Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2014

Valentine from Polymer Clay for Everyone

Happy Valentine’s Day on this Flashback Friday. The big polymer clay heart is from Polymer Clay for Everyone (see sidebar). For a blast from the future, have a look at my other blog, where you can see some motifs from my new book, Cute Crochet World.

Crochet Charm Lace Along—Sneak Peek!

January 16th, 2014

Crochet Charm Lace—motifs stitched together

Can you see the pale orange yarn stitching these motifs together? Wherever they touch, you sew the together, catching loops on the back edge of each motif. This leaves the familiar “chain” look at the top of the stitch to show on the right side of the piece.

I couldn’t wait to see what my Perspective Daisy table mat is going to look like, so I took out the pins and folded the corner back for a sneak peek:

Crochet Charm Lace—sneak peek at corner

Five Point Tutorial

January 14th, 2014

A friend on Ravelry has been experimenting with Five Point, a flower design in Crochet Bouquet. She inspired me to re-crochet this cute flower and take some step-by-step photos. I hope this will encourage you to give “Five Point” a try.

The entire flower is worked in the round from the front only. Some of the photos show what the back looks like, but again, all rounds are worked from the front.

Crocheted Five Point flower tutorial

Rnd 1 is pairs of dc separated by ch-spaces.

Crocheted Five Point flower tutorial

Rnd 2 is worked in the ch-spaces of Rnd 1. The stitches are really packed in to make a densely packed petal.

Crocheted Five Point flower tutorial

Rnd 3 is worked into the original ch-ring, but behind the petals of Rnd 2. Fold the petal toward you. Insert hook into the original ring from the front as you normally would. The instructions tell you exactly how to begin the round with a tr into the ring.

Crocheted Five Point flower tutorial

This is how Rnd 3 looks as you progress around the flower, creating tr sts separated by ch-spaces.

Crocheted Five Point flower tutorial

When Rnd 3 is finished, it looks like this from the front and from the back. Because of the way Rnd 3 is positioned, the points of Rnd 2 should be more-or-less between the arches of Rnd 4.

Crocheted Five Point flower tutorial

The stitches of Rnd 4 are worked into the ch-spaces of Rnd 3. Again, a lot of stitches are packed into those ch-spaces. The points of Rnd 2 should be between the arches of Rnd 4. The yellow arrow shows where to insert your hook in Rnd 5, after you fold forward the petals of Rnd 4.

Crocheted Five Point flower tutorial

Fold the petals of Rnd 4 toward you, insert hook between the petals of Rnd 2 (see the yellow arrow in the photo above). This round locks the petals into their correct alignment.

Crocheted Five Point flower tutorial

This is how Rnd 5 looks from the back—sl sts between the petals of Rnd 2, separated by ch-spaces.

Crocheted Five Point flower tutorial

Rnd 6 is worked into the ch-spaces of Rnd 5. Here are a couple of petals of Rnd 6, as viewed from the back side.

Crocheted Five Point flower tutorial

Rnd 6 is finished, and we’re ready for one more round.

Crocheted Five Point flower tutorial

The Five Point is finished! The colors remind me of Valentine’s Day. It will be here before we know it!

Crochet Charm Lace Along—Pinning Motifs

January 2nd, 2014

Crochet Charm Lace with motifs arranged

It’s a great day when you finish all the motifs for your Crochet Charm Lace project! To me, that’s when the real fun begins: arranging the motifs on the template.

The last of my motifs were blocked on Monday, so that night, while the Texas Longhorns were thwacked by the Fighting Ducks of Oregon, I sat on the floor in front of the coffee table at my parents’ house, arranging and pinning Perspective Daisies. It was a lot more fun than actually watching the football game.

I spread the different flowers around evenly, taking care to avoid symmetry in the design. You might call it “planned randomness.”

Crochet Charm Lace—filler motifs

The orange flower arrangement looked elegant. “Do I really need to add the green and magenta filler motifs?” I wondered. The finished lace with orange flowers only would have more open spaces, but not too many.

The ballgame was over, so I rolled up the fabric template and packed up to go home. Luckily, I had time to think this over.

Today I spread the template out and photographed it with just the orange flowers on it. Then I placed the green and magenta circle motifs and took another picture.

Yay for digital photography! It’s a great design tool. You can photograph your project with different arrangements or colorways, then download them onto a computer and look at all the photos on the screen at the same time. That’s the easiest and best way to make a design decision—with all the choices in front of you.

Comparing Crochet Charm Lace options

Adding the green and magenta circle motifs filled in the spaces between flowers, which made the lace seem sturdier. The extra color added richness and made the arrangement look more happy and natural. Okay, okay. Rich, happy, and natural wins over elegant any time.

But you know, that’s my opinion. You are free to make your own choices about arranging motifs, without any thought or fear about what anyone else thinks.

Here they are all pinned! I ran out of safety pins, which are preferable, but straight pins will do the job. Just be careful when you’re working with the straight pins—they can stab! Next step: sew the motifs together.

Crochet Charm Lace—motifs pinned to fabric template

Crochet Charm Lace Along—Blocking Motifs

December 31st, 2013

Blocking crocheted Trillium

Ask any good craftsperson about finishing, and you will hear the same thing: finishing takes longer than you think it should, but finishing must be done, and must be done well. It doesn’t matter whether you’re sewing a dress, crocheting a sweater, or building a house.

That brings us to blocking, an essential part of finishing your work. Blocking is best practice. All the pros block their work. A reader, writing about crocheted flowers, said “no worries, you can block it into shape!” But no, blocking is not a way to alter the shape of your crochet or to force it into a shape it wasn’t meant to be.

Blocking allows your stitches to assume their intended shape; it relaxes and sets the yarn so the stitches will retain their intended shape.

Unblocked crocheted Perspective Daisy

The stitches of crochet and knitting tend to pull in one direction or another, so they often cause your work to curl. My little Perspective Daisies (from Crochet Garden) are so curly they look like nine-legged spiders. In the process of making Crochet Charm Lace, the flowers will be pinned to a fabric template. Unless I want to place a pin in each petal to hold it flat as I try to arrange the motifs and fit them together (nightmare!), the flowers need to be blocked.

Here’s how to block small pieces, like flowers:

You will need

  • A place to lay out your work to dry and maybe to pin
  • Water, either from the tap or in a spray mister
  • Pins (possibly)
  • Steam iron
  • Clean press cloth (optional)
  1. Moisten crocheted piece. You can spray the piece with a mister, or hold a handful of flowers under the tap, then squeeze out excess water.
  2. Unfurl and stretch out all the bits that are meant to be flat. I did this for each and every daisy petal. That took some time.
  3. Pinned crocheted Perspective Daisy

  4. If a piece still curls stubbornly, pin it flat.
  5. You may stop here and simply let the items dry, especially if your yarn will not take well to steam.
  6. If you are going to steam your pieces, consider turning them face-down. This protects the public side of your piece in case the unthinkable happens (you know, scorching).
  7. You may wish to use a press cloth to protect your pieces. Moisten and wring out a clean tea towel or cloth diaper. Lay it over the crocheted piece.
  8. Using a washrag for a press cloth

  9. Bearing the weight of the steam iron in your hand, hold the iron over the pieces and let the steam penetrate the stitches. (The iron will release steam from the press cloth, too.)
  10. Let the pieces dry, remove pins if necessary.

For a thorough discussion of blocking and its various uses, read Lily Chin’s Couture Crochet Workshop.

Blocked crocheted Perspective Daisies

Paired Leaflet Frond Tutorial

December 16th, 2013

Paired Leaflet Frond from Crochet Garden

Hello to Jan G. and her Knitwits group! Jan asked for a tutorial about the Paired Leaflet Frond, which is part of the “Trillium and Fronds” pattern (pp. 126-127) in Crochet Garden. Thank you for asking!

The Paired Leaflet Frond’s delicate construction is worked from the top down, opposite of how we know a frond or vine grows. It has a single top leaf, which you can see on page 16, where the Paired Leaflet Frond is featured in the section on Steam Blocking. In the rest of the book, we used it as a stem, so the flowers are hiding the top leaf.

Paired Leaflet Frond, Photo A

Reminder: In Crochet Garden, when you see a list of stitches, you are meant to put each stitch in the next st of the row below, unless otherwise instructed. For instance,

“2 hdc, sc, sl st” means

“hdc in next 2 sts, sc in next st, sl st in next st”

Once you have finished the top leaf, *ch 15.

To make the first leaflet of a pair, sc in 3rd ch from hook, hdc in next 2 sts, 3 sc in next st. Those last 3 sts are going to cause this leaflet to bend back in the direction of the top leaf.

Paired Leaflet Frond, Photo A2

For most crocheters, this will be the left-hand leaflet. Photo A shows the frond up to this point. The arrow points to the st with 3 sc in it.

Now for the second leaflet: ch 6 (see Photo A2), sc in 3rd ch from hook (arrow in Photo A2), hdc2tog over the next 2 ch-sts, sc in next ch, sl st in the same st as the 3 sc from the first leaflet. This stitch will be stretched out, so you should be able to see it well.

Paired Leaflet Frond, Photo B

Photo B shows the completed second leaflet. That last sl st is on the hook.

Here’s the tricky part. You need to turn the paired leaflets so that their base is up, their tips pointing away from the hook. When I rotate them counter-clockwise (the direction of the arrow in Photo B), everything comes out in the right places: the top leaf hangs away from the hook, the yarn is behind the work and the hook in the proper working position.

Paired Leaflet Frond, Photo C

Now yarn over (see Photo C, where you can see the tips of the leaf pair pointing away from the hook).

Pull the yarn through the st on the hook. The new stitch you create will show between the two leaflets (see Photo D, where the arrow points at this stitch). Now you are in the correct position to start again at the * and make as many leaflet pairs as you like.

Paired Leaflet Frond, Photo D

You can make the distance between the leaflet pairs shorter or longer by chaining less or more than 15 sts at the beginning of each repeat.

Hope this helps, Jan!

Crochet Charm Lace Along—Arranging Motifs

December 9th, 2013

Crochet Charm Lace—Daisies with Leaves

If you like jigsaw puzzles, you will love the next step in Crochet Charm Lace: arranging the motifs.

In the previous post, we talked about how to estimate the number of motifs you will need by crocheting enough motifs for one quarter of the project and arranging them. This turns out to be a great test run.

I arranged my Perspective Daisies and Ladder Leaves (from Crochet Garden) every which way. All the arrangements looked awkward to me, I think because of how difficult it was to point the leaves in random directions. Or they disrupted the roundness of the daisies too much.

Some of you will look at the photo above, the one with daisies and leaves, and say, “That looks good to me.” If you were making this particular project, I would say, “Go for it!” We all have different tastes, and we have to trust our gut feelings about what we like.

Crochet Charm Lace—daisies with green dots

The leaves had to go, so what next?

All my Crochet Charm Lace projects so far have had small round motifs or in the case of the Rose Cape, small plain flowers. I crocheted a few one-round motifs of sc, and a few of hdc. The next photo shows how they look with the daisies. Better, I thought.

The green dots were a great improvement over the leaves, but I couldn’t resist experimenting a little further. The orange and green were bright and kind of acid-looking. I tried toning the brightness with some magenta-color dots, which were single rounds of sc and hdc like the green.

Crochet Charm Lace—daisies with green and magenta dots

That was even better! Though oddly, it looks better in real life than it does in the photos. Weird. Oh, and also, these photos show the flowers facing up, because I could visualize the finished piece better that way. When I pin them to the template, they will be face-down.

By making only enough leaves for a quarter of the piece, I didn’t invest too much time in making leaves. One quarter is enough to test your main idea, and then you can go on to finish crocheting all the motifs!

I’m still working on the flowers, but they’re almost done. So next time, I’ll post the whole template covered with flowers and green and magenta dots, pinned in place.

Crochet Garden Giveaway! December 5th is Deadline

December 4th, 2013

Crochet Garden Giveaway

Lark Crafts is giving away four crochet books, including Crochet Garden! Enter to win by leaving a comment on their blog post by 9 p.m. EST on Thursday, December 5. Here’s the link:

http://www.larkcrafts.com/needlearts/a-crochet-giveaway/

Crochet Charm Lace Along—Make a Template and Crochet Motifs

December 3rd, 2013

Make a Template

Crochet Charm Lace can be any shape you want. All you need is a fabric template in that shape.

Crochet Charm Lace template

For the Flower Cloth Scarf in Crochet Garden, I used a piece of fabric the exact size I wanted the scarf to be. It’s just a long rectangle. In the photo, you can see that I used burlap. That’s what I had on hand that day. Since burlap frays so easily, I machine sewed a line of zig-zag stitch around the outside.

Crochet Charm Lace, Rose Cape Template

The Rose Cape template is sewn from a commercial pattern. I used some old double knit fabric, which didn’t require any zig-zag stitch on the edges. Can you see the piece of cardboard I placed between the front and back of the cape? That was to keep me from pinning through both layers of the template.

I suppose you could use a garment for a template, as long as it won’t be ruined by the many pins you will use to hold the motifs in place.

Crochet Motifs

Blocking crochet motifs

Crochet your chosen motifs, weave in ends, add details as necessary (like the centers of the Perspective Daisies), and block them. Motifs are much easier to arrange and pin after they are blocked.

The original plan for my Perspective Daisy table mat was to include the daisies and some leaves. Here they are on the ironing board.

To block, I held the motifs under the water tap, then squeezed the water out as best I could. I unfurled and stretched every petal, turned the flowers right-side-down, and steamed carefully with the iron.

How Many Motifs Will You Need to Crochet?

Crochet Charm Lace, estimating number of motifs

Good question!

  1. Fold your template into quarters and mark the size of one quarter (1/4). I ironed the folded piece to set the creases. Then I could easily see how big 1/4 of my template was.
  2. Crochet enough motifs to cover the marked area. Make sure the motifs you crochet represent the variety of motifs you will use in your finished project. I needed about 14 daisies to cover 1/4 of my table mat template.
  3. Write a list of the motifs and how many you needed to cover 1/4 of the template. Multiply the numbers by 4 for an estimate of the total number of motifs you will need to crochet. My table mat will need about 14 x 4 = 56 daisies in all.

Crochet Charm Lace motif list

This method gives you a chance to experiment with arranging the motifs. I really wanted to have leaves among the daisies, but no matter how I arranged them, the leaves looked awkward. Regretfully, I put the leaves aside and used green crocheted circles as space fillers instead of leaves.

Here’s my list of daisies made with different yarns. I checked them off as I finished them.

Next time: more about arranging motifs.

Crochet Charm Lace Along—Choosing Motifs

November 8th, 2013

Crochet Charm Lace doily

For Crochet Charm Lace, you need crochet motifs, like flowers and leaves. Naturally, I’d love for you to use patterns from my books. There are lots of other motif books, with cute patterns for birds and butterflies to sea creatures.

With all that choice, what do you do?

  • You can choose lots of different motifs, for a look the doily above, which I made some years ago for an article at crochetinsider.com.
  • Twirl Center Rose and Paisley

  • You can choose a major motif and one or two accent motifs. The main motif from the pink Flower Cloth Scarf (see previous post) is the Twirl Center Rose; Paisley is the accent motif. Find patterns for both these motifs in Crochet Garden.
  • Or you can strike a balance between the two: several motifs, like in this pink, yellow, and green sample where you see all the variations of Center-or-Not and the Plain Veined Leaf from Crochet Bouquet.

Center-or-Nots in Crochet Charm Lace

For my Crochet Charm Lace Along project, a table runner, I am going with option 2. After some trial and error, I decided to use the two variations of Perspective Daisy from Crochet Garden, along with lots of filler circles. At first it was also going to have leaves, but that didn’t work out. Pictures later.

Filler circles are meant to fill in the awkward spaces between motifs that are to small to fit a regular motif into, but too large to be acceptable. Filler circles are one round of sc, hdc, or dc. You will probably make lots of these. Tiny motifs work well for this, too.

On Tuesday, look for “Make a Template and Crochet Motifs.”