Newborn Baseball Set
Hat, Baseball Mitt,
Hats, Goggles and Scarves
Owl Bean Bag Set
Owl Bean Bag, Blanket,
Behind the Scenes: Ball-and-Chain
Do spouses automatically have to wear stuff we knit or crochet? There are several things my husband won’t wear, but he did say that if I ever made a ball-and-chain scarf, he would wear it. Ha! I’ll believe it when I see it.
I actually started one a long time ago (and by a long time ago I mean about five years ago), but ended up giving it to my niece when she got married. She used it in her wedding photos and it looked like a lot of fun. Now I kind of wish I had had one when I got married! Upcoming weddings have motivated me to brush off that old incomplete pattern and finish it up.
I experimented with a couple different sizes of balls and stitches for the links before settling on what I have here. The first ball I crocheted was rather small and my husband said he could easily walk away if he had a ball and chain like that! I made one a bit bigger, though it’s still not up to scale. A ball with a diameter of 5.9 inches would be a bit cumbersome as a scarf!
The scarf would be a great prop for plays like A Christmas Carol. Of course stuffing in the ball is rather light and wouldn’t provide much drag when walking across the stage, but a ball filled with popcorn would!
Wherever a little physical restraint is needed, the ball-and-chain is a perfect project.
Check out the Ball and Chain pattern in our shop.
Fair Isle vs. Instarsia
Many knitting patterns involve color changes while most crochet patterns do not. Why is that? Having changed colors in knitted and crocheted projects I will say that it’s not because it’s easier to do when knitting. I actually found it easier to change colors while crocheting. There are two ways to change colors when knitting or crocheting, Fair Isle and intarsia. I have used both methods and the method I use depends on the project being made.
Fair Isle, also called “stranded colorwork”, has several characteristics.
- It’s usually done in the round, like hats and sweaters.
- It traditionally uses only two colors per round. Other rounds may use two different colors, but each round uses two.
- The yarn is not cut but is crocheted over or dropped (to the back/wrong side)and picked up when needed. This leaves a strand of yarn on the back. For mittens, it is easy to snag the strands on the inside with a finger when putting the mittens on.
- The Flame Hat and Mittens are great for learning Fair Isle as the color work is only along the brim of the hat or the fingers of the mittens.
Intarsia has several of its own characteristics.
- It’s usually done in rows on flat pieces.
- A ball or bobbin of yarn is used for each color section and is dropped and left dangling until is it picked up and used on the way back.
- The yarn is always dropped to the project’s wrong side. Because it is worked in rows, sometimes it is dropped to the back and sometimes it’s dropped to the front.
- The Bamboo Blanket has only two color sections, black and white, making it a great beginner piece for Intarsia work. That means there are only two skeins or balls to keep track of when crocheting. The bamboo stalks are crocheted separately and sewn on.
Both Fair Isle and Intarsia use charts/graphs instead of written out instructions. Generally one box in the graph equals one stitch. Graphed work looks best in single crochet though half double crochet can work, depending on the graph. Keep in mind, stitches in crochet do not line up one on top of another like knitting does. When trying to make vertical lines and things like letters, they will end up looking a little wavy. The stitches will line up a little more when working in rows. A vertical line will tend to lean right when working in the round.
There are just a few other tips for creating a successful piece of color work.
- When changing colors, you should use the new color for the last YO that is pulled through the loops on the hook.
- Tension can be a problem. If part of the project changes colors and part of it does not, sometimes one section is tighter than another. Be aware that you may need to relax during the color changing section.
- It is also easy to make a tighter section if there are long sections where a color isn’t used in Fair Isle. Crocheting over the unused yarn every 2-3 stitches helps keep the tension relaxed. Imagine trying to put on a hat that has no give because the strands are too tight.
My first projects were hats and scarves. They were small enough to practice on and I could pull them out and try again if something wasn’t quite right. With a little practice, it is possible to get into a rhythm with dropping and picking up the different colors. There is no reason Intarsia and Fair Isle can’t be just as popular in crochet as it is in knitting.
For a fun Fair Isle project, try the Flame Hats and Mittens.
Ball and Chain Crochet Pattern
Do your burdens feel like the old ball and chain?
We couldn’t resist having a little fun with the many references to the ball and chain. This is a funny gift to give at a bridal shower (yes, we have done that). It’s also a fun prop for use in plays like “A Christmas Carol” for the ghost of Christmas past.
Whatever your burden, this ball and chain was designed with comfort in mind. It has a faux leather lined cuff for when your burden seems extra heavy to carry.
Pictured above, the scarf is 5′ long. Add more or less links to change the length.
This Ball and Chain crochet pattern is available in the store.
Behind the Scenes: Designing a Houndstooth Crochet Pattern
How is it my husband knew what houndstooth was and I did not? A friend of mine said she was going to try to come up with a crocheted houndstooth pattern. I had seen this pattern many times before but never knew what it was called. Trying to come up with a pattern intrigued me and I, too, made several attempts at getting an approximate pattern.
First I had to decide if I wanted a small houndstooth pattern or a large one. There are several lovely small patterns available online often using an alternating pattern of single crochet and double crochet. I wanted to come up with a larger pattern, one that really incorporated the diagonal lines of the houndstooth. However, the diagonal spike stitch patterns I came up with seemed jumbled and messy. I finally decided to use a spike stitch that went straight down. The effect was quite lovely.
I first proposed the houndstooth trio to a crochet magazine with Lion Brand’s Fun Fur. Paired with Vanna’s Choice yarn it made a lovely set. The magazine’s editor suggested I redo the set in Trendsetter’s Merino wool and La Furla. These are quite luxurious yarns. They are both incredibly soft and warm. The La Furla is thicker and softer than Fun Fur. They are stylish and functional for even the coldest of weather. Lion Brand has since come out with an equally soft and thicker fur like called Romance. Both yarn brands make for a beautiful houndstooth set.
So, just how did my husband know what houndstooth was? From football, of course. College football coach Paul Bryant was often seen at games wearing a houndstooth hat!
Learn more about the Houndstooth Trio in the shop.
Review: Artists & Makers Magazine
When a friend gave me a copy of Artists & Makers magazine Winter 2015, I was thrilled. I secretly love art but most people don’t know it. I rarely go to art shows and I don’t read up on anything other than crochet. So this was a treasure. One that I wanted to savor and read while undisturbed. So when I had the house to myself, I fixed myself a drink, settled comfortably on the couch and cracked open the magazine.
It was, in a word, delightful. I received a glimpse into the lives of lots of creative people who shared both their successes and struggles. There were book reviews, tips for the business side of art and snapshots of a wide variety of art forms from letterpress to painting to woodworking, etc. There was even a small story about a yarn company!
My favorite section was “Essentials”, a review of products, supplies or organizational tools that artists might like. This 2 page spread made me laugh out loud! It reminded me of the Seinfeld episodes where Elaine works for J Peterman and writes catalog copy that is more story than actual description/review of products. After reading Essentials, I was tempted to buy one of everything. Ok, I exaggerate. I wasn’t tempted to buy anything, but this section alone makes the magazine a must read!
The quality of the magazine is top notch. It has a nice thick cover with beautiful glossy layouts. The artists highlighted are diverse in textiles and in personalities which I really appreciated. There were a lot of practical tips that all artists can use regardless of art form. When I finished reading the magazine, I was encouraged and my spirit uplifted. I was energized.
I would recommend this magazine to creative people who are passionate about their art and have an entrepreneurial spirit. Though it may be geared more for people who want to make a full or part time living with art, anyone who sees arts and/or crafts as a form of expression will enjoy this magazine.
Craftsy References and eGuides
We don’t blog about it much, but we are fans of Craftsy. It’s a wonderful place for online classes. The videos are high quality, the teachers are knowledgeable and there are lots of subjects to choose from. I (Dana) recently learned that they have a bunch of free references and eGuides. Oh, yeah…sign me up!
The References are like mini classes packed with nuggets of wisdom. They can be downloaded to your computer or viewed on a browser. Here are a few of their eGuides:
eGuide: Understanding Exposure for Better Photos Now: Beginner Photography Tutorials
eGuide: Not-So-Basic Buttercream Decorating Ideas
Food & Cooking
eGuide: Delicious Doughnut Recipes You Can Make at Home
eGuide: 6+ Stash-Busting Paper Craft Projects
eGuide: Drawing the Human Face: A Primer
eGuide: Beginner’s Guide to the World of Watercolor
eGuide: Success With Container Gardening
eGuide: Woodturning Basics for Beginners
Being a former paper crafter, the eGuide for 6+ Stash Busting Projects is one of my favorites. And as someone who needs to take better pictures, the photography eGuide is one I’m going to be memorizing. Of course, they have eGuides for crochet and knitting, too. I really like their Metrics Conversion Guide! I’m definitely going to print that out and put it by my work station (ok, it’s going on the coffee table in front of my couch).
Fun References on Craftsy
There are other fun (and free) references on Craftsy, too. As someone who likes to plan, the To Do List and Project Planner definitely resonate with me.
The easiest way to access the Craftsy References is to visit their blog and click on references in the left sidebar.
Houndstooth Ladies Crochet Winter Accessories
The crochet pattern includes a fur brimmed hat, fur brimmed cowl and fur lined muff. The trio fits ladies 8 years old and older.
The Houndstooth print is created with stitches of various heights and the spike stitch. It’s surprisingly easy to create. The most difficult part will be working with fur. But it is sooo worth it because it is super soft, very warm and absolutely gorgeous.
Pictured here is yarn from Trendsetter Yarns. This set used Merino 8 and La Furla. Both are super soft and delightful to work with.
Learn more about the Houndstooth Trio in the Shop.
It wasn’t all smiles at the photo shoot for the Panda Set. Here’s a peek Behind the Scenes.
Maybe you’ve experienced this yourself: you place your adorably dressed child at just the right spot for a picture but he moves or cries or spits up. At 1 year old our model was much more interested in taking off the hat and peeling down the pants than staying dressed, sitting quietly and smiling at the camera. Hmmm…thankfully he also enjoyed roaring like a bear. So we were able to grab a few snapshots of him fully clothed and roaring.
The roaring only lasted so long before the hat was whipped off again. We coaxed it back on and encouraged him to sit next to the Panda bean bag chair…again. A few funny faces and silly noises later and we caught a smile or two.
But then, time was up and the tears came out. Our model was done. The photo shoot lasted all of 10 minutes. So, we hoped for the best and let the little tyke run and jump on the Panda bean bag chair, which is what he wanted to do from the beginning.
Mom may have been a little frazzled by the production, but everyone seemed happy in the end. We got some cute photos and the little tyke got to play with some new toys.
Learn more about the Panda Set in the Shop.
Broomstick Lace – Easier Than You Think
My (Dana) first impressions of broomstick lace were 1) it creates a gorgeous texture and 2) it will be difficult to learn. I may have been right on the first point, but I was oh, so wrong on the second.
At first, it felt a bit clunky working with a knitting needle while crocheting (especially one with the diameter of a broomstick handle). But in a short amount of time it became easy and even relaxing to create broomstick lace. In fact, I taught a friend how to broomstick lace in her second crochet lesson ever! Once she mastered the single crochet, she had all the skills she needed to create a beautiful broomstick lace scarf.
Broomstick Lace – The Basics
Broomstick is created without turning your work, in two stages. First, there is a loop row where loops are put on a knitting needle (#50 is traditionally used). Then, there is a crochet row where crochet is worked around the loops (sc is traditionally used).
Below are the stages used to create traditional broomstick lace:
Start Your Project
- Chain the length you want (i.e. 26 ch)
- Sc in 2nd ch and each ch across. Do not turn work. (25 sc)
Stage One: Loop Row
Work from Left to Right (for right handed crocheters)
- Make the loop on your hook larger and transfer it to a knitting needle.
- Put your hook through the back loop of next st, yo (yarn over), draw up a loop and transfer it to a knitting needle. Repeat across work. Do not turn work. (25 loops on knitting needle)
Stage Two: Crochet Row
Work from Right to Left (for right handed crocheters)
- Carefully remove knitting needle from loops. Be mindful not to tug on the loops because they are all connected.
- Starting at the right side, put the first five loops on your hook and ch 1 around the loops. This brings your working yarn to the top of your work.
- Work 5 sc around the first 5 loops. Insert hook through next 5 loops, work 5 sc around them:repeat across the row. (25 sc made: 5 sc around 5 sets of 5 loops)
Repeat Stage One and Two to desired length.
Broomstick Lace Variation – Similar to Knitting Drop Stitch
One of my favorite variations is to work one sc in one loop. This creates something that looks similar to drop stitch in knitting. I call it single stranded broomstick lace.
This technique is worked just like traditional broomstick lace but with only one stitch per loop. So, following the instructions above, you would still have 25 loops on your hook and 25 sc at the end of each row.
This technique also looks great with various sized knitting needles. Use a #17 and a #50 alternately to create different lengths of single stranded broomstick lace.
There are lots of other variations that can be worked with broomstick lace. You can twist the loops prior to working sc around them. You can work other stitches besides sc around the loops such as hdc and dc. You can grab more or less than five loops at a time.
Broomstick Lace – Video
I’ve created a short video on broomstick lace: both traditional and single stranded are highlighted.
Broomstick Lace – Yarn Selection
Pictured on the right is Milky Whey yarn by Kollage Yarns. This pattern was made with stranded broomstick lace on knitting needles #17 and #50. There is also a section of puff stitch and sc work.
This broomstick lace cowl pattern is available in the store.
Textured yarn like boucle or thick yarn like wool and acrylic will hide the texture of broomstick lace, so I wouldn’t recommend them if you want good stitch definition.
That being said, a yarn that has multiple textures may look quite nice. The stitch definition may suffer, but the various yarns will showcase broomstick lace stitches differently making the whole project very interesting.
Pictured on the right is a single stranded broomstick lace cowl using yarn that has six different textures in one skein. This followed the same instructions as the crimson cowl above only working one sc in each loop.
Panda Set Crochet Pattern
Love Panda’s or know someone who adores these exotic bears?
The Panda Set has something for everyone – newborn to adult men!
Panda Set Includes:
- Bean Bag Chair
- Hats: 6 sizes (newborn to adult men)
- Pants / Diaper Covers: 4 sizes (newborn to 12 mos)
- Stuffed Animal
- Bamboo Blanket
Panda Set – Crochet Details
The spike stitch is used where colors change to give the illusion of fur. We’ve included information on how to make a furry panda bean bag using Fun Fur.
Everything in the pattern is surprisingly easy to make. We rate the pattern intermediate because of the foundation ch (sometimes called no foundation chain stitches) used in the leaves of the bamboo.
You may have seen this pattern before. It first appeared in Love of Crochet magazine Holiday 2014 issue. Now it’s available in the store!
Panda Set – Crochet Pattern Now Available
The Panda Set is now available in the store as a crochet pattern. The pattern includes supplies list, lots of photos, step by step instructions, check boxes to mark your progress and more.