Elf Coat Belt Tie

Along with the new updates I’m implementing for my popular Elf Coat Pattern is this quick little addition for a belted-waist tie, perfect for those that don’t want to mess with buttons (or need some extra cinching!). All the same pattern specs such as Tunisian Hook size, yarn, and gauge from the original pattern (linked above) can be applied to this belt tie, so let’s get right on into the pattern πŸ™‚

Belt Tie (Optional, Make 2)

This pattern makes a ~21” tie about 2” wide, but you can make longer and/or wider ties depending on your needs by adding extra rows and/or foundation stitches. Ties are sewn into the side seams after construction.

One completed belt tie.

Ch 10.

Row 1: Pick up a lp from each of the next 9 ch sts. RP – 10 sts

Rows 2 – 90: TKS in ea st across. RP. – 10 sts

Row 91: TKS decrease over the next 2 sts. TKS in the next 4 sts. TKS decrease over the next 2 sts. TKS in the last st. RP. – 8 sts

Row 92: TKS dec over the next 2 sts. TKs in the next 2 sts. TKS dec over the next 2 sts. TKS in the last st. RP. – 6 sts

Row 93: TKS dec over the next 2 sts twice. TKS in the last st. RP. – 4 sts

Row 94: TKS dec over the next 2 sts. TKS in the last st. RP. – 3 sts.

Cut yarn and tie off.

Using a tapestry needle and yarn, sew the tie into the side seam at each side, RS facing.

Hope you enjoy!
-MF

Rambler’s Mitts & Armwarmers Pattern

Despite the absolute buttload of snow that just got dumped upon my Midwestern home, I’ve already turned my mind to thinking about the magic of spring in the forest, getting excited for hikes on the not-yet-overgrown woodland trails to search for harbingers-of-spring, bones, feathers and other treasures waiting for the wild-minded.

This means it’s fingerless gloves time! I love fingerless mitts because I need to touch absolutely everything when I’m adventuring, from swaths of soft moss to frosty crags in the tree bark. That’s why I’ve designed several free patterns on this blog in years past for just such a thing – easy fast crochet projects that are practical to me and also useful for using up spare skeins of pretty yarn! I thought this year I’d spruce up these posts a bit, adding new bright photography, more tutorial photos, and checking to make sure my instructions are of sound quality.

In the process I also wanted to offer a PDF file option for both the Rambler’s Mitts and Basic Armwarmers designs, so I combined the two into one awesome PDF crochet pattern document – read on for more details about what’s in this new downloadable, printable, ad-free offering, or go directly to my Etsy Shop or Ravelry Store to purchase! You can also still access the free versions by following the links on the design names at the beginning of this paragraph πŸ™‚

Rambler’s Mitts & Armwarmers

The Rambler’s Mitts and Armwarmers pattern combines some of my classic fingerless gloves designs all in one convenient PDF file!

The Basic Armwarmers are almost-elbow length straight fingerless gloves which include instructions for two styles, one made with #4 worsted weight yarn and one made with #5 bulky weight yarn, each with it’s own specific written instructions, and stitch counts. The Armwarmers design also includes a photo guide and written tutorial for customizing your own gauge and sizing if you wish to alter the fit of your pair. My favorite features of this design are the continuous round construction that eliminates the visible joining seam and the unique thumb opening, which creates a more contoured fit at the base of the thumb.

The second design included in this bundle is the Rambler’s Mitts, a wrist-length pair of fingerless cuffs featuring post stitches and single crochet worked in #5 bulky weight yarn with a cozy thumb covering. These quick and easy mitts are perfect for woodland ramblings, and my pairs have been an instant go-to in my closet for years!

Clear tutorial photos and detailed written instructions are included as well as links to the FREE tutorial post stitching – making this design bundle a perfect way to start crocheting your own stash of these popular and colorful winter accessories!

Materials (ARMWARMERS)
200-300 yds #4 or #5 weight yarn (1 pair of the Rainbow warmers shown are made with Yarn Bee Glowing, #4 weight – 198 yards, 1 skein. The Copper/Olive/Turquoise pair is made with Lion Brand Landscapes, #4 weight, 147 yds – 2 skeins) Yarn amounts are variable depending on weight and size made.
5.00 mm hook
Scissors, tapestry needle
2 Stitch Markers

Materials (MITTS)
Materials:
5.00 mm hook
Bernat Velvet (#5 Bulky, 10.5 oz / 300 g, 315 yds, 100% polyester) – 1 skein
Tapestry needle & scissors

Stitches / Abbreviations
Chain (ch)
Single Crochet (sc)
Half Double Crochet (hdc)
Double Crochet (dc)
Slip stitch (sl st)
Skip (sk)
Each (ea)
Round (rnd)
Front post half double crochet (fphdc)
Back post half double crochet (bphdc)

Language: English
All instructions are in US crochet terminology.

Thanks so much for checking out this new publishing – as an independent fiber artist and crochet designer, sales of purchasable PDF patterns make up the bulk of my income – you can find tons more premium crochet patterns all in one spot by visiting my Paid Patterns page here.

I also make a small amount from website visits, so if you’re not in the market for paid patterns please do check out my Free Pattern offerings! A lot of my paid patterns are also available for free – This is because I really value accessibility and love to share my craft, so offering for free on my website helps both you & me! If you don’t want or need to get paid patterns, I also have a Tip Jar available where you can securely donate any amount to go toward the maintenance of my website & business πŸ™‚ ❀

-MF

Oak Sprite Hat

Acorns are easily one of the cutest things produced by trees. Their little round nutshells topped with a perfectly fitted cap, textured in minute detail, forcibly remind me of a wee head wearing a jaunty beret style hat – and I’m certainly not the first to try to recreate such a garment inspired by this adorable thing!

So when I set out to crochet an acorn-inspired hat, I wanted lots of texture and whimsy in the final design, something that would evoke the acorn while still capturing a spirit of otherness; something the little folk of the drawings of Cicely Mary Barker might want to adorn themselves with πŸ™‚

Of course, I immediately set my mind on the crocodile stitch for this purpose. Though this stitch is an advanced one, I love it for the sense of magic it imparts to any crochet piece and that’s why I’ve created several patterns featuring this stitch already. The crocodile stitch is a special type of post stitching, so if you’ve never encountered post stitches, I’ve written a free Post Stitch tutorial right here on my blog! I do go over the crocodile stitch as well in this post πŸ˜‰

So today I’m very excited to introduce the Oak Sprite Hat, an adult-sized acorn hat / beret design which features crocodile stitch worked in rounds from center to brim, edged with simple half double crochets and topped with the cutest little acorn cap stem. I also include a few notes on how to make this hat smaller for truly wee heads!

The pattern is available both for FREE as a video crochet tutorial series and as a paid PDF file in my Etsy Shop and Ravelry Store! Keep scrolling for the free crochet tutorial and videos or support my art directly by buying the PDF at the links above!

I worked several of these hats to finalize the crochet pattern, and while in the process I debated about whether or not to make the crocodile stitches point downward, as the scales do on an actual acorn cap, but in the end I remembered that primary rule from taking art classes in college – suggest, rather than tell. The hat’s acorn-ness isn’t really compromised by this detail, and besides – I really just liked them better pointing upward. This way the green version reminded me of a thistle blossom, which I accented by adding a bright pink poofball!

For those wondering, I don’t currently have plans to do a version of this myself with the croc stitches pointing downward, although it can be done – if you’re interested in trying it, it would work from the brim toward the center, and use decreases rather than increases. I may be so bold as to suggest investing in my Sylphie Hat Pattern, which works the croc stitches in that direction, to get familiar with that method πŸ™‚

Anywho, Here are all the details of the pattern you need to make this must-have woodland accessory, and below you’ll find the three-part video tutorial series for working the Oak Sprite Hat. If you like this video I do have more on my YouTube channel, check it out if you like and thanks for visiting – clicks, shares, tags, tip jar donations, and pattern purchases are my livelihood and I am eternally grateful for my kind and generous audience (YOU) that makes it all possible! ❀ ❀

Oak Sprite Hat

Materials

5.00 mm hook – or size needed to obtain gauge

#4 weight yarn – listed below are the specific yarns used to make each hat. Recommended yarn is Caron Simply Soft.
Scissors, tapestry needle

Thistle (green): LB Ferris Wheel (#4, 270 yd / 85 g, 100% Acrylic) – 1 Skein, Caron Simply Soft (#4) ~ 50 yards
Hedgehog (gray/brown): LB Amazing (discontinued) – 1 skein, LB Ferris Wheel ~ 100 yards
Acorn (brown): Caron Simply Soft Chocolate – 1 skein, I Love This Yarn – ~ 50 yds

Finished Measurements:
23″ circumference for brim
33″ circumference for widest part of crown
7-8″ tall from tip to brim (not including stem)

Notes:
Hat can be made a smaller overall size by skipping the final round of increases (Round 5) leaving the total number of croc stitches at 12. 12 croc stitches is ~16” circumference, or baby/child size. In this case you’ll want to work the brim at 48 stitches, without the decreases, unless decreases are necessary for the size being made.


Hat can also be made a bit shorter by skipping one or two of the final rounds of non-increasing. 5 rounds are written in the pattern but 4 or even 3 can be done instead. There is a note in the written pattern where this is optional! 😊

Stitches & Abbreviations

Chain (ch)
Double Crochet (dc)
Slip Stitch (sl st)
Half Double Crochet (hdc)
Half Double Crochet 2 Together (hdc2tog, a decrease)
Single Crochet (sc)
Magic Ring (MR): A method of starting a circle with a tight center by working the first round of stitches into a yarn loop, then pulling the yarn tail tight to adjust the loop.
Back Post Half Double (bphdc): Working the stitch into the post of the stitch below, inserting the hook from the back, around the post in the front, and re-emerging to catch the yarn in the back.

Special Stitches:
Picot: Picot is made by chaining 3 stitches, then slip stitching in the top of the last dc made to form a small loop. I use the two front loops of the last dc to work the slip stitch into. Picots are made in place of the normal ch-1 that occurs in the middle of a croc stitch scale to create the Picot Croc Stitch.

Picot Croc Stitch (PCS): A crocodile stitch with a picot in the middle in place of the normal ch-1.

Crocodile Stitch (croc stitch/st): This is a type of crochet stitch that creates a 3-D effect of a petal or scale. The croc stitch is a special style of post stitching.

It works by creating an underlying framework of alternating β€œsingle” (1) dc and β€œpaired” (2) dc sets, separated by a ch-1.

Pictured above is the framework for a row of croc stitches. Once this row is created, the croc stitches are worked across the same row, overlapping.

Crocodile stitches are a type of post stitch, meaning that the hook is inserted around the main body of the stitch instead of the top two loops as normal. The stitch is then worked around the β€œpost”, meaning that the space underneath the stitch is used and the body of the stitch holds the actual stitches. This is an advanced stitch and does take some getting used to as well as adjusting direction and hold of the fabric to achieve.

Croc stitches have 5 dc worked (from the top of the dc down to the bottom) into the post of the first dc of the paired set of dc, then a chain (or in this case picot) is made, before switching directions and working 5 more dc into the next dc of the paired set, working from the bottom of the stitch to the top. Each scale is secured by working a slip stitch into the next singly standing dc before moving on to the next scale.

Pictured above is the direction of post stitches worked to form the crocodile scale (for right-handers, this will be reversed for lefties)

Once a row/round of crocodile stitches is complete, the next row/round will build another framework for the next layer of croc stitches by working the alternating single (1) dc and paired (2) dc into the previous stitches:

Above picture illustrates how the framework for the next row of croc stitches is placed. Each paired dc is worked into the single dc which lies below, which is referred to as the space or stitch between scales. Each singly standing dc is worked into the middle space of the scale below, between the paired doubles underneath.

This pattern works Picot Croc Stitches (PCS) in the round, starting from the center of the hat. To achieve this, we will be working PCS increases, which means that the framework of the rounds will sometimes place 2 sets of paired dc in the same st between scales, each set separated by a ch-1 on either side and a singly standing dc in the middle. This sets us up to work 2 croc stitches in that space.


Pictured above is the croc stitch increase framework: (2 dc, ch 1, 1 dc, ch 1, 2 dc) in the same st.

Oak Sprite Hat Video Tutorial Part 1

Video Tutorial Part 2

Video Tutorial Part 3

I hope you found this pattern to be helpful and interesting, and are inspired to create lots of clever pixie adornments for your friends and family! If you’ve caught the crocodile stitch bug like I have, here are some other patterns I offer that feature this stitch:

Or, how about woodland and creature themed accessories in general?

If right now you’re asking, “Is she trying to draw me deeper into a fantastical crochet forest from whence I shall never return?” the answer is yes πŸ™‚

-MF

Morale Fiber’s Field Guide to Crochet Gauge and Yarn Behavior

We’ve all been there.

Excitedly scoping a new pattern, picking through the stash for a suitable yarn for the project, dreaming up color schemes and envisioning your gloriously perfect new handmade thingamajig.

Except none of the yarns are the same weight as the pattern recommends. And you can’t find your 5.5 hook (check behind your ear). And your yarn fiber is wool, not bamboo. What to do?!

Gauge and Yarn Behavior for Crocheters

The number one question I get asked as a crochet pattern designer is “Can I use [X] yarn for this pattern? Do I need to change my hook?” And the answer to this question is always basically the same: Check your gauge!


Even if you have a passing familiarity with gauge, it’s about more than just how big your stitches are: multiple factors interact when it comes to how your crochet project is going to look & act with a certain yarn.

I’ve found from experience that it pays off to be familiar with those factors that influence how your crochet project is going to turn out: Gauge, Weight, Fiber, and Drape.

Crocheters who go forward unfamiliar with these influences may find themselves in another familiar, but less pleasant, place : halfway through a crochet garment that doesn’t fit and looks nothing like the sample pictures. An in-depth understanding of these Yarn Behaviors will help stop project mishaps before they ever start!

The following is a guide I’ve put together specifically for crocheters that deals with gauge and related yarn issues. I’ve tried to compile the major technical points of figuring out what yarns to use where, and draw heavily from my 20 years of mistakes…. But remember each crocheter is different and therefore every project is different. The absolute best way to master these aspects of fiber art is just to get a ton of experience at it. That being said, let’s get on with it!

What is Gauge and how do I check it?

We’ll start with gauge: what the heck is it already?

Gauge is the measurement of the size of your stitches with a specific hook and yarn. Another term used for gauge is “tension.” While gauge is not something you may have to deal with for hats or scarves very much, it becomes crucial when making garments like sweaters.

The most common question I get for my patterns is “Can I use (x) yarn for this project / Which hook size should I use?”

The answer to this questions is: Check your Gauge! Technically, you can make any pattern with any size hook and yarn if your gauge matches the gauge given in the pattern (there are other concerns but we’ll get to that later).

Follow these instructions to learn how to measure gauge for crochet projects!

Locating the Gauge Listing

First, look to the Materials & Notes section of your pattern which should be at the very beginning. The gauge or gauges for the project should be listed there. If there are multiple parts/yarns to the pattern you may encounter multiple gauge listings.

Above is an example from my Acanthus Top pattern, with the gauge listing circled in green
Here’s what an example of what the gauge might look like: “Gauge: 3 stitches and 3 rows = 1″ in hdc”

And here’s how that is interpreted:
“3 stitches” = the measurement, taken horizontally from a section of stitching, of how many stitches of the specified type fit within the given unit length (here in Inches)
“3 rows” = the measurement, taken vertically, of how many rows of stitching of the specified type fit within an inch or inches
“= 1 inch ” = the given unit length (commonly can be 1″, 2″, or 4″ although other measurements are possible)
“in hdc” = the specified stitch type for measuring the gauge

Sometimes for my circular crochet patterns, I give the project gauge as the measurement in diameter of the first few rounds – in this case the first small circle of the project counts as the swatch. The gauge portion of the pattern should specify how to measure if it does not use the traditional method.

Example of the first three rounds of the Lotus Mandala measured to check gauge – it’s correct!

Checking Crochet Gauge

Since every crocheter crochets differently – some looser, thinner, or tighter, or fatter – using the same size hook and yarn as the project calls for does not guarantee your gauge will be the same as the one listed for the project.

So now that the Gauge listing is broken down, how do we check it? To accurately check gauge and determine whether your tension is appropriate for the pattern, look again in the Pattern Materials & Notes section. The pattern will list a recommended yarn and hook size – you’ll need to start by using the recommended yarn, or at least a yarn in the same weight category, and the hook size listed in the materials section. With these materials, you are now ready to test your gauge by making a small sample piece of fabric called a swatch.

It’s very tempting to skip this part and move on to the project itself, which is not too dangerous for small projects like hats and scarves – but for things like large sweater coats, you better swatch out!

My Tunisian crochet sweater coat trifecta: The Shaman Coat, the Elf Coat, and the Priestess Coat

Testing Your Gauge: Swatching for Crocheters

1. Get the hook size and yarn recommended by the pattern gauge listing
Chain a length of 15-20 sts or long enough to accommodate whatever stitch or pattern being swatched (sometimes the pattern will give you direct instructions on how to make your gauge swatch). Some gauge guides say the swatch will be 4 inches, some recommend other lengths or stitch counts – your pattern may or may not specify. The main concern is the get a piece of fabric big enough that your hand becomes accustomed to the stitch design and starts to work regularly. This is also why the gauge reading is taken in the middle of the swatch, away from the top, bottom, or side edges – but we’ll get to that.

2. Begin to Swatch
The Gauge listing in the pattern should indicate what stitch or part of the pattern to use for a swatch sample. Here’s the sample Gauge from earlier:
Gauge: 3 stitches and 3 rows = 1″ in hdc
For this swatch, I would start with 20 ch stitches, then work 1 hdc in each chain stitch. Working in rows back and forth, I would create enough rows of stitching to make a solid square or rectangle piece. Seems like a lot of work, I know. But you can’t get a good gauge reading from a piece that’s only 5 stitches long!

3. Pin it Out
Once the swatch is complete, it’s time to measure. Before measuring, set out a soft surface (towel, cushion, or blocking mat) and use pins to uncurl your swatch out to it’s fullest size, evening the tension of the piece. Crochet stitching uncurls and loosens some after being worked, so if you measure your swatch without tensioning it first, you may get an inaccurate gauge reading.

While 4 sts / 1 inch doesn’t seem like that much of a difference from 3.5 stitches / 1 inch, small differences can really add up on larger projects. Get your gauge as close as possible to avoid mishaps later!

4. Measure it!
Get a gauge plate tool (the one pictured here is from my Addi Click knitting set, but they are sold individually by the hooks & needles in hobby stores) or a measuring tape / ruler and measure the stitches in the middle of the swatch. For our given gauge of 3 stitches and 3 rows = 1″, we should be able to measure 3 stitches horizontally at 1 inch, then 3 stitches vertically to equal 1 inch.

I did not achieve the correct gauge horizontally, because I have 4 stitches to the inch instead of 3.
But I got it right vertically!

Correcting Your Gauge

If your gauge is smaller (tighter), and you are getting more stitches and rows per inch (4 sts and 3 rows, for example, instead of 3 stitches and 3 rows. Which was what I got for the swatch pictured above) you will need to size your hook UP to create looser tension and bigger gauge to match the measurements of the project.

If your gauge is larger (looser) and you are getting fewer stitches per inch (2 stitches and 2 rows, for example) you will need to size your hook DOWN to create tighter tension and smaller gauge.

In the above picture, I have tensioned my swatch. And though I worked this swatch in the exact same yarn as the pattern recommends, using the same size hook, AND EVEN DESPITE THE FACT THAT I AM THE ONE THAT WROTE THAT GAUGE for that pattern, I still did not get it right. LOL! That’s gauge for you!

Sometimes you’ll end up with the correct amount of stitches horizontally, but not vertically (or the other way around). Messing around with your method can sometimes correct gauge errors that are just a little off. Try altering the tension of the yarn in your non-hook hand, or pulling up more yarn per stitch, to adjust errors in stitch height or make small horizontal adjustments. Additionally, different hook materials can affect your gauge – if you can’t achieve the right tension with a bamboo hook, try a metal one!

Besides switching your hook, it is also possible to change yarns to get a different gauge, although that happens less often – more commonly, people wish to use a certain yarn for a project and will switch hook size in order to obtain the correct gauge with the yarn they intend to use. However you go about it, adjust your ingredients according to whether you need a tighter or looser gauge.

And then yes, you’ll have to make another swatch and measure again πŸ™‚

But it’s better than having to undo entire large projects because of gauge errors!

After sizing up my hook by one step (3.75 mm instead of 3.50 mm) and tensioning, I made a swatch with the right gauge horizontally of 3 stitches to an inch. My vertical measurement stayed the same.

One thing I recommend is to keep a stack of past projects’ swatches with the aim of creating a blanket/quilt/other scrap project with them. Having a future use for them makes them more appealing to actually do – and who doesn’t want another project on top of their new project? Haha!

Changing & Taming Gauge:

Let’s say, for the sake of insanity, that you actually DO want to change the gauge of an entire sweater project – you have a hook and yarn combo that makes a different gauge than the project and you’re determined to use it anyway. How do you get a garment that still fits? You have three options:
1.Try to make a different size (if multiple sizes are offered)
2. Just try it anyway and totally wing it changing the pattern willy nilly to fit your size needs, accepting that the result might be utter failure with no recourse (my favorite method).
3. A Lot of Math.

So much math is involved in #3, in fact, that I can’t lay out a general plan here in this Field Guide, but if you would like to start learning how the mathematics of gauge goes into planning the size and design of a crochet pattern, check out some of my free pattern resources. I try to periodically design stuff that’s really open-ended, with the intent to lead others to customize and experiment with whatever they have available – here’s two I’d recommend!:
Basic Armwarmers Tutorial
Basic Bralette Tutorial

Finally, there ARE times when you don’t have to worry about checking gauge at all: when you don’t care if the project comes out exactly as big as the pattern specifies – blankets and home decor projects are good examples.
That’s the conclusion of the Gauge-specific portion of this Field Guide, but if you’re curious about the other important Yarn Behaviors, read on!

An oldie but a goodie : The Partial Shades T-Shirt Yarn Plant Hanger

Yarn Weight – Meet the Standards

Yarn weight is one of those things that seems like it should be simple. Especially in the United States, we’re used to seeing one of 8 little numbers on the yarn label which generally tells us what different yarns can work for the same project. For instance, if you have a crochet pattern that calls for a #4 weight category yarn, most people will go to the store and pick any yarn they like that has a #4 on it.

This yarn label has lots of info – the weight is shown on the little skein pictogram as “5” for #5, also called Bulky, weight yarn.

Except experienced crocheters know that not every yarn in the same weight category is going to act exactly the same. Take my favorite rogue #4 weight yarn – Lion Brand Shawl in a Ball – and compare to a regular cheapie #4 weight acrylic solid:

They look totally different. And you might guess that they work up pretty differently, too:

And that’s why yarn labels also contain some other important information besides the general numbered category (which doesn’t even exist on some non-US yarns): The length of the skein in yards/meters, the weight of the skein in ounces/grams, and the fiber content.

Yarn Density

The length/weight information tells something important about the yarn that the numbered categories don’t directly specify – how DENSE or heavy the yarn is. That’s how our favorite rogue manages to be a #4 weight yarn the same as this acrylic – because the Shawl in a Ball is denser, and so the yarn is as heavy per yard/meter as the bigger sized yarn. And since yarns are categorized by weight, the Shawl in a Ball has enough weight per length unit to get a #4 label even though it is thinner than our acrylic #4.

Wraps Per Inch

While the apparent thickness of the yarn strand usually stays similar throughout a single numbered yarn category – several of these bulky #5 yarns for example – there is another metric that can help determine if your yarn is right for your project, and that’s something called Wraps Per Inch (WPI).

Three yarns of different fibers and plies, all labeled #5 weight

WPI is measured by taking a small object (a ruler is choice, a pencil works great too) and wrapping a strand of yarn as neatly and evenly as possible around the object. The wraps are then measured to see how many wraps can fit within an inch of space – which gives a better idea of the thickness of the strand than the weight categories do.

Here’s a handy WPI and yarn weight chart from Ravelry!

You can totally test WPI yourself at home, which I have done a number of times to help determine what weight my recycled sweater yarn was.

Fiber Content

Different fibers have different structures and densities, and yes, fiber content will definitely affect your project – and for more reason than just how you wash it. Fiber densities effect grams per yard, so a thinner yarn made of heavier fiber may be in same weight category as fatter yarn with lighter fiber – and the different surface qualities will change the way your project looks and acts.

Microscopic view of different fibers, image not mine. I’ve had this image in my media for so long I don’t know the original source, sorry!

There are so many more fibers and fiber blends available today than there were even 10 years ago when I started getting serious about my funtime hobby. I could most definitely do a full post on just fiber alone (actually I’ve done several in the past) but I’ll try to keep it fairly brief for now!

Fibers come in several general categories: Animal or Protein fibers (wool, alpaca, yak, etc) Plant or Cellulose fibers (cotton, rayon, hemp etc), and Inorganic/Man-made fibers (polyester, acrylic, polyamide, ect).

Although it may not be the first thing you compare when substituting your yarns, fiber content does matter – especially if you need to know how the finished piece will behave over time. A heavier-fiber yarn (such as cotton) substituted in place of a lighter fiber yarn (such as acrylic) will result in a project that might be a lot heavier overall than the designer intended, causing problems such as stretching and warping.

The Lotus Duster, size Large


Conversely, a project that is designed to depend on the heaviness of the yarn for it’s overall look (such as the Lotus Duster, pictured above) might not be quite as flattering to wear in a yarn that is extremely light and does not exert the right amount of downward pressure on the garment. (I mean in my opinion it looks great no matter what but… πŸ˜‰ )

Not to mention wool, and whether or not your project will shrink and felt in the wash!

An ancient photo of half-felted wool that I messed up when dyeing – it did turn into a nice shawl, though!

In addition to weight, fiber also contributes to the traction or slipperiness of a stitch – extremely soft and slippery fibers like silk will not create a lot of friction or resistance when rubbing together, so any stitches made with silk yarn will settle and stretch out to the maximum that they can in a finished project – where a stiffer, rougher yarn like wool (especially if it’s lighter too) will not ‘spread’ so much.

Of course, in considering what yarn to use, where you’ll wear it makes a big difference too. Cotton, bamboo, and silk are wonderful fibers for delicate next-to-skin projects, like the halter top below made with bamboo/silk blend. I had to keep the tension tight for this project so that the stitches in the slippery soft fiber wouldn’t stretch out too much, resulting in wardrobe malfunctions πŸ˜‰

From my Basic Bikini Cup guide

Yarn Ply:

Ply refers to the structure of the fibers within the strand of yarn – a ply is one strand of raw fiber spun together, and a yarn may consist of many plies or only one. Yarns with several plies tend to be strong and can be easily pulled back out (frogged) from stitching. One ply yarns (like RH Unforgettable) provide a gorgeous stitch definition but are weaker and will pill/tangle more easily when unraveled.

These yarns from top to bottom are multi-ply (I don’t know how many exactly but more than 4), 2-ply (in the middle) and 1 ply (chenille yarn on bottom)

Ply, combined with fiber type, will affect the density and elasticity of the yarn too! When finding yarns that will easily create the same gauge as your intended project, it can be helpful to match the ply types of the yarn. For this reason some UK yarns will list the ply on the label (like we saw on the Ravelry standards chart).

Since ply isn’t talked about that much in crocheting, how about a for instance?

My Elf Coat uses DK (#3) weight wool as the recommended yarn. I searched high and low for a suitable DK weight yarn substitute available in US hobby stores (King Cole Riot is a UK brand yarn). The closest I could find was Red Heart Unforgettable, a worsted (#4 weight) yarn. As mentioned in the pattern, they do produce slightly different gauges with the same size hook, but RH Unforgettable works better as a substitute than other #4 yarns might because Unforgettable is a one ply yarn just like the DK weight yarn.

If you are very interested in the structure of yarn plies and the ways that different yarns are designed and constructed, you should check out my blog posts about spinning. There’s no better way to take your hobby to the next level than to learn to make your own yarn!

Drape:

Ah, drape. Drape is the creature of the night, the hidden amalgamation of all the yarn behaviors discussed above. How could I not love something as mysterious and dramatic as drape, which is how a piece of fabric hangs or flows over a surface?

The flow of the fabric depends first on how easily the stitches can move around within it – stitches with lots of space in between them may have better movement and can wrinkle and ruffle more when handled or hung – pieces with stitches very tightly packed and no space in between will be stiff and less flow-ey.

The Lotus Duster pattern uses thin, cotton yarn and a proportionally large hook to create stitches with tons of room to flow around
The Post Stitch Pixie Hat pattern uses thick yarn, a relatively small hook, and tightly packed post stitches to create a structured bonnet with almost no floweyness

Through the years I have found that people, whether they are beginner fiber artist or not, DO instinctively perceive drape even though it can be hard to define. When I read about how a crochet piece doesn’t match the project image, or when I see crocheters struggle to recreate a specific part of a pattern that just “doesn’t look right” even though the gauge and stitches are correct – that’s drape.

But it’s not just about the closeness of the stitching – you can get the correct gauge for a project and still not achieve a good drape.

If your yarn is not the same or similar fiber content, your drape can be off – remember talking about smoother yarns like silk stretching and settling more? That’s drape, too.

And yarn weight, in which some yarns are weirdly heavier or lighter per yard than others in the same category, due to fiber content? You guessed it! That affects drape too.

And you might have some suspicions about WPI – the amount of space a certain size yarn takes up when wrapped around an object (such as a crochet hook)… Whaddya know! Drape!

The Flower Child Pullover has a medium drape, the openwork mesh combines with sturdy #4 acrylic to create a sweater with both swing and structure

The good news is, drape can be tamed by being familiar with all the yarn qualities and behaviors we’ve been talking about in this post. If that lovely sweater you’ve got your eye on making calls for yarn that’s 50% bamboo and 50% cotton, now you’ll know that choosing a 100% acrylic yarn will change the way that project looks or maybe even fits. And you can either decide to look for a yarn that’s a closer match, or decide you don’t give a flip and will make it with whatever yarn you have on hand and drape be damned (an extremely valid standpoint IMO).

Which brings me to the final portion of this programme:

Wrapping it Up

You’re armed. You’re ready. You’ve got your massive, exuberantly curated folder of crochet patterns. You’ve got your yarn and your backup yarn and your secret backup yarn (it’s hidden in the trunk of the car). You’ve got your hooks (except for that damn 5.50 CHECK THE COUCH)…

And you’ve got all this information about how to best make material choices based on gauge, weight, fiber, WPI, ply… yikes! That’s a lot to consider now, and maybe it can be a bit overwhelming. After all, a lot of hobby crocheters make it their whole hobby careers not worrying about most of this.

And that’s perfectly fine. I wanted to create this Field Guide for other fiber artists who might have wondered the same things as me, and for those who just can’t get enough of weirdly specific fiber science (also me). The important part is to have the knowledge, so that you can make your own decisions. As a very famous and favorite quote of mine runs, “Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist.”

If you’re a beginner crocheter who came here to learn about gauge and got sucked in, congratulations on making it this far! I can’t believe you’re still reading this! Anyway, dear beginners who need a starting point: just start with the gauge aspect of Yarn Behaviors, following the procedures for checking gauge by swatching. The rest of these considerations will be picked up and intuited over time πŸ™‚

After all, the majority of what I’m presenting here is information I’ve slowly gleaned through experience. Experience and a whole buttload of mistakes – because while none of us like to make mistakes, we simply can’t grow and learn without them. So whether or not you apply all the information in this post, I truly hope it’s helpful on YOUR fiber art journey, whatever you make of it.

And as always I am here if you have questions and I love to talk shop – if I don’t have answers, I can at least offer advice ❀

Thanks for visiting! See you on the next yarn safari…
-MF

Foundation Tunisian Stitch

Let’s jump right in today because it’s going to be a quick one! If you’re a human who crochets, odds are good that you don’t LOVE working into the bothersome stitches of a foundation chain. I know I don’t.

So when I needed a technique that would allow me to add length to the end of a forward pass row in Tunisian crochet, I fiddled until I got what I wanted: A Tunisian version of foundation crochet, which works the bottom stitches and the first row of stitches simultaneously.

No long twisty strands. No chaining and rejoining. AND it helps keep the bottom from curling!

Here is my video of this technique, the first of what I hope is many Tunisian tutorial videos – use the Foundation Tunisian Stitch as the base for your Tunisian crochet pieces by working FTS instead of the base chain and first row, or use it to add length on Tunisian pieces easily ❀

For more Tunisian tutorials, peep the links below the video!

Tunisian Simple Stitch Tutorial

Tunisian Knit Stitch Tutorial

Tunisian Simple Stitch – Increases and decreases

Thanks for visiting! ❀

-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 πŸ˜‰
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! πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ™‚
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 πŸ˜› 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 πŸ˜€

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 πŸ˜€

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

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! πŸ™‚

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! πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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

Teddy Bear Onesie

The craze for animal-themed full-body pyjamas here in America has mostly passed my wardrobe by, but I have to admit that when I saw a fuzzy, teddy bear version with shorts and a hood while online shopping I thought it would look awefully cute.

The problem was that the product was on one of those cheap knockoff websites, you know, the same kind that steal images from independent artists like me and use the picture to sell terrible swill. So even if I could order a product that would actually fit my body (I checked the measurements chart – I couldn’t) I probably wouldn’t receive anything I’d actually want to wear.

So I thought to myself, as I very often do: “I could probably crochet that.”

And the next time I was in the Bad Yarn Buying Place, lo and behold I did find the absolute perfect yarn to imitate the garment I wanted. I decided to create what I wanted for me, and then document the process and offer it as a free tutorial here! Crappy companies steal from me and make money, so I’m stealing from crappy companies and giving back to you. And hopefully making some money. πŸ˜‰ (Speaking of which, have you seen my new Tip Jar?)

I intend to create a more comprehensive pattern for this in the future, with more detailed stitch counts and size options, but for now a description of my math and a photo tutorial with written instructions for the size I made (small) should get you started! If you make it I’d love to see – I have a Facebook Group for sharing crochet projects and we’d love to have you!

Keep scrolling for the FREE tutorial! If you want to save it for later, give it a fave on the Ravelry Pattern Page.

Materials & Notes:

Red Heart Hygge Fur (#5 Bulky, 7 oz/200 g, 260 yds – color shown is “Smokey) – 6 skeins
6.00 mm crochet hook
Buttons – I used 5/8ths inch buttons but next time I would choose inch buttons as they ended up being a little small
Ribbon or tie for the waist (optional) – I used an acyrlic mesh ribbon yarn
Scissors & tapestry needle
Measuring tape (comes in handy)

Gauge: 6 sts & 4 rows = 2″ (I measured gauge carefully but all other measurements given for schematics, fit, etc are approximated with measuring tape with the garment laid flat πŸ™‚ )

Notes: As mentioned in my demo video (link below), this pattern utilizes a yarn that makes the stitches very hard to see – so I recommend keeping good note of your stitch counts and rows! I didn’t always exactly do that, but the good news is, it’s also really easy to fudge it on this project πŸ˜›

If you’re customizing your own size working from my tutorial, you may want to keep the Craft Yarn Council Standard Sizes page handy πŸ™‚

Video Demo for working this yarn can be found here on my YouTube Channel.

Stitches Used:
Ch – chain
hdc – half double crochet
fpdc – front post double crochet
bpdc – back post double crochet
hdc2tog – half double crochet 2 together – also known as a decrease (dec)
sc – single crochet
sl st – slip stitch
MR – magic ring

Instructions

Shorts

To begin, Ch 85. Join in the first ch of the round with a slip stitch to form a ring.

Row 1: Ch 1 (does not count as first dc.) 1 hdc in every stitch. Join with a slip stitch in the first hdc of the round. – 85 sts.

Rows 2 – 20: Rpt Row 1.

Cut yarn and tie off. You’ll have a 10″ long tube, about 28″-30″ in circumference. This is most of the shorts. Next, we’ll add a small flat panel to the bottom to define the crotch and leg area.

Panel

Ch 7.

Row 1: 1 hdc in the 2nd ch from the hook. 1 hdc in ea of the next 5 ch sts. – 6 hdc.

Rows 2-10: Ch 1 (does not count). 1 hdc in every stitch. – 6 sts.

Cut yarn and tie off. Position the insert in the middle of the shorts, with one short edge against the edge on one side, and the opposite sides match the same way in the middle on the other side. Sew on the panel after checking there is an even amount of stitches left open on either side of the panel, for the legs.

I had 37 sts left free on either side for mine. I had 85 sts total for the waist, so minus the 6 sts on either side (12 total) I would have 73 remaining total. 73 / 2 = 36.5, but I’m fudging and saying 37 for simplicity’s sake. Things are fuzzy enough that 1/2 stitch estimate isn’t going to matter πŸ˜‰

Pictured above: shorts laid flat after panel is added. Also you can see my reflection.

Once the insert is placed, each leg hole will have rows added to lengthen the bottom of the shorts.

Shorts – Legs instructions
Row 1: Hdc in each hdc around, placing decreases at the corners were the insert meets the upper shorts. 1 hdc in the side of each row of the insert when working across.

Rows 2-4: 1 hdc in ea stitch around. I ended up with 42 stitches, I think I placed a couple extra decreases. Check the fit to find the right amount for you πŸ™‚

Once the rows for each leg are added, cut yarn and tie off. Shorts portion complete!

Upper Body

Belt Rib:

Locate the center stitch of the front portion of the shorts (this could be either side at this point – the shorts are identical front to back). You can do this by counting, measuring, counting up from the center of the insert, whatever. I eyeballed it carefully. We are now going to work 3 rows of post double crochets (you can find a tutorial for Post Stitches here on my blog if you don’t know how), to add some texture and a belt-loop placement for the hips.

Join new yarn at this center stitch on the top edge, working into Row 1 of the shorts. Ch 2 – does not count as first double crochet.

Row 1: 1 FPDC in the same stitch. 1 BPDC in the next st. (1 FPDC, 1 BPDC) around. Join with a slip stitch in the first st. – 85 sts

Row 2: Ch 2 (does not count). 1 FPDC in the next FPDC, 1 BPDC in the next BPDC. – 85 sts

Row 3: Rpt Row 2.

Do not tie off. For the next portion of the body, we continue working but stop joining the rounds at the end – instead we will be working back and forth in rows. This creates a front opening for the garment.

Pictured above: Post stitch rib rounds completed, with the first few rows of back- and – forth hdc added.

Torso

Row 1: Ch 1 (does not count as first hdc), turn. 1 hdc in every stitch. – 85 sts

Next, mark 1 point at each side of the torso – the place that falls at either hip. We will decrease at each of these points over the next two rows.

Row 2: Ch 1 (does not count as first hdc), turn. 1 hdc in ea st around until reaching the marked stitch. 1 hdc2tog (dec) over the marked stitch and the next st – place marker. 1 hdc in ea st around until reaching the 2nd marker. 1 hdc2tog (dec) over the marked st and the next st – place marker. 1 hdc in ea of the remaining sts – 83 sts.

Row 3: Repeat Row 2 – 81 sts.

Row 4: Ch 1 (does not count as first hdc), turn. 1 hdc in ea st around.

Rows 5- 20: Rpt Row 4.

Top Panels – Front

Now that biggest part of the upper body is build onto the shorts, we’ll fit the shoulder area. This will depend a little on how big you need your armholes – larger arms will need to leave a few more stitches unworked and/or make the panels slightly longer.

First, take two stitch markers and find the middle of each side of the garment (find by counting back from the split). Mark these two stitches as references.

For size small, I’m marking out a section 4-5 stitches inward from the front split on either side, and 4-5 sts inward from the side marker at either side. For my size the front panels will be 12 sts or ~4″ in width. Mark where you want your panels. Attach yarn at any of the markers.

Row 1: Ch 1 (does not count) 1 hdc in the same stitch. 1 hdc in ea stitch across. – 12 sts.

Rows 2-15: Rpt Row 1.

Cut yarn and tie off. Repeat on the other side of the front, counting 4-5 stitches inward of the front split in the opposite direction.

Pictured above: Both 12-stitch long front panels completed. You can also see the completed back panel behind those, which we are about to tackle…

Top Panel – Back

For the back top panel, count again 4-5 stitches inward from the marked stitch on either side and place a marker for this area. Mine was 35 stitches in width, about 11.5-12″.

Row 1: Attach yarn at marked area. Ch 1 (does not count as first hdc). 1 hdc in ea stitch across. – 35 sts.

Row 2: Ch 1, 1 hdc in ea st across. – 35 sts.

Rows 3-15: Rpt Row 2.

Cut yarn and tie off.

Pictured above: Back top panel, complete

Sleeves

Match the top edges of the front and back panels so that the outer edges of the front panels are aligned with the outer edges of the back panel.

With a yarn and tapestry needle, sew a seam across the top edges, matching each stitch together, with a whip stitch. Cut yarn and tie off. Repeat for other shoulder seam.

Pictured above: Shoulders with seams marked

With the stitch markers, mark where the seam you just sewed is located on either side.

Round 1: Attach yarn at the bottom of the sleeve, in the center of the unworked spaces at the armpit. Ch 1 (does not count as first hdc). 1 hdc in ea of the next sts around the entire sleeve, moving the marked stitch’s marker to the stitch above it as you work.

Rnd 2: Ch 1 (does not count as first hdc). 1 hdc in ea of the next sts around until reaching the marked stitch at the shoulder. 1 hdc2together over the marked stitch and the next st – move marker to stitch just made. 1 hdc in ea of the remaining sts. Join with a sl st in the first hdc of the round. – 36 sts.

Pictured Above & below: First three rounds with marker moved

Rnd 3: Rpt Rnd 2. – 35 sts.

Rnds 4 -32: Ch 1 (does not count). 1 hdc in every st around. Join with a sl st. – 35 sts.

Rnd 33: Ch 2 (does not count as first double crochet). 1 FPDC in the same st. 1 BPDC in the next st. (1 FPDC, 1 BPDC) around. Sk last st if your total sts are not an even number ( this also makes a good thumbhole if your sleeves are long enough). – 34 sts.

Rnds 34-35: Repeat round 33.

Cut yarn and tie off. Repeat for other side’s sleeve.

Hood

Row 1: Ch 21. Hdc in the 2rd ch from the hook and in ea of the next 17 ch sts. 2 hdc in the next ch st. 2 hdc in the last ch st. Rotate the chain to begin working in the bottom loop of the foundation chain stitches. 2 hdc in the next st. 1 hdc in the next 18 sts made by the opposite side of the foundation chain. – 42 sts

Row 2: Ch 1 (does not count as first hdc), turn. 1 hdc in same st. 1 hdc in the next 17 sts. 2 hdc in the next st. (1 hdc in the next st. 2 hdc in the next st) twice. 1 hdc in the next 19 sts. – 45 sts

Row 3: Ch 1, turn. 1 hdc in the same st. 1 hdc in the next 18 sts. 2 hdc in the next st. (1 hdc in the next 2 sts, 2 hdc in the next st) twice. 1 hdc in the next 19 sts. – 48 sts

Row 4: Ch 1, turn. 1 hdc in the same st. 1 hdc in the next 18 sts. 2 hdc in the next st. (1 hdc in the next 3 sts, 2 hdc in the next st) twice. 1 hdc in the next 20 sts. – 51 sts


Row 5: Ch 1, turn. 1 hdc in the same st. 1 hdc in the next 19 sts. 2 hdc in the next st. (1 hdc in the next 4 sts, 2 hdc in the next st) twice. 1 hdc in the next 20 sts. – 54 sts

Row 6: Ch 1, turn. 1 hdc in the same st. 1 hdc in the next 19 sts. 2 hdc in the next st.(1 hdc in the next 5 sts, 2 hdc in the next st) twice. 1 hdc in the next 21 sts. – 57 sts


Row 7: Ch 1, turn. 1 hdc in the same st. 1 hdc in the next 20 sts. 2 hdc in the next st. (1 hdc in the next 6 sts, 2 hdc in the next st) twice. 1 hdc in the next 21 sts. – 60 sts


Row 8: Ch 1, turn, 1 hdc in the same st. 1 hdc in the next 20 sts. 2 hdc in the next st. (1 hdc in the next 7 sts, 2 hdc in the next st) twice. 1 hdc in the next 22 sts. – 63 sts


Row 9: Ch 1, turn. 1 hdc in the same st. 1 hdc in the next 21 sts. 2 hdc in the next st. (1 hdc in the next 8 sts, 2 hdc in the next st) twice. 1 hdc in the next 22 sts. – 66 sts


Row 10: Ch 1, turn. 1 hdc in the same st. 1 hdc in the next 21 sts. 2 hdc in the next st. (1 hdc in the next 9 sts, 2 hdc in the next st) twice. 1 hdc in the next 23 sts – fig 57. – 69 sts

Pictured above: Hood to row 10
Pictured above: Hood, folded long the middle seam.

From here, the following rows work no increases to form the length of the pocket of the hood.

Rows 11-25: Ch 1, turn. 1 hdc in ea st across. – 69 sts

Row 26: Ch 2, turn (does not count as first dc). 1 FPDC in the first st, 1 BPDC in the next st. (1 FPDC, 1 BPDC) across. Sk last st if number is odd to provide even repeats.

Rows 27-28: Ch 2, turn. 1 BPDC in ea BPDC, 1 FPDC in ea FPDC across.

Cut yarn and tie off.

Ears / Tail (Make 3)

This piece is worked circularly in the round, then flattened to make one double-sided half circle shape which serves as both the ears and the tail. Make 3 total.

Round 1:Make magic ring – 6 sc into the ring. Join with a sl st in the first sc.

Round 2: Ch 1, does not count as first sc. 2 sc in ea sc around. Join with a sl st – 12 sc.

Rnd 3: Ch 1, 1 sc in the first st. 2 sc in the next st. (1 sc in the next st, 2 sc in the next st) rpt 5 times. Join with a sl st. – 18 sc.

Rnd 4: Ch 1, 1 sc in the first st, 1 sc in the next st. 2 sc in the next st. (1 sc in ea of the next 2 sts, 2 sc in the next st) 5 times. Join with a sl st. – 24 sc

Rnd 5: Ch 1, 1 sc in ea st around. -24 sc.

Rnds 6-9 or 10: Rpt Rnd 5.

Cut yarn and tie off, leaving a long tail for sewing.

Assembly:

Attach new yarn to the corner of the front opening of the onesie, so that you are working down the side of the hdc rows toward the bottom middle of the split . 1 sc in the side of each row of hdc, skipping the last – 19 hdc.

Rotate and begin to single crochet up the side of the rows on the opposite of the opening, stopping at the opposite corner. This is your button band – I sewed my buttons onto this row. I didn’t use buttonholes, opting instead to use the natural openings between stitches – if you follow my lead, you’ll need slightly bigger buttons πŸ˜› But it works okay. You can also place button openings by skipping stitches and replacing them with chains.

With the buttonhole band complete, you’ll continue working across the collar. Before continuing, find the central foundation chain of the hood and attach it via locking stitch marker to the center of the collar (found by counting out).

From here, I slip stitched the hood onto the collar by inserting my hook into both layers at once, matching one stitch per row end on the hood.

You’ll likely have to slip stitch over a few stitches before you reach the point where you begin the hood seam. It’s also perfectly acceptable to cut your yarn, tie off, and just sew your hood seam using yarn and tapestry needle – I just prefer the sl st method because the seam is sturdier.

Once the hood is complete, try on the garment if possible to fit the ears and tail where you like them, using stitch markers as a guide on where to sew. Whip stitch the edges of flattened half circles together and sew on.

With my yarn and needle, I sewed on a long and frankly overpopulated line of buttons onto one side of the opening. As mentioned earlier, my buttons are a little small to be using the stitch holes, but whatever.

Lastly, after I had woven in all the ends, I strung a length of mesh ribbon yarn through the post stitch belt loops as a tie. This garment is pretty heavy when all assembled so the belt helps keep it all stabilized.

And with that, voila! You or someone you love is now a Teddy Bear.

This piece could EASILY be any of its components as a stand-alone – i.e, just the hood with ears, or just the upper portion to make a hoodie, etc. I don’t think I could pull off just the shorts portion personally but someone might wanna try πŸ˜‰

As I mentioned earlier I do intend on creating a fully formatted pattern with sizes and exact stitch counts at some point – until then, enjoy and let me know what you think! ❀

You know, I was almost a little embarrassed to post these pictures. I don’t know if anyone would guess, but it’s a pretty big challenge for me to put myself out there like I do all the time here. So why do I do it? Because some inner force compels me to make weird stuff and share it.

Life is short. Wear whatever the F$%# you want.

-MF

P.S – I had to work really hard not to make a Quarenstain Bears joke in the main text.

T-Shirt Rug Video Tutorial

Hi everyone! Like many out there in America right now, I’m scrambling to catch up with a world that was turned upside-down by COVID-19 virtually overnight. I know that there is a lot of hype out there, but I’m taking my responsibility seriously and I hope you do too – I am practicing social distancing and self-quarantine despite not having any symptoms. This is a vital strategy for everyone to employ as much as possible right now, and here’s a great article that explains why:

Covid-19 Update: A Message From Concerned Physicians

Ok! But that just means we have lots of extra time for hobbies, right? Right. Especially ones that don’t cost us a lot of extra money, and here’s a great one I’ve been meaning to bring out in video tutorial form anyway: The T-shirt Rug!

This is a favorite project of mine, resulting in lots of versions in the past and eating up lots of recycled t-shirts given to me by friends and family. The original blog post for this project gives the links for how to make your own t-shirt yarn, as well as the written tutorial for the general strategy.

See the video below for a step-by-step guide on how to create the first part of your own recycled t-shirt rug, plus me rambling and stuttering, ya know, as a bonus. πŸ˜› Other links that are referenced in the video:
Working a flat circle

This video covers the first 9 or so rounds, and you should be able to take it from there – but I may end up doing a Part 2 if enough people want me to! As always, I love your feedback and comments so be sure to leave ’em and don’t forget to like my video and subscribe to my Youtube channel if you haven’t yet ❀

Enjoy!

UPDATE 9/2020: I did end up doing a Part 2, added below, which moves on from the basic inner circle and covers some of the fancier strategies I use to add visual interest! Hope you like πŸ™‚

-MF

Lotus Video Tutorial Part 6

It’s finally time to debut the finishing video for the Lotus Mandala Duster pattern – Part 6, the Sleeves! I’m very happy with the response from this video series and am looking forward to exploring more video tutorial goodness so be sure to subscribe to my Youtube Channel so you can catch all the latest content πŸ™‚

Since the sleeves are written in steps instead of specifically numbered rounds, you can repeat certain steps to get the length and flare that you like in the sleeve. The video goes into this more, as well as demonstrating how to taper by placing decreases, mirror the directions on the other side, etc – I tried to hit some of the major questions I’ve been asked about this part of the pattern before! Hopefully it’s helpful.

The sleeves were my stroke of drama for this design when I first made it, and what really captured my attention. The sister design, the Lotus Vest, didn’t quite charm me the way the Duster did, and I think it’s because I just love those crazy sleeves so much.

I did eventually design a slimmer, more everyday sleeve for the Lotus Vest, which could easily be crossed with the Lotus Duster using the same techniques shown in the video, if you wanted a less burdensome arm covering πŸ˜‰

Pictured above: Lotus Vest with Cardigan Sleeve added

I’d say that it feels great to wrap up this design, but I know for a fact that I’ll still be fiddling with this pattern in the future, adding more size options and so forth. I’m nothing if not persistent, LOL!

-MF