Monday, September 23, 2013

Halloween Things Started Years Ago

I saw a super cool Day of the Dead crocheted skull on Ravelry years ago (2010) and decided I had to try making it.  Then I got it into my head that it should be a garland of skulls.  I continued making skulls here and there and finally blocked them all last fall.

Black and orange rovings were purchased to make felted beads to strand between the skulls.  When I tried to actually make the beads, I realized how hard it was and that it would take FOREVER.  I finally found someone on Etsy (CraftyWoolFelt) who sells black and orange felted balls in the size I wanted.  Thank goodness I could pay someone else to make them for me!

Halloween garland finishing time!

I wasn't quite sure how I wanted to secure everything, but ultimately I just slid the felt balls on, then looped the thread once through the top of the skulls.  That way, everything can be repositioned but nothing moves easily.

A year earlier, in 2009, I started some cool Halloween cross stitch ornaments from the Prairie Schooler (Boo to You).  As I am wont to do, I underestimated how long it would take to stitch a single ornament, so I had to scale back my plans to one per year.  It occurred to me that I didn't have to wait until I had stitched all 8 ornaments to finish and start enjoying them, so I finally got around to turning the ones I had stitched into ornaments.

FYI, you can't cut this felt with pinking shears, you need a rotary cutter with a pinking blade.  The hardest part about finishing the ornaments was trying to center the design over the piece of cardboard, especially because my cross stitch fabric seemed crooked.  Also, trying not to get glue all over everything is a bit tricky.  Still, it is a fun way to finish them---I used the Twisted Stitcher's tutorial.  So my plan is to continue my tradition of an ornament per year and make one for this fall.

I love Halloween and fall decorations so I am very happy about these finishes!

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Crocheting in the Round: How and Where to Join

I used to have a blog called Crochet Your Way and I occasionally posted tutorials there to help crocheters with problems I typically encounter when I teach crochet classes.  Today's post is a re-post of a crochet tutorial from  I always meant to share it here one day and I just received an email asking me to post it again.  So here we go!

I know one of the biggest problems crocheters have is trying to determine where to join the beginning and end of a round.  This tutorial should help.  Please note, these instructions are for crocheting in the round, not for crocheting in a spiral.

I am going to demonstrate the first round on a pattern that calls for making:
  • a chain 6 circle, slip stitch to first chain to join in the round
  • then chaining 3 (the chain 3 counts as the first double crochet), and making 17 double crochets in the circle for a total of 18 double crochets, then slip stitching into the 3rd chain of the chain 3 that I started with.  
My pattern uses U.S. terms but the same technique will apply, regardless of which terms you use.

Photo 1.
In Photo 1, you can see that I’ve made the chain 6 circle and have chained 3.

Photo 2.
Photo 2 shows a side view of the chain 3 and the first double crochet.  The 2 black arrows point to the first 2 chains and the pink arrow points to the third chain.   Once you have crocheted all the stitches in the round, this is where you will slip stitch to join the round into a completed circle.  The blue arrow indicates the top of the first double crochet made after the chain 3.  Do not slip stitch into that stitch at the end of the round!

Photo 3.
Photo 3 shows the same thing from a different angle.  Again, you can see the first 2 chains of the chain 3 identified by black arrows.  The third chain (pink arrow) is where you will slip stitch into at the end of the round to close the circle.  The blue arrow shows the top of the first double crochet (technically, your second stitch).  Notice how the top loop of the first double crochet (blue arrow) is to the right of the leg of the stitch (the part that connects to the center).  This can help you identify where not to slip stitch.

Photo 4.
In Photo 4, I have double crocheted 17 double crochets (and I started with a chain 3, that makes 18 double crochets total).  I am about to join the round to close the circle.  Tip: Sometimes it can be difficult to fit all the stitches in that little circle.  Do not be afraid to tug on them and pull them out of the way so you can keep making stitches.  Do not crochet over other stitches you have already made in this round.  My instructions say to slip stitch in the third chain of the chain 3.  The pink arrow shows the third chain.  Try to get your hook under both loops of that chain if you can to make the slip stitch.

Photo 5.
In Photo 5, I am completing the slip stitch.  The pink arrow shows the third chain where my hook is inserted and the blue arrow shows the leg of the double crochet I made after the original chain 3.  There are two loops on my hook: the farthest right loop is from completing the previous stitch and the left loop is my slip stitch that I will now pull through the loop on the right end of the hook to close the circle.

This technique applies whether you are crocheting single crochets or half double crochets or trebles, etc., into a circle.  The only difference is the number of chains you start with at the beginning, which also determines where you will slip stitch at the end:
  • for a single crochet circle, after you’ve made the circle, you start with a chain 1, make your single crochets in the circle and slip stitch into that original chain 1.
  • for a half double crochet circle, after making the circle, chain 2, make your half double crochets around and slip stitch into the 2nd chain of the original chain 2.
  • for a treble crochet circle, after making the circle, chain 4, make your treble crochets into the circle and slip stitch into the 4th chain of the original chain 4 to close it.
Should you count the first chain(s) as a stitch?  Generally, yes, I do.  From what I have found, most patterns and especially charts do count it as a stitch. (this may not apply to crocheting flat (back and forth, it depends on the pattern and stitch).

I hope you’ve found this little explanation helpful! 

Friday, September 06, 2013

Faberge Neck Warmer Class at Knitter's Day Out

This weekend finds me in Harrisburg at Central Penn College, the site of Knitter's Day Out. I will be at the Stitch Your Art Out booth and teaching a class on the Faberge Neck Warmer, an awesome pattern by Nina Machlin.

This is such a fun project and it works up faster than you would expect.  The pattern is well written and the result is great!  I decided I made mine a bit longer than I wanted (and longer than the pattern recommended) so I ripped back about 4 inches (photo shows length before shortening).  Stats:

Pattern: Faberge Neck Warmer by Nina Machlin
Yarn: Cascade Venezia Worsted
Beads: 3 tubes size 5 triangular beads (clear)
Needles: Size 7
Crochet hook (for adding beads): Size 6 steel
Final Length: 23 inches

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

In which I finish my 15 Minutes of Play Quilt

At the end of June, I blogged about my process of making a quilt using the techniques in the book 15 Minutes of Play.  This has been one of the most amazing experiences I have had while quilting.  I worked without an overall plan.  I looked at it and sort of just knew what to do next: what pieces to add, the colors I wanted to use and the quilting I wanted to do.  I can't say I have every really worked so completely without a plan, nor have I ever had such a clear sense of what I needed to do after each step was complete.

15 Minutes of Play quilt "Savoring Summer" finished! #15minplay

Something about this quilt is very "me."  It is hard to explain what I mean here, just that I look at it and it somehow expresses something that is essentially who I am.  Some part of it is the whimsy but I think there is more to it than that.  It has been a very cool experience.

I have another 15 Minutes of Play project in progress--a chevron quilt with half square triangles.  One half is blue and the other half is "made fabric" in a different color each row.  This is my progress so far.

I realized I am about to finish another quilt that I never blogged about.  Look for a post on the finished St. Louis 16 Patch coming soon!