Real Snowflakes

Well if I can’t crochet at least I can work on patterns!

This pattern has now been published on Ravelry – http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/real-snowflakes

I have to say that my attempt at enrolling pattern testers was not very successful. Even the internet let me down by losing two emails with attachments!

However nothing daunted I put on my ‘US terms’ head (shades of Worzel Gummidge*) and settled down to work through the US version of my snowflakes pattern. It wasn’t as hard as I imagined and I managed to make a few improvements in the process.

So following on from that I am now ready to publish the final copies of the pdfs for both UK and US versions.

My aim had always been the end of July or August so I am pretty much on track.

Here I include a photograph of a comparison between snowflakes made with a 3.5mm hook (central circle) and those made with a 4mm hook. I found the central snowflake came out a very similar size with both hooks. snowflake size comparisonFor anyone who has not seen these before: they are all based on photographs of real snowflakes. You can find them at http://snowcrystals.com/ Kenneth G. Libbrecht kindly gave me permission to use them on my blog and in this pattern. real snowflake photographsThe ones in the above photograph are made in Stylecraft Special DK but they can be made in a variety of other yarns as you can see in my angel wreath. snowflake wreathAnd a full set in a two tone crochet cotton. crochet thread snowflakes*[Worzel Gummidge is a living breathing scarecrow from the books of Barbara Euphan Todd. Although I never read the books as a child they were made into a TV series with Jon Pertwee which I watched with my children. He had several heads which he changed depending on the needs of the current situation.]

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Published Angel pattern

Pattern on Ravelry – http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/three-small-angels

Even though the opinions given were that the angel didn’t need arms, I couldn’t resist trying out what arms would look like.

First I just made a more colourful one. Then I decided I would try adding arms. And rather liked it.

So I decided to create a pattern with both angels I showed you plus the coloured one with arms as an option.

I took the first two angels to Crafty Coffee on Friday – well at least I can still drink coffee! – and I wanted to see if they liked the pattern. They did – Yay! so I gave them a free two angel one to use as they wish for their project and have published the full set as “Three Small Angels” on Ravelry. 

I was making a version of the third one in different colours but with my arm out of action. I have decided I can always add that as a photograph at a later date.

Unexpectedly! an Angel pattern

I am still working on this pattern and will add it to the shop when I have finished a few variations. Watch this space!

I had thought I would probably have finished the extra knitting and got the pattern ready for next week but unfortunately I now have my left arm in a cast and sling with a cracked bone in my elbow, so even writing posts may be tricky for a while. In ten days the temporary cast will be removed and then I will either be okay or have a long term cast for up to six weeks. So no knitting or crochet for a while. How will I survive, what will I do?

A little bit about how this patterns came about,

A lot of the people who come to ‘Crafty Coffee’ on a Friday are from a local Anglican church and it has been decided to give away 100 or maybe even 200! knitted angels around Christmas time. Two free patterns had been chosen as possible ones to make but the people who were likely to have to make quite a few of the angels were not entirely happy with either of them. So I offered to make one for them.

Now by the time I left to go and do my shopping they were a little happier with the chosen patterns but I found I couldn’t resist having a go at making one.

My first attempt in the afternoon was this. First attempt

But then in the evening I refined it to create this. Final angel

The angel is a little fancier than the ones they were looking at but it is quite a simple pattern in that it is knitted flat and the lace part only has one repeated row and the rest is rib or stocking stitch.

The lace could be omitted to create this simpler angel. I also modified the head slightly for this angel which is how I have written the final pattern.Plain angel

I am not sure whether I should include optional arms for the final pattern. What do you think?

 

Make you own Orchids!

There are many sorts of orchid but when researching what I could make all those months ago when I wrote my first post about it, I decided to try to create the Moth Orchid – Phalaenopsis.0551-spray-of-orchidsI wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested in how I made the spray of orchids but since someone has asked I have decided to share what I did. I am not sure whether to call it a ‘pattern’ as my patterns are normally things I feel anyone could make and I am unable in this case to tie down a rigid method, more just a description of what I did.

This is aimed at confident crafters who can make sense of what I write. (On this occasion I have written only in UK terms)

I used Ricos Essentials Cotton, DK weight, in white. The cotton has a sheen which gives the flowers a bit of a glow. You will also need a small amount of red and also green yarn for the stems.

I used a 3.5mm hook, though I crochet fairly tightly, so you may prefer a 3mm hook. Anyway since the size of the flower is not critical, use whatever size you feel most comfortable with and that gives the best result.

Did you know that when you make a slip stitch, you can either make it so that pulling the tail tightens the loop or that you have to pull the main yarn to tighten it? Surprisingly, I didn’t realise this till recently. For this pattern you need to make your slip stitch so that pulling the tail tightens the loop. I achieve this by holding the end in my right hand. (But I wouldn’t want you to think I am trying to “teach my grandmother to suck eggs” if all this is second nature to you.)

[I have added some charts at the bottom. They have been made relatively quickly and I have used my normal trick of mirroring the stitches so the diagonals on the trebles won’t all go the right way but I thought they might be of some use to some people.]

White Orchid (make 4)

Central circle and column.

Column appears to be the most common term for the nobby bit in the centre above the two side petals.

I found that making a circle of twelve htrs worked best. I used a magic loop but any other way of starting would work as well as this part should not be seen in the final flower.

At the end of the 12 htrs, slip stitch into the first st then work 4ch, and dc into second ch from hook and the two after that, then ss into start. Pull firmly and sew in ends.

This excrescence will naturally curl up

Side Petals (make 2)

Start: 2 ch

Row 1: 3dcs into second chain from hook.

Row 2: 1 ch, 2dcs into first dc, dc into dc, 2dcs into last dc.

Row 3: 3 ch, 2trs into first dc, 2trs into next dc, then tr into next, 2trs into next and 3tr into last.

Row 4: 1ch, (dc, htr, tr) into first tr of row below. The 2trs into each of next two stitches. Now you work what I call a half double treble (hdtr) into the next stitch. (See below for explanation). Then a dtr into eah of the two central stitches, a hdtr into the next, 2trs into each of the next two stitches and (tr, htr,dc) into the last stitch.

Now continue down the side of the petal working a slip stitch into the side of the end of the three rows below. Then a final ss into the starting chain.

Followed by: 2ch, tr into starting chain, 2ch, ss into starting chain.

Now work up the other side of the petal making a ss into the side of each of the three rows.

The way I finish off is how I often finish off these day which is to extend the remaining loop on the hook until it is long enough to give a good length of yarn and cut in the middle. I then thread it on a needle and pass the needle under, in this case, the first dc of row 4. I then thread the yarn back where it came from and sew it securely into the back of the petal.

This gives the appearance of an unbroken row of stitches round the edge of the petal.

0552-side-petalI leave the starting yarn to sew the petal on to the centre of the flower later but pull it to tighten the starting chain.

[Hdtr: I make a dtr in the normal way except that when there are three loops left on the hook. I pull the yarn through all three.]

Rounded Sepal at the top

(I discovered that this part is a sepal and not a petal as I originally thought of it.)

Just two rounds this time.

Start: 7ch. (Remember to make the slip knot so you can tighten it.)

You will be working into the back loops, then back up the other side into what have now become back loops if that makes sense.

Round 1: dc into second ch from hook, then dc into each of the next four chains. When you get to the starting chain, I work 2dcs before the knot then one after it, making three in all. You are now working down the other side. Work five more dcs, one into the one loop of each chain. Then a ss into the turning ch.

Round 2: ch1, then dc into first dc, htr into next, tr into each of next four dcs. Then 5trs into next dc, tr into each of next 4 dcs, htr into next, dc into last. Ss into start. Tighten starting chain and sew in end securely. Leaving a good length of the yarn at the other end to sew this sepal onto the centre later.

Pointy Sepals at the side (make 2)

Just two rounds again.

Start: 6ch. (Remember to make the slip knot so you can tighten it.)

Round 1:dc into second ch from hook, then dc into each of the next three chains. When you get to the starting chain, I work 2dcs before the knot then one after it, making three in all. You are now working down the other side. Work four more dcs, one into the one loop of each chain. Then a ss into the turning ch.

Round 2: 2ch, tr into first four dcs, (tr, dtr, tr) into next dc, then tr into each of last four dcs. 2ch, ss into turning ch of first round.

Finish off as sepal above.

Red Petal or Lip

Now using red yarn ch4, ss into third ch from hook, ch2, ss into starting ch, 3ch, tr into starting chain, 3ch, ss into starting chain, 4ch, ss into third ch from hook, 2ch, ss into starting chain.

This should give a wide central piece with two thin side pieces that should arch upwards either side. 0552-lip

 

The petals and sepals have a natural tendency to curl and I felt that when arranged they did so in an appropriate way so I did not try to stiffen them at all just adjusted them with my fingers at the end since they will not be being touched in use. However if you want to experiment with stiffening feel free.

0552-orchid-charts

Construction

The first thing I did was to attach the rounded sepal to the central circle behind the column. I then attached the two pointed sepals symmetrically at either side. They should stick out at an appropriate angle for an orchid which meant that there was an angle of about 90deg between them and one or two stitches of the edge of the circle. The sepals need to be secure.

I then took the two petals and attached them to near the centre of the circle so the narrow part was just below the column. These I sewed on with reference to pictures of orchids so they overlap both upper and lower sepals.

Finally, I threaded both ends of the red yarn of the lip into a needle, threaded the needle through the centre of the circle secured the ends either side at the back so it wouldn’t swivel then for speed and simplicity just tied the ends together in a double knot and cut off short.

I do not consider sewing things together to be one of my strong points so if you have a better method of getting the same result that is to be recommended.

Stems and attaching Orchids

When I made some knitted roses (from a book) I made a knitted I-cord for the stems and had thought to crochet something for the orchids but couldn’t quite see how. In the end the fact that I had very little green cotton yarn decided me on a simpler choice.

I had bought these flower wires 0229-flowerwirewhen I made the roses and thought I could also use them for the orchids.

Part 1 (make three)

I took my jewellery pliers and bent over the ends to make a small loop. I left it open and made a slip knot in the green yarn leaving a very long tail. I then wound the tail yarn tightly round the wire working upwards towards the loop. When I had enough I slid it round so it filled the loop closed the loop with the pliers and tied the end to the main part of the yarn the other side of the slip knot. I used what was left to sew the loop on the back of the flower. But first I continued down the wire with the main ball of yarn, winding it so the wire didn’t show, until I had enough for the curving stem behind the flower. I then cut the yarn and took a small piece of sellotape which I wrapped round yarn and wire (50/50) to hold the yarn in place.

Part 2

For the fourth orchid I did as above plus working extra to cover the gap between the stem of the end and adjacent orchid. When I came to the end I didn’t cut the yarn and used a paperclip to hold it in place.

Attaching the flowers.

I laid each wire to the back of a flower with the loop behind the centre circle and the rest of the wire pointing upwards behind the rounded sepal. I sewed the loop in place at the back of the circle (using an extra bit of white thread when I found I didn’t have enough green!)

I then bent the wires in a curve for the individual flowers stems followed by a 90deg bend for the part between the individual stems. If that makes sense. Obviously I let the yarn covered section extend just beyond the bend.

The fourth orchid was the front one (so in a sense the first!) and I took one of the other three and laid the wires against each other, so that the stems were spaced correctly and started to wind the yarn round both wires, covering the last of the green and the sellotape for the second flower. I added a third flower and then a fourth at suitable intervals then continued winding the yarn round the wires until there was no more wire left. I was not too bothered about the appearance of the stem, though I tried to make it neat, as it would be inside the vase. I think that I bent the last of the wire up and tied the yarn to stop it slipping. I am sure you can make a better job of it!

Finally

I arranged the flowers so that they overlapped each other with the end one in front as you can see in the picture. 0551-closer-view-of-orchidsI straightened the petals and sepals and pulled the wide part of the lip so it was horizontal.

It is possible that the individual stems should have been a bit shorter and that I should bend the flowers forward more so they don’t show.

I leave that to your judgement. There are plenty of photographs of orchids online.

[As always do let me know of any mistakes. I have put this together fairly quickly.]

 

 

 

 

October Montage

This last month the topics for the Photo Challenge were: Button, Mystery, Autumn, Zig-zag and Monster. I also shared photographs of two outings. One was to Seaton in Devon (actually to ride on trams) where I shared some photographs showing the evolution of a wave and the other to the Isle of Wight for a Beer and Buses Festival.montage1610For crochet: I shared a pattern of my latest ‘real snowflake’ and the ones I made to sell in a charity shop. For knitting: I showed you how the colours had gone for my temperature scarf over the summer.

A New Real Snowflake

The patterns for all my real snowflakes should be available on Ravelry in a few weeks time. (Edited 9th June 2017)

Those of you who have been following this blog for a long time may remember when I collected a number of photographs of actual snowflakes and created crochet versions for seven of them.Real snowflakes to copyAt the time I decided that the snowflake in the top left of the picture would be too hard for me to make. (As an aside: I also decided that the eighth snowflake (bottom middle) was too textured to be able to do justice to it in three or four rows.)

This was for two main reasons.

  1. It would have to involve using picot type stitches and I had been unable to make satisfactory picots.
  2. I was afraid that the arms would end up floppy.

However since then I have discovered where I was going wrong and how to make picots that lie flat. I also saw some snowflakes with a similar style of points in this book: which gave me encouragement0192-bookand I have been making some snowflakes to be sold in a local charity shop using acrylic yarn and a 2.5mm hook and found that with that size hook, even acrylic snowflakes can end up very firm.

I started off using that size hook rather than a more obvious choice of 3.5mm because I had been given a Clover Armour hook of that size and was really enjoying using it , so was reluctant to use an ordinary hook. 0517-new-snowflakeAnd here is a comparison with the original photograph. 0517-comparison-with-real-snowflakeYou can see that even with my crochet not being 100% even it is still more symmetrical than the original!

Note that whereas the other snowflakes for which I created the earlier patterns all end up a similar size this one is necessarily a little larger. 0517-snowflake-comparison

It does benefit from a bit of blocking!0517-snowflake-pinned-on-boardHere is a photograph of the snowflake suspended. As you can see the points really do stay stiff! 0517-hanging-snowflake

How to crochet a perfect circle

I thought it was about time that I gave you a crochet post on a Monday.

I had been thinking of trying out a more elaborate idea for a crochet pattern but since I was feeling pretty exhausted I ended up doing this instead. Crochet circleEver since I created my African Violet pattern I have felt that I ought to work out how to crochet a proper circle using dcs (US-scs). When I made my violets I created a brown ‘circle’ to attach the leaves and flowers to that was meant to represent the potting compost in case it peeped through. However it came out as more of an octagon because of the way I had chosen to do the increases. Being an impatient soul, I couldn’t be bothered to work out how to do a perfect circle since it didn’t matter too much because it was hardly seen.

But finally I have got round to it!

Now there may be other ways to create an ‘almost’ perfect circle (claiming perfection is maybe a bit cheeky!) but this is my way.

Maybe, before the pattern, a little discussion about why I think this method gives a good circle.

After the second round all the increase rounds involve sixteen increases and a potential sixteen sided shape is obviously closer to a circle than an octagon. Also the inbetween rounds have one stitch into each of the previous round, thus giving a smooth finish. Lastly I have offset the increases sometimes having the 2dcs into one at the beginning and sometimes at the end of the sequence.

Circle Pattern

Starting with a magic loop or 4 chain circle and working in a spiral the rounds go like this for a circle with a diameter of about five inches or 13cm when working with DK yarn and a 4.5mm hook (that is probably 4mm for most people).

I marked the first stitch of each round after the first couple with a bit of thread, just to make it easier to see when the round was complete.

  1. ch1, 8dcs into circle. (8)
  2. 2dcs into each stitch. (16)
  3. 1dc into each stitch. (16)
  4. 2dcs into each stitch. (32)
  5. 1dc into each stitch. (32)
  6. 1dc into each stitch. (32)
  7. (2dcs into first stitch, 1dc into next) x 16. (48)
  8. 1dc into each stitch. (48)
  9. (1dc into each of first two stitches, 2dcs into third stitch) x 16. (64)
  10. 1dc into each stitch. (64)
  11. (2dcs into first stitch, 1dc into each of next three stitches) x 16. (80)
  12. 1dc into each stitch. (80)

To finish slip stitch into the next but one stitch or even better finish off as shown at the end of the post. (Next but one stitch, not next stitch, because this is a spiral not a joined round.)

To increase beyond this I would suggest keeping an eye on whether the circle is remaining flat. (If it ripples work an extra round of just single dcs) and mix up where the 2dc increases come in the sequence. I think just alternating between the start and end (as above) should be enough. Ending on a round with just single dcs should be best.

You can see what a good circle you get. (I drew round a bowl.)

Circle with round markers

For anyone who has come here from my African Violet pattern – the number of rounds necessary to fill the top of a 9cm pot, which is what the pattern was designed for, is eight. This leaves you with 48 dcs on the last round. Circle in 9cm pot

Now a little tip when completing your circle.

The neatest way to finish off is to pull the yarn that is left on the hook into a big loop and cut so as to leave enough to sew in. Cut yarnThread the end into a needle and insert under the second stitch from the end. (Second stitch not next stitch for reason given above).Thread yarn under stitchPull through then thread the yarn back where it came out. Thread yarn where it came fromand finish off at the back.

This gives a perfect looking edge. The needle is in under the loop we just made.See stitch is same as others!I find this a good way to finish of the final round of any crochet project I am making. (Of course if it was a joined round then I would work into the adjacent stitch.)

 

 

Celtic Napkin Ring pattern

The light has been very bad lately, with the odd bits of brightness at inconvenient moments, or I would have shown you my blanket at the half way point. So finding a little bit of better light I quickly took the photographs for this tutorial.

I used DK (US worsted weight) cotton and a 3.5mm hook. If you crochet loosely you may need a smaller one.

You need to crochet all stitches into the back loop of the the chain so both edges look the same on the right side. (One such loop is shown in black below).Back loop of chain

To start make 50 chain and then make the first treble (US – dc) into the back of the fourth chain from the hook.

After the 50 chain the pattern is

4 tr, 5tr tog, 9tr, 5tr into 1ch, 9tr, 5tr tog, 9tr, 5tr into 1ch, 4tr.

US version

4 dc, 5dc tog, 9dc, 5dc into 1ch, 9dc, 5dc tog, 9dc, 5dc into 1ch, 4dc.

Make four pieces as above in four different colours. Four strips For the tutorial part of this post I used the same colours as I used originally. If you want to use different colours you might find it helpful to copy what I have written and replace my colour names with yours.

The first thing to do is to join the red piece in a ring. Red strip joined All the joins will be hidden but it is only 3 trs (US-dcs) that will be hidden so it is best if you finish the ends up and down the trs (US-dcs) rather than along the edges.

I hope it will be possible for me only use the term treble from now on and for US readers to understand that to them it means the dcs.

Now you thread the blue piece through. You need to secure this in place at each overlap or underlap, as you go, unless you are very deft with your hands.

I have found small safety pins work better that dressmaking pins though if you didn’t have a lot of safety pins you could stitch each overlap with a piece of contrasting thread that you remove later.

The blue starts by overlapping the red just to the right of one of the upper points. This overlap consists of the three trs next to the corner 5tr into 1ch. Pin or secure this overlap. First blue overlap Now align the blue strip along the side of the red one passing under the red this time just next to the corner and secure. First blue underlap Continue along the side of red strip going over the next time then under the final time and securing each overlap.

Unless you are very unsure this is a good time to join the ends of the blue strip together. If you were being very cautious you should still join the two ends together maybe just with a knotted loop of contrasting thread at each edge.

When I made it the first time I distributed the joins around the circle but here you can see the joins in the red and blue strips as neat as I could make them. Joins will only show on the inside. Red and blue joins Now you add the green strip. Again you start by overlapping the strip after an upper point – the blue one this time – You need only secure the outer overlaps this time.

Again you will go over and under and align the strip against the previous = blue one.

However you will go over blue and then over red, followed by under blue and under red, then over blue and over red, followed by under blue and under red. Green overs and unders Join or secure the ends of the green strip at the back. This time the join will be hidden under the red strip. Green ends join Now thread through the yellow strip. (No need to secure except at the start at the back of the blue strip.)

Start, as before, to the right of one of the upper green points. Secure in place tucking the end treble under the blue strip and pinning at the back. Starting yellow This time you have only to go alternately under and over as you work your way round in a similar manner to before. No more securing needed till the end.

Turn the ring inside out and secure the two yellow ends with the safety pin you started with. Yellow ends secure Now remove all the other pins (or securing threads) before joining the ends of the yellow strip (and any other ends you didn’t connect before).

Now you can make sure that all the interweaving is even and you are done.Finished napkin ringMaking one of these takes me a couple of hours.

Celtic Cross crochet pattern

The pattern for all four of my Celtic crosses is now on sale on Ravelry – http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/celtic-cross-bookmark

My original cross.Crochet celtic crossWhen I used #10 crochet cotton and a 1.25mm hook (Blue cross) it came out about 4 inches high and three inches wide. (10 x 7.5 cm) However using a smaller hook will give a firmer though slightly smaller bookmark. (Red cross)You could also try multi-coloured thread. For this I used a 1.25mm for the starting chain and a 1mm hook for the rest. I also increased the picot stitches from two to three.

August Montage

In August I shared with you some more about what Louisa and I got up to while she was here, as well as three months worth of contributions to “Monochrome Madness” and various mandalas I had created over the years.August montageI then shared with you the two crocheted cafeteire cosies I made for my daughter’s birthday. I also shared the pattern for my crochet angel bookmark/decoration and the trip my friend and I took to Hythe so I could buy a knitting pattern.