Design Help- Outside Crochet

Not all designing involves crochet, at least not in my world. Since November 2016 I have been a 4H sewing project leader, this entails me arranging meeting times and helping guide the participants in completing project. Fortunately 4H encourages leadership from the kids, so it does not involve much instruction from me, as I am not much of a seamstress and sewing is not my favorite pastime. After all I crochet, and even work join-as-you-go motifs so I do not have to sew.

However in the course of these last several months the participants under took a community service project. So in addition to creating their shirts, and skirts, dresses and jackets, they also created a project to help Veterans. They arranged to teach the basic use of the sewing machine to other 4Hers at a large community event, then I aided then in creating a quilt square pattern that involved simple strips of fabric. They then sought donations of fabric and cut it into long strips to have their “students” sew these long strips together.

Quilt top created by my 4H sewing project

After a full day of instruction they had all the strips sewn together, then it was time to create the squares. I will admit I did help put some squares together, after all I did want to at least see my dining room table. The squares are completed and put together, now this quilt top is being donated to Quilts of Honor to be finished as a quilt and given to a Veteran.

Yes, I am proud of what they have accomplished, and their dedication and generosity is inspiring. It has been a really interesting undertaking for myself, watching the kids grow and understand themselves and what they like. Some of the kids actually created their own patterns and designs, other modified their patterns to create what they like. There are designers everywhere, at least in the sense that we are all creators.

Crochet Knees

ScannedImageIf you have read my blog for a while you may have realized that I am a little, let’s see, what’s the word…ah yes, thrifty. So in the spirit of thirstiness, I have been attempting to get some more life out of blue jeans my children run wild in.

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One knee mended, one more to go. Crochet patches tend to have more stretch

I am not sure if something has changed in the manufacturing over time, but the knees on their pants tend to split open in a relatively short period of time. Maybe it is the tree climbing, the running, or the playing in dirt that my kids still do within our rural lifestyle, but it seems that they are hard on their clothes. So of course that means that we have “good” clothes and “play” clothes. However when the knees get bad enough that they can stick a leg threw, I find a way to mend them to get a little more time out of them.

Sure I could cut them and make them shorts, but trust me they have an abundance of those. I have used fabric patches, but they do not tend to last as long as I would like, tearing out and just becoming flaps over the open knees. So I have taken to making my own, with crochet.

I crochet a few motifs, different shapes like flowers, and different colors. My kids enjoy coming up with ideas for me to crochet into patches, and the stitches seem to allow the fabric to stretch more and thus do not wear out as quickly as the fabric patches. I then pin them in place and reluctantly sew. I say reluctantly as sewing is not my number one favorite skill, but at least this way I get to enjoy some crochet in the chore.

I keep telling them that it is a new fashion statement, who knows maybe it will be. I just really hope that they are not tearing out the knees so that they can keep up with this “new” fashion.

There is More then One Way to Join a Motif Together

ScannedImageWhen the average non-crocheter thinks of crochet, often one of the first thoughts is the classic granny square. This motif has become a historic staple, however working any motifs worked in crochet can have a fun, stunning, and classic appeal. The draw back? Stitching them together.

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Remove hook from working loop, insert hook into stitch to be joined to and re-insert into working loop.

I have stated it before, but I am a crocheter, not a seamstress. So join-as-you-go has been a savior of sorts for me. It has allowed be to work various motifs without having to stitch them together, but simply work a stitch into the adjoining motif and they are now connected.

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Pull working loop through stitch

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Complete the stitch, and continue.

There are various applications that can be used in join-as-you-go, but one that I have been enjoying recently, has a finish that looks like I’ve spent time whip stitching the pieces together, without ever picking up a needle and thread (or yarn). To work this Joined Whip Stitch, or Braided Join, is actually pretty easy. When you are ready to join to the adjacent motif you simply remove your hook from your working loop, insert your hook through the stitch you wish to join to, re-insert into the working loop and pull it through the stitch, then begin and complete the stitch you wish on the motif you are working on. Essentially you are bringing the loop through another fabric and then completing your work, there is nothing fancy, nothing difficult, just a simple way to weave the fabrics together.

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The finished look of the Joined Whip Stitch or Braided Join

The look that this technique creates has a hand sewn appearance to some, and a braided effect to others. It is a little slow, and only a little, as removing your hook and getting it placed and then reworking the stitch can take a little time, not to mention a little fear of the working loop being pulled out. However the technique is simple and can be worked with any motif pattern without having to change the stitch structure. So give this method a try next time you have a motif to put together, you may find that it makes your project a little more enjoyable, with no needles required.

Some Crochet Enhancements

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I have been drying fruit from the orchard…the pears are coming out quite nice.

ScannedImageSometimes it seems like time flies in the wink of an eye…again it seems to be that time of year for me. The kids have started back to school, I am getting the fruits from the orchard harvested (I am making my first attempts at using a dehydrator this year, so far it has been a success), and my fingers are nimbly working on various designs that you’ll see out in the world this next Spring & Summer.

Working my flying crochet hook, I have undertaken a couple of new techniques, some that I have not undertaken for a while. I would like to share with you one that I am working on that I will admit is outside of my complete comfort level…beading.

I believe that beads can really add to a crochet design, that they give a nice texture difference, sometimes some needed weight for a project, and sometime just a hint of added sparkle; so why is it not a constant wheelhouse in my work…I hate threading those little beads on the yarn. It seems like a daunting task and I inevitably get it tied in knots, it is just that one added step that doesn’t allow me to mindlessly crochet.

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Thread dental floss through the sewing needle and tie a knot creating a loop, slip yarn through loop and fold back on itself (creating a link of 2 loops), thread beads onto sewing needle and slide them over the dental floss and onto the yarn

That being stated, I have been playing with ways to get beads in my stitches, and here is what has worked for me; a sewing needle and dental floss. Yes, it does sound a little funny, but it works better than other approaches for me (although I am always open to new ideas!).

First I thread the dental floss through the sewing needle, creating a tail on either side of the needle of at least 4” (10cm) (so a piece of floss at least 8” (20cm) long to begin with), and tie the ends making a loop. This loop is the trick. I then tread the yarn through the loop of floss and fold to back on itself; this creating what would appear to be 2 loops linked together. I using the sewing needle I thread through the beads and slid them down the needle, over the dental floss and then over the yarn.

So now I have them threaded, and the playing can begin.