Valkyrie Top Crochet Pattern

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It seems to be a running theme with me that sometimes (or often?) projects and designs have a long history of development – way longer than I had intended! With things like the Elf Coat, it’s just a matter of the time it takes to create something technically, stitch by stitch.

With things like the Lotus Duster and the new halter top design, it’s more about idea development and waiting until I’ve mustered the required inspiration and skill to pull something off.

Either way, the process of creation over relatively long periods of time causes me to ruminate on the nature of life, and growth. The other side of this of course is the more serious, and scary, concept of death and the hope of rebirth. I had already decided to name this new crochet piece the Valkyrie Top, after those female warrior spirits in viking myth who rode down from the skies to take the slain to their eternal hall.

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Just before I was ready to release this pattern, the theme of death was brought very close to home for me. I can’t say more than this: I hope this new piece makes you and your loved ones feel like the badass female warriors you are – because you all are.

Please look at yourself with love today. Because you are living being on this earth, and that’s magical.

 

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Find the new design now on Ravelry and Etsy

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Manifest your inner amazon with the Valkyrie Top, named after those mythical viking women who rode across the sky to retrieve the souls of warriors and take them to their eternal halls.

This cotton halter top crochet pattern is designed for beauty, comfort, and versatility. The subtle shaping in the cups creates a contour on the bust that prevents slippage, while the criss-cross ties on the back keep your halter top in place without adding pressure on the neck.

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The netted design and accent motif at the top looks great layered under light summer clothing or all by itself, and the simple shell bottom border is easy to extend for more coverage. Includes sizes Small (Cup sizes A/B), Medium (Cup sizes B/C) and Large (Cup sizes D/DD)!

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This digital PDF crochet pattern provides stitch-by-stitch written instructions that include references to 50+ full-color tutorial photos as well as links to the technique tutorials needed for this design that are provided for free on my blog. Create a unique piece that is both flattering and fun to wear – the Valkyrie Top is your perfect summer accessory to slay in!

Materials:
3.50 mm hook
I Love This Cotton! (#4 weight, 3.5 oz / 100 g, 180 yds) 1,1,2 skeins.
Accent color in #4 weight cotton, about 100-80 yds
Scissors and tapestry needle for weaving in ends.

Sizes (approximate):

Small: 21” length, 10” height, Cup sizes A/B
Medium: 21” length, 10” height, Cup sizes B/C
Large: 26” Length, 13” height, Cup size D/DD

~*I offer troubleshooting and pattern help for all of my patterns. All of my paid patterns always come with the right of individual artisans to sell the finished product*~

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That awesome matching macrame pendant and bracelet set is by Selinofos Art – check out their shop on Etsy!

The belt I’m wearing in this shoot is a variation on my Cecilia Skirt Belt pattern using old crochet lace and upcycled leather scraps. I have more pixie skirt style belt ideas and free tutorials in my Pixie Pocket Belt blog series.

I had fun doing this photo shoot, despite the 90 degree weather and the 1 billion per cent humidity! The scenery was epic and I got to incorporate more balance poses which I’ve recently been practicing.

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Damn that wig was making me sweat though 😀

-MF

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Curvy Bralette Tutorial

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Last summer I designed a simple beginner bralette-style crochet top with the aim of creating a fun basic piece that could be altered easily – the Basic Bralette Tutorial! Since then, it’s been on my list to create some modified versions, especially one that is better for curvier busts 🙂

Update! 7/17/2019: This modification and the pattern for the original are now both available in one downloadable, printable, ad-free PDF! Get more info by clicking here!

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The flattish triangle style cups are great because they can be expanded to any size, but to fit best over bigger chests they need some edging to curve them inward a little – which is what we’re doing today with the Curvy Bralette Tutorial. ❤ ❤

You can find this design linked in the Ravelry database, or on my Pinterest crochet board – so throw me a like or a pin if you enjoy it 🙂

Curvy Bralette Tutorial Pattern

Materials

3.50 mm hook
#4 weight cotton yarn (although you can make it with any weight yarn / hook size combo as long as you know your gauge) 1-3 skeins depending on size made
Stitch markers
Scissors & Tapestry Needle
Measuring Tape

Measurements
Band Size (measured around the rib cage just under the bust): For example, my measurement would be 32”
Measurement A : (Band size “ / 4) – 2” = Length of each side of completed triangle cup ( My example would be [32 / 4] – 2 = 6”). Therefore, my Measurement A = 6″
Measurement B:  (Measurement A) / 2 = My Measurement B would be 3”

Gauge:

You can have differing gauges for this project, as long as you know what your gauge is in order to achieve the right measurements. Follow the gauge-finding instructions in the Basic Bralette post.

To begin, follow the instructions for the Basic Bralette from the two triangle cups all the way through the Row 3 repeats of the band, then stop – do not tie off.

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Edging:

  1. Ch 4 (counts as dc + ch-1), rotate the piece so that you are working into the side of the stitches on the row ends. (Dc into the side of the next st, ch 2, sk next st) 2 times. Dc into the side of the last stitch.
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2. Ch 4 (counts as dc + ch-1). Rotate your piece so that you are working into the next un-edged side. Dc in the same stitch, ch-1 to turn the corner.

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3. (Sk next 2 sts, dc in the next st, ch-1) repeat across the row until you reach the corner of the cup.

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4. Sk next 2 sts and the dc on the bottom row of the cup. Dc into the top of the first unworked dc on the side of the cup, as shown. Ch 1. (Sk next 2 sts, dc in the next st, ch-1) along the side of the cup.

5. (Dc, ch 1) 2 times in the top corner of the cup, in the ch-2 space. Depending on how many dc’s you have in each side of the cup, you might want to place a dc, ch-1 in the stitches right before and after this space. Since this is where the ties will go, it isn’t good for it to be too tight.

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6. (Sk next 2 sts, dc in the next st, ch 1) along the next side of the cup. A few stitches before the end, skip to the next cup, making sure there are an equal amount of skipped stitches on either side so it is mirrored. The more you skip, the tighter the cups will be, so you can customize based on your size.

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7. Repeat the same process over the other cup’s 2 sides, mirroring the first half: Work 2 (dc, ch 1) repeats in the other cup’s top corner, (dc, ch 1, sk 2 sts) down the side skipping the same amount of stitches at the corner, then across the top of the band. Dc, ch 2, dc in the same stitch at the corner. (Ch 2, sk next st, dc in the side of the next dc) across the row ends at the side of the band. Dc in the last dc -I added an extra dc in this stitch too to make it more even with the bottom band.)

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8. Ch 4 (counts as first dc + ch-1). Turn, (dc in the next ch space, ch-1) across the last row of edging until you reach the corner. (Dc, ch 1) 3 times in the corner space.

9. (Dc in the next space, ch 1) all across the last row of edging in the bralette, placing (dc, ch 1) repeats at the top corners of the cups. I left the top corners free, because I used t-shirt yarn ties for this one, but if you’re crocheting your ties, add them on by chaining the length you want, then slip stitching back down the chain to return to the top corner of the cup. The Ties need to be long enough to cross over the back, and criss-cross the openings on the band sides to adjust it:

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10. To make it strappy: after chaining your strap (or not), chain Anchor your yarn with a dc in the first stitch of the next cup side. Count the amount of stitches left in the side of the cup – I have 8 repeats of (dc, ch 1) so altogether that’s 16 stitches. Chain your number, then skip the cup side and single crochet in the center ch-1 space. Chain the same number again, then skip to the last dc of the next side of the cup, dc in that stitch.

Repeat the edging across the rest of the bralette, mirroring the first side, all the way to across the band side, then cut yarn and tie off.  Weave in all your ends, then rock on!

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-MF

Tunisian Knit Stitch Tutorial

A few days ago I released the Tunisian Simple Stitch Tutorial, mostly from material I had already compiled for my Shaman Coat pattern, which utilizes that stitch. Well, that post was a pre-game for what I have to offer today, which is the Tunisian Knit Stitch Tutorial.

Tunisian (also called Afghan) crochet is a method that uses a long hook to keep multiple stitch loops on the hook before working them back off to complete them. There are many different Tunisian stitches – here is how to work the Tunisian Knit Stitch (TKS) which makes a fabric that looks very much like knitting. This tutorial covers the basics of working TKS, as well as working increases and decreases in this stitch.

The sudden outburst of Tunisian tutelage is inspired by an upcoming design of mine featuring Tunisian knit stitch, but also by the fact that I just really love Tunisian crochet, and I hope to encourage others to love it too. I promise it’s worth it!

Tunisian Knit Stitch Tutorial

The Hold:

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Working Tunisian crochet may require a different hold than regular crochet – here’s an example of how I hold mine. The hand holding my live yarn remains the same, while my Tunisian hook is grasped almost like a knife, with the index finger controlling the loops on the hook. This is just how I do it – do what is comfortable and works for you!

In addition, Tunisian crochet requires a Tunisian (also sometimes called Afghan) hook, which is an specialty hook that is extra long with a stopper on the end.

Starting, Forward Pass, and Return Pass (RP)

To begin a Tunisian piece, chain the number of sts the pattern requires. This is your foundation for the following rows.

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To begin the first row, insert your hook into the single loop on the underside of the 2nd ch from the hook. Yarn over (YO) and draw up a loop.  Notice that before you do this, you already have one loop on your hook. This first loop counts as the first stitch and so you do not work into the first chain from the hook, but the second.

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Continue to draw up a loop from the back of ea ch stitch until you reach the end of the row. The action of drawing up a loop from each stitch in a Tunisian row is referred to as the Forward Pass, and counts as half of a row. (A single Tunisian row is composed of a Forward Pass and a Return Pass).

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Now that you’ve got all your loops on the hook, it’s time to work them back off with the Return Pass.

YO and draw through ONE loop. Every Return Pass in TKS crochet begins this way. Don’t forget it! All the other loops are worked off in two’s.

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YO and draw through TWO loops. Repeat yarning over and drawing through TWO loops until you reach the end of the row.

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At the end of the Return Pass, you will have one loop left on your hook. This loop counts as the first loop on the hook for the Forward Pass of the NEXT row.

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The instructions for the first row in Tunisian knit stitch is the same for the first row in Tunisian simple stitch, because you need one row of TSS to set up for the following rounds of knit stitch.

To begin the row of TKS, insert the hk through the center of the next stitch – between the two sides of the loop from the row below, and under the chain made by the return pass. Emerge the hook on the back side of the work.

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Yarn over and draw up a loop. Repeat across the row.

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dsc_0454The stitches should look like knit stitches, hence the name.

The return pass is worked the same as with TSS. To begin the return pass, YO and draw through ONE loop.

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YO and draw through TWO loops. Repeat across the row.

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Increasing:

Increasing in TKS is done ONLY on the forward pass, with the return pass worked in the same manner as usual, but with one more stitch to work off the hook.

To increase, insert your hook in the space between two stitches (with the hook entering through the front and emerging at the back) and draw up a loop. This counts as one increase and the loop is kept on the hook the same as the rest of the stitches and worked back off in the same way.

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Here’s the completed forward pass with the increase stitch highlighted.

Decreasing:

Like increases, decreases in TKS are worked in the forward pass only.

To decrease, insert your hook through the middle of two adjacent stitches, with the hook emerging at the back as normal. YO and draw up a single loop. This counts as a single decrease and the loop is kept on the hook the same as the other sts.

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The two stitches being worked through at once are highlighted here:

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Work the rest of the row onto the hook.

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Below is the completed forward pass, with the decrease stitch highlighted.

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Work the return pass as normal.

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You might notice that your little Tunisian swatch or piece wants to curl – this is normal for Tunisian and can be overcome with blocking.

I hope this tutorial has been helpful and that you are inspired to try Tunisian crochet! As I mentioned, it’s one of my favorite techniques. The fabric made by Tunisian crochet is warm, more tightly woven than regular crochet, and has a lovely texture. Also, TKS mimics knit stitches more convincingly than any other crochet stitch I know of.

I currently only have one pattern – the Tunisian ripple scarf – available in this stitch, but it’s a FREE one and there’s some video of me using TKS too. If you’d like more patterns, slam that follow button on my blog my friend! I have more coming.

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Thanks for visiting 🙂

-MF

 

 

Tunisian Simple Stitch Tutorial

Today I’m bringing to the blog a tutorial for the style of crochet known as Tunisian (also called Afghan) crochet, a method that uses a long hook to keep multiple stitch loops on the hook before working them back off to complete them. There are many different Tunisian stitches, but one of the most basic is the Tunisian Simple Stitch (TSS). The following is a guide to creating this stitch, as well as making increases and decreases in TSS.

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This tutorial is based on my Tunisian Primer, a guide included as part of my Shaman Coat crochet pattern which utilizes Tunisian Simple Stitch! Tunisian might seem kind of daunting if you’ve never tried it, but it is one of my all-time favorite crochet styles and I really encourage you to try it if you never have 🙂

Tunisian Simple Stitch Tutorial:

The hold:

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Working Tunisian crochet may require a different hold than regular crochet – here’s an example of how I hold mine. The hand holding my live yarn remains the same, while my Tunisian hook is grasped almost like a knife, with the index finger controlling the loops on the hook.

In addition, Tunisian crochet requires a Tunisian (also sometimes called Afghan) hook, which is an specialty hook that is extra long with a stopper on the end.

Starting, Forward Pass, and Return Pass (RP)

To begin a Tunisian piece, chain the number of sts the pattern requires. This is your foundation for the following rows.

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To begin the first row, insert your hook into the single loop on the underside of the 2nd ch from the hook. Yarn over (YO) and draw up a loop.  Notice that before you do this, you already have one loop on your hook. This first loop counts as the first stitch and so you do not work into the first chain from the hook, but the second.

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Continue to draw up a loop from the back of ea ch stitch until you reach the end of the row. The action of drawing up a loop from each stitch in a Tunisian row is referred to as the Forward Pass, and counts as half of a row. (A single Tunisian row is composed of a Forward Pass and a Return Pass).

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Now that you’ve got all your loops on the hook, it’s time to work them back off with the Return Pass.

YO and draw through ONE loop. Every Return Pass in TSS crochet begins this way. Don’t forget it!

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YO and draw through TWO loops. Repeat yarning over and drawing through TWO loops until you reach the end of the row.

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At the end of the Return Pass, you will have one loop left on your hook. This loop counts as the first loop on the hook for the Forward Pass of the NEXT row.

To begin the next row, insert your hook under the second vertical bar on the previous row. You will NOT be inserting it into the very first vertical bar (the one on the edge) because you already have your first loop on the hook leftover from the last row, right? Right.

Your hook should enter under the stitch from the front and emerge from the front, as shown in the picture.

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YO and draw the loop through the bar. In the Shaman Coat pattern this is referred to as “picking up a lp” and a single vertical bar represents one Tunisian simple stitch.

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Repeat across the rest of the row, picking up one loop from each stitch.

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YO and draw through ONE loop. (YO and draw through TWO loops) rpt across the entire row. In the Shaman Coat pattern, the instructions for the entire return pass read “Work all sts off the hook” since the return pass is the worked the same way for every row.

Note: Tunisian crochet has a right side and a wrong side – the right side with the vertical bars will be facing you while you work TSS – tunisian pieces are not turned while working like regular crochet. 

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Two completed rows of TSS

Increasing:

Increasing in TSS is done ONLY on the forward pass, with the return pass worked in the same manner as usual, but with one more stitch to work off the hook.

To increase, insert your hook in the space between two vertical bars (with the hook entering through the front and emerging at the back) and draw up a loop. This counts as one increase and the loop is kept on the hook the same as the rest of the stitches and worked back off in the same manner.

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The picture above shows the increase highlighted after the forward pass is completed.

Decreasing:

Like increases, decreases in TSS are worked on the forward pass only.

To decrease, insert your hook under TWO adjacent sts (the vertical bars) at once. YO and draw up a single loop. This counts as a single decrease and the loop is kept on the hook the same as the other sts and worked back off in the same manner on the return pass.

You might notice that your little Tunisian swatch or piece wants to curl – this is totally normal for this type of stitch and can be overcome with blocking.

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The picture above shows the decreased sts highlighted after the forward pass is completed. You can decrease across more than two stitch at once – for instance, the Shaman Coat hood uses a double decrease that inserts the hook through three stitches at once and draws up one loop.

I hope this tutorial has been helpful and that you are inspired to try Tunisian crochet! As I mentioned, it’s one of my favorite techniques. The fabric made by Tunisian crochet is warm, more tightly woven than regular crochet, and has a lovely texture. TSS in particular creates a really pretty woven texture on the surface of the fabric. Here are some things I’ve created with Tunisian Simple Stitch:

 

The Shaman Coat

Crochet Washcloth 1

The Best Crochet Washcloth

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The Trickster Hood

Interested in more Tunisian crochet? Check out the FREE scarf pattern I created using Tunisian Knit Stitch, another basic Tunisian style.

Thanks for visiting, more to come!

-MF

 

Winter Project Updates

Hi there! It’s not necessarily been crickets around here, but I do feel its time for some project updates of things I’ve recently completed. I haven’t had a whole lot of new things to show in the crochet category since many of the things I’ve had on the hook have been larger, longer projects that I’ve toiled at slowly in my spare time over the course of last semester. After the New Year I made it a priority to finish some of these things up so that I could MOVE. ON. FINALLY.

And so today I present two new project variations on two of my personal favorite original patterns, plus a skirt that I’d been hacking away at (literally). Prepare for photogenic twirling. There will be twirling.

Eyeball Sweater

I bought the yarn for this pattern, Yarn Bee Soft and Sleek in six different multi colorways, with some legwarmer project vaguely in mind. Well, that project was just not exciting enough to me, and so I started a chaotically rainbow version of my Spiral Sweater pattern.

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I worked it in size Small, but decreased every other stitch across the armholes to tighten up the front collar of the sweater (and also conserve yarn, which turns out was very necessary). I also skipped the Linked Double Crochet reinforcement across the back of the collar. Because I forgot. 😛

eyeball4Because I started with a central circle of solid navy leftovers that I had from a different Spiral Sweater, the middle part of the back started to look like the pupil of an eye, so I ran with that. After finishing everything on the sweater, I took some more spare yarn and slip stitched some crazy squiggles into the “iris” of the eye.

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I’ve always loved the nazar, a Middle Eastern charm symbol representing an eye, which used to ward off the evil eye.  This sweater is watching your back! Har har har.

You can find the project page, which also links to my original pattern in the righthand sidebar, here on Ravelry.  That bitchin’ tree man necklace I am wearing is from my friend Wendy’s polymer clay art shop, Dark Pony Arts – check her out, she is amazing!

 

Fairy Shawl

Though the Ida Shawl was originally designed to be multicolored, I’ve found that I really love doing them in monochromatic yarns, especially neutrals. This one is done with a DK weight acrylic yarn, Premier Everyday Baby in White, which used up all of three skeins once the fringe was finished. I really had fun plotting an outfit to go with this one.

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That’s really the only reason I do this. Excuse to dress up! Just kidding. Kind of.

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The Ida Shawl, as finicky as it was to get right during the designing process, is all the more worth it for the struggle. I still love that central design, which represents the seeds that form a star when you cut an apple in half horizontally.

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You can see this project on Ravelry too, with all of the pictures and a link to the original pattern. The leafy headwrap I am wearing is also a pattern of mine, the FREE Ivy Crown tutorial.

 

Jewel Skirt

This is the 5th skirt I’ve produced using Wendy Kay’s No-Gathers Gypsy Skirt pattern that I bought from her shop on Etsy, and this pattern has been WELL worth my money. Just chop out blocks and sew them together, no measuring (well, not much measuring) and you’ve got a beautiful dancing skirt to twirl in. Easy.. and fun!!

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I made this one from mostly upcycled fabrics, including some curtains from Goodwill and several yards of fabric I had had tucked away for YEARS that I got from a thrift market outside of the Portland Indiana Tractor and Engine show. It’s funny sometimes, when your craft supplies remind you of the places you’ve been and the other lives that you’ve lived.

I think sometimes that’s part of the appeal, for people who handmake things. It certainly is for me.

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The other skirts I’ve made I’ve given away or sold, but I think I’m keeping this one for myself. The jewel tones and floral print match nearly everything in my closet 😀

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I don’t put ALL of my sewing and refashion projects here on Morale Fiber blog, since I want the main focus here to be on crochet techniques, patterns and designs – but I do run a more personal side blog on Tumblr which I use for sewing and fashion stuff. Check me out there: Howling Mouse on Tumblr.

 

I do have more projects from over the winter that remain unfinished, plus some exciting new things budding! So I’m gonna go hustle that. As always, thank you for visiting!

-MF

P.S – I’ve gotten a lot of photo submissions of people’s projects that they have made from my designs lately – please keep that up! I love that so much! ❤ ❤ ❤ I hope you all have loved it too!

 

Avocado Dye – Batch 1

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I love garbage.

Let me explain: I love taking things that would otherwise end up in the garbage and using them for something. The feeling of making something useful and valuable out of what would normally be considered disposable brings me great satisfaction.

So when I was told I could bring home the rotten avocados that had to be pulled from the shelf in the produce department at the co-op where I work, I was giddy. Hooray! Garbage to play with!

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I removed the pits and skins from these castoffs, as well as from the avos that I ate, over the course of a couple months. I knew from doing some research into natural dyeing that avocado pits and skins could be made into a dye that yields an earthy pink color, when managed correctly. There’s plenty of links to good blog posts about this process on my Pinterest Dyeing board.

Anyway, I ended up with around 2,600 g of avocado materials. A pretty healthy amount, which I needed considering the dyestuff to fiber ratio needs to be around 6:1 to get a deep color, according to the accounts I had read.

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My materials were an assortment of things, because experimentation! I had about 428 g of materials to dye – some handspun alpaca yarn, wool roving and a Habotai silk scarf from Dharma Trading Company, an old silk shirt I wanted to upcycle, and some fugly cotton yarn just because I hated it. But before I dealt with any of these things, I had to extract the dye.

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I piled up all of my avocado leavings, which had been stored in bags in the freezer until I built up enough, into a pot with about a gallon of filtered water and a cup of baking soda. The baking soda was to make the water alkaline, because (according to the blogs I read) acidity changes the dye and turns things brown rather than pink. I boiled this witchy brew for about 2 1/2 hours.

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I was very excited to see that deep mauve color appearing in the bubbles as it boiled. I was less excited about the smell.

Once it had boiled for a good long time and the color of the water was opaque (almost black!) I strained all of it through cheesecloth into jars and let the dye cool. Since extracting the dye was an all-afternoon affair, I decided to store the dye in the fridge until the next phase.

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Note that I could have dyed the materials in with the skins and pits all at once, but I didn’t do this for a couple of reasons: first, I was working with wool and it would felt if I had exposed it to such high temperatures, and second, I wanted a little more control over the process and the opportunity to dye the materials with different ratios of dye extract.

So I popped the jars of dye into the fridge after they had cooled off, until the next free afternoon I had available. To get the dye to take the fibers, I had to mordant my materials. I used alum and cream of tartar dissolved in distilled water, and soaked my materials in the mordant solution for a couple hours – next time, I’ll probably soak overnight.

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One source said I needed 7 g cream of tartar and 8 g of Alum per 100 g of fabric/fiber, so I used a total of 31.5 g cream of tartar and 36 g of alum (both of these were obtained from Dharma Trading).

Once soaked in the mordant solution, I pulled everything out and began portioning the fibers out into quart canning jars. Each jar got an extra 1/8 cup baking soda just to be sure to keep the alkalinity of the water. Each jar also got a mixture of mordant solution and dye extract, and I purposefully squished the fabrics into the jars and poured dye over the top, to create an uneven reach for the dye. I wanted a nice earthy textured color effect. Which I got, sort of.

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Next, the jars went into the canner on a rack, with some water at the bottom for steaming, and set on a low setting on the stove. Lid goes on, then waiting while the temp starts to slowly rise. The jar balanced precariously on the side is the one with the wool, raised further out of the bottom to avoid the danger of overheating and felting.

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More waiting. And occasional poking with a stick.

Once my jars had been steaming for a couple hours, I turned the temperature off and left it overnight to cool.

The next morning, I removed the soggy mess from inside each jar and gently squeezed them into the sink, enjoying the fact that since I was using natural dyestuff, I didn’t have to worry too much about psychedelicizing my apartment kitchen by way of accidental splashing.

But, since I was using natural dyestuff, I also didn’t have to worry about psychedelicizing my fiber either. Since an alarming amount of dye seemed to be washing out – and the remaining color was a sad brown. With an intensely sinking feeling, I washed all of my materials in textile detergent and rinsed them, taking stock of my situation.

One alpaca skein seemed to have taken the dye well, the other was much  paler, and the wool had some definite patches of well-dyed fiber. The habotai silk took some dye, with a couple dark patches, and the silk shirt not much at all. The cotton yarn, ugly to begin with, was now both ugly, brown, and tangled. In fact, I was kind of frustrated at this point and just pitched the cotton yarn straight into the trash. The rest I hung up to air dry.

One nugget of wisdom I’ve learned over the years so far is never to judge a dye batch before it’s fully dry. And though I already knew this, I spent the next few days calling the experiment a failure as it hung on my curtain rod, being shunned.

And then when it was fully dry I took it down and got a good look. I was surprised that the rosy pinks HAD come out after all, though it was still browner than I wanted in places. Overall, the earthy pink and hazel shades were really pleasing and I immediately forgave them all of their supposed misbehavior.

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Not perfect, no. But since I gained a little success, and I have dye extract left over, there will definitely be a Batch 2! The rest of this post is just a bunch of pictures of the dye materials, because I do love them after all. Except for that stupid cotton yarn. 😛

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Left to right – Alpaca, wool roving, wool roving, alpaca again, then silk

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The silk shirt just barely got a tinge, except for a few patches that were very dark. Still figuring out how that happened.

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I’ll be ripping this one up for silk fringe on my pixie belts anyway.

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The wool roving turned out nicer than expected, especially since for a moment I had thought I felted it!

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Definitely halfway spun already as I type this 😀

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So, moral of the story, it’s difficult and sometimes frustrating to try to learn new things with your art (or anything). But that’s because you have to push yourself to be better in order to grow – and if you love what you do, the risk of failure is nothing compared to the reward of learning.

-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