PBT: Circle Pocket Part 1

Circle Pockets : Magic Rings, Continuous Circles, and Ami Shorthand

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

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

The first circle for this simple circular pocket is the back part, worked continuously in the round, which is what this post is all about!

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Unless I NEED a circle with a big hole in the center, I always start my circles with a technique called the Magic Ring, an adjustable base for crochet circles that leaves no central gap. This is a really easy trick that is really magic! There are a lot of tutorials already in existence for the Magic Ring (I usually refer people to Planet June’s excellent tutorial) but here’s how I do this technique:

Magic Ring

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Take the end of the yarn strand and lay it over the fingers, the end placed on the pinkie side.

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Bring the strand under the fingers and back up over the index finger, using your bottom fingers to secure the loose end and your thumb to hold the yarn strand in place.

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Slip your hook under the bottom-most strand and wrap the top strand around the hook as for a yarn over.

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Draw up your loop through the strand under which your hook was inserted. Now you have one loop drawn up through the beginning of the ring.

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Yarn over again…

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… And draw through the loop on the hook.

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Tighten the stitch you just made. Now you have a yarn ring and a loose tail of yarn coming off of this initial stitch. For taller stitches like dc and tr, this first stitch counts as the first chain in the starting chain. For single crochet, I usually don’t count this as the first stitch as it is very tight to try to work into.

Creating a Continuous Circle:

So, once you’ve started your ring, you can start stitching the first round into it. Here’s the basic theory of crocheting flat circles: you need to increase by the same number every round to keep it flat. I start single crochet circles with 6 or 8 sts (usually 6). Which means that every round, I am going to add 6 (or 8 if I start with 8) more stitches to the total count.

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6 sc into the ring. Once you have your first round, pull the loose end of the magic circle strand to tighten the ring and close the first round.

Here I am, starting with 6, working continuously and marking my first st of every round with a stitch marker.

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End of Rnd 1

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Beginning of Rnd 2

To begin the next round, work the first stitch into the first stitch of the previous round. Place a stitch marker in the first stitch to keep track of the beginning and end of the round.

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End of Rnd 2

The first round has 6 sc, the second round has 12 sc (2 sc in each sc of the previous rnd, so I’m adding 6 to the total stitch count)

Written out, that would look something like this:

“Make Magic Ring

Rnd 1: 6 sc into the ring.

Rnd 2: 2 sc in ea sc around – 12 sc”

The next round is going to add 6 sts to the total again. That means you’ll add an extra stitch (inc) to every OTHER stitch. It looks like this written out:

Rnd 3: (1 sc in the next st, 2 sc in the next st) 6 times. – 18 sc

The words in the parentheses represent a repeat, and the number outside of the parentheses represents how many times total you will repeat the instructions within.

Rnd 4: (1 sc in ea of the next 2 sc, 2 sc in the next st) 6 times. – 24 sc

That’s not that hard to type out – but I usually write things first, in a notebook. So I have a shorthand for this kind of circular crochet pattern that I use when doing long strings of shaping, such as in amigurumi style crochet, or designing circular things like my Spiral Sweater.

This shorthand is based on how many stitches you count out between increases. You start counting for every regular single crochet, then work the increase (inc), then start over counting again and repeat around. So Rounds 1-4 end up written like this – with the total st count at the end:

  1. 6 sc
    2. Inc every st – 12
    3. Inc on 2 – 18
    4. Inc on 3 – 24

“Inc on 2” means that you start counting regular sts (one…) then when you reach “two” you place an extra st. This would be placing an inc every other st.

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Inc on 2

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“Inc on 3” means you start counting regular stitches (one, two…) then when you reach “three” you place an extra st. Then starting counting over again on the next st. This would be placing an inc every 3 stitches.

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I call this notation my ami shorthand, after amigurumi of course.

BONUS: Back Loop Only Stitches

With this circle, I decided to throw in some Back Loop Only (BLO) stitches to show how it’s done on Rnd 5. So it would look like this:

  1. Inc on 4 (BLO) – 30

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Back loop only is exactly what it sounds like – insert your hook and make your stitch in only one of the two loops at the top of the stitch – the one in the back. This leaves the front loop free so you can work into it later, adding fun things like petals.

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Working BLO also leaves a pretty surface pattern from the free front loops.

Finishing Off

I took this circle up to a 60-st round total. So it would look like this written in shorthand:

Rnds 1-5 as written above
6. Inc on 5 – 36
7. Inc on 6 – 42
8. Inc on 7 – 48
9. Inc on 8 – 54
10. Inc on 9 – 60

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My circle now has a distinct hexagonal shape from placing the increases all aligned. I like to smooth the edges by ending my circles with a least one round of no increases. This also gives the pocket a little more depth. I shorthand this with the terminology “sc even” to indicate that you work one sc for each sc in the round, adding no stitches to the total for the round..

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  1. Sc even – 60

And, since we’re working continuously, that leaves us with a height difference at the end of our rounds. I finish off continuous circles with a couple of slip stitches to make a smooth edge.

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Sl st 2-3 sts, cut yarn and tie off.

In the next post I’ll make another (fancier) circle and then stitch the two together to form a pocket. But first, let’s go back to the Back Loop Only round.

Fun Ideas for Circular Pockets: Surface Shell Petals

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Since the front loops are still unworked, it’s easy to slip your hook underneath them and work something on the surface of your crochet. One of my favorite things to use these free front loops for is flower petals, such as the one in pictured here:

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To make this type of circular pocket, crochet a flat circle entirely in the Back Loop Only so that your surface on the right side is full of free front loops. Into these front loops, you can work shells like the ones demonstrated in the previous PBT post PBT: Ruffles, Shells, and Scales:

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Start by working an initial single crochet into the first free front loop, then proceed to work whatever shells you think might look pretty as petals!

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The first two shells are *1 sc, 1 hdc, 2 dc, 1 hdc, 1 sc in the next loop, then sl st in the next lp to secure. Repeating from *.

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The second two shells are *sk next loop, 2 hdc, 2 dc, 2 hdc in the next lp, sk next lp, sl st in the next lp to secure. Repeating from *.

Working an entire (continuous) circle in BLO, then using shells to fill the front loops with petals, is how I made this little silk rose pocket for my Wild Rose belt…

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And also how I made this chunky, lush rose pocket for my Garden Rose belt. As you can see, experimenting with different variables such as petal size and yarn gauge creates an amazing variety of looks even when the technique is similar!

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BUT WAIT. There’s more! Check out the next post in which we’ll crochet a multi-colored, non-continuous circle with more fun freeform techniques in PBT: Circle Pockets Part 2.

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PBT: Triangles

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

Today’s task is: Triangles! I don’t personally use this shape much in my belts, but I have seen others do beautiful pixie belts with triangles featured. Speaking of inspiration, have I mentioned I’ve been creating a special Pinterest subsection on my crochet board just for pixie pocket belts? I have, and you should follow me. Anyway, here’s triangles!

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Triangle shapes can be worked either in-the-round, where you crochet your rows in a circular direction and join them before starting a new row (using increases to create points), or in regular rows, where you chain and turn to work the opposite direction after every row (this method uses decreases to shape the piece if working from the base of the shape).

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The square pocket on “Hickory” uses back-and-forth rows with decreases placed at each end of every row to shape the triangle portion.

I personally prefer the in-the-round triangle for decorative applications, because it keeps the right side facing the entire time, which to me looks prettier. I have an in-depth photo-tutorial on in-the-round triangles in my Basic Bralette free crochet pattern, so I’ll not go over the entire thing here – please refer to that tutorial for more info! And of course, I’m using bits and scraps, so I’ll change colors every row or so.

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Pattern for in-the-round Triangle:

MR (Make Ring)

Rnd 1: Ch 2 (does not count as first st), (3 dc into the ring, ch 2) 3 times. Join with a sl st to the first dc. – 9 dc

Rnd 2: Ch 2, 1 dc into the same st. 1 dc in ea of the next 2 dc. In the next space, work 2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc. (1 dc in ea of the next 3 dc. In the next sp work 2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) repeat within parentheses twice. Join with a sl st to the first dc. – 21 dc

Rnd 3: Ch 2, 1 dc in the same st. 1 dc in ea of the next 4 dc. In the next space, work 2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc. (1 dc in ea of the next 7 dc. In the next sp work 2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) rpt within parentheses twice. 1 dc in ea of the next 2 dc. Join with a sl st to the first dc. – 33 dc

(shorthand version from here on – just continue the established pattern until your triangle is the desired size!)

Rnd 4: 11 dc, [2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc] in next space – rpt around

Rnd 5: 15 dc, [2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc] in next space – rpt around

Etc.

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I want to make my triangle just big enough for one side to match the top of my rectangle pocket – see where I’m going with this?

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So, after I’m done, I’ll  slip stitch through the top row of the triangle and the top row of the rectangle simultaneously to join them – doesn’t matter if you don’t have exactly the matching amount of stitches, ‘cause its fReEfOrM baby! So fudging it is okay. Encouraged even.

Once that’s complete, I weave in all the ends. Now I have a rectangle pocket with a cute pointed flap to cover the top. Let’s get even fancier – or as the kids these days say, extra – by using that ruffle technology I talked about earlier in the series.

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With some handspun orange wool, I attach with a sl st a few stitches down the side of the pocket. Using a gradation of stitch heights and working about 2-3 stitches per every stitch worked into, I make a funky ruffle down the side of the pocket, ending in a couple chain stitches before fastening off. Let’s go nuts and slip a bead on there, too. And some extra yarn bits for tassel.

Then, begin on the other side (working in the opposite direction if you want the right side to be facing) and do the other side to match. Now we’re talking.

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Another word on inspiration here : this is why it’s fun for me to choose a theme for these pieces, which are always nature-based for me.  What made me decide to add that crazy ruffle? Well, for one thing, I had just a bit of that thick wool orange yarn, and bulky handspun makes great funky accent choice. But more than that, I was thinking about the Maple tree, and the way the brightly colored leaves curl as they slowly dry. The pockets so far had bright fall-like colors, but the lines were so straightforward – circle, square, rectangle – that I needed a bit of crazy curl in the pockets to kind of represent that thought of the curly maple leaf. I wasn’t going for an exact replica of the curly leaf, just a touch of the spirit of the leaf. Does that sound crazy? Good. Because this is some artistic pixie magic we’re doing. Save the logic for the office.

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In the next few posts we’ll be tackling circular pockets – stay tuned!

-MF

PBT: Square Pockets

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

When it comes to pouches, a square or rectangle pocket is about as easy as you can get. Squares and rectangles are just rows, back and forth, and if you can crochet you’re probably already familiar with them. Then of course there’s granny squares, which are a whole other business, but they can also be really fun in these belts. If you want a tutorial on making granny squares, check the “Part 2 Instructions” crochet portion of this free pattern on my blog.

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Here I’m just going to crochet a rectangle, then fold it in half and seam it up the sides to make a square envelope pouch. I might add fancier stuff later, but for now concentrate on the rectangle.

To start a row for a rectangle or square, chain the length you want, then chain a few extra depending on what size stitch you are making – chain 0 extra for sc (the last ch counts as your first st), chain 1 extra for hdc (the last 2 ch count as your first st), chain 2 extra for dc (the last 3 ch count as your first st) etc.

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Then, work your rows back and forth, chaining as many as necessary for the turns (1 for sc, 2 for hdc, 3 for dc, etc) – until you have a square or rectangle. Easy! I made mine a little more textured and interesting by using rows of linked half-double crochet instead of regular hdc. You can find more info on linked stitches on my free Linked Double Crochet tutorial.

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Linking stitches creates a subtle & pretty texture as well as a sturdier fabric than regular crochet.

Fold over the piece, then use crochet stitching to work through both layers at once to seam them together. Alternatively, you could thread a yarn needle with some yarn and whip stitch them together sewing-style, but I prefer the stitch method. Here I’m going to use single crochet to seam the pieces together, because I’ve decided I’m going to come back and add a funky edging later, and I’ll need something to work into easily.

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The general rule for crocheting into the edges of rows is that you’ll want as many stitches per row edge as there are chains in the turning chain for your stitch height – so for single crochet, the turning chain is 1, and you’d make 1 stitch per row edge. For hdc, the turning chain is 2, so you’d want two stitches per row edge. Keep in mind this is a GENERAL rule and it’s going to depend on your gauge and other factors – for instance, I sometimes only make 2 stitches per row side on double crochet rows, if it works better for the specific situation.

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Anyway, seam that puppy up whatever way you feel like. Weave in your ends, and you’re done! Easy pouch. Now to make it more interesting, see the next post.

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-MF

 

PBT: Belt Base

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

Belt Base

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The belt base is where I usually start, using one of the main colors of yarn and essentially creating one long, skinny rectangle by stitching just a few rows onto a long base chain. This belt was started by using my 5.00 mm hook and the double chain technique – regular chaining is fine, I just prefer stitching into the double chain for longer projects.

Make a base chain long enough to wrap around the intended set of hips, and then some. You will most likely lose an inch or two during the process of completing the belt due to the tight slip stitching added later.

Then, add a few rows of stitching to create the belt width. I did a row of double crochet, then turned and did a row of (dc, ch 1, sk next st) repeats to add visual interest. Next, I turned and worked a single crochet in each stitch and chain space (so that I have something solid to slip stitch into at the top of the belt in the later steps).

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I got creative here and decided I wanted the middle of the back of the belt to have a little point to it, so I placed a 3-stitch decrease there in each row.

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Once you have your desired width, prepare to rotate and work into the end/side of the belt.

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I create a pointed triangle shape by working three tall connected stitches across the belt ends. These are trtr (triple treble) stitches, which are equivalent to 6 chain stitches, so I chain 6 (counts as first tr tr), then insert the hook into the middle of the side of the belt. *YO 4 times and draw up a loop from under, then draw through 2 loops on the hook 4 times, leaving the last loop on the hook.

Repeat from * working into the other end of the belt side, then YO and draw through all loops on the hook. For a great explanation on working tall stitches, see this post on Moogly Blog.

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Once you have your pointed end for the ties, you can stitch up a crocheted tie by making some kind of cord (see my guide to crochet cords) or you can leave it and attach a fabric, ribbon, or yarn tie later. Either way, once you are done with this area, slip stitch down the side of the last trtr toward the bottom of the belt. Next we’ll be working into the bottom of the chain foundation.

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For the tattered skirt portion, we’ll need something to attach the fabric strips. You can definitely just put the strips through the stitches themselves if you want, but I like to crochet on a couple layers of loops for attaching the fabric. I’ll start by chaining 7, then skipping about three stitches, then attaching with a single crochet in the next st. I repeat this across the first (almost) half of the belt.

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Around the pointed part, I want there to be more fabric. So I only skip about 1 stitch in between each loop to create this effect later.

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Then, finish up the second half of the belt with regularly spaced loops. Once you reach the other side, create another three-trtr triangle. Here I decided to add a crochet tie, so I chain a length and then slip stitch back down.

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I’m almost out of my ball of plain orange, so I’m going to consider this scrap busted, and with just enough to finish the belt base – mission accomplished!

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Orange scrap, we hardly knew ye. Just kidding, we’ve known ye for about 5 years.

My (semi)-finished belt base here measures about 38-39 inches, unstretched, not including the string tie. As you can see, it curves a little naturally due to the decreases placed at the center.  It’ll follow the curve of the hips a little nicer that way, and the extra loops at the increase point will form a fuller skirt there once I place the strips of fabric – I am aiming for a bustle effect with this one.

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But, I am also going to add a second layer of loops, just so I don’t overload the first layer and make it too bulky. With another scrap, I’ll start by attaching my yarn a ¼ of the way across – I only want this layer to be on the back half of the belt.

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Here I am chaining 7 and slip stitching in each chain loop. When I get to the center, I add an extra loop there to maintain the point by slip stitching in the same loop. Then, 8 more chain 7 loops across the other part of the belt, stopping once I have about ¼ of the way left. Second loop layer added, and another little scrap busted!

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Ta- DA! That’s it for the belt base. This is the piece that you will attach the pockets to later, and can continue to build with color and texture according to your whim.

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The belt base is a great place to start experimenting with different stitch patterns – here are some examples from other belts I’ve done.

 

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“Lavender” uses something like a granny square style stitch.

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I used a more open mesh stitch on “Nightshade” and then wove ribbon yarn through.

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Simple, straightforward double crochet works too!

If you have any questions about the tutorial so far or the techniques I’m using, please leave a comment! I love to talk shop. ❤

-MF

 

 

 

Linked Double Crochet Tutorial

Years ago, I was crocheting a mysterious pineapple stitch market bag (I can’t seem to locate the pattern now) when I ran up against a stitch I hadn’t yet heard of: the linked treble crochet. After a few wonky stitches representing my first learning attempts, I had a band of prettily textured, smooth treble crochet stitches without holes in between them. This seemed like a tiny miracle to me, since as we know the taller stitches in this lovely craft of ours are pretty hole-y. Which is sometimes great. But sometimes not.

That pretty linked stitch stuck in my mind long after I finished off the project, so I came back for more – and found that you could link any tall stitch, which I consider one of the handiest little bits of hook wizardry to know!

UPDATE 8/2020: There is now a video tutorial available for this stitch on my YouTube channel!

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Today I want to share the Linked Double Crochet tutorial, which I think is a good introduction to linked stitches and ALSO happens to be a featured stitch in my upcoming new pattern 😉  As you’ll see, linked double crochets are a neat, nice looking and easy way to eliminate gaps between stitches, which is great tool for garments that can’t be see-through or to reinforce areas of crochet for durability.

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Here is a shameless plug for the Plus Size Sol halter top pattern, in which I used linked double crochet (ldc), seen above! I also find ldc does a very nice job at creating borders for Tunisian crochet fabric like in my Shaman Coat pattern– the texture and density of the two stitch styles work well together.

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Neat, huh? So let’s do this!

Linked Double Crochet (ldc)

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Linked double crochet (ldc) uses the middle (horizontal) bar of the previous dc stitch to draw up a loop, instead of using a yarn over wrap as for a normal dc. This loop is then crocheted into the stitch as the yarn over would be, and the resulting stitches are linked by their horizontal bars.

Step 1: 

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Beginning with the first dc of your linked double crochet section, locate the “bar” of the stitch which runs diagonally across the middle, shown here highlighted in blue. Insert your hook, from top to bottom through this one strand.

If you are beginning a new row and not starting in the middle of a row of regular stitches, you can insert through the front half of the second chain of the turning chain, or make a regular dc to start.

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Step 2:

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Yarn over and draw up a loop through this strand. The loop just made stands in for the YO wrap that would normally begin a double crochet stitch.

Step 3:

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Insert hook into the next stitch and draw up a loop – three loops on the hook.

Step 4: 

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Yarn over and draw through 2 loops.

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Yarn over and draw through two loops again to complete the stitch. The new stitch now has a middle bar (bright blue) that is linked to the middle bar of the previous stitch (faded blue).

To continue, keep inserting your hook into the middle bar of the previous ldc and drawing up a loop to replace the yarn over. The result is a line of sturdy but flexible stitching with a pleasing lined texture.

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Aww, it’s like they’re holding hands.

And about those linked treble crochets I mentioned at the beginning of the post – since they’ve got TWO middle bars, you can just draw up two loops – which stand in for the TWO yarn overs you would do for a regular treble. Pretty slick, eh? I think so.

-MF

Post Stitch Ribbing Tutorial

I LOVE post stitches. Whether in the context of ribbing, overlay crochet,  or the ever-popular crocodile stitch, I think post stitching is one of the most versatile and useful tricks in the crocheter’s arsenal.

Post stitching can create a number of looks that are completely unique to crochet, but I often rely on the simple alternation of front post double crochet (fpdc) and back post double crochet (bpdc) to make ribbing on my pieces. This fpdc/bpdc rib mimics the look of knit, but it also lends some handy characteristics to the fabric – an elasticity and a squishy density you won’t get with regular crochet!

PostStitchPinstructional1 Just like knit, fpdc/bpdc ribbing is great for the ends of sweater sleeves, boot toppers, the brims of hats, or anywhere you want a great combination of texture and stretchiness. I’m a fan of doing whole pieces with post stitch rib in bulky yarn just for the squishy joy of it.

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SQUISHY JOY. These are hats made from my Gnome Toboggan design, a post stitch beanie with a pointy poofball profile.

Here’s a tutorial for fpdc/bpdc rib – earlier versions of this tutorial have appeared in a number of my paid patterns, but I swiped the pictures for this particular tutorial from the Boho Fringe Poncho pattern, since the bulky yarn makes things a little easier to see.

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Front Post Double Crochet / Back Post Double Crochet Tutorial

As the name suggest, this stitch is worked into the “post” of the stitch below, rather than into the top loops.

To start, you’ll need an even number of stitches (divisible by 2) on whatever it is you are adding the ribbed edge to. You can do this with any size yarn or hook.

Create 1 row/rnd of traditional double crochet, made the through the top loops of the stitches below as normal. Do not count the beginning chain as your first stitch. If you are adding ribbing onto a row/rnd that is already regular double crochet, you can skip this step.

Ch 2 or 3 to start the next row/rnd. This beginning chain does not count as your first stitch.

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Normally, ch-3 is the  beginning chain equivalent of a double crochet. I like to chain 2 instead of the traditional 3 because post stitches are a little shorter than regular crochet stitches, so the ch-2 just looks neater to me (but the pictures show the traditional ch-3). 

To begin the first front post double crochet, yarn over once as for traditional dc. Instead of inserting your hook into the top loops of the stitch to be worked, you will insert your hook from the front of the work (on the right side) to the back (the wrong side) beside the next stitch to be worked.

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In the top photo, the “post” of the stitch to be worked is highlighted.

Next, re-emerge the hook from back to front on the other side of the stitch to be worked. Your hook should be positioned across the front of the work, with the post caught over the top of your hook.

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Please forgive the state of my nails 😛 I’ve never been one for manicures.

Yarn over and draw a loop up from under the post of the stitch that you had on the hook. You will now have 2 loops on the hook – your second loop will be wrapped around the post.

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Yarn over and draw through 2 loops on the hook. Yarn over once more and draw through the last 2 loops on the hook, completing one front post double crochet.

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Easy, right? Good news! The back post double is almost exactly the same thing, except, you know, on the back. To continue your ribbing, yarn over.

Insert your hook from the back of the work (the wrong side) to the front of the work (the right side) beside the next stitch to be worked.

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Re-emerge the hook on the back side of the work (the wrong side) on the other side of the stitch being worked. Your hook should be positioned across the back of your work, with the post of the next stitch caught over the top.

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Yarn over and draw up a loop from under the post of the stitch you had on the hook.

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Yarn over and draw through 2 loops on the hook, then YO and draw through 2 loops again, completing the bpdc.

Continue to alternate fpdc and bpdc. I like to do 1 fpdc / 1 bpdc, but you could easily make thicker ribs by alternating 2 fpdc / 2 bpdc or more (but don’t forget this will change the required number of base stitches!)

The front post stitches appear as a raised stitch on the front of the work, while the back post stitches appear raised on the back and only show up as receding lines on the front.

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This fabric is reversible – if you are working in rows and not rounds, when you turn for the next row, the back post double crochets will become the front post double crochets – simply fpdc into each fpdc (the stitches that are now sticking out) and bpdc into each bpdc (the receding stitches).

It takes a few rows/rnds of post stitch rib for the texture to really solidify and get the crisp look and useful stretch – so if yours isn’t looking quite right yet, keep going for a few more!

Of course, post stitches can be worked with any length of crochet stitch – sc, hdc, dc, tr, etc – the smaller your stitches the stiffer your fabric will be, and taller stitches will be looser of course. Here’s some patterns I’ve made using this technique; hope you enjoy!

-MF

(Right to left) Gnome Toboggan – paid, Boho Fringe Poncho – paid, Mini Mandala Tam – paid, Post Stitch Pixie Bonnet – FREE, Leafy Tam – FREE, Woodsman’s Wife Ruana – paid, Steampunk Ruffled Wristers – FREE

Chain & Stitch Join Tutorial

The chain & stitch combination join is probably the most-used technique in my yarny bag of tricks; it’s also the subject of many of the questions I get about my patterns!

I use this end-of-the-round joining technique in the majority of my designs, since it is ideal for openwork circular crochet (my favorite) in which you want to begin the next round in the middle of a chain space.

 

Crochet Market Bag 2

Say we are creating several rounds of ch-4 mesh loops, like in my free market bag pattern. Since the sc “anchor” of these loops is worked into the middle of the chain space, we have to begin and end the rounds in the middle. If we finish the last ch-4 loop and connect it to the first sc of the round, we join with a slip stitch and end the round with our hook positioned on the sc, not in the middle of the loop. In this scenario, it would be necessary to “travel” forward to the middle of the next loop to begin. Usually this is done by slip stitching.

Which totally works – but for personal preference, I like to replace the slip stitch travel with the chain & stitch combo join. It lets me avoid adding bulk or changing the tension of the lace design. Also, working into individual chain stitches can sometimes be tedious 😛 As I’m sure we all know.

Here’s how to replace those slip stitch travels!

chainlength

Since each crochet stitch has an equivalent number of chain stitches, chain and stitch joins just replace a certain number of chain stitches in a loop with a crochet stitch of equivalent length worked into the stitch in which you would normally join. (Some people typically equate one chain length for a hdc. More on that later)

chstjoincombo1

In a chain 5 loop where we wanted to start the next round in the middle of a space, we’d replace the last 3 chains in the loop with a dc (equivalent of 3 chains) worked into the beginning of the round to join. This lands your hook in the middle of an equivalent sized space, ready to start the next round without traveling anywhere. The side of the dc stitch is now treated as the second half of the loop, with any new stitches of the next round worked under the side of the stitch.

chstjoincombo2

You can replace any number of chain stitches in a row-end join with a stitch, depending on where you want your hook to be positioned for the next round. If your next round works several stitches into the chain spaces, you can begin further back on the loop to make room by replacing more chains.

chstjoincombo3

The ch-1 and treble combo pictured above (forming a ch-5 sized loop) leaves some space ahead in the loop for working several stitches.  Also, depending on your gauge and tension, you may find that some stitch join combos work better than others.

For instance, I often work stitch joins that are a little over half because I find that it ends up looking more centered. Using ch-1 and a double (3 chains long) to end in the middle of a ch-4 sized space works better for me than a combination of 2 chains and a hdc. The image below is an example that from the Lotus Mandala Duster pattern, which uses a ton of joins like this:

chstjoincombo4

Rather than work a ch-2 and hdc stitch join combo, which would ideally replace 2 of the chain stitches, I use a ch-1 and dc combo. One of the reasons for that is the pesky HDC is easily shortened by tension/gauge differences – which, actually, makes it good for replacing BOTH lengths of 2 chains and lengths of one chain.

LotusJoinTute1

In the example above, a hdc is replacing the entirety of a ch-2 length space before chaining for the next round. I keep the tension loose so it’s more like 2 ch stitches long. In the example below, I use the hdc to replace a ch-1 size space by keeping the tension tight to shorten it.

DSC_1242.jpg

PS this is DEFINITELY not a sneak peek of a brand new AWESOME pattern I am working on finishing up 😉 I am NOT EXCITED ABOUT IT AT ALL

When it comes to ch-1 length spaces, I dither back and forth between chain & stitch joins and slip stitch travels. Sometimes substituting a stitch isn’t really necessary or is disadvantageous depending on where you want to land for your next round.

One way the choice between the two methods makes a difference is that it changes the way your join “seams” lean. For slip stitch traveling, each round is going to be offset FORWARD in your pattern, meaning that you will begin slightly further along in the circle in whichever direction you crochet (to the left for righties, to the right for lefties).

With chain & stitch join combos, your joins will lean BACKWARD in your pattern because each new round will be offset in the opposite direction you crochet (to the right for righties, to the left for lefties). Here’s an example of a part of the Lotus Duster that has several rounds of openwork crochet that use the chain & stitch join combo. The joins are highlighted.

chstjoincombo5.jpg

Because of this difference in direction, it’s important to use whichever join strategy the pattern indicates unless you are positive that it won’t matter later.

That’s it! If you have any questions about the chain & stitch join combo, ask away in the comments below! 🙂

 

A few of my patterns that use the chain & stitch join combo: (clockwise left to right) Blossom Vest, Flower Child Pullover, Sol Halter Top, Mini Mandala Tam, Lotus Vest, Lotus Duster…

And of course, more to come 😉

-MF

 

Ivy Crown Free Crochet Pattern

 

 

When I first worked out my little quirky leaf motif I knew I had to make a leafy crown out of it at some point – I just couldn’t find the right yarn at the hobby stores. I wanted it to be delicate and pretty, not bulky, but the yarns I tested didn’t fit the bill.

Ivy5

And then the very obvious solution hit me – use THREAD, not yarn, holding two strands together to make it bigger. Yay! So without further yammering, here’s the FREE crochet pattern for this fun leafy DIY floral crown.

Update 1/25/19: This pattern has now been linked in the Ravelry pattern database! Be sure to give it a favorite if you like it 🙂

Ivy Crown Crochet Pattern

fairyshawl13

 

Materials:
2.25 hook
#10 cotton crochet thread – You will need 2 cones of either the same or coordinating colors, because the pattern is worked with the 2 threads held together.

For a full photo tutorial on how to make the quirky crochet leaf, see this blog post.

  1. Grab both strands of cotton thread and form a slipknot.
  2. Ch 12.
  3. In the 3rd ch from the hook, work 4 dc.
  4. Work a ch-2 length picot in the top of the last dc.
  5. 3 hdc in the same st as the first 4 dc sts.
  6. Rotate the leaf – work 2 hdc in the same stitch but on the other side of the beginning chain (This is the quirky part – see the photo tutorial for help)
  7. Sl st in the 2nd ch of beg ch-2 on the leaf.
  8.  Sl st into the 2nd ch st from the motif on your original chain, anchoring the back of your leaf.DSCN8069
  9. Repeat from Step 2 – you can vary the spacing of the leaves by adding or subtracting chain stitches in between, as long as you have a minimum of 5 ch sts. I like to randomize the chain length at anywhere between 8-12 stitches between leaves for a subtle organic look.

I repeated 44 times, for a total of 45 leaves or 55″ in length, and made three in different colors!

Ivy3

fairyshawl14

These leafy li’l guys have tons of potential:

  • twist or braid several together to create even fuller floral crowns (as seen pictured on my head)
  • add beads, charms, or little crocheted flowers
  • make shorter versions to create a choker necklace or double up the long version to make a lariat-style necklace. Like this!

I’ve got a respectable amount of crochet thread hanging around currently so I know I’ll be making more of these garlands!

fairyshawl11

The shawl I’m wearing is my original Ida Shawl crochet pattern!

-MF

 

Lotus Mandala Vest FAQ

Hi everyone! There’s been a recent surge in popularity of the free Lotus Mandala Vest pattern I designed last summer and I’ve been getting a lot of questions so I wanted to post this quick little FAQ. I have done my best to get back to everyone who  had questions (let me know if I missed you!) and I am SOOOO STOKED that you all like it so much!

Lotus Mandala Vest FAQ

Where can I get a printable PDF of this pattern?:

There is now a PDF version of this pattern, as well as a low-image printer-friendly version, available through Ravelry and Etsy. Check out the details on this blog post.

Is there a video tutorial for this pattern?:

Yes! I have begun recording the first 16 rounds of this design as the Lotus Mandala, which occurs in this pattern and the Lotus Duster pattern. You can find links to those videos here.

Also,  Cynthialoowho volunteered to create a video tutorial for the full vest pattern and it is available on her Youtube channel here.
*** EDIT: I have been told that Cynthialoowho’s video directions differ from my written directions at certain points – which is fine and many people have used the video successfully – however PLEASE be aware that if you work from the video pattern, you need to direct your questions to Cynthia as I may not be able to answer them for this reason***

What size does this pattern fit?:

I designed this vest to have a very loose fit, with wide armholes placed 15″ apart across the back (relaxed). The diameter across the portion of the vest with armholes is 45″. The lovely Arika is shown modeling the vest in the pictures above, and it comfortably fits her with a bust of 41″,  and a shoulder width measurement of 16″. Hopefully that gives a more accurate depiction of the sizing!

How do I make the vest bigger?:

There are several good strategies for sizing up on this pattern – and although I don’t have an exact pattern for different specific measurements, I can offer a few tips gathered from my own experience and what others have suggested:
– Make sure to take the measurement between the shoulders for the person who will be wearing it! This is how far apart to place the armholes. Smaller sizes will place the armholes closer together, larger will generally place them farther apart.
– For bigger sizes, you will probably want to add extra repeats of Rnd 29, to make sure there is a wide enough edge for the garment to drape and ruffle proportionately.
-It’s also an option to add additional rows just before the armhole round.
-You can increase the size of the armholes by simply chaining more per armhole (your stitch counts will be different, but as long as you just repeat the main pattern around, you should be good), but be sure to skip more stitches on the round below if you do.

How do I make this vest smaller/child size?:

This depends on how small you want the pattern to be. For a smaller adult/teen size, placing the armholes closer together will size the vest down, and you can also size down by using a smaller yarn weight (such as a #2 weight instead of a #4 weight) and smaller hook. However, I can’t say how well this design will work for very small children as I have not tried it. The central “lotus” motif to this vest is fairly large and might not sit well on a much smaller body – When asked about making it in child size I generally refer people to the great free pattern Ring Around the Rosie Vest from The Lavender Chair, which is similar in style and written specifically for the wee ones.

Where can I buy this vest?:

I’m not currently making these for sale, but there are some great shops on Etsy that I have seen selling this design if you search around. Fiona of MadeForYOUbyFi on Etsy has several beautiful pieces made from this pattern and has generously offered a 15% off discount of orders over $50 when you use my special code “MORALE”!

~*~

That’s it for now! I will post more common questions if they come up. Thanks so much everyone for your support!

-MF

Quirky Crochet Leaf

I’m hunkered down through yet another day of downpour and thunder, which I don’t mind at all because it’s generally preferable to a drought and rain helps everything stay nice and green. Such as leaves.

And speaking of leaves (as if I didn’t purposefully steer the first paragraph to this subject), I’ve been tinkering with versions of crochet leaf motifs around the internet in search of something simple and fuss-free that would also let me crochet said motifs into long chains.

What I eventually came up with was this slightly off-kilter little leaf which combines double crochet and half doubles with a picot working into a single chain. I like it because a) it’s quick and dirty and b) it has potential as more than just a leaf – but more on that later.

Here’s how to work it, with any yarn and hook combo you prefer:

1.Ch 5 or more – the last 2 ch sts count as the beg chain. 4 dc into the 3rd ch from the hook.

QuirkyLeaf1

2. Work a ch-2 picot. 3 hdc into the same ch st as the first 4 dc.

QuirkyLeaf2

3. Rotate your leaf. You will now work the remaining stitches into the same ch stitch, but on the other side of the beginning stitches.

QuirkyLeaf3

4. 2 hdc into the space indicated.

QuirkyLeaf4

5. Sl st into the 2nd ch of beg ch-2.

QuirkyLeaf5

6. Sl st into the 2nd ch st from the motif on your original chain, anchoring the back of your leaf.

QuirkyLeaf6

6. Repeat! You can make these little guys as close together or far apart as you like, as long as you have a minimum of 5 ch sts on which to work them.

QuirkyLeaf7

I like how they lean a little, a bit like a paisley. The first time I worked these it was on a leafy halter top:

LeafyBralette1

But soon I realized they also had potential to be little raindrops, which is entirely appropriate for a rainy day like today:

RainbowBralette1

Or how about a nice free hat pattern using these little guys?

 

-MF