Coming soon – Novice Mittens Crochet Along!

The first official day of winter is on Sunday, and while it has been cold here in Colorado for a while now, actually seeing it on the calendar has made me even more excited for this magical season. To me, mittens are the quintessentially cute winter accessory, so I’ve picked the Novice Mittens from the Winter 2014 Issue of Love of Crochet as our winter crochet along!

LOCW_NoviceMittens_200I’ll crochet my starting chain on Friday, January 2nd, and I hope you join me in making this adorable pair. The pattern uses 2 skeins of Rimu DK by Zealana, and this yarn is heavenly! It is slightly fuzzy, and it has the perfect mixture of softness and sturdiness because of the blend of merino wool and brushtail possum fiber. That’s right – I said possum, and you NEED to feel how wonderfully soft this luscious fiber is!

You can get all the yarn you need to make these luxurious mittens, as well as the pattern, in your Novice Mittens kit. While I loved the red mittens photographed in the magazine, I chose the frosty blue color because it’s delightfully wintery. There are six fun hues to choose from, so you’re sure to find the perfect color. Order your kit today so you’ll be ready to make this fun project with me!

Have you ever crocheted with possum yarn? Tell us your experiences here or on Facebook. We love connecting with you and nerding out over fiber together, and we can’t wait to hear from you!

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Crochet pattern remix – My miniature Olive Twist Shawl

I fell in love with the Olive Twist Shawl when Kathy made it as our summer crochet along. I made a swatch of the first 7 rows (the trickiest rows!) for our free Olive Twist picture tutorial, and Kathy’s shawl was SO beautiful that I decided to keep going and turn my swatch into an actual accessory.

Olive Twist 200

The trouble I ran into was that I only had one skein of the yarn I used for my swatch. I was sure to save enough yarn to work the edging, but when I was finished, my project measured only about 26″ wide at the top edge – not nearly wide enough to wrap around my neck or shoulders securely. I was disappointed and at a loss, so I fastened it off and let it sit on my end table for a long time.

Olive Twist fltat
Toggle closure placement

That is, until I came across JUL’s Leather Toggle Closures! I’m not exaggerating when I say that one of these closures saved my project. It went from a lonely (but gorgeous) piece of fabric to a cool kerchief in a matter of minutes.

JUL back
Back of toggle closure

The toggle closures screw on through the openwork or between the stitches in your fabric. They are simple to attach and remove, so you can change the placement as many times as you like. You can even move them from accessory to accessory to give other scarves, cowls, shawls, or bags a fun new closure and design element.

Olive twist remixI used a wool and acrylic blend for my miniature Olive Twist Shawl, so it’s surprisingly warm considering how lacy and open the fabric is. It has been a little chilly here, so I’ve been wearing this fun little bandana a lot, and I like it just as much as I liked the original version. If you want to crochet the Olive Twist Shawl but don’t have enough yarn, this pint-sized adaptation might be just what you need!

Do you often adjust or remix crochet patterns to fit your needs? Tell us whether or not you’re a pattern tweaker here or on Facebook. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Quick Gift Guide – Arctic Sea Mitts

Someone very dear to me works in an office that must be extremely cold. In fact, she recently confessed that she cut the fingertips off of some cheap, store-bought gloves and wears them to keep warm while she is typing.

Arctic Sea MittsAs a crocheter, this was simply not acceptable to me. Why should my beloved sister sport crummy, chopped up gloves when I can make her a pair of gorgeous fingerless mitts in a flash? I immediately began my hunt for the perfect pattern, and stopped as soon as I saw the Arctic Sea Mitts from the Holiday 2012 Issue of Love of Crochet.

These mitts will be the perfect gift for her!

I found a fun, self-striping purple yarn that is a mixture of several of her favorite shades. The only trouble was that the yarn I chose for the project is worsted weight instead of DK like the pattern calls for. This problem was easy enough to solve, and I whipped up a pair of these fun mitts in no time. If you would like to use worsted weight yarn, here are the slight adjustments I made.

  • Ribbing – Chain 4 for the ribbing at the beginning of the pattern, and work the rest of the ribbed section as stated. After you fold the ribbed piece and seam it, work 22 (or any multiple of 2) sc evenly around.
  • Lace – Work the lace section as is.
  • Thumb opening – After you work the first row of the thumb opening, repeat it until the open section is about 3″ long before working the joining round. For the last row of the thumb opening section, work the same number of sc evenly around as you did after your ribbing.
  • Cuff – For your cuff, chain 11, skip one chain, and work across 10 sts to create the ribbing at the wrist.

I loved how easy this pattern was to customize, and I may make a few more pairs to give as gifts. Do you know someone who is always cold at the office? These stylish mitts will keep them toasty and bring a smile to their face when they think of the thought you put into this clever gift idea!

Charity Spotlight – Knit (or crochet!) for Kids

During this magical time of year, many of us are searching for ways to give back by helping those in need. Knitters and crocheters can give a child the gift of warmth by donating a handmade sweater, hat, or blanket to Knits for Kids.

Knits for Kids

Your donations will help children around the world stay warm and healthy during the cold winter months. Because Knits for Kids serves children world-wide, they accept donations all year round. Acrylic yarn is strongly preferred because it holds up in the wash and does not shrink. Donated items will see a lot of love and use, and we want them to last as long as possible.

This holiday season, join us in fighting poverty with our knitting needles (and crochet hooks!) by donating a handmade blanket, hat, or sweater to this wonderful organization!

Christmas Tree Trio Crochet Along – Ready to gift!

My Christmas Tree Trio is all finished and ready to gift! I had a blast making it, and I can’t wait to give this cute decoration to someone special in a couple weeks.

Finished treesAfter making the beaded garlands, I put my crocheted trees onto the Floracraft foam cones. Then, I arranged my garlands in a spiral around the trees beginning at the top. The ridges left by crocheting into the back loops provide handy lines to help keep your spiral even. There are about two ridges between the garland spirals on each of my trees, but feel free to arrange yours however you like.

After placing my garland, I used the long tails to weave a running stitch through it and attach it to the tree. I made one stitch for about every inch of garland, so this part went fairly fast for me. Then, all I had to do was sew the bottom onto each tree.

I LOVE how these fun decorations turned out! As I mentioned, I’m giving this set as a gift, but I may have to make another for myself. I have a wonderful spot on my mantle for them, or I may put them on an end table to create another festive spot in my living room.

Have you finished your Christmas Tree Trio yet? If you haven’t started, you still have time to order your Christmas Tree Trio kit and make this set for someone special! These decorations are fantastic gifts that the recipients will enjoy year after year.

Gift Guide – Adorable bird ornaments

I’ve been smitten with the Four Calling Birds ever since the first time I laid eyes on them. The details really make these designs, and their cute plastic safety eyes and branches really put the perfect finishing touches on them. As soon as I saw them, I determined that my friends and family MUST get these cute ornaments for Christmas. I happened to have some Cascade Ultra Pima in the rich Wine color used on the cardinals, so this is the birdie I decided to crochet for everyone. Plus, I think the red really pops when they are hung in the tree!

Bird partsI made six birds total. At first, I planned on making all the parts before sewing any of the birds together, but my project bag soon became a mess of tangled up bird parts because of the long tails I left for sewing. After making three or four sets of parts, I decided it was time to sew them together before making any more.

BirdsI used some orange scrap yarn to make the beaks and feet, and my daughter and I went on a hunt for nicely sized sticks for these birdies to perch on. I didn’t have any ribbon that I liked, so I used a simple strand of yarn to hang them.

I am thrilled with how these cute cardinals turned out! The felt on their little faces and the points on their heads make them look adorably realistic, and I know they are going to be a big hit.

Here is a close up of one cardinal, as well as a side and back view. The tail is attached at the back of each bird’s neck, and the wings are attached directly next to the tail.

If you’re searching for a quick gift that will be enjoyed every holiday season, the Four Calling Birds definitely fit the bill. I might have to go yarn shopping and get the colors to make the other three darling patterns. We also have a set of Four Calling Birds for knitters, and I am tempted to give them a shot too!

Which one of the Four Calling Birds is your favorite? Tell us what you think here on our blog, or visit us on Facebook to share your thoughts! We can’t wait to hear from you!

Christmas Tree Trio Crochet Along – Beaded garlands

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I crocheted all 3 of the beaded garlands for my Christmas Tree Trio! Since they are made of simple chains, this does not sound like a lot of crafting, but the garlands are more time consuming than the rest of the pattern because you need to string the beads onto the yarn first. Luckily, they are fun to make and I enjoyed sitting beside my coffee table and working on this part of the project.

Beading needleTo string your beads onto your Cascade Ultra Pima, you will need a beading needle and about 12″ of thread. I use a plain sewing needle for beading, and it works great! Thread your needle, and tie the two ends of the thread together to create a loop. Then, insert your yarn tail through the loop and fold it down so it is beside your working yarn.

Beads for small tree

After you’ve strung your beads onto your yarn, you will leave a long tail for sewing, then alternate plain chain stitches with beaded ones.

To work a beaded chain stitch, slide one bead up near your hook, then yarn over and pull through the loop on your hook. This will catch the bead in the chain, and it will show up on back bump on the the wrong side.

Finished garlands

Now that I’ve made my garlands, the next step is to sew them onto my trees. To do this, I will put the crocheted trees onto the foam cones and attach the garlands with a running stitch using the long tails I left.

Don’t try to sew the garlands on with the trees off of your foam cones because they will probably end up too tight. I learned this the hard way when I made the first set!

Have you made your garlands yet? Did you find the beading easy? There’s still time for you to order your Christmas Tree Trio kit and join in on the crafty fun!

I love the look of these beaded chains so much that I’m thinking of making bracelets using the same technique! Would you wear a bracelet like that? We love hearing from you, so don’t forget to tell us your thoughts here or on Facebook!