Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Never before taken a bathroom selfie...

...but this warranted one.

When I was 10, living in Newark, NJ, I spent a lot of after school and evening time at the Salvation Army "Boys" Club on Providence Street.  It kept me, heck, it kept us all, off the streets and out of trouble.  Part of belonging to "the Boys Club" was going to summer camp, at Camp Tecumseh in Pittstown, NJ.  During the ride to camp, we'd sing on the bus. I loved the bus rides, and really loved going to camp each summer.  And, I was a pretty good singer.  

So when I was 10, I went to camp for 2 sessions - if I'm not mistaken, a session was 8 or 9 days, and I was there for 2x as long.  When I returned, all the girls at the Boys Club were wearing crocheted vests.   I asked them - where'd you get that.  Oh, they all said "I made it myself."  I was intrigued, interested.  I wanted one. Badly.  I wanted to learn to make one for myself.   I asked the ladies in charge if I could learn, and I was told "sorry - we've moved on to other things."   That was that.   I think we learned next how to make paper mache.  Or play bingo.  Or basketball.  Or, we put on a show.  Or....        At 13, we moved, and hanging out at the Boys Club was over for me.

When I was 16ish, I learned how to crochet.  Not because I wanted to make myself a vest - that wasn't a thought in my brain.  I wanted to make a blanket. Blankets. Lots and lots of blankets.  I made granny square blankets for everyone I loved (and some I didn't love) because I was so excited to be doing it.  And, lets face it, back in 1975/1976, acrylic yarn was cheap!  

I continued to crochet - hats, scarves, baby blankets.  Thread doll clothes for my daughter's Barbie dolls (I loved them, and still do - especially knit doll clothes).  Then, comes along the INTERNET - where one can find a treasure trove of patterns, photos, directions, instructions.....for crochet and any craft you can think of.  So one evening I discovered the pattern for this vest. IT BROUGHT BACK SO MANY MEMORIES - and one memory of loss and denial.  I didn't get to make that vest....when I was 10.   But there it was on a GROOVY site.   Now, it can be found via the wayback machine:

In my forties, I decided to make this vest - in all its ugliness.  Worsted weight acrylic yarn, in my favorite color (teal), totally made of chains, totally awful, totally ugly, and, with pompons~!  I love it.  I wear it from time to time (maybe 3 times a year),  It isn't the prettiest item in my wardrobe, but it is one of my favorites.  

So, I call this my "unbreak my 10-year-old heart vest" because it healed a wound caused in my childhood that I didn't even realize I was harboring.  I know, I know - worse things can happen in our childhoods than this - and believe me, they did.  But, THIS is not the place for that...THIS is a place of yarny joy.

I am never so self-indulgent here, and I have not been posting here so much anymore (there are so many better blogs/websites for you to visit), but, I was posting this on Ravelry, and the story behind this vest was just too much to put there.  So, I put it here.

Recently, someone told me a similar story.  She wanted a set of bride/groom "toasting glasses" for her wedding 20 years ago.  "Champagne flutes" in fancy words.  Sounds ritzy titzy, huh?   She was talked out of buying them by her mother (or was it her mother-in-law?) - because they were useless, an indulgence, too expensive, would be used just once and put in a cupboard --- so many "reasons." She said that still, 20 years later, she wishes she had bought those flutes.  I told her about my vest, and how making it in my 40s (and I'm now approaching 60) healed my own little girl heart.  I suggested she treat herself this holiday season, if she needed a REASON, to those champagne flutes - and to enjoy them, and start tradition, and toast her husband every New Year with them.  It will heal her.   I hope she bought them~!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Book review: Crocheter's Skill-Building Workshop - Author: Dora Ohrenstein

Wow, thumbs up!

This is a great book for anyone interested in crochet.  It is especially informative for beginners.

I like how the book starts with basics and builds, and covers everything I feel a new crocheter absolutely NEEDS to know.  It builds upon skills, stitches, techniques, and explains and illustrates more than 1 way to do things.  For instance, when working in the round, a person may only learn to chain X, join to form a ring, and work into the ring.  However, it can also be accomplished by working into 1 chain, or by forming a magic circle.  Dora Ohrenstein covers and illustrates all three methods.  She also covers spiral rounds, and while she doesn't illustrate tube rounds, she references them and adds several patterns for tubed rounds, including a hat.

Later in the book, she explains and illustrates specialty stitches, textural stitches, lace stitches, and gives some great overall tips.

My only disagreement is that I feel gauge doesn't always matter.  Lets face it, if you're creating a blanket, placemat, potholder, dishcloth -- a smudge larger or a smidgen smaller REALLY isn't going to matter.   If the item is meant to fit, gauge maters,  if the fit isn't an issue, when one uses the suggested yarn weight and hook size, it isn't the end of the world.

Overall, highly recommended to anyone who wants to learn to crochet, or newbies.  Could make a great teaching tool as well.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Vintage Juliette Dress

I've seen this all over the internet, and at some point, I don't remember where, the pattern was posted as well.  This is an old pattern from .... the 60s?

Unless and until I'm told by the rightful owner to take it down, here it is:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Joining rounds without "chain 3"

Here is a shout out to Moogley.   I bring Moogly to your attention since I've been telling a few crocheters about this method, and rather than reinvent the tutorial, I direct you to it.  [link at end]

You'll discover a method for starting a round of double crochet without joining with a slip stitch and then chaining 3.  Instead, you begin with a double crochet.  The technique is called the standing double crochet; or is that the stitch name?  I think the name is interchangeable to the stitch/technique.

Basically, its a trade off.  For losing the chain 3, you get a fully fleshed double crochet, but you wind up with a tail at the top of the stitch. That tail must be dealt with as you finish the round, and even if you do not intend to fasten off and use another color, you must, and will have two tails in the same spot - beginning/end - to weave in.  [Note:   both the video and photo tutorial show different colors with each round.]  So, were you to not want to change colors after each round, using this method you would still have to work as if you did - that is, cut your yarn in the last round after the join, and start the next round with the cut yarn.

Is there an advantage to working this way, or is the traditional join, chain 3 best?  That depends on YOU.  Give it a try and see what "look" you prefer.

Here is the link:

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Crochet Lalaloopsy

I had not known that the Lalaloopsy didn't begin as a crochet doll.  I was surprised to see her plastic luster sitting on the toy shelf at Kmart.  I guess it was a silly thought, but the notion came to me that the manufacturer of this plastic doll had seen the crochet version --- and quickly realized it had to be the other way around. Ha.

My daughter is 25, and much unlike her mother, her fascination with dolls has been lost since she was about 10.  I on the other hand still have a love for Barbie, and creating knit and crochet outfits for Barbie.  This Lalaloopsy doll, though, has tugged at my heart strings!  

Over here:    you will find a crochet pattern for an inspired by Lalaloopsy doll.  It is very straight forward and uncomplicated.  Once you get the 2 legs made, you join them and the remainder of the doll up to the head is made in 1 continuous piece.  The arms are made separately and sewn on, as are the hair curls.  Best of all, Corina has offered the pattern for FREE.  You'll find lots of good stuff on Corina's site~!

Here is my first attempt:

a close up of her head.   At the time of this posting, I am working on her arms.

This is the full photo, minus the hair on the top of her head and, oh yea, the arms.

When I worked her facial features, I added a thread, after folding her head in half to determine the center of her face.  The knot of the thread is down where her mouth is to be sewn.  I centered the thread there to indicate the space between the mouth stitches.  This thread was also useful in eye placement.

The buttons called for as eyes are 1 inch round, with 4 holes, and an outer rim.  On this doll pictured, I used buttons that I had on hand, 3/4 inch, 2 holes, with a rim.  I have since purchased the correct buttons on Ebay, as I intend to make a few more of these dolls.


A Google search will bring up plenty of images.   If you go to, you can search through patterns there too.  Some are free, some not.  One is even knitted~!  You'll also find tips for making her if you search through the projects made from the various patterns.

One SUPER tip is to do something to keep the head sitting without flopping atop the neck.  I think the best idea is to use a few strips of plastic canvas together, crocheted around to make  a sleeve to insert them into, then put it into the body so half sits into the body/neck, and the top half will go up into the head.  Take a few stitches through the neck and this "neck core" to hold it into place.  Thereafter, as you create the head and get it ready to stuff you can stuff around this core.   

I didn't do anything but over stuff the neck in my first lala pictured - and after I added the hair curls, yes indeed, her head got heavy and floppy.   I will take a few stitches around the neck to stabilize it, but next time I'll make a neck core.

Another tip is to use invisible crochet decreases--that is working only through the front loops when making the decrease.  I chose to make regular decreases through both loops.

The manufactured Lalaloopsy line contains sewn "pillow" Lalaloopsies, minis, micros, princesses, mermaids, aliens, a nod to The Wizard of Oz, boys and all shades of skin tones.  There are Laloopsies with yarn hair for play and styling....and accessories and costumes.  

Best of all, this doll can be designed by you and your imagination.  You choose the theme, the clothing colors, the skin tone and hair colors. You can make her in all skin tone and then make clothing.  I think the possibilities are endless.

Friday, April 12, 2013

While Crochet is fun, there are RULES that should not be ignored

Hello darling readers, wherever you come from and however you get here, welcome.

This blog was put together to facilitate the teaching that I do.  I wanted to have tips, tricks, rules, etc. in one place. I wanted to be able to refer my students here...and they could look around and, hopefully, find the answer they sought.  Its plain and could be boring, but there is a good bit of information for the taking.

The more topics I posted, the less I needed to post.  Reason being, this blog isn't about ME, so I try not to make it personal.  However, it is about YOU, what you need and helping you find it.   I don't know everything there is to know, but I know some, and I love to share.  To my students, I'll continue to refer you to this blog and if you bring issues to me, I'll deal with them here.  To those from all over the world that stumble across this little blog, I hope you found what you were seeking, and that you enjoyed reading these posts.  That written, two issues keep arising lately.  They are as dealt with below.

1.  Where to put the hook (into what loops); and
2.  Turning chains, the rules of turning chains, and keeping a correct stitch count.

When you know what the stitches are called, how to execute them, and the abbreviations for them, you should be prepared to read patterns.  Reading patterns is what sets you free and allows you to challenge and push yourself to learn new things and tackle projects that are labelled advanced, intermediate, expert.  

DO NOT BE AFRAID....because any time spent crocheting (or knitting) is never time wasted.  Even if you've got to rip back and begin again, you've learned.  

To the real point of this post, lets talk chains:

Q:  Why the turning chain “rules” are so important.
A:  Because patterns ASSUME you know the rules.  If you don’t know the rules, it could mess up the intended stitch count, and your entire project if this is compounded row after row, or round after round.

In single crochet, we chain 1 and work into the same stitch--and that is the first SC of the row.  To chain 1 and work the first sc into the 2nd stitch is wrong (unless that is what a pattern specifically states to do).  Assuming you will follow the rule tho, lets look to the example below:

For instance:  A pattern of 30 stitches may read:  ch 1, sc in next 5 stitches, hdc in next 20 stitches, sc to end (30 stitches).  If you get to those “last 5”, and only have 4 stitches left, your total yield is 29, and you are a stitch off.  The pattern MEANT the next 5 stitches to include the first stitch, where the chain exists.  Unless otherwise specified, 1 chain will never replace the first single crochet.

In double crochet, when chain 3 is how the row starts, this chain 3 gives you the required height to continue the row and  will almost always take the place of and represent the 1st double crochet of the row, so, the first stitch must remain UNWORKED, unless otherwise stated, since this ch 3 takes its place.

To work a dc into the same space as the initial ch3 creates an increase.  Unless the pattern states to make the first dc into the same stitch as the ch3 turning chain, you are to work the first dc into the 2nd stitch.  SOME PATTERNS WILL ASSUME YOU KNOW THIS, and not state "ch 3, takes the place of the first dc....."  If you're working in dc, and your stitch count is off, look to this rule.

For instance:  A pattern of 30 stitches may read:  ch3, dc in each stitch to end.  (30).   If you wind up with 31, you have likely placed 1 dc into the same stitch as the initial ch3.

The above illustrations are fine and dandy IF YOU’RE PAYING ATTENTION to your stitch count.  If you are not, however, and keep impounding the mistake(s), your margins will be wrong, your stitch counts will be off, and all subsequent rows will be wrong.

Commercial patterns are supposed to be written in compliance with universal guidelines.  Sometimes, they are not.  To make matters worse, personal patterns (off someone’s blog, website, ravelry, sent in an email, posted somewhere on the internet) are often written in the style of the crocheter and may fail to state what the pattern writer felt was obvious.

Bottom line:  If you question your stitch count, look to the above examples as a good start to correcting what went wrong.

Next, lets get loopy:  Unless a pattern states to work in the front loops or the back loops, work through BOTH loops.  To do differently creates a completely different fabric.

Working in the front loops only creates a more stretchy fabric than intended, with a horizontal line across the work, and could create issues as to gauge and sizing when an item is intended to fit.  

Working in the back loops only creates subtle ridges in the fabric, like a Ruffles potato chip.   It adds texture and thickness to the fabric and also creates issues as to gauge and sizing when an item is intended to fit.

Working through both loops is correct (unless stated otherwise).  This  creates a very sturdy fabric, and looks like long logs stacked on top of each other, and this is the correct/desired effect, unless otherwise stated.   This is very important when creating a project that is intended to be a specified size or gauge, and should not be ignored.

I am not the kind of teacher who makes a person hold their hook a certain way, but if you are learning from scratch, I will request that you thread your hand with yarn they way I do, and grab the yarn, and wrap the yarn (yarn over) in the same fashion that I do -- from the back, underneath the yarn, as it is the most efficient way -- however, if you already crochet, and have some "bad habits", there is only so much I will try to do to break those habits.  If you're comfortable with your hold, your threading and your grabbing, and you're happy with the results of your work, I'm fine with that.  However, the rules expressed above are not my opinion--they are the RIGHT way to crochet, and I will try to steer you in the right direction.   I can't make you do what you don't want to do, but I can enlighten you with the right information, and suggest that you take it into consideration because it will make you a much more successful crocheter, with projects that turn out as they were intended to, and you'll no longer wonder why what you created doesn't look like the picture, or doesn't fit, or turned out with bad margins and is a wonky mess.

This comes from love, it really does.   I wish you luck with your margins, your stitch count and your projects.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Crochet - don't be nervous; its easier than you think~!

Breaking it down, there isn't a lot to it:

Slip Knot
Single Crochet
Half Double Crochet
Double Crochet
Triple Crochet
Double Triple Crochet
Slip Stitch

7 stitches, which when combined, can take the visually simple to eye-popping stunning.
So those are the stitches.

These are the techniques:

Working from side to side.
Working in the round.


Lastly, there are the turning chains:
1 for single crochet, 2 for half double crochet, 3 for double crochet, 4 for triple and 5 for double triple.
Turning chains at the beginning of each row or round in order to create the proper height for the stitch that is being utilized.

In putting that together, you learn how to thread the yarn through your hand, and how to comfortably hold your hook while executing the stitches.

Once you learn how to execute the stitches, and what they are called, you don't have a whole lot to worry about because you are going to follow a written pattern that contains all that information.  A pattern tells you what yarn to use, the proper hook size, how many chains to start with, what stitches to use, what combination of stitches (if combos are used), and where to put them.

These are the basics -- don't be intimidated.