Alpacalypse Now

Guys, I’m really sorry about that pun. Sort of.

You see, last Saturday I turned in my final assignment for my Bachelor’s degree, so I’ve been bursting forth with renewed energy on all the ongoing craft projects laying around my home. And exuberant art energy requires puns.

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So that’s my segue into my post today, talking about one of the things I love to do when I have a little extra time – spinning! Well, it’s also just an excuse for shameless yarn porn.

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I’ve been spinning periodically, although I haven’t really made a blog post about it recently. I did a silly thing a while back and ordered a massive amount of beautiful alpaca fiber from Alpaca Direct. I resolved to spin it all, and wrote a whole post about it –  which, now that I look at that post, was over two years ago. Slow art for the win!

Because, I totally did spin it all! Yep, all of it. Some of it even made it into projects for my friends along the way. This is me, plying together the last bit of the natural white alpaca fiber, on my trusty wheel.

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Her name is Mystic.

I made it through the pound of natural white, the 12 oz of dark brown, and SOME of the 8 oz of lighter brown (from Valentina) that I purchased at a later date. I eventually gave up on spinning it all consistently, and went in for the fast and wacky approach for the last half of the natural white. I love the variation in textures I got!

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For the white yarn, some skeins were consistent, some were chunky, and some were singles. The dark brown (being the first batch I did) was pretty even, and the light brown is a bulky, fluffy affair.

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I am really loving these natural tones, which is a good thing because my beautiful friends sometimes give me secondhand fiber.  Last summer I was gifted a big bag of RAW alpaca fiber in a beautiful pecan brown color; the catch is, this fiber is really unprocessed.

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Which is actually not a catch at all, since I finally had an excuse to purchase some carding equipment! Hand carders (still not enough resources to justify a drum carder 😛 ) were acquired and now I am clumsily learning to use them.

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I’m not great at it yet, especially since I have to keep switching to my left hand so that my right arm doesn’t end up noticeably more beefy – this activity is a WORKOUT. But as you can see, I’m producing a few silly looking rolags from the raw material so I can spin them, bit by bit, on the drop spindle.

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Excuse my awkward fiber sausage

Its tempting to build a pile of rolags and then spin them all on the wheel for speed’s sake, but for now I am enjoying the process of drop spindling them, so that I can learn how the fibers act when they are hand carded like this. I’ve been favoring the spindle lately anyway, after a period of neglect. Its simplicity and portability is really attractive and valuable, even though wheel spinning is more efficient, so I’m glad I learned both.

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The real question is, what the hell am I going to make with 4 pounds of handspun alpaca fiber? Stay tuned, maybe I’ll know in another two years! 😉

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Here’s a picture of my moon lamp, for no reason other than its pretty!

-MF

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Daydreamer Poncho Pattern

Merry Day of the Dead! Today’s offering is a brand new PDF crochet pattern that I had (ahem) originally scheduled to release in August. Ha ha! Life.

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No worries here though because the Daydreamer Poncho is SUPER versatile as a layering piece and looks just as stunning worn over long sleeves and outerwear as it does over tank tops and dresses!  You can get this fresh design in my Etsy Shop or Ravelry Pattern Store for 5.95 USD 🙂

More details on the pattern below!

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Daydreamer Poncho

Embrace your inner hippie with this dreamy lace poncho; easy and quick to work up using worsted weight yarn and a 5.50 mm hook. The mesh construction makes this a perfect lightweight layering piece that flatters the wearer with a fitted shoulder, A-line shape, and a fluttery fringe at the hem.

Featuring textural stitches in alternating colors and gradually widening chain loop pattern inspired by crocheted dreamcatchers, you can proudly wear this handmade piece in any season. The ribbed post stitch collar is finished with a drawstring cord topped by yarn-fringe “feathers”. The instructions for the Daydreamer Poncho come complete with detailed written pattern including tons of quality color tutorial photos, numbered and referenced in the text so that all the techniques are illustrated and easy to follow!

Materials

5.50 mm (I) hook

Yarn: Lion Brand Jeans (#4 weight, 3.5 oz / 100g, 246 yd, 100% acrylic)
Color A: Vintage – 1 skein
Color B: Jumpsuit – 1 skein
Color C: Top Stitch – 1 skein
Color D:  Khaki – 1 skein
Color E: Stonewash- 1 skein
Color F: Stovepipe – 1 skein

Scissors
Tapestry Needle
6” length of cardboard, book, or tassel maker for fringe

Final Dimensions:
Collar: 18” without drawstring
Length: 22” unstretched, not including fringe

All instructions written in US terms

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You will love love love this pattern as much as I do, it’s so fun to make and has a ton of potential for scrapbusting if you don’t feel like splurging on new yarn – made with worsted weight and designed for color changes, there is endless possibilities! Of course, I’d love to try it in monochrome too…

As usual, too much inspiration, not enough time 😛  Enjoy the rest of the silly photoshoot I did for this pattern, and I hope it inspires you too!

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I just couldn’t be more grateful for all the wonderful comments and support you guys leave me here and on social media – you’re the reason I get to keep doing this! So much love ❤

If you’d like to see more Morale Fiber, check out my social media channels:

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
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Thank you!!
-MF

PBT: Wrap-Up

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This post is part of a series of tutorials on how to create your own unique crochet pixie pocket belt – to read more about this series visit the Intro page.

Maybe it’s just because I worked on the tutorial for this so much, but this newest pixie pocket belt may be my favorite ever. To be fair though, I do say that almost every time I make a new one of these.

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That’s because every one of them turns out to be totally unique – I start out with a pile of scrap materials, and then let it be what it becomes along the way. This one became “Maple” named of course after the tree. I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial series – I certainly did – and I’d love to see what is being made from this guide!

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This pattern tutorial series is now listed on Ravelry – hook up your projects so I can see what you made, or look through other projects for inspiration  😉

And now for more pictures and ramblings.

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I especially love these to dance in, since the fabric fringe catches movement so well!

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Fun side story – the flower headpiece I am wearing in this photo is one I made years ago, a long strand of curlicues (just like the ones talked about earlier in the tutorial series) with scrap yarn flowers that made as I was traveling across the U.S.

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Of course, the utility belt function of this project is super handy if you are the festival-going type, since these pixie belts are not only cute and go over anything, but also hold your necessaries!

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I’m pretty happy with how the faux-bustle back came out – its not something I’d ever really tried before. That’s another thing I love about these projects – pure experimentation is necessary, not just encouraged.

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I’m a little sad to be closing out the pixie belt tutorial actually, so I’ve had a thought – perhaps more pocket patterns in the future? What do you think?

As always, don’t hesitate to ask any questions or leave any comments! I love hearing from you ❤

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-MF

 

 

 

PBT: Fabric Fringe Skirt

This post is part of a series of tutorials on how to create your own unique crochet pixie pocket belt – to read more about this series visit the Intro page.

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Okay, we’re all done with the crochet process now, so it’s time to move on to one of the most *satisfying* portions of the process: the ragtag fabric scrap fringe skirt! Why is it so satisfying? Well, because you get to rip stuff up. Rip rip rip.

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Here I have the fabrics I selected during the process of selecting my materials – a couple of thrift store silk shirts and some soft rayon jersey knit that formed the lining of one of the shirts. I use my scissors to separate large chunks of fabric away from the bulky seams, then once I have a piece isolated, I start ripping!

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Using my fabric scissors, I cut out small tabs on the edge of the piece of fabric. Then…

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….I grab a tab and rip straight across to get a strip of fabric. RIIIIIIP!

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That’s all there is to it, really. I keep ripping until I have a nice little pile of strips. Beware, there will be a lot of stray threads involved in the ripping process. This is normal.

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So here I have a nice pile from this silk piece. They are different sizes, because I’m using upcycled clothing, so the pieces I’m ripping from are not uniform in size or shape. I’ll sort it out later.

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I’ve also decided to use the jersey knit lining from the same upcycled shirt. Since you can’t rip knit, (or stretch velvet, another favorite fabric of mine to use in these projects) I just use a rotary blade to open up the shirt and cut long strips.

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Add ’em to the pile!

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I also discovered this gold colored silk button-down in my stash at some point and added it to my material pile – I thought it would be good to add depth to the color scheme. Rip rip rip!

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Okay, that’s a pretty good sized pile. It’s not all of my material, but I can always cut more if I need to. Time to apply them to the belt. First, though, one side of my belt doesn’t have a tie – so I am going to use the netted ribbon yarn for that. One good long length doubled over, then looped through the end of the belt, makes a nice tie. Additionally, the netted nature of the ribbon yarn can easily hook over any buttons placed on the belt, giving you more options for how to secure it around the waist.

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Now, the fringe! I lay out all of my strips – since I am making a bustle-style back for this belt, I want to utilize my longest strips in the back middle, and put the shorter ones toward the front edges. So I organize my strips into piles according to size – long, medium, short. Then, take each strip and double it over.

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Using a large-ish hook, draw the loop at the end of the double strip through a chain-loop opening on the edge of the belt. You can also draw these directly through the stitches, or really wherever you want. FrEeForM!!

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Draw the ends through the loop and tighten to create the fringe. Do this all across the belt, or anwhere you want your fabric fringe to be. I go through and add this layer of fabric on just the edge loops, going according to size as I mentioned earlier.

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Once all of the loops on the very bottom have been fringed, I flip the belt over and work from the back side for a bit, hooking fringe into the middle layer of loops.

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Again, there’s really not a wrong way to do this. You can fringe all from the front, or all from the back, or just do one layer, or do so many layers you can’t even see the mesh portion. That last one is what I’m aiming for.

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So I attach my strips just about anywhere they will fit.

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Then, flip it back over, and attach on the top portion of the mesh on the right side!

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Hm, needs just one final touch I think – so I attach just a few strands of a small ball of silky eyelash yarn I have in my materials pile.

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That’s the stuff. And now, I’m seriously done! I am so thrilled about the way this turned out, and also being able to share this creative process here on the blog 🙂 But I do have one more post in this series: the Wrap-Up! Check it out and don’t forget to show me what you’ve made!

Meanwhile, here’s more examples of fringe skirts from other belts I’ve done:

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“Mulberry” used strips of cut stretch velveteen. It also featured a mushroom pouch on it’s own loop, which can be worn around the neck as well. I didn’t include that type of pocket in this tutorial because I already have a mushroom pouch free pattern available!

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“Shepherd’s Purse” used only ripped cotton weave fabrics, like gauze and muslin.

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Instead of ripped fabric, the skirt for “Nightshade” is that netted ribbon yarn, all stretched out to make a frilly fringe.

-MF

 

PBT: Attaching the Pockets

This post is part of a series of tutorials on how to create your own unique crochet pixie pocket belt – to read more about this series visit the Intro page.

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So far we’ve covered basic shapes in the form of pockets such as circles, squares & rectangles, triangles, and cones – now it’s time to take all the pockets and attach them to the belt base using slip stitch crochet. Like the rest of this project, there is no strictly “right” way to do this, but I’ve included lots of process photos to show how I manage this part.

I prefer the look of pockets mounted directly onto the belt, with the backs up against the belt itself. I also always double-mount my pockets, using two lines of slip stitching, one at the top and one in the middle, to attach the pockets to the belt base. This is not absolutely necessary if you want to skip the second mount (the middle mount is the trickiest part of this) but it does make them really sturdy.  I have seen my festival friends put these things through the wringer with use – and they hold up!

If you need more inspiration on the ways you can assemble the belt, remember to check out my Pinterest board featuring crochet utility belts!

Attaching the Pockets to the Belt

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To begin the final stage of crochet for the pocket belt, lay out your belt base and grab all of your completed pockets. Decide how to place the pockets, arranging them along the belt base in whatever manner strikes your fancy – I like the pockets to sit near the ends, but sometimes they are all over the place. Here, because I’m featuring a bustle back, I keep them corralled near the ends so as not to cover the back of the skirt.

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The first step is to get a yarn and start slip stitching across the top of the belt base. I am using a really textured yarn for this part, just to add a little extra crazy.

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Here, I’m just slip stitching across the top of the belt until I get to a place where I’d like to put a pocket. Keep slip stitching, but now work through two layers – the top edge of the pocket (the back part only, since you don’t want to stitch the pocket closed) and the top edge of the belt base.

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This is the first attachment. Keep slip stitching until you want to place another pocket.

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Then, slip stitch across the pocket and belt simultaneously again.

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For drawstring pockets like this one, make sure you leave enough pocket unattached for it to be able to close nicely.

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Keep slip stitching and attaching pockets until you reach the opposite end of the belt.

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For the envelope-style pocket, I decide to make the slip stitch attaching underneath the top flap – so I open it up and stitch through the pocket layer and the belt layer underneath.

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At the end, I rotate and work one row of the side of the belt base, then rotate again and start to slip stitch across the middle of the belt, placing my stitches in between the double crochets that make up the middle row.

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Attaching in the middle can require some really creative maneuvering on the part of the hook-wielder. In fact, this part is more like guerilla fiber-punk yarn wrestling. So be prepared for that! 😀

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To work the second row of attaching, slip stitch until you reach a pocket. With the back of the pocket facing you, insert your hook into the stitching and back out on the other side of a single stitch, catching the post of the stitch with your hook.

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Then, insert the hook through the middle of the belt. Yarn over and draw this loop through the belt, the post of the pocket stitching, and the loop on your hook, making one slip stitch through two layers.

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Continue this process for at least part of the back of the pocket. When you’ve attached enough of the back of the pocket, keep slip stitching through just the belt layer as normal until you reach the next pocket, then work through both layers in the same manner again.

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Here you can see the back of the slip stitching of the second row on the inside of a pocket – just enough to hold them down and make sure they are extra secure.

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The pockets are now attached!

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After working the second round of attaching, I like to do one more row of slip stitching into the same stitches across the top of the belt, just for extra firmness (to reduce yarn stretching on the belt base) and to add more color and depth. Here I’ll change colors, then just work a simple line of slip stitching all the way across, right next to the first line of slip stitches (or wherever… FREEFORM!!)

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After this last finishing touch, I’m DONE with the crochet portion of the belt! Time to weave in my ends, then tackle the final step: the fabric fringe skirt. After that post, I’ll do a final reveal and wrap-up – I can’t wait to show the final product 🙂

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-MF

PBT: Pointed Pouch

This post is part of a series of tutorials on how to create your own unique crochet pixie pocket belt – to read more about this series visit the Intro page.

Shaping Circular Crochet

The following is a basic overview of the geometry of shaping circular crochet, which I’ll use in the next section to create this fun pixie pouch!

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In circular crochet, your increases represent building “outward” to add to the circumference of the object, while your stitches represent building “upward” to add to the diameter/radius of the circle. If you don’t increase at the same rate as you add rows of stitches, your circle will start to tighten inward because you don’t have enough circumference to allow it to keep building outward. This is used to our advantage to make fun shapes – adding rows where you don’t increase periodically will change the way your piece is shaped, and you can make fun points and spheres and all sorts of things.

On the other hand, adding too many increases per round will make your circumference too full, and your piece will start to ruffle at the edges on the same principle as making we saw making ruffles and curlicues.

Additionally, the HEIGHT of your stitch will change the required rate of increase – so if you want to start a flat circle in double crochet instead of single crochet, you can’t start with the same number as you would with sc, because you are starting with a greater height so it requires a greater circumference – I generally use 12 dc to start a flat circle, and add 12 inc every round to keep it flat. On the same principle, if I want to start a pointed conical piece in dc, starting with 6 dc is ideal because it begins with a nice taper.

Manipulated circles is how I make many of my utility belt pockets, including the one here! So, let’s get started.

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Notes: I’m using a 3.5 mm hook and some handspun yarn I’ve had forever, and doing non-continuous circular crochet, which means I’m using a chain-3 length to begin (not counting as first dc) and using slip stitch in the first dc to end each round. I have left the beginning and end instructions off the shorthand pattern because they are the same for each round.

MR (Magic Ring – covered in PBT: Circle Pocket Part 1)

  1. 6 dc into the ring. Tighten ring. – 6 dc

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I want this pouch to be pretty pointy at the bottom, so I’ll add another row of dc without increasing.
2. Dc even – 6 dc

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Next, I want to start increasing as I move upward to make the pouch big enough to put things into, but at this point I have a pretty tight round of dc. If I increase at the same rate that I started (adding 6 stitches for the next round, or increasing in ea stitch) I will end up with an abrupt change in circumference.

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If you like the bulbous look, no problem, but I want to make my change smoother and more gradual, so I will be increasing at half the rate here – or adding 3 stitches for every increase round.
3. Inc on 2 – 9 dc

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To continue the gradual lengthening, I add another non-increasing round.
4. Dc even – 9 dc

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Then another 3 stitch increase round.
5. Inc on 3 – 12 dc

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Then even again.
6. Dc even – 12 dc

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Now, I’m going to prepare to fatten this puppy up. That means I’m going to do two rounds in a row that each increase by three, creating  a less gradual change in circumference – that will bring me up to 18 dc..
7. Inc on 4 – 15 dc
8. Inc on 5 – 18 dc

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…18 dc is divisible by 6, so I can now start increasing by 6 on each increase round to make a bulbous shape and a bigger part of the pouch. Since 18 divided by 6 is three, I will go back to increasing every 3 stitches to make a total of 6 stitches added to this round.

9. Inc on 3 – 24 dc.
10. Inc on 4 – 30 dc.
11. Inc on 5 – 36 dc.
12. Inc on 6 – 42 dc.
13. Dc even – 42 dc.
14. Dc even – 42 dc.
15. Dec (decrease, or dc2tog) on 6 – 36 dc
16. Ch 3 (counts as first hdc + ch 1), sk next st, *hdc in the next st, ch 1, sk next st* around.
17. 2 sc in ea sp around

 

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Cut yarn and tie off. I left a row full of chain-1 spaces at the top of the pouch so that I’d have some place to string the little drawstring through. To make the drawstring, just chain a length and tie off, then weave it through the spaces. I like to finish mine with little simple tassels to hide the yarn tails.

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I also attached a bead by using a tapestry needle and a spare length of yarn and simply sewing it onto the pouch for a little extra decoration.

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There you have the third and final pocket I will be completing for this particular belt!  In the next post of this series, I’ll be demonstrating how to finally attach these pockets to the belt base.

The drawstring pouch style pockets are super useful and can also be a great place to feature a special yarn or texture. Here are some other examples of pouches I’ve made in this style:

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“Mulberry” features a few little bells sewn on to the point and the drawstring ties

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A simple rounded pouch starts out with a flat circle for the bottom 

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The drawstring pouch for this belt uses yarn scraps and a leather cord for the tie

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Extra-fancy pouches went into making “Kelp” – A conical pouch forms the base onto which I added surface textures to create a shell shape. The rounded pouch features a common freeform technique called bullion stitch!

 

PBT: Circle Pocket Part 2

Circle Pockets: Non-Continuous Circles, Color Changes, and Overlay

This post is part of a series of tutorials on how to create your own unique crochet pixie pocket belt – to read more about this series visit the Intro page.

Most of the crochet utility belts I make have circle pockets – I love their potential as a canvas for other shapes like mandalas, simple embroidery, or shell flower petals. Plus, I’m just really into circles.

The continuous orange circle I made in the previous post to demonstrate my shorthand and the principle of increases and whatnot was fun and all, but now it’s really time to use a little more color! The plajn orange circle will end up being the back of a circular pouch on this belt, so we need a matching size circle to make up the front. For this, I’ll start a new piece, worked non-continuously. Since continuous rounds don’t start and end in the same place, I don’t use them for multi-colored circles (because the stripes wouldn’t match up). I mean, you totally can if you want to though! FrEeForM baby!

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Non Continuous Circles & Color Changes

Non-continuous circles are worked with the exact same increase strategy, except you join with a slip stitch at the end of every round and start the next, new round by chaining (to count as the first stitch or not – your choice). I use the same shorthand as in the previous post for this, and just leave off the info on beginning and ending the round, which is the same every time: Ch to start (counts or doesn’t count as first st, up to you) blah blah blah, join with a slip stitch in the first st of the round.

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The front circle of the pocket is where I really like to use up the small scraps of color. Looking at my scrap options, I want to tend toward the smallest balls first because they may not be big enough to make it around the entire circle once it gets larger.

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1. 6 sc into ring
2. Inc every st. Color Change (CC)

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Rnd 1

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Rnd 2.

That’s as much as I can do with the first ball. To add the new yarn for Rnd 3, I start in a different st than the ending of my previous rnd, so that all of my joins are not in the same place and my seam ends up being less obvious.

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This also means my increases will be offset, so less of that hexagonal shaping to make a more even-looking circle.  I like to use a standing sc to join my new yarn, a technique explained in this great tutorial from Look At What I Made.

  1. Inc on 2. CC
  2. 4. Inc on 3. CC
  3. 5. Inc on 4, BLO. CC
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After Rnd 5

Overlay Double Crochet

Rnd 5 is worked in the Back Loop Only so that I can do some fancy stuff with it on the next round. I’ll be using those empty front loops to work an some overlay stitches, or stitches that go over the previous round to form layers.

Rnd 6 starts normally, with the new yarn joined wherever. I will be increasing at the normal rate, but the extra stitch of every inc will be a double crochet, worked into the FLO of Rnd 4 instead of the same Rnd 5 loop as the previous stitch.

6. Dc Overlay Inc on 5.
7. Inc on 6. CC

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Rnd 6

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To make an overlay dc, Yo and insert hook into the front loop of the stitch below, from bottom to top as shown

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Then work dc as normal

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End of Rnd 7

Spike Stitch

On the next round I’ll do another type of overlay called a spike stitch. I count it as an overlay because it layers over the previous round, but it doesn’t require free loops. Basically, you just insert the hook in the same space as one of the stitches of the previous round, and draw up a loop over an entire round (or two!) of crochet, then finish it like a normal sc. You can do this at any time, so it makes a great freeform stitch. I like to do mine at the increase, and as you can see here I placed them between each two overlay sts from Rnd 6.

  1. Spike st inc on 7. CC
  2.  Inc on 8. CC

 

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Draw up a loop

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Complete single crochet (or whatever stitch) as normal

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Rnd 8 completed

 

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Rnd 9 completed

10. Inc on 9.
11. Sc even, skipping a few stitches at the end and chaining a few instead. Sl st to join, then sl st a few more to secure. Cut yarn and tie off.

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End of Rnd 10

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Stop a few stitches before the end and chain a few stitches instead

Skipping the last few stitches and chaining makes a buttonhole for the button fastening for your circle pouch. I forgot to choose buttons when I was looking for materials, so I poke around in my collection and grab this wooden one. It just feels like the right one, even though the pale orange one matches better. I guess I just like the cut of its jib.

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Check to make sure the button just fits through your opening, making smaller or bigger if necessary.

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Assembling & Finishing

Now that you have two flat circles, weave in all of the ends of the front circle (the multi-color or what-have-you) and the central end of the back circle (the plain one).

Leave the outer yarn-end of the back circle unwoven so that you can attach your button to the inside face of that circle using the yarn end and a tapestry needle.

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Line your pockets up, then match the buttonhole on the front circle to the button on the back. Grab two locking stitch markers and pin those puppies together, leaving an opening about a quarter of the circumference at the top for the pocket opening.

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I use locking stitch markers to mark where I want to seam to begin and end

Next we’ll be crocheting around the bottom part of both circles at once to attach them – so grab a matching or coordinating yarn (or a mismatching one – this is freeform after all) to do the seam. If you’re feeling sassy, string a few of those beads on there using the tapestry needle – I’ll show you what to do with them later.

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Join your yarn at the point where you put your stitch marker so that you’ll be working around the bottom ¾ or so of the pocket. Insert your hook through the top of the sc of both layers and work a sc. Continue to sc through both layers at once around the circumference – slip stitch works fine here too or hdc or even dc works fine here too, if you like – fReEfOrM ba- ok, you get the idea.

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Crochet through both layers at once to seam

Once I reach near the bottom, it’s time to work the beads in. I like dangly things. Here’s two ways to do it:

For prestrung beads, chain a length and chain in the bead at the end. Slip stitch back down the chain and continue working the hem through both layers until you want to add another bead, then repeat.

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For beads with larger holes that are not prestrung, chain a longer length, then slip stitch back down. Once the chain is finished, string the cord through the bead and then tie a small knot at the end. Continue to work the hem through both layers until you want to add another bead, then repeat.

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Once you’ve beaded to your heart’s content, keep single crocheting around the last portion of the pocket circles until you reach the other stitch marker. Cut yarn and tie off, then weave in your ends.

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Ta-Da! You have your very own circle pocket for attaching to your pixie pocket belt! For how to attach, keep reading through this tutorial series 🙂

To wrap up, how about some more ideas for circle pockets? Here are some ways I’ve done them in past projects:

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This circle pocket features a crochet overlay motif of the tree of life, from this awesome free pattern!

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Another overlay motif crocheted then sewn on appears on this plain circle pocket – a great chance to practice designing your own doily/mandala patterns.

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The circle pocket in “Nightshade” features beaded single crochet, working prestrung seed beads into the back side of each stitch.