How to… crochet loops

Crochet loops? But isn’t all crochet made up of loops?

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I made a blanket square with a fluffy sheep and learned how to do loop stitch.

It looks tricky, but is pretty easy when you get the hang of it. Here’s how you do it:

1. Start with a row of single/double crochet (whichever you call it)

2. Insert hook in a sc/dc of the previous row.
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3. Wrap yarn around your finger to make a loop.
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4. Insert hook into the loop. image

5. Pull the two strands of the loop through (there should be three loops on your hook)
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6. Wrap yarn around hook…
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7…. and pull through all three loops.
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8. Remove your finger from the loop and admire your loop stitch.
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The loops are made on the side away from you – if you are crocheting in lines, you’ll need to alternate with plain rows.
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Wasn’t that easy? Now you can make your own fluffy sheep!

Technology fail :(

Just a quick post to say my internet has been down all week 😦 Luckily I have internet on my phone, so I am not totally stuck in the dark ages, but it is taking some adjusting to get used to (hopefully not for too long, hurry up BT!) – socialising in the sun meant missing Neighbours but I can’t catch up online!

I have a few blog posts ready to share, including a great crochet technique tutorial, but I can’t upload photos a the moment. I think the wait will be worth it… here’s a clue – I used the new stitch to create a fluffy, white woolly animal…

Without being able to waste time online, I should be getting extra sewing done, but the sunshine means it is too nice to stay inside. I might have to take my crochet to the park.

p.s. Does anyone update wordpress from their Android phone? Are there any good apps for this (if my phone memory can cope – somehow I don’t even have enough memory to play music today)?

A is for… (or How to Start Designing Your Own Crochet)

I crocheted a letter A, thinking I was going to applique it onto a square for my blanket. However I then remembered that the best thing about crochet is that you can crochet everything together, without the need for needles.

From A to…?

So I decided to design my own pattern to go from A to a square. Here is what I did:

1. Draw around the crocheted motif on squared or graph paper (I used a page in a French exercise book that is a cross between lines and graph paper)

Draw

2. Draw the final shape around your motif.

3. Calculate how many stitches your final row will have. I measured the line I had drawn with the crochet on the motif, and counted how many stitches filled the space between important points (and checked they all added up to the same edge length.

Measure

4. Play around with filling the blank space, using different length lines for different stitches. i drew little dashes for every stitch I knew I needed to have, changing them into specific stitches as I went along. I drew each round in a different colour.

Plan then crochet (sorry for the horrible picture)

5. Crochet your design, noting down exactly how many stitches used if different from what was planned (use your drawing as a guide, not a strict rule if it isn’t quite right).

6. Does it look right? If not, just unravel and try again, repeating steps (3) 4 and 5 until you are happy with the final result.

A is for…

Do you like the *ahem* deliberate decision to have 2 colours in the final row? I might actually make a deliberate decision to do this on a future square!

Good News, Bad News

A few days with nothing to do but lounge on the sofa in pjs, watching tv/dvds, crocheting and eating ice-cream. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

Duvet + tv + crochet = perfect lazy day?

Not when it is enforced due to a horrible throat infection/tonsilitis/etc 😦 According to my GP in December, the only way to prevent getting so many bugs is to stop teaching four-year-olds! I am preferring the nhs direct advice of “go back to being a child and eat ice-creams and ice-lollies” since Mini-Milks seem to be the only thing I can consume pain-free.

I had a bad temperature and spent yesterday at home dozing on and off all morning, but by the afternoon I started feeling well enough to sit up and do some crocheting (and had seen the same episodes of The Big Bang Theory on e4 too many times!) and managed to finish a few squares I have been working on.

Scottie Dog square

My favourite! A little scottie dog wearing a bow 🙂 So cute, I’m wondering what else I can apply the design to… around the bottom edge of a cardigan?

Log Cabin square

Bow square

The bow square didn’t come out as planned. Maybe it was the choice of yarns or hook sizes, but the bow doesn’t sit properly. It is made by crocheting a strip (with some shaping around the loops), tying it into a bow, and crocheting around it and in the gaps to create a square. The picture in the book looks lovely and neat, so I’m not sure what went wrong.

All these sqaures were made from 201 crochet motifs, blocks, projects and ideas by Melody Griffiths – stay tuned for my thoughts on it soon and another project inspired by it.

p.s. apologies for camera phone pictures, too much effort to get the real camera out

Why do you sew/knit/make?

I had a catch up with some old uni friends last week and when it came to my turn to share news I revealed that I’ve been sewing and haven’t bought any clothes since the autumn (I’m pretty sure this is true, excluding underwear and tights etc – I think the last thing I bought was a cardigan in late September). They all looked at me in shock – no shopping?!!

What! No shopping?!

After a little show of what me-mades I was currently wearing, they asked “so is it cheaper?” and I had to say that the answer is definitely a “no.” I explained that I usually spend the same on fabric as I would on clothes, so when you factor in needles, thread and trimmings then it doesn’t work out much cheaper, if at all. However I do feel that what I am making now is better quality that what I would choose or afford to buy ready to wear. Basing the decision to make my own clothes purely on cost, I am not comparing like with like (take my peacock dress – custom-made, hand-beaded couture dress vs high street – and it is clearly not a fair comparison) but this can be hard for non-sewists to understand as they don’t always understand

Before the holidays I mentioned to some colleagues that I wanted to make a pair of jeans during my time off. Again, the first question was “How much is fabric? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to buy some jeans?”

Yes, it may be cheaper to buy mass-produced, ready-to-wear garments, but I make my own because:

  1. I can get the perfect fit, whether it is tops that cover my chest without making the rest of me look like a tent, or trousers that fit both my hips and waist at the same time. Last year I found it hard to go shopping with friends – when they told me how nice something looked, all I could see were the tell-tale wrinkles Palmer and Pletsch warn about – so I hate to think what would happen after another year of sewing experiences.
  2. I can choose exactly what fabric or style I want. There are no more changing room dilemmas such as “I like this top but the sleeves aren’t right, but that top is a better colour!” Sometimes the ideal fabrics I imagine don’t exist or are hard to find, but I suppose I could print or dye my own fabric if I really wanted to.
  3. If a colour or style isn’t on trend, I can still wear it! No more waiting years for raspberry to be in vogue and then stocking up – I know I look good in rich jewel colours so no amount of magazines will convince me to wear ice-cream pastels!
  4. I can wear well made clothes. The more I sew, the more I realise the poor quality of garments on sale in the high street – I discovered that even more high-end high street clothes are no better constructed than their price would suggest when I unpicked an old Monsoon dress with little more than my bare hands.
  5. I like to think that in a post-apocalyptic world, I would survive pretty well (if I could find enough food to satisfy my fussy eating habits) and then some people might change their opinions on my hobbies! Of course, if such a disaster did occur I know I would be much too caring and compassionate to say “I told you so”… I hope.

    [I’ve been singing this in my head, but I only know the chorus]

  6. Speaking of the end of the world, I like to think that my crafty habits are causing me to become a more responsible consumer in this ever increasing material world. I do have a long, long way to go before I lead an eco-friendly life, but I find I am increasingly shunning mass-produced stuff in the knowledge that “I could make that” while making the most of what I have (stay tuned for some upcycling/refashioning/recycling projects coming soon)
  7. and last but definitely not least…

    I like making stuff!
    I like being busy in the evenings or at the weekend. I can’t sit and watch tv for hours with nothing to keep my brain and hands focused on. I enjoy the process from thinking about what I want, choosing materials, getting stuck in and the final satisfaction when you can stop and see what you have made. One of the DIY stores is currently showing an advert with people finishing jobs, stepping back and saying “I did that” – there is nothing better than pride and satisfaction in a job well done.

Wow, that is a long list of reasons! What inspired you to start crafting? Why have you carried on? Is there one reason that sticks out above all the others?

Summer(?) strawberry shirt-dress

We have finally got some sunshine here in the UK, so I finally felt inspired to sew my Lisette Traveller dress. I bought the fabric from Goldhawk Road during the Easter holidays, but then the weather has been pretty gloomy since so I have been making separates that can be worn with warm trousers.

I made a couple of quite a few changes to the pattern:
1. The compulsory FBA, but this time using the Y method in Fit for Real People (for “if you need to add more that 1 1/2″ to the bust” – really should have looked at that ages ago!) and lowered the dart. It may be the style of the shirt, but the shoulders feel so much better without risk of sloping off (like the Sorbettos I made last week) so I might have to go and adjust my previous adjustments. The bust fit is pretty spot on
2. I added a small dart at the back centre back. I want to say this was deliberate, but I accidentally damaged the fabric, however the fit is great.
3. I added inseam pockets. I normally use pockets from my Vogue birdie/polka dot skirt, but I couldn’t be bothered to search through my patterns and drafted my own. They are a bit snug, but will hopefully be functional without allowing me to look too casual.
4. The sleeves from the pattern were much too fitted for my chunky biceps (caused by too much swimming of course!) so I made one up my self using the modified Sorbetto sleeve for reference. Despite warning bells in my head I was determined to pipe the edge, but it was way too stiff so I did some pinning and tucks and I think it looks alright now.
5. Since my fabric was white on the inside, I made some little facings from oddly-shaped rectangles so that when the collar is open you can’t see the wrong side of the fabric.

While I was having a mid-sewing break, I saw that Scruffy Badger has also made a Traveller dress but without any piping for once, so it is a good job I had metres of piping for the job. I do love the piping (and how neatly I did it around the curves of the collar) but combined with the print I am getting a very retro-vibe and not quite the everyday-dress I was planning for. I’m not sure how I thought strawberries would be everyday (maybe the navy), but it isn’t!

After I finished tissue-fitting the pattern, this was quick and easy to sew up (if you ignore the double time it took to do the piping and the trouble making a button hole exactly where the bodice and skirt meet!) so I will definitely be making another one, but with different sleeves and maybe a different neckline. I can imagine throwing this on in the summer and being ready to go anywhere.

Any suggestions for fabric to make a great everyday basic? Maybe a lightweight denim for the weekend/holidays but what would be good for the classroom?

Hope everyone has been enjoying the sunshine 🙂

p.s. I have added lots of new blogs to my google reader account and discovered a link to this great gadget for ironing hems (I can’t remember who had linked to it, but thanks for highlighting a great tool). I hate ironing and I hate hems and this made it so much simpler and was easier than drawing my own. The geek in me would love to know how the curved line works for all sizes of curves!

Great minds think alike

Karen recently noticed that high street stores are making the same clothes as us home-sewists. So I was slightly surprised to see that Monsoon has made a dress just like one I made two years ago (before I started blogging).

My handmade blue floral summer dress

Monsoon’s blue floral dress

The Monsoon dress is on sale for £75 whereas mine cost approx £5 (I got the fabric at Kilburn Market thinking it would be a muslin) Me 1: Monsoon 0

The jersey in my dress is a decent weight and drapes well, but is probably a big mix of poly-blends. The Monsoon dress is 100% cotton Me 1: Monsoon 1

Both dresses have fitted bodices and full skirts, and are sleeveless. My dress is (a little too ?) short, has decorative stitched hems (I had just bought my lovely Janome) and is embellished with lots of handmade roses. The Monsoon dress looks like it is a more modest length and has a nice piped waistband. Who is the winner? You decide!

I have got lots of wear out of my little summer dress, and I love that it is a print I would never normally choose – I got the fabric because it was cheap and intended to make a muslin, but ended up keeping it. However I do sometimes feel a bit self-conscious as it is shorter than anything else in my wardrobe and is not good on windy tube escalators! Last year I had been considering adding a layer underneath the skirt to make it a smidgeon longer (and maybe give it a tad more body), possibly in navy or white with a matching waist band – what do you think?

Sorbetto success!

This morning I hinted that I was working on something very exciting, and I can now reveal that I have spent the long weekend trying to perfect the Sorbetto.

FBA on the original pattern

I had already made a couple of Sorbettos last summer, but the fit never felt right. I assumed it was because I’m not used to wearing woven tops (RTW woven tops = nightmare fitting problems) but I had a niggling feeling that I should be able to move my arms.

I tried on the existing tops to work out what was good about them and what needed changing, then I made a muslin (using actual muslin for once). I did lots of pin-fitting, pinning out any weird bubbles and wrinkles, taking it in at the sides so I had a bit of a waist.

Adjusting my muslin and marking changes

As you can see above, I pinned out some baggyness in the back, then looked it up in Fit for Real People and discovered that I need a sway-back adjustment (or a normal-back-big-bum adjustment). I used the Sew Weekly sleeve pattern, but slashed and spread it to make a floatier sleeve, before making it in this purple floral poly-crepe (from Fabrics Galore last week).

Fitted Sorbetto (worn with me-made jeans)

I think the neckline was a tad too wide, causing it to keep slipping off my shoulders, so I added a tiny pleat in the centre front to pull it in, although this nearly undid the good work I did on the FBA.

There is another version 2/3 of the way to completion (I though 11pm was probably too late to use the sewing machine, but everything is pinned and ready to sew up) and a couple more fabric choices planned. I am slightly concerned that getting a comfy fit for this pattern now opens up my fabric buying options – hello pretty printed cottons!

I have made so many changes that I’m not sure if it is still a Sorbetto – how many modifications do you have to make before something stops being the original pattern and starts being a self-drafted pattern?

Crafty Resolution 2012 update

It feels like years ago, but in January I set my self a project for the year – to crochet two squares a week so by New Year’s Eve I have a full sized blanket to snuggle under. Well, due to bad time management (and too much couture sewing) I got a bit behind schedule, but I am pleased to say I am back on track.

January, February, March, April… first 40 squares.

Looking at all the squares together I think I need to make some more back-and-forth squares since most of them are crocheted in the round (although it is much easier to get the correct size when going round in circles*). I also think I have enough regular granny sqaures for now.

The square above was plain until I added a small flower motif. I definitely need to so more of these now I have two books to teach me how to make a range of flowers and butterflies.

After filling a bag with squares I thought it was probably time to start putting things together so I don’t go crazy in December. I started in the centre with some carefully chosen squares, and am now adding the rest in rounds semi-randomly. I am hoping that any future squares will look right, or if not then I can plan future crocheting accordingly.

Sewing the blanket together

I’ve just read my original post and it mentioned “using up yarn in my stash” – oops, that is one major FAIL already! Popping into a shop and buying just a couple of balls of yarn seems so much easier to justify than buying fabric on a whim. (see above picture and the bag of yarn that is bigger than when I started the project, although lots were sale bargains, honestly!)

Anyway, I am off to get some bias-binding to finish something I am super excited about 😀 Fingers crossed it will be finished to show you tonight… And fingers-crossed I wont get tempted by any yarn on my way!

*technical information – each square measures exactly “the size of my red and white polka dot box lid.” I had to throw a couple of squares into a hot washing machine to felt them down to size, but the texture is great.