Things are Changing

Snow loaded pine trees on a snowy hillside with swing set in foregrounds with snow on seats.

Last week I posted about Spring arriving, 2 days later my backyard was full of snow again and the temperatures dropped below freezing.

Shrub branches with ruffled bright green baby spring leaves.

Today on my walk thru the woods I noticed that some of the brave little shrubs were putting out leaves and my Aspen trees are getting buds.

Along with the change of seasons up here, my blog is undergoing some changes. You may have noticed it has a different look these days. I am updating my theme after 10 years of blogging. I hope to create a great experience for my readers, making it easy for you to find the posts that interest you most and maybe even discover ones you didn’t realize were there.

This new theme is called “Floral”, it has a lot to offer and it may take me a little while to figure out all the new options for both my blog layout and the accompanying pages. I’m also debating on the background color, so please bear with me while I find my way.

You may have also noticed that I haven’t been posting much about lambs or sheep the past 6 months. That is because my farm partner and I have decided to down-size our flock. We didn’t have lambs this spring as some health issues in her family made that unworkable. Many of our flock are finding new homes in the coming months.

I am still working with our wool crops of the past 2 years and hope to be offering yarn, fleeces and needle-felting kits for sell both online and at some festivals this Summer and Fall. We hope to continue to work with wool products in the coming years, but are still deciding how we will structure that.

Meanwhile stay tuned here on the blog for more Crochet designs, fun crafting how-tos and coloring pages. The joy of a creative life is finding flexibility even when there are roadblocks and surprises.

Spring is Here!

It is finally feeling like spring time up here on my mountain. I can almost believe that summer is just around the corner. Down in town I’ve been seeing lots of butterflies, so I thought this coloring page would be perfect for celebrating the change in seasons.

For those of you that are more interested in crochet than coloring, you will be happy to know I have a new design published in the June 2019 issue of “I Like Crochet” online magazine.

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

This is the “Shoreline Cold Shoulder Tee” worked in King Cole’s “Vogue” cotton yarn. Available in a wide range of lovely colors this yarn worked up great for this sweet little girl’s tee. Though worked in a simple linen stitch this is an advance level project.

You can subscribe to the “I Like Crochet” magazine and get this and many other wonderful crochet patterns as well as informative “how to” articles and other crochet themed content. Click here to go to the “I Like Crochet” subscription page.

I crocheted the sample with my Clover Amour hook. These are some of my favorite hooks to work with. I spend a lot of hours crocheting and find this to be a good match for my hands. If you can’t find them locally you can purchase them on Amazon.com, just click on the photo above and it will take you right to them.

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.

Festival and Conference Season Begins

A couple weeks ago I spent my Saturday at YarnFest in Loveland, Colorado. This is a great festival that is “local” for me. There are loads of classes and a fun marketplace celebrating yarn and other fibery fun.

I got to see a number of friends and had a little retail therapy time. My first stop and purchases were with the folks at Brown Sheep Company. I’m looking forward to making something summery with the pink yarn. Hopefully I can finish it before the CGOA conference in July.

I had lunch with my good friend Karen Whooley, she taught 4 classes at the festival. We had a great time catching up. Once she had to head back to teach her afternoon class I met up with my friend Susanna.

Turns out Susanna is nearly as dangerous an enabler to shop with as my dear friend Jan. I ended up purchasing a few more items than I had originally planned on. The gorgeous yarns below were too tempting.

This lovely fluffy dark yarn is a Cashmere/Wool blend. There is a little over 320 yards in the 2 balls, so I am hoping to create a lacy cowl or a shawlette. The fluffy halo of the yarn will make for a warm fabric even if it is created with very open stitch work.

Susanna had to bring me to see the yarns at the “Knit Stitch” booth. She had made a hat using some of their lovely hand-dyed yarn. I couldn’t resist this pink and lavendar yarn with it’s bit of sparkle, the color name is “Doodlebug”. I am planning to make myself a beautiful hat for next winter. I think it will look terrific with my silver hair.

A YarnFest tradition for me is to visit glass artist Jodie McDougall’s booth. She always has wonderful glass buttons and goodies. This year I had to adopt some adorable sheep earrings. I’ve been wearing them a lot since the festival. I especially love their little feet.

I was thrilled to see my friend Paula of KnitBaahPurl was at YarnFest again. I had to purchase one of her T-shirts for a new sleep Tee. I really loved this “now I lay me down to sheep” shirt, and it’s in a lovely lavender purple color.

Paula creates all sorts of fun sheep and yarn themed artwork that she sells on T-shirts, mugs, wine glasses, cards and other fun items. I especially love the ecumenical nature of most of her illustrations. No matter what your yarnie art…her artwork will fit the bill.

My final purchase of the day were some cute little stitch markers from the Longmont Yarn Shoppe booth. Who hasn’t played “yarn chicken” when finishing a project? The chicken may actually be inspiration for a crochet or needle felted sculptural piece in the future. I also found the little squirrel to be too cute to resist.

Looking back over all my goodies from YarnFest I’m realizing that I actually exercised some restraint. I stood strong against many of the temptations. Now I just need to crochet like the wind with all this yarn in my stash so I can get more yarn at the other Festivals and Conferences coming up.

In mid-June the Estes Park Wool Market will be here, that could be dangerous to my budget. I’m planning on joining some friends there to tour the vendor barn as well as check out the various critter barns.

The second week of July will be the CGOA conference, which includes a lovely boutique Marketplace. This year’s conference will mark the 25th anniversary of CGOA so there will be extra fun things happening there. If you haven’t had a chance to register for the show it isn’t too late. You can check it out at Crochet.org.

I hope to see some of you at a Festival or Conference this year. But even if you can’t join me at the ones I’m at, do a little research in your area to see if there is one going on near you. It’s a great place to meet fellow yarnies and take classes to expand your crafting skills.

Springtime Bunny

Easter is next weekend and I’ve always loved it as a celebration of Spring. Even though up here on the mountain it is usually still cold and even snowy, down in town there are signs of springtime everywhere. Trees getting green buds or even leaves, tulips and daffodils popping up and showing off their colors.

We will be keeping our eyes and ears open for the arrival of the first hummingbirds as the Easter bunny comes for a visit. We have already seen a few wild bunnies in our yard as they venture out of their warm burrows on the milder days.

Meanwhile I have a new fun coloring page for my readers. This bunny is celebrating springtime with his coat of flowers and greenery. You can download the full page PDF of the coloring page using the link below.

As a special treat for those of you preparing for the upcoming holiday I also have a card version of the bunny.

This page will print out with the bunny on half of a 8.5″ x 11″ page. Color your image then fold the paper into a 5″ x 8.5″ card. You can download the card coloring page PDF using the link below.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Easter together.

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

I colored the images in this post using my Chameleon Color Tones pencils. They are a densely pigmented pencil so even a light touch to the paper can give you beautiful color. If you can’t find them locally they are available online at Amazon.com. Click on the photo above to go straight to them.

If you prefer to color with markers, some of my favorites are the Staedtler Triplus Fineliners. If you can’t find them locally they are available on Amazon.com. Just click on the image above to go straight to them.

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.

Crochet Inspired Coloring

I’m so excited to share with my readers my latest project.

My Crochet themed E-Coloring Book with FaveCrafts.com. Today is the first day it is available on the FaveCrafts website. It is a free downloadable PDF. Click here to get your copy.

The book contains 4 coloring pages for you to print out and color. The front and back covers are some examples of how I colored 2 of the pages using color pencils and fine line markers.

On 2 of the pages I included a stitch chart pattern for making motifs. One is the flower from the “Flowers & Vines” page. The other is a Round-to-Square blanket square from the “Gorgeous Granny Square” page. Both pattern pages also have a drawing of a crocheted motif (the square has 3) so you can play with color on the page to see what colors of yarn you might want to use.

I worked the motifs above with Red Heart’s “With Love” worsted weight yarn and a size I (5.5mm) hook. You can see on the squares that switching colors at the ends of round 1 and 2 creates a floral look. Especially when the last rounds are worked in green.

I hope you enjoy this collection of coloring pages. Please share your colored pages and crocheted projects with me on Instagram (andee.graves) or my Facebook business page (Andee Graves / M2H Designs).

Spring Break Rocks

I’m a little behind this week with posting. My family and I were traveling for a few days since this week is my kiddos’ Spring Break from school. We drove across Colorado and spent 2 full days exploring Arches National Park. Wow! It was amazing.

I only had a little crochet time during the road trip part of this trip. It was just a 4.5 hour drive for us from home. We stayed in Grand Junction, Colorado and then drove to the park each day since we brought our dog with us. The photo above was one of our first adventures at the park. This is at the trailhead for the Park Avenue Trail.

We had a great time hiking this mile long down hill trail. My husband hiked half way with us, then went back to the car to meet us at the end of the trail. He hiked in from the end when we were about a quarter mile from the end. The rock formations to either side of the trail were amazing and we were surprised by the amount of greenery in this arid landscape.

We next headed to the North and South Window formation. Seems like everyone was there and it took a little time to find parking. We hiked up to the North Window first. A couple years ago my family went to Arches without me and they were really looking forward to showing me this formation.

They loved climbing all over the rocks thru the arch. That is them inside the pink circle. The photo below is a close up of them, though a little grainy.

My favorite arch was on the 2nd day of our trip. Sand Dune Arch. It was really a surprise.

The path to get to this arch is relatively flat. You approach a massive formation of “fins” and walk thru a sandy pathway between them.

There are boulders and smaller formations all around and it was nice and cool at 3 in the afternoon.

Finally you reach the arch. It is a small and beautiful sculptural looking arch. There are nooks and crannies all around it that my family had fun exploring. We explored a few more arches before the sun was setting, but decided we would have to make more trips to this park.

I hope you are all having a great start to your spring. I’ve got Easter on my brain right now and hope to have some fun things to share with you soon.

Half Shell Summer Cowl

This is my newest pattern release from M2H Designs: Half Shell Summer Cowl. I wanted to create a cowl with beautiful drape that could be a fun summer layer. Summers up on my mountain are a bit cooler than in some parts, but even when I travel to warmer climes I like having a layer to wear in hotels and other air-conditioned venues. The cool and colorful “Vogue” cotton yarn from King Cole was the perfect match for this design.

This design takes advantage of the natural tendency of crochet fabric to bias to the right (for right-handed crocheters). It is worked in the round off of my favorite foundation: stacked rows. If you get confused by this foundation I have a video tutorial on my YouTube channel.

I’m participating in the International Crochet Month Designer Showcase with Underground Crafter. Come join the fun! Every day in March, 2019, we’ll highlight a different crochet designer who is also a member of the Crochet Guild of America. Each designer will share a free crochet pattern or a 25% discount on a premium pattern.

I’m sharing a coupon to get the “Half Shell Summer Cowl” for free in my Ravelry Shop. The coupon is only good until 11:59 p.m. (Mountain Time) April 11, 2019. Enter ICMDS2019 in the shopping cart to get your free copy before April 11, 2019. Please don’t post this coupon anywhere else, instead encourage others to come visit my blog.

We’ve also partnered with some of our favorite companies to get some great prizes for you — including yarn, crochet hooks, notions, pattern books, and more! Find out more information about other participating designers, the schedule, and how to enter to win the prizes on Underground Crafter.

Going Round and Round

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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