand at the base is free for seaming pieces together along the foundation. Working into a chain using this method is easier with a very loosely crocheted foundation chain.

 

The finished row will again have single strands at its base, but they will be a bit more centered. This row will have a lot of twist to it like the traditional method of working into a chain.

 

Sts wrkd in back bump base view
Arrow points to foundation chain’s loose Vs when stitches are worked into back bar.

If a pattern doesn’t specify which loop of the chain to use, I tend to use the back bar (or back bump). I like the way the finished foundation looks as it echoes the top of the stitches on the last row of the project. When putting an edging all the way around the finished project I find the base of this foundation easier and neater looking to work into.

Unless a pattern specifies a particular way of working into the chain you can do whatever works best for you. You only need to be consistent for the stitches of your foundation.

 

Chain w larger hook

If you find that your chain foundation stitches seem to always be tighter than the rest of your crochet fabric it can help to use a hook one size larger for the foundation chain, then switch down to the next hook size when you are ready to begin your first row of stitches into the chains. 

Finding the top of the stitch

Now you have an idea of where to spot the tops of your stitches in a chain, but how do you tell where the top of a regular stitch is?

The simple answer, just like for our chain stitch, the top of the stitch looks like a V.  If you stop and hold your work so the Vs appear stacked they are easier to identify. As long as you don’t remove your hook from your working loop you can manipulate your fabric without losing any stitches.

Am I working in the right direction?

Once you can identify the top of your stitch it becomes a lot easier to tell if you are working in the right direction.

Vs pointing away

If your pattern tells you to turn at the end or beginning of a row, then the Vs of the stitch tops of the row you are working into, should be pointing away from your hook.

Working in the Round

If you are working in the round without turning at the end of each round, then the Vs of the stitch tops of the round you are working into, should be pointing at your hook.

Where do I insert my hook in the stitch?

Insert hook under 2 legs

For your standard crochet pattern you are going to insert your hook under the 2 legs of the V in the top of your stitch.

Gap to Insert Hook thru

To avoid splitting your yarn look for the little gap on the side of your stitch just under that V.

Some patterns will give you special instructions about where to insert your hook to create different textures in your fabric.

Back loop

If your pattern instructs you to work in the back loop of your stitch.  This is generally referring to the back leg of the Vs after you’ve turned your work to begin your new row.

Front loop

The same is true for working in the front loop of your stitch. You would be inserting your hook under the front leg of the Vs after you’ve turned your work to begin your new row.

 

What if you need to work more than one stitch in the same stitch?

This can be tricky when you are new to crochet. Especially once you work the first stitch the V top of the stitch is obscured. My favorite trick involves manipulating the fabric.

Pulling up to find stitch

If you gently pull up on the stitch just made it becomes easy to see where the base of that stitch goes into the previous row. This hole is where you will insert your hook for your next stitches if the pattern tells you to work multiple stitches into a particular stitch.

Now you have a better understanding of your stitch anatomy time to experiment with some crochet swatches.

Chain 15, then work single crochets back along the chain (using whichever method you like) starting with the second chain from the hook.

Chain 1 and turn to work back along the first row of stitches working a single crochet in each stitch to the end of the row.

Right-side view of blue row

Wrong-side view of blue row.

If you change colors for each row of single crochet stitches you can see more clearly how the stitches fit together.

Sparkling Ice Snowflake

Row of Sparkling Ice Snowflakes - Andee Graves M2H Designs 

It is Winter up here on my mountain again, though technically it is still Autumn on the calendar. We have had numerous snow storms and a number of days that the temperatures barely crawled above freezing. I’m looking forward to the days of winter when the air sparkles with snowflakes in the sunshine.

I’m happy for the colder weather though, as it has helped me feel more in the mood for Christmas time.

I’m listening to my Christmas music and will be digging out my Christmas movies for watching after we’ve eaten our Thanksgiving dinner. Having gotten into a Christmas mood I’ve decided to get a head start on my Christmas gifts, and especially my gift to all my lovely readers.

Yes, my friends, it is time for a snowflake design again. This year I’m giving us all a bit more time to work on the new snowflakes. That way you can send some out with your Christmas cards if you want.

Not only do I have a pattern for you, but I am also including a photo tutorial on stiffening your snowflakes. Pattern first, since you’ll need some snowflakes to work with.

Sparkling Ice Snowflake

Designed by Andee Graves

Skill level: Easy

Materials:

Size 3 Cotton Crochet Thread with hook size: B (2.25mm)

Size 10 Cotton Crochet Thread with hook size: Steel 0 (1.75mm)

Notions

Tapestry needle for weaving in ends

Gauge

Gauge is not critical to this project.

Instructions

Rnd 1: Starting with Adjustable Slip Knot {if you need help with this technique check out my YouTube Video}, ch 2, 12 sc in second ch from hook, slip st to first sc of Rnd. {12 sc}

Rnd 2: Ch 1, (2 sc in next st, ch 1, skip 1 st) 6 times, slip st to first sc of Rnd. {12 sc, 6 ch-1 sp}

Rnd 3: Ch 1, sc in next 2 sts (ch 6, skip next ch-1 sp, sc in next 2 sts) 5 times, ch 6, skip next ch-1 sp, slip st to first sc of Rnd. {12 sc, 6 ch-6 loops}

Rnd 4: Ch 1, [(sc, hdc, 3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc, hdc, sc) in next ch-6 loop] 6 times, slip st to first sc of Rnd. {12 sc, 12 hdc, 36 dc, 6 ch-3 sp}

Rnd 5: Slip st in next hdc, *sc in next st, ch 3, skip next st, dc in next st, ch 2, (2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc) in ch-3 sp, ch 2, dc in next st, ch 3, skip 1 st, sc in next st,** skip 4 sts*; Repeat from * to * 4 times, Repeat from * to ** once, slip st to first sc of Rnd. Fasten off {12 sc, 30 dc, 6 ch-1 sp, 12 ch-2 sp, 12 ch-3 sp}

Finishing

Weave in all ends. Block snowflake and use favorite stiffening method.

 

If this snowflake doesn’t please you, I have 3 other snowflake patterns available here on the blog:

Frozen Star – Pattern available here.

 

Lacy Snowflake – Pattern available here for free text instructions only.

Or your can purchase the pattern in my Ravelry shop, this version includes a stitch chart as well as text instructions.

 

Little Snowflake Ornament – Pattern available here.

 

Stiffening Your Snowflakes

When stiffening your snowflakes you want to consider the climate you live in. Especially the humidity of your region will effect what stiffening agent you should choose, as well as how you want to set up your drying area.

The basic supplies you will need to stiffen your crocheted snowflakes are:

Pins – Nickel-plated or rust proof pins are best, otherwise you can end up with rust marks on your finished snowflakes. My favorites to use are nickel-plated T-pins, Size 16, 1 inch long.

Waterproof (or resistant) Surface – You want to use something that will hold the pins firmly in place and can either be thrown away or washed off.  Wax or Parchment paper over cardboard is an affordable option. Afterward the paper goes in the bin and the cardboard can be recycled or re-used if not too punctured. I didn’t have wax paper in the house for this latest batch of snowflakes so I used Press-n-Seal plastic over my surface. I liked using one of my foam blocking board as it held the pins better than cardboard.

Stiffening Agent – This can be anything that is initially wet enough to be absorbed in the cotton of your stitches without obscuring them, and that dries rigid. I use a product I purchase at my local Michaels store called “Stiffy” from the Plaid company (same folks that make Mod Podge), but something like PVA school glue can work too.

Some of the PVA glues are a little too flexible when dry, so if you want a more rigid finished object you can try adding a bit of corn starch to the glue. If your glue is too thick, you can experiment with adding water to thin it. I use distilled water when doing this. I find a very thin liquid to be best for maintaining the stitch definition of my snowflakes.

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Brush and Bowl – No matter what application method you prefer you will need both of these objects. If you are planning on using the “soak” method you will want a bowl wide enough that your snowflake will fit inside it. For your brush you will want stiff short bristles, that can help get the stiffening solution down into the stitches or help remove excess solution from the pinned snowflake.

Drying Surface – An old towel or a piece of fine metal screening. If you live in a humid climate you really want a drying surface that lets air circulate around your snowflakes, you might even want to use a fan or a blow-dryer on a low setting. I tend to use a dry towel or a

Getting Started

Obviously you first want to crochet your snowflakes, I like to have a pile to work with before I begin the stiffening process. Sometimes I will wet block my snowflakes first. The pinning process is the same as when I am stiffening my snowflakes.

If your snowflake is crocheted tightly and you wet block it with pinning you may have a stable shape without additional stiffening. Or it will hold the shape well enough to just brush on the stiffener without it being pinned. You will want to experiment.

I prefer to use the brush method of applying the stiffener as it helps me keep better stitch definition. If you want to do the soak method you will immerse your snowflake in your solution, then remove it from the solution letting excess drain off. Proceed to pin the snowflake to the desired shape. Once you have the snowflake pinned out, use paper towels to blot off excess solution. Be careful during the blotting that you don’t glue bits of paper towel to your snowflake.

In this demonstration we are trying to get a symmetrical looking snowflake. I approach the pinning like stretching a drumhead (something I learnt from my younger brother, Cy the Drum Guy).

Pinning dry 1 - Andee Graves M2H Designs

This means securing one point on the snowflake then stretching to the opposite point, continuing to work around the points of the snowflake back and forth.

Center and Pts pinned dry - Andee Graves M2H Designs

It can be helpful to also place pins in the center of the snowflake after securing the first 2 points. This is especially helpful with really open stitch work, it will keep the other 4 points from pulling it off center. I remove the center pins once I’ve got the 6 points secured.

Pinning dry 6 - Andee Graves M2H Designs

Then look at the other areas of the snowflake that you might want to open up. This is how you can really change the look of your snowflakes even when they are crocheted from the same pattern.

In the case of the Sparkling Ice Snowflake I added 2 pins to each point in the ch-2 spaces  to square up the points of the snowflake, or….

Placing the 2 additional pins in the ch-3 spaces creates a pointed look.

Painting on stiffener - Andee Graves M2H Designs

Now it is time to brush on the stiffening solution. I usually pin my snowflakes wrong side facing up and brush on the stiffening solution to set the shape. I keep brushing the solution to help it absorb and get deep into the stitches. Usually your thread will change color enough that you can see where you still need to brush on more solution.

Once the solution is dry I carefully un-pin the snowflake. Usually this isn’t stiff enough to hang, so I will turn over the snowflake and paint the other side of it with a light coating of stiffening solution. The shape of the snowflake is already set though and I don’t pin it in place again.

If you want to add some sparkle to your snowflake this is a good time to add glitter.  Sprinkle glitter over the wet surface. Tap off any excess and set aside to finish drying.

5 snowflakes 2 sizes Sparkling Ice - Andee Graves M2H Designs

I usually move the snowflake to the drying surface after painting on the second coating of stiffener to prevent it from sticking to the work surface. If you are in a humid climate you may want to un-pin and move your snowflake to the drying surface once it is mostly dry and set from the first coat, this will help it dry quicker.

Nylon Hanger - Andee Graves M2H Designs

Once your snowflakes are completely dry use ribbon or light weight nylon line to create hangers. I prefer the nylon line because it is nearly invisible. I usually use about 4-6 inches and thread it thru an opening on the edge of the snowflake and tie a knot over the 2 ends.

Have fun making snowflakes.

 

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links.

Is it a Rock?

The other day I saw a really cool video on FaceBook of rugs that looked like river rocks. I love river rocks. I have five medium sized ones that sit on top of my woodstove in our living room. They act as heat sinks as well as looking pretty. A heat sink is a solid or liquid filled object that retains heat and slowly releases it as the air around it cools. Occasionally I put one of my river rocks in a thick cotton towel to warm my feet on when the temperatures really drop up here on the mountain.

The rugs in the video were made with felted wool rocks by the artist/designer Martina Schuhmann from Vienna, Austria  (you can see the video on YouTube here). I was very intrigued since I’ve been playing with needle-felting so much. I decided to find out as much as I could about felting wool rocks or “stones”.  I first went to the artist’s Etsy shop to see if there was more information. You can check her shop out at: FlussDesign

In the video there is a close-up of one of her rocks being squeezed and it bounced right back.  That made me wonder how she was felting her rocks, were they solid wool or was there something else? Looking at Martina’s shop got me part of the answer. She stated that her rocks were made with a foam core.

I had the video on my facebook page and stated that I was wondering how she felted her rocks. My friend Angela sent me a link to a video on YouTube where they were felting around actual rocks. That got me wandering around YouTube looking at a variety of felted rock and other wet felting videos. I decided it was time to try felting my own wool river rock.

I dug out this piece of 1 inch thick foam that I had leftover from another project. It was a little dusty, so I gave it a good wash and hung it up to dry overnight. You can see in the photo above where it was clipped to my drying line. It wasn’t a very pretty piece of foam, but it was going to be enclosed in wool anyway. I drew an ovoid shape for my rock.

Once I had cut out the foam rock I trimmed up the edges to soften them. I figured wrapping the wool fibers and felting them around it would likely soften any hard edges, but I wanted to make this first rock as easy as possible.

Remember when I purchased that wool fiber from the Brown Sheep Company at the Loveland Yarn Fest last April? There was some interesting striped fiber in one of the bags. I had taken it out and placed it aside in another bag because I knew it would be great for a “special” project someday. It’s day had come, I thought it would be ideal for giving some “rock” texture to my felted faux river rock.

Before I started with that fiber though, I wanted to add a bit of my plain wool to the flat sides of my foam rock. Of course, my handy felting needle came out for this part of the project. I used the felting needle to tack the wool to the foam, just enough that it wouldn’t come loose.

I then did the same to the opposite side of my foam shape.

Now I had a little wool and foam sandwich to wrap with my special fiber. I set that aside for the moment.

It was time to lay out my fiber that would be the outside of my rock. I first pulled out drafts of fiber laying them out lengthwise on my work surface.

Next I laid out a second layer perpendicular to the first layer.

I was ready to wrap my little foam sandwich. If I do this again I will make my strip of wool fibers wider, I ran into some small challenges getting the core wrapped well.

I rolled the core up as snugly as possible with my strip of loose fibers. Then I was ready to use my felting needle to tack the fiber down well to the core.

At this point I had covered the entire core with the fiber and secured it well using the felting needle.

It was time to submerge the rock in my bowl of hot soapy water.

Now it was just all about working the wet felt to shrink it snugly around the foam core. This is the really wet and messy stage of this project. I also think I had a bit too much soap in my water. I alternated going to my kitchen sink and rinsing my rock with cold water to shock the fibers further, and working with the hot soapy water.

I also used my felting stone when I started getting the rock closer to the shape I wanted. The felting stone helped me smooth the surface of my “rock”.

I had finally gotten it felted well and I set it out to dry overnight. It was still a bit furry looking and had some odd shaping issues on the “bottom” side. I knew I would be doing a little “fixing” with my felting needle once it was dry again.

The next afternoon my rock was dry and I was happy with the squish factor of it.  I wanted to correct some shaping issues on the bottom and ends. Especially this odd little flap that had formed at one end. Of course, real river rocks do sometimes have cracks and little protuberances, but I wanted my rock to be an “ideal” river rock.

Fortunately this was easy to fix, I just added some bits of fiber and needle felted them until they were smooth. No more flap. I continued shaping and smoothing my rock with my various needle felting tools. All of them joined the party; single, 3 and 5 needle tools. The 3 needle tool was especially useful for smoothing the surface of my rock with lots of shallow needling.

Before

After

I am pretty pleased with how this rock came out. You can see how much the fiber shrank from the starting size to the finished size in the Before and After photos above.

The finished rock is only a little bit bigger than the foam core. You can get an idea of the relative sizes by looking at the shape in the remaining foam.

The patterning on the rock from the “special” fiber actually came out very well. I definitely have a side I consider the “top” of my rock.

This is my finished rock from the bottom.

And the side. Any way you look at it is pretty “rock like”.

I learned so much making this rock, one of the most important things was how much work it is felting a rock. I’m sure with practice I would get faster and have better results. But I would say it would be worth every penny to purchase a rug or other item from Martina. There is an incredible amount of labor in her pieces.

I may make some more rocks, but I think they will become a pillow for the sofa and not a rug. I was thinking that I could crochet the backing for the rocks to be sewn to, or I might even needle felt the rocks to my crocheted fabric. That would be the ideal marriage of both my current favorite crafts.

 

Making Your Own Felting Pad

You may recall when I took the needle-felting class back in January 2016,  the teacher introduced me to the idea of using felted wool pads to work on, instead of the usual foam rubber option. The wool pads don’t break down like the foam ones, and they are better for the environment.

One of the first things I did after returning home was make my own felted pad for working on. You can see my adventures with creating it in my blog post “Playing with Sharp Objects Again”. I also knew that I would eventually be teaching needle-felting classes, so I started making small felting pads that I could loan my students during classes.

I had someone ask me the other day if I would be making the pads to sell to other crafters. I won’t say a definitive “no” to that, but currently it isn’t at the top of my list. I would always rather teach folks how to make their own.

I had made 5 or 6 of the smaller pads during my last big needle-felting spree. I had attempted a number of different methods for creating my pads and wasn’t really pleased with any of them. During my needle-felting hiatus, while crochet took the front seat in my attention, my subconscious must have been chewing over the problems I had encountered.

When I decided to make more felting pads I realized I could use the “framing” method for at least getting my basic shape started for each pad. The question then was, what to use for the frame? In my house there are always lots of recyclables waiting to go to the recycling center in town. I dug thru what was in there and found an empty box that was just the right size.

I cut the sides that I wasn’t going to use and folded them over the sides I was keeping, then strapped the whole thing in place with clear packing tape.

The final box was a bit floppy and wanted to turn into more of a rhombus shape than a rectangle. How would I keep it from deforming when I was working on the pad?

My solution was to use some of my T-pins that I use for blocking. I squared up the box on top of my working pad, then used 2 pins along each side to hold it in place.

I didn’t place the pins at an angle to the sides, instead I slid them straight down the side of the box into the pad. Once the box was sitting securely on the pad I was ready to add fiber.

For this pad I decided to work on keeping the corners as squared as possible. To do this my plan was to fill the corners first to increase the density.

I placed 2 strips of fiber along the long edges and needled them a bit with the single needle to secure them.

Next I filled in the space between, tucking some of the fiber under the edges of the 2 pieces already in the frame. I used the single needle to tack this all down more.

Then I filled the whole frame to overflowing with additional fiber, concentrating it around the edges and corners. Time to do more needling to felt down this fluffy fiber especially around the sides and corners.

Next I used the 6 needle tool, that my friend Pam gave me, to felt the fiber further. The great thing about a multiple needle tool is for every strike with the tool it’s like making the same strike with the single tool 6 times. This speeds up the felting process a lot and is a bit easier on your body.

At this point the pad was felted enough that I was ready to flip it over and work from the other side. It is important to keep flipping the pad as you work on it, otherwise it can become firmly felted to the working surface.

I slipped my fingers along the side of a long edge and gently peeled up the pad of fiber from the working surface. Then I flipped it over and re-inserted it in the frame with the bottom on the top.

The fiber that is facing upward now is still pretty loose, I used a combination of single needle and multi-needle tools to felt it down.

These are the corners and edges after some single needle work.

Next I added more loose fiber to the edges and corners.

More work with the single needle to secure this new fiber.

Then I felted it further with the multi-needle tool. The pad is formed enough now that I’m ready for the next stage.

The next stage of making the pad starts with removing it from the frame. You can see in the photo that there was a little hole in my fiber in the lower right-hand corner. I solved that by needling a loose ball of fiber into that spot to fill it in.

Next I wanted to shape up the sides and corners of the developing pad. I used my single needle to felt them. I use a diagonal strike when working the edges, that way I’m not working straight toward my hand holding the project. When the fiber is still relatively loose the needle can come thru deeper than expected and you’ll stab yourself. I’m speaking from the voice of experience unfortunately.

For the pad to be useful it needs to be at least 1 inch thick and dense enough that it takes some force to penetrate the full depth. To that purpose I continued to add more fiber to increase the pad height and density.

I would switch off between the single needle and the multi-needle tools to compress the fibers of wool.

Once I felt like the edges were dense enough I switched my focus to increasing the density of the center of the pad.  This is the section that will get the most action when the pads are in use. Fortunately, with a felted pad it is simple to add more fiber to areas that are getting too worn.

I added loose fiber laid in the same direction and overlapping the edges. I did some rough shaping and tacking of the fiber with the single needle.

Next I concentrated on using my multi-needle tools for compressing the fiber. I used my Clover 5 needle tool (finer needles with more barbs) as well as the 6 needle aluminum tool.

Once the fiber on the flat surface was felted down fairly well, I gently and firmly folded the loose ends around the sides of the pad and secured them on the opposite flat surface.

This is the pad after that step. I needled some more along the sides and on the flat surface to finish incorporating the rest of the loose fibers.

This is the flat surface view at this stage of work. It is getting firmer, but I still have a ways to go.

You can see looking at the edge that the felt is still fairly porous. To complete the pad I continued adding loose fiber on the flat surfaces and wrapping the loose fiber around the edges. I worked both vertically and horizontally with how I lay the fiber down. I also added fiber to both sides as I went along.

This is the finished pad, I will likely continue to work on it with the multi-needle tools to firm and smooth the surfaces. My pad in this post took 3.2 ounces of wool fiber and is 5 1/2 inches x 5 inches x 1 1/4 inch in dimensions.

If you are making your own felting pad and want one side of your pad to have some color, making it easier to see natural colored projects, you can felt in some yarn ends or colored fleece. To see an example of how I did that on my pads check out my blog post: “Deconstructed Yarn Painting”.

The Luck of the Irish

Today is Saint Patrick’s Day, and my family has a little Irish heritage (we are a classic American family with a big mixture of ancestry from all over Northern Europe and the British Isles), so I thought I would come up with a fun little crochet pattern for making a lucky 4 leaf clover.

Funny enough, none of us have much in the way of green clothing, every year I think that I really should at least get the boys some green clothing. That thought has not translated to my shopping brain yet. I tend to purchase whichever shirts are on sale, since both of my boys are a bit rough on their clothes.  Instead I crocheted up lucky clovers and made them into pins the boys could wear.

For those of you that are wondering about Shamrocks versus 4 Leaf Clover. The typical Irish symbol is the 3 lobed clover and is called a shamrock. 4 lobed clovers are much rarer and are not “officially” considered a symbol of Ireland or Saint Patricks day. The shamrock with it’s 3 lobes is said to have been used by St. Patrick to demonstrate the holy trinity of Christian faith. The 4 Leaf Clover is said to symbolize luck because they are so rare.

I had a lot of fun playing with a way to create a 4 Leaf Clover that could be worked in just 2 rounds. This project is rated at the intermediate level, because I used some more advanced techniques like Clusters and working in the back bump of chains.  If you need help with working clusters I have a photo tutorial in the Special Stitches section of the pattern.

Luck of the Irish Clover

Design by Andee Graves

Skill level: Intermediate

Materials:

Yarn – Lion Brand “Vanna’s Choice”, 100% Acrylic (3.5 oz/100g, 170 yds/156m) Color #171 Fern

Hook – I/9 – 5mm hook

Pin back or safety pin to attach to back of clover.

Special Stitches

3 DC Cluster (Cl):

Photo A

To make a 3 dc cluster st, yarn over (yo) like making a dc and insert in st or sp, yo, pull up a loop (3 loops on hook), yo {Photo A},

Photo B

pull thru 2 loops on hook (2 loops remaining on hook, 1st base made), yo, insert in same st or sp, yo, pull up a loop (4 loops on hook), yo {Photo B},

Photo C

pull thru 2 loops (3 loops remaining on hook, 2nd base made), yo, insert in same st or sp, yo, pull up a loop (5 loops on hook), yo, pull thru 2 loops (4 loops remaining on hook, 3rd base made), yo {Photo C}, pull thru all 4 loops on hook.

Instructions:

Round 1: Start with an Adjustable slip knot, ch 3, 7 hdc in 3 ch from hook, gently pull beginning tail to close center,

slip st under 2 loops (the “V” front of the ch st) at top of beginning ch-3 to join the round.

Round 2: {Thanks to Edith for the correction.}  Ch 3, *(Cl, ch 3 and slip st) in next st,** (slip st, ch 3) in next st*;

Repeat from * to * 2 times, Repeat from * to ** once,

Stem: Ch 6, working in back bumps, sc in 2nd ch from hook and in next 3 ch sts, slip st in last ch, cut yarn with 4-5 inches of tail. Stem will curl, it is supposed to.

Weave ending tail toward center, use tails to sew on a pin backing.

I hope you have a very lucky Saint Patrick’s Day, and some fun wearing a 4 Leaf Clover.