The Only Constant

One of my favorite sayings goes “The only constant is change.”

It reminds me that the live happily in life, you always need to acknowledge the shifting nature of it. If you go along expecting everything to be the same, always resisting when forced to take paths that you didn’t intend, life and it’s transformative progress will seem to be a battle.

One of my other favorite sayings goes “Man plans, god laughs” 😉

I’ll be reflecting in this post about what I’ve been doing with Morale Fiber over the past year – it’s more of a diary entry really, collecting my thoughts and tipping you off for what’s on the horizon for my designs!

2020 – Plague Year

It’s obviously been a weird one. In addition to switching my business from part-time to full-time in 2020, just a few months into the year Corona Virus struck and my proximity to at-risk loved ones made self-employment more imperative than usual. Still luckily things are going well, and I created & maintained my schedule for the year which included 6 written patterns, 4 tutorials, 2 brand new free hat patterns, 3 remodeled patterns, and lots more crochet morale boosting!

I’ve got a couple projects/designs in the works to finish off the year’s production list, and I’m now into my normal “holidays” phase of the year, despite the lack of holiday events upcoming (stupid plague).

YouTube Channel (& SALE!!)

One of the biggest efforts I made this year was reaching my goal of monetizing my YouTube Channel, which I’ve been developing as quickly as my creaky, video-hating old bones can manage. But I did make that goal also, thanks to all the watchers & subscribers, so I’m holding a special pattern sale as a thank-you!

All PDF versions of the full-length patterns available on my YouTube Channel (and a few that are all written PDF but have video component tutorials) are ON SALE for 50% off now through November 15 on Ravelry ❤ ❤ Here’s a list of the patterns on sale, linked to Ravelry – use the code “YOUTUBE” at checkout to get the discount!

Patterns on Sale:
Lotus Duster
Gnome Toboggan
Kismet Poncho
Tree of Life
Forest Guide Hat
Feather & Scale Halter
Cobweb Wrap
Elf Coat

Monetizing my YouTube channel will help me continue to bring out free content available to everyone while also giving me the financial support to keep publishing great quality, full-scale written PDF crochet patterns. Another great way to support my art: The Tip Jar!

20th Pixie Belt: Lotus

I realized at some point that the next Pixie Pocket Belt I made would be my 20th, and so I determined to make a really special one. I have been making these unique crocheted utility belts freehand, doing them completely different each time, for a few years now.

I used hand-dyed yarn to create a partial, semi-circular Lotus Mandala – don’t ask me how I did that specifically because I won’t be posting a pattern, sorry! These guys are FrEeFoRm, but I did create a series of tutorial guides for helping people get started making Pixie Pocket Belts of their own, check it out if you like 🙂

After that, I got out my special hand-dyed upcycled fabric given to me by my friend Kate, who had it left over from a studio art project – and it happened to match so well! What I ended up with is a watery, soft, draping train of prismatic lace and tatters, topped with a shimmery white lotus flower circular pocket and soft drawstring bag and toadstool pouch accents.

I put it over another hand-dyed upcycled project of mine, an in-progress rag gown, fit for a water sprite dredged from the bottom of a flowery pond. No mud, no lotus ❤

Elf Coat Expansion

Pretty much as soon as I put down the last touches on the Elf Coat design, I knew I was going to have to pick it up again eventually! One part of the sleeve design always nagged at me, and I did intend to give it pockets eventually – and lo, the flood of requests for Plus Sizes ❤ ❤

As much as I wanted to fulfill these fixes, I needed a break from the Elf Coat, so I took a couple years off to think about things 😉 And now I’m back, tackling the first part of the Elf Coat redesign and expansion! The first task is to fix the sleeve bit and to get a pocket option figured out, then update those changes to the already-existing sizes (S-M-L).

Afterward, I design & test the plus sizes! This is exciting and if you’d like to be a part of any of the testing for the new updates, join the Morale Fiber Facebook Group – The MFCA – and keep an eye out for the testing call!

Other Projects & Updates

I’ve got a number of bigger new designs on the horizon, which I’m also going to need help testing 😉 None are solid enough yet to list here, but I’ve got a hoard of updatable old patterns and things to occupy myself until things coalesce, of course.

I’m also thinking that this website, moralefiber.blog, really needs a few changes – it’s remained virtually the exact same since I opened it five years ago. Which makes sense, because I’m much more concerned with producing crochet content than updating the way the site looks – but eventually one must try to stay efficient. Hopefully I don’t wreck the way it works in the process!

Meanwhile…

Until Morale Improves, the Crocheting Will Continue ❤

-MF

Alpaca Handspun Wrap

Forgive me, fiber darlings, as the golden falling walnut leaves and the true approach of autumn sends me into paroxysms of nostalgia – you see, I’ve completed a very long personal fiber art project, and will not hesitate to use it as an excuse to wax sentimental 😉

Translation: This is a long personal reflection post and a project with no patterns. 😉

It was almost 4 years ago exactly that I decided to give my still new (to me) Ashford Traveler Double Drive spinning wheel a good workout by ordering several pounds (!!) of Alpaca fiber that I got on sale.

I had already been working with drop spindles at this point, but I was excited to take advantage of the larger, faster batches one could produce with the wheel. I dug into the first pound with vigor, producing a tight and even dark brown set of yarns… but like lots of large projects, the initial momentum got lost and it took me several years to finish spinning the rest of the fiber.

In the mean time I learned and experimented with lots of other things, and even added more alpaca fiber to the hoard, including a raw fleece gifted to me by a friend (not much of that one went into the final product – hand carding is a workout!!)

The fleeces followed me, like a little herd of alpacas themselves, though many phases of life in the past four years. I spun and played with them, dreamed with them. They reminded me all the time of the farms and ranches I worked at when I was younger and traveling the United States, work-trading as a farm hand at communes and eco-villages. Every fiber of them passed through my hands eventually, to twist together on the wheel or spindle – how many thoughts are in these fibers? How many dreams?

At once point I got exuberantly experimental about natural dyeing again (my first forays consisted of tea, coffee, turmeric, and a failed pokeberry batch way back in 2009-10 or so), so I started collecting the vegetable waste from my day job in the produce department and brewing up a big batch of avocado dye from the pits and skins. Raw material, collected and transmuted again. How many hands picked the fruit? How many dreams did they dream?

When I dive, I deep dive. I want to know the parts of a process like I know the breathing of my lungs, intrinsically, so that my fingers can read the dreams. To me, that is the way to respect – respect what, I don’t know. The energies it took to create everything around me? Maybe. It is gratitude, definitely.

When the fibers were carded and dyed and spun and plied and washed and dried, I took them to my fatter knitting needles: the 9.00 mm circulars from my interchangeable set. (I remember the super long knitted scarf from a decade ago, and how I tried to cram so many stitches of recycled cotton onto a cheap plastic yard sale needle and snapped it into oblivion, losing hundreds of tiny knit stitches to my cold-sweating terror…)

Good thing my tools have evolved with me.
I knit and knit and knit, practicing my speed-purling, practicing my yarn overs, dropping stitches and switching to garter occasionally. I never got the bug for delicate knit patterns, I like my knits huge and stupid and chunky and easy.

I knew it was going to be a big folded rectangle essentially, with two arm holes. Simple. A large serape-like shell could be worn over other winter layers, since not all of the yarn I used is next-to-skin soft – but holy heck is it warm! Alpaca fiber is also naturally water-resistant, enhancing this wrap’s qualities as outerwear.

I played up the textural aspects of this piece, letting my big dumb rectangle be the blank canvas for every nuanced lump in the fiber. It was handspun; it was messy, chunky, uneven, perfectly imperfect. I did not want it to look sleek, cosmopolitan, curated. It was my glorious mess. So I did what I learned to do best in the grueling hours of the windowless rooms in studio art at Indiana University – turn imperfections into advantages.

(Mostly) planned dropped stitches provided visual breaks vertically, and lines of garter stitches complemented and accented the color changes horizontally, creating a weathered and distressed texture that plays up the lumpy, bumpy, mismatched yarnscape. The large needles allowed plenty of looseness in the stitches to give the otherwise square shell garment a flattering bit of drape. The rough visual style belies the incredibly squishy loft of the bulky alpaca yarns.

I can’t believe I spun 100% of this garment – it is my first large project to be entirely handspun. Some parts are a little scratchy, I’ll admit, and it certainly needs a second wash (it’s fragrant in a strongly camelid sort of way at the moment) – but this piece will warm me now in a special way, because so much of my story is now shared with it.

I get really excited when I finish a piece that’s taken me years, to me they feel like a victory! Previously, the Stump had been my longest-held project (3 years), but now the Alpaca Wrap (4 years) is the record holder 😉

And here’s my advice to every artist who may have had the tough moments, like me, that make dreams feel like impossibilities: Patience, patience, patience.

-MF

Mori Beret

It all started in fall of 2015 when I searched around the internet for a good, simple crochet beret pattern, one with a classic shape good for regular ol’ worsted yarns.

Finding nothing that appealed to my particular idea of what I wanted, I sat down and crocheted it myself and debuted the pattern for free as the Sweetheart Beret, in an ancient long-buried blog post with an atrocious lack of photography skills :/ In 2018, I revamped that pattern and offered a cute deer antler version, again for free, on a slightly better photographed blog post as the Forest Girl Beret.

The Forest Girl Beret continues to be offered for free via the link above, but perhaps I can interest you in a re- re- RE- vamped pattern, now with even more cute extras?

Get the Mori Beret in my Ravelry Store or Etsy Shop now or read on for more details!

Because I just can’t leave well enough alone, when I decided to create a paid PDF option for the Forest Girl Beret I also rewrote the pattern just slightly, fixed a few wonky spots, and created full written instructions for new features like ears, spots, and leaves!

I’m calling it the Mori Beret, true to it’s original inspiration from the Japanese style subculture ❤ And I made FIVE versions of this cute hat because I couldn’t resist a multi-creature photoshoot 😉

The Mori Beret starts with a basic, easy pattern the utilizes worsted weight yarn and half-double crochet to create a beret or tam style hat with a timeless silhouette. The main hat pattern includes tips for custom sizing and bright tutorial photos to show the details of the pattern.

Stick with the classic, sleek beret style and make one for every outfit or create a cute and whimsical wardrobe staple by adding one (or several!) of the 5 Extra Feature options: Mini Antlers, Ears (Small or Large), Leaves, or Mushroom Speckles!

The perfect classic and classy beret hat for any style ❤

Materials:

5.00 mm hook (main hat) 3.50 mm hook (optional, for extra features) – or sizes needed to obtain gauge

#4 weight yarn (Main Hat) – 175-200 yards

#4 accent yarn, 25-50 yds (optional, for Extra Features)

Tapestry needle Scissors

Finished Measurements (for standard hat, approximate): 22” brim, 11” diameter across the top when laid flat, 9” depth

Oh, and those fingerless gloves I’m wearing are the Rambler’s Mitts, a free pattern from my blog, worked in Bernat Velvet ❤

-MF

Kismet Poncho

Sometimes I think I’m a really slow designer compared to other crochet artists out there! When I dream up an idea, and hone it down, it may still be months before I perfect it and apply it to a project satisfactorily, and then more time still to sculpt the pattern and create the materials to teach it.

The Kismet Square was originally created for an entirely different design, one that I still have my eye on for the future – but that pattern was taking way too long!

So I settled on creating a simpler garment featuring the Kismet Square, and doing a full-length crochet pattern tutorial video for both the squares and for assembling & completing a poncho from them!

The entire Kismet Poncho pattern can be accessed for FREE exclusively on my YouTube channel videos (with written captions) or get the written pattern with tutorial photos as a downloadable, printable, ad-free PDF in my Etsy Shop or Ravelry Store! ❤ Keep scrolling for the free video ❤

It’s not the project I originally intended, but it’s the perfect project for the upcoming autumn weather and the perfect addition to my YouTube free pattern offerings – so the Kismet Poncho was born, and it was… well… fate 😉

The Kismet Poncho features a 12-round crochet square with a floral circular focal point that expands outward into easy repeat rows of stitches, clusters and shells. The alternating solid and openwork stitches create a boldly textured appeal inspired by the rich layered patterning of Middle Eastern decorative traditions.

Worked in various colors of sleek #4 worsted weight yarn, this one-size-fits-all poncho uses 4 squares to create a gorgeous statement piece with or without fringe. The pattern itself is easy to adapt with different yarn and hook sizes, and the rounds of varied stitching showcases any range of color combinations you can dream!

Finished Measurements:

Length – 30” collar to tip, not including fringe, 20” collar to short edge, not including fringe
Width – 45” across from short edge to short edge

Materials:

5.5 mm hook
#4 weight Acrylic Yarn (I used a blend of yarns, all acrylics such as Caron Simply Soft and Lion Brand Heartland) – ~ 800-900 yds
Scissors
Tapestry Needle
6” book or length of cardboard for cutting fringe

Now on to the videos! Find Gauge, stitches, and pattern notes below the first video ❤

Kismet Poncho Part 1

Keep scrolling for Parts 2 & 3!

Gauge: 3 sts & 1 row = 1” in dc

Stitches & Abbreviations:
Chain (ch)
Double Crochet (dc)
Slip Stitch (sl st)
Half Double Crochet (hdc)
Treble Crochet (tr)

Special Stitches:
Magic Ring: An adjustable ring made by wrapping the yarn around the hand or fingers, and using the loop to crochet the first round of a circular crochet piece. Ring is closed by pulling the loose tail tightly after completing the round.
Shell: A set of 2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc in the same space.
Petal: A series of hdc, dc, tr, arranged in a mirrored shape within a single stitch or space.
Cluster: Several stitches worked in the same st or space, leaving the last loops on the hook. When all stitches are worked, YO and pull through all loops on the hook.
Dc3tog: A decrease where 1 dc is worked in each of the next 3 indicated stitches, leaving the last loop on the hook for each dc stitch. The complete the stitch, YO and draw through all remaining loops on the hook. 1 dc3tog made.

Abbreviations
Skip (sk)
Next (nxt)
Each (ea)
Space (sp)
Stitch (st)
Beginning (beg)

Kismet Poncho Part 2

Kismet Poncho Part 3

I hope this design inspires you to create something you or your friends & family will love! And if you have any questions whatsoever, please don’t hesitate to contact me here or via any of my social media channels 🙂

Peace!

-MF

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

Sunflower Lotus Vest

It’s been a while since I made the Lotus Vest, the Free-Size circular shawl version of my Lotus Mandala design, seen also in the Lotus Duster (all free patterns available on my blog – just follow the links!)

So there I was, trying to use up some of my Quarantine stash while on Staycation, and I plumbed the depths of the cotton bin to find a lot of the Lion Brand 24/7 cotton yarn – the same kind I used to make the original piece.

Stashbusting achieved! I moved the armholes a little closer together, and skipped a few of the chain mesh rows – but here’s my latest version of the Lotus Circular Vest, crocheted with sunflowers in mind 🙂

If you don’t prefer written patterns, I do have a video tutorial for the Lotus Duster, a similar pattern, which can be make sleeveless as well. Get that by going to the my YouTube Channel Playlist here.

There’s also a great Dutch version of this pattern, translated by Iris of Een Mooi Gebaar – you can get that for FREE on her website, or get the downloadable, portable, printable Dutch translation PDF pattern file in my Etsy Shop or Ravelry store!

Stay cool out there! ❤

-MF

P.S – the crocheted top I’m wearing in these pictures is the Valkyrie Top!


Henbit and Housekeeping

The month of May is usually a busy one for me, and this one has not been an exception so far, even despite local shutdown regulations! Read on for a bit about the projects I’m doing now and what I’ve got coming up ❤

Henbit Pixie Belt

With the weather warming I’m working outside and hiking around even more, enjoying nature in isolation and keeping an eye on the new plants springing up everywhere.

One particularly pretty little spring plant is Henbit, a bright fuschia-flowered plant that grows in scrubby areas and fields, which is an edible weed for humans as well as tasty for wildlife like hummingbirds. This plant was the inspiration for my latest Pixie Pocket Belt piece, for which it is named.

The mitts I’m wearing above are from my free Rambler’s Mitts pattern.

The Pixie Pocket Belts are projects I’ve been drawn to for years, and though I never make two the same, I did create a comprehensive tutorial guide for making your own unique creation – that’s available for free on my blog or in PDF format for a small fee.

These cute & useful costume pieces are a chance for me to flex my freestyle muscles. I love the multimedia aspect too, using beads and upcycled fabrics and metal details to create something really magical.

Freeform Shawl

The Pixie Belts I’ve made over the years have been technically “freeform” (meaning crocheted without a pattern or overall plan), though they are a bit different from the classic freeform style made popular by such incredible crochet artists as Prudence Mapstone and Hannah Martin of Of Mars.

Pixie Belt “Kelp” pictured above featured a bullion stitch pouch & a freeform seashell pouch

I’ve wanted to tackle a more recognizably freeform crochet piece and recently began practicing the various motifs that are common in this style, such as spirals, bullions, and crab stitch.

Some of the videos I’ve been watching have been both useful for the freeform project and useful to help me hone my video tutorial skills 🙂 I’ve saved some of my favorites to my Channel playlists and I’ll keep adding more – find those collected here on Youtube and like & subscribe to my channel to get more updates!

I’ve completed most of the pieces I want to include in this freeform shawl, so I’m currently in the process of arranging and joining them. It feels great to challenge myself, and I’m learning and making lots of mistakes which is good ❤

Out of Office May 20-24

At the end of every May for the last 9 years, I’ve attended the big spring festival Elf Fest with my local community of nature-celebrators. This May, of course, it has been canceled. It’s the responsible thing to do and I’m happy that my friends are all safe – still, it’s a wrench for me and the rest of the crew.

Despite not having the festival to attend, I am going to go ahead and take that time off anyway, to unplug a little more and slow down 🙂 So I’ll be Out of Office from May 20 through May 24, returning May 25 to answer any questions and comments you might have left during that time!

This stunning handmade moth clip from The Forest Fae is my constant companion these days…

I have a loooooooooong list of upcoming crochet designs – so many that I think I’ll need help soon! I’m looking into starting a little group – if you are interested in pattern testing for Morale Fiber be sure to follow me on Facebook, join my main crochet group the Magic Fantastic Crochet Atelier, or subscribe to my blog through e-mail! ❤ I’ll make the announcement across these channels when it comes time.

As always, I’m really grateful for everyone out there who purchases, supports, tags, shares, comments, likes, and recommends my work – I do it for you! I love you! Thank you! 🙂 🙂 🙂

-MF

Going the Distance

Happy Monday! I hope everyone out there is feeling well and healthy – I am, if just a touch stir crazy. But the weather is beautiful and I’ve been blessed with a lot of opportunities to hike out in the isolated woods recently 🙂

It’s been a few weeks since my last blog post, so I thought I’d write up a little summary of what’s on my schedule right now – a couple new projects and previews, plus giveaways! I’m lucky to have already been working from home when the stay-at-home order was put in my place to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 in my state, so I have plenty in the works and more on the horizon for as long as my yarn stash holds out (even then, the emergency reserves are flush...)

So, cheers! Be sure to subscribe to my blog, and like & follow my Facebook Page for more fun crochet stuff!

Star & Moon Twirling Gown:

Another project made from the very well-appreciated Wendy Kay’s No-Sew Gypsy Skirt pattern, which I purchased from Etsy years ago and have used a LOT. I think this is my eighth skirt from that pattern.

Modeled by the lovely Sarina Newbold, this celestial piece is 100% cotton fabric donated by a friend, and I used the long-wedge version of the pattern to create a gown-length mega-skirt that adjusts from XS up to XXL at the waistband.

As you can see, it is just KILLER for twirling in. I am patiently building my sewing skills, because I have some really neat ideas for more crochet/fabric fusion clothing ❤ in the future!

Hedge Witch Hat PDF:

Sarina also modeled her new custom hat made from the free Hedge Witch Hat pattern on my blog:

Too. CUTE.

I plan to go over the pattern once more, then turn this popular design into a downloadable, ad-free PDF! I’m looking to expand my PDF offerings to include more available free patterns, for those that like to the portability and convenience – if there’s one you’d like to see, let me know 🙂

Fundraisers & Giveaways

I’ve recently began offering some of my premium, normally paid-only crochet patterns for FREE as special deals to help people stay safe & sane during this period of self-isolation (which I have begun to call Free Range Captivity). In return, I ask those who can do so to consider making a small donation to a worthy cause.

The first Free Pattern Fundraiser offered the Valkyrie Top gratis in support of The Trevor Project. The offer is ended now, thank you to everyone who supported this important service! Keep reading for the current free offering 🙂

The Valkyrie Top was also part of a recent Instagram Giveaway I participated in, hosted by the incredible Starlily Creations featuring some of my personal favorite crochet artists and heroes. Congratulations to Viv, winner of the deluxe halter top pattern pack!

My next Free Pattern Fundraiser is supporting the National Network to End Domestic Violence – use the code “ENDVIOLENCE” now through Wednesday, April 22 on the Ravelry checkout for the Mermaid Mitts and Sandals pattern and get it for FREE! And if you can, consider donating a small amount (they’ll take any amount, and you can use Paypal) to the worthy cause.

Mermaid Mitts & Sandals

Upcoming Designs

As I sometimes like to do in these rambling wrap-up posts, I have a couple sneak peeks on something that’s coming up soon! This design has been on my mind for years, though I lacked the persistence to do it until recently.

Mysterious, eh? Well, not really. It’s just crochet pineapples, that ubiquitous motif. Or is it?

I may have some tricks up my sleeve!

-MF

Basic Bikini Cup Tutorial

One of the very first things I tried my hand at when I began crafting more complex crochet projects was the bikini top. It seemed like such a doable project, in a relatively short amount of time, and for great rewards – something totally cute to wear that I MADE!

Well, once I started I never did stop trying variations of these, and I became fascinated with the different ways these comfortable and fun projects could be shaped. I followed other patterns, looked at charts and countless examples on Pinterest, and made many of my own including some for which I formed specific designs and published as PDFs!

(Pictured above: The Basic Bralette)

But it was the popularity of the Basic Bralette Tutorial that spurred me to finally create a general Bikini Cup tutorial. Much like with the bralette design, the Basic Bikini Cup Tutorial is meant to be a jumping-off pattern from which you can experiment with your own unique variations.

For the Basic Bikini Cup Tutorial, we’re going to give a bunch of examples and show how cup shape and size can be modified by varying stitch height and increases.

Hopefully this is a good overview useful for both seasoned crocheters as a quick reference and for newbies who don’t know where to start. If you like this tutorial and want to save it, give it a fave on the Ravelry design page!

I’ve included photos, written instructions, AND how-to videos with examples of the strategies used to create one-of-a-kind halter tops and bikinis out of these customized cups ❤ I hope you love!

Check out these other halter top patterns from Morale Fiber or keep scrolling for the FREE Basic Bikini Cup Tutorial!

Basic Bikini Cup Tutorial

Notes:

-Cups are worked by stitching up one side of the foundation row, increasing at the peak (or end) and stitching down the other side. These rows are turned and worked back and forth, placing the increases at the central top for every row.
-First row counts as the foundation row, not Row 1 – be careful when counting your rows. I find it easiest to count by the number of increases.
-Beginning chain does not count as first stitch
-Cups can be worked to desired size by adding rows that maintain the established pattern
-Cups can be put together in a multitude of ways – crochet around them and experiment with inventing unique halters of your own – I tried to include lots of inspiration photos!
-The following includes the pattern of three basic size/shape options, which illustrate the different ways to modify size. Mix and match the strategies as shown to create a custom fit ❤
-Find video tutorial instructions on creating your own unique halter below the written patterns & check out the examples provided throughout! 🙂

Size and shape are determined by manipulating the following factors:


1. Stitch height: Here I’m working with single crochet (sc), half double crochet (hdc) and double crochet (dc)
2. Foundation Length: The number of stitches that make up the central row to be stitched around. I stick within the range of 10-15 normally but it can be any amount.
3. Increase Style: Increases are placed at the central peak of the cup – here I’m either adding +4 stitches per row (2 stitch, 1 chain, 2 stitches increases – where the chain does not count) or +2 stitches per row (1 stitch, 1 chain, 1 stitch increases).
4. Number of Rows: How many rows of stitching are made.

I make a few size recommendations below each cup – but just be aware that you can make any of these to any size desired, depending on how you finish them.

Single Crochet Cups

Stitch: SC
Foundation #: 10
Increases: (1 sc, ch 1, 1 sc)

Ch 11 – (10 chain stitches for the foundation stitches, + 1 extra for the turn)

Foundation Row: Sk first ch st, 1 sc in the 2nd ch from the hook and in each of the next 9 ch sts. – 10 sc

Row 1: Ch 1 (does not count as first sc), turn. 1 sc in the same st. 1 sc in ea of the next 9 sts. In the end of the foundation row, working into the 1 ch st left over from the foundation, work (1 sc, ch 1, 1 sc). Rotate the row so as to work down the opposite side, into the initial foundation chain (working the bottom loops). 1 sc in ea of the next 10 sts. – 22 sc

Row 2: Ch 1 (does not count), turn. 1 sc in the same st. 1 sc in ea of the next 10 sc. (1 sc, ch 1, 1 sc) in the next ch-1 space. 1 sc in ea of the next 11 sts. – 24 sc

Row 3: Ch 1 (does not count), turn. 1 sc in the same st. 1 sc in ea of the next 11 sc. (1 sc, ch 1, 1 sc) in the next ch-1 space. 1 sc in ea of the next 13 sts. – 26 sc

Row 4: Ch 1 (does not count), turn. 1 sc in the same st. 1 sc in ea of the next 12 sc. (1 sc, ch 1, 1 sc) in the next ch-1 space. 1 sc in ea of the next 14 sts. – 28 sc

Row 5: Ch 1 (does not count), turn. 1 sc in the same st. 1 sc in ea of the next 13 sc. (1 sc, ch 1, 1 sc) in the next ch-1 space. 1 sc in ea of the next 15 sts. – 30 sc

Row 6: Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in the same st. 1 sc in ea of the next 14 sc. (1 sc, ch 1, 1 sc) in the next ch-1 space. 1 sc in ea of the next 16 sts. – 32 sc

You can continue on in this pattern for as many rows as you like, maintaining the same method of increasing in the central ch-1 and working 1 stitch in every other stitch.

Above: Two single crochet style cups. Left – Foundation 10 sts, +2 / (1sc, ch 1, 1 sc) increases.
Right – Foundation 5 sts, +4 / (2 sc, ch 1, 2 sc) increases.

I worked the SC, +4 increase style cup for 9 rows to make the top shown below. This pattern makes a very small, flat cup and is appropriate for A cup sizes.

And Sc, +2 increases and 9 rows to make this top – I recommend this cup for A-B size busts.

Half Double Crochet Cups

Stitch: HDC
Foundation #: 10
Increases: (2 hdc, ch 1, 2 hdc)

Pictured Above, from left to right:
1. HDC, Foundation 10 sts, +2 / (1 hdc, ch 1, 1 hdc) increases.
2. HDC, Foundation 15 sts, +2 (1 hdc, ch 1, 1 hdc) increases.
3. HDC, Foundation 10 sts, +4 (2 hdc, ch 1, 2 hdc) increases.

Ch 12 – (10 chain stitches for the foundation stitches, + 2 extra for the turn.)

Foundation Row: Sk first 2 ch sts. 1 hdc in the 3rd ch from the hk and in ea of the next 9 ch sts. – 10 hdc.

Row 1: Ch 1 (does not count as first hdc), turn. 1 hdc in the same st. 1 hdc in ea of the next 9 sts. In the end of the foundation row, working into the side of the 2 chains left over from the foundation, work (2 hdc, ch 1, 2 hdc). Rotate the row so as to work down the opposite side, into the initial foundation chain (working the bottom loops). 1 hdc in ea of the next 10 sts. -24 hdc

Row 2: Ch 1 (does not count), turn. 1 hdc in the same st. 1 hdc in ea of the next 11 hdc. (2 hdc, ch 1, 2 hdc) in the next ch-1 space. 1 hdc in ea of the next 12 sts. – 28 hdc

Row 3: Ch 1, turn. 1 hdc in the same st. 1 hdc in ea of the next 13 sts. (2 hdc, ch 1, 2 hdc) in the next ch-1 space. 1 hdc in ea of the next 14 sts. – 32 hdc

Row 4: Ch 1, turn. 1 hdc in the same st. 1 hdc in ea of the next 15 sts. (2 hdc, ch 1, 2 hdc) in the next ch-1 space. 1 hdc in ea of the next 16 sts. – 36 hdc

Row 5: Ch 1, turn. 1 hdc in the same st. 1 hdc in ea of the next 17 sts. (2 hdc, ch 1, 2 hdc) in the next ch-1 space. 1 hdc in ea of the next 18 sts. – 40 hdc

Row 6: Ch 1, turn. 1 hdc in the same st. 1 hdc in ea of the next 19 sts. (2 hdc, ch 1, 2 hdc) in the next ch-1 space. 1 hdc in ea of the next 20 sts. – 44 hdc

You can continue on in this pattern for as many rows as you like, maintaining the same method of increasing in the central ch-1 and working 1 stitch in every other stitch.

Cups made with either +2 increases or +4 increases in HDC are my all-purpose cup pattern. They really do well with most bust sizes, have good proportional qualities, and are a good place to start if you don’t know your preferred size exactly.

In this YouTube video, I show how to work the HDC, +4 increase style step by step – but it’s a good example of the techniques no matter what stitch and increase combo you use! Check it out:

I used HDC, +4 increases to make this top:

The crocodile stitch scale portion that I worked onto the bottom of the cups is from my Feather & Scale Halter Top crochet pattern! 🙂

Double Crochet Cups

Stitch: DC
Foundation #: 15 (+2)
Increases: (2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc)

Pictured Above: 1. (Top) – DC, Foundation 15 sts, +4 / (2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc) increases.
2. DC, Foundation 5 sts, +4 / (2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc) increases.

Ch 17 – (15 for the foundation sts, + 2 to turn)

Foundation Row: Sk first 2 ch sts. 1 dc in the 3rd ch from the hk and in ea of the next 14 ch sts. – 15 dc.

Row 1: Ch 2, turn. 1 dc in the same st. 1 dc in ea of the next 14 sts. In the end of the foundation row, working into the side of the 2 chains left over from the foundation, work (2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc). Rotate the row so as to work down the opposite side, into the initial foundation chain (working the bottom loops). 1 dc in ea of the next 15 sts. – 34 dc

Row 2: Ch 2, turn. 1 dc in the same st. 1 dc in ea of the next 16 dc. (2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc) in the next ch-1 space. 1 dc in ea of the next 17 sts. – 38 dc

Row 3: Ch 2, turn. 1 dc in the same st. 1 dc in ea of the next 18 dc. (2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc) in the next ch-1 space. 1 dc in ea of the next 19 sts. – 42 dc

Row 4: Ch 2, turn. 1 dc in the same st. 1 dc in ea of the next 20 dc. (2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc) in the next ch-1 space. 1 dc in ea of the next 21 sts. – 46 dc

Row 5: Ch 2, turn. 1 dc in the same st. 1 dc in ea of the next 22 dc. (2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc) in the next ch-1 space. 1 dc in ea of the next 23 sts. – 50 dc

Row 6: Ch 2, turn. 1 dc in the same st. 1 dc in ea of the next 24 dc. (2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc) in the next ch-1 space. 1 dc in ea of the next 25 sts. – 54 dc.

You can continue on in this pattern for as many rows as you like, maintaining the same method of increasing in the central ch-1 and working 1 stitch in every other stitch.

I used the DC, +4 increases style cups with the 5-stitch foundation length to make this bikini! DC stitch cups get wider faster (because of stitch height) and are therefore a great choice for fuller busts.

DC, +4 increases with a foundation length of 15 makes a much bigger cup, as you can see in this halter top (I’m a B-ish cup but it could easily fit a larger chest)

Finishing Your Bikini

There are a lot of different strategies for completing a crocheted top once both bikini cups have been made. First, you’ll need to attach them, which I usually do by crocheting across the bottom of one cup, then directly onto the bottom of the other as one row.

From there, you can crochet rows off the side, work in rounds, add straps, and create other features such as decorative stitching an added motifs. Here’s some side views of completed tops to show the bands and straps:

The video demo below shows how to crochet a bottom band to attach the cups, as well as some of my strategies for creating a finished top including creating bands and straps. I also show in more detail the types of finishings on the tops pictured above 🙂

By utilizing the different lengths of foundation stitch, stitch height, and number of increased stitches, this style of bikini cup can be made exactly as you like! I hope this tutorial and explanation is useful, and if you have specific questions be sure to leave a comment! ❤

Thanks – and don’t forget to get out (safely) into the sunshine!

-MF