Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sunshine On My Shoulders

Last week was a warm one in Washington State.  The sun popped out and the clouds blew away.  I guess summer's making her way toward us once more.  While the hot season's not my personal favorite, I see the people all around perking up like little flowers.
Rain or shine, I hope everyone has a good Memorial Day weekend!

"All we have of freedom, all we use or know -
This our fathers bought for us long and long ago."
~Rudyard Kipling, The Old Issue, 1899

"And I'm proud to be an American,
where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me."
~Lee Greenwood

"Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson"

Here are some patterns for your happy holiday crocheting pleasure:

Thank you to the designers for the great patterns!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Seamy Underbelly of Crochet

How many times have I scoured books and the internet for a solution to that horrible bane of crocheting in the round - the unsightly and very visible seam?  Many...too many.
Despite my never finding a good answer, I keep on researching and experimenting.  The only real answer I've been able to find is that, when it comes to crocheting in the round with the single crochet stitch,  you're going to have a seam.  That's it.
Well, that's not good enough, I say!  The good news is that I have found two solutions that I can make do with for now.

The first is labor intensive, but looks really great: brought to us by Sarah London.
The only problem with this one is that you have to cut the yarn after every round (though the results are worth it, I have to say).

The second method is based on something I found on Hook and Hype, which they say is based on a tip from Crochetville corky264.  I will elaborate here with my additions:

  1. Make a magic circle with the desired number of stitches and pull it tight.
  2. Slip stitch into the 1st available sc stitch to complete the circle.  Pull the slip stitch very tight.  
  3. Chain 1.  Pull the chain stitch as tight as you can get it.
  4. SC into the SAME sc stitch.  You can put a stitch marker in this stitch so there's no confusion later (at least for the first time).
  5. Continue as per your pattern until you get to the last stitch of the round.
  6. Slip stitch into the sc stitch from Step 4.  You will be skipping the ss and chain.  As before, pull the slip stitch very tight.
  7. Chain 1.  Pull the chain stitch as tight as you can get it.
  8. Repeat Steps 4-7 as many times as needed.

Make no mistake - there will still be a seam.  But, of all the things I've tried, this is the nicest looking seam I've been able to achieve (not counting the yarn-cutting method).  Here's an example:

Of course, the prettiest method of all is to crochet in spirals, which is what I almost always do.  Every so often, though, you need the rounds to line up and a spiral just won't do.  I will keep on hoping for a perfect way, but until then...
If you have the magic method to make an invisible seam, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE share!!
Hope this was helpful - happy crocheting!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Shake, Rattle, & Roll

Ahhh, my house is alive with the sound of...rattling.  I have just completed crocheting some maracas which my children are delighted to finally be in possession of.  As far as musical instruments are concerned, these are by far the least offensive that they've had - no blaring of a horn, no banging of a drum, no shrill whistle to be heard - just a nice, pleasant rattle and two great big smiles!

The maracas are also egg cozies.  They can be stuffed, but a plastic egg is a lot easier (and lighter, and keeps its shape, and produces an unmuffled rattle).  Leave off the handle and you have an egg or a doll.  Fun!

Traditionally, maracas are played in pairs - one pitched high and one low.  It's fun to find things to fill them with.  I used different size beads.

Here are my Fiesta Maracas:
Available now on Etsy and Ravelry

"Music is what feelings sound like."  ~Author Unknown

Here are some musical free patterns for your enjoyment:

Music Notes form Nuland News

Sheet Music Scarf from Cats-Rockin-Crochet

Guitar from Donna's Crochet Designs

Piano Key Scarf from Crochet Spot

Happy Crocheting!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hit the Street

Who doesn't love Sesame Street?  My kids are watching right now, in fact (a before school favorite).  A lot has changed about it since I was a kid, but it's still great.  My favorite character is absolutely Oscar (Cookie is the runner up).  Who's your favorite?
The show started in 1969 - definitely one of the longest running shows ever!  I just saw that Sesame Street even has theme parks around the world.  Pretty cool and worth a visit, I'd say!

Monsters, of course, make great crochet projects.  Here are some freebies for you:

Cookie from Crochet Ninja

Elmo - another great one from Crochet Ninja

Sesame Street Hats from Girl in Air

Yip Yip Alien from WikiHow

Happy Crocheting!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Release the Kraken!

You're on a rough sea, sailing blind in the black night and pouring rain.  You realize, too late, that your ship is caught in an enormous maelstrom, the size of which you've never heard told.  The clouds momentarily shift, unveiling the pale moon.  No longer blind, you watch on in horror.
From the center of the surging vortex rises the Lord Poseidon himself, towering above your ship, his mighty arms raised to the heavens above.  In a voice as deep as the sea itself, he bellows one terrible word, "Kraken!"
You know all is lost.

Why does the Kraken always have to be a savage beast, I wonder?  I bet that, under normal circumstances, he's just lovely.  Here is a free pattern for your enjoyment.  You can make him as friendly or as menacing as you'd like!  You can even pretend he's just a regular squid...

ch 7, sc in the 2nd ch from the hook, sc 5
ch 1, turn, dec, sc 4
ch 1, turn, dec, sc 3
ch 1, turn, dec, sc 2
ch 1, turn, dec, sc
ch 1, turn, sc
sc down the side of the triangle
ch 1, sc 5 across the bottom (leaving the last st unworked)
ch 1, turn, sc 4
ch 1, turn, sc 4
ch 1, turn, sc 4
[ss, ch 10, ss in the 2nd ch from the hook, ss 8, ss, ch 10, ss in the 2nd ch from the hook, ss 8, ss] two arms made in the 1st st
([ss, ch 14, dc in the 3rd ch from the hook, hdc, sc, ss 8, ss]) X 2
two tentacles made in the middle two stitches
[ss, ch 10, ss in the 2nd ch from the hook, ss 8, ss, ch 10, ss in the 2nd ch from the hook, ss 8, ss] two arms made in the last st
Look now at the section between the triangle and the arms.  You will notice three rows of “holes”.  You will be working now in the bottom row of holes – just above the arms.
Insert into the 2nd hole (you have already worked into the 1st hole)
Pull up a loop, ss
Repeat with the two remaining holes
turn, ss up the side
you will now be working in the top row of holes
as before, ss across to the opposite side
turn, ss 2 up the side
now you should be at the base of the triangle
sc, ch 1, sc up the side of the triangle
ss in the 1st st, fo, weave in loose ends

Embellish with eyes, a mouth, and/or whatever you’d like!
You can also make an additional blank piece (without arms & tentacles) and whip stitch it to the main piece (with the backs on the inside).  This creates a more finished piece – perfect for gift trimming and many other things !

Please do not sell this pattern or reproduce it in any way.  If you would like to share it, please do not copy & paste, but instead link to this page.  Items made from this pattern are not to be sold under any circumstances.  This is a pattern free for your personal or charitable use only.  Thank you!

Happy Crocheting!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Sometimes in crochet, things just don't turn out the way you'd like...

A while back I wanted to make a little burro piñata, but what I ended up making was something large and somewhat cow-shaped.  While my son absolutely loves the big softie, it wasn't exactly what I had in mind.  I took the project back to the drawing board and now, I'm very glad to say, I have finished the patterns.

One stuffed toy and one candy dish.  I don't have an office or even a desk anymore, but when I did, I would've loved to have this little guy to brighten up my workspace...and offer a sweet treat on those more difficult days.

So, without further ado - here they are!
Available now on Etsy and Ravelry

Here are a few more party-themed projects for fun and for free:

Thank you so much, designers, for the great patterns!
Happy Crocheting!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Whip It

Whip Stitch - a very useful stitch for joining two open pieces or two flat pieces.  When done correctly, it makes a nice and neat join.  When done incorrectly, it makes a lumpy, bumpy terrible seam.  So, it's definitely worth the time to get the proper technique down!
Here's a great tutorial by Rachel from Crochet Spot: Whip Stitch

Here are some fun & free patterns to practice on:
Hello Kitty Scarf from Made by K

TARDIS by Nyss Parkes from Craftzine

Case from Little Birdie Secrets

Happy crocheting!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ganchillo en Mayo

Feliz Cinco de Mayo everybody!

May 5th is a holiday that commemorates Mexico's victory over France in the Battle of Puebla in 1862.  To many, though, it is simply a day of festivity and a celebration of Mexican culture.

In keeping with the holiday, I wanted to crochet something fun.  I decided on a piñata.  This little guy isn't for smashing, though - he's just a decoration.

He didn't turn out quite as I'd pictured him, so there will be a second rendition one of these days.  Still, he's festive on this happy holiday and he's a hit with the kids.

Some piñata fun facts:
Here are some festive & free patterns:

Cactus Garden from Elf Luvs Dwarf Crochet

Little Empanada from Deena's Deelightful Deluge

Poncho from Designs by KN

Sombrero Potholder from Free Vintage Crochet

Lemons/Limes from Beansprout Creations

Happy May 5th and Happy Crocheting!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Royal Affair

What boy doesn't want to command like a king?  What girl doesn't dream of being a princess?  There's just something enchanting and wonderful about the thought of castles and queens and princes and gallant knights.

I adore (and am currently rereading) the Tudor & Plantagenet books by Philippa Gregory (they aren't very fairy tale, but still, so good).  This, and the recent wedding of course, has put the subject at the forefront of my mind.

Here are some projects in the royal spirit of it all:

Crochet Crown from Midnight Knitter

Thank you so much designers!!
Happy Crocheting!