Thursday, December 13, 2012

changing colors in crochet

With all the joyous activity that surrounds Christmas, I have not blogged as often.  I am currently designing a nativity wall hanging which will be ready next year as there is not way it will be finished this year yet.

I am using a striped pattern for baby Jesus and I realize that a tuturial on different methods of changing colors might be helpful.  Here is a picture of the baby Jesus.

As the picture shows, every other row on the body is a different color.  I will show the way to change colors in the round without cutting the thread and adding knots to the work.

Using the last stitch of the row, in this case a slip stitch, pull the new color up from behind the work to make the first loop of the new row.
Pull the loop through and start the next round using your new color.  (In this case you go from gold to white)
This can be done also if you are working on an item that is worked in rows.  In this case, at the end of the row, make a ch of 1, 2, 3 or 4 if the next row is sc, hdc, dc or tr.  Drop the old color.  (I usually pull up a large loop so that it won't unravel as I work on the next row.) 

Insert you hook in the next row's color loop, turning work to work across the row in a new color.  Again, when done with that color, add a chain stitch long enough to get past the next row and switch to the new color.
Here is another switch, using the next color.

To break off the color, the best way I have found to hide the ends and not have a lot of knots is to lay the broken off color along the top of the row and crochet around it as you work the next row.  This way you don't have loose ends at the end of your piece that has to be woven in.
I love color work.  It helps to bring out the design of a piece and just add that something extra.  Learning some of these little tricks has made the process so much easier. 
I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas Season.  Do you know of any other other nifty tricks for working with color on crochet?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Looks like Fall

I am back after a wonderful visit to my daughter in Tennessee.  We got to see our wonderful 2 year old grandson and meet our new granddaughter.  What a blessing they all are.  I made a darling headband for our granddaughter.  I am waiting for some pictures and then the pattern will be off to the testers so that I can offer the pattern to others.

When I got back, the weather had turned glorious and it has become increasingly difficult to stay inside.  So I have been out in the yard, walking down street gutters full of leaves and listening to the shushing sounds and smells of the falling leaves.  I thought I would share some of the wonderful Fall colors in Kansas.

The prevailing winds have been out of the North making the sky really blue.
Of course I love the red leaves.  (Red is my favorite color).
I am currently working on a Christmas crochet project design that may not be ready in time for this year but I am really excited about it.  I am also working on a new knit design that will be out in the near future.
I am really excited about all these ideas and I keep getting called to be out doors "shushing" in the leaves.  What is your favorite things about this time of year?

Friday, August 3, 2012

half double crochet cluster stitches and Irish Crochet

In designing crochet patterns I love the half double crochet (U.S. abbreviation).  It is exactly the right size to get to the the double crochet smoothly.  A lot of my work ends up using a half double crochet 2 together stitch.  When I go to youtube I cannot find a tutorial on this stitch so I thought I would make one here.

To make the half double crochet stitch (U.S. abbreviation is hdc):  It has a single wrap just like the double crochet. The needle is inserted into the stitch, I yarn over and then pull through the stitch.  Now I have 3 threads on my hook.  I  yarn over once again and pull it through all three stands on the hook.

I use a lot of half double crochet 2 together (abbreviation is hdc2tog) in my patterns also.  This is just two half double crochets in the same stitch.  Making one hdc, I don't pull through the three stands but instead make another single wrap and insert it in the same stitch.  I yarn over, pull through the stitch, yarn over and pull through all five strands on my hook.
I am currently working on a design that uses some Irish crochet techniques.  One of these is using 3 half double crochet cluster stitches (a form of a clones knot) which is worked in my pattern around the chain instead of in a specific stitch.  The 3 half double crochet cluster (U.S. abbreviation 3 hdcCL) just adding a third hdc to the stitch, yarning over and pulling through all the threads at once. 
It is closed with a slip stitch in the top. This made a pretty little knot on the spurs of the Columbine flower I am designing
Finally, I needed a little larger knot on some stamen for the Columbine flower.  For this I used a 4 hdcCL stitch.  Again, I made 4 unfinished half double crochet around the chain (instead of in a specific stitch), yarn over and pull through all the strands on the hook.

 Again it is closed with a simple slip stitch which makes a wonderful little Clones type knot on the end of the stamen.
The final stage to finish the stamen and spurs of the Columbine Flower design is to slip st around the chain that the cluster stitch is made on. 

Now I use the chain as a padding cord.  Instead of single crocheting in each stitch I single crochet around the chain the number of times specified in the pattern.
I love Irish crochet and have found that many of the techniques work really well with larger thread and yarn and comes out beautifully.  The Columbine flower is so beautiful and I just had to see if I could make something in crochet that would look close to the original flower.

I hope this tutorial is helpful and that it encourages others to not fear using Irish crochet techniques. It really is just crochet with some embellishments.   

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Colorado Theatre Shooting

I was all set to make a post about crochet and then the Colorado theatre shooting happened.  Despite the fact that I don't live there anymore, I am still a Colorado girl, born and raised.  Most of my family of origin live there and the news of this shooting hit me hard.  I have been crying and praying since yesterday for those affected.  I just came across this blog post and it says what I couldn't put into words, so I am reposting it here.

So you STILL think God is a merciful God?!
(Maybe, just maybe God spared my life because He loves YOU and wants you to hear this..He wants you to believe that He loved you so much He gave His only begotten Son that if you would believe in Him you would have eternal life.)

So, you still believe in a merciful God?” Some of the comments online are genuinely inquisitive, others are contemptuous in nature. Regardless of the motive behind the question, I will respond the same way.


Yes, I do indeed.

Absolutely, positively, unequivocally.

Let’s get something straight: the theater shooting was an evil, horrendous act done by a man controlled by evil. God did not take a gun and pull the trigger in a crowded theater. He didn’t even suggest it. A man did.

In His sovereignty, God made man in His image with the ability to choose good and evil.

Unfortunately, sometimes man chooses evil.

I was there in theater 9 at midnight, straining to make out the words and trying to figure out the story line as The Dark Night Rises began. I’m not a big movie-goer. The HH and I prefer to watch movies in the comfort of our own home…where I can use subtitles and get a foot rub. I don’t like action movies. And I don’t like midnight showings. But, as I wrote in my last post, parents sometimes make sacrifices for their kiddos and I decided I would take my fourteen year old and sixteen year old daughters who were chomping at the bit to see this eagerly anticipated third movie in the Batman Trilogy. Twice I had the opportunity to back out and twice I was quite tempted. But something in me said just go with your girls. I did.

So I was there with them, fidgeting in my seat, some forty or fifty feet away from the man with the gun. It’s still a bit surreal, but I do know that when the seemingly endless shooting started, as my girls were struggling from whatever gas or chemical had been released, and we figured out what was happening, we hit the floor. I threw myself on top of my fourteen year old who was on the end of the row, straight up the aisle from the shooter. In that moment, as the rapid-fire shots continued, I truly thought I was going to die. And I realized that I was ready. I have put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ as the redeemer of my soul, and there wasn’t the slightest doubt that I would be received into heaven, not because of any good thing that I have done but because of His merciful nature and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Still, as I lay over my daughter, I began praying out loud. I don’t even remember what I prayed, but I don’t imagine it really matters. I’m sure it was for protection and peace. It drew me closer into the presence of God. When there was a pause in the shooting, people began to clamor for the exits. The girls and I jumped up and joined the masses. We had to step over a lifeless body, not knowing where the shooter was. We raced to our car and I dumped my purse, frantically searching for keys, looking all around, prepared to hit the ground. I yelled at Michelle to call Matthew and find out if he had made it out of the theater next door. She did. He did. We booked on out of there.

Why would you think such a tragedy would make me question the goodness of God? If anything, both of my girls said it made Him a much more real presence to them; the youngest shared this verse: Do not be afraid of sudden fear nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your feet from being caught.

He is not the cause of evil, but He is the one who can bring comfort and peace in the midst of evil. It’s been amazing to see the outpouring of love from so many people after this unthinkable act. Yes, there was one evil act, but it is being covered by thousands, possibly millions of acts of kindness.
We have not yet slept, so the girls and I are overtired and a bit emotional. But overall, we are praising God and resting in His Goodness. I love this word of wisdom and encouragement from a former pastor of mine:

Up to this point I haven’t had words to say that would matter. Of course we are all glad that you and the family are safe. Of course we would all state the obvious that this is horrific and senseless. But those words still don’t carry weight that remain in the midst of the questions. Then it hit me… Do you know what the difference was between Job and his wife in their response to the tragedy of losing everything… Job 1:20 Job was the only one that worshiped in the midst of it. Marie, I know your heart and I’ve seen your worship lived out before your family. Before the weight of this becomes unbearable… worship. Your profile pic was not coincidence, not by accident that you changed it on July 15th, but a beautiful foreshadowing of your need to hear the cry of your heart and give Him praise. 

Though we don’t have all the answers, we do indeed listen to the cry of our hearts: When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? Psalm 56:3-4

God is always good.
Man is not.
Don’t get the two confused.

We will continue to praise and worship our mighty God, anticipating that He will bring beauty from ashes, as only He can do.

If you want to know how to pray for us: first and foremost, we need sleep. Somehow our bodies seem too wired. We also want the life that God has graciously allowed us to continue to live to not be a gift given in vain, we want our lives to draw others closer to Him. We do not want fear to dominate, for God has not given us a spirit of fear. We want His joy to be seen and experienced in all that we do.
Pray for the families who lost loved ones, and for young people who witnessed such horror. Pray for this to be an opportunity for God to manifest Himself in mighty ways.

As for you…we will pray that YOU might know His goodness.

Still grateful for this wonderful life,


God doesn't save us from this world's troubles but hopes that we will be a light in the darkness for others to find what I have found in Him and is with me through all of it. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Washing red yarns and threads

I love the color red and so many of my thread crochet and even my yarn knitting includes red.  When I was young, (many, many years ago) red thread was color fast.  In the past 15 years I would not say that is true.  Nothing is more discouraging then getting a red and white piece done, washing it and having it bleed all over the white.

Here is another example of the red and white I love to use.
I always hand wash my crochet so that I can pin the shapes and just take the 'rumple' out of a piece I have been working on.

I have finally come up with a recipe for laundering reds that has not gone wrong on me yet.  I start with a bowl of cool filtered water.  I have a filter on my faucet.  Most city water has chlorine in it to kill the germs.  Unfortunately, it can also cause problems with letting reds bleed.  If I didn't have a filter I would set the water out on the counter over-night.  That would take care of the chlorine which will evaporate.

Next I add a small amount of laundry soap.  Now here is the magic ingredient:  white vinegar.  I add about a half cup or cup (depending on how big my bowl is) and stir it into the water.  Vinegar acts as a dye fixing agent.  It will help keep the red from bleeding.  I put the newly finished item into the water and let it soak overnight.  When I get up in the morning, everything is clean and the white is still white and not pink.  I allow it to dry in shape using pins if necessary or it can be ironed with a cloth over it to keep it from scourging.

This recipe has worked for me in the past.  If you know of another way to keep reds from bleeding, please let me know.  Since I love and use it so much I am always interested in other ideas.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tin Woodman of Oz and Father's Day

With Father's Day coming up, I finally finished the design for my Tin Woodman of Oz reading character bookmark pattern.  I always liked this character in the Wizard of Oz characters because he thought he needed a heart and he had the most heart of all the characters.  I think my own father may get one of these on Father's day.
Like all my reading Character bookmarks, his head hangs out of the book for ease of finding the reader's place.  His arms with his ax can go inside the book or hang outide as well.

This is a fairly simple pattern to make although the silver metallic thread usually isn't in stores until Christmas time.  I usually stock up when the metallic threads come out because I really like them.  I know that they can be found on line right now.  A gray or silver thread without the metallic fiber added would work also.

The pattern uses the usual stitches such as sc, hdc, dc, etc. (these are U.S. abbreviations) and some front and back posts work.   It also has picture tutorials on areas that might seem confusing without pictures.

I think fathers often are characterized as having no heart because they don't use the words "I love you" as often as mother's, but their actions tell it all.  At least this was the case of my own father and yet I know how much he loves me by all the ways he is ready to help if I need it.  

Happy Father's Day to all the "Tin Woodsman" out there. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

cowardly lion

March is supposed to be the month that comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  April here in Kansas has turned into the lion.  Last week there were close to 100 tornadoes in this state.  Luckily no one in Kansas was hurt.  We have a great weather warning system and I think everyone was in their shelter.  Here is a picture of a tornado headed straight for us.

Luckily, it swerved and missed us.  All this weather has gotten me back into making more reading character bookmarks using the Wizard of Oz books as inspiration.  I just finished making the Cowardly Lion.  I really like how he came out.

All my reading character bookmark pals are made to have the head hang outside the book.  It makes it so much easier to find the page that way.  The head is very three-dimensional.

His front legs and his badge of courage which he got from the wizard of Oz can also hang outside the book.

I think the one thing the cowardly lion teaches me it that courage does not mean that I don't feel fear.  Instead I face that fear (usually with a lot of prayer) and do what needs to be done to overcome the obstacle.  It has been my experience that the fear of something is always bigger than the actual obstacle. 

The cowardly lion is now available at cowardly lion bookmark What a fun gift for any reader or graduate.

I am now starting on the tin man while I wait for this pattern to be tested so that other people who love to crochet as much as I do can make their own.

How is your April going?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Treasures of the Sea wrap

I have been really inspired by the hyperbolic crochet coral reefs that are being made around the world.  The work and colors are truely amazing and I decided to make a tiered wrap using some of these elements.

I started the wrap with a cream sea floor with little pearls scattered across.  I used a simple popcorn stitch which is just 5 double crochet in one stitch.  The hook is then removed, placed into the 1st of the 5 double crochet and then inserted back into the last lp.  These two are slip stitched together.

Next I wanted seaweed coming up from the floor.  After looking for different leaves that would look like seaweed. I came across the new crocodile stitch.  This piece is made separately and then attached to the sea floor.  It is a fairly easy stitch but I thought I would show how I made it as I made it a little different to suit the look I was going for.

Working off a foundation chain, I triple crocheted in the 4th chain from the hook.  Usually this stitch is done using double crochets across this row but I wanted a longer leaf.  Then I chained 1, skipped 2 chains, and made 2 triple crochet in next chain.  This pattern is continued across the foundation chain. Now here come the tricky part.

Instead of turning the piece over to work the next row, I rotated the piece 90 degrees and work back over the row of triple crochet groups of the last row on the same side.  Chain 2 and working over the 1st side post of the last triple crochet I worked 8 double crochet over the post.  Usually when doing this stitch on a double crochet, 5 double crochet are worked over this post.
Now add a chain 1, rotate the piece 180 degrees and work 8 dc down 2nd side post of 2-tr group.  This is the first leaf.

Now slip stitch in between the next 2 triple crochet group.

Continue working this pattern across the entire row.  At the end of the row chain 4 and triple crochet in the 4th chain from hook to set up for the next row. Chain 1 and work 2 triple crochets in center of next seaweed leaf of last row. Ch 1 and work 2 triple crochets in between next 2 leafs of last row.  Work this pattern across and at the end chain 2, and again rotate the piece 90 degrees. 
 Working this row in side posts of 2-triple crochet group of the previous row,  make 8 double crochets up 1st triple crochet side post,. Chain 1, rotate the piece180 degrees and work 8 double crochets down 2nd side post of 2-triple crochet group.  Slip stitched in-between next 2-triple crochet groups. Work 8 double crochets up next 2-triple crochet group side post.  To secure the leaves down, slip stitch in back loop of the 3rd double crochets on 2 leaves the previous leaf section (see picture below). Then chain 1, rotate the piece 180 degrees and work 8 dc down 2nd side post of 2 tr group.  Work this pattern across.
Now I had my seaweed section which is attached to the sea floor.

The next layer is a sea shell layer and the final layer is the coral layer section.  Since this wrap does not work to tie to stay in place I created this darling sea horse pin to hold the wrap in place.

I know it is late in the season for wraps but sometimes when the inspiration hits, I just have to make it now.  I really like how it turned out.  What do you think?

The pattern comes in two sizes.  Here is the picture of the longer scarf in a different set of colors.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Making Nupps

I love 3 dimensional crochet.  I also love to knit especially when the weather is cold outside.  A few year's ago I disovered nupps in knitting and designed a heart wrap for Valentine's season.  These little "bobbles" in knitting add an extra dimension to the work but can be a real challenge.  Here is the easiest way I found to make these little jewels.

Nupps are made using two rows. On the first row (the knit row on a stockinette stitch) where a nupp is located is simply made doing a (knit, yarn over, knit, yarn over, knit, yarn over, knit) all in one stitch. The first and last stich is always a knit stich. They need to be as loosely made as possible, by pulling the yarn up.

In thicker yarn nupps usually are made by adding 5 to 7 extra stitches in this one stitch.  In really fine yarn they are usually made with 7 to 9 extra stitches in one stitch.  The pattern will usually tell you how many extra stitches to add.  Because this yarn is so fine, this pattern calls for 9 stitches in the one stitch.

The rest of the row is worked and the work is turned over for the second row.  (In a stockinette stitch, this is a purl row.)  In the second row all these extra stitches are purled together as one.   This is the hardest part of nupps and I found a great trick to making these.  Purl on the row until you come to the extra stitches.  Find a crochet hook that will work with your yarn.  Put all the nupp stitches on the crochet hook.

Yarn over with your working yarn and pull it through all these stitches.

Finally, place this one stitches back on your right hand needle and work across the rest of the row.

The other thing I learned to watch for on the purl row is to be careful not to purl the first few stitches of the nupp into the row as this will cause your stitch count to be off.  Using this method really made nupps a whole lot easier for me.  I really like the end result of that extra dimension to the design.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine's day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My newest inspiration

I have been seeing all sorts of Coral Reefs that are being made using crochet.  I believe this was all started by the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef at the Smithsonian.  Here is the link to the project so that you can see what I am writing about.

It is truely inspiring to me.  For people who are on Ravelry, here is the link to a group on Ravelry that was working on the project.  There are some amazing pictures of completed projects by clicking on the recently shared projects on the right hand side of the page.  (If you haven't joined Ravelry yet, I would encourage any knitter, weaver or person loves to crochet to join.  It is free and so full of wonderful patterns and forums to get to know others the world over who share our love.)

The Crochet Coral Reefs are popping up all over the world. Here is another exhibit in the Putnam Museum in Iowa.  Do a google search for Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef and you will see that they are going everywhere.

I love the colors and textures.  In looking at all these wonderful pieces of art, I got an idea for a new design for a scarf.  So I had to head down to my local yarn store and see what I could find that would be soft and warm to wear and in the colors that I wanted.  This is probably one of my favorite parts of designing.

I found this angora and wool yarn by Classic Elite Lush yarn.
I also found this wonderful baby Alpaca yarn by Cascade Yarns.
Both yarns feel wonderful.  I have come up with part of the design and am just tweeking it so that it has just the look I am going for.

Does nature ever inspire you as they have me?