Top ten reasons I LOVE yarn

Whether you prefer knitting or crocheting, one thing we can all agree on is the wonder of YARN. It makes us happy, and we even get butterflies in our stomach when we encounter a particularly soft or beautiful fiber. We long to snuggle with it and hold it next to our skin, and we can spend hours alone with it, completely content. There are countless reasons we love this fabulous craft supply, but this year, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ve narrowed down my reasons to a neat and tidy top ten. Oh yarn, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

10.  My yarn always agrees with my Netflix or Pandora choices. I can happily stitch away, watching or listening to whatever my heart desires.

Stitch some color into your life

9.  The rainbow of colors in a yarn shop makes me smile every time. Whenever I see all those brilliant hues, I get a rush as I imagine all of the amazing possibilities. You can even dye your own yarn and create your own signature blend of colors.

8.  Novelty yarns don’t take themselves too seriously. They are fun, playful ways to make unique projects with simple stitches. They do all the work involved in spicing up your fabric, so no intricate techniques or stitch patterns are necessary to create an outstanding piece.

7.  My yarn doesn’t judge me for wearing pajamas every time we meet.

So much yarn, so little time

6.  There is always a new and exciting fiber to try, so it’s easy to keep the spark in your crafting alive. Have you tried yarn made with bison down, possum, or milk? What about recycled sari ribbons? Yarn never fails to surprise me.

5.  Besides knitting or crocheting, there are lots of other creative uses for yarn. You can make a pompom garland, string art, or even a clever yarn bouquet.

4.  Yarn is a forgiving medium. If you don’t like what you’ve created, it’s easy to rip back and start again. You may utter some expletives during this process, but your yarn won’t hold a grudge and you can start with a clean slate.

3.  Some yarns make me feel a little closer to nature. When I’m working with a soft wool or alpaca yarn, I can picture the fascinating journey the fiber has traveled to make it from the farm to my fingers.

Yarn snob kitten

2.  There is a yarn for every budget. I’m no yarn snob, and I firmly believe there is a time and place for every fiber, from acrylic to yak. If I could think of a fiber that starts with Z, I would have said that – but you get it.

1.  I’ve met so many friendly, interesting, and inspiring people simply because we share a love of yarn. Whether I strike up a conversation with a fellow knitter on a plane or compliment someone on a gorgeous crocheted hat, it’s so satisfying to watch someone’s eyes light up over something I’m passionate about. Plus, since we yarnies are part of an active online community, I can gush about yarn with enthusiasts across the globe… all while wearing my pajamas.

i love nice ppl, make cool things

I’d love to hear some of the reasons YOU love yarn. Leave a comment here or on Facebook, and let me know!

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Math for future crochet designers (plus a FREE chevron pattern!)

Crochet designers never cease to amaze me. It seems like they are always coming up with new stitches or techniques that knock our socks off. However, designers are also experts at taking existing stitch patterns and sizing them to create garments, accessories, home dec items, or anything else you can imagine. If you are curious about dabbling in crochet design, this second approach is a fantastic way to get started.

First, you’ll need to find a stitch pattern you love. This is usually pretty easy, given the limitless number of patterns you can get from basic crochet stitches. As an example, I’m going to use a free chevron stitch pattern featured as part of the “Yardage: crochet vs. knit” article in the Weekend Crochet 2013 Issue of Love of Crochet. I chose this fun stitch pattern because it’s engaging enough to keep me interested, but easily memorized and relaxing.

Chevron swatch
Crochet Chevron 1 – Swatching it up!

Then, figure out how many stitches are in the pattern repeat. If this isn’t specified in the pattern, I find that the easiest way to do this is to crochet a swatch. I’m using the first chevron pattern in the article, and, as written, it’s the perfect size for a swatch. The repeat goes from either edge of your swatch to the center of the “peak” in the middle. Be sure to count your turning chain as a stitch, and you’ll see that the repeat is worked over 14 stitches and includes the following instructions: 3 dc in first st (one of these dc is actually your turning chain at the beginning of the row), 3 dc, [dc3tog] twice, 3 dc, 3 dc in next st. Add 3 for your turning chain, and you know that your starting chain will need to be a multiple of 14+3.

Chevron measure
4 stitches per inch using worsted weight yarn and an I hook

Next, you’ll need to measure your gauge swatch to see how long your starting chain will need to be. My swatch is 7″ across, and since I’m working over 28 stitches (2 pattern repeats), that means I am getting 4 stitches per inch.

To make a baby blanket 36″ wide, I multiplied 36″ x 4 stitches per inch to get 144 stitches. Remembering that I need a multiple of 14+3, I rounded 144 down to 143 to get the number for my starting chain. If you want a shawl that is 25″ wide, you will multiply 25 x 4 to get 100, then round that up to 101 to get a multiple of 14+3. If you want a full-size blanket that is 54″ wide, you will multiply 54 x 4 to get 216, then round that down to 213 to get a multiple of 14+3. You could make pillow covers, table runners, and even sweaters using the same stitch pattern and formula. The possibilities are endless!

Chevron blanket
The beginning of my chevron baby blanket

What would you make with this easy chevron pattern? Have you ever designed your own pattern based on a stitch pattern you fell in love with? Tell us your ideas and experiences here or on Facebook. We are looking forward to hearing from you!

Get more bang for your buck with knitting and crochet pattern bundles!

Did you resolve to save money in 2015? Keep your resolution AND your crafting habit by getting fabulous knit and crochet patterns in convenient, discounted bundles! Each bundle comes with 3 different patterns that fit within the same theme, making them perfect for whenever you’re on a kick with a certain technique or type of project.

Knitters, if your home is looking a bit bare since you took your holiday decorations down, spruce it up with the Home Dec Knitting Pattern Bundle! This lace pillow, textured blanket, and stylish table setting will give any space a fresh, new look.

Winter is a wonderful time to explore Fair Isle and other colorwork techniques, and the Crazy for Color Knitting Pattern Bundle includes three irresistibly colorful patterns. The clever bag is a fantastic introduction to Fair Isle, and we are completely infatuated with this hat! The flattering top is created using slipped stitches and can be layered over a long-sleeved shirt, or you can wear it alone when the weather warms up.

Crocheters, the Skill-building Crochet Pattern Bundle is just what you need to learn a few new techniques this year. Explore creative ways to work the half double crochet stitch with the versatile sampler bag. Then, master the star stitch and crocheted cables with the two gorgeous scarves.

Tunisian crocheters are going to swoon over the three patterns in the Trendy Tunisian Crochet Pattern Bundle. The light and airy shawl features unique stitches to expand your skills, and the two sweaters are staple pieces that will go with anything in your wardrobe.

There are a bunch of other bundles that will help to satisfy your crafty cravings in 2015. Visit the Crochet and Knit Shop and find a bundle that inspires you!

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!

GO [insert team name here]! – Two sporty crocheted scarf patterns

Living in Colorado, the majority of folks in our area are going to be Denver Broncos fans. My dad asked me recently if I could make a Broncos scarf for his wife for Christmas. Any time my dad asks for something, I know he’s put a lot of thought into it and I am always happy to help him out!

I’ve been on the hunt for a chevron pattern for some time and realized this scarf would be the perfect project to do it with. But first, I had to find a chevron pattern.

Always helpful and coming to my rescue, Jamie, my fellow crocheter and associate editor, heard my plea and started looking frantically for a chevron pattern to help me in my “crisis.” (Ok, maybe she wasn’t really looking frantically and it wasn’t really a crisis, but she understood the magnitude of my situation).

Jamie found a great chevron pattern on our website. It actually came from a Beginner’s Guide article about yardage, called “Yardage: Crochet vs. Knit.” In the article, there are several chevron swatches, as well as feather and fan swatches in knit and crochet versions. And the best part? It’s a FREE download!

I decided on the Crochet Chevron 1 swatch to make my scarf and intermingled the definitive Denver Broncos colors of orange and blue. I added some white to break it up a little and maybe give it more of a “sporty” look.

20141121_125702_smI think it is coming along nicely. I did 9 rows of blue, then 3 rows of orange, 2 rows of white, and back to 3 rows of orange. The next 9 rows will be blue again and then back to orange and white. I’ll just keep going until I find the size I like. Hopefully, it will end with the blue color!

Of course, if you aren’t a Broncos fan, you can substitute any team’s colors and make a scarf too. This pattern works up quickly, so you could make a few for gifts for the sports fans in your life this Christmas.

If you aren’t really into chevrons, we also have the Game Day Scarf from our Love of Crochet Holiday 2012 issue. Since it, too, was made by a local designer, it is also in Bronco colors. Again, substitute the colors for your team and, “GO [insert your team name here]!”

Crazy for Cowls

When it comes to knitting and crochet projects, do you play favorites? While I make my fair share of hats, toys, and even the occasional afghan or sweater, I’ve realized that I definitely have a favorite type of project. I am a cowl-aholic.

I like cowls because they are pretty quick to make and you can often wear them indoors and show them off all day long. They’re great for dressing up a plain shirt because they almost act like cozy yarn necklaces! These same wonderful qualities make them fantastic gifts as well, so keep them in mind as you’re planning your holiday crafting.

If you’re also crazy for cowls, check out a few fun projects in my crafting queue.

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Knitters, have you seen the Eternal Knot Cowl? The knot motifs are created with easy slipped stitches and symbolize friendship, so this pattern would be an amazing way to show a dear friend how much she means to you. I’m trying to decide which colors I want to use. What colors would you choose?

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I’m also a big fan of the Cinched Rib Cowl. This one will be easy knitting, but the cool smocked sections give it a little something special. If you’ve never wrapped stitches like this, our handy wrapped stitch tutorial will walk you through the process. The wraps highlight the different colors in the yarn, so a variegated yarn is perfect for this pattern.

Moonstone Cowl

Crocheters, can we take a moment to drool over the Moonstone Cowl together? I love how the diamond stitch pattern is both lacy and substantial. You can get completely different looks depending on the yarn you select, so this design is really versatile. It has been especially cold here in Colorado, so I’m leaning towards a worsted weight yarn to make my cowl a little cozier while still keeping the delicate look.

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Since it has been so chilly, the cozy texture of the Nottingham Cowl has been calling my name. The popcorn stitches are worked in a chunky yarn to make it extra plush, and it’s big enough to wear as a hood as well. I can’t wait to wrap myself up in this design!

If you haven’t gone crazy for cowls yet, I am officially inviting you to take the plunge! Do you have another favorite type of project? Share your thoughts with us here or on our Facebook page. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Last minute fall or Halloween decoration!

Halloween is a pretty big deal here at the Love of Knitting and Love of Crochet office, and we’ve all been busy planning our costumes for tomorrow. Some of us are making them, some are piecing them together from thrifted items, and some have been scouring the internet to find the perfect outfit. With all of the costume craziness going on, I really neglected my house when it comes to Halloween or fall decorations. Luckily, I came up with a super quick and easy project that instantly gives any space a cute, festive vibe. And guess what – it involves yarn!

Pompom garland

I made a few little pompoms in fall colors and strung them onto a long strand of yarn to create a garland that is so adorable, it’s scary! This baby came together in just a few minutes, and it was really fun to make, so you could easily whip one up for tomorrow. The best part is, you can use different colors to make garlands for any holiday! I’m thinking orange and black for Halloween, blue and white for winter, and maybe pastels for spring. You could also do red and green for Christmas, or make them in your favorite team’s colors!

The pompoms can be made without any tools, but they are a LOT easier with a pompom maker – especially if you’re going to make a bunch of  them. Then, once you get hooked on making pompoms, check out these awesome patterns and put your new tool to work!

Snow Day HatCrocheters, the Snow Day Hat from the Holiday 2012 Issue of Love of Crochet would be perfect for gusty fall evenings. The bobbles and multicolored pompom are just too much fun!

Candy Cane Hat

The Candy Cane Hat from the same issue is another great option. The braided ties can be worn down as a cute design feature, or you can tie them under your chin to stay extra cozy.

On the Slopes

Knitters, the On the Slopes Hat from the Winter 2013 Issue of Love of Knitting has a cool cabled band that really sets off the pompom made in the same color. I also love how the variegated and solid colors play off each other.

Just pom funYou can even add pompoms to a scarf, like the Just Pom Fun Scarf from the Holiday 2011 Issue. This fun design will brighten up any dreary day!

However you decide to use your pompoms, they are guaranteed to add a cute, cheerful detail to any hat, scarf, or decoration. What are your favorite ways to use pompoms?