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.

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.

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.

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

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.

 

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All Those Tails!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Beads in the Middle

I love adding beads to my crochet projects, both large and small. They add wonderful sparkle and give the fabric a lovely fluid drape.

Sophisticated Simplicity Necklace

 

Here on the blog, I’ve shown you beads strung on your yarn (or thread) then crocheted;

 

I’ve shown you beads “hoisted on” to embellish the edging of an earring, headband or shawl;

Springtime Cowl – Small PWT Shawl

Most recently I have shown you beads “hoisted on” within the fabric of a shawl, as well as on the edging.

When deciding on bead placement into the body of your fabric, think about where your next row (or round) of stitches will connect with the beaded row. You don’t want the bead to be covered or obscured by another stitch.

You also want to consider if the bead will be visible from both sides of the fabric. I like to place my beads in the fabric so they are framed in an opening in the stitch pattern. This helps make them show up no matter which side of the fabric is worn as the “right-side”.

In my latest project, the little PWT Shawl that I’m calling Springtime Cowl, I made sure that all my beads were on an even number row. Crochet stitches bias slightly, this isn’t as noticeable when working in rows, but it makes a difference in how the bead sits on the top of the stitches.  By adding my beads to the even numbered rows I was specifying those as the “right” side of my fabric.

You can add beads to any crochet project, it’s up to you to decide which will be the “right” side of your project for showing off your beading. If you are adding beads to a pattern that didn’t include them, you will want to be sure that the beads are added to rows that correspond with the “right” side of the fabric as written in the pattern.

I hope this inspires you to try adding beads to some of your crochet projects. If you need help with the “hoist-on” method of adding beads hop on over to my blog post: “Making a Pendant” for a photo tutorial on using the “hoist-on” method.

 

 

Stitch Markers – Your Best Friend

Some of my Favorite Stitch Markers

Stitch markers are handy tools to have in your crochet kit. My favorites are locking stitch markers, the ones I use the most are made by Clover and I tend to have a package of them in every project bag.

Row 3 completed
Increase points marked with Stitch Markers

I most often use them to mark stitches that will have something different happening, such as an increase or decrease. This allows me to enjoy stitching along without worrying about when I’ll need to change what I am doing with my stitches, I know that once I get closer to the next stitch marker I’ll have to pay closer attention.

First 5 rounds w Markers

I use directions for stitch marker placement in many of my patterns for purposes of clarity. Such as, “hdc in each un-marked st, 2 hdc in marked st”. An example of this is my pattern for the “Whirlwind Afghan Square” and you can see how I move my stitch markers in the video “Whirlwind How-To Part 1” on my YouTube Channel.

StitchMarkerin-Use
First stitch of Round marked with Stitch Marker.

They are also very handy for marking the first stitch of a round/row, making it easy to keep track of where to join a round or end a row.

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I place a locking stitch marker in the working loop of my project before placing it in my project bag. That way I don’t pull out stitches when pulling the project out to work on it.

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When working a long starting chain I will place stitch markers every 10 or 20 chains as I crochet to make counting them easier. Especially handy for those patterns that instruct you to “Chain 300” at the beginning of the instructions.

counting-rows-with-markers

I will also use this same method to help me keep track of rows or rounds in larger projects, placing the stitch markers in the side of a stitch every 10 or 20 rows.

oops-marked

I will even use stitch markers to mark where I need to frog back to when I spot a mistake.

Now it’s your turn, get out those stitch markers and see if they don’t become your favorite tool (after your hook) in your crochet kit.

whirlwind-hat-andee-graves-m2h-designs

And if you want to try your stitch markers in a new project check out my new pattern: Whirlwind Hat.

 

Changing Color, Changing the Look

We are going to have some more fun with my “Fans & Lace Afghan Square” today.

fans-n-lace-square-3-andee-graves-m2h-designs

When I first designed this square I picked out 3 colors that I thought looked nice together and began to crochet. But you don’t have to stick to just 3 colors. I thought I would show you some other fun things you can do with this square by using more colors or even changing when you change colors.

flas-2-colors-a

For this version of my square I used only 2 colors changing color where indicated in the pattern.

flas-2-colors-b

In this square I used the same 2 colors, but started with the silver instead of the blue. I also changed colors every round after working the first 2 rounds. Notice the fun zig-zag effect created with the V-stitch rounds.

mooglycal-2016-oct-13

I was inspired by Tamara’s square (Mooglyblog.com) she worked from my pattern. She used 6 colors working with the changes where I wrote them except in Round 12. I loved the orange zig-zag around her square and decided to play with that in some of my squares.

flas-4-colors

I also played with using 4 colors. Not sure how happy I am with how this square came out, but I do like the autumn colors in it.

flas-8-colors

In the pattern I have you fasten off your yarn and join with a new yarn color 7 times. If you wanted, you could use 8 different colors, like I did in the square shown above. This is a great way to use up scraps of leftover yarn in your work-basket.

To help you decide if you have enough yarn I have listed the 8 sections and the yardage each needs. I broke out the yardage for the individual rounds in the last 3 sections, in case you want to use a different color in each round. These were the yardages I used with Lion Brand Yarns “Vanna’s Choice” and a size I (5.5mm) hook. I’ve rounded the yardage up from the fractions so that you should have a little wiggle room.

If your gauge is very different from mine listed in the pattern you may have to adjust accordingly.

Rounds 1 & 2:  4 yards

Round 3:  2 yards

Round 4:  12 yards

Round 5:  4 yards

Round 6:  14 yards

Rounds 7 & 8: 26 yards  (Round 7: 10 yards, Round 8: 16 yards)

Rounds 9 & 10: 34 yards   (Round 9: 14 yards, Round 10: 20 yards)

Rounds 11 & 12: 42 yards   (Round 11: 18 yards, Round 12: 24 yards)

Now it is your turn to dive in and play with color. Be sure to stop by the blog this Saturday as it will be “I Love Yarn” day and I’ll be celebrating with a fun give-away and a video tutorial for the Fans & Lace Afghan Square.

Working the Standing DC Stitch

fans-n-lace-sq-closeup-andee-graves-m2h-designs

In my Fans & Lace Afghan Square I started a number of the rounds with the “Standing Double Crochet Stitch”. Some of you may not know this stitch, so I wanted to share a little photo tutorial with tips on working it.

I like the standing dc for starting a new color instead of fastening on the new yarn color with a slip stitch, then chaining 3 to be the first dc. I have used the chain 3 method in the Fans & Lace square too, but only for when I am not changing the color in the next round.

standing-dc-1

To start a standing double crochet, make a slip knot in your new yarn color and place the loop over the shaft of your hook.

standing-dc-2

Yarn over on the shaft of the hook like you would do for working any double crochet in a project. Use you thumb or forefinger to keep the yarn over from twisting away.

standing-dc-3

Insert your hook into the stitch or space where you want to make your first double crochet.

standing-dc-4

Yarn over and pull up a loop. 3 loops on the shaft of your hook.

standing-dc-5

Yarn over, pull thru 2 of the loops on your hook. 2 loops left on hook.

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Yarn over, pull thru the last 2 loops on your hook. You’ve made your double crochet stitch and attached your new color of yarn in one go. Continue crocheting as normal.

When you are working rounds that end with a slip stitch join there is a little trick that I like to use for working into the standing dc.

standing-dc-7

Insert your hook into the standing dc and pull the tail to get the slip knot (yellow arrow) below your hook, complete your slip stitch.

standing-dc-8

The completed slip stitch (purple arrow) should sit in front of the knot (yellow arrow) of your standing dc.

fans-n-lace-sq-closeup-andee-graves-m2h-designs

In Round 4 of the Fans & Lace Square I started the round with a standing dc as part of a cluster stitch. You could call this a “Standing Cluster”.  In a cluster stitch the base of the double crochets being used are worked first, then the last step pulls thru all the top loops of those stitches to bind them together.

standing-cl-1

I start the cluster with my slip knot loop  and a yarn-over on the shaft of my hook, then insert the hook into the space where I will work the cluster (just like I did for the standing dc).

standing-cl-2

Yarn over and pull up a loop (3 loops on hook).

standing-cl-3

Yarn over and pull thru 2 loops on hook (2 loops on hook).

standing-cl-4

Yarn over, insert into space again (3 loops on hook).

standing-cl-5

Yarn over, pull up a loop (4 loops on hook).

standing-cl-6

Yarn over, pull thru 2 loops on hook (3 loops on hook).

standing-cl-7

Yarn over, insert into space a 3rd time (4 loops on hook).

standing-cl-8

Yarn over, pull up a loop (5 loops on hook).

standing-cl-9

Yarn over, pull thru 2 loops on hook (4 loops on hook).

standing-cl-10

Yarn over, pull thru all 4 remaining loops.

completed-cluster

Cluster stitch completed.

If you haven’t seen the pattern for my Fans & Lace Afghan Square you can find it by clicking here.