Hairpin Lace Refashion

When it comes to hobbies, I push myself to try new things. I’m not sure if this is due to my hyperactive Pinterest-ing disorder, an excess of caffeine, or possibly some sort of mania. Fast forward to the point: something I’ve been experimenting with recently is hairpin lace.

Ellie13Hairpin lace is a technique that wraps and crochets long loops around a tool and then uses those loops to make decorative stitches and weaves. Traditionally one used a literal hair pin, I’m assuming, but nowadays they make specialty craft tools that look like you could low-key use it to torture somebody.

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Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

I took a pretty freeform approach to learning this technique – the first strip of hairpin lace I made was for attaching two pieces of upcycled clothing together, using reclaimed sweater yarn for the strip. A list of things I learned from this:

  1. Do not try to learn this technique with a yarn that splits like crazy.
  2. That trick with threading the spare yarn through a finished strip to keep the loops together? It’s way more trouble than it is worth unless you are storing the strips together for later.
  3. Even with the aforementioned splitting yarn, hairpin lace is WAY LESS complex and intimidating than I thought. After the first few shaky loops, I got comfortable with it very quickly.

I learned from this excellent video from Stitch Diva Studios (who also sell great hairpin lace crochet patterns) and this video from Knitting Daily to supplement my technique.ย  Now for the refashion part!

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I’ve been ogling pretty fiber artsy styles like mori kei and shabby/chic, clothes that maximize texture and variety and emphasize the handmade look. The ragamuffin style is especially attractive to me because it lends itself well to experimentation in short bursts, which is about as much as I have time for during the semester.

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The two fabric pieces that went into this forest girl dress were a soft green top that I liked but didn’t wear (too short), and an earthy colored skirt that I picked up thrifting. Both are 100% rayon, and oh man, I really love rayon. It’s so so soft. Hard to believe it is manufactured from wood pulp.

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Long story short, I chopped the bottom off of the top and the top off of the skirt, then serged the cut edge on both pieces. Using #10 mercerized cotton crochet thread, I embroidered a blanket stitch over the serged hem.

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I then counted the blanket stitches. My hairpin lace strip would need as many loops as the largest amount of stitches (which is on the skirt’s hem). Having done this part late at night months ago, I now have no idea what that number was. Lets say it’s 150. It was actually way more than that, but just pretend. And for the sake of clean math, lets say the smaller numberย  (the amount of blanket stitches on the top hem) was 125.

So I need a hairpin lace strip with at least 150 loops. ONE LOOP of the strip will get crocheted to one blanket stitch on the hem of the skirt. Since the top hem has a smaller number, 25 sts less than the larger number, I would need to double up on some of the stitches on the top hem. 125 / 25 = 5. This means when I was attaching the hairpin lace strip to the hem on the top (in fictional pretty-math world) I attached TWO loops every 5th stitch.

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Using that strategy and a small hook, I worked a single crochet around the garment, inserting the hook through the top of the blanket stitch and through the hairpin loops simultaneously to attach the fabric pieces. Don’t forget to weave in the ends through both of the middle seams of the hairpin lace strip where the two ends of the strip meet!

Time for the patchy part. With the same upcycled sweater yarn, I made two big doilies using one of the many graphs on my Pinterest crochet board, as well as another hairpin strip for the collar. I sewed these in place with a sewing machine and threaded the loops in the doily with velvet cord to create an adjustable criss-cross tie in the back.

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Velvet leggings, thrifted cowgirl boots, ridiculously large hat? Yes please.

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I loved melding pretty fabrics with crochet, and using all reclaimed/upcycled materials was a big bonus. I have a feeling I’ll be doing more of this in the future!

-MF

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Basic Armwarmers Tutorial

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Armwarmers are an awesome crochet project. Quick, fun, and not finicky – these babies have been a go-to for me whenever I have a spare skein of soft yarn that needs a purpose. This pattern/tutorial/guide is customizeable, with enough structure to use as a straightforward pattern for beginners, or for more experienced crocheters to use as a base for inspiration.

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This tutorial features a guide for figuring gauge & sizing, base pattern for two different gauge sizes, and some ideas for creative extras. My favorite features of the gloves themselves are the continuous round construction that eliminates the join seam and the unique thumb opening, which creates a more contoured fit at the base of the thumb.

So without further introduction…

Basic Armwarmers Tutorial

Materials:
300-400 yds #4 or #5 weight yarn
5.00 mm hook
Scissors, tapestry needle
2 Stitch Markers

Gauge:
For bulky yarns, 3 sts & 2 rows = 1″ in hdc
For worsted yarns, 7 sts & 5 rows = 2″ in hdc

Figuring Gauge:

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For this project you’ll need to make a gauge swatch. This is just a square of fabric worked, for this project, in rows of half double crochet. Generally more stitches per square will give you a better reading of your gauge, but I have cheated a bit here and made relatively small swatches. The worsted weight swatches (purple, top left and rainbow, bottom) both measure 7 sts & 5 rows = 2″.

You can find out your gauge by creating a swatch 10-20 stitches in length, with enough rows to make a fat rectangle or a square. Then, take a measuring device and measure across a row of stitches in the middle of the swatch.

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As you can see, for this gauge measuring to ONE inch means I’d have a fraction of a stitch included in my gauge (since one inch covers about 3 and a half stitches). Since that makes for messy math, measure for 2″ instead, which gives 7 sts = 2″.

Next, measure how many rows will equal your 2″ in height.

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So for this yarn, my gauge is 7 sts and 5 rows = 2″.ย  My bulky weight yarn gauge (the yellow) is more even, with 3 sts and 2 rows equalling an inch. You can use your gauge to create a custom sized pair of armwarmers, or you can change hooks or yarn weights to match one of the two gauges listed here and use the pre-written patterns for each gauge.

Sizing:

To figure your own custom size, take a tape measure and get the circumference of your hand measured across the base of your thumb with your hand relaxed (not spread or closed tightly). For me, this is about 8-9″. This is how wide the armwarmer will be. This measurement will also be enough to get the warmer snug on my mid-forearm, which also measures about 8-9″.

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Since I like my armwarmers snug, we’ll shoot for an 8″ circumference (don’t forget they will stretch some also). In the bulky yarn gauge, 3 stitches = 1″ in width, so 8 (inches) x 3 (sts) = 24 sts. Our armwarmer pattern for bulky yarn will use a base of 24 sts.

In worsted weight gauge, I had 7 sts = 2″, so since 2″ goes into 8″ 4 times, I use the formula 7 (sts) x 4 (sets of 2 inches) = 28 sts. Our armwarmer pattern for worsted weight will use a base of 28 sts.

The photos for the tutorial appear for the worsted weight pattern, with the bulky weight pattern instructions appearing separately below ๐Ÿ™‚ But you can use the photo reference for both!

Basic Armwarmers: Worsted Weight

Notes: Worked continuously in the round. Place marker in the first stitch of every round.

Rnd 1: Ch 28. Join in a ring by working a sc into the first st of the chain.

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Rnd 2: Hdc in the next st. Place marker in this first stitch. Hdc in ea of the next 27 sts.

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Rnds 3 – 21: Hdc in ea hdc around.

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Rnd 22: Hdc in the first st. Place a 2nd marker in the stitch half way around the row from the first stitch of the round (the 14th st). This is where you will create the hole for the thumb over the next 2 rounds. Hdc in ea of the next 12 sts. 3 dc in the marked stitch. Move the 2nd marker to the 2nd dc in this st. Hdc in ea of the next 14 sts.

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Rnd 23: Hdc in ea of the next 13 sts. Dc in the next st. Sk next 3 sts, dc in the next st. Hdc in ea st around.

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Ta-Da! Thumbhole. NOW, you can add a few more rounds of hdc, but since I will be adding post stitch ribbing to the end, I am not going to do that. Whenever you have reached the length you like (saving room for embellishment if you want to), end your final round and then use:

1 sc in ea of the next 2 sts, 1 sl st in ea of the next 2 sts.ย  Cut yarn and tie off.

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This accomplishes a height change so your edge will be even. To add trim like contrasting sc, scallops, or post stitch rib, rejoin your yarn and work in regular, non-continuous rounds.

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Post Stitch Rnd 1: Join yarn in any stitch, ch 2 (does not count as first st). Hdc in ea st around. Join with a sl st in the first hdc of the round.
Post Stitch Rnd 2: Ch 2 (does not count), Fphdc in the same st. Bphdc in the next st. *Fphdc in the next st, bphdc in the next st. Rpt from * around. Join with a sl st in the first st of the round.

Rpt Rnd 2 again, or until you have the length you want. Cut yarn and tie off.

For more info on how to work post stitches, see my tutorial here! For the purple armwarmers below, I added a round of scallops and some contrasting embroidery. Okay, my embroidery needs a little work ๐Ÿ˜›

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Basic Armwarmers: Bulky Weight

Notes: Worked continuously in the round. Place marker in the first stitch of every round.

Rnd 1: Ch 24. Join in a ring by working a sc into the first st of the chain.

Rnd 2: Hdc in the next st. Place marker in the first st. Hdc in ea of the next 23 sts.

Rnds 3-16: Hdc in ea hdc around.

Rnd 17: Place a 2nd st marker in the 12th stitch of the round. Hdc in ea stitch until you reach the marker, then 3 dc in the marked stitch. Transfer 2nd marker to the 2nd dc of this stitch. Hdc in the next 12 sts.

Rnd 18: Hdc in ea of the next 10 sts. Dc in the next st. Sk next 3 sts. Dc in the next st. Hdc in ea of the next 12 sts.

Rnds 19 – 21 (or until you have the length you want): Hdc in ea st around.

To end, finish your last round then 1 sc in ea of the next 2 sts, 1 sl st in ea of the next 2 sts. Cut yarn and tie off.

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I added some spiffy autumn trees to the mustard yellow gloves!

I hope this little tutorial has inspired you to use up some orphan skeins (or go out and buy new ones… hey, I ain’t gonna judge).

-MF

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