Snapdragon Pixie Belt

Spring and summer always makes me eager to craft up cute festival items, despite the fact that I haven’t gone to any events for over a year now. In the course of cleaning out my room while moving last month I happened upon a stash of teal upcycled sari ribbon and had to bust out one of my favorite projects with it: the Pixie Pocket skirt belt.

I make these useful crocheted belts out of scrap yarn, ripped scrap fabric, beads, bells, lace – you name it, I’ll cram it on a pixie belt. They are one of my top selling items (my friends tend to grab them up before they can even get to the a festival vending booth) and just supremely fun to make & wear.

You can get the absolutely FREE pattern tutorial series for this project on my blog, or help support me more directly by buying the PDF version (includes everything found in all of the tutorial posts) in my Etsy Shop or Ravelry Store!

Here are just a few others I’ve made πŸ˜‰

Each of these 100% unique creations gets its own personality, and I name them after plants every time, to embody the nature spirit pixies I imagine wearing them! This one is called “Snapdragon” after the flowers that I remember obsessing over in my childhood – I would run over to the flower gardens that lined the church grotto, eager to pinch the blossoms to make them “snap” like my mom showed me.

Snapdragon features a circular pocket made with a bright applique, the center formed by the “bullion eye” motif I use in my free Forest Guide Hat pattern, with a cute eyeball charm I imagined to look like a dragon’s eye.

The rectangular pouch is made from super bulky yarn that I hand spun on my wheel, hand dyed by me and spun onto a mohair core. A super ruffle-y drawstring pouch imitates the expansion of flower petals, and a little extra sassinesss is added by the crochet net that swings on the hip over the fringe skirt.

All this is mounted on a teal belt with subtly variegated dragon scales (of course!) from crocodile stitch, a favorite textural technique of mine. The belt itself is a bit oversized on me so I wrapped it around, using the ties on the end to weave it in and out of the belt itself to secure it.

I had to pair it with that lush velvet bralette that I made recently, as it happened to match! The bralette is Bernat Baby Velvet made from my (also FREE) Basic Bralette design, with the Curvy Bralette modifications added in. I made this super soft top while drafting up some modifications to the design – those updates are now reflected in the original pattern and in the PDF version that I sell as well πŸ™‚

Thanks for visiting to check out my latest work and be sure to subscribe and follow me on my social media channels so you don’t miss anything! I’ve got some great designs in the works and I try to always be updating and improving things too πŸ™‚

For the love of fiber<3 ❀

-MF

Fox Claw Elf Coat

The Elf Coat Tunisian crochet pattern is definitely my most popular design recently, and it’s undergone a series of updates and expansions since it was first released for free here on my blog in 2019. The first regular sizes – Small, Medium, and Large – were all released separately as individual blog posts, getting posted as soon as I had finished drafting and testing the written pattern.

These first 3 sizes (along with all the most recent updates) are also available gathered together as one ad-free, downloadable, printable PDF crochet pattern which can be purchased from my Etsy Shop or Ravelry Store!

Back then I ended up posting the size Large pattern before I ever finished the actual coat itself! Demand was so high, that as soon as I completed the front panels, back panel, and drafted the first half of the sleeve, I released the Large size pattern without any of the fancy finished photography that I like to accompany πŸ˜‰ Today we are remedying that with the help of Christina Persephone Tedrow, who agreed to model my recently finished piece in what turned out to be a very kickass and fun photoshoot. Keep reading for more info about the latest progress on this design and examples of this tricksy coat in action!

I have been naming each of these Elf Coats according to my vision for their personalities, indulging my love for character creation which helps me dream up interesting ways to show off my product. This coat, dubbed “Fox Claw,” was always intended to manifest the spirit of the fox, with it’s subtle orange and cream hues mixed with brownish lavender. Also, I just really love foxes – an interest shared by my friend Persephone here, which is why I was intent on having her as my model for this piece!

A bit about my model, who is also an independent businesswoman like myself: Persephone is one of the best body piercers in the business; she co-owns and -operates Fox & Crow Body Modifications in Evansville, Indiana, and updates on her business and openings frequently from her Facebook Page, the shop website, and from @PersephonePiercing on Instagram. If you are interested in high quality body art, also check out the shop’s Instagram page @foxandcrow.evansville !

Also worth mentioning is the amazing handmade 25-yard dance skirt modeled underneath the coat, made by Painted Lady Emporium.

It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t initially finish the size large Elf Coat which I had started back when first writing the pattern, because it didn’t take long to discover that the original Elf Coat needed a few tweaks. I used this piece to help me work out what needed changed in the design of the sleeves, and to draft a larger hood as many people had problems with the hood coming out small. These updates are listed and explained in my recent post on the blog here.

I also just had to invent a few new tricks involving a belt tie and pockets – the Fox Claw elf coat features both! The pockets here are inset, which means they are mostly hidden from the outside (they are set a little bit too far back as well… whoops! Next time I’ll measure!) This garment is also a little longer on the front & back panels than the normal Elf Coat, from adding extra rows at the beginning of the panels, giving about 2-2.5″ more in length to the coat – perfect for the taller model I had in mind.

And yet, after all the stitches and panels and tweaks and extras (and coats and questions and emails and testing and measuring and math), the Elf Coat design is still being developed! I had a lot of requests for this design in Plus Sizes, which I was very excited about offering but couldn’t get accomplished without a lot more work. So when I was ready, I set about drafting the written pattern for XL and 2XL – I discovered that given the way the design increases by using the base number of panels, the 2XL size is actually a bit oversized and would extend to cover 3XL as well! Currently, the Plus Sizes version of this design is being tested by a team of awesome people willing to help me make some elfy magic and I really hope with their assistance I can get it released by late summer or early autumn.

If you have more questions about this design, I recommend checking out the Elf Coat FAQ page that I’ve written up – and if you want to see more awesome Elf Coats and other projects inspired by Morale Fiber designs, I’ll refer you to our really sweet and supportive Facebook Group, the Magic Fantastic Crochet Atelier!

And if you REALLY love fox themed goodies, I also have a couple more designs for you to peruse…

-MF ❀

Scrappy Knit Shawl Pattern

I accumulate odd bits and ends of yarn skeins at a rapid pace, so it’s fortunate that I love upcycling and recycling projects that take advantage of “waste” material and turn them into something gorgeous and useful ❀ My favorite way to use very small bits of yarn over the years has been the knit them into garment designs that don’t require weaving in ends; leaving the spare lengths tied off to be incorporated into the fringe later saves you from having to weave in approximately thirty zillion scrap yarn ends πŸ™‚

I’ve provided free tutorials and patterns on how to make these very simple, beginner-level knit garments here on Morale Fiber blog, and today I’m adding to the collection with the Scrappy Knit Shawl – a long triangular knit shawl that follows my method of using very small yarn balls of various sizes, large gauge needles, and incorporating the yarn ends into a fringed edge. Before we get going, here’s the other two pattern tutorials I have available in this style!

Bonus! If you’re not bi-stitch-ual (someone who knits AND crochets) I do have a great pattern for a scrappy crochet shawl in this style called the Scrappy Granny Shawl (IT’S FREE TOO!), pictured below πŸ™‚

The simply named Scrappy Knit Shawl gets its shape by working a yarn over increase 1 stitch from the edge on both sides of every row. It’s got a pretty dang LONG wingspan, reaching around 95″ on the longest side! You can modify this shawl to be wider (from edge to triangle tip) by doing the YO increases only every other row until you get the size you like πŸ™‚ If you like this project, be sure to favorite it on the Ravelry project page!

If you don’t know how to make a YO increase, check out this video tutorial on YouTube!

Scrappy Knit Shawl Pattern

Materials:
Size 10 or 10.5 (6.5 mm) knitting needles (I started with straight needles then moved to cabled circular needles once my piece got longer)
A big ol’ pile of scrap yarn balls, various weights (some of them can be very small – start with those first!)
Accent yarn for the fringe
Scissors, tapestry needle

Finished Measurements:
About 95″ in length
About 20″ from edge to center point of triangle

Gauge: Not critical for this piece but mine was 5.5 sts & 12 rows = 2″ in garter stitch

Terms:
Knit (K)
Yarn Over increase (YO)
Stitch (st)

Instructions:
With 10 or 10.5 knitting needles, Cast On 3 stitches with a very small scrap yarn.
Row 1: K1, YO, K1, YO, K1
Row 2:K1, YO, K until reaching the last st, YO, K1

From here, try to change yarns at the end of the row only. Leave your yarn tails loose (except to tie on the next yarn), changing yarns if you think you won’t have enough for the next row. I use up very small balls at the start for the shortest rows, then gradually use bigger balls as the rows get longer.

We’ll be repeating Row 2 using this yarn changing method for the rest of the garment. If you started on straight needles, switch to cabled circular needles when the piece becomes too large.

Rows 3-120 (or until you have the length you like): Repeat Row 2

If you have very thin yarns you’d like to use, try doubling them up with other yarns so the weights are more even!

Once your shawl is the length and width you’d like, bind off. I like to use this “super stretchy” bind off method.

Now, go over all the yarn ends left at the ends of the rows and make sure they are tightly knotted together. If you absolutely had to change yarns in the middle of any of the rows, weave in those ends but not the ends at the edges, which will be incorporated into the fringe.

I used my trusty notebook to wrap my yarn into 12″, then cut the looped yarn to make a bundle. Double up each strand and hook the loop of the strand through the edge of the shawl, taking advantage of those YO openings left in the fabric to apply the fringe.

Once you’ve fringed and woven in any mid-row ends, you’re done! I was so pleased with the result of this scrappy shawl design, I managed to make quite a pretty accessory from a relatively small amount of scraps. It’s so warm too- good thing, it was cold out that day!

If you like this project and love scrappy projects in general, you should check out my pattern collection of Scrappy Projects – all the links to all the scrappiest patterns I’ve published (both free and paid) plus notes on each one! ❀ Happy upcycling!
-MF

P.S – BONUS GALLERY

Pssst… writing this post I was reminded of one of my first big knit projects I ever made up, which was knitted with 50% upcycled yarn (the beige yarn) that I had pulled out of an old sweater. That post is no longer available on this blog but I thought I’d pull a few from the vaults, for fun πŸ˜‰

Winter Poncho Pattern

True to form, I’ve circled back around to reworking an older design at almost the exact anniversary of it’s original release. Five years ago in January I released the Boho Fringe Poncho as my tenth paid pattern. Today, I’d like to introduce this same design as it’s been reformatted, tweaked for improvements, and released FOR FREE here on the blog!

You can still get the updated crochet pattern as a PDF in my Ravelry and Etsy stores, or keep scrolling for the free pattern (which includes everything in the PDF)

I really enjoy revisiting my patterns to make sure that they are the best that they can be, and this is kind of a constant task as I’m always trying to grow and improve my skills as a pattern designer. Sometimes I just have more to offer in terms of technical assistance – additional tutorial photos were a MUST with this piece – and sometimes I believe that the form & content of the design makes it a good candidate to be re-released for free (the Rhiannon Cowl is another great little project of mine that started as a paid PDF and then debuted on the blog as a free version!)

In this case, I considered just about every aspect of the pattern needed attention πŸ˜‰ Including the name! While I liked “Boho Fringe” it just didn’t really fit the nature of the poncho. This piece is a Big Booty Judy, made with thick warm woolen yarns, post stitches, and a cozy fit that hugs your shoulders for extra warmth. Realizing that its thicc qualities made it a perfect item to have in the coldest months I decided to rename it – the Winter Poncho!

This is a wonderful project for using up bulky or super bulky scraps (see the notes for more about yarn substitution), it uses large hook sizes so that the project works up quickly, and it’s waaaaaaarm πŸ™‚

Winter Poncho Crochet Pattern

Materials

7 skeins Bernat Roving (#5 weight, 100 g / 120 yds, 80% Acrylic, 20% Wool) – all solid-colored examples are made with this recommended yarn, the multi-colored examples are made with a mix of bulky and super bulky weight scrap yarns!
9.00 mm hook, 11.5 mm hook
Tapestry Needle
Scissors

Techniques Used

Chain (ch), Double Chain (dch), Double Crochet (dc), Slip Stitch (sl st), Front Post Double Crochet (fpdc), Back Post Double Crochet (bpdc) (click the links for tutorials!)

Measurements (approximate): 40” circumference at the top, 54” circumference at the bottom, 18”long (not including fringe)

Gauge:

4 sts & 3 rows = 2” in alternating fpdc/bpdc for 9.00 mm hook, 3 sts & 3 rows = 2” in alternating fpdc/bpdc for 11.5 mm hook.

Notes:

The chain-2 at the beginning of every round does not count as the first stitch of the round. When joining rounds with the slip stitch, skip the ch-2 entirely and join into the first fpdc of the round.

I have recommended Bernat Roving for this project, which is a #5 weight yarn but it gauges somewhere between a bulky yarn and a super bulky yarn. Some of my Winter Ponchos have mixed #5 & #6 weight yarns, which works pretty well –  but be sure to follow gauge if you substitute yarns!

The Winter Poncho is closed at the top with a drawstring, but the rest of the shape is dictated by hook size and follows the same number of stitches through every round. If you need a wider poncho, evenly place an even number of increases at Round 10 in order to size up.

Two types of fringing is offered in this pattern, the Double Chain Fringe of the original design, and the regular fringe which I have been favoring lately – both types are included in the instructions.

Poncho (Main Body)

Starting with the 9 mm hook, dch 80. Join with a slip stitch to form a ring, making sure not to twist.

Rnd 1: Ch 2, dc in the same stitch as join. (1 dc in the next st) 79 times. Join with a sl st to the first dc of the round. – 80 sts

Rnd 2: Ch 2, fpdc in the first dc of the last round, bpdc in the next dc. (1 fpdc in the next st, 1 bpdc in the next st) 39 times. Join with a sl st in the first fpdc of the round – 80 sts

Rnds 3: Ch 2, fpdc in the first fpdc of the last round, bpdc in the next bpdc. (1 fpdc in the next st, 1 bpdc in the next st) 39 times. Join with a sl st in the first fpdc of the round.

Rnds 4 – 10: Rpt Rnd 3.

Switch to the 11.5 mm hook, then continue in pattern for rounds 11-27.

Rnds 11 – 27: Rpt Rnd 3.

Cut yarn and tie off.

Double Chain Drawstring

Double chain a length of 60” (about 120 DCh stitches) with your main yarn. Cut yarn and tie off. Weave this cord through the first row of post stitches at the top of the poncho, going underneath each FPDC and over each BPDC. Finish the ends with either a stranded fringe, tassel, pompom, or whatever you like!

To work the double chain, see my tutorial post here.

Double Chain Fringe

The double chain fringe offers a bolder fringed look than the regular stranded yarn fringe, and copies the original inspiration piece for this design. For a humbler decoration, see the instructions for traditional fringe.

Using the 9.00 mm hook, dch 25- 45 sts or about  10 – 20” of unstretched double chain cord, depending on how long you want your chain fringe. Cut yarn and tie off. Make 19 more double chain cords of about the same length.

When you have twenty cords total, weave in all the yarn ends if you want a very neat fringe. Leave the yarn tails hanging down a bit for a more organic fringe.

If you survived the tedium of end-weaving, the next step is to double up the cords so that ends are together and a loop forms in the middle. Push that loop through the top of a fpdc stitch (NOT through the post) on Rnd 27 (the larger end of the piece).

Insert the ends of the double chain cord through the loop and draw them to tighten.

Repeat with the 19 other fringe cords, placing them every 2nd fpdc stitch so that there is 1 non-fringed fpdc between every fringed one. 

Weave in all ends.

Stranded Fringe

For a traditional fringe, get a book or length of cardboard 6” wide. Using your yarn of choice, wrap your yarn around the width 80 times, then cut one side to leave a bundle of 12” strands.

Double your strand over and use the loop at the end to thread the two loose ends through each crochet stitch around the border of the poncho.

Once you’ve put the finishing touches on your Winter Poncho, make sure all your ends are woven in before scurrying out into the cold!

I think the saying goes “Make new patterns but keep the old; one is silver, the other is gold!” Or something like that anyway πŸ˜‰

-MF

Yearling Headband

I’ve always had a natural love of animals and being raised in the country meant I had a lot of exposure to all sorts of them – in particular I loved the white-tailed deer that would sometimes appear on the edges of the yard, majestic and graceful but powerful as well. Anyone raised around their natural habitat knows that deer, even peaceful-seeming and retiring does, are not to be trifled with.

So, certainly not for the first time on this blog, today’s crochet project is deer themed! I already have a number of horn and antler patterns available and thought it would be fun to put together a free video tutorial for the Yearling Headband that shows how to crochet this super elastic, comfortable, useful and above all ADORBS self-care accessory using some of my favorite crochet tricks!

Keep scrolling for the FREE crochet pattern & video!

Or save this pattern for later by favoriting on the Ravelry project page!

The antlers in this headband are a two-tine version of the “Forest Guide” rack, made with smaller yarn and hook than the original – you can use the recommended materials in this post, the video, or choose your own, just make sure your gauge is tight so there isn’t a lot of space between stitches (aka amigurumi style).

The headband with the pink petals features what I call my “Twig Horns” which are a cute, more cartoon-y set of nubby antlers featured in my Mori Beret. They are quicker and not as cumbersome if you want a more low-key headband – directions for those appear in written form under the original antler video below!

Introduction to Yearling Headband

Live-action introduction to this project : sorry for my obvious awkwardness, I’m not used to doing face videos yet πŸ˜‰

Materials

Yarn: Various, good project for scrap yarns 50-100 yards each-
I used a thick #6 weight yarn for the headband
#2 yarn for the beige antlers
#3 yarn for the brown antlers
#5 yarn for the leaves

5.50 mm hook (headband)
3.25 hook for beige antlers
3.50 mm hook for brown antlers
5.00 mm hook for leaves

20″ circular elastic – I bought mine in a pack from the hair accessories section of the pharmacy, you could also use regular craft elastic sewn in a circle or knotted.
2 12″ craft pipe cleaners (for large horns)
Small amount of polyester fiberfill or cotton batting (to stuff antlers)
Tapestry needle, yarn needle, scissors

Headband Base

To create the base for the headband, I used my 5.50 mm hook and chunky yarn to crochet around the elastic band, working in a full circle one direction then turning and working in between the stitches in the opposite direction:

Yearling Antlers

As I mentioned earlier, the antlers on the brown headband are a version of the Forest Guide antlers that only use the first 2 tines, and work in #2 yarn and a 3.25 hook. The first two videos cover these antlers, with the same written instructions appearing below the videos. For the smaller antlers, keep scrolling for the written pattern!

The first video demonstrates the first tine, which is the biggest and longest. To make any other length of tine, follow the instructions of the First Tine for only the rounds indicated in the video, or below in the written version of this antler pattern! The second video covers how to construct the antlers.

Written instructions: Main Tine (Make 2:

Worked continuously in the round, place marker in the first stitch of every round to keep track.

With 3.75 hook and #4 accent color beige, make magic ring.
Rnd 1: 3 sc into the ring. Pull the ring closed tightly. – 3 sts
Rnd 2: 1 sc in the next st, 2 sc in the next st, 1 sc in the next st. – 4 sts
Rnd 3: 1 sc in ea st. – 4 sts
Rnd 4: Rpt rnd 3
Rnd 5: 1 sc in the next 2 sts, 2 sc in the next st. 1 sc in the next st. – 5 sts
Rnd 6: 1 sc in ea st. – 5 sts
Rnd 7: Rpt rnd 6
Rnd 8: 1 sc in ea of the next 2 sts, 2 sc in the next st. 1 sc in ea of the next 2 sts. – 6 sts
Rnd 9: 1 sc in ea st. – 6 sts
Rnds 10-11: Rpt Rnd 9.
Rnd 12: *2 sc in the next st. 1 sc in ea of the next 2 sts. Rpt from * once more. – 8 sts.
Rnd 13: 1 sc in ea st. – 8 sts
Rnds 14-15: Rpt Rnd 13
Rnd 16: 1 sc in ea of the next 4 sts, 2 sc in the next st. 1 sc in ea of the next 3 sts. – 9 sts
Rnd 17: 1 sc in ea st. – 9 sts
Rnds 18 – 19: Rpt Rnd 17
Rnd 20: 1 sc in ea of the next 4 sts, 2 sc in the next st. 1 sc in ea of the next 4 sts. – 10 sts
Rnd 21: 1 sc in ea  st. – 10 sts
Rnds 22 – 30: Rpt Rnd 21
Rnd 31: 1 sc in ea of the next 4 sts, 2 sc in the next st. 1 sc in ea of the next 4 sts, 2 sc in the next st. – 12 sts
Rnd 32: 1 sc in ea st. – 12 sts.
Slip stitch in the next few stitches to finish. Cut yarn and tie off leaving a long tail for sewing.

2nd Tine (Make 2):

Work Rounds 1 – 14 of the Main Tine. Sl st in the next few sts to finish after Rnd 14, cut yarn and tie off leaving a long tail for sewing.

3rd Tine (Make 2):
Work Rounds 1 – 12 of the Main Tine. Sl st in the next few sts to finish after Rnd 12, cut yarn and tie off leaving a long tail for sewing.

4th Tine (Make 2):

Work Rounds 1 – 10 of the Main Tine. Sl st in the next few sts to finish after Rnd 10, cut yarn and tie off leaving a long tail for sewing.

Antler Construction:

Follow the video for a tutorial on stuffing and constructing the antlers – this video shows the full antler with all tines, but you can do as many as you wish and position them as you like.

With polyester fiberfill and stick, stuff a tiny bit of filling in the tip of the Main Tine. Take one 12” 6mm pipe cleaner and fold in half, twisting loose ends together to form a flat loop. Insert twisted end into the Main tine, leaving a small bit of loop sticking out of the opening. Gently fill the bottom part of the Main Tine around the wire armature with poly fill. Roll and massage the piece to even out the filling – do not overstuff! It should still be flexible and posable on the armature.

Gently stuff the 2nd tine with a small amount of fiberfill. With tapestry needle, thread long yarn tail of the 2nd Tine. Position about halfway up the Main Tine and sew around the base of the 2nd tine.

You can also follow the written pattern for the Twig Horns below, if you want low-key fawn vibes!

Twig Antlers:

Using 3.50 hook and #3 or #4 weight accent yarn:

Make 2 of each tine. Worked continuously in the round. Use a stitch marker to keep track of rounds.

Main Tine:

Rnd 1: Make Magic Ring. 6 sc into the ring. Pull the ring closed tightly.
Rnd 2: 1 sc in ea sc around. – 6 sts
Rnd 3: *1 sc in the next sc, 2 sc in the next sc. Rpt from * around. – 9 sts
Rnds 4-13: 1 sc in ea st around. – 9 sts
Rnd 14: *1 sc in ea of the next 2 sc, 2 sc in the next sc. Rpt from  * around. – 12 sts

Sl st in the next 2-3 sts, cut yarn and tie off, leaving a long tail for sewing.

2nd Tine

Rnd 1: Make Magic Ring. 6 sc into the ring. Pull the ring closed tightly.
Rnd 2: 1 sc in ea sc around. – 6 sts
Rnd 3: *1 sc in the next sc, 2 sc in the next sc. Rpt from * around. – 9 sts
Rnds 4-8: 1 sc in ea st around. – 9 sts

Sl st in the next 2-3 sts. Cut yarn and tie off, leaving a long tail for sewing.

Assembly:

Thread the long tail of the 2nd tine onto a tapestry needle and sew around the base onto the main tine. Weave in the ends. Rpt for other antler.

Leaf Motif

I originally designed this little leaf/petal pattern years ago, looking for a quick and easy leaf that could be worked into long chains. It’s now in several of my designs and a favorite go-to when adding decoration and texture to a piece. Follow this video demo for how to work this leaf in clusters of three or four. Written instructions below the video!

Leaf Motif:

For a more detailed photo breakdown, see the original blog post here.
With 5.00 mm hook and #5 bulky or #4 worsted yarn:

* Ch 5 – last 2 ch counts as the beg ch-2 in the leaf motif. In the 3rd ch from the hook, work 4 dc, ch-2 length picot in the last dc made, 3 hdc in the same stitch. Rotate, working in the same st on the other side of the beg chain, 2 hdc. Join motif in the round with a sl st in the 2nd ch of beg ch-2. Sl st in the 2nd ch st from the motif.* Rpt * to * 4 times total. Sl st in the bottom of the first motif to join the 4 leaves in a circle. Cut yarn and tie off  –  4 leaves

Final Assembly

Try your headband on and mark all the spots where you want your antlers, leaves, or other decorations to go…

With tapestry needle, use the long yarn tails to stitch the elements onto the headband. Thread yarn through the wire loops underneath the yearling antlers if you’ve got them, and pull the loops through the stitching so they are fully embedded in the yarn headband. Stitch tightly around the yarn base of the antler. Repeat for other antler.

Using yarn or tapestry needle, sew the leaf rings into the headband (I like them on the sides under the antlers) and pin down the tips of the leaves if you want them to lie flat.

Weave in all remaining ends – voila! A fawn is born!

Quarantine has made me feral and I am unlikely to return.

I could go on and on with other ideas for this kind of design, from woodland creature ear variations to radical colorful freeform pieces, and I hope some of those neat variations get made and I get to see them! As always I love seeing what you make from my designs – please tag @moralefiber on Instagram for your projects or share them in our wonderful Facebook community, the Magic Fantastic Crochet Atelier!

-MF

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” πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ˜‰

Translation: This is a long personal reflection post and a project with no patterns. πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜‰

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