Crochet and Springtime

Crochetville_Designer_Blog_Tour_Promo

National Crochet Month is zipping by, and I am honored to be celebrating by participating again in the Crochetville NaCroMo 2015 Blog Tour. Amy Shelton and Donna Hulka are terrific supporters of the crochet community and designers.

Amy and I in Reno at the Knit & Crochet Show
Amy and I in Reno at the Knit & Crochet Show (yes, she is wearing a tiara)

I’ve met both of them in person thru the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) and have spent many fun and often inspiring hours in their company.

One of my favorite things about being a member of the CGOA is how it has put me in touch with lots of other crocheters. I’ve met many wonderful crochet friends thru my involvement in CGOA, like Amy and Donna. It’s great fun to be with your “people”, folks that understand this love of playing with yarn. If you haven’t joined CGOA you may want to consider doing so, the annual conference is great fun to attend, but there is even more. Opportunities to meet up locally with other crocheters and to meet online on the CGOA website. The website is: Crochet.org.

As the owners and creators of the Crochetville community and dedicated CGOA members themselves, Amy and Donna are always aware of the importance of supporting others thru charitable work.  This year’s blog tour charity project is making hats (or making a monetary donation) for Halos of Hope.halosofhope[1]

Halos of Hope is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization committed to providing volunteer-crafted hats to cancer centers across the country. You can make and send in hats to Crochetville in Alabama or donate money to help Halos of Hope pay for shipping hats to the centers. You can find the mailing address and read more about this project on the Crochetville blog.

Hats are one of my favorite projects to work on but with this recent spring like weather I’m looking at transitional pieces. Headband/Headwrap/Earwarmers (I’m never 100% sure what to call them) are a great choice.  I love them during the transitional seasons because they easily fit in a pocket and are a great way to keep my ears warm if the weather gets chilly. They also help keep my hair under control when the wind gets too blustery.

Blog Beauty Shot

I tend to have light weight gloves and a headband tucked into the pockets of every jacket.  Since I recently got my hair cut into a very short 1920’s style bob, headbands can also look quite stylish.  In celebration of NatCroMo I’m offering this fun textured headband pattern to my visitors. I’ve used a lot of textured stitches in this project which helps make the fabric even warmer.

This is an intermediate level pattern, but it’s a great project to expand your skills with. I’m including a tutorial on making cluster and puff stitches here for those of you feeling like tackling a new crochet skill. For those of you that already have some experience with cluster and puff stitches the “Special Stitches” section in the pattern should be sufficient to get you started.

Blog detail shot of texture sts

Cluster Stitch Tutorial

The cluster stitch for our headband has more texture to it because it is framed on either side by a shorter stitch, the half double crochet. If cluster stitches are worked with spaces and/or taller stitches on either side they are a bit flatter and more of a decorative grouping that doesn’t rise as far above the surface of the work.

The textured “bump” of a cluster stitch as used in this headband sits on the back side of your row, for a single sided project you want to work them only on alternate rows in the project.

In this headband project we are using a 3 dc cluster stitch to create our textured stitches. In a cluster stitch you make the base of the 3 dcs being used, then work the final dc step for all 3 in one go.

Image D
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},

Image E
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},

Image F
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.

 

Puff Stitch Tutorial

This stitch is often a challenge to get right. The primary trick is getting all of your loops to the same length. That can be particularly challenging if you crochet tightly, so remember to keep your work loose.

Puff stitches tend to sit centered in the fabric, which makes them a great stitch to use in scarves, since the texture is visible on both sides of your fabric. In the case of this headband project we are framing the puff stitches with hdc stitches. Like with our cluster stitches this “framing” helps the stitch sit on the backside of the row and creates a 3D effect on the finished project.

There are a number of ways to make a puff stitch, the version I use in this project is secured at the top similar to making a single crochet (I think of these as “locked” puff stitches). For this project you will be making 5 “wraps” for the puff part. Each time you do a “wrap” you get 2 more loops on your hook.

Image G
Photo D

Yarn over (yo) and insert your hook in the indicated st or sp, yo, pull up the 2 loops to above the top of your previous st {Photo D},(yo, insert hook in the same st or sp, yo, and pull up the 2 new loops to the same height of the previous loops) 4 times.

Image H
Photo E

You will have 11 loops on your hook*, 10 tall loops for the “puff” and the original working loop. Yo {Photo E} and pull thru the 10 tall loops,

Image I
Photo F

you will have only 2 loops on your hook, yo {Photo F}, pull thru the last 2 loops, your puff stitch is complete.

A peek into the design process: For the eagle-eyed amongst my visitors, you may have noticed in the photos for this tutorial I have only 7 loops on my hook at this point. This is because I made a change in the pattern after I shot the photos. Originally I thought I would like the 3 wraps for my puff stitches, but they weren’t dramatic enough for me in the sample. So I changed it for the final sample and pattern.

 

SPRINGTIME HEADBANDBlog Headband alone

designed by Andee Graves 

SKILL LEVEL: Intermediate

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS

Headband is approximately 3.25”/8.125cm wide x 22”/55cm long.

YARN

Lion Brand Wool Ease Worsted (80% Acrylic, 20% Wool; 197 yds/180m = 3 ounces/85g)

#139 Dark Rose Heather sample used 31g/aprx 72 yards = approximately 2 Headbands from 1 skein

CROCHET HOOKS

Size US 7 / (4.5mm)

ADDITIONAL MATERIALS

Stitch markers

Yarn needle

GAUGE

6 rows & 9 sts in hdc = 2” 

SPECIAL STITCHES

3 DC Cluster Stitch (Cl): (Yo, insert hook into indicated st or sp, yo, pull up a loop, yo, pull thru 2 loops on hook) 3 times, yo, pull thru 4 loops remaining on hook.

Puff Stitch (Puff): (Yo, insert hook into indicated st or sp, yo, pull up a loop to desired height) 5 times, 11 loops on hook, yo, pull thru 10 loops on hook, 2 loops left on hook, yo, pull thru remaining 2 loops on hook.

Half Double Crochet 2 Together (hdc2tog): Yo, insert hook into indicated st or sp, yo pull up a loop, insert hook in next st, yo pull up a loop, yo pull thru all 4 loops on hook.

NOTES

The Cluster stitches and Puff stitches in this project have more texture because they are “squished” between 2 shorter stitches. The texture is created on the back of the rows. The finished project will have the textured side as the right side of the fabric.

Once the first 65 rows of the headband are crocheted, edging is worked along one edge, then ends of headband are seamed together using slip stitches to reach 2nd side, then 2nd side edging is worked.

INSTRUCTIONS

Row 1: Ch 11, turn, working in back bumps, hdc in 3rd ch from hook and each ch back to beginning. [9 hdcc]

Row 2 (RS): Ch 2 {turning ch only, does not count as st here and thru-out the pattern}, turn, hdc in each st across. PM on front of row to mark right side. [9 dc]

Rows 3- 7: Repeat Row 2. 

Row 8: Ch 2, turn, hdc next st, 2 hdc next st, hdc next 5 sts, 2 hdc next st, hdc last st. [11 hdc]

Row 9: Repeat Row 2. [11 hdc]

Row 10: Ch 2, turn, hdc next st, 2 hdc next st, hdc next 7 sts, 2 hdc next st, hdc last st. [13 hdc]

Rows 11 – 16: Repeat Row 2. [13 hdc]

Row 17: Ch 2, turn, hdc next 6 sts, Cl next st, hdc next 6 sts. [12 hdc, 1 Cl]

Row 18: Repeat Row 2.

Row 19: Ch 2, turn, hdc next 4 sts, Cl next st, hdc next 3 sts, Cl next st, hdc next 4 sts. [11 hdc, 2 Cl]

Row 20: Repeat Row 2.

Row 21: Ch 2, turn, hdc next 2 sts, Cl next st, hdc next 3 sts, Puff next st, hdc next 3 sts, Cl next st, hdc next 2 sts. [10 hdc, 2 Cl, 1 Puff]

Row 22: Repeat Row 2.

Row 23: Repeat Row 19.

Row 24: Repeat Row 2.

Row 25: Repeat Row 17.

Rows 26 – 28: Repeat Row 2.

Rows 29 – 52: Repeat Rows 17 – 28, twice.

Rows 53 – 55: Repeat Row 2.

Row 56: Ch 2, turn, hdc next st, hdc2tog next st, hdc next 7 sts, hdc2tog next st, hdc last st. [11 hdc]

Row 57: Repeat Row 2.

Row 58: Ch 2, turn, hdc next st, hdc2tog next st, hdc next 5 sts, hdc2tog next st, hdc last st. [9 hdc] 

Rows 59-65: Repeat Row 2. Do not fasten off, Secure working loop so work doesn’t come unraveled.

EDGING 

Side 1: Ch 1, with RS facing turn band to work along first edge, work sc in side of Row 1, then work 98 sc spaced evenly along edge in ends of rows (3 sc in the ends of the every 2 rows), sl st to first sc in round.

Align ends of band, RS together sl st loosely working thru both the top of sts in Row 65 and bottom of sts in Row 1 across to second edge.

Side 2: Turn work with RS facing and work along edge, ch 1, work 99 sc spaced evenly along edge in ends of rows, sl st to first sc in round. Fasten off.

FINISHING

Weave in ends. Block lightly, if desired.

Now you are ready to make a bunch of these headbands to be ready for those cooler spring days. Have a great time crocheting and keep celebrating crochet everyday.

Want to check out what the other designers participating in the blog tour are doing? Go visit this post on the Crochetville blog. You can find out how to sign up for the Daily Giveaway to win a yarn package from Red Heart Yarns at this post (winners are selected by random drawing).

If you are first time visitor to my blog, thanks for stopping by. For my regular readers Thanks for being there.

Jan and Andee’s Yarn Retreat Adventure

The last weekend of Jan’s Colorado visit was the Longmont Yarn Shop Spring Renewal Retreat. This was the event that we had actually planned Jan’s whole visit around. This was my first yarn themed retreat and I was really looking forward to some relaxing with yarn and fiber loving friends.  People who understand when you say, “I have to pet this yarn.” or “The yarn was calling to me.”

Jan and I were also excited about getting some nice walks in. Jan wears a pedometer and is always good about getting me to go for walks when we get together. I got a pedometer too, in preparation for her visit, and am getting into the habit of paying attention to the number of steps I do each day. 10,000 minimum is the goal.

Friday, March 13th  we loaded up the car and were on our way by 9:30 that morning. We had decided, since the retreat was in Loveland, we would make a trip a bit further north and stop by the Lambspun yarn shop in Ft. Collins.

We ate our lunch outside on the patio and were seated beside this fountain.
We ate our lunch outside on the patio and were seated beside this fountain.

There is a wonderful little restaurant that shares the building with the yarn shop. We had our lunch there, then spent a lovely couple of hours exploring the shop and seeing if there was any yarn we needed to adopt.

Sweet little birdhouse in the gardens next to the restaurant patio.
Sweet little birdhouse in the gardens next to the restaurant patio.

Jan was actually shopping for yarn in large amounts for a couple of projects on her “to-do” list. She doesn’t have easy access to any yarn shops near her home. Partly because she works some long hours at her day job and can’t really drive at night. She was having a great time exploring the options, and we had fun searching for the perfect yarn.

The yarns I brought home
The yarns I brought home

For some reason we both kept being attracted to linen yarns. Blends and 100% linen. I got the 2 different yarns above to experiment with and Jan purchased some other yarn that was an interesting blend of linen and rayon. I was trying to be good about not purchasing yarn that I wouldn’t have time to work with this year.

Shirley, the shop owner, was working on a felting project using a blending board that really piqued my interest. I considered purchasing my own blending board but the price was a little out of the budget for this trip. I may put it on my list for Christmas this year as I think I would have a great time playing with it.

Finally we tore ourselves away and headed off to the Sunrise Ranch for our retreat.

I use the GPS on my phone thru Google Maps to navigate when traveling. There was an update not too long ago and the voice is now very robot like. Jan and I had been calling my GPS gal, Gina, last summer when we did our road-trip to Chain-Link. We decided Gina now sounds like she has become assimilated by the Borg (from Star Trek Next Generation). Fortunately, Borg Gina directed us to the ranch without any problems.

SR Sign at Entrance

The Sunrise Ranch is nestled in a beautiful valley with a lake to the south, gorgeous colorful red bluffs to the east and lots of wonderful options for hiking. We got checked in and did a little exploring and a short walk before dinner that evening.

SR First night goodies
The goodie bag and my yarn from the evening.

After dinner was the welcome meeting followed by a White Elephant yarn exchange. At the welcome meeting Gail and Jane from LYS distributed “goodie” bags with a water bottle, a bumper sticker,  a needle/hook inventory card (that has our shop dog “Kit” on it), and a little felt zipper bag.

SR Name Tags

The bags were identified with our name tags for the retreat and most everyone made yarn “necklaces” to wear their name tag on. Jan and I took photos of ours.

SR Yak Yarn

The other event for the evening was a White Elephant yarn exchange. I’d never participated in one before and it was great fun. My ribs were tender from laughing so hard. I ended up with some Yak yarn that I’d never seen before, so that will be fun to play with.

Saturday, March 14th was the first full day of the retreat and it was Pi-Day! That morning started bright and early with a yummy breakfast. Then Jan and I decided to go for a walk. My fellow teacher from the shop, Gretchen Hofer (whom I took my lace knitting class with), joined us.

SR Morning Lake

It was a beautiful morning and we all took lots of photographs. The one above was my favorite shot of the lake, it was so calm the water looked like a mirror.

My perfect Pi moment. 3.1415926
My perfect Pi moment. 3.141592653

Since it was Pi-day I was wearing my new T-shirt, Gretchen made sure we got a photo of me at 9:26 a.m. This Pi-day was extra special because the date allowed for more of the decimal places to be included. Normally for simple geometries you just use the first 2 places after the decimal: 3.14. There are of course many more decimal places to be expressed in Pi.

We all had fun on the walk, saw a pheasant take flight and even spotted a snake trail in the frost (though fortunately didn’t meet the snake). By the time we had returned to our room I had gotten my 10,000 steps in for the day already.

My show and tell projects
My show and tell projects

After lunch, everyone got together for Show and Tell. I brought my finished lace scarflette to show, as well as a cloche hat that I have been experimenting with. It was wonderful to see all the projects the other attendees brought to show and to hear the stories behind them.

SR Main Building

After dinner that evening we all gathered in the big Living Room area of the main building (called the Pavillion). Everyone had various projects they were working on, so folks had even brought their spinning wheels and looms.

Gail was working on a very interesting weaving piece that would be felted after she finished the weaving. It had big open spaces in it. It came out really neat. I may have to drag out my Cricket loom and give it a try.

Sunday, March 15th I was very excited because the morning activity was Needle felting and trying out the Zoom Looms.

SR Ndle Felt for Jan2

For the needle felting we were using the little felt bags that were in our goodie bags from the shop.  Jan wasn’t going to the morning activity so she gave me her little felt bag to play with. I decided I would make a design on it and give it back to her.

SR Ndle Felt for Jan1

It had been awhile since I had done any needle felting. I had forgotten how much I love playing with fiber this way. Gail and Jane had provided a wide assortment of yarns and roving in a variety of colors, so it was almost like painting.

I was also excited to try out the Zoom Looms. These are pin looms and I hadn’t ever worked with one before. I had seen them all over the place at TNNA a year ago and had wanted to play with one. So this was my chance. I really liked how quick it was to weave my little square. I’d been good about not getting a blending board, so I decided that I would be purchasing a Zoom Loom before the weekend was over.

My goodies purchased from the Vendor sale.
My goodies purchased from the Vendor sale.

After lunch was the Vendor sale. I purchased a Zoom Loom, some lovely handspun from our LYS spinning teacher, cute project bag and a beautiful shawl “stick”. Once Jan and I had finished our retail therapy we went for a photo walk near the Pavilion building.

SR Sculpt Pond and Labrth

We had both wanted to get a photo of the sculpture pond and when we got over there we spotted a brick labyrinth path in the lawn just past it.

SR Labrinth

We decided to walk the labyrinth and then finished our photography.  It was an unusually hot day for March, somewhere in the mid-80s, so we decided we would save our big walk for the evening once it had cooled off a little.

Valley view to the South
Valley view to the South
Valley view to the North
Valley view to the North

Jan, Gretchen and I went for our walk after dinner. We got some good photos of the valley and saw a wonderful noisy little creek while on the walk. Afterward we hung out in the Living Room visiting and playing with yarn for a little while, but we were both pretty tired so headed to our room.

Monday, March 16th was the last morning at the retreat. We got ourselves packed up and loaded the car right after breakfast. Our usual group went out for one last hike around the ranch. Then snuck in a little time crocheting and visiting with the other retreat attendees before it was time to leave.

Pretty little mosaic at entry way near pond.
Pretty little mosaic at entry way near pond.

Jan and I decided we had enjoyed having someone else plan and prepare meals, as well as doing the dishes, that we would make our re-entry to “real” life gentler by having lunch in Loveland at PF Changs. Borg Gina got us to the restaurant fine, but we had a little argument with her when it was time to drive back to Boulder.

Fortunately I knew most of the way I wanted to take and we headed home via the scenic route. When we got to Longmont we decided to go back up the mountain via the road thru Lyons, another town I haven’t been to since the flood. There were signs of the damage from the flood, but the canyon was still beautiful and Jan really enjoyed the drive.

Once we hauled all the stuff up from the car at the house, we ran a couple loads of laundry and played with our yarn and goodies from the retreat. We also started talking about what we would do for our “visit” trip next year.

Funny thing about the retreat weekend. I spent most of my crocheting time working on a very large experiment swatch. Unfortunately, after we got back home, I realized I really wasn’t happy with how it was working out. So I spent most of the evening unraveling the swatch and winding up the yarn. Such is the life of a designer.

Boys can Crochet Too

I always chuckle when people tell me it’s too bad I only have boys, assuming that only girls are interested in hand crafts.  I hope to teach my boys that they can do and learn anything they want to, regardless of other folk’s assumptions of gender related roles.

It is interesting how there is an assumption, in American culture at least, that only women knit, crochet or sew.  Historically that hasn’t been the case.

Up to and during World War II many men knitted and sewed.  Darning and knitting their own socks was a regular occupation for WWII soldiers. Before the industrial revolution most of the Knitting Guilds were male only.

And closer to home, when I taught a “Crochet Club” at our local school my star pupil was a 5th grade boy.  It was so fun to see the boys (and the girls too) getting excited about crochet and building on their skills each week. The mother of  my star pupil said that he and his sister won gift certificates at our local Michael’s Hobby and Craft store.  When they went to use their prizes they both headed straight to the yarn section and had a wonderful time picking out yarns to purchase.

Today was a real celebration and time to bond with my youngest. He finally decided he wanted to learn to crochet. I had some of those big pink Lion Brand hooks and some nice chunky yarn that he was fascinated by. He will soon be turning 8 years old, so it’s a perfect age to learn to crochet.

Flamingo Bites the Yarn
Flamingo Bites the Yarn

He named his hook “Flamingo” (because it is pink and has a pointy head) and made up a whole story to remember the steps of making a chain stitch. “Flamingo goes under the yarn, then bites the yarn, puts his nose down and pulls it into his den”. He was having so much fun crocheting that he didn’t want to stop. Truly he is my son.

Is there a youngster in your life that would like to learn to crochet? A great way to celebrate National Crochet Month is helping others learn the joy of playing with yarn.

Whoot! It’s National Crochet Month

Saturday was the first day of March and the beginning of NatCroMo. An entire month to celebrate all things crochet.

Outside Window

I didn’t get a blog post up because I was out celebrating crochet. I was at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe to do a book signing of my “Texting Mitts” booklet and to teach an afternoon class on the Granny Fans Scarf.

Had a really great time with my students and it’s always fun to hang out at the yarn store. I even bought a couple more balls of yarn. Both were for projects I already had in the works.

CP Mochi Plus

I needed an additional ball of Crystal Palace Mochi Plus in the beautiful blue/green toned colorway. I had started a short version of my Granny Fans Scarf, but one ball wasn’t quite enough. Fortunately LYS had a ball of the same colorway and dye lot that I had started my project in.

Boboli Lace w fabric

I had purchased 2 balls of Berocco Boboli Lace, but needed a third ball for the project I wanted to create. But LYS didn’t have a 3rd ball of the color I had selected so I returned the 2 balls (I hadn’t actually started crocheting with them yet) and picked out 3 balls in a different colorway. Actually it was a happy accident, because I think I like the new colorway better. It is crocheting up beautifully and I can hardly wait to show all my wonderful readers what I’ve made. That’s for later this month though.

So how are you planning on celebrating NatCroMo? Look around your area for events to crochet with others or learn to crochet if you’ve always wanted to. I’ll be at LYS quite a bit this month, as well as making a trip down to Denver to visit all my stitching friends at the LambShoppe. If you are in the Denver or Longmont area stop by and say hello. You’ll get to meet lots of people that love to play with yarn.