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Crochet Chat: Hats, Cowls, and Gloves, Oh My!

Welcome to another installment of Crochet Chat. I’m really enjoying doing these Facebook Live chats all about crochet, and this week it was great to connect with Aly from Bug, Bird, and Bee to discuss easy projects for winter gifts.

I’m rather late in posting this video, because life simply got in the way last week. I initially did a Crochet Chat broadcast last Wednesday, but for some reason the sound simply didn’t work and I had to do it again on Thursday. I then got caught up on Friday between physio and attending my first ever Parent/Teacher Association meeting (in which I ended up volunteering to be the Secretary, and so had the minutes to type up) so didn’t have chance to post it last week at all.

And then we celebrated our 6th Wedding Anniversary at the weekend, so I was not going to spend it online. And so here were are, almost a week after my initial attempt at Crochet Chat number 3… better late than never, hey?

This week I talked about quick and easy gifts you can create with just a few basic stitches, and a single ball (or skein) of yarn. These gifts are ideal for keeping you warm throughout the bitterly cold Winter months, and so they would make great Christmas gifts too. I’ve included links to the patterns I mention underneath the video. As always, do leave me a comment to let me know if you want any more information!

Built for Speed Beanie from Crocheters of Awesome

Broom Broom Boy’s Beanie from Bugalugs Handmade

1-1 Cowl (One Skein. One Afternoon) from Between My Fingers

I’m a Fan Cowl from Between My Fingers

Crocheted Shell Wrist Warmers from Drops Design

halloween-crochet

Crochet Chat: Seasonal Crochet & US vs UK Stitch Terminology

Welcome to the second installment of my new weekly feature – Crochet Chat! Every Wednesday, at 12pm GMT, I shall be going live on my Facebook page to talk all about crochet. I’ll be covering everything from hints and tips based on my own experiences to resources I love and think you should check out too. And because it is live you can always hop on and ask me any questions you have and I’ll do my best to answer them for you!

I’ll post the replay on both my Facebook page and the blog, so even if you can’t join in live you’ll still be able to catch up and leave your comments for me to find afterwards. Here’s today’s installment…

As I mentioned in the video, I have created a free PDF download for you, to help you navigate the sometimes confusing difference between US and UK patterns. You can find it on our freebie page. You’ll notice that the PDF mentions a series of photo tutorials (Crochet Basics) which is no longer available on the blog – this is because I am currently reshooting the images for better quality and will be relaunching that series over the coming months.

The others resources mentioned in the video are listed below – I hope you find them useful:

Ravelry – if you want to connect on there, my username is dochka (shortened from Amandochka, which was a name my landlady in Russia occasionally called me!)

Crocheters of Awesome – Jen’s awesome site, where you can find patterns for turning practice squares into fingerless gloves and potholders!

crochet-patterns-and-yarn

Introducing Crochet Chat – For All Your Crochet Needs!

Well hello there! I hope you’re having a wonderful day?

I wanted to pop on today to tell you about a new feature I’m starting over on Facebook, taking advantage of the Live Broadcast feature. It’s called Crochet Chat, and it’s a chance for me to share with you all the things I’ve learned (and am still learning) about crochet. I am completely self taught and rely massively on My Crochet Guru to help me out when things go awry or I simply want someone else’s input into something. And I want to offer you that same option of having someone to turn to with your burning questions… and so Crochet Chat was born.

Have a watch of the first replay (you don’t have to catch the live broadcast, although it’s easier for me to respond to your questions and feedback if you do). Let me know what you think, send me your questions or requests, and follow me on Facebook so you never miss a broadcast.

Crochet Autumn Blanket Granny Square Cotton Yarn

Tried and Tested: Cotton Yarns for Crochet and Knitting

Tried and Tested Cotton Yarns for Crochet and Knitting

It’s no secret that I love crochet, and right now I am starting to think about (dare I say it) Christmas! As any crafter knows, if you want to give handmade gifts for Christmas, you need to start as soon as possible or you’ll never finish everything in time.

With that in mind, I have started looking at who would appreciate a handmade gift, what kind of items they would really like, and whether I have enough yarn in my stash or need to buy more. And again, any crocheter will be able to tell you that handmade gifts don’t always equal “budget” gifts – yarn can be expensive stuff!

Of course, you can buy budget yarns, especially if you don’t mind what it is made of. But I’m pretty picky when it comes to the yarn I use. You see, I suffer from eczema on my hands. It doesn’t take much to set it off, and I’ve found that wool based yarns seem to be one of my triggers. So that automatically reduces my options.

However it is not just an allergy issue for me, I am also very particular when it comes to how the yarn feels as it runs through my fingers when I work – I very much dislike the feel of many yarns! I’ve found a few acrylic ones I can work with, and I absolutely love the feel of bamboo yarns, but cotton remains my absolute staple fibre for crochet.

So I thought it would be good to share some of the ones I have tried with you. These are all yarns I have enjoyed working with and found at great prices both online and in my local craft store.

Rico Baby Cotton Soft (DK)

This is a deliciously soft 100% cotton yarn, which is an absolute pleasure to work with. I’m not sure how they have made it so soft, but they have. If it weren’t for the lack of bright, bold colours, I would be using this yarn for everything! It comes in 22 different colourways and 5 different prints.

I have used this yarn to make bootees and hats for friends who have had babies, and it is always lovely to work with!

crochet bootees rico baby yarn review

 

My verdict

Pros: super soft; great for gifts for a new baby

Cons: aimed at baby items, so colour choice more muted than other cotton yarns

Rico Creative Cotton (Aran)

This was one of the very first cotton yarns I discovered and I was so overwhelmed by the choice of colour that I bought a whole pack of it. It comes in 37 different colourways and 12 different prints.

I used Rico Creative Cotton when creating my super snuggly baby blanket for the Nine Months of Crochet challenge, working with two strands at a time so it was super chunky.

rico creative cotton yarn review

I also used it to create several pairs of fingerless gloves…

crochet fingerless gloves

My verdict

Pros: great colour selection; budget friendly

Cons: quite a “splitty” yarn

Rico Essentials Cotton (DK)

This is my “go to” yarn for projects which need bright colours, as it comes in a massive range of colours (at my last count there were 48 available at Wool Warehouse, and I’m not 100% sure if that is all the options or not).

Crochet Autumn Blanket Granny Square Cotton Yarn

I have used Rico Essentials Cotton DK for our “Autumn Blanket” which I hope will actually be completed for this Autumn! TJ chose the colours and it has been a joy to work with.

My verdict

Pros: fantastic range of colours; budget friendly; easy to work with

Cons: not quite as soft and snuggly as some other yarns

Sublime Cotton Kapok (DK)

I was incredibly lucky to have 30 balls of this deliciously soft yarn donated to me by Black Sheep Wools for my Nine Months Of… Crochet challenge which raised over £300 for charity in 2014. It was an absolute delight to work with, and I’d recommend it for any projects you want to make for a newborn baby!

I used Sublime Cotton Kapok for two blankets during my Nine Months Of… challenge.

Crochet Star Ripple Baby Blanket Cotton Yarn

Mandala Crochet Blanket Sublime Cotton Kapok Yarn Review

 

Verdict

Pros: super soft, great to work with, budget friendly

Cons: lack of bright colours for “non-baby” items, not available in many places

Wendy Supreme Luxury Cotton (DK)

This is a new discovery of mine, but one which I am really happy to have found. It is a classic cotton yarn, in that it isn’t super soft, but it is really easy to work with. It comes in a good range of colours, including some with sparkles in!

I’m currently using it to create a blanket for a friend who is expecting a baby at the end of this year.

Crochet Baby Ripple Blanket Cotton Yarn

My verdict

Pros: good range of bright colours, budget friendly

Cons: not as soft as some of the other cotton yarns

So what next?

If you’ve used a cotton yarn you love which is not on this list, please do let me know so that I can try it out… and do tell me what your favourite yarns are!

crochet fingerless gloves

What We’re Working On: Crochet Fingerless Gloves

Welcome to a brand new feature here at the Patch – “What We’re Working On”. It’s my version of a “Work-In-Progress” (WIP) round-up, to share some of the fantastic patterns I’ve come across and enjoyed making. I’m going to try and stick to a theme for each round-up, because at the moment my focus is on using up my yarn stash to create handmade gifts for the wealth of birthdays we have in the autumn and (dare I say it?) Christmas. There’s nothing nicer than making a gift for someone, because no matter how small they know it will have taken time and effort. Last year Little Man made his own Christmas wrapping paper, and I am so excited to see what he can get up to this year now that he is a little bit older! I’m also looking forward to making things for Halloween and keeping warm throughout the autumn months too. But for now, let’s get cracking with my first post – fingerless gloves. crochet fingerless gloves This first pair was a absolute dream to make. Despite messing up my stitch count the first time (skipping 3 stitches instead of 2 and making the first glove way too tight) I still managed to start again and complete the pair in just one evening. But don’t let the simplicity fool you… the gloves are very pretty, without being overly fancy. The v-stitch design gives it a lovely finish and the ribbing around the wrists is a great touch. V Stitch Fingerless Gloves Crochet The pattern I used for these gloves can be found both on ravelry.com and the designer’s own blog. She writes on her blog post about how she came about creating this design, which I loved reading, as it is always nice to find the story behind a piece! I made these using Sublime Baby Cotton Kapok (DK) , which is a yarn I discovered when Black Sheep Wools kindly donated 30 balls of it for my Nine Months Of Crochet Challenge last year. I fell in love with the yarn straight away and went out to buy some extra balls just for my own use, and this is what I used some of it for. My next pair is still very much a work in progress… want to see? Crochet Star Stitch The reason this is still a work in progress (WIP) is not because it takes very long – the pattern is really quite simple – but because the star stitch is a new one for me and it took me a while to figure it out. I’ve steered clear of fancy stitches like this for far too long… this pattern has actually been in my ravelry queue for years! But I don’t know why, because it really isn’t that hard once you get the hang of it. However I did have to search for a video tutorial on youtube to figure it out initially, as I just couldn’t make sense of written instructions at all!

Isn’t it pretty though? If you want to learn how to create it I highly recommend checking out this video by New Stitch A Day on You Tube. If you want to try the pattern for the fingerless gloves which uses this stitch, it is right here.

I am making these using rico creative cotton in fuschia. I love rico yarns and have done ever since I found them when pregnant. I am very limited to the fibres I can use due to eczema on my hands and so good quality cotton yarn which is also available on a low budget is a winner in my book! That’s all I’ve been working on this week, but I’m going to cheat right here and share with you a pair I made at the end of my pregnancy. I know we’re not working on them right now, but they do fit the theme, so I’ve decided it’s okay! Shell Wrist Warmers Crochet Unlike the other two, these do not have a thumb hole because they are officially “wrist warmers” rather than fingerless gloves. However I have found that you can easily (and comfortably) poke your thumb through a gap at the base of each shell if you want to use them as fingerless gloves instead. As I say, I made these when pregnant, so several years ago now, meaning I actually cannot remember the specific yarn I used. I know it was a super soft acrylic yarn but that’s about all I remember. If you want to have a go at the pattern, it is one by Drops Designs and can also be found on ravelry here.

Crochet Basics: Single Crochet Stitch (US) Photo Tutorial

Family Patch Crochet Basics

Welcome to the third tutorial in my Crochet Basics series of photo tutorials.

Today’s tutorial brings me to a point where I have to make a decision – do I use UK or US terminology?

As I’m a UK blogger you’d think I’d use UK terminology, but to be honest I learnt using US terminology as that is what I came across the most in online tutorials. And so I’m going to go with that.

It is confusing that we have different terms for the same stitches, and you always need to make sure you know which terminology a pattern uses before starting as otherwise you could end up doing it all wrong.

I don’t want to confuse you too much – I’ll give you more information on the different terms in a later post – but for now just know that I am using US terminology throughout my series and if you are using UK terminology then this tutorial is for the Double Crochet Stitch.

So… now we’ve cleared that up (I hope) we can get on with the tutorial – enjoy!

Family Patch Tutorial Single Crochet Step One

Family Patch Tutorial Single Crochet Step Two

Family Patch Tutorial Single Crochet Step Three

Family Patch Tutorial Single Crochet Step Four

Family Patch Tutorial Single Crochet Step Five

Family Patch Tutorial Single Crochet Step Six

Family Patch Tutorial Single Crochet Step Seven

Congratulations! You now have all the skills to begin practising making some basic squares. Practising squares helps you learn how you work (some people work more tightly than others – I often have to work slightly differently to a pattern because my tension is ‘off’, but that’s okay because I know this about myself now!)

Try starting with a slip knot, then creating 20 chain stitches, and then work for as many rows as it takes in single crochet to create a square. See how you get on… it may be slow progress to begin with but the more you practice the quicker you will get.

I’ll be back soon to show you how to do a half double crochet stitch.

This blog entry is my submission to the Deramores Blog Awards 2014. Deramores is the UK’s number one online retailer of knitting and crochet supplies. 

Crochet Basics: Chain Stitch – a Photo Tutorial

Family Patch Crochet Basics

Following on from my first Crochet Basics Tutorial (The Slip Knot), here is my step-by-step guide to the Chain Stitch.

Have fun!

Family Patch Tutorial Chain Stitch Step One

Family Patch Tutorial Chain Stitch Step Two

Family Patch Tutorial Chain Stitch Step Three

Family Patch Tutorial Chain Stitch Step Four

And that's it, folks – the most basic of basic crochet stitches and you are now well on your way to becoming a crochet addict!

Check back again soon, my next tutorial is the Single Crochet (US terminology) or Double Crochet (UK terminology) Stitch. I know this sounds daunting and confusing, but it really isn't – I shall explain more when we get to it.

Crochet Basics: The Slip Knot – a photo tutorial

Family Patch Crochet Basics

I've been thinking about creating a series of photo tutorials of the basic crochet stitches for quite some time now. In 2013 I made some videos for iVillage.co.uk but have wanted to do something different for my blog and this seemed like the best way to share the basics with you all.

I taught myself to crochet using online tutorials and so I wanted to pass this on by creating my own series of the things I have found most valuable when starting out in crochet (or, in fact, when trying to develop the skills you already have). 

And so after a fun session yesterday with my camera and tripod, I have created the first of my tutorials, which I hope will become part of a  much bigger series – Crochet Basics!

Today's tutorial is the slip knot. It won't get you crocheting straight away – you'll need the next two tutorials (chain stitch and single/double crochet stitch) to start making an actual item. But this is the first thing you need to know before you can start, so it's where I shall begin.

Family Patch Slip Knot Tutorial Step One

Family Patch Tutorial Slip Knot Step Two

Family Patch Tutorial Slip Knot Step Three

Family Patch Tutorial Slip Knot Step Four

And that's all there is to it! Congratulations, you've taken the first step towards learning how to crochet. 

Join me again soon for my chain stitch tutorial.

Nine Months Of… Crochet: Problems with the Granny Blanket

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The new granny blanket is of a circular variety!

You may have noticed I mentioned a new crochet blanket I was working on as part of my Nine Months Of Challenge. It is worked in beautiful pink and lilacs yarns from the Sublime Baby Cotton Kapok DK which was generously donated by Black Sheep Wools.

I started it at Christmas and it was all going swimmingly… until suddenly my increases didn't add up. And I've spent most of the past week trying to figure out what I have done wrong. I cannot for the life of me see where the problem lies and having used this pattern before successfully I am at a total loss as to why I am in this pickle in the first place!

The pattern is from Crochet with Raymond and should be super simple. As it has no corners for increases, you make increases on certain rows. At this point in the blanket I should be increasing on every 4th row. I should also be increasing on every 3rd stitch in that 4th row. And it worked perfectly for the first increase in that repeating pattern, but now I am stuck…

DSC_0676

I don't know if you can see in this picture, but to finish this row I would end up with one too many stitches (3 together instead of 2 between each increase). If I add an extra stitch I end up with 85 stitches in that row, which is not divisible by 3 or 4 and so will (as far as I can tell) totally throw out my next increase row when I'd need to increase on every 3rd stitch again. Am I making sense?

My head hurts from trying to work out what I've done wrong…  

Let me try and explain my thinking. My previous increase round had 64 stitches (following my increasing every 3rd stitch) and the previous row to that (before the increase) had 48 stitches. So by that working it should go as follows:

Previous increase round – start with 48 stitches. 48 divided by 3 is 16. So I will add 16 new stitches to the row. 48 + 16 = 64.

So far so good, right?

But then 64 divided by 3 is 21.3, which doesn't work, hence my inability to finish the round. 

It seems to me that whatever number of stitches I end up with on an increase round must end with a stitch count that is divisible by both 3 and 4 to make it all tally up correctly. So where have I gone wrong? And how do I fix this? 

*Sigh* I feel like my head my explode if I think about this any further, so I'm throwing it out there… can anyone explain to me what I need to do to rectify this? I don't think it's as simple as just adding in a random stitch (or taking one out!) 

I can't wait to figure it out so that I can keep working on this blanket as it is looking really lovely, don't you think?

DSC_0661

The Love of a Simple Granny Blanket

I love crochet. I taught myself in 2006 and though I have tried many other crafts in the past I do believe crochet has to be my very favourite.
Yet I never thought I would love granny squares and granny blankets so much.

Growing up I would see these lying around, made up of all the scraps of yarn leftover from other projects. I don't know if my memory is jaded or whether there were just less colours and yarn choices around in the 80s but all I remember is rather dull looking blankets.

So when I first tried crochet for myself I was amazed at all the variations of stitches and patterns available. And I vowed to steer clear of the granny blanket.
Yet over the past year or two I have really learned to love the simplicity of the granny square. Once started, you can just crochet away, without a care in the world. This is much more pleasurable than some of my previous projects.

My first blanket was this basketweave one, and though simple enough, it took forever due to switching from back to front post stitches and making sure I switched the order after every nth row to get an even look.

Basketweave

This blanket was actually completed during my pregnancy and has been used a fair bit since Little Man was born. I just totally forgot to take a photo of it before logging on to complete this post, so dug up an old photo. 

My second blanket was this ripple one. I started both these blankets long before my pregnancy but only sat down and finished them due to the imminent arrival or our little one. I just found it tedious counting the stitches/rows. Oh and the fact the pattern I used made for a rather ridged blanket also affected my love for making this particular blanket.

SAM_0181

I made another ripple blanket for our nephew using Lucy's Neat Ripple pattern, but made a mistake with my counting in the first few rows that led to the blanket becoming misshapen (which I didn't realise until halfway through). So I had a lot of improvised adjustments to make on the border to make it look and hang right again. That was annoying and put me right off the ripple design (two attempts and both went wrong… I'll get it right one day!)

Blue ripple

One day I'll also remember to take photos of all my crochet projects once completed before sending them on to the recipient!!

But during my pregnancy I made this small snuggle blanket to Alice's Granny Mandala pattern and fell in love with the granny style big time. The circle takes a little concentration in order to remember to make increases in the right rows, but still simple enough.

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Because of how snuggly and perfect this blanket was for taking out and about with us, I made another snuggle blanket with some more fluffy yarn I had hanging around and I think that was when my love was sealed! It was just so quick and easy to work, a true pleasure. And with a son who loved to throw a blanket over his head and run around the room while "hiding" it was perfect to have a blanket with "holes" in so he could actually see where he was going!

SAM_0182

So when I found this gorgeous varigated yarn, I decided to make a hexagon blanket. The hexagon is an adaption of the traditional granny square and very easy to make. I am following another of Lucy's designs, which is perfectly simple and easy to follow. It's just that I find that with this particular yarn I am constantly counting stitches again as they aren't so distinct, and it is rather tedious attaching them together, though of course much less tedious doing it as I go along than having dozens to stitch together at the end!

SAM_0185

Please excuse the edge of my PJs and my foot in this photo… the blanket was a really hard size to get a good shot of. I think I'll have to start standing on a chair to take photos of my blankets in future!

I wouldn't say I have lost my love for this style as I think it will be gorgeous once finished. However, with Little Man wanting so much attention and trying to crochet for pleasure of an evening as I watch a film with TJ, it is just a little bit too demanding of my attention. It needs to be worked on in those rare moments I have when I am all alone with no distractions.

So once again I move back to my beloved granny.

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I started making this for someone special just a couple of weeks ago and it is coming along marvellously. I can pick it up and have a go, knowing that even if I am distracted or interrupted it will be easy to put down and pick up again later without forgetting where I am in the pattern or round. And as such it is a very relaxing way to spend an evening.

I look around ravelry and see so many blankets I'd love to make (seriously, you should see my favourites list). I want to fill our home with blankets of every colour for every occasion. I do believe that when Little Man is older and less dependent on me I may well choose a more consuming pattern again. But for now I am happy to simply granny away until I run out of yarn (which isn't going to happen as I plan on keeping well stocked up!!)So, here's to the granny. What a wonderful thing she is!