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Crochet-Along: Seaming and Bordering, Two Different Approaches

October 6th, 2008

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I’ve used two different seaming methods for my two different blankets.

For “Dolly” the doll sized blanket, I chose to simply sew the 9 little blocks together. I usually use a simple seam that goes like this:

Lay the pieces on a flat stable surface either face up or face down, I often try out a few inches of sewing to see which side is hiding the seam better and then start over with the pieces arranged accordingly. The rows of the 3 different blocks can match up nicely with 2 single crochet rows matching to 1 row of double crochet from another block and of course, one row of single crochet matching up to a row of single crochet. (When planning how many rows I would use in the blocks I took this into consideration) Having these rows of single crochet in every other row of Blocks 2 and 3 really helped me keep track that my seaming matched up as I went along.

There’s really nothing to do, but “thread” your needle with your yarn and get started! I simply **start running the needle through the side of a stitch in one corner, work straight into the side of the stitch in the corner of the other block, insert the needle into the side of the stitch in the next row of the same block and then work straight across into the side of the stitch in the matching row of the other block.

**I leave about 6″ of tail. I don’t secure the seaming yarn to start, this allows me to adjust the slack in the seam if I need to. After all the seams are tidy I secure each with whatever extra seaming or knotting seems best.

There are many ways to sew a seam, this way just always gives me a result that I like. You can also try whip stitch, back stitch and using single crochet or slip stitch. I used slip stitch to seam my full sized version of this blanket.

Because this blanket is doll sized I was able to lay out the entire thing on a fabric covered cork board. (I love portable work surfaces like this! It allows me to move the project from the table to the couch when I need a change of posture.) I worked the two longer seams first and then worked the 3 shorter widthwise seams. Before I secured the seaming tails I tugged and pulled and shaped the blanket, making sure each seam was “just right” not too loose or too tight. You can tie a little knot here if you feel you must or simply make some secure backstitches and weave in the rest of the tail, trim and your done!

I had intended to do something frilly with the border, yet the blanket seems just right with this simple border.

First I worked single crochet along the sides and around the corners, working 1 sc in each sc , 2 sc in the side of each dc row and rounding the corners with 1 sc, ch 1, 1 sc worked into each corner space. In the photo below the blue dots represent single crochet:

For each following round I worked 1 sc, skipped the next sc, ch 1, sc in the next sc across the round and worked sc, ch 1, sc in the corner spaces. Changing colors with each round helped tie in all the colors used in the blocks and the stitch pattern of alternating single crochet and chain stitches softens the stripe pattern.

For the Purple Monster (this is what I’m calling the full human sized version I’m soooooo close to having completed) I worked a border on each block before working slip stitch seams to join everything.

I used the same 1st round border I used to border the dolly blanket and for the second row I worked a single crochet in each single crochet from the previous round and 1 sc, 1 dc, 1 sc in the corner chain spaces. I like the even tailored feel the two rows of well behaved single crochet gave these rather stretchy loopy blocks. Once I had them bordered, the different block patterns were much more similar in size.

Once again, I made sure that the rows in the blocks could match up evenly, 25 sc in block 1 and 17 rows in 2 and 3: matching 2 rows of sc from 1 to 1 row of dc from 2 and 3. This made it much easier to make borders for the blocks with the same number of stitches on each side. The number I should have on each side of a block was repeated in my head like a little mantra and I was as meticulous as possible, counting and recounting while I crocheted. That said, I still found a few missed or added stitches when seaming…. oh well!

I put a sheet down on the floor and arranged my blocks in this “cat fur free zone”, sat down in the middle and got moving with the slip stitch seam. For this, I placed two blocks right side together and worked into the outside loops only. This leaves a nice little ridge on the “right side” and creates a seam that lays nicely in the fabric.


Crochet-Along: Sample Some New Stitches!

September 29th, 2008

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Hey All!

I’ve done some serious crocheting this weekend to catch up with some of you, but in the meantime, for those of you who are newer to the crochet-along, I’ve decided to give y’all a rundown of stitches to try if you are so inclined:

First an easy alteration to make to any of the 3 existing blocks in the pattern is to simply try a different stitch. Try half double crochet in Block 1 for example.

And have you seen the Stitchfinder? There are quite a few fun patterns to try out!

Here are a few to take a look at:

Lacey Stripes
:

Concentric Squares

Little Gems

Textured Stripes

Crochet Cable

Fanfare

Lace Ripples

Petite Popcorns

Scallop Stripes

If you’re using one of these alternate stitches, don’t forget to do a little gauge swatch and see how big each repeat of the pattern is, so that you can chain the right width for your block.

What alternative stitch patterns have you added to your sampler?  Please tell us all about it, right here in the comments to this post!

Related posts:


Crochet-Along: Stepping through Block 1 and Block 3

September 24th, 2008

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I hear some of you are finished already! I myself am woefully behind the pack, looking forward to a week of non-stop crocheting! Here’s a little step through of Blocks 1 and 3 to help address some of your comments.

Block 1 : Sc-tbl Stitch
Ch 27.
Row 1 Sc in 2nd ch from hook and each ch across – 26 sc.
Row 2 Ch 1, turn. Sc in back loop only of each st across.
Rep (Row 2) 31 times more. Fasten off.

That Sc-tbl, means work single crochet stitches through the back loop. After you’ve worked your first row of single crochet into your foundation chain, take a look at what you’ve just crocheted. The top of each stitch has 2 loops. We usually work through both. “Through the back loop” means work only through the back loop (the loop furthest from you). Mama Mac, my great grandmother, called this the back porch and the front loop the front porch. This one simple difference of working through one loop opens up a whole different drape and texture for your fabric. It’s one of my absolute favorite ways to add a subtle dash of spice to some simple crochet.

If you work through only the back loop every row, there will be alternating ridges on each side of your work. These ridges are created by the un-worked front loop. Also, working through only one loop loosens up the drape a bit, you’ll notice that back loop gets stretched out a bit and there will be more space between your rows.

If you were to work through only the front loop every row, you’ll find the same result you get with the back loop. If you work through front loop only the one row and back loop only the next, you’ll see that the ridges will all be on one side.

Here’s a very simple change if you want to try another something different: Alternate across a row, working through the front loop of one stitch and the back loop of the next stitch. This creates a subtle waffled sort of texture.

Ch 27.
Row 1 Hdc in 2nd ch from hook and each ch across – 26 hdc.
Row 2 Ch 1, turn. hdc in back loop only of next st, hdc in front loop only of next stitch, repeat across the row.
Repeat Row 2 to the desired size.

Block 3: Cluster Stitch

Ch 26.
Row 1 (RS) Sc in 2nd ch from hook and each ch across – 25 sc.
Row 2 Ch 2, turn (counts as first dc), CL in next sc; *ch 1, skip 1 sc, CL in next sc; rep from * to last dc, dc in last sc.
Row 3 Ch 1, turn. Sc in first dc and in each CL and ch1-space across to t-ch; sc in top of t-ch. Rep (Rows 2 and 3) 8 times more. Fasten off.

Let’s step through Rows 2 and 3:
Row 2 starts with a ch 2 turning chain that will stand in as a double crochet, next you will work your first cluster stitch in the second single crochet from the previous row. This is very important, don’t work the cluster in the first stitch of the row, but the next one (the second stitch of the row.) Chain 1, skip the next stitch (third stitch of the row) and work the next cluster into the fourth stitch of the row. Continue in this combination across the row: chain 1, skip a stitch, cluster in next stitch. If you have an odd number of stitches in your first row of sc this will work out such that you have clusters along the row with a double crochet in the first (remember that turning chain is pretending to be a double crochet) and last stitch of the row. If you adjust your number of stitches in a row to get your blocks the same size make sure to use an odd number of stitches with this one!

For Row 3, work a single crochet in that double crochet from the previous row, then single crochet in the top of the cluster stitch and single crochet into the chain stitch and keep going across the row. Work a single crochet into that turning chain from the beginning of the last row and your sc row is finished! You should have the same number of stitches in Row 3 as you did in Row 1. See the photo for a close up of the single crochet worked into the cluster row.

Little mistakes to look out for:
-Don’t work the first cluster of the row in the first stitch!
-Don’t work a chain between the last cluster of the row and the last double crochet. This will throw off your stitch count. I have to keep an eye on myself because I keep doing this!

Happy Crocheting!

Related posts:


Crochet-Along: A Doll Sized Blankie!

September 11th, 2008

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When I saw how great the Lion Organic Cotton looked in these sweet and simple stitches I couldn’t help but want to make a quick and cute version of the blanket. So if you aren’t up for a huge blanket, how about a doll or baby sized blankie?

I’m using Lion Organic Cotton and chose to assign a color to each block type: Almond for Block 1, Cypress for Block 2, and Vanilla for Block 3. The blocks themselves worked up so quickly and I was really satisfied with them. Even enjoyed weaving in the ends! Sometimes I can get into this nice little end-weaving groove and get into the task, go figure. I hoped that groove would continue into sewing things together, but no such luck. I’ve really been dragging my feet on this part. Then I realized one reason why it was so frustrating. All my blocks looked the same size, but didn’t have row counts that matched up easily. If I add another 2 rows to Block 3 (1 more row of clusters and a last one of sc), I would be able to match rows as I seamed the blocks together, so I decided to go back in and add to Block 3. This gave me a chance to throw in a quirky bit and I used the Bark color way for these last two rows. It adds a cool, unique stripe into the mix and I rather like it.

Using a 6.5 mm K hook on each block:

Block 1: (make 3)
1 skein (82 yards) of Lion Organic Cotton in Almond

Ch 19
Work in pattern with 18 stitches in each row for 22 rows total.
Gauge: 3 1/2 sc and 3 rows of sc = 1″
finished block is 5 1/2″ wide x 6 ” tall

Block 2: (make 3)
1 skein (82 yards) of Lion Organic Cotton in Cypress

Ch 18
Work in pattern with 17 stitches (1 turning chain and 16 dc in dc rows) in each row for 15 rows total.
Gauge: 3 dc and 2 rows (1 row of dc and 1 row of sc) = 1″
finished block is 5 1/2″ wide x 6 1/4″ tall

Block 3: (make 3)
1 skein (82 yards) of Lion Organic Cotton in Vanilla and 1 skein of Bark

Ch 18
Work in pattern with 17 stitches (1 turning chain and 8 clusters and 1 dc in cluster rows) in each row for 15 rows total.

Gauge: 3 clusters = 3″, 2 rows (1 row of cluster and 1 row of sc) = 2″
finished block is 5 1/2″ wide x 6 ” tall


Notes:

The finished blocks aren’t exactly the same size, but stretch to match each other and having matchable row counts makes it so much easier in my opinion!

Joining the sides of the blocks, working through the sides of the stitches on the edge of each block:

Block 1 to Block 2: match sc rows to sc rows and 2 sc rows to each dc row.
Block 1 to Block 3: match sc rows to sc rows and 2 sc rows to each cluster row.
Block 2 to Block 3: match sc rows to sc rows and 1 dc row to each cluster row.

Yes, I am seaming these blocks together!  For my full size blanket (now nicknamed “the Purple Monster”) I will be using a single crochet border and slip stitch to join, more on that in the near future…

For this doll sized number I’m using 9 blocks total. If you wish to make a baby size simply work with these smaller blocks, but make enough to make the size you’d like! You can also make a smaller blanket with the larger blocks by using fewer blocks.

I don’t have the border planned out yet, will keep ya posted! TO BE CONTINUED….

Next Post: Stepping through each of the 3 blocks…


Crochet-Along: Gauge, Sizing, and Hooks!

September 4th, 2008

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The response to this crochet-along has knocked me over…. I’m thrilled by all the enthusiasm! And thank you so much for helping each other out too.

First things first, time to address the subject of a lot of questions: the gauge, sizing, and hook suggested in the pattern. It does seem that there has been a typo regarding the gauge and what hook to use.

In order to make this entry as useful as possible I’ve decided to simplify the issue and not talk too much about all the different measurements from my many gauge experiments. (You can view some of my swatches and notes in the Flickr group.) Because this is a blanket and not a fitted sweater, we have room to navigate around this typo and take advantage of the situation even. It’s true, gauge is usually very important because it gives you the information you need to get the same sizing and drape as the finished product you see in the pattern.

The best thing I’ve seen come out of the confusion over the gauge is how many of you decided to follow your gut and choose the hook and gauge that best suits you. I think this is fantastic! You see, I need a lightweight blanket because I live in a warm climate and someone in a colder climate needs something thicker. So I’ll use a larger hook and she’ll use a smaller one and we’ll each crochet the fabric that fits our own needs. I think that is the best thing any of our blankets can have in common, that each individual blanket is “just right” for the person it will keep cozy.

Yes, folks, I’m all moved and excited about this potential army of blankets that each fills just the right needs for the right recipient. But we might like to take care of a few details so each of us can best plan out these “just right” blankets. See, going off-road with a pattern is far easier if you have a plan.

Follow this breakdown to plan out your blanket:

1. Find what makes the crocheted fabric you like best: Starting with Block 1, the single crochet block, swatch some rows with different hooks until you get the result that feels best for you.

My notes:
Yarn: Vanna’s Choice
Hook: P (that’s right! I’m actually getting a nice puffy and airy fabric with mine)

2. Work up one of each block pattern. This gives you a chance to get to know each pattern and see how well they match up to each other. You’ll likely make some decisions at this point as to any changes you want to make. It is important that Blocks 1, 2, and 3 each come out to the same width and height. You can make alterations to the number of stitches in a row to increase or decrease width or change the number of rows to fix any problems with height.

Take notes, here are mine:

Honestly my attention span for a specific block wanes at a point, so I’ve decided to cut my row count short and I have square blocks as a result. I am sticking with the number of stitches in a given row (Block 1 has 26 and 2 &3 have 25). You may have noticed Block 1 has an extra stitch. I’ve noticed that this extra stitch helps make the denser single crochet block a better fit when matching it up to the other two, they have a bit more stretch in them.

My notes:
Block 1 : 25 rows compared to 33 in the pattern
Block 2 : 17 rows compared to 19 in the pattern
Block 3 : 17 rows compared to 19 in the pattern

3. Take some notes on sizing and gauge:

My notes:
Block 1 : 2 single crochet = 1”, 8 single crochet = 4”
8 rows = 4”
Block 2 : 2 double crochet = 1”, 8 double crochet = 4”
6 rows = 4”
Block 3 : 1 cluster = 1”, 4 clusters = 4”
8 rows = 6”

Each of my Blocks is a stretchy, airy 12” x 12″. That’s right, they are huge! (One of my cats thinks I’ve made her a bunch of little cushy square beds.) Finding the sweet spot for my attention span as well as the size and shape I want has made working up the blocks much more satisfying. You also might wish to take the finished size of your blanket into consideration when deciding on the number of stitches and rows to use in your blocks.

4. How big is my blanket going to be?

Given that I have such big blocks, I may reduce the number of blocks I’ll use. If I don’t my blanket will be 5 feet by 6 feet! Now that I think about it, that does sound mighty cozy…

So take a look at the blanket diagram in the pattern. The blanket is 5 blocks wide and 6 blocks tall.

Estimating the size of your blanket:
Width of a block ____ inches x 6 blocks wide = ____ inches wide (this is excluding any borders you might choose to add).

Height of a block ____ inches x 5 blocks tall = ____ inches tall.

If you want your blanket to be a different size, you can choose to add to the height or the width of the blanket with some more blocks.

5. How much yarn will I need?

My lazy method: I’ve assigned a skein of yarn to each block. I marked the label with “Block 1”, “Block 2”, “Block 3”. When I’ve used up a skein I’ll have an approximate idea as to how many of each type of block I’ll get out of a skein. I can then estimate how many more skeins to get.

The smarter method (I haven’t done this myself for this project yet, but here’s what you can do): Unravel a row or two of yarn and measure how much yarn was used. Then multiply by number of rows in your block and you’ve got a total for a block:

Estimating Yarn Needed:
Block 1: 1 row = _____ inches/ feet of yarn
Block 2 : 2 rows (1 row of dc and 1of sc) = _____ inches/ feet of yarn
Block 3: 2 rows (1 row of cluster and 1 of sc) = _____ inches/ feet of yarn

There’s still more to talk about, I know! I hope concentrating on this gauge issue has helped sort out any concerns, but most importantly I hope you all feel inspired to crochet the blanket that is “just right” for you!


Welcome to the Sampler Afghan Crochet-Along!

August 24th, 2008

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Crochet Sampler worked in Lion Organic Cotton

For the first Lion Brand crochet-along we gave you the opportunity to vote for one of three patterns. You’ve chosen the Crochet Sampler Afghan (click the name for the pattern), so it’s time to grab our hooks and jump on in! Depending on your level of experience there are a variety of challenges this simple project can offer.

For some, it’s the task of completing an entire blanket. Myself included! I often stick with smaller projects simply to better guarantee the chances I’ll finish. So I’m starting this CAL off with the vow that I will complete one Sampler Blanket by the end of our time together. Eep! You’ll have to help me stick to my promise! Luckily the pattern works up in simple blocks that can be taken in small steps and before we know it we have an entire blanket. And just in time for crisp fall nights!

For others the challenge may be learning to crochet. And this is a fine project to start with. If you are completely new to crochet, you can start off with the single crochet blocks and by the time you’ve finished them you’ll be ready to take on the double crochet blocks and then the cluster blocks. Don’t forget, the Learning Center is available to help you out.

We have many of you excited (or a bit nervous and certainly curious) about giving pattern reading a try. I can talk on this in more detail next week. For now I’ll simply say what you’ve likely heard already, reading a pattern is just like reading a recipe. Simply take it step by step and whenever you don’t understand the next step take a moment to look it up or ask questions. It will start making sense in no time!

Crochet Sampler AfghanAnd there are plenty more ways to find a challenge in this project. I have personally always had a hard time following a pattern to the letter and can’t resist encouraging others to color outside the lines if they wish. So in that vein there will be plenty of discussion about choosing yarns, resizing the blanket, and yes some more complicated stitch patterns if you want to add some different textures to your blanket.

So let’s get started! What kind of challenge do you want to take on with your Crochet Sampler Afghan? Pick your yarn and grab a hook!

The CAL starts now and I’m aiming to finish my afghan in about 6 weeks, but you can start when you’re ready and work at your own pace!

In the next CAL post I’ll talk about working with the pattern, choosing yarn, and I’ll share the simple changes I made for a doll sized version of the Crochet Sampler.

I’ll be posting about once a week. If you have any questions about how to participate in a crochet-along, check out these tips from this summer’s knit-along right here. If you use Flickr or Ravelry, don’t forget to join the Lion Brand Crochet Sampler Afghan CAL groups!

In the meantime, leave a comment and introduce yourself! What’s your skill level? What do you like to make? What are you most looking forward to for the CAL?

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