Friday, September 5, 2014

Jolly Joining

There I was. Busy crocheting my third scarf (and hat set) for the 2014 60 Scarves in 60 Days Challenge when I decided I didn't want the scarf to be a scarf.  No, I decided I wanted it to be a cowl. (Yes, cowls count in the Challenge).

Unfortunately, as I had decided this, I looked at the beginning tail -- the tail was not long enough to utilize for sewing the "scarf" ends together. Groan. This would mean I'd need to cut yarn off my skein, sew the crocheted fabric together, and then securely bury the ends in... Shouldn't be a big deal, right?

Have I ever professed at how much I don't like sewing in my ends? I know I'm not alone in this; we'd much rather crochet than have to stop and bury those ends! For the most part, I don't mind sewing in a few, but when it comes to sewing in "unnecessary" ends because I hadn't planned ahead, well, those I loathe. It feels like punishment! (lol)  So I started thinking.

And thought some more.
Jolly Joining crochet edges with live stitches.

Made some more stitches.

Thought some more.

And then the light bulb went off.  "OMG! Why has no one shown me how to do this before??!!  I'm sure someone else has thought of this!!"

Jolly Joining: I made my last turning chains, aligned the work where I wanted to join it, removed the hook from the live loop (see 'B' in image), then inserted my hook (from front to back; see 'A' in image) into the fabric I wanted to join to, then I replaced the live loop back onto my hook and pulled it through. Next, I made my stitch (in this case I was working with hdc sts), repeating the process of pulling the live loop through the opposite fabric before making each stitch I needed for that last row until the join was complete.

And you know what? I love it! No additional sewing required! No additional ends to bury! On the working side (aka the "back side") there are "slashes" that look like it had been hand-sewn.  But on the front side (see image below) it looks seemless!!  And, bonus!, it is flat to the touch!  Squee!!
Jolly Joining leaves a clean, seemless, and flat finish!

Mr Dee came over and asked why I was so happy. When I explained the process to him he replied, "Sounds to me you found the perfect jolly join technique."  He's so right! I can't wait to utilize this joining technique more!


sidenote: If you know of someone else using this join technique, and/or know of its proper name, please let me know as I'd love to give proper credit.  For now, I'm going to give Mr Dee the name credit.  :)

Yarn in photo: Knitting Fever Candy Cane
Crochet Hook by Dyak.

Monday, September 1, 2014

11th Annual 60 Scarves in 60 Days Challenge!

2014 is our ELEVENTH Annual “60 Scarves in 60 Days Challengethat had originated here on my blog, www.CrochetingWithDee.com. With so many people wanting to participate it became easier to track the participants and their scarves over on Ravelry, http://www.ravelry.com/groups/60-scarves-in-60-days-challenge.


How the Challenge works:
    1. Crochet, knit, or weave a scarf (or more) for charity. You can use a pattern (give credit to the designer if that’s what the pattern calls for!), learn a new stitch, or create your own pattern. The scarf MUST be made by hand!

    2. Pledge it for a local charity near YOU; no need to ship! Check with your local homeless shelters, Salvation Armys, religious institutions, and schools to find a home for your scarf/scarves.

    3. To have your scarf count towards the goal, tell us about it on our Ravelry group; if you upload an image label it ”2014 Scarf for 60 Day Challenge.” Or post about it on your blog and post the link to the group.  You can participate as an individual, or as part of a group or Chapter.

    4. The scarf/scarves must be created by hand between September 1st and November 30th, 2014, midnight, eastern time, to count. (Yes, we know this is really 90 days, but we’re keeping the name of 60 days)

    5. Any skill level, age and gender can participate! Spread the word!
… and no, you do not need to crochet, knit or weave 60 scarves in order to be a participant! That is, unless you want to! All that is required is crafting one scarf by hand from September 1st through November 30th and then posting about it to the group. Your scarf - or scarves - are then added in with everyone else’s. Much like adding drops to a bucket; eventually it will fill up!  <3 comment-3--="">

Join in on the fun while helping YOUR local community!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

She's An American Girl

This summer I decided to travel light. This meant no bringing half my yarn stash and crochet hooks with me. In all seriousness, I had decided I would take a little vacation from crocheting.  Little did I know that it would take one of my youngest nieces to persuade me to forgo that intended break!  ((I know, what was I thinking??!!??)

My 8-year old niece said her American Girl doll needed a sweater. "Oh!," I replied, "why is that? She lives in Florida, with you. Does it get cold here?"

My niece then filled me in that when she travels on airplanes to visit other places like Colorado or Washington, or Chicago or New York, then yes, Saige, her doll, does indeed need a sweater. "And if you could make it in teal, blue, or purple, she'd really like that."


I had no idea that the two of them were such jet-setters, or that Saige was in such dire need of a sweater. When I returned home for a week I was pleased that my daughter's American Girl, Nikki, was more than happy to stand in while I constructed a couture sweater for Saige. All I had to do was promise Nikki I'd take her to LIU (Long Island University) when I went to pick up Mini~Dee from an Honor Summer Program she attended -- after all, they do have horses there.  (Nikki is the American Girl Doll that has a HUGE love of horses!)

As for me, I loved that Caron's Simply Soft *Paints* had all her favorite colors together in a single skein. The color is called "Oceana," perfect for my niece, our future Marine Biologist. And now that summer is just about over, it is time to ship this sweater off, and to make every attempt to get Tom Petty out of my head.  Enjoy! :)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Suggestion from Reader: Try Knitting Looms

I love hearing from my readers and website visitors. While I was away over the summer taking the kids on various college tours and visits with family, I received quite a few emails from you! Thank you!

One of the emails I received was from Kate. She wrote the following, encouraging me to continue with my knitting adventures:
I enjoyed reading about your forays into knitting with needles! When I was a child, a babysitter tried to teach me to knit, but my brothers would unravel whatever I did, so I never got to learn to cast off. I gave up. A few years ago, I saw some knitting looms at a dept. store chain and bought some. I found using them to be much easier than trying to knit with two needles. I was looking for a nice way to finish off my pieces, so learned how to do a crochet edging. That began my exploration of crochet over the last few months. It was so much easier to learn, I thought, than knitting. I have done some Tunisian crochet and Cro-hooking, in addition to regular crochet. I am still very much a beginner, but enjoy learning it. I was thinking that you might like to try using the round knitting looms and the knitting boards. Knitting boards, as you may know, allow formation of an interesting two-sided fabric ("double knitting"). You can work up big blocks and lengths of fabric, which you could then surround with your lovely crochet techniques.

Kate, thank you for the suggestions. I have tried some of those knitting looms and boards, but for me, I find them a tad slow, mostly because I can't help but compare it to the speed of my crochet stitching which I have a "tad bit more" experience with. However, I do like using my Singer Knitting Machine, especially when I'm looking to craft up some fabric to do some felting with. Turning a crank to bang out several knitted stitches in mere seconds seems to be more my speed; lol. Does this mean I don't have an interest in eventually conquering my fear of the dual needles?  No. Just like with my crocheting, if I keep giving it a try, eventually the lessons will sink in. And who knows, maybe in time I'd actually grow to enjoy it!

I love that you are branching out in learning new things about crochet. Cro-hooking and Tunisian crochet are cousins, relating the worlds of crochet and knit together. Some find that after they master one or both of these crochet techniques that it is easier for them to knit. I would like to add that trying the Amazing Needle technique (now more well known as Knooking) is also a good way for crocheters to give knitting a try.  Thanks for writing in! :)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Book Review: Crochet for Baby All Year

Title: Crochet for Baby All Year
Author: Tammy Hildebrand
Year Published: 2014; printed in USA

Dee's Rating: 10 Hooks out of 10

In my last blog post I revealed the big family secret, so now that I have the baby blanket project completed it was time for me to move on to a little sweater.  So when I was asked to review Tammy Hildebrand's new book, Crochet for Baby All Year, the timing couldn't have been better!

Flipping through the book I instantly loved that the little outfits were organized by month; and that it offered more than just baby sweaters -- it also has outfits for the football enthusiasts, for Halloween, even for a day of total beachin' fun.  I decided to give the "Fall Festival Cardigan" pattern a try. The pattern calls for a variety of colored yarn but I opted to go with just two colors, blue and white. I was amazed with how quickly the project worked up.  I think I spent more time deciding which buttons to go with! (lol)
Tammy's Fall Festival Cardigans featured in her new book,
"Crochet For Baby All Year"

There are no symbol charts offered for any of the projects, but I don't think they were needed as I found her written instructions easy to follow. The project Skill Levels focus mostly on easy, but there are some intermediate patterns, and one experienced. Tammy and I both agree that Skill Level should not discourage a crocheter from trying something new: as long as you are proficient with the basics of crocheting, and diligent in counting and using stitch markers when needed.
Dee's two-color version of Tammy's
"Fall Festival Cardigan" pattern

I think this book offers a great collection of patterns for baby's first year, for both boys and girls. And since babies tend to grow quickly, Tammy's quick patterns will help ensure your project is well off the crochet hook before that next growth spurt.

Want to see more photos of patterns offered in this book?  Visit Stackpole’s Look Book here.  Want to get to know Tammy? Follow her on Facebook here.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hot off the Hook: Sweet Dreams Baby Blanket


With news we're expecting -- a new nephew! -- it was time to get the hook in motion to crochet something special.  I ordered the yarn and while waiting for it to arrive, I started looking for inspiration by perusing through the pattern books in my personal library. That's when I came across Silverman's pattern, "Sweet Dreams Baby Blanket."  What instantly appealed to me was a "new to me" Tunisian stitch that looked very interesting, and with it, I'd get to use my Knitter's Pride Tunisian crochet hooks with the adjustable cables. (a win-win!)

As a rule, crochet pattern books don't make my "shelf space" unless there are a minimum of three patterns (or stitches/techniques) that I think I might enjoy.  Aside from the cost/investment factor, I have an extremely limited amount of space I can store my growing "reference books" at, so this "3 pattern" rule is important to me.  I am not sure how long ago I purchased Sharon Silverman's book, "Tunisian Crochet: The Look of Knitting with the ease of Crocheting," but based upon the price sticker on the back of my book, it was during the days when Borders bookstore was still around and it retailed at the time for $24.95. (Amazon has it now for just under $19). Flipping through the pages now, I still find patterns in it that I find appealing and may return to try in the future.

Some of the changes I made to her Sweet Dreams Baby Blanket pattern included:
"Sweet Dreams Baby Blanket"
pattern by Sharon Silverman
  • Using Margaret's "Italian Cast On" method; I really like that it isn't rigid.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VT_KHWDyYmY
  • Using the Knotless Russian Join technique for joining (less ends to weave in later)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMs3GjS6o_I
  • Exchanged the first round of single crochet stitches for the edging for extended-single crochet stitches (to continue a bit with the 'knit' look) -- note that if you're going to do this, it will require more yarn. Don't be left hanging, with, say, 30 stitches to go to completion with no more yarn in the stash. This is why we should always buy a little bit extra yarn. :)
  • To soften the drape, I bumped the hook size up by one size. And since I was using the Knitter's Pride Tunisian crochet hook, when I was done with my Tunisian stitches, all I had to do was remove the cable to make it into a 'regular' crochet hook to complete the border. Sweet!!

Blocking a crocheted project is well
worth the effort.
Tip: Keeping notes on changes you've made to a pattern is important, especially if you ever find yourself needing to duplicate the work

 And, -As always, I strongly recommend blocking your crochet work. Blocking takes your completed project from looking 'Home-made' to "Hand made."  Well worth the time I assure you!  :)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Can Giraffes Crochet? Webs says "Yes!" ...

As I stated in my last blog post, I've been crocheting A LOT of chemo caps. At my last count I had consumed some 26 skeins of yarn!  Mr Dee has shown some concern that I "might run out," but I had replied, "Like that would ever happen."  After giving my reply some thought I realised I might have missed out on an opportunity to enhance my yarn stash...

No worries there. Webs, a yarn store in Massachusetts, had announced their anniversary sale. Only, I couldn't make the sale -- I was to assist Mini~Dee in preparing for her Junior Prom.

Again, no worries: Webs must'a known. They sent me an email announcing an online sale they were having. I selected some yarn and then proceeded to complete my order.  When I came to their "Special Instructions" part of the order form I typed in:
"If you need to call, please call AFTER 12 (noon).
Please draw me a picture of a giraffe enjoying an afternoon of crocheting. :) "
The calling instructions were legit, since most mornings I've been at the hospital with Cowboy for his cancer treatments. The giraffe request -- now where did that come from??  lol   I guess that was just me being a bit silly. Never did I think that they would actually draw me a picture, never mind it being one of a giraffe crocheting!

A few days after placing my order I found myself "living" at the hospital's ER with Cowboy. Fortunately everything turned out OK, but I returned home exhausted, and in much need of some giggles and grins. That same day my order from Webs arrived. Included with my yarn goodies was a beautiful hand-drawn giraffe, enjoying an afternoon of crocheting!!  I'm not sure how often their customers request hand-drawn work, and/or if they normally fill such requests, but for this customer I can attest that it was very much appreciated; it was the lift I needed, totally making my day!  Thank you, Webs!!