Saturday, February 15, 2014

Cream and Pastel Chunky Infinity Scarf

A few weeks ago, I started working on a new crochet project. It started out with a forest green chunky-stitch infinity scarf, which I blogged about here. After working on a few crochet square designs, I returned to my infinity scarf project to make a cream and pastel version of my chunky infinity scarf.

With my trusty wooden Q hook in hand, I stitched up this beauty, working on it in bits and snatches of time over the course of a few nights.

Made with Redheart acrylic yarn in Aran along with a variegated pastel brand from Germany, this infinity scarf will be one of two basic patterns in an upcoming infinity scarf pattern book. It's soft, has just the right amount of elasticity and the bits of pastel color woven through give a classic scarf an attractive look.

I think it's safe to say that I'm officially addicted to infinity scarves. My next scarf has already been planned, and it's a fun fun fun pattern designed for intermediate crocheters. I can't wait to share it here! Do you like or wear infinity scarves? What crochet project are you addicted to right now?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Fancy Yarns -- Do You Like Them?

I have to admit, just the word "fancy" piques my curiosity. The little girl in me conjures up visions of tutus, castles and lace. As an adult who's crochet crazy, the idea of fancy yarns delights me. Yet, I don't often know what to do with them.

Various fancys

By definition, fancy yarns are any type of yarn with a deliberate interruption or discontinuity in color or form. I have a bag full of fancy yarns -- eyelash yarns, yarns with tiny bobbles or rickrack-like things. Initially at a loss as to what to do with them, I turned to my go-to project: the hat.

A slightly metallic variegated fancy.
Eyelash yarn, which looks like yarn with fine eyelashes.
 Although the yarn was hard to work with at first, I eventually got the hang of it. A few fellow crocheters suggested using a second strand as a guide, then pulling it out after each row. I preferred to feel my way through each stitch, instead. They can be difficult to see.

My grandmother left behind a bag full of fancys when she passed away. She almost always crocheted with pastel colors of regular, four-ply yarn, so I can't imagine what on earth she was planning to do with an entire bag of eyelash yarn! Perhaps, like me, the little girl inside her was lured in by the word "fancy" and her mind envisioned tea parties with princes, moonlit dances and fun yarns that delight, even if they're only sitting in the bag.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Yarn Colors -- Do You Gravitate Toward Vibrant or Muted?

Just lately, I've noticed quite a few crochet items stitched up in vibrant colors. A deep purple infinity scarf, a kelly green neck warmer, and even a pair of hot pink mittens. It got me thinking about the yarn colors I use and tend to gravitate to.

I do love color. I'm attracted to bright colors and color combinations that make the item I'm crocheting stand out. But there are times when I shy away from the bright colors I'm attracted to and use something muted instead. Such as for these projects which, although they're not "stand up and get noticed" colors, I don't think they're dull either.

Forest green
A paler purple paired with cream.
Pale pink paired with shades of mocha brown.
Of the bright-colored projects I've made, the following are the brightest. (Which has me thinking that I need to start buying some bright-colored yarn that says "Hey, notice me!"

Granny scarf made with scraps of bright colors.
Bright-colored block afghan.

Berry red saves the day against muted green and cream.

The kelly green and deep purple I've recently seen have really inspired me to crochet something bright, even as I finish up another infinity scarf made of cream yarn with pastel shades woven into it. Or perhaps, I'll just have to be more mindful to combine toned-down colors with those that say "pick me, pick me!"

What colors do you tend to gravitate toward? Is there a color family you find yourself using over and over again? I'm interested to hear about the colors of yarn you find yourself attracted to.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

For the Love of Crochet Hats

Somewhere in here, there's a hat waiting to be crocheted.

One of my favorite crochet projects to make is a hat. When I first started relearning crochet, I made granny squares. Then I made a hat. In retrospect, it should have been the other way around.

Hats are so easy to make, and they provide nearly instant gratification. A basic beanie, shown in this fantastic tutorial, can be crocheted in a couple hours if it's for a newborn or two nights if it's for an adult.

Basic beanie
I can't even begin to tell you how many crochet basic beanie hats I've made! It's my go-to hat pattern, which I usually personalize with favorite colors or embellishments, like this:

Basic beanie with flower
 Because I need creativity the way we all need oxygen, I've tried many other crochet hat patterns. A few have been unraveled and made into something else. Many have gone on to a new home. That's what I love about hats -- they're easy and fun to make, and are great gifts. After all, is there any such thing as too many hats? Here are a few other styles I've enjoyed creating.

Newsboy cap

Pumpkin hat

For the football fan

Owl hat
My last hat project was for the two baby girls that were born into our family last week. I used the basic beanie instructions, but changed to the granny stitch after the last row of increases. This simple change adds such a pretty twist to a basic hat.

Basic beanie with granny stitch in the middle
Hat Tips: One of the most important things I learned -- the hard way, of course -- is to crochet hats to the HAT size, not the HEAD size. If you crochet to the head circumference (at the widest part), you'll end up with a hat that's too big or too lose. Measure the widest part of the head and subtract 2 inches or 5 cm. You'll get the perfect fit every time.

Do you enjoy making crochet hats? What's your favorite pattern? Today it's all about hats!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Intimidating Crochet Projects

No matter how long you’ve been crocheting, there are likely to be one or two crochet projects that intimidate you. Perhaps you’ve seen pictures on Pinterest or read someone’s blog and thought “Wow! I’d love to make that.” But you still haven’t gotten up the nerve to start.

I feel pretty confident about my crochet abilities, but there are two projects that I’ve yet to try: a crochet sweater that’s stitched up in pieces and Tunisian crochet. 

Beautiful Tunisian crochet stitch.

Crochet sweaters are on my list of projects I’d like to tackle. But as soon as I see a pattern that involves crocheting and sewing together several pieces, I back out of it and continue searching for something simpler. I’ve gone as far as modifying a one-piece infant cardigan in order to avoid what I view as the more difficult approach. My attempt led to a crochet project gone wrong, and I’ve still yet to crochet a sweater that I’ll actually wear.

Tunisian crochet, on the other hand, always looks so beautiful, and I’m tempted to try it. Then I read the instructions, and I’m put off. It’s not so much that I avoid difficult crochet patterns as much as it’s that crochet is a Zen-like experience for me. I want it to be a stress-buster, not a stress-inducer!

Intricate Tunisian crochet wrap.

Do you have an easy-to-follow sweater pattern that you’d like to share? Have you attempted Tunisian crochet? What projects intimidate you? Come on; ‘fess up! Maybe, together, we can become brave enough to try a project that’s intimidated us. I’m game if you are! And I bet we’ll find out it’s not as bad as we originally thought.