Thursday, February 26, 2015

How to Create A Blocking Board

Today, I'm going to teach you how I made my blocking board. Blocking is sometimes required to get the right shape on a project. Sometimes a project curls around the edges or for one reason or another doesn't turn out the exact shape you want. When this happens, blocking is the solution.  To block a project, take the finished product and get it really wet. Squeeze the excess moisture out of the project (not too hard, or you'll end up with a wrinkly mess), then lay it flat in the desired shape, and secure to your blocking board with rust proof sewing pins. 

I made a small board out of a science project board, wrapping paper, a shower curtain, and tape.  I wanted something sturdy, but easy to pin and store because I have very little storage space in my apartment. So I went to Wal-Mart and grabbed a nice 20" x 30" project board with Styrofoam in the middle, and the cheapest clear shower curtain I could get my hands on. If it's cheaper, you could also get some vinyl by the yard, but I'm pretty sure the shower curtain was a better buy. It also doesn't fight too hard when you're trying to stick pins in it.  When I got home, I looked through all of my wrapping paper to find one with the cutting guides on the back.  The wrapping paper with the lines on the back is a great way to make sure that you get your edges straight when you're blocking.

I cut my wrapping paper and shower curtain a few inches larger than my board all the way around, then wrapped the board with wrapping paper and taped it up like a gift, making sure that all of my lines matched up with the edges of my board. 

Next I wrapped the board in the shower curtain, again securing with tape. 

That's all! Now I have a nice little board that's great for neck wraps, head wraps, cuff bracelets, or anything else I can think of that's small and needs blocking. You can see I'm blocking something right now, and I will teach you how to make your own in my next post!  See you then!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Front Post Double Crochet and Back Post Double Crochet

Something that I'm finding I use on a regular basis, are front post double crochet (fpdc) and back post double crochet (bpdc). It is used in my Dana hat, and it will be used in another pattern I plan to post very soon.

Front post double crochet, and back post double crochet are used for ribbing and cabling crochet. Front post double crochet makes your crochet stand out, while back post double crochet causes it to recess.
To begin either crochet style, you need to have a row already made up. At the end of your first row, chain 2, turn. For front post double crochet, instead of going in under the "v" as you normally would:

Yarn over, slide your hook in behind the post made by the previous row. 

Yarn over, and finish a double crochet. This puts the post in front, thus, a front post double crochet.

A back post double crochet is the same except that you will yarn over, slide your hook around the post starting from behind,

then yarn over, and finish a double crochet. This puts the post in back of your double crochet, thus back post double crochet.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Dana Slouchy Hat

Hey guys! This is my first ever original pattern.  It is for a hat that I recently made for my friend Dana.  I really like the way it turned out, and hope that you enjoy it as well.

Dana Slouchy Hat
Ch = chain
St = stitch
Sk = skip
Sl st = slip stitch
Dc = double crochet
Fpdc = front post double crochet
Bpdc = back post double crochet
Note: I usually just crochet the ends of yarn into my projects, but since this is such a lacy hat, I’ve found that when I change yarn, it doesn’t crochet in right.  With this project, I find it’s easier to knot the ends together and sew them in with a yarn needle.
For this project I used Yarn Bee Soft Secret in Hot Turquoise, Aqua, Mist, and Black.
Similar weight yarns include Caron Simply Soft and Loops & Threads Soft and Shiny.
I used a size I/9 5.5mm hook. (I keep a very tight tension on my yarn, so keep that in mind as you follow this pattern.)
 With first color (Hot Turquoise for me), ch 96 and join to first ch using a sl st, making sure that the chain doesn’t get twisted. You should have a circle that is tight enough to fit around your head.  Increase or decrease in increments of 4 if necessary.
 Row 1: ch 3 then dc all the way around and join with sl st in ch 3.  (96)
 Row 2-3: Ch 3 -  this will count as your first bpdc. *fpdc in next dc, bpdc in following dc.* Repeat from * to * all the way around and join to first ch3 with sl st.  (96)
Row 4: Change to next color (optional, but Aqua for me), ch 3, sk 3 dc and dc in 4th dc from ch 3, ch 2, and dc in same st.  *Sk 3 dc, then (dc, ch2, dc) all in the same st.* Repeat from * to * all the way around until you get back to your starting point. In the same st as your ch 3: dc, ch 2, then join to ch 3 with a sl st.  (96)
 Row 5:  Ch 3, make 4 dc in first ch 2 space. Add 4 dc into each ch 2 space all the way around until you get to your last ch 2 space, where you will only make 3 dc, then sl st to join to ch3. (96)
 Row 6:  Ch 5, dc in same st as ch 5. In the spaces between 4dc, (dc, ch2, dc) all the way around, joining  with sl st to 3rd chain in ch 5. (96)
 Row 7:  Ch 3. 3 dc in next ch 2 sp. 4 dc in each ch 2 sp all the way around, joining with sl st in first ch 3. (96)
 Rows 8 – 15: Repeat rows 4 – 7 changing colors at row 10 (again, this is optional, I used Mist).
 Row 16: Change color for final time (optional, black). This is our first decrease round. Ch 5. Dc in same stitch. *In next sp between 4dc, (dc, ch 1, dc). In the following space between 4dc, (dc, ch2, dc).* Repeat from * to * all the way around. (84)
 Row 17:  Ch 3. 3 dc in next ch 2 sp. *2dc in ch 1 sp, then 4 dc in ch 2 sp* repeat from * to *. I ended up with two blocks of 4 dc at the end. It’s ok, nobody will notice. ;) Join with sl st to ch 3. (72)
 Row 18: Ch 3, sk first 3 dc and (dc, ch 2, dc) in space between 4dc and 2 dc. *Sk 6 dc, then (dc, ch 2, dc) in next space between 4dc and 2 dc.* Repeat from * to * all the way around, joining with sl st to first ch 3. (52)
Row 19: Ch 3, 4 dc in each ch 2 sp all the way around. Join with sl st in first ch 3.  Fasten off leaving a long tail to sew in the crown.
 Using the same color as row 19, make a flat circle. You may do this any way you like, but here’s how I did it:
Row 1:  Make a magic circle, Chain 3, add 11 dc in the circle, joining with sl st to ch3. Pull on starting end to tighten the magic circle. (12)
Row 2: Ch 3, make 2 dc in each dc space, finishing with one dc in ch 3 space. Join with sl st to ch 3. (24)
Row 3: Ch 3, *1dc in next dc, and 2 dc in following dc.* Repeat from * to * joining with sl st to ch 3. (36)
 Row 4: Ch 3. *1 dc in next 2 dc, then 2 dc in following dc.* Repeat from * to * all the way around, joining with sl st in ch 3. (48)
 Attach Crown to Hat:
 Turn hat inside out and place circle in center.  If you need to increase or decrease the size of your circle so that it fits in your hat, do so now.
 Use safety pins to hold your hat in place while you stitch the pieces together.  Fasten off and sew ends in.
There you have it!  I had a couple of friends test out the pattern before I posted it, and they were able to make the hat without too much difficulty, but if you have any questions, feel free to ask.  I welcome your feedback!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Magic Circle, and Why It's The Superior Way to Start a Circle

Today I'm going to show you a magic circle, or magic ring, and explain to you why this is my favorite way to start anything that will eventually be a circle.

Ok, the only real reason I need to give for why I like it, is just that it gives me a nice, tight grouping of stitches. I especially like this for winter hats because it will help keep the cold out at the crown.

To begin a magic circle, start out with the end of the yarn draped over your hand with the end-side in front, and the skein-side at the back of your hand.

Make a loop around your hand and cross over in front of the loose end.

Insert your crochet hook behind where the yarn crosses over itself, yarn over, and pull up a loop.

Hold the yarn tightly underneath the crochet hook. Chain 1. This creates a knot just below your hook, but it will need to be tightened, so work the knot until it tightens up.

Chain as many as needed to begin your round. I am making a round of 12 double crochets, so I chained 3 total, then just started double crocheting, making sure to keep both strands of yarn inside my crochet.

Once you reach your desired size, find the end of the yarn, and pull tightly. This will make your stitches form a circle.

Then finish your round with a slip stitch.  I usually sew the end in with a yarn needle and cut off the excess when I am finished.

That's all there is to it! It's really easy once you get the hang of it, so give it a shot! You'll find that your projects look much tighter and more professional using this technique.