Two at A Time- Double Up that Yarn

Thinking back I can remember it intimidating me the first time I tried it, but now it seems like nothing out of the ordinary. Using two strands of yarn, or more, at the same time now gives me no second thoughts.

This practice of crocheting with more than one strand of yarn yields some really nice results. I may not use it all that often, but I like the look it creates an almost speckled effect. In some cases it helps two bold colors blend together.

The best tip I can share is to simply treat the two (or multiple) strands as one. Hold them together as one, not worrying about if the colors twist together in your hand. This twist will lend to the effect. When you yarn over and pull your hook, use all the strands, really just treat them as one. After a short time it is easy to get into this rhythm, so don’t be afraid to treat it as such.

It does have some tendencies that can be a bit annoying, for instance keeping equal tension on two yarns can be challenging. This becomes a bit more obvious when I begin one yarn from a new center pull skein, and the other has been worked from a bit already. The new skein is tighter to pull from and this makes it a little awkward to ensure that I keep both strands under an equal tension. I personally correct this by pulling more yarn out of the new skein to more equally match the pull of the second skein.

If I am using two yarns that are wound into balls the challenge becomes keeping them from rolling all over the place and becoming tangled together. There are a couple of tips to deal with this annoyance, I use two different yarn bowls that “trap” the balls and prevents them from “free rolling”.

Another thing to keep in mind about using more than one strand of yarn is that the weight changes. It is not like adding the two weights together will double the weight or anything. By using two medium weight (number 4 weight) yarns does not create a super bulky or a number 8 weight yarn, but it does make a heavier weight, but more like a Bulky (number 6 weight) yarn. As a result you need to use a larger hook. Check out a Beyond Basics Hat, using two strands of baby yarn to create a fun hat here.

By ensuring that you have a proper size hook to accommodate both yarns you also ensure that the fabric has the drape you desire. Just as any project if you want a dense fabric use a smaller hook, if you want a more fluid fabric use a larger hook.

However I usually use yarns of differing weight together, I might accent a medium weight yarn with a light or even lace weight yarn. I might use a completely different fiber, might match a wool with a silk, an acrylic with a mohair, a cotton with an alpaca. The yarns provide a different texture, a different sheen, often a different color, but they always provide something amazing to look at.

The Classic Basics- Granny Square

The classics are classics for a reason. Crochet has some classic patterns and designs that always seem to draw people into wanting to learn the skill. A classic that I have had multiple students want to learn recently is the Granny Square.

The Granny Square is really a motif, and there are times when motifs in general are called Granny Square. At this discussion I am simply referring to the classic look of Double Crochet (treble crochet in UK terms) groups worked into chain spaces. This makes what almost appears to be checker board of “closed” and “open” squares.

The classic version has a different color on every round, and when the last round is worked entirely in single crochet (double crochet in UK terms) is worked in black. This is the way I was introduced to this classic, however today it is interesting to see it worked in all one color or worked extremely large.

To work your own Classic Granny Square (in US crochet terms)…

Chain 4, slip stitch to the first chain to form a ring.

Round 1: Chain 3 (counts as a double crochet now and throughout), working in ring, 2 double crochets, chain 3, [3 double crochets, chain 3] 3 times, slip stitch to the top of the beginning chain-3, finish off. -4 (3) double crochet groups, 4 chain-spaces

Round 2: With new color, slip stitch to any chain-3 space, chain 3, 2 double crochets in same space, chain 3, 3 double crochets in same space, chain 2, [3 double crochets in next chain-space, chain 3, 3 double crochets in same chain-space, chain 2] 3 times, slip stitch to the top of the beginning chain-3, finish off. -8 (3) double crochet groups, 4 chain-3 space, 4 chain-2 spaces

Round 3: With new color, slip stitch to any chain-3 space, chain 3, 2 double crochets in same space, chain 3, 3 double crochets in same space, chain 2, [3 double crochets in chain-2 space, chain 2, 3 double crochets in chain-3 space, chain 3, 3 double crochets in same chain-3 space, chain 2] 3 times, slip stitch to the top of the beginning chain-3 finish off. -12 (3) double crochet groups, 4 chain-3 spaces, 8 chain-2 space

Round 4: With black color, slip stitch to any chain-3 space, chain 1, 3 single crochets in same space, *[single crochet in each double crochet across to chain-2 space, 1 single crochet in chain 2 space] repeat across to chain-3 space, 3 single crochets in chain-3 space ; rep from * around, slip stitch to beginning single crochet, finish off. Weave in ends.

At this point the Granny Squares can be joined together to create any number of things.

To update this Classic pattern, it is relatively easy after you learn the basics of this design. Essentially the chain-3 spaces are the corners of the square, each time you come to a corner you work a group of 3 double crochets, chain 3, and another group of 3 double crochets in the chain-3 space. You then chain 2 to work along the “sides” of the square, this chain-2 is always worked over a group of 3 double crochets, creating an open space or square. In every chain-2 space 1 group of 3 double crochets are worked. So to bullet point it:

  • Work (3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc) in every ch-3 sp
  • Work ch 2 over groups of double crochets
  • Work 3 dc in every ch-2 sp

Following these simple rules you can create a Granny square of any size. Then for the classic edge you work a round of single crochets, with 3 single crochets in each ch-3 sp, a single crochet in each double crochet stitch, and 1 single crochet in each ch-2 sp.

If you do not want to change colors every round, then after joining, slip stitch in each double crochet across to the next chain-3 space, slip stitch in the chain- 3 space and begin the next round.

Check this classic out for yourself.

 

Perfect for the Chill- Shurs!

As winter is gripping part of North America and the arctic chill is setting in Manos del Uruguay released my latest pattern, which is perfect to keep warm! Shurs is a cowl that is just the right size, long enough to be wrapped twice for extra warmth and coverage, yet still short enough that wearing it unwrapped has a perfect amount of drape for a classic look.

It is worked in what I refer to as a “cross-hatch” pattern. So, cross-hatch is actually an artist term the is comprised of short strokes made usually by pencil or charcoal that then has short strokes crossing in the opposite direction to create the shading and depth of the drawing. Almost like little “x”s that create an image.

I have worked this cowl similarly, with each row crossing the opposite direction of the last. It allows for an interesting visual effect, as you can catch glimpses of the stitches behind each other, but it also adds in a nice amount of stretch.

In addition to the “crossed” appearance, the stitches begin to stack up and give a very diagonal look, without having any increasing or decreasing stitches being worked. Instead this is a simple 2 row repeat, so it is a design that you can work rather quickly and easily, even for a crocheter that may not be completely confident in their work.

It is worked in Manos del Uruguay Clara, a yarn that is 100% superwash merino (meaning that it is a wool that is treated so that it does not felt, or shrink, but has all the great properties of wool like warmth and durability). It is a hand dyed sport weight yarn, that has a nice amount of spring to it while still having a nice stable yarn.

So, consider a quick project to keep warm this cold season, Shurs I feel is a good choice for this project.

Photos courtesy Fairmount Fibers, Ltd.

A Vacation from Crochet

I thought it would feel different, not crocheting for 2 weeks, but surprisingly it was a bit liberating.

I did not start out planning to put my hook and yarn aside through the entire holiday season, but that is what happened. My family and I took a holiday vacation, a true first for us. We were gone for 2 weeks taking a whirlwind guided tour of Europe, from London to Rome. It really has been a lifelong dream to actually have a passport stamps of travel, and the end of 2017 the stars aligned and the dream became reality. We visited Stonehenge, and the Eiffel Tower. We took in a show at the Moulin Rouge, and checked out the views from Mount Pilatus. We enjoyed dinner on the Grand Canal, and visited Michelangelo’s David. We were awestruck with the Sistine Chapel and the Colosseum. It was a lifetime of dreams wrapped into an adventure, an adventure we would love to do again.

I packed a couple of crochet projects and added them to my backpack. There is down time in travel, like the direct flights of over 10 hours, and the coach rides across the French country side, or the moments before sleep in the hotel. However, I was captivated by the dream, engaged in conversations with my new traveling companions, and spending quality time with my family.

When I got home again, and dug those projects out of my backpack, they felt fresh and new. It was like my whole body, all of my ideas and inspirations were able to be rejuvenated and see my stitches with fresh eyes. I cannot remember when I last felt that way about my hand craft, it has to have been at least several years, and I do not know that just putting it down at home without the adventure would have yielded the same result. My hooks feel lighter, my ideas crisper, I hope this side effect has some staying power, but if it doesn’t at least I have an idea of how to recapture it again.

Beyond Basic Hat- Free Pattern

Last week I shared a Basic Hat free pattern, I had an increased number of people wanting to make hats, and they really are great, quick projects, that can help those fighting cancer by the means of chemo therapy. I have designed both of these hats using baby weight yarn, as I find that it is both soft and hypo-allergenic.

The Beyond Basic Hat is worked holding 2 strands of baby yarn at one time (you could substitute 1 strand of medium weight yarn instead). To use 2 strands is not as difficult as it seems, you simply hold them together and treat them as if they were just 1 strand, so you yarn over using both strands together, you pull through loops using both strands together, they just get worked as one. I find it fun to use 2 different colors, like I did in this sample with teal and lemon yellow.

I find that this pattern tends to be my go to hat more often, as is really works up fairly fast, however if you want to learn how to customize the size of hat, check out my tutorial, Crochet Hat Formula, here.

 

Beyond Basic Hat

Materials:

2 skeins Lion Brand Soft Baby light weight yarn (60% acrylic, 40% nylon)

I/9/6mm crochet hook

Gauge: 5 rnds/ 8 dc=3”

This pattern is worked holding 2 strands of yarn throughout.

For directions for the Reverse Single Crochet (Revsc) check out my tutorial here.

Sizes: Baby (Kid, Woman, Man)

Rnd 1(1, 1, 1) Ch 4, 11 dc in 4th ch from the hook, sl st to join.

Rnd 2 (2, 2, 2): Ch 3, dc in same st, 2 dc in each st around, sl st to join.

Rnd 3 (3, 3, 3): Ch 3, dc in same st, dc in next st, [2 dc in next st, dc in next st] rep around, sl st to join.

Rnd – (4, 4, 4): Ch 3, dc in same st, dc in next 2 sts, [2 dc in next st, dc in next 2 sts] rep around, sl st to join.

Rnd – ( -, 5, 5): Ch 3, dc in same st, dc in next 3 sts, [2 dc in next st, dc in next 3 sts] rep around, sl st to join.

Rnd – (-, -, 6): Ch 3, dc in same st, dc in next 4 sts, [2 dc in next st, dc in next 3 sts] rep around, sl st to join.

Rnd 4-8 (5-11, 6-12, 7-13): Ch 3, dc in each st around, sl st to join.

Rnd 9 (12, 13, 14): Ch 1, Revsc around, sl st to join. Fasten off, weave in ends.