Friday, November 15, 2013

Weekend Crochet

I recently published the pattern for my Hooded Scarf or Cowl, using Lion Brand Homespun yarn. This design incorporates the rounded hood technique that I used in the Wildwood Capelet and works quite well in Homespun for a soft and warm hood. You can add a scarf to wrap around or tie in the front or add a circular cowl that can be looped around for warmth. This pattern calls for 2 skeins of Homespun, but only uses a small amount of the second skein. I decided to share with you an easy pattern to use up part of the remaining yarn.

These Homespun Fingerless Mitts are sized to fit ladies or teens, but once you've made a pair you can easily adjust the starting chain to fit the hands of a man or even a child. Just use as many stitches as fit comfortably around the knuckles or base of the fingers and follow the pattern from there, adjusting for the different stitch count. The Foundationless Double Crochet stitch works great for the fingertips of these because it creates a nice, stretchy edge. There's a link for that tutorial HERE.
When crocheting with Lion Brand Homespun yarn, the best advice is not to work too tightly. The yarn calls for a K hook, and most of the time I do use a K hook with Homespun. However, when working with a smaller hook (such as a J hook, as called for in this pattern), you don't want your work too loose either. The reason for using a smaller hook is for a slightly tighter fabric. The more you work with Homespun, the easier it gets. I've read reviews from people who don't like working with it because it gets caught on the hook. I've learned to keep my stitches relatively loose and, at the same time, if it does get caught on the hook I can back step just a bit to drop the bit that doesn't belong off the hook. You'll be able to tell which is the working loop and drop the tighter, incorrect piece off the hook. If you continue and force the next stitch it tends to become tight and difficult to manage and can affect the overall look of your finished fabric. The best thing to do is to go back and fix the loop so that you're sure it's only the working loop on the hook. At any point, you can also drop the loop off the hook, pull it free from the catch and continue on from there. Knitting with Homespun sometimes requires a similar approach, dropping the extra "catch" off the needle as necessary to prevent a tight and inconsistent stitch.
Overall, Lion Brand Homespun continues to be one of my favorite commercial yarns. It makes wonderful shawls, hats, mittens and more, whether knit or crochet. These patterns are easy and should make for a fun weekend of crochet!

Homespun Fingerless Mitts
by LazyTcrochet
© 2013 LazyTcrochet

Lion Brand Homespun (less than one skein)
J hook (6 mm)

Stitches used:
hdc = half double crochet
DcCh = double crochet chain or “foundationless double crochet” (instructions and tips can be found on my blog at )
Reverse sc = Reverse single crochet (sc in the next stitch to the right instead of working to the left as usual)

Round 1:  Starting at the fingertip end, leaving approximately 6" tail, DcCh 17, join to bottom of first DcCh. (beginning ch 3 counts as first DcCh) (17 DcCh)
**If you don’t wish to try the DcCh or foundationless double crochet, you can start by chaining 18, double crochet in the 3rd chain from the hook and in each across. Join to top of beginning chain.**
Round 2: Ch 2 hdc in next st. and each st. around. Join to top of ch 2. (ch 2 counts as hdc throughout) (17 hdc)
Rounds 3 - 5:  Repeat round 2, join. (17 hdc ea. round)
Row 6:  Ch 2, hdc in next st. and each st. around. (17 hdc) Do not join.
Row 7:  Ch 2, turn. Hdc in same (creates an increase) and ea. st. around, working the last st. loosely (18 hdc).
Row 8:  Ch 2, turn. Hdc in same (creates an increase) and ea. st. around, working the last st. loosely (19 hdc). Join to top of ch 2. Do not turn.
Round 9:  Ch 2, hdc in next st. and each st. around. Join to top of ch 2. (19 hdc)
Rounds 10 - 15: Repeat Round 9 (19 hdc ea. round).
Round 16:  Ch 1, working loosely, work in reverse sc for one round and join. (This step isn’t necessary, but creates a nice edging and it helps distinguish between the wrist end of the gloves and the fingertip end.)
(If you want a longer glove, continue working in the round until you reach the desired length. You can increase a stitch, if necessary, to fit your arm. Then work the last round in reverse sc to finish the edge.)
Fasten off and start the thumb.

Join yarn in the thumb hole opening.
Ch 2 and work 9 hdc evenly around the opening. Join to top of ch 2. (10 hdc)
Ch 2, hdc in next st. and each st. around. Join to top of ch 2. (10 hdc)
Fasten off.

Use the yarn tail at the fingertip and a yarn needle to sew closed the gap created by the DcCh then work all the ends in.
© 2013 LazyTcrochet
For personal use only.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Along Came A Spider

You can see the real spider's web on the outside of the window!

I haven't officially decorated for Halloween yet. I was about to wash the windows, like I do every Fall, and noticed a spider web on the outside. It reminded me of a picture I saw of a crocheted spider's web and thought I'd try it.
I don't particularly care for thread crochet as I'm more of a chunky girl myself. I thought of trying it free form, but since I'm not used to doilies or working with thread, I decided to search for a pattern to get me started. Once the center was started, it was easier to change it up and free form the outside. (Having an asymmetrical center might be better next time.) I added a piece of Ric-Rac that reminded me of the Orb Spiders that we have in the vegetable garden.
This pattern from Crochet 'N' More is for a Spiderweb Table Topper and calls for a sport weight yarn. I used Aunt Lydia's crochet thread size 3 and a D (3.25 mm) hook, following the instructions through round 4 or 5 and then improvised. You could make it as large or small as you like.
I pinned mine to a window corner, but you could make it large with worsted yarn, tie it to a fence or a door, and add a really big spider if you want. I will add a tiny spider to mine once I get the decorations out. 'Tis the season!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Button Tips and Techniques for Knit or Crochet

I love buttons and have been incorporating them into my designs as often as I can. Whether functional or decorative, you want to make sure they're going to stay in place and, if necessary, stand up through washing and ordinary wear. I've put together some tips and techniques for sewing buttons on knit and crochet pieces.

I love chunky and bulky yarns and they provide a fabric with which you can use some bold and beautiful, large buttons.

With some yarns, you can adjust the gauge of crochet stitches, or use longer stitches to accommodate the size of the buttons and just button anywhere in the stitches, without having to create an exact button hole. For example, with Wool Ease Thick & Quick yarn, a size P crochet hook, and a double crochet stitch pattern, a 2" button will fit nicely between the stitches. For an extra large button, a triple stitch might fit better. Test your stitch size with what buttons you want to use, but it's best not to use too small of a button if you use this method. You don't want it slipping off all the time. Also, smaller and 4-ply yarns might split and get caught on the buttons, that's why I tend to do this only with the thicker, bulkier yarns.

 If you can, plan on using the tail of the yarn to sew on the button. If the tail yarn is near where you want the button to be, the holes of the button are large enough for the yarn and needle, and the yarn is appropriate for sewing on a button, just weave it through a few stitches and sew the button. Knot the yarn and weave in the ends.  You'll need a longer yarn tail if you choose to do it that way. Most types of yarn would be appropriate for sewing with, but be careful if you're using single ply wool or loosely spun fibers since you can't pull snugly, they might pull apart.  I do this a lot with some of my button wraps. The corner button uses the yarn tail, but I'll sew with an additional piece of yarn when adding a second button in another location.

I highly recommend having a sewing kit on-hand. Often times, you'll need a particular color of thread to sew on a button on knit or crochet fabrics. Instead of buying a whole spool of thread in a color you may not need again, you could probably find a close enough color in a sewing kit.

If you're using sewing thread to sew on a button, it's best to double the thread and knot it. If you only knot one end of the thread, leaving a loose tail, that knot might slip through the yarn strands and not be a secure start to sewing on the button. It might work for some fabrics, but not when working with yarn.  I like to start by working the needle with knotted double thread around the yarn, pull the needle through the doubled thread and pull tightly. This makes a nice foundation to start sewing on the button
One last tip, in regard to button holes, is to whip stitch on the side of the button hole. As you can see here, a button hole was created by skipping a stitch. That skipped stitch might be loose enough to catch on a button, so I like to whip stitch a few stitches over it to tighten it up and create a more prominent button hole.  If you happen to have a yarn tail to weave in near the button hole, whip stitch around a loose stitch if desired.

For more button tips see this great post at Crochet Me.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Foundationless Double Crochet Tutorial

 I'm reposting this written tutorial from a few years ago to let you know that I've added a video tutorial. The video demonstrates the Foundationless double crochet in both worsted weight and bulky weight yarns, as well as a foundationless single and half double crochet technique.
Many of my designs start with the DcChain or Foundationless Double Crochet shown and described below.


Foundationless Double Crochet or DcChain

I thought I'd share with you one of my favorite techniques. Instead of starting every project with a chain strip, using a "foundationless" stitch can speed up the start of your project and allow for more stretch than a starting chain would.

A foundationless DC, or DC Chain, is my favorite way to start a simple, lengthwise scarf. It is also good for garments that you crochet from the bottom edge up, since it creates a stretchier edge as compared to a starting chain. It's easy to change a pattern that calls for a starting chain and then a row of DC. Just work a row of foundationless DC (or DC Chain) instead.
Start with a Ch 3 (this chain 3 counts as your first DC stitch). YO, insert hook into the first Ch, YO and pull through. YO and pull through one loop to create the "base chain" (3 loops remain on hook). Now work a DC as normal - YO and pull through 2 loops, YO and pull through last 2 loops.
See the picture above - the last chain made under the hook is the "base chain" and the double crochet will be on top of it, next to the starting chain 3.
To work the next DC Ch, YO and insert the hook into what was the last "base chain" stitch (it's actually a ch 1 at the base of each stitch). To make this easier to find, I usually hold that stitch as I'm finishing the DC so I know where the chain stitch is when I move on to the next one.
YO and pull through, creating the next "base chain". (Hold this stitch if you want to to mark it.) Then work the DC - YO, pull through 2 loops. YO, pull through last 2 loops. Continue working DC Ch for as long as you want your project to be.
So each stitch consists of a base chain (like a ch 1) and finishes with a double crochet, all in one stitch and the beginning chain 3 counts as your first DC.

I have incorporated this stitch in the foundation of my Circle Shrug Vest Pattern, the Long Fingerless Gloves pattern, for the hood on the Wildwood Capelet Pattern, and the Chunky Crochet Button Wrap pattern.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Cheesy Shrimp and Grits

Cheesy Shrimp and Grits (2 large servings)

1 cup old-fashioned grits
3 cups water
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan
12 oz. shrimp, thawed and peeled
2 slices bacon, chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T. butter
salt and pepper
white wine
lemon juice
two fried eggs

Heat water and milk to almost boiling, add grits and cook according to package directions. Stir often.
Cook chopped bacon until crispy and remove from pan. Add chopped onion and garlic. Cook one minute or so and add the butter. When melted, add the shrimp.  Season with salt and pepper and herbs if you'd like. When the shrimp are done, pour about 1/4 cup dry, white wine and a tablespoon or so of fresh squeezed lemon juice. Cook one minute and remove from heat.

When grits are done, stir in cheddar cheese and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook a fried egg for each plate. Spoon grits into a serving bowl, top with shrimp, the cooked egg and bacon bits.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ruffle Yarn Review

Patons Pirouette

Red Heart's Sashay ruffle yarn has been so popular that local yarn stores can't keep it in stock. I heard one clerk say that they have customers waiting while they unload the truck!
I've made a few scarves with it and it is easy to work with in both knit and crochet, but the colors aren't that appealing to me. I think it's either because I've seen the same ones over and over again or that so many people are making Sashay scarves now.
Patons Pirouette and Premiere Yarn's Starbella are popular brands that are available locally. There are a few colors that I like, but again, most don't appeal to me.  If you are lucky enough to have a nice yarn shop near you or look online, there are more and more beautiful options and varieties of ruffle yarns to choose from.

Berocco Ric Rac
I really liked the look of Berocco's Ric Rac. It was different than anything else available locally and the colors were gorgeous! It was quick and easy to work with, like most ruffle yarns are once you get used to it, but I kept getting it caught on my fingers and the loose strands would end up in long loops.  I opted to keep this scarf instead of adding it to my show booth. I've only worn it a few times, but it kept getting caught on buttons, zippers, fingers....everything! And now, it's pretty much ruined.
Although I haven't tried it, Red Heart's Boutique Filigree is a similar style. I am curious if the strands are as loose, or pull as easily as the Ric Rac.

Circulo Tecido Trico
One of the newest styles of ruffle yarn is Tecido Trico from Circulo. When I first saw it, I couldn't wait to try it. The price tag was a huge deterrent, but I did finally choose two colors for Spring.
I had heard that this style of fabric ribbon "yarn" tends to fray. It is like a wide fabric ribbon (polyester) with holes punched along one side. One review I read said that it caught on everything, including her hands while she worked with it. I haven't found that at all. I was expecting the cut edge to start fraying once I started working with it, but it hasn't yet. I've finished one scarf and started on another.

I prefer knitting (vs. crocheting) with ruffle yarns simply because the stitches are easier to see since they stay on the needle. The only problem I've had with it so far is that it twists so much as you work with it. (I had put the skein in a bowl.) It comes in an oblong hank and, for the second scarf, I tried putting it on a toilet paper roll so that it can unroll easier as I work with it. It's much easier to work that way and doesn't twist as much.
Homemade "yarn holder"
These are beautiful (yet expensive) scarves. They may start to fray. I don't know. I have read about treating it with some sort of fray check or spray, but since I didn't see any evidence of fraying while working with it, I chose not to experiment with that.

If the cost of the Tecido Trico weren't so daunting, I would love to see what else I could do with it. There are some pattern ideas on Ravelry, including this sweet Party Dress.

The Party Dress pattern by Ram Wools Yarn Co-Op
Vogue Knitting's Early Fall 2012 issue has a pattern for a ladies Ruffle Wrap Cardigan to knit. Still, I wonder if it's washable and how badly it would fray. You can read more customer reviews on Ravelry as well. (Like this one that says "...the darn ribbon is fraying before I have even sewn the sweater together."

Here's a link to the Ravelry page for the Circulo Tecido Trico where you'll find pattern ideas, projects, and more.