Posts Tagged ‘Crochet’

Crochet Charm Lace Along—Blocking Motifs

Tuesday, 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

Crochet Charm Lace Along—Arranging Motifs

Monday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Tuesday, 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

Friday, 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.”

Crochet Charm Lace Along—Choosing Yarn

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Pink Flower Cloth Scarf from Crochet garden

You’ve seen the pink Flower Cloth Scarf in Crochet Garden. You’ve seen the Roses Cape.

Oval Center Rose Cape, by Suzann

“I want to do that, but I’m not sure how to get started!” you are probably saying. Anyway, I hope you’re saying that, because I have been wanting to do a Crochet Charm Lace Along for a long time.

To make our Crochet Charm Lace projects, we will:

  1. Choose yarns and motifs.
  2. Crochet the motifs, weave in ends, and block.
  3. Arrange the motifs on a fabric template (it won’t be part of the final project). The template can be any shape. You choose how to arrange the motifs.
  4. Turn motifs face-down and safety-pin in to the template.
  5. Using yarn or thread, sew the motifs together wherever they touch.
  6. Remove safety-pins and turn your project right-side-up.

Trillium Scarf, by Suzann

A reasonably-sized Crochet Charm Lace project, like a scarf or table mat, may take around 3 weeks to a month from start to finish, if you work steadily, a little each day. With the holiday season almost here, it seems that the end of January might be a good end date for us.

So let’s begin by…

Choosing yarns! You can use any fiber, texture, or size of yarn. Why? Because you are making separate motifs and they don’t have to be any particular size. Okay, that’s a little too much choice for a lot of us. Here are a couple of suggestions for you:

  1. If you want to use lots of textures and sizes of yarn, then choose a limited color palette. See the Pink Scarf above.
  2. If you want to use lots of colors, then limit the textures and sizes of the yarn. The Trillium Scarf above is a good example. It is made with only one kind of yarn.

I am making a table mat for my Crochet Charm Lace Along project. My container of orange yarns is overflowing, so I pulled out lots of textures and weights of orange yarn.

It was a lot of orange. For a little relief, green seemed to be the answer. Here’s the orange, with and without the green.


Crochet Charm Lace, choosing yarn Crochet Charm Lace, choosing yarn

As you can see, this is a great project for using up yarn leftovers. Have a look through your stash and see what you can come up with!

On Friday, look for “Choosing Motifs”

Candy Cornflower Crochet Along with Improvements

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Candy corn flower

It’s almost Halloween, and we still have a couple of days to crochet some Candy Cornflowers!

The idea for these flowers came straight from my childhood, when candy corn was practically a food group at Halloween. It’s called corn, so it must be a…veggie?

The pattern for “Candy Cornflower” is on pages 124-125 of Crochet Garden. Round 1 is pretty easy.

Things get more interesting in Round 2, where you create a common popcorn stitch to start the petals.

Starting a round with hdc

But first, how do you start a round with 6 hdc? To start the round with hdc, make a slipknot on your hook, yo, and draw up a loop in the first ch-2 sp as directed (Photo A). Yo again and draw through all 3 loops on hook to finish the first hdc (Photo B). Work remaining 5 hdc in same ch-2 space.

Starting a round with hdc

Crocheting a popcorn stitch

To popcorn-join this group of 6 hdc, enlarge the last loop of the last stitch. Take hook out of loop. Insert hook into the top of the first stitch of the group, then reinsert it into the last loop (Photo C). Pull the last loop through the top of the first st to complete popcorn (Photo D).

Crocheting a popcorn stitch

Before you start any petal after Rnd 2, take time to identify the stitches of the previous round, which you will be working into. And remember, in Crochet Garden, unless otherwise directed, each stitch (or stitches) goes into the next stitch of the previous round.

Preparing to join crocheted popcorn stitch

In Round 3, fourth line of pattern, change “petals of rnd 1″ to “petals of rnd 2.” Unlike your usual popcorn stitch pattern, in this round, you work into the stitches of the previous popcorn, skipping the first and last hdc of each petal, for a total of 8 hdc per petal. The sts of these petals are also pulled together as you would join a common popcorn stitch (Photo E).

Candy Cornflower: underside of Rnd 3

When you’re finished with Round 3, the underside of the flower looks like Photo F.

Since Crochet Garden was published, I have crocheted the Candy Cornflower several times, making what I hope are improvements to the patter along the way. Here are my rewritten Rounds 4-6.

Candy Cornflower: underside of Rnd 4

Improved Candy Cornflower Rnd 4: Ch 2 (counts as first hdc), hdc in next st, (2 hdc) in next st, hdc in next 2 sts, (2 hdc) in next st, hdc in next 2 sts, popcorn-join this group of 10 sts, ch 6. *Starting in first st of next petal, hdc in next 2 sts, (2 hdc) in next st, hdc in next 2 sts, (2 hdc) in next st, hdc in next 2 sts, popcorn-join this group of 10 sts, ch 6; rep from * 5 times, join with sl st to first hdc of rnd. Fasten off C. (Photos G and H show underside and topside of Candy Cornflower after this round.)

Candy Cornflower after Rnd 4

Improved Candy Cornflower Rnd 5: Join D with *hdc in first hdc of next petal, hdc in next st, (2 hdc) in next st, hdc in next 4 sts, (2 hdc) in next st, hdc in next 2 sts, popcorn-join this group of 12 sts, ch 4, sl st in next ch-6 sp, ch 4; rep from * 6 times, join with sl st to first hdc of rnd.

Candy Cornflower, Rnd 6 in progress

Improved Candy Cornflower Rnd 6: *Sk 3 sts of next petal, working in back loop only, (hdc2tog) 3 times, ch 1, sl st in next ch-4 sp, ch 2, sl st in next ch-4 sp, ch 1; rep from * 6 times, join with sl st to first st of rnd. This rnd bends to the back forming the top of the candy corn motif. Photo I shows Rnd 9 in progress.

Weave in the ends, block gently, and you have a Candy Cornflower!

Candy Cornflower finished!

One last note, in Crochet Garden, I mentioned that candy corn makes excellent false teeth and fangs. Two lovely models demonstrate in the photo below.

Candy corn teeth and fangs

Cover for New Book!

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Cover for Cute Crochet World, by Suzann

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover.” Most people ignore this advice. A book’s cover is extremely important. Publishers analyze, fret over, and redesign book covers for maximum selling impact.

I love the covers that Lark Crafts designed for Crochet Bouquet and Crochet Garden, so I was eager to see what they came up with for Cute Crochet World.

The first glimpse I had of any of my book covers was on Amazon.com. And today was the day for Cute Crochet World! I saw it on the Amazon link here at the blog. Right away I clicked the link to see a larger view.

The cover is posted here for your convenience, though I wouldn’t mind if you clicked on the Amazon.com link!

Let’s say this is the cover for now. Sometimes they change. Fun!

Crochet Charm Lace—A New Name for Flower Cloth

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Formerly known as Flower Cloth, Crochet Charm Lace is made of separately crocheted motifs, fitted together and pinned, right-side-down, on a waste-fabric template, then sewn together wherever they touch. The fabric is removed and the lace turned right-side-up.

Why the new name? My new book, Cute Crochet World, has lots of motifs that are perfect for the Flower Cloth technique, but…they’re not flowers!

I tried “motif cloth” but it sounds dull to my ears. The technique is sort of free form, but not really. Okay, it’s lacy, so maybe I could put “lace” into the name.

As has happened to me so many times over the years, I found inspiration from the quilting world. A charm quilt is patchwork, where every patch is from a different fabric. Since a flower/motif cloth project can be made with yarns in many different weights, colors, and textures, the “charm” part of the name seemed to make sense. So, Crochet Charm Lace it is!

Oval Center Rose Crocheted Poncho

The first Crochet Charm Lace project I made was the enormous Roses Cape with Oval Center Roses, Simple Fives, and Rose Leaves from Crochet Bouquet. While my daughters swam in our plastic pool, I crocheted Oval Center Roses. When we went on trips, my husband drove and I crocheted Oval Center Roses. I could practically crochet Oval Center Roses in my sleep. You get the idea.

For a template, I sewed a poncho using a commercial poncho pattern and some unfortunately ugly fabric–luckily the template fabric isn’t part of the finished project. I arranged the roses, leaves, and little blue flowers on the template and pinned them in place with a staggering number of brass-colored safety pins. Sewing all those motifs together took forever!

The progress of the Roses Cape is in my other blog, Suzann’s TextileFusion, beginning on March 4, 2008 and ending on February 10, 2010.

Crocheted Flower Doily

This doughnut-shaped doily is true to the “charm” aspect of Crochet Charm Lace, because of the many different yarns in the project. All the motifs are from Crochet Bouquet. Find step-by-step photos and instructions at Crochet Insider. This was back when I called the technique “flower fabric.”

Crocheted Trillium Scarf

The Trillium Flower Scarf is made from motifs from Crochet Garden. You can see step-by-step photos for putting the scarf together here at the Lark Crafts Blog: http://www.larkcrafts.com/needlearts/trillium-flower-cloth-scarf-project-from-suzann-thompson/

Cute Crochet World: A Little Dictionary of Crochet Critters, Folks, Food & More

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

Quirky, eclectic, and just plain fun: with this adorable collection, crocheters can embellish clothing, décor, gifts, and more! Suzann Thompson, author of the popular Crochet Bouquet and Crochet Garden, has fashioned more than 60 irresistible motifs that fall into six categories: Critters, Food, Seasons, Growing Things, Home, and Toys, Tools, & Transportation—plus a few Martians thrown in!

This is the blurb for my newest crochet book, Cute Crochet World: A Little Dictionary of Crochet Critters, Folks, Food & More, which will be published in May 2014. It’s finally listed on Amazon, which means I can write about it!

Like the title says, it is cute as can be. I wish we could have a look at the cover—but for now we have to settle for “no image available.” I guess seeing the cover will be the next big thing to look forward to.

You can pre-order at Amazon.com directly, or by clicking on the link below–exciting times!