Freeform #1

For years now I’ve had my eye on creating a piece in the classic Freeform style, a method of crochet that rejects the use of pattern or pre-planned formations and uses highly textural and varied crochet stitches to create odd, asymmetric pieces called “scrumbles.”

Though any crocheting without a pattern could technically be called freeform or freestyle, I differentiate the classic Freeform technique as having a few key characteristics: lack of pattern or overall plan, emphasis on chaotic form and texture over cohesive visual harmony, and reliance on several iconic motifs common in modern freeform (such as spirals, bullions, puffs, and other textural stitches).

Freeform scrumbles are finished bits of crochet that are then arranged and connected to form the final piece – anything from a freestanding “painting” of forms to a highly ornate coat to furniture covers (I dream of freeforming over an entire couch one day…).

Sometimes sewn together, sometimes connected via an openwork web of chains as in traditional Irish lace – the scumbles are like a puzzle you get to create AND solve!

After looking to such Freeform crochet geniuses as Prudence Mapstone and Hannah Martin of Of Mars, perusing some playlists for Freeform shapes on Youtube, and endlessly scrolling the Freeform Crochet World Group on Facebook, I finally collected a bunch of yarn and started scumbling.

And scrumbling.

And scrumbling.

After 8 months of slow progress, and lots of learning curves, I finally put the finishing touches on Freeform #1!

I knew it would be a shawl from the start, but the rest of the journey of this project was a complete and utter mystery until it was finally finished.

I must have arranged and rearranged the pieces so many times, in so many combinations! There are even a few eyeballs stuck in there, left over from practicing bullion eyes for the Forest Guide Hat.

The colors were chosen to be an earthy rainbow, with lots of gem tones (my favorite). Plenty of odd bits of hand-dyed and hand-spun yarn were included that I also created – which adds to the unique and personal “process” art touch.

At some point along the way, I started becoming (more) obsessed with moths, and I couldn’t stop picturing this piece as moth wings, or at least some winged bug-eyed thing – so the prism goggles came out to play 😉

I’m overall thrilled with how this piece turned out – better than my expectations, to be sure! My first full-size freeform will be staying in my closet as I don’t think I could bear to part with it.

It’s great to create something that is impossible to write a pattern from! These days it’s hard to crochet anything that I don’t start to consider writing a pattern for (cue the incessant note-taking), but with freeform, that’s obviously not an option…

Although I may do some tutorial videos for the techniques I used at some point!

If you want to try out freeform but don’t want to commit to a huge project, my Pixie Pocket Belt Tutorial series uses freeform techniques to create cute, quick costume projects.

This shawl really pushed my boundaries and challenged me, and I value it all the more because of that.

-MF

Video Game Guy Backpack Tutorial

Let’s say for the sake of imagination that there’s a story featuring an adventurous youth and his acerbic canine best friend, who live in a slightly macabre and trippy video game world and have adventures. We’ll call it “Adventuring Friends.”


I think that in that world, they’d probably have a sentient portable video game console. We’ll call him Video Game Guy and he’s definitely not based on anything that is trademarked 😉
Wouldn’t it be cute to crochet a backpack featuring this colorful companion? I think so too. Let’s do it! (P.S – I got this idea originally from Instagram crochet artist @mioforestcrochet and made my own version- please check her out and give her some likes!)


I hope you enjoy this free crochet tutorial for the Video Game Guy Backpack! I’ve included all of my notes, and as much bonus info as I could capture – if you have any questions on how I did any of the steps, please don’t hesitate to ask ❤

Update!: This design now has a Ravelry project Page, if you want to favorite it & save for later ❤

Video Game Guy Tutorial

This tutorial covers the instructions for making all the pieces of the Video Game Guy Backpack, but you can easily use this pattern to create a stuffed friend or pillow out of him, too!

Materials:
I Love This Cotton! (#4 weight, 100% cotton, about 150 yds per skein) 2 skeins in light blue and 1 skein in teal
Assorted scrap yarn colors: Lighter blue for the screen (I held in a strand of Glow-in-the-Dark yarn as well, to make the screen glow. I got that yarn from here, years ago). I also used scrap red, yellow, green, and dark blue for the buttons, and black for the accents.
Scrap fabric (optional)
Safety eyes (optional)
Button
Scissors, Tapestry needle, and locking stitch markers (for assembly)

Hook: 3.5 mm hook
Gauge: Not critical. Should be tight, as you don’t want a very hole-y fabric.

Special Stitches: Linked Double Crochet (LDC) – get the free tutorial from my blog here.
Magic Ring (MR): A great tutorial from Planet June here
Notes: I use Ch 2 to turn on the rows of linked double crochet instead of the traditional 3-chain turn, I find it works better with my gauge on this project – you can substitute 3 if it works better for you! 🙂

Instructions

Front & Back (Make 2, 1 front 1 back, in light blue)

Ch 37.

Row 1: 1 Dc in the 3rd ch from the hook. 1 LDC in ea of the next 34 sts. – 35 sts
Row 2: Ch 2 (does not count as first dc), turn. 1 dc in the same st. 1 LDC in ea of the next 34 sts.
Rows 3-27: Rpt Row 2.

If you are making the Front rectangle,
Cut yarn and tie off.
If you are making the Back rectangle and you want a fold-over flap with a loop, continue on in pattern for 7 more rows, placing a chain loop of stitches in the middle of the last row (skip the chain loop if you are making a pillow or stuffie). I wanted the loop more on the inside (showing the button less) so I made the loop on the second to last row, and then crocheted over that row with the loop held on the inside, out of the way.

Side (1 continuous piece, in teal)
Ch 12.
Row 1: 1 dc in the 3rd ch from the hook. 1 LDC in ea of the next 9 ch sts. – 10 sts
Row 2: Ch 2 (does not count as first dc), turn. 1 dc in the same st. 1 LDC in ea of the next 9 sts.
Rows 3-77: Rpt Row 2.
Cut yarn and tie off.
Compare the side strip to your front and back panels. It should have enough rows to match all the way around the 3 sides of the front & back rectangles, with plenty of room to turn the fabric at the corners. You can adjust the number of side rows here if needed.

Screen Face (Make 1, lighest blue, white, or preferred color – I held 1 strand of glow yarn in with the regular cotton light blue):
Ch 24.
Row 1: 1 dc in the 3rd ch from the hook. 1 LDC in ea of the next 21 sts. – 22 sts.
Row 2: Ch 2 (does not count as first dc), turn. 1 dc in the same st. 1 LDC in ea of the next 21 sts. – 22 sts
Rows 3-12: Rpt row 2.
SC border: Ch 1, rotate. Work 2 sc in the side of every LDC row-end, making 3 sts in each corner to turn. 1 sc in each st across the bottom (the foundation chain), making 3 sts at the corner to turn. 2 sc in the side of every LDC row-end. Stop at final corner.
Cut yarn and tie off, leaving a long tail for sewing.

Here’s a picture of his face glowing! Sorry for the terrible image quality here. But it does glow!

Arms (Make 2, light blue)
MR.
Rnd 1: 6 sc into the ring. Tighten.
Rnd 2: 1 sc in ea of the next 6 sc – 6 sts.
Rnds 3-18: Rpt Row 2
Cut yarn and tie off, leaving a long tail for sewing.

Legs (Make 2, teal)
MR.
Rnd 1: 6 sc into the ring. Tighten.
Rnd 2: (1 sc in the next sc, 2 sc in the next sc) rpt around – 9 sts
Rnd 3: 1 sc in ea of the next 9 sc. – 9 sts
Rnds 4-12: Rpt rnd 3.
Cut yarn and tie off, leaving a long tail for sewing.

Arrow Pad (Make 1, yellow)
MR
Rnd 1: Ch 2( does not count as first dc). Dc 12 into the ring. Tighten. Join with a sl st in the first dc of the round.
Rnd 2: *Ch 3. Dc in the same stitch. 2 dc in the next st. 1 dc in the next st. Working down the side of the last dc stitch made, slip stitch 2 toward the round below. Work 1 sl st in the same stitch of the round below. Sl st in the next free dc. Rpt from * 3 more times to form all 4 arrow directions.
Cut yarn and tie off, leaving a long tail for sewing.

Red & Green Button (Make 1 each)
My green yarn was small, so my green button was naturally smaller as I would imagine a Video Game Guy to have a smaller green button than red button 😉 But you can substitute hdc’s for dc’s to make the green button smaller if your yarn is the same weight as the rest!
MR
Rnd 1: Ch 2, 12 dc into the ring, tighten. Sl st in the first dc to join.
Cut yarn and tie off, leaving a long tail for sewing.

Blue Button (Make 1)
My blue yarn is small, so my blue button is small – you can substitute hdc’s for the dc’s and sc’s for the hdc’s to make the button smaller, if you are using the same weight yarn 🙂
MR.
Rnd 1: Ch 2 (does not count as first dc). (3 dc into the ring, 3 hdc into the ring) 3 times. Join with a sl st in the first dc of the round.
Cut yarn and tie off, leaving a long tail for sewing.

Straps:
I forgot to note how many stitches long my straps were, but I ended up making them too long anyway so that’s that 😛 So here’s a short description (skip the straps if you’re making a pillow or stuffie) :
Chain a length equal to the length you want your straps, or slightly under (a lot of weight will stretch them some).
Row 1: 1 dc in the 3rd ch from the hook. 1 LDC in every other stitch across.
Row 2: Ch 2, turn. 1 dc in the same st. 1 LDC in every other stitch across.
Repeat for as many rows as you want to get the width of your strap. Cut yarn and tie off, leaving a long tail for sewing.

Black Details:
Chain small lengths, single crochet back down the chains. Cut yarn and tie off, leaving a long tail for sewing.

Lining (Fabric, optional)
I wanted to make my Video Game Guy pretty sturdy (sturdy enough to house an actual portable game console) so I decided to line the inside of the backpack with fabric to reinforce it. I used scrap fabric and just traced my main pieces (the front side and the side rectangle) onto the fabric to get my shapes.

I used my serger for quick construction (it’s ugly, but it’ll mostly be hidden).

And added a channel at the top of the lining for a drawstring, because hey. I’m fancy. I used my regular sewing machine for that part.

Assembly

Using a bunch of locking stitch markers, line your side piece so it runs all the way around both sides of the Front & Back rectangle, with plenty of space at the corners.

Using light blue yarn, join at one end of the Side. To create a seam, work through 2 layers of crochet fabric at once. Single crochet down the side, working 2 single crochet per row-end, under the sides of the LDC stitches at the edge.

If you prefer, you could just use a tapestry needle and yarn to sew it together, but I think the single crochet seam creates a sturdy shape and a crisp edge and is worth the extra patience required!

When turning a corner, work 5 sc into the corner stitch to keep the corner sharp. Continue to work 2 sc into the sides of each LDC row end on the Side, but remember to keep 1 sc per CHAIN stitch on the Front rectangle, as you will now be working across the bottom of the foundation chain on the Front rectangle since you’re working the short side.

Continue on to turn another 5-sc corner and finish the seam up the other long side, leaving one short side (the one with the flap) un-seamed and open.

Repeat this process to seam on the back side.

At this point, weave in any ends on all of your extra pieces that AREN’T going to be used to sew the piece on. Don’t forget like me and accidentally weave in the long yarn tails used for your sewing threads 😀

For the screen face, place your safety eyes or other form of face-making onto the screen before sewing it on to the front of the backpack. I left the top of the screen open and un-seamed, for use as another small pocket:

I then added the arms and legs, unstuffed, by carefully seaming the top opening onto the flat side piece surfaces.

Next came aaaaaaalll the surface details: Arrow Pad, Colored Buttons, and black details are all seamed onto the surface of the front piece using the yarn tails and tapestry needle.

The final hurdle to jump before I finished the piece was the straps. Now, as I mentioned earlier, I made the straps too long. Possibly because I underestimated how much they would stretch, or possibly because I was just wrong 😀

Regardless, I used locking stitch markers to test-place the straps, inserting more strap on the inside of the backpack if I needed to shorten it more. Since mine is getting a lining anyway, it won’t matter if there’s a little extra strap poking around in there.

Once they were arranged to my liking, I used the tapestry needle and the remaining yarn tails to sew them into place on the top and bottom. After messing around a little more with the flap and straps, I was ready insert my lining.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again – it’s really scary to place something you’ve lovingly stitched for hours with your hook and soft yarn, right into the gaping maw of the stabby-stabby machine. But the more I sew on crochet, the more I get used to it and the more I learn, so away I went! Stabby Stabby!

I sewed reinforcement stitching on the straps, and sewed all along the top rim of the backpack with a straight stitch, keeping an eye on my tension settings. I also added a round button on the inside front of the bag, so the top flap would button down but the button wouldn’t show on the face of the Game Guy.

Lastly, I added the drawstring. Exceedingly happy with my project, I hastened to type up this tutorial so that others might make their own Video Game Guy! This special piece is going to my friend for her birthday ❤

I hope you enjoy making this project, and maybe try out different versions – a simplified project might be to make a stuffed friend or pillow out of VGG! Or even a smaller patch version? ❤

If you liked this free tutorial and want to show off your project, Morale Fiber has a pretty kick-butt Facebook Group now with ALL KINDS of awesome fantasy, boho, hippie, nerdy, and alternative crochet projects shared by fiber fans ❤ Check it out and see if you’d like to join us here!

-MF

Acanthus Top

Life has seemed at once hectic and uneventful recently, my “normal” summer months stretching on under the strain of the daily news and the smell of spray sanitizer, but my evenings peaceful and filled with fragrant breeze and birdsong.

This summer, is not like last summer. But my gratitude has not changed. For the friends I have, for the capabilities I am given, and for each day, whether it’s spent alone or not – after all I’ve learned a lot in the past year about how we are all connected.

During this isolationary idyll, I’ve designed a VERY comfy and cute top that you’ll want in every color: the Acanthus Top, now available in my Etsy Shop and Ravelry Pattern Store!

A lush and leafy bralette top perfect for the laziest of summer days! This crochet crop top features wide, lacy straps that interweave to form a racer-back shape, maximizing comfort without sacrificing prettiness. Shell detail edging trims the entire piece and frames your bodice in pretty flowing lines. The Acanthus Top is designed for a looser, more natural fit – like a cross between a bralette and a halter top!

Combining a structured silhouette with a peek-a-boo center, this crop top pattern covers SIX sizes (X-Small – 2XL) with detailed written instructions and step-by-step photo tutorials. I really aimed to make this one of the most versatile and wearable Morale Fiber halter top designs yet 🙂

In Mediterranean culture and art, the Acanthus plant symbolized long life and immortality and was a regular feature of classical architecture ❤ I hope you love this new design and that it has a long life in your closet!

The Acanthus Top was the first design of mine to be produced using a full complement of pattern testers and they did an AWESOME job helping me hone this design and expand the size offerings. I plan more tests in the future – if you are interested in participating, I make the call-outs in my Facebook Group, the Magic Fantastic Crochet Atelier. Join us and keep a look out for the next test!

Meanwhile I’ll be taking my Acanthus Top out to lounge in a hammock as soon as possible! 🙂

-MF