A Blog Recommendation

I’ve been excited all week to crochet a Ravelry pattern that I’d had on deck for a while. Because I compulsively overbuy yarn, I had enough of exactly the yarn, in the right color, to make this long-sleeved shrug. The pattern is on the designer, Michelle’s, blog:

Michelle's no-sew shrug, a free pattern through ravelry.com, available on her blog.

The no-sew lightweight shrug. Photo by Michelle of http://www.thepaintedhinge.com

So far, I’ve only gotten most of the way through a sleeve, but the directions are clear and it’s working up nicely:

shrug sleeve

It’s so pretty that I looked into the designer, Michelle, and was thrilled to see that she has about a dozen other patterns, all free on Ravelry and her blog. Speaking of her blog, she posts about all kinds of fun DIY projects, everything from crochet to cooking to gardening. So far, I’ve made myself a pair of cotton booties, which are as cute as they sound, but sturdy. They feel like a mini foot massage with each step you take!

cotton bootie

So check out her work when you have a chance over at http://www.thepaintedhinge.com, and happy crafting!

~Rae

Free Pattern: Lace Shell Fingerless Mittens

by Rae

I was playing around with multiple fingerless mitten patterns today, and ran into trouble with each one. There are so many good ones out there, but I was being picky: I wanted something worked in worsted weight, warm, fingerless, and quick! A couple of hours later, I’d pieced together a pattern. I’m super excited that it meets all four wishes!

These make a great last minute gift. Despite the holes from the lace pattern, they are surprisingly warm.

Quick fingerless mittens.

Quick fingerless mittens.

Materials:

H hook if you crochet loosely, or I hook if you find most specified pattern hook sizes work for you

Worsted weight yarn of any color (I use Caron Simply Soft), it doesn’t need to be acrylic, but should be reasonably soft

Needle to weave in ends

Instructions: 

The gloves are worked in the round. The pattern is the same for the right or left, so just make two (and flip one over!) To change size, add or subtract 4 to the initial foundation. For lesser size adjustments, try going up or down a hook size. As written, these fit a woman with average size hands. If you are unsure of size, try pulling the work over your hand (or the hand of the recipient) a few rows into the pattern. It should pull over without a struggle, but not be so loose it slips on and off, either.

Stitches used: fsc (foundation single crochet), ch (chain), sl st (slip stitch), dc (double crochet) (US)

Make 2.

Round 1: fsc 24, sl st to 1st fsc, avoiding twisting the chain

Round 2: ch 3 (counts as 1st dc), dc, ch 2, 2dc, {sk 3 sts, 2dc, ch2, 2dc} around. Sl st to top of ch 3.

Round 3: Sl st to next ch 2 sp and ch3 (counts as 1st dc), dc, ch 2, 2dc, {sk 3 sts, 2dc, ch2, 2dc} around. Sl st to top of ch 3.

Rounds 4-9: repeat round 3

Round 10: Sl st to next ch 2 sp and ch3 (counts as 1st dc), dc, ch 2, 2dc, {sk 3 sts, 2dc, ch2, 2dc} around, ch 1, dc between shells of prev round, ch 1. Sl st to top of ch 3.

Round 11: Sl st to next ch 2 sp and ch3 (counts as 1st dc), dc, ch 2, 2dc, {sk 3 sts, 2dc, ch2, 2dc} around to 1st ch 1 sp. (2dc, ch2, 2dc) in ch 1 sp, sk dc, (2dc, ch2, 2dc) in ch 1 sp. Sl st to top of ch 3.

Round 12: Sl st to next ch 2 sp and ch3 (counts as 1st dc), dc, ch 2, 2dc, {sk 3 sts, 2dc, ch2, 2dc} leaving last 2 shells unworked. Ch 1, sk 2 shells, sl st to top of ch 3.

Round 13: repeat round 3

Finish off. Weave in ends.

Happy Holidays!

Have you been caught Knooking?

No, it’s not a relative of necking, though that’s all I could think of when I first saw the name. I think that says more about me than it does about knooking, though!

A little background: My attempts to knit have been exercises in something, for sure, but there was a lot more swearing and frustration involved than there was actual knitting. About every six months I get the nerve up to try again. The most recent attempt netted me a 3″ by 5″ piece of knitted material. Progress! Okay, no, not really. So I went back to crocheting, head hung in shame.

If you are a regular crocheter like me who has struggled to cross over into knitting successfully, this knooking thing may be the solution for you. Knooking is the practice of using crochet hooks to knit.

While the stitches are the same as normal knits and purls (the two main stitches in knitting, for those uninitiated to the endless frustration- er, joy- that is knitting), the way you hold the hooks, work, and working yarn is much more reminiscent of crochet. This is a HUGE help, because unlike knitting with needles, your crochet habits and skill set transfer over far more than they do with straight knitting. That was the key for me – I could concentrate on learning how to knit and how to purl without also worrying about where to hold my yarn, how to hold the needle, and all of the other little things that come naturally to long-time knitters.

With enough practice, I think I could try knitting with needles again, this time with a solid foundation in knitting and purling, so that I can focus on all of those other little things that have made knitting so overwhelming in the past.

But you’ve got to be wondering, alright, I want to try it out. What supplies do I need, and what do I do?

  • Two crochet hooks of the same size, or a crochet hook with a long extender on the back.
  • Your choice of yarn
  • A basic knitting pattern

Ideally, you need a crochet hook with an extender on the back end. They are starting to sell kits at chain craft stores with a few knooks and a little instruction book – find them by the crochet and knitting supplies. They whole kit is small, only about a quarter the size of a normal crochet instruction book, so they can be hard to spot. You can, however, use a regular crochet hook for a small piece, but you’ll need two hooks of the same size to do it this way. Tunisan crochet hooks work wonderfully, as the extra length allows you to work on larger pieces. Just keep in mind that the far back end at the end of the extender can’t have something on it to keep the work from sliding off, as you slide that out of your work with each row you finish.

For my starter pattern, I looked around on Ravelry and found Tin Can Knits’ Wheat Scarf.

Casting on: you can use traditional knitting methods of casting on, but knooking as one more way. Just chain the number of stitches you need exactly. Then, working back along your chain, skip the first stitch, then pick up the side loop from each chain st. Don’t worry about the chain you skipped. The loop on the hook when you first finish chaining counts as a stitch as well.

Once you have the right number of stitches on your hook, it’s time to get started!

I’m right handed, so I keep my working yarn wound through the fingers of my left hand and hold the work between my left thumb and middle finger. My right hand holds the hook I’m using to knit. Once you’ve cast on, pick up your second hook if you are working with two hooks. Otherwise, slide the cast on stitches down onto the flexible extended part of your hook. The internet is full of basic instructions on how to knit and purl, so for now I will leave you with that much. I found an instruction book on knooking at my local free library, but you could buy one on amazon or at a craft store. One resource to learn how to knook can be found at Denise Interchangeable Knitting and Crochet.

Good luck! If you give knooking a try, let me know how it goes!

-Rae

Crochet as Therapy for Anxiety

There have been studies done in recent years that tell us what many crochet artists already knew: crafts like crocheting and knitting are excellent ways to sooth anxiety, panic disorders, and stress. But anecdotal evidence only takes us so far, and I have a great love for science and logic. With that in mind, here is some actual proof:

A CNN article entitled “This is Your Brain on Crafting” from March of last year talked about how crafting can better our lives. The article states that, “Crafting can help those who suffer from anxiety, depression or chronic pain, experts say.” I don’t know about you, but I fall into basically all of those categories, some more often than others. But the article goes on, “It may also ease stress, increase happiness and protect the brain from damage caused by aging.” Let’s be honest – we could all use less stress and more happiness. Sign me up!

I’ll be honest, as a writer as well as a crafter, I’m fascinated by the concept of “flow.” Think of flow as being “in the zone” so to speak – the article touches on this concept as well.

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi first described this phenomenon as flow: a few moments in time when you are so completely absorbed by an activity that nothing else seems to matter. Flow, Csikszentmihalyi says, is the secret to happiness — a statement he supports with decades of research.

Csikszentmihalyi also gave a great TEDtalk, one of my favorite resources available on the internet along with Ravelry. You can find his TEDtalk here, if you are interested. It’s 18 minutes, but time well spent. You could crochet while listening! I found this point to be really interesting, in that it explains why activities like crochet reduce stress and anxiety:

Our nervous system is only capable of processing a certain amount of information at a time, he explains. That’s why you can’t listen and understand two people who are talking to you at once. So when someone starts creating, his existence outside that activity becomes “temporarily suspended.”

So, crocheters and crafters of all kinds, keep crafting – it’s good for your health!

~Rae

(All quotes come from the linked CNN article, “This is Your Brain on Crafting”)

Mary Jane Slippers – Another pattern favorite!

Last time, I featured my favorite pattern. But if your feet were jealous, fear not!😉

This pattern is by Lisa Gutierrez, titled Mary Jane Slippers, and they are delightful. They are very comfortable, you can customize them with contrasting colors and buttons, and the weave of stitches under the sole of your foot feels like a continuous massage as you walk. Like, I said, delightful! And even better, it’s free.

You will need a small amount of worsted weight yarn, around 3 oz., plus a little bit of contrasting yarn for the last two rounds and closure. While you can alternatively permanently attach the strap, it looks really nice with a neat button. It’s a great way to use up those few neat-looking buttons you’ve had sitting around, waiting for the right project.

Here is my version of her slippers:

Mary Jane Slippers made in some of my favorite colors.

Mary Jane Slippers in some of my favorite colors.

I found Lisa’s pattern easy to follow. It’s a pdf with excellent pictures detailing each step. A few alterations you can make if you are feeling playful or creative (imagine that, us, creative?) are:

  • Instead of working the strap across your foot as a loop, just permanently attach it. You could leave the button off this way if you wished.
  • For the bottom of the slipper, try holding stretchy .5mm or .7mm bead and jewelry cord (like Stretch Magic, which is what I happened to have around) with the yarn for the middle of each of those rows. The only downside to these slippers is they can be slightly slippery on hard smooth floors, and I think this would eliminate that potential problem.

Enjoy the pattern. Let me know what you think of it!

~Rae

My Very Favorite Pattern

While there are a few patterns I really enjoy, this is one I’ve made repeatedly to the point of memorizing it. I found it on Ravelry.com, which is an excellent resource if you haven’t discovered it yet. There are many ways to refine your searches, including sorting for free patterns only, of which there are plenty. You do need to create a free, simple account, but it’s well worth it because you can save patterns you like to your library for later.

So, my favorite? The Hermione Shell Mittens by Andrea Denby. It is free, Andrea’s pattern is clear and concise, and everyone who has seen a pair has asked me for them. For yarn, I use a double strand of Loops and Threads Woolike from Michaels. It’s incredibly soft, and using two strands together makes it just right for the weight suggested in the pattern.

These are wonderful if you work in a cold office or spend time in a chilly school or library, or for in-between weather. Any task where your hands get chilly but you really need your fingertips, really! Like, say, crocheting on a cold day?

My version of the Hermione Shell Gloves, original pattern by Andrea Denby.

My version of the Hermione Shell Gloves.

The gloves in the image above are slightly different from the original pattern – I worked a couple of extra rows in the wrist to make it longer and even warmer. Some people loved the longer version, while others found it annoying to have it go so far down on their arm. As long as you stick to the right multiple, you can adjust the circumference of the glove if needed. If you are making them for a gift, when in doubt, ask about the length! Better that they find out the surprise than your work go to waste in the back of a closet.

The pattern is worked as one piece from the wrist up through the thumb hole and over the hand and fingers, then the thumb is added on at the end. You can also remove one repetition of the pattern that is worked in the round (by subtracting 8 from the beginning chain) to make them fit a grade-school-aged child. My kids love them, too!

Try them out, and let me know what you think!

~Rae

Welcome!

Friends from near and far, welcome to a space where we can create, discuss, and share our mutual love of crafts regardless of skill or chosen method of creation. Personally, I love to crochet. I also make a bit of jewelry. But I also love to write, and having a blog combines my two greatest creative loves – writing and crochet.

Here, I’ll feature really cool ideas and patterns I find out on the web, testing them out whenever I can so that you know how difficult and complete they are. I also plan to share my own patterns and compile a list of them for everyone to try out.

So be welcome, and enjoy a space free of the anxiety and pressure of our daily lives, and full of fun, creative ideas.

~Rae