Changing a “Go-To” for a New Addition- Lion Brand Baby Soft

I haven’t had reason to use any baby yarns in a while, but we are expecting a new addition in our extended family and I was inspired to create a baby blanket as a gift. I have made numerous baby blankets over the years, to many really to count. I usually have one “go-to” pattern that I use, when I think about the first time I worked the pattern, I realize that baby should be well over 20 years old now.

When I work this pattern I usually have a “go-to” baby yarn that I always use, Bernat Baby Coordinates, this isn’t so much because I love this one over all others, as much as some others have left me wanting. I always look for a yarn that is low maintenance for the parent, so that usually means a good acrylic. I like something soft, and not to thin or fine. I don’t like to feeling like I am working with a thread. I also want a yarn that is smooth in texture and doesn’t pill.

Baby Soft by Lion Brand

For this latest blanket I decided to try something other than my “go-to” and I found that Lion Brand Baby Soft was an excellent choice. It is actually only 60% acrylic with 40% nylon, the nylon giving it extra strength, so it is still a low maintenance yarn that the parents can easily throw in the washing machine and not worry about how it is going to come out. There was a nice selection of colors (I used Circus Print), as I get tired of the same simple pastels. It is a light weight yarn, but does not feel to “thin”, it has a bit of loft to it. The yardage is fairly generous at 367yd/335m for a 4oz skein. I found that I could make a decent size blanket with just 3 skeins, but decided to make a larger option with 4.

Baby Soft was pleasant to work with, and even when I had to rip back mistakes it flowed easily, and did not pill or snag with other fibers. I might have to add this yarn to a new “go-to” listing.

Taking the Hat to a Whole New Level

I am not much of an interior decorator. After I have chosen a paint for the walls, it will be that color forever; the furniture has found its placement, it will not move again; why change what took me forever to decide on? I guess this is either I a sign that I am completely set in my ways or too lazy to rework it, either way I am faced with times that I need a bit of different look. It is times like this that I find crochet beanies to be helpful.

I crochet many beanies throughout the year, many are given to various charities, so I have access to several colors and many textures to change the look and feel of my home décor on a very subtle way. The hats get used as pant cozies.

My “beanie” plant cozy

When I was younger I swore I would never create a cozy, after all I don’t mind looking at my toaster or my toilet paper rolls, but somehow I have managed to bring some of it to life in this small way. I have found that really a beanie type hat is essentially a basket turned up side town, so it easily fits the ceramic pots my house plants rest in.

I stumbled upon this out of necessity. I found that my pots were scratching my tables, being pottery the bottoms were always a bit rough and my furniture’s finish always seemed a bit soft, the pairing is not ideal. This means that I need something under my pots, perhaps a doily, a table runner, a coaster…yes, these all get utilized too. But for a little different affect, a hat. By placing a beaning over the pot I get to change to color and texture of the pot as well as saving my table surface. SO this is my subtle little visual difference in the house. It would be like putting new pillows on the couch, it gives a little new life.

As a side note, I can easily wear the hats again after a wash, so in a sense they just sever double duty now…so far, I don’t think anyone has noticed.

A Subtle Pattern Hit, the Subtle Diamonds Throw

There are times that I undertake a project and later wonder what I was thinking. Sometimes this is because I have bitten off more than I can chew, maybe I hadn’t thought my plan through enough, or maybe my timetable really will not allow for what I think it would. Yet with some perseverance it all comes out in the end. So when I took on the challenge of the Subtle Diamonds Throw I should have already been aware of my own pitfalls, but I jumped in anyway.

The challenge of Subtle Diamonds was really of my own creating, as it was designed as a challenge, could I create an afghan from a few skeins of hand dyed yarns. Some may think this really isn’t a challenge, yarn is yarn, and you are making a blanket…that seems pretty straight forward. However using hand dyed yarns can create a bit more thought in the designing.

Subtle Diamonds Throw Photo courtesy Ancient Arts Yarn

Some may not realize it but one of the thoughts that goes into a design for a pattern is if it would be cost prohibitive. By this I mean, if I designed a pattern that took 25 skeins of a $10 per skein yarn, would anyone realistically spend $250 in materials to make it? Probably not, especially if it was something pretty basic. This thought comes into play not only with the designer but with publishers and yarn manufactures. So working with hand dyed keeps this price pointing in your mind to find the most cost effective way to create.

So with Subtle Diamonds I was limited on the amount of yarn, using only 2 skeins of each color this throw can easily be made into a 48”x48” (122x122cm) throw, adding 1 more skein of 2 colors and it can become a 54”x48” (137x122cm). Then I wanted to ensure that the fabric was appropriate and would keep you warm, as well as the stitch pattern being interesting. Utilizing post stitches a staggered diamond pattern is created while helping the colors visually blend and harmonize together. This design as a result took a bit more planning and I am pretty happy with the way it finally came out.

Subtle Diamonds Throw Photo courtesy Ancient Arts Yarn

I teamed up with Ancient Arts Yarn to bring this design to you, they loved the idea of the challenge and added a bit of a twist to the process by requesting that the design have a modern, contemporary feel. I will in no way claim to be an expert in meeting, understanding, or designing to specific “type” or “style”, but apparently I came close since they liked it.

This challenge did help me grow as a designer, as all challenges do in general. It sharpens your senses and helps you to focus.

Hourglass Waves- A Stunning Stitch

I really enjoy putting some classic stitches together in ways that you may not have considered. My latest design does just that. The Hourglass Waves Baby Afghan uses the Catherine Wheel Stitch to create a ripple and an hourglass appearance.

It is really the color work that makes this design come to life, and believe it or not, the color really do have an order to their repeating pattern. However the various stitches can through off this simple pattern creating a great visual interest. It is obvious that this is not your everyday baby throw.

Hourglass Waves Baby Afghan by Linda Dean www.lindadeancrochet.com

Hourglass Waves Baby Afghan Photo courtesy Crochet Now Magazine

Featured as a design in the latest issue of Crochet Now Magazine, issue 13, this blanket is one that does not just mark itself as something for a baby, it can easily grow for a toddler, a child, and created larger a great design for a teen or adult. The next opportunity I get I think I may make enlarge my own and make a version for my son. I really think he would love it in primary colors.

Sometimes people can hear the stitch pattern Catherine’s Wheel and instantly get a bit fearful, but this stitch pattern is not as difficult as you may think. Essentially it is a row of large shells, or fans, basically a large number of double crochets (treble crochets if you happen to be in the UK), worked min the same location. This is worked across a row and the following row is essentially a large decrease, worked in between the shells, pulling up loops in each of these stitches, making the fabric edge straight again. This blanket utilizes this very technique, but then highlights the shapes it can create with rows of single crochet (double crochet in the UK).

Hourglass Waves Baby Afghan by Linda Dean www.lindadeancrochet.com

Hourglass Waves Baby Afghan Photo courtesy Crochet Now Magazine

I love how the pattern is not something that you see every day, it has dimension and character.  I hope you find this design inspiring too.

Planned Pooling with a V Stitch

The trend of creating an argyle color pattern from variegated yarn is becoming quite popular, but it is not the only effect you can get from planned pooling. Pooling is when certain colors “stack” or “group” together from a variegated yarn, and as planned pooling might suggest, you can plan where the colors fall from the yarn and create a pattern.

Usually this argyle effect is created with yarn that has a color repeat of at least 6-18” (15-46cm) and using what some call the moss or linen stitch. This stitch is a single crochet and a chain 1, with all single crochet stitches worked in the chain-1 space the row below.

Planned Pooling Scarf www.lindadeancrochet.com

Planned Pooling Scarf Photo courtesy Red Heart

When color repeats are longer, let’s say 24” (61cm) argyle may not be effective, but you can use other stitches to come up with various patterns. My Planned Pooling Scarf that has just been released by Red Heart Yarn, is worked in a longer color repeats, using a V stitch (a double crochet, chain 1, double crochet) worked in the chain-1 space of the V stitch of the row below. The V stitch uses more yarn then the “moss stitch” and the chain works to help give a little flexibility in getting the color placed in the correct place. (Marly Bird offers great tips in getting the yarn to pool in her video, here).

The Neon Stripes color of Red Heart Super Saver offers a really great opportunity to create this large stitch color pattern. I have also seen this yarn worked up in a pooled pattern with shell stitches, and popcorn stitches. It creates a similar color effect, but a definitely different texture.

Planned Pooling Scarf www.lindadeancrochet.com

Planned Pooling Scarf Photo courtesy Red Heart

This design creates a fabric that is a bit lighter than the argyle, which makes for a nice drape, and the color play makes for a very fun flair. The fringe gives it a classic feel, while the pooling is quite modern. Hope you feel inspired to give it a try.