Posted on 5 Comments

National Crochet Month Specials

Sister filet scarves: Antoinette Sparklescarf, Emdash, and Cantina Party Flounces

Welcome, Natcromo Blog Tour Visitors!

In honor of (Inter-)National Crochet Month, I’ve added a lacy spring scarf pattern to my Ravelry shop: the double-flounced Emdash Scarf. It’s free for one week.

I thought I’d show you Emdash’s crochet story in pictures. National Crochet Month is for crochet stories, right? Especially about lacy spring scarves. First, the design sketches:

Emdash has two design sisters.

There they are all together at the top of this post. It’s easier to show some alternate views of them this way.  Antoinette is the eldest (I published her popular pattern in Nov. 2011). She loves lace weight metallic mohair with sequins and other holiday party yarns. Cantina is the youngest, even though her pattern was published before Emdash’s (in Dec. 2015). Cantina is a freewheeling hippie girl who likes color parties, scrap yarns, and beads.

How did Emdash get her name?

While I was exploring special characters on my keyboard, I kept seeing the scarf draped on my mannequin. The columns of tall stitches are grouped with vertical spacers. (I like the slightly different crocheting rhythm of it.) They started reminding me of emdashes, yes—a type of punctuation. It shortens so nicely to “Emmy.”

The last part of her design story is that I learned how to format and print out kit patterns with the Emdash Scarf, for the show booth I had last summer. This means Emdash is also available as a printed pattern while they last.

Happy National Crochet Month!

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Slip Stitch Crochet Hearts Free Pattern

Gallery from the original 2016 "Slip Stitch Hearts Free Pattern" blog post.
If image is missing, see this album.

This blog post is an overflow page for issue #76 of my crochet newsletter. Scroll down to see the heart shape chart, and then the full text of the Slip Stitch Crochet Hearts Free Pattern. To print, click on the little printer icon at the end of this post.

We Need to Talk: Slip Stitch Skill Levels

I rate this pattern Intermediate for slip stitch crocheters, and Advanced if you’re new to Slip Stitch Crochet. A good free crochet pattern for slip stitch beginners would be Eva’s Ribs Scarf. After that, Slip Tectonics or Undaria would bring novices solidly up to speed for these hearts.

Seriously.

These crochet hearts were originally used for a three-hour intermediate-level class on slip stitch shaping methods. “Slip Stitch Crochet 101” class was a prerequisite. After crocheting this heart, students would be equipped to crochet fitted sleeve caps and gracefully shaped armholes!

You’ll be adding or subtracting only a stitch or two to make this heart. Not a big deal if you’ve ever increased and decreased with single crochets. It takes practice, though, to shape every row of slip stitches.

Consider that even if you’ve already completed some slip stitch projects, most existing slip stitch crochet patterns involve only occasional shaping, if any. (If you’ve crocheted a slip stitch pattern with a significant amount of shaping, please tell me about it in the comments.)

For a slip stitch beginner, the biggest challenge is recognizing what the stitches are doing to avoid increasing or decreasing by accident. It’s like learning to crochet all over again—and that’s humbling if you don’t expect it, but what a beautiful thing! How many of us long-time crocheters remember what it was like to learn how to crochet for the first time? If you’ve crocheted for at least ten years already, you can revisit this life changing moment.

Challenge Accepted? Great!

Welcome to the “heart” of slip stitch country. Start with a thick smooth yarn and a big hook.

Slip Stitch Crochet Hearts: Project “Shortbread Cookie”

A Valentine Heart Pattern in Vertical Fss Rows.

Abbreviations: ch=chain, Bss=back-loop-only slip stitch, Fss=front-loop-only slip stitch, sc=single crochet, ss=slip stitch,  st(s)=stitch(es).

Cross off each row when you complete it to easily keep track of where you are. (I have to. For these crochet hearts it’s easier to count stitches, not rows.) For pattern help, visit my fabulous forum.

Slip Stitch Hearts Free Pattern charted diagram: each square is a stitch. Right side rows are green, other rows are pink. 19 rows total.
This heart shape is crocheted from side to side. Use any yarn. Image missing? See this album.

Chain 4.

Row 1: Skip ch nearest your hook, ss in any loop of each remaining ch, turn: 3 ss. Easy, right?

Notice that every odd-numbered row ends at the top of the heart and every even-numbered row ends at the bottom of it. The yarn end (called “tail” from now on) is at the top of the heart, so when you crochet toward the tail end, you must be on an odd-numbered row.

Row 2: Ch 2, ss in 2nd ch from your hook (an increase of one st), Fss in first ss, 2 Fss in each of next 2 ss, turn: 6 ss. 

No row will ever have more than 10 sts in it. If you have trouble seeing which loops to crochet into:

  • It will get easier after 3 rows or so. You won’t see the heart shape develop until you’re halfway there (Row 9).
  • The st count matters more than choosing the correct loop. Count as you crochet and add a st in a good enough loop if need be. The most common problem for slip stitchers is identifying which st is the last one of the row. Counting as you go helps and you won’t need to use a stitch marker.
  • I don’t count my rows. As I complete each row I put a check mark next to it on the pattern. I also rely heavily on the yarn tail to know whether I’m crocheting a row toward the tail or away from it.
  • Questions? Ask in my forum

Row 3: Ch 2, ss in 2nd ch from your hook, Fss in each ss, turn: 7 ss.

Rows 4 & 5: Repeat Row 3. At the end of Row 5 you’ll have 9 ss.

Row 6: Ch 1, Fss in each ss, turn: 9 ss.

Row 7: Repeat Row 3: 10 ss.

Row 8: Ch 1, skip first ss (a decrease of one st), Fss in each remaining ss, turn: 9 ss.

Row 9: Ch 2, ss in 2nd ch from your hook, Fss in each ss to last st, turn leaving last st unworked: 9 ss.

Row 10: Ch 1, skip first ss, Fss in each ss to last st, 2 ss in last st, turn: 9 ss.

Row 11: Repeat Row 10: 9 ss.

Row 12: Repeat Row 9: 9 ss.

Row 13: Ch 1, Fss in each ss to last st, 2 ss in last st, turn: 10 ss.

Row 14: Ch 1, Fss in each ss to last st, turn leaving last st unworked: 9 ss.

Row 15: Repeat Row 6: 9 ss.

Row 16-18: Repeat Row 14. At the end of Row 18 you’ll have 6 ss.

Row 19: Ch 1, skip first ss, Fss in next ss, [skip next ss, Fss in next ss] twice, turn: 3 ss.

Before edging, the heart shape looks sort of "ragged" around the edges. Slip Stitch Heart Free Pattern, finishing step.
This is how it looks after a quick blocking, and before edging it with a round of slip stitches. (If image is missing, see this album.)

Round 1 (add a border of ss): Fss in each ss of Row 19, ss in one loop at the end of each row to bottom point of heart, [ss, ch 1, ss] in it, continue edging row ends to first row, ss in each of the 3 foundation chs, ss in remaining row ends, join to start of round with a ss.

Note: Edging these crochet hearts is not as laborious as it might seem. Even though it’s not easy to identify the same loop of each each row end, this needn’t slow you down. I mostly just estimate where to put my next stitch, and it comes out fine.

Finishing: Fasten off, or add another round of ss, or reverse sc. Be sure to damp block: stretch all edges in every direction then let it settle into a smooth, symmetrical-enough heart shape and let dry. Make another like the first so that you can seam them together with a ss seam, add a bit of stuffing and hide the ends.

Experiment Freely with this Free Heart Chart

The grid rows of the chart match Fss stitch height, but why impose limits on your heart? Try using single crochets instead; the heart shape may widen or narrow a bit. Or, try back-loop slip stitches (Bss) after you’ve made a few crochet hearts in all front-loop slip stitches (Fss). (The back loops of slip stitches are trickier to find than front loops for some folks at first.)

I hope you’ll show us your crochet hearts in my forum.

Posted on 2 Comments

Crochet Star Stitch How-To

This post is being revised and updated. Please check back.

A Guide to Star Stitches in Patterns

All right. Here’s the thing: star stitches are beautiful, and also tricky sometimes. This is a solidly intermediate level stitch that requires from 5 to 12 steps to complete, depending on the stitch variation.

Most of us use patterns when crocheting this stitch, so most crocheters will encounter star stitch types that vary a little, or a lot. Toward the end of this post I use colored dots to give you a heads-up on some variations you might encounter.

This is still a “basic” start stitch how-to, though! The stitch variations complicate it, but you need to know about them because we’re all equally likely to encounter a variation any time we use a new star stitch crochet pattern.

Want to follow along with hook and yarn? With blue (or a dark color) yarn, chain 15, double crochet (dc) in the 4th chain (ch) from your hook and in each remaining ch: 11 dc; 12 dc if you count the 3 chs you skipped. Change to white (or a light color) yarn. Chain 3 and turn.

A star stitch is intricately linked with the stitch before it.
It may look like image #1 skipped some steps, but read the directions above and below.

Basic Star Stitch How-to:

  1. Pull up a loop in the second white ch from your hook, in the top of the first blue dc, and in each of the next two blue dc. Yarn over (yo) and pull through all 5 loops on hook. Your stitches should look like image #1 above.
  2. Ch 1 to form the eyeThis completes one star stitch. The arrow is pointing to the eye of the star.
  3. To begin another star stitch, insert your crochet hook in that eye, yarn over, and pull up a loop.

Really Look At the Loops

In image #4, we see the two loops on the hook from image #3, plus three more loops. One of the loops was pulled up in the same blue dc as the completed star. I marked that with a yellow dot. Notice the two pink dots. Those are the two next blue dc of the row. I’ll come back to these dots later.

Two red dots (image #4) indicate the two next stitches of the row to crochet the new star stitch into. Image #5 identify what the stitch loops become in a completed star vs while a star in progress.
These two images illustrate how to avoid accidentally increasing or decreasing along the row.

When you yarn over and pull the yarn through all 5 loops on your hook, you get image #5. Here’s what those arrows are all about: The two pairs of green arrows point out that the base of that completed star take up two blue dc; the top of that star counts as two stitches (the eye and what is called its top in most patterns). Each star counts as a two-stitch group.

The two lower purple arrows point out the same thing about this new star-in-progress: the base of it takes up only two new blue dc of the row.

The purple arrow pointing to the loop on the hook will become the star’s eye the minute we chain 1 to complete the star.

Common “Side of Star” Option

The side loops of the star are shown with an orange dot in image #6. Image #7 shows what it looks like when you pull up a loop in the side. Colored dots also indicated other places to pull up loops.
Pay attention to just the ORANGE dot for now.

Image #6: More colored dots! The orange dot indicates the side of the star. The side of the star has a front loop and a back loop. In many star stitch patterns, you pull up a loop in the side of the star. Sometimes it doesn’t matter which loop, other times the front or the back loop is specified.

In image #7 you can see that a loop has been pulled up in the side of the star. In the smaller inset (7), the loop was pulled up in only the back loop of the side.

Loop Priorities

The two most important places to pull up loops while making star stitches are:

  • the eye (the white dot in image #6), and
  • one of the two new stitches of the row (the pink dot that’s furthest from the star).

All of the other loops you pull up between these two places are flexible and variable, meaning you can omit pulling up a loop in one, or opt to add a loop in one. You needn’t have five loops on your hook before completing a star stitch; for example, you can ignore the place indicated with the yellow dot, or the orange dot in image #6. Or include both.

You’ll likely develop a favorite way to make your star stitches. Most likely you can substitute the star you want in a pattern you’re using, but of course swatch to make sure. (Occasionally the stitch or row gauge will change slightly.)

It’s like picots: most experienced crocheters have their own favorite way to make a picot and freely use their own where they wish.

The blue dot with the red X signals an error (image #6 & 7). If you pull up a loop past the two pink dots, you’ll start decreasing. Your star will take up 3 stitches of the row, but still only give back only 2 stitches in its top loops. Does that make sense? And that is what my newsletter issue #73 is about.

(Note: There’s a star stitch out there that does take up 3 stitches of a row instead of 2. The stitch count is adjusted in the next row.)

Want more Star Stitches?

I’ve written four newsletters about star stitches over the years: Star Stitch Lace Pretties, Star Stitch the Tunisian ConnectionShaping Star Stitches, Foundation Star Stitch. Although I’ve created star stitch step outs for patterns and for classes, I thought I’d already blogged one for star stitches—like I have for Love Knots, basics of Foundation Stitches, and “camel crochet” (third loop of single crochet).

I hope this star stitch how-to comes in handy.

Star Stitch Patterns by Vashti Braha: Starlooper Mobius, Starpath Scarf, Q-Star Coverlet, and Starwirbel.

Posted on Leave a comment

Fascinating Crochet Texture: Chainmaille Cowl

Bottom band of my Oct. 2018 VOTE crochet poster in our Lotus yarn.
This is the bottom band of a crochet poster. See the rest of it below. View full size.

 

Chainmaille is a downloadable DesigningVashti crochet pattern that was recently the focus of a CAL (Crochet Along) in northern Illinois. I thought you and the CAL participants would enjoy seeing a few variations I’ve swatched of this fascinating crochet texture.

The Structure of a Fascinating Crochet Fabric

Brighid's Willow afghan block contributed to a pattern booklet.
For the Brighid’s Willow afghan block I added a simple cable and contrasting edge columns.

Long chains cross over a filet surface in a herringbone-like pattern. It’s easier to see in striping colors, above and below.

It might also be easier to see in different types of yarn. The alpaca-tencel yarn adds to the scarf’s unique look. I used a cotton-acrylic blend for the afghan block at right. For the V-o-t-e poster I used two strands held together of a cotton-rayon blend.

It helps me to think of it as two layers of lace: each gives the other added dimension and visual depth. This makes it lighter to wear. It also drapes better than the solid layered and aran-style crochet fabrics.

How did Chainmaille come about?

I first saw a confusing photo of the stitch pattern in a book. I couldn’t make out what its texture was like, and the book offered no stitch diagram for it. (It turns out that a stitch diagram wouldn’t have helped me, I just had to crochet it first.) I now understand why the photo confused me: a layered crochet texture is hard to capture in a two-dimensional image. If light shows through the layers, that also adds mystery.

Tunisian crochet letters spell V-O-T-E against a rainbow aran crochet background.
This poster is approx. 12″ x 14″. Ten colors of our Lotus yarn, a cotton & rayon blend.

For me, the Chainmaille design is all about immersing oneself in a fascinating crochet fabric. There is no shaping or complicated assembly. Turning it into a cowl is simple enough: just seam it into a tube. Leave it unseamed for a neck warmer, or make it longer like I did to wear as a scarf. (Or gift to a man.)

A Chainmaille Crochet Along took place last month (July 2015) at Mosaic Yarn Studio in Mt. Prospect, Illinois. Have a look at this wrap-sized Chainmaille on display in the shop!

I met with a CAL participant, Susan Kenyon, at the Chain Link crochet conference in San Diego a few weeks ago. Susan and I seem to share the same kind of enjoyment of this fascinating crochet stitch pattern. It sounds like the CAL was fun.

Posted on 5 Comments

Crochet Cable Boot Cuff Pattern in Progress

Lucky Twist Bootslip folded over boot top

New Crochet Cable Boot Cuff Pattern!

The Lucky Twist Boot Cuff in action!

A few days ago I sent out issue #65 of my Crochet Inspirations newsletter: “Mock Cables in Slip Stitch Crochet.” I’m getting questions from readers about the dark brown crochet cable boot cuff photo (shown below). I crocheted that one in November 2012. The gray striped one is fresh off the hook.

The 2012 brown one is actually a prototype of the new crochet slip stitch Lucky Twist Mitts. It’s my newest downloadable pattern. A matching Lucky Twist crochet cable boot cuff pattern is almost finished.

Update: The boot cuff pattern is done!

The early brown Lucky Twist swatch helped me test lots of things. For example, how stretchy the limp five-ply merino yarn would be as a mitt (not enough). How much to taper the ribbed edge with short rows. I wondered about the speckled dyeing and overall dark brown tones.

As I mentioned in the newsletter, I had to dramatically brighten these photos just so that the cabled stitch textures would show up! So in real life I’d need to be standing in full sunshine to see the cabled surface texture in a dark brown yarn. The short amber color flecks are pretty, but they distract a bit from the cables.

First swatch of Lucky Twists Boot Cuffs pattern

This was also the first boot cuff prototype I’d ever crocheted. So I learned about:

  • Finished dimensions for a good crochet cable boot cuff pattern.
  • Stitch surface textures and yarn colors that show up well on that area of the body. (Lighter colors help.)
  • Should one or both edges of a boot cuff taper? (I prefer it tapered at one end only.)
  • How much yarn and time does it take to crochet boot cuffs? (About as long as crocheting just 14 inches of a scarf!)
  • Thickness of yarn and of stitches that fit inside the boot top. (Medium weight yarn seems fine for the boots I own.)
  • Folded, unfolded, scrunched. All ways are fun!

Crochet Boot Cuffs, 2012 and beyond

Back in 2012, crochet boot cuffs were such a new trend that they might have just been a one-season fad. That November I traveled to northern Illinois to teach a crochet retreat. It was a boot-wearing opportunity that I don’t often get here in Florida.

It was in Illinois that I started the brown crochet cable boot cuff pattern prototype. I’d be able to test how much warmth they add, and if I enjoy wearing them.

I discovered that crochet boot cuffs feel great! I wore them over dark tights with skirts. They stayed put. I enjoyed wearing them all ways – scrunched, folded over the boot, and unfolded. Down low into the boot or up near the knee. I did find that I wanted longer ones that covered more of my legs for warmth.