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Blocking Your Crochet/Knitting Project

When I was a young girl first learning to crochet and sew, blocking your item was right up there with do I really need to stay-stitch my neck edge within my sewing project – duh, I learned the hard way, you DO need to do these steps to get the desired results and have an item that will last and continue to look good.  Think about it, you have gone to all this work to crochet a wonderful piece, now you need to block it so it will have the necessary shape, curves, points, etc. to look awesome.

There are basically 2 ways of blocking – called wet blocking and/or steam blocking.  STEAM blocking is exactly as its name implies.  I do this for small projects and I NEVER do it for anything that has been made with acrylic yarn.  I layout my project on my ironing board, spray it with a little water from my handy-dandy spray bottle that I always have hanging from my ironing board and sort of shape it with just my fingers.  I like to cover it with a pressing cloth, then I hold my iron just above the item but don’t touch it with the iron and steam away.  I usually give it a couple good bursts of steam.  Lift the pressing cloth, check it out and if all looks good just let it stay in place to cool and dry. If you aren’t totally satisfied, maybe an edge isn’t just to your liking, give it another spray of water, cover with your pressing cloth and give it another burst of steam.

The steaming method works really well for cotton yarns.  I would be cautious with WOOL items too as heat will do funky things to wool yarn.  As one time my hubby was trying to be so helpful and threw a lovely sweater in the dryer and it shrunk to fit a Barbie doll.

WET blocking is probably the best way to block your yarn projects.  Basically, soak your crochet in a nice sink full of cold water, add a very little drop of a gentle soap, give it a nice swish around, and rinse really well to make sure soap is all gone.  Gently squeeze out some of the water, you can let it drain a little in the sink, layout a big towel and place your project on the towel.  You really don’t want to wring or twist – I like to fold up my towel in half and then fold in the sides and press easy on it to help remove extra moisture.

Then off to my blocking mats with my rust proof pins and tape measure.  Layout your project and gently stretch it out, finger open those fine details that you have made and pin away.  Use your tape measure to make sure you are getting the size and shape you want.  Again, have that handy-dandy spray bottle at hand if you need to dampen your project during the blocking process.  For a shawl with fine picot points, be sure to place a pin in each one.  Believe you me, it is worth it!!

Round shaped items, like booties or hats, I like to shape using wet paper towels.  Put wet paper towels inside your booties to shape them the way you want and let them stay that way until the paper towels are dry.  I use fabric covered styrofoam balls for shaping hats but if they need to be a little fuller, again wet paper towels to fill in those spaces – works great.  Just do final shaping with your hands and let air dry completely.

Take a moment and check out Shibaguyz Designz blog.  Some really interesting ideas for blocking here using wire, #10 cotton thread and/or unwaxed kitchen string.  Recommends the string for nice shaping of curved areas.  Another recommendation – block your swatch piece to really ensure you are getting the correct gauge.  Excellent reading 🙂

Here are some pictures of the blocked shawls and scarves that I just did – talked about the patterns on my last blog That’s a Wrap!!  Good examples of how blocking really gives your item that WOW factor.  You’ve spent lots of hours crocheting or knitting that beautiful piece – now spend just one more hour to truly give your item that professional, finished appearance.

Blocking on mats

 

Before blocking

After blocking

Before blocking

After blocking

 

 HAPPY CREATING!!

 

 

That’s a “WRAP”

Well I’ve been super busy “wrapping up” with hooking shawls, scarves and cowls recently so I thought I would share with you some of my projects and what patterns I used.  Can’t quite call them totally “finished” as I still need to complete detailed blocking for everything so that is what is on my agenda for this week.  Plus, all the yarn I used was already in my stash!!  Yeah!!!

Before I go further, did want to share with you pictures of my finished knitted seed/moss stitch scarf.  I am very happy with how it turned out – especially since knitting seems to challenge me a bit 🙂

Seed/Moss Stitch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyways, take a look and hopefully you will get inspired with a “wrap” of your own 🙂

  1.  These pictures show a lovely summer shawl.  I used a free pattern found on Ravelry called the Dixie Charm pattern by Kathy Lashley. I used 2 skeins of Sunseeker  Multis (color #107) by Cascade Yarns and an I hook (5.5) for this pattern.  I just love the beautiful peachy tones which highlights just a touch of sparkle throughout.  This yarn was a combo of cotton, acrylic, and metallic yarn.  Very nice to work with too and I’m really pleased with how it looks so far.  Blocking will give it that totally finished look!!

    Dixie Charm

  2. Next I liked this great Moogly pattern called Berry Harvest   Bandana Cowl.  Crocheted this one using the pattern recommendations of an H hook and a DK weight yarn.  I chose Rowan Creative Linen (1 skein) which is a nice 50% linen and 50% cotton.  Worked up lovely and the berry design and edging will truly benefit from a good blocking.

 

Back to Ravelry again, I found a pretty lacy scarf called Summer Sprigs Lace Scarf by Esther Chandler.  The yarn I decided to go with was Folio by Berroco (blend of Superfine Alpaca and Rayon) but was considered a Light (3) category and her pattern used a Fine Lace yarn.  I only had 2 skeins of this yarn, so I chose a Size E hook (3.5) using the Folio yarn and only chained 232 + 1.  I used 1 full skein and a little more than half of the other skein for my scarf.  It still wraps around your neck nicely and drapes on the sides.  I know too once blocked, it will enlarge the size of the finished scarf.

Summer Sprigs Lace Scarf

I enjoyed making the Summer Sprigs pattern so off to my stash bin again and found 4 skeins of Folio in an awesome charcoal gray color.  So I have started pattern using this yarn, changed hook to a Size C (2.75) and began with the pattern recommendation of 386 +1 chains.  Not very far, but I think  the outcome will still be a lovely, light weight scarf.

Work in Progress

Of course, I just purchased an awesome pattern by Christina Hadderingh called Hotel of Bees shawl from Ravelry and looking forward to participating in the #HOBCAL (Hotel of Bees Crochet Along) through Cherry Heart’s Cozy Corner group.

And, That’s A “Wrap”!!

HAPPY CREATING!!

 

 

 

 

 

Boppin’ with Barbie Again

Was yarn “surfing” through some of my stash bins and found some bright, colorful skeins that inspired me to do some more Barbie clothing. My designs are fitted to the Belly Button Style doll.

Fun and Flirty Dress

Made a couple of dresses using my fun and flirty pattern for those summer outings and then not wanting to “skirt” the issue, designed and crocheted a couple of those for her too!!

Another Fun and Flirty Dress

Nothing fancy about the pictures but I hope you like what you see and get inspired too.

This pattern for these dresses can be found here.  I try to design items that are easy to slide on and off especially made for those young Barbie lovers with “little” hands.

Here are some pictures of my new skirt designs using the slip stitch ribbing technique found on Moogly.  This ribbing really gives a nice stretch and makes it easy to slip on and off your doll.  A little loose around the waist but you could always weave in a gathering ribbon if you want it tighter.

Both of these skirts were made using a sport weight (category 2) yarn and a size E crochet hook.  In my design process, I did make a skirt and top outfit and made a deeper waistband which I felt worked better than my original waistband so my directions will be for that style and not the one you see in the pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pattern for Pink Skirt

Row 1:  (Waistband)  Chain 6, slip stitch (SL ST) in 2nd chain from  hook and SL ST in next 4 stitches for a total of 5 SL ST.  Chain 1, turn, skip chain and SL ST in next 5 stitches.  Do this for 28 rows,  keep waistband untwisted and SL ST together.

Row 2:  Chain 1, 30 SC spaced evenly around waistband.  SL ST join in first SC

Row 3:  Chain 2, *1DC (double crochet), 1DC, 2DC in next stitch, repeat from * around (40 DC), SL ST join in first DC

Row 4:  Chain 2, 1DC in each stitch around in BLO (back loop only), SL ST join in first DC

Row 5:  Chain 2, 1 FPDC (front post double crochet), 1 BPDC (back post double crochet)  around, SL ST join in first FPDC

Row 6:  Chain 2, Repeat row 5

Row 7:  Chain 2, *1DC, 1DC, 1DC, 2DC in next stitch in BLO, repeat from * around (50DC), SL ST join in first DC

Row 8:  Chain 2, 1 FPDC, 1 BPDC around, SL ST join in first FPDC

Row 9:  Chain 2, Repeat row 8

Row 10:  Chain 1, complete 50 SL stitches around finish off and weave ends.

Here’s what I created using Aunt Lydias baker’s cotton (category 1) and a size C hook  – again using the slip stitch ribbing (6 chains and 5 slip stitches) so no seaming, snaps, or Velcro needed.

Will do another post to share the denim blue skirt pattern too.

Hope you enjoy and any questions, please let me know.  Would love to see your finished outfits too 🙂

HAPPY CREATING!!

 

 

 

 

Crochet “mini” Bowl

I was making more of my “mini” bowls/baskets.  There are just so many uses for this little item – candy favors, table decorations, baby/bridal showers, small soaps, flowers, paper clips, loose change, ear buds, etc.

I love mixing one variegated cotton yarn with a bright solid cotton yarn for a very Springy look and feel but this item certainly could be hooked up into any color combo that would be perfect for your occasion.   I also really love working with Lily Sugar ‘n Cream cotton yarn but use what you like and are familiar with.

Here’s the link to this pattern, which makes for a cute bowl style basket:   http://stitch4ever.com/free-patterns-2/super-quick-mini-basket-pattern/

If you want a more flat bottom, complete round 3 in the BLO (back loop only) to achieve that effect.  Then continue on with the pattern as written.

Hope you enjoy this “mini” basket and would love to see your pictures.

HAPPY CREATING!!

Get a Grip on Crochet

I love to crochet and thoroughly enjoy all the fun and interesting projects that evolve from that ever amazing hook.  Getting a grip on your hook is totally a personal preference but if you are new to crochet or wanting to teach someone this art, then I hope this information will help you.

There are mainly 2 styles of gripping your hook – the pencil hold and the knife hold.

I’m a left-handed person for everything but crochet.  Being the only leftie in my family was a true stump factor so if I was going to learn how to do this craft, I had to learn right-handed.  What I have discovered over the years, is that I can keep a good tension on my yarn as I control that with my left hand where my right hand is really only doing one movement going through my loops.

Anyways, how I hold my hook is with the knife style.  I place my thumb on the flat section or thumb rest, my index finger rests on the shaft helping to hold my loop in place, my middle finger sits gently on the back of the hook along the thumb rest and my ring finger and pinkie slightly wrap around the hook and hold it in place against the palm of my hand (this helps to keep the hook from rotating in my hand).

My left-hand thread tension is this:  wrap the yarn under my pinkie finger, over my ring finger, under Mr. Tall Man (the middle finger) and over my index finger.  I hold my work with my left hand using my middle finger and thumb and extend my index finger away from my hook to keep it slightly taut as I use that yarn to make my crochet stitches.

I do not vary from this setup whether I am using a steel hook with thread or a super bulky yarn with a Q hook.

Also, I have found the Susan Bates hooks to be my personal favorites. I like to work with the in-line style hook versus the tapered hook that you find on a Boye design.  I have just been introduced to the Clover Soft grip style hooks and I think I’m going to like them a lot too especially when working with thread designs for doilies, etc.  Experiment and find the type of hook that works the best for you and feels the most comfortable in your hand.  There are tons of choices available.

If you are new to the crocheting bug or teaching someone, maybe begin with a larger hook like a size J or size K.  The fatter hook might help you not to grip too hard and make your stitches too tight.

I still have my very first crochet hook which I believe is a Susan Bates, just is marked as a size 6 or size G.  With some research, I actually believe it is a 4.25 mm as I have the latest size G6/4.00 mm and the size 7/4.50 mm and the shaft is really in between these two hook sizes.  It is always my “go to” hook for most of my projects!!

So “get a grip” and pick up a crochet hook and make that wonderful cozy scarf or baby blanket for yourself or as a gift for that special someone.

HAPPY CREATING!!

 

 

Barbie Fun and Flirty Dress Pattern

You can never have too many Barbie outfits!!  And a simple crochet style dress is an awesome addition to add to her wardrobe.  Here’s my pattern for a fun, flirty style Barbie dress to crochet for that special 12″ doll lover!!

Fun and Flirty Dress with Ruffled Edge

Fun and Flirty Dress with Ruffled Edge

I have used a category 2 (fine weight) yarn and a Size E/4 (3.50mm) crochet hook for this dress.  Probably no more than 50 – 75 yards.

The pattern includes the following abbreviation stitches:  HDC – half double crochet and HDC foundation stitch, SC – single crochet, INC – increase, DEC – decrease,  BLO – back loop only, SL – slip stitch, CH – chain, DC – double crochet

This entire pattern is worked in the round.

Begin your dress by completing:

22 HDC Foundation Stitches, SL join into top of 1st stitch.  Be sure to leave a longer tail at the beginning so you have a thread to stitch up the join.

22 HDC Foundation Chain

22 HDC Foundation Chain

Rows 2 – 10 will be all SC (22 stitches).  At the end of each row join your round using your preferred method.  I like to use the no-cut joining method found here on Planet June blog.

Row 11 – 4 hdc,   1 hdc dec,   3 hdc,   1 hdc dec,   3 hdc,      1 hdc dec,   4 hdc,   1 hdc dec. (18 stitches)  join

Row 12 & 13 – 18 SC  join

 

SONY DSC

Row 14 – 8 sc,   1 sc inc,  8 sc,  1 sc inc,  join (20 stitches)

Row 15 – 9 sc,  1 sc inc,  9 sc,  1 sc inc,  join  (22 stitches)

Row 16 – 5 sc,  1 sc inc,  4 sc,  1 sc inc,  4 sc,  1 sc inc,  5 sc,  1 sc inc,  join  (26 stitches)

Row 17 – 6 sc,  1 sc inc,  5 sc,  1 sc inc, 5 sc,  1 sc inc,  6 sc,  1 sc inc,  join (30 stitches)

Row 18 – 30 SC join

Row 19 –  CH 1,  30 HDC in BLO, join

Row 20 – 25 – repeat row 19

At this point,  you can really decide how long you want your skirt to be.  You could add a couple more of the HDC, BLO rows if you wish or maybe you actually want less rows to make the dress shorter.   Also, if you want this look,

No ruffled bottom edge style.

No ruffled bottom edge style.

you can end your dress here and just do one row of SL stitches for a finished edge.  Just fasten off and weave in your ends at the bottom and join at the neckline.

If you want to add the ruffled look here is what you will need to do.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

 

 

 

 

 

Row 26 – CH 2,  crochet 2 DC in each of the HDC going through both loops of the HDC stitch.  Join.

Row 27 – CH 2, crochet 3 DC in each of the DC stitches.  Join

Fasten off and weave in all ends.  Again, make sure you join together your 22 HDC Foundation stitches together.

Fun and Flirty Dress with Ruffled Edge

Fun and Flirty Dress with Ruffled Edge

Back view

Back view

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite things about this dress is the simplistic ability to slip it on.  It can be slightly snug going over her hips (my Barbie is the belly button style doll) but shouldn’t really pose any issues for children to dress the doll.  There is really no definite front or back to the dress either so however it is slipped on works.  Actually, you can put the joining seam at the side of the dress and your front and back looks seamless.

Please feel free to make this fun dress for all your Barbie enthusiasts.   I have no issues if you want to make this dress and sell it (providing you are the one doing the actual crocheting), however, please do not distribute, copy or publish the pattern as your own. Should you elect to sell your finished products, please reference my blog www.stitch4ever.com as the pattern designer.

HAPPY CREATING!!

Barbie Crochet Dress Pattern

I’ve been in a Barbie doll crocheting mood recently – must be reflecting back on my childhood days when I played with my Barbie all the time 🙂

SONY DSC

I prefer to crochet my Barbie clothing in fingering/light weight cottons or sock yarns which give you such fun color combos.   My hook size is usually a size C (2.75mm) especially for a form fitting top and then I increase to a size D (3.25mm) or E (3.50mm) for the skirt and ruffles.  These sizes are Susan Bates Silvalume Crochet hooks, by far, my favorite hook!!

SONY DSCSONY DSC

 

After searching around, I did come across a fun, bohemian/peasant style dress that I liked.  So I hooked two variations of the pattern – making one style a full, twirly skirt and the other just a fuller style.  I added ruffles and reverse crochet along the bottom edges.   My dresses are a little snug to slide on and off because I wanted the top portion to fit securely.  You can always add straps if you want your dress to have a looser fit around the top.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

 

 

 

 

 

You can find the cute original dress pattern at linmary123.

I did crochet the sun hat like the original pattern and I think it adds a nice finished look to the dress.  Used my own shoulder strap purse pattern as a perfect accessory for Barbie’s outfits.

Fun, flirty dress

Fun, flirty dress

Out on the town dress

Out on the town dress

 

 

 

 

Well now, I’m on a roll so I worked up my own design for a form fitting dress that you can easily adjust the size to fit whatever style Barbie doll you have.  Also, this pattern accommodates a fun flirty look or a dressier evening out on the town style.  You can find this pattern here in the next couple of days.

Have fun crocheting clothing for your Barbie dolls.  These make awesome handmade gifts too.  I always try to look for patterns that make it easy for putting on and taking off too for those little ones who enjoy Barbies but sometimes a “good style” requires a little more work to slide into 🙂

These are great crochet projects that are good for a beginner too. Use up those little leftover balls of yarn from your stash and have fun mixing your colors too.  And don’t forget about adding buttons and beads to give your outfits that pizzazz!!

TIP:  My Barbie is a Belly Button style doll so you might need to increase/decrease in places to fit your specific doll.

HAPPY CREATING!!