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Yarn Floats: How to Carry (and hide!) them when Striping

Those of you that know me know that I am not a fan of weaving in ends. In fact, I think most of us dread the task and it can really take the fun out of finishing a project.

In the past, I have steered away from striped projects for this reason. So I have been experimenting with how to carry yarn up this sides of my work in different ways so that I reduce the number of ends normally created by alternating colours.

In this video, I share the technique I have come up with that is very effective in concealing the strand of yarn being carried up this sides of the work. It can be applied to just about any project and improvised for any crochet stitch.

The example used in the video shows a row being ended with a US double crochet (UK treble crochet.)

You will begin by setting up the stitch till you have to total number of loops required before you begin closing. So for this example, you will have 3 loops on your hook. Before you begin closing the stitch, * fold the strand of yarn to be carried over the working yarn, yo with the working yarn and pull through 2 loops as required, then repeat from the * process once more.

This process catches the float with each closing step.

To apply the same technique to a taller stitch, for example a US treble crochet (UK double treble), you would set up your stitch till you have the required 4 loops on your hook. Then repeat the process of catching the float with each yarn-over as you close the stitch – in this case you work three repeats from the * in total.

To carry the yarn at the beginning of a row, simply fold over the strand of yarn to be carried before working each chain loop of the turning chain with the working yarn.

I have applied this technique to a number of projects, now, and I have to say, I am very pleased with the result. It has me dreaming up all number of striped projects now that I can avoid creating so many ends!

I truly hope that you find this technique helpful. I’d love to hear about the projects you’ve applied it to.

Happy crocheting,

Deanne

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How to tackle a Scrappy project

…without the overwhelm.

Hello Makers!

I’m sure it’s no surprise to you to hear that I’ve had A LOT of yarn leftover from previous projects. I don’t like to be wasteful so I use as much of it as I can – sock heels and toes, a pop of colour on a scarf, a contrast stripe on a beanie, etc. But there comes a point where the leftover yarn simply isn’t long enough to be useful. All those little balls were far too precious to throw away, but were making a mess of my stash cupboard. Can you relate? 

The obvious solution seemed to be a scrappy project. But I’ll be honest, I hesitated at the thought of making something scrappy for a long time. The idea of adding such a large number of different colours all together was a little daunting. 

Will ALL these colours actually work together? 

What colours should go where? 

What if it looks terrible? 

And what on earth do I do with all of those ends???

After deliberating for a long time (and accumulating even more leftovers) I came up with a design that I think will address all of these issues and allow you to appreciate your precious yarn babies all over again. It’s called Recollection, and it will be launching this weekend. 

In preparation for the launch, and in case you are like me and find the idea of a scrappy project a bit intimidating, I thought I would share with you some tips to help make your scrappy blanket more harmonious and purposeful.

The first thing I suggest is to put all of your leftovers together. Spread them out so you can see everything. It’s quite likely that you have a preferred colour palette so most of the colours should co-ordinate nicely. If you do find that there are some colours that just don’t seem to play well with the others, pull them out. That’s not to say that you can’t make a blanket with ALL the colours, but you might find that there’s just a few that are throwing off the overall harmony. (My basket contained a couple of glorious mustards that just weren’t working with all the peach and purple hues. Once I removed them, I could see clearly that the remaining colours all worked well together.)

Next, give yourself a starting point by lining up just a few colours to begin with. This will get the ball rolling as well as give you an idea of where your colours are heading.

Continue to repeat this method of lining up your planned colours a few at a time alongside the completed rows. This provides an opportunity to check on the overall harmony of your blanket as well as experiment and play with the possibilities. And if you find that you’ve added a colour that just doesn’t look right, chances are that once you add the next couple of colours all will be well. But if not, it’s no biggie to pull back a few rows. I mean, that’s one of the things we love about crochet, right? It’s so easy to frog.

Once you get a few rows done and are feeling more confident, you might also want to consider not just the colours, but the level of contrast between them. Perhaps alternating between light and dark colours every couple of rows, or planning larger sections of light colours followed by dark ones. Alternating the colour ‘value’ (how dark/light it is) will give your project another layer of visual interest.

Of course, this is just a suggestion. If you want to go completely random and close your eyes when reaching for the next colour, go for it!  Feel free to mix it up in any combination you like. Much will depend on the yardage of each colour you have and even whether you want to keep the same colour combo all across the row, or whether you are happy to work with a colour until it runs out -mid-row or not. A scrappy blanket is all about experiencing joy from yarns we’ve used in the past while repurposing those small amounts that might otherwise languish in our stash, unused.

Whether you choose to go with a little forethought or wild abandon, you can turn a bunch of leftovers into something truly spectacular!

And what about all those ends?

This will come as no surprise to those of you that know me – I DO NOT enjoy weaving in ends. As a consequence, I can get pretty creative when it comes to finding ways to avoid the job. Here is my solution when it came to my scrappy blankets.

Are you Team Fringe? or Team Tassel?

The vote last time I asked was pretty equally divided so I have included the instructions for both in my new RECOLLECTION blanket design.
I can’t tell you enough how happy I was that I didn’t have to weave in all these ends! Would have been a total deal-breaker for me, otherwise.

So, if you ever decide to repurpose your leftovers by undertaking a scrappy project, I hope this has given you a few ideas about how to approach the task.

Happy crocheting, friends.

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Putting the Jo(y) back into Crojo

#crocheteveryday

That’s the hashtag I use on a lot of my social media posts. It used to be true. I would hardly ever go a day without picking up my hook and working at least a few stitches. And if I wasn’t literally stitching them, I would be dreaming about my next opportunity to be doing so. But that’s not how I feel at the moment. It seems I have lost my crochet mojo, or what some have dubbed ‘crojo.’ It’s been waning for months now and a small part of me wonders if I’ll ever get it back.

Have you ever felt that way?

Have you gone through a stage where the very thing that once provided joy and inspiration and comfort just doesn’t do it for you anymore?

I’ve experienced short periods of time where I just wasn’t feeling it, but never has it lasted for months on end. While periodic loss of crojo is nothing new to me, this time it feels much deeper.

I think the figurative straw for me was losing Radar after he swallowed some yarn (if you craft with yarn or string, have a pet cat, and haven’t read my previous post, I beg you to read it, please.) It’s been over a month now, and simply the sight of some items in my stash bring me to tears. I can’t even look at the yarn, let alone crochet with it. And let me tell you, this is quite a perplexing problem to have when you are a crochet designer and your job kinda depends on you actually crocheting something every once in a while.

So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about why I seem to have lost my joy for crochet, and how I might work at getting it back. Perhaps the ideas I have come up with will help you if you ever find yourself feeling the same way.

#1 Take a break

It’s okay to not crochet.

It may sound stupid, but I was actually feeling guilty about not crocheting as much. Isn’t that crazy?! Then I told myself that 2020 has been a challenging year. No matter where we live or how dramatically we have been affected, we can all feel it. And when we have additional responsibilities, major life adjustments, pressures, or worries, there’s only so much we can handle at once. Allow yourself the grace to have a break.

#2 Start small

When you feel that you are able, try a small project. Taking on an epically sized blanket that will take forever to finish probably isn’t going to get you motivated quite like a quick-win smaller project. The satisfaction of seeing progress and finishing something will do wonders.

#3 Keep it simple

If you have watched my most recently filmed podcast episodes, you will have heard me joke about 2020 being my Year of The Hat – a play on this year being The Year of The Rat according to the Chinese calendar.

This is because my brain simply has not had the capacity of late to cope with anything more complicated.

Working on something that does not require deep concentration has allowed me to fall into the relaxing rhythm of the stitches and help to restore the feeling of calm that I enjoy when I crochet.

#4 Buy something new

Most of us get excited by the shiny and new, don’t we? If your budget allows, why not try shopping for a new pattern or some new yarn. The ‘Oh, the possibilities!’ feeling might be just the thing to get the crafting juices flowing again.

#5 Sort out your stash

While I am well shy of Marie Kondo-ing my stash, a really good tidy up is very cathartic. Order is very good for the mind and you never know what gems you might dig up – perhaps some that you had completely forgotten about. You might discover that you have a perfect trio of colours to go with that pattern you’ve always wanted to make, sparking (get it? Sparking joy – see what I did there?) a wonderful new wave of inspiration and motivation.

#6 Try something new

Are you a sometimes-knitter? Ever wanted to try macrame? Sewing? Baking sourdough? Perhaps it’s distraction that you need.

When we do something we’ve always done, like crochet, we can be so familiar with it that it is no longer keeping our mind occupied enough to stop it wandering into anxiety-ridden places. Doing something different or learning something new might provide the perfect level of distraction while still being something that gives some much needed mental down-time.

#7 Finish something old

Most of us will have a work-in-progress that we never got around to finishing. Why not dig it out?

It might remind you of how excited you were when you started it. And because it’s already partially complete, it’s a whole lot closer to being finished – providing that quick-win sense of achievement mentioned in #2.

#8 Make a gift

A wise man once said, ‘there is more happiness in giving.’

Not many things spark joy quite like the joy you get from gifting a beautiful handmade creation to a friend or loved one. And in these days of lockdowns and isolation, receiving a gift in the mail from a friend is tantamount to getting a big warm hug from them. Pondering on the joy you can provide someone else while you craft can be more powerful than you realise.

Whatever the cause, loss of crojo is rarely permanent. Just because we love doing something one day, doesn’t mean we will feel the same every day. The joy we get from crochet, or any kind of hobby really, should never feel forced. It’s supposed to bring joy, right? Not feel like an obligation.

So, give yourself time. Take a break. Try something new. Do what you need to do to be happy and maintain inner peace in this chaotic, unpredictable world.

And when you’re ready, your hook will be there waiting for you. I promise.

I’m sure I am not alone when I say that 2020 has been challenging. Beyond challenging for some. To anyone here that is doing it particularly tough at the moment, I extend to you a warm virtual hug. Hang in there, my friend. You are stronger than you think.

Much love, Deanne

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Why it’s so Important to Keep your Cats away from your Stash

We’ve all seen them. The cute images of kittens playing with balls of yarn. They’re practically cliche, right?

I’ve even laughed about our cats and how they would carry ‘yarn-babies’ around the house or present you with a ball of yarn as if they had been hunting in the wild. But please, take it from me, you should NEVER let your cats play with your yarn.

Just two weeks ago, our sweet boy Radar became unwell. It seemed that he had eaten something he shouldn’t have. The vet suspected some sort of bowel obstruction, but its exact cause and location was unclear. After several x-rays and an ultrasound, he was able to see the blockage. The horrible thing was that he confirmed that the obstruction had been caused by some yarn. My yarn. But by the time it was discovered, it had perforated Radar’s bowel. Our little boy did not come home.

To say we are all heartbroken is an understatement. To say I feel guilty for not knowing how dangerous it was, possibly even more so. Had I known that a piece of yarn could be fatal to a cat, I never would have let our cats near my stash.

Please don’t be complacent. Just because you’ve never seen your cats eat yarn, doesn’t mean they never will. I’ve had yarn in the house for as long as we’ve had cats – it wasn’t like Radar was suddenly exposed to a new and exciting toy all of a sudden. It was something that he did out of the blue, and now he’s gone.

I’m so sorry this is not a happy post. But I would hate to think that another maker lost their beloved pet because they weren’t aware of the dangers. Please don’t learn the hard way like we did.

Give your kitties a cuddle from me.

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Video Blog #36

‘I have news!’

In this episode, I have a new design release, share more of my ‘2020: year of the hat’ obsession and some progress on a few WIPs.

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Video Blog #35

‘Sharing the Hook Love’

Sharing the Hook Love with a new episode for you. Lots of finished objects, some upcoming designs and LOTS of works in progress. Get your crochet fix right here.

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Video Blog #34

After a bit of a break, I’m back with a bunch of finished objects, two new designs to showcase and some gorgeous new stash to share.

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Video Blog #31

‘The One Where I Can’t Remember Anything’

In this episode, I seem to draw a complete blank on all the details!

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