Twins Face Off Sneak Peek

Twins Face Off Design Challenge – Sneak Peek

Last week we announced our first Twins Face Off design challenge. If you missed the announcement, click the link to read about the Red Heart Sponsored Twins Face Off Design Challenge.

Here’s a sneak peek at what we’re working on:

Twins Sneak Peek

We decided to make shrugs with the yarn provided. For those not familiar with shrugs…in essence these are short sweaters. They can be sleeveless, short sleeve or long sleeve. Some people might refer to them as capes or capelets.

Next week we’ll reveal the shrugs and ask you to vote for your favorite. You’ll also get a chance to sign up to win the yarn and patterns used in the challenge. See you next week!

Blog Tour with Crochetville

We’re Part of the Crochetville Blog Tour

CrochetvilleTo celebrate National Crochet Month (NatCroMo), Deborah and I joined the Crochetville Blog Tour! It is a whole lot of fun. We are highlighted on March 9. We answer lots of questions about our journey as crochet designers. You can read more about the us, the Yarn Twins on Crochetville. There are two crochet designers highlighted each day in March. It’s absolutely fascinating to read about so many talented crocheters.

Alternative Uses for to Victorian Lace Gift Card Holder

Victorian Lace Gift Card HolderFor National Crochet Month 2015 we shared a free pattern for a Victorian Lace Gift Card Holder. Today I also want to share with you a alternate uses for the various parts and pieces of the pattern.

The gift card holder itself can be used multiple ways. The friend I made this for is using it as a business card holder!

  • Gift Card Holder
  • Business Card Holder
  • Credit Card Wallet
  • Perks / Reward Cards to various businesses

The flower on the gift card holder is a lot of fun. It’s amazing how different it looks when crocheted with different yarns.

flower gallery

Acrylic Yarns from various companies were used in the flowers above. From left to right:

  1. Bernat Handicrafter Thread
    Bottom flower is single stranded with steel hook – 1″ across.
    Top flower is double stranded with D Hook – 1 1/2″ across.
  2. Caron Simply Soft with H Hook – 2″ across.
  3. Vanna’s Choice with I Hook – 2 1/2″ across.
  4. Red Heart (yellow: Super Saver, pink: Love)
    Bottom flower is single stranded with I Hook – 1 3/4″ across.
    Top flower is double stranded with L Hook – 3 3/4″ across.

Flowers can be used to dress up lots of things, handmade or store bought. Here are a couple of ways we’ve used the flowers:

Mittens dressed with flowers

It’s really fun to pin the flowers to a pair of mittens. Here is a pair of mittens our sister-in-law made for Deborah for Christmas one year.

Headband and flowers

Flowers look adorable on headbands. I’ve attached the thread flowers to a headband Deborah bought for me when living in China.

Want More Flowers

We’ve used flowers in various designs. Here are a few:

Bath-Salts-Jar-Cozy     Hiking-Buddy-Mini-Purse     Red-Heart-Mothers-Day-Bouquet

 

 

Behind the Scenes: Victorian Lace Gift Card Holder

Behind the Scenes: Victorian Lace Gift Card Holder

Victorian Lace Gift Card HolderWhat was my inspiration? Two things: 1) I needed a gift card holder for a dear friend (she adores Chic Couture), 2) I had been contemplating a lattice and rose design in thread for a while and wanted to try it out on a small project.

Problem? I don’t really like working in thread and I hate changing color in thread!

Solution: Crochet with two strands at once and a size D crochet hook. Use chalk to color the flower. The chalk allows for more subtle coloring with a kind of whitewash look to it. That’s what I was going for. The color won’t last long, but it’s not a wearable item, so that wasn’t a concern for me.

My friend was thankful for the gift card and raved about the gift card holder. She said she loved it so much that she was going to use it as a business card holder. Huh, what do you know…it is the perfect size for that. Awesome!

Review: Crochet Stitch Directory by Sarah Hazell

Review: “Crochet Stitch Directory” by Sarah Hazell

Crochet Stitch DictionaryLove this book. I, Dana, just have to say that right up front. Most of the crochet dictionaries in my collection (I only have a few, mind you) leave me uninspired. But not Crochet Stitch Dictionary. This book is the first one I pull out when I’m looking to create something with texture like a baby blanket.

10 Things I Love about “Crochet Stitch Dictionary”

  • 200 Stitches. My hat’s off to Sarah Hazell for fitting 200 designs into a 192 page book.
  • There are no patterns, just swatches. I prefer my dictionaries to be just that…dictionaries. I don’t want valuable pages wasted with random patterns I’m never going to crochet. Thankfully this book is packed with swatches.
  • There are step-by-step photos. For stitches that have multiple steps, there are photos! Very helpful.
  • There are charts for every design. And they are color coded making them easier to read as you move from one row to the next.
  • Colorful yarns are used throughout. The swatches are shown in lots of colors. I like that they aren’t all just crocheted in white yarn. The book feels cheerful as you flip from page to page.
  • Basic stitches are included. I like that standard stitches are included like single and double, and also Star, V and Chevron, etc.
  • Lots of advanced stitches are included. There are lots of patterns with cluster stitches, post work and crossed stitches.
  • Packed full of new stitches. Maybe it’s just me but I’ve never heard of the Berry Stitch or Granule. But I love them now that I see them in the book! I so want to make something with the unique stitches I’ve only seen in this book.
  • Lots of swatches using multiple colors, beads and loop stitch are included. I love that the swatches address other items that change the way a swatch looks such as beads, loops and color changes.
  • Tunisian Crochet is not included. Tunisian is such a different technique, I’m glad it’s not covered in this book. When I want to work Tunisian, I’d rather pull out a book that deals only with that.

So, although I adore this book, it’s not perfect. New crocheters will probably find it challenging because it’s condensed. Although there are step-by-step photos, there aren’t a ton. And if a new crocheter tries an advanced stitch, they’ll be frustrated. I haven’t kept track, but I think I’ve seen a typo or two in some of the written directions. But with the charts being right next to the directions, that takes care of any confusion.

The book doesn’t have any edging, which I find a pro, while others may feel a con. I actually designed a baby blanket using two different stitches from the book, one stitch as the center panel and another I modified and used as edging.

As I said, this is my #1 go to stitch dictionary. If you are looking to buy just one, this has my vote (so far).

Twins Face Off – Red Heart Sponsored

Twins Face Off – March 2015 Design Challenge Sponsored by Red Heart

Twins Back to Back

Twins: Dana and Deborah

We have a confession to make. We’re a bit competitive. We enjoy how competition stretches our imagination and challenges us to think creatively and strategically. We aren’t sore losers. We are genuinely happy when other people’s skills best our own. But we’re out to win, none the less.

With that said, we are thrilled to bring you our first Twins Face Off design challenge. We will each be given the same yarn and work independently to create a fun design that you will get a chance to vote on. And there will be prizes!

This first challenge is sponsored by Red Heart Yarn.

Red Heart Yarn Prize Package

Red Heart Yarn: Yarn for Challenge and Upcoming Prize Pack

 

We each have received 8 skeins of yarn: 2 skeins each of Red heart Soft in Black and White and 2 skeins each of Red Heart Boutique Sashay Sequins in Caviar and Champagne.

We’ll be getting together over the next week to decide what type of item we’ll crochet for our face off. Could be a toy, a garment or home decor item. We’ll let you know Tuesday next week.

There will be a couple of prizes in this competition, too! Those who vote on our designs will be entered in a drawing to win the yarn pictured above and the patterns we create in this competition. First place wins the yarn and patterns. Second place wins the patterns.

We want to send out a big thank you to Red Heart for sponsoring our first challenge.

 

Happy National Crochet Month 2015

Happy National Crochet Month 2015!

Victorian Lace Gift Card HolderMarch is one of our favorite months of the year…because we are crochet addicts! To celebrate National Crochet Month we are sharing this crochet pattern for a Victorian Lace Gift Card Holder. This is an elegant way to dress up gift cards for your favorite crocheters or those who love all things Victorian.

This pattern first appeared in Love of Crochet magazine Summer 2014 issue. We have the rights back and are happy to share the pattern with you for free to celebrate National Crochet Month this year.

Free Pattern for National Crochet Month 2015

I used some cotton thread I picked up at a garage sale. This project would also be lovely in Aunt Lydia’s, Knit Picks Curio or Bernat Handicrafter threads. You’ll note that I use a D hook and crocheted with 2 strands held at once. This makes the project whip up faster and allowed me to use a larger hook.

SUPPLIES:

  • Bucilla Super Mercerized Wondersheen 100% Cotton: 400 yards/75 g – Color 9
  • US size – D/3/3.25 (mm) crochet hook, or size required for gauge
  • Needle for sewing
  • colored chalk

Gauge: 2 strands held at once – 5 rows and 10 dc = 2″

Victorian Crochet Gift Card Holder

GIFT CARD HOLDER INSTRUCTIONS:

2 strands held together (double stranded)

Ch 21

Row 1: Dc in 4th ch from hook (count as 1st 2 sts), dc. *ch 1, skip a ch, 3 dc* across. (19)

Row 2-6: Ch 3 (count as 1st st), turn. 2 dc. *ch 1, skip ch, 3 dc* across. (19)

Row 7: Ch 3 (count as 1st st), turn. Working in the front loop only this Row: 2 dc. *ch 1, skip ch, 3 dc* across. (19)

Row 8-12: Repeat Row 2

Gift-Card-Holder-ProfileFinish off and weave in ends.

Fold gift card holder in half.

Attach thread (double stranded) to bottom right corner.

Rnd 13: Working across the ends of Rows 1-12, join sides together with sl st: work 2 sl st in each Row (12). Turn to back panel, 7 sl st, ch 17, skip 3 sts, sl st across. (27). Turn to Sides of Rows 1-12. Work 2 sl at the end of each Row. (12)

Finish off and weave in ends.

Gift Card Holder OpenROSE INSTRUCTIONS

2 strands held together

Ch 2, leaving a long tail for sewing.

Rnd 1: 5 sc in 2nd ch from hook. Join with a sl st. (5)

Rnd 2: Working in the front loop only this Rnd: *In next st work: sc, hdc, dc, hdc, sc* around. Join with a sl st to the unused loop behind the pedals just worked. (25)

Rnd 3: Work in the unused loop behind Rnd 2. *Ch 3, sl st* around. (20)

Rnd 4: *In the ch-3 sp work: sc, hdc, 3 dc, hdc, sc* around. Join with a sl st. (35)

Finish off leaving and weave in ends.

ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Chalk Rose as desired.
  • Sew Rose to Row 3 & 4 below the loop made in Rnd 13. Sew just the center of the Rose to the Gift Card Holder so that it acts as a button.

Behind the Scenes: Ball-and-Chain

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.

Ball and Chain Wedding

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!Balls and Chain

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!

A Ball and Chain Ankle

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. Intarsia

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

Fair Isle, also called “stranded colorwork”, has several characteristics.

  1. It’s usually done in the round, like hats and sweaters.

    Flame Hats and Mittens

    Flame Hats and Mittens

  2. It traditionally uses only two colors per round. Other rounds may use two different colors, but each round uses two.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Mittens

Pictured left is a pair of mittens from our Flame Beanies and Mittens Set. The mitten on the right shows the wrong / inside of the mitten. Strands of yarn are carried along the inside until it is needed again.

As mentioned above, these are crocheted in the round. The beanies have a similar stranded look inside.

Intarsia

Intarsia has several of its own characteristics.

  1. It’s usually done in rows on flat pieces.

    Panda Set

    Panda Set

  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

  1. When changing colors, you should use the new color for the last YO that is pulled through the loops on the hook.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

For a fun Intarsia project, try the Bamboo Blanket.

Ball and Chain Crochet Pattern

Ball and Chain Crochet Pattern

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.

Ball and Chain Wedding

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.

Available in the Store

This Ball and Chain crochet pattern is available in the store.

 

Behind the Scenes: Designing a Houndstooth Pattern

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.

Lion Brand Fun Fur

Lion Brand Fun Fur

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.

Trendsetter La Furla

Trendsetter La Furla

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.