BAC Yarnbomb Manitout Springs, CO

 

A group of us decided to re-purpose an old yarnbomb that we took down. The Business of Arts Center in Manitou Springs, CO requested some work on their site. Our fearless group leader mapped out a plan and a group of us sewed squares together. The “color wheel” of sorts went on the stairs while the multicolored squares cozied some trees. It took a group of four two days to put them all together. Thankfully all the squares were knit/crocheted
ahead of time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Berry Eggplant Hat

One of the cutest baby hats I’ve seen has been the berry hat. With my new knitting skills at the ready, I made my very first berry hat. I was going for plum, but unfortunately, my husband informed me that it resembles more of an eggplant! I guess children love eggplants, because the little girl that received it has practically worn it out!

The pattern comes from Michele Sabatier which I found on Ravelry.com. I used size 8 double pointed needles and Simply Soft yarn. It is a quick and easy pattern. I highly recommend it.

Weaving in Ends

Though weaving in ends may never be an enjoyable part of knitting and crocheting, there are a couple things you can do to make it more enjoyable, and maybe almost fun!

Tip #1: Leave an end long enough to weave in with a large needle. Before purchasing a needle long enough for yarn, I used a crochet hook to pull the end through stitches. Occasionally I still forget to leave a long tail and have to use a crochet hook though it’s much faster to use a needle.

Tip #2: If you are still going to crochet or knit, the end(s) can be crocheted over and locked into the stitches or knit with for several stitches. Crocheting over or knitting with the tails for 5 or 6 stitches will usually be enough to lock the tails in.

Tip #3: Use a smaller crochet hook than used for the project. The hook will fit in the stitches easier and quicker.

Tip #4: After weaving in the end(s), pull the tail a little tightly so the project almost puckers a little. Cut the end(s) close to the project; then straighten the project so the end hides in the stitches.

Recently a group of us made a bunch of scarves for the Special Olympics. One knitter didn’t have a crochet hook to weave in the tails at the color changes. Thankfully she left long tails that I could tuck in with a needles. With the needle I could make quick work of the task and almost enjoyed it!

Adapting Patterns, Variations on a Theme

Often we fall in love with knit and crochet patterns based on completed projects we see. Sometimes, however, the project isn’t quite to our liking. Learning to see through projects to what they could be when adapted will increase your options.

Mr. and Mrs. Sock Monkey

Case in point, my sister wanted a sock monkey ski helmet cover. Up to this point I had only crocheted a sock monkey hat. Rather than wait for a pattern to appear online, I used the basic directions for the sock monkey hat and adapted it where it needed it. Since I was making one for her husband as well, I decided to make them Mr. & Mrs. Sock Monkey. Simple adaptations in the form of eyelashes and longer stranded pom-poms feminized it. Adaptations in the form of increased rows and sizes of rows helped them fit on the helmets. I also decreased around the brim so it would naturally hug the helmet and stay on.

A simpler adaptation to make is changing color. It is amazing how different a project looks when done in a different color. For Christmas I made five ponies from the same pattern. I hate to say it but some of them were cuter because of the color of yarn! The more colorful ones reminded me of the “My Little Pony” toys. I also made other adaptations based on recipient request. One pony became a unicorn. Another a Pegasus. For the Pegasus, I followed the directions for the wings of a dragon. This simple change saved me lots of time in trying to create a wing pattern. The horn I had to made on my own.

Thinking back on my childhood, I remembered how enamored I was with horses that had stars on their foreheads. The simple adaptation of a second color made the brown pony unique.

I hate to say that the color can make or break the project, but it is true. There have been times where the project I made just didn’t work for me because of the colors I chose. It’s a little disheartening when you spend so many hours on the project!

Making adaptations is easier to do when you have experience making similar projects. I made a Max doll from “Where the Wild Things Are” for my nephew. There were a few aspects of the original pattern I didn’t like. Because I had made a similar sized doll before, I used the leg construction of the other doll to make the legs for Max. I also made a different crown because I didn’t like the one in the pattern. Minor adjustments to the eyes, nose and hair, and I was much happier with the doll.

I followed the entire pattern for the giraffe project (below) except for the spots. It called for sewed spots. I wasn’t sure I would do them adequately so I crocheted each spot. In the end it was probably the longer/slower way to make the spots, but I was happy with the result. It was a minor change, but had a significant impact aesthetically.

Adapting patterns may require extra time and reworking of various sections, but they can be well worth the effort. Give yourself plenty of time to play with the pattern and don’t be afraid to experiment with color. You may not like every change you’ve made, but that will add to your knowledge of the craft and help you make future decisions.

Fair Isle vs. Intarsia

Back in 1994 I crocheted a Precious Moments afghan for my parents. Up until this project I thought one only used one color at a time when crocheting. However, I wanted to make the afghan with multiple colors. I simply cut and tied together the colors as they came up. I had never heard of Fair Isle or intarsia. If only I had! I probably could have finished the project a little faster, though the end result would have been much the same.

What are Fair Isle and intarsia? They are forms of changing colors while knitting or crocheting. More commonly associated with knitting, Fair Isle and intarsia can be used successfully with single crochet. Though both result in projects with images or patterns, how the color is changed is different. The Precious Moments afghan was done in a format similar to intarsia though not in true fashion since I cut the yarn and tied on the new color at each color change.

Fair Isle crochet scarves for 2011 Special Olympics

Fair Isle

In Fair Isle knitting or crocheting, two or more colors are used and carried along to be used as the pattern calls for it. It is carried loosely in the back when knitting and crocheted over/on top of when crocheting. Traditional Fair isle uses two colors per row or round. Two colors for knitting leaves only one color “stranded” alongthe back/wrong side. Two colors for crocheting means only one strand of yarn is hidden or crocheted over. The disadvantage of carrying multiple strands when crocheting is that it gets harder to to hide multiple strands as the stitches gets thicker around. This can also distort the size of the row.

Fair Isle knit skull hat

Intarsia

Intarsia is the use of multiple colors on multiple balls or bobbins. Each color is used and then dropped when the color is changed. The appropriate strand of yarn is picked back up and used on the way back across the row. For knitting, this requires picking up the new color from under the old color so the yarn is twisted together and a hole is not formed. For crocheting, the color may still need to be carried on a previous row a stitch or two like in the Fair Isle method if the color does not resume right above the previous row.

Crocheted Fair Isle and Intarsia Pillow

Fair Isle and Intarsia often use charts rather than detailed row by row written instructions. These charts can be used for knitting and crocheting. The stitch sizes in knitting and crocheting are slightly different, but will still work well when single crocheted. Half double and double crochets elongate the stitches which will distort the image. There will also be longer strands made when picking up “dropped” yarn from previous rows.

Fair Isle and intarsia designs can be made from any graph. If you can graph it, you can knit/crochet it. The sky truly is the limit. Check out the Graph It post for some ideas on making your own graph.

Yarn Bomb Bolivia

A friend sent me a picture of a tree that was yarn bombed in La Paz, Bolivia. Naturally nothing like that happened while I was living there. Thankfully my friend knows how much I love to knit and crochet. She just had to send me this picture.

I think whoever did this did a beautiful job. I especially like how many branches were covered. I also think the pom poms hanging from the branches are a crowning touch.

It’s winter around here. I think a few trees in my area could use some sweaters! Actually, I have a tree in my yard that split. I wonder if a wool sweater/cozy would help protect it during these cold months. I need a tree doctor’s advice on that!

Sizing and Gauge

Ever make a hat that would only fit a giant or a sweater so tight that it would only fit a kid? If you are like me, sometimes the items made by the designers are so much cuter than mine because they knit or crochet tighter or looser than I. Sometimes this can be resolved by using larger or smaller needles and hooks to get the correct gauge. Sometimes that won’t make a difference. But not all is lost!

Tip #1: Check the gauge.

If the size will matter, make a practice swatch, or check your *gauge after you’ve started the project. It’s better to tear it out at the beginning than to finish a project you can’t give to the intended receiver! Please don’t complain to/about the designer/project if you didn’t make adjustments to match the gauge!

Tip #2: Compare the parts of the project to one another.

Sometimes projects have several parts that have to be sewn together. For some reason the underbelly of the dragons I made never matched the main part of the dragon. Because it’s a long time-intensive piece, I would hold it up to the main part to increase and decrease rows as necessary. Keep the vital parts of the project handy and compare often if you want to avoid tearing out your work (and your hair!)

Tip #3: Read reviews about the pattern.

Some patterns are listed on websites or forums that allow users to post comments. Ravelry is a great forum for seeing what others thought about a pattern. It shows the projects others have made from the project and what they thought about the pattern directions and results. A quick visual of the finished projects gives you an idea of how the pattern may generally be expected to turn out. They often show modifications people made which can inspire you as you work as well.

*Gauge is the measurement of stitches and rows. To get the size of object the pattern indicates your stitches should be the same size as the designers. If a gauge is included it will indicate how many stitches equals a certain number of inches or centimeters.  It should also say how many rows equals a certain number of inches or centimeters.

Graph It!

Why does it seem that knitters have more fun with grids and intarsia? Pictures, patterns, and color changes are fun and easy with crocheting as well. Simple designs and more complex pictures can be turned into graphs and made into scarves, blankets, hats and more.

After seeing Peggy Jean Kaylor’s Special Olympics logo scarf on Ravelry and Crafty Knit Chick’s  star scarf, I decided to make my own chart using grid paper. I chose a snowflake since I wanted to make a scarf for the Special Olympics winter games.

My first pattern was tested by my sister and was a disaster! I designed a pattern with lines that were only one stitch wide. It made it hard to see the design clearly.

Tip 1: Patterns and lines are easier to see if they are at least two squares/two stitches thick. That doesn’t mean you can never do things one stitch thick. It just means be careful with the width of designs.

I worked up the second design with thicker lines. It turned out much better. Check out the pattern on the Intarsia for Special Olympics post.

Many shapes can be turned into charts using grid or graph paper. Here’s a few tips to make it happen.

Tip 2: Determine the dimensions required ahead of time if that’s critical.

For instance, draw a rectangle or side lines for the outer limits of your project or graph work. I wanted a symmetrical shape for a scarf only 6 inches wide so I drew a square 23 x 23 on my graph paper then worked on the snowflake inside those lines.

Tip 3: If the shape is not symmetrical from top to bottom and it is going on a project like a scarf, the shape needs to be flipped upside down for the second half of the project.

I completed one scarf before I realized the image looked upside down on half the scarf. Technically stars don’t have tops or bottoms so it was fine, this time!

Tip 4: If you don’t want the image to go all the way to the sides/ends of the project, be sure to include “blank” spaces around the shape on the graph/chart.

Sometimes you can add the extra rows or stitches on your own, but it’s easy to forget them if they are not included on the chart.

Tip 5: For larger images, each square on the graph paper may represent more than one stitch, though it would may also need to represent more than one row.

Large or intricate images may require multiple sheets of graph paper to draw out to scale. Though cumbersome, it could save time when actually making the project.

Tip 6: Patterns will work up differently if you use sc, hdc, or dc. Sc usually makes square stitches. Hdc and dc makes taller stitches and will elongate the shape.

Using hdc for the star pattern made long stars. I think it would have looked better in shorter stitches. This may turn out to be a matter of personal preference.

These tips should get you started. There is almost no limit to what you can crochet. If you can graph it, you can crochet it!

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