Crochet Life

Irish Fling Clutch

Moogly - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 15:20

The Irish Fling Clutch is the perfect little project to start thinking Spring with – snowy white bursts forth with bright green vines and frivolous fringe! Add a wristlet strap and you’ll be ready for that first sunny day adventure! Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links; materials provided by Red Heart Yarns and Brittany. The [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Moogly CAL 2018 – Afghan Block #3

Moogly - Thu, 02/15/2018 - 16:00

It’s time for Block #3 for the 2018 Moogly Crochet Along – and it’s amazing! This week’s stunning square is courtesy of Polly Plum and Every Trick on the Hook! Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links; yarn provided by Red Heart. Just getting started with the Crochet Along? CLICK HERE for the intro info! Want to [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Lavender Kisses Cowl Tutorial

Moogly - Tue, 02/13/2018 - 16:00

The Lavender Kisses Cowl features an easy two row repeat, and uses just one ball of yarn – and now you can make it with the written pattern (linked below), or this video tutorial and chart! Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links; material support provided by Red Heart Yarns and Furls Crochet Hooks. How to [...]

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Annie’s Spring Spirit & Red Heart Yarns Giveaway!

Moogly - Mon, 02/12/2018 - 16:00

I love it when I’m able to combine giveaways like this for one amazing prize package – for one very lucky winner! And I get to share some peeks inside Annie’s new Spring Spirit pattern collection too – read on to see more, and to enter this amazing Annie’s and Red Heart Yarns combo giveaway [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Lavender Kisses Cowl

Moogly - Fri, 02/09/2018 - 15:46

Soft, feminine, delicate, cozy, warm, and pretty – the Lavender Kisses Cowl is all these things, as well as a free crochet pattern on Moogly! Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links; hook provided by Furls Crochet. Made with Red Heart Unforgettable, the Lavender Kisses Cowl feels great against the skin, looks wonderful, and is 100% [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Brown Butter Shawl Tutorial

Moogly - Thu, 02/08/2018 - 15:04

The Brown Butter Shawl is pretty easy once you get going – it’s just turning the corners that’s tricky! So I’ve put together this video tutorial to get you off to a good start, and walk you through all the middle bits, as well as the edging! Disclaimer: Product support provided by Furls; this post [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Hookin On Hump Day #160: A Yarny Link Party!

Moogly - Wed, 02/07/2018 - 02:00

We’re really truly into 2018 now – and this cozy collection of projects is just right for the coldest month of the year! You’ve been busy – so thank you for taking the time to share your projects with us again – and thank you for checking out these fantastic links! Now, here’s what your [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

LickinFlames Shawl Bobbies Giveaway

Moogly - Mon, 02/05/2018 - 16:00

Last week I debuted the Brown Butter Shawl – and now I get to give away two of the LickinFlames Shawl Bobbies that go with it (or any shawl) so beautifully! Disclaimer: Product provided by LickinFlames for review and giveaway; all text and opinions are my own. So what on earth is a Shawl Bobbie? [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Brown Butter Shawl

Moogly - Fri, 02/02/2018 - 14:37

Shawls are comforting, beautiful, and versatile – and my latest is buttery soft as well. Introducing the Brown Butter Shawl! Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links; yarn provided by Red Heart Yarns; hook provided by Furls Crochet; shawl pin provided by LickinFlames. The Brown Butter Shawl is made with Red Heart Soft Essentials Stripes – [...]

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Moogly CAL 2018 – Afghan Block #2

Moogly - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 16:00

Welcome to Block #2 for the 2018 Moogly Crochet Along! This week’s gorgeous square is courtesy of Julie Yeager Designs! Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links; yarn provided by Red Heart. Just getting started with the Crochet Along? CLICK HERE for the intro info! Want to get help with the patterns, show off, and CAL with [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Quick Cricut Craft: DIY Dishtowels Bucket

Moogly - Wed, 01/31/2018 - 15:50

In addition to playing with yarn, I also like to play with my Cricut Maker! Alas… I also have to feed my family and clean my house once in a while. I’ve crocheted lots of helpful things for around the house, but this kitchen mess called for a Quick Cricut Craft – a DIY Dishtowels [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Too Much Yarn Giveaway!

Moogly - Mon, 01/29/2018 - 16:00

I know it doesn’t sound possible… but I have too much yarn! So I’m going to give some away! What will you get? It’s a mystery! I can tell you that you will get as many full skeins as I can squish into a Priority Mail Flat Rate Box! I do have a dog, and [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Stitch Tension in Amigurumi: an investigation

Planet June - Mon, 01/29/2018 - 13:38
Link easily to this page in your patterns: www.planetjune.com/stitchtension

Today, I’d like to dispel a common amigurumi myth…

In amigurumi, as with all crochet, you should always be keeping tension on the yarn to keep your stitches compact and regular. But I often hear misinformation that you should be ‘crocheting tightly’ to make amigurumi, and that’s not true at all!

The tightness of amigurumi stitches refers to the tension of the small stiff stitches of the fabric you produce, not to the tension in your hands while you crochet.

Showing is better than telling, so allow me to demonstrate, via a new crochet investigation, how to make perfect amigurumi stitches without hurting your hands!

Experiment 1: Effect of Hook Size

I crocheted the same sample amigurumi cup shape 3 times with different sized hooks and the same worsted weight yarn each time. I crocheted the same way as I would when making a scarf or anything else – I kept my tension even, but didn’t try to pull my stitches tightly or pull back on the yarn after pulling up each loop.

I used my standard amigurumi E hook (3.5mm), and, to show the effects of changing hook sizes, I tried a larger H hook (5mm) and a smaller C hook (2.75mm).

You can see that the stitches are neat and even in all three samples and, as you may expect, using a larger hook results in a larger finished piece that’s both taller and wider than the same piece crocheted with a smaller hook.

See how the smaller hook samples can stack inside the larger ones? There’s quite a size difference!

What you can’t tell from a photo is how stiff the fabric of each sample is. With the H hook, the fabric is too floppy to hold its shape well. With the E hook, the fabric is much firmer and holds its shape much better. With the C hook, the piece is even firmer and feels very solid.

I simulated the effect of adding stuffing by gently stretching out each piece between my fingers, so you can see the gaps between the stitches:

As you can see, the H hook fabric is far too open for an amigurumi; the gaps between the stitches are very noticeable. With the E hook, the stitches have smaller holes between them, so the stuffing would be far less visible. And, with the C hook, the gaps between stitches are almost invisible.

So here’s the result of changing hook size: a smaller hook gives a smaller and firmer crocheted piece, with tighter stitches and smaller gaps between the stitches.

These are the properties we want for amigurumi fabric! A stiff, sturdy fabric that holds its shape and has tiny gaps between the stitches is exactly what we need for crocheting a 3-dimensional sculpture.

Choosing the Right Hook Size
The C hook was the smallest hook I could manage with this specific yarn (Caron Simply Soft, a light worsted weight yarn), and I had to stop and undo a stitch a few times, when my hook hadn’t grabbed all the plies of the yarn. I wouldn’t recommend using a hook quite this small, as it’s annoying to have to undo your work whenever you realise you have a snag in your stitches from splitting the yarn with the small hook.

My Recommendation: In practice, with a light worsted weight yarn like this, I might go down to a D hook for the best balance of small, tight stitches and not splitting the yarn as I crochet. For the heavier worsted weight yarns, I still recommend an E hook for most amigurumi.

(See my Worsted Weight Yarn Comparison for more about the differences between different yarns that are all labelled as worsted weight!) Experiment 2: Effect of ‘Crocheting Tightly’

Now, part two of this investigation. I returned to my standard E hook and tried crocheting the same sample piece yet again, but this time I followed the misunderstood advice of ‘crocheting tightly’. I held the yarn tightly and pulled back on it against my hook each time I formed a loop, so each loop was tight around the hook and as small as possible.

Both these samples were crocheted with the same hook. As you can see, the ‘tight’ piece is smaller and firmer than the normally-tensioned piece, but at what cost?

When you crochet with too-tight tension, your stitches are so small that it’s hard to work back into them, and that’s what happened in this case: it was an effort to force my hook into each stitch. My yarn-holding hand began to cramp from pulling the yarn so tightly, and I didn’t enjoy the process of crocheting at all. Even finishing this small piece was very hard work.

Yes, the tight piece is definitely smaller (and therefore ‘better’ for amigurumi) but crocheting it was a horrible experience!

The Tension Exception
In amigurumi, chains and slip stitches should not be crocheted with your usual tension. These stitches need to be crocheted with an extra-relaxed tension (or a larger hook), or they’ll be too small to work back into.

See my tutorial Chains and Slip Stitches in Amigurumi for more on this. Experiment 3: Comparing Smaller Hook and Tighter Tension

Now, let’s compare the small (C hook) sample from Experiment 1 with the extra tight tension sample (E hook) from Experiment 2:

Can this be right? They look almost identical!

Yes, comparing the two pieces, they look and feel almost exactly the same – the size and shape are the same, the stiffness of the fabric is the same, the gaps between stitches are the same.

The only difference? The sample on the left was crocheted comfortably with a small hook, and the sample on the right was crocheted extra-tightly, at great discomfort, with a larger hook.

Conclusions

As these experiments have shown, there’s absolutely no advantage to changing the way you crochet when you make amigurumi by working extra-tightly (and you may actually hurt your hands, wrists and arms by doing so!)

The goal with amigurumi is to maintain tension (down and backwards) on the yarn that’s balanced by your hook pulling up and forwards. This control allows you to form neat, consistent stitches.

You should never feel you have to force your hook into every stitch and/or pull your stitches as tightly as possible. This not only distorts your fabric but can also lead to hand and wrist fatigue and repetitive stress disorders.

The secret to making good-looking amigurumi without making your hands hurt is simple:

  • Select an appropriately small hook and crochet the same way as you usually do.
  • The perfect hook for your yarn is the smallest size you can manage without starting to have problems from splitting your yarn because the hook is too small to consistently grab all the plies.

The result: neat tight stitches, with no pain!

If you ever experience discomfort when making amigurumi, I encourage you to relax that death grip on your hook and yarn, and try crocheting with a slightly smaller hook instead. Your hands will love the difference and, I hope, you’ll enjoy the amigurumi-making process more.

Have you fallen for the amigurumi myth of ‘crocheting tightly’? Please leave a message in the comments and share your experiences…

Categories: Crochet Life

Ch-ch-changes!

Moogly - Fri, 01/26/2018 - 16:00

Hey all! Just a quick note today to say… there won’t be a free pattern this week! But I have a quick announcement to share! Besides being in Denver this week for work, I’ve also got some exciting changes happening here on Moogly – including bringing you more Moogly videos and tutorials (and a few [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Improved Chainless Starting Double Crochet

Moogly - Wed, 01/24/2018 - 16:01

A few years ago I shared the way I make a Chainless Starting Double Crochet. And it was a big hit, and I’ve used it (and recommended it) in dozens of patterns since. But somewhere over the last couple years, I started adding one more step, which I think makes it even better. So I’m [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

attempting advanced origami

Planet June - Tue, 01/23/2018 - 14:00

Last year didn’t leave me with much time for ‘fun’ crafts, so I’m trying to pick that up again this year, and make time to make things just for the fun of it!

I received a pack of origami papers for Christmas, so I thought I’d try to learn more origami skills by picking a far more challenging pattern than I’ve attempted before. I chose to try a Cape Dwarf Chameleon (now I won’t be able to see real chameleons in my garden any more!) using a pattern by Quentin Trollip that’s rated as 4 out of 6 (advanced intermediate) on the origami difficulty scale.

Advanced intermediate is far beyond how I’d rate my origami skills, but there’s only one way to improve, and that’s to try something that’s out of your comfort zone! Although I’ve made lots of origami before, I usually stick to basic models with folds that you can understand with only wordless diagrams, so I was really jumping in at the deep end here.

At almost every step, I had to stop and google what each fold and instruction meant. Swivel fold? Inside reverse fold? Rabbit ear?! All new to me.

I found it difficult to understand all the new folds and spent ages staring at diagrams to try to see how one step could possibly lead to the next. But, finally, I figured out all the folds and, after a few hours, I had a finished model. It’s far from perfect, but if you squint you can just about recognise it as a chameleon!

For comparison, here’s the perfect original from Quentin Origami:


Haha, my attempt doesn’t look much like this!

Still, this is not a failure. I’ve learnt a lot from this project – persevering through learning so many new folds, and ending up with something close to what I was trying to make (although clearly a beginner-level attempt, with many mistakes).

So I thought I’d share it with you as an example of how there’s a learning process with every craft, and your first attempts may not look anywhere near perfect, but they’re a necessary step on the road to mastery, and nothing to be ashamed of.

I’ve also discovered that I prefer to make modular origami – simple folded units that combine to form a more complex result – vs trying to achieve the entire shape with a single sheet of paper. There’s a lot of dexterity and artistry needed to make advanced origami look good, but I prefer to keep my paper folding at an easy relaxing level. You don’t need to aim for mastery in order to enjoy a craft!

If you’d like to try some origami or paper-folding too, I have a few designs you may enjoy, such as these:

See all my papercraft tutorials at PlanetJune Papercraft – I can promise they are far more beginner-friendly than an origami chameleon!

Categories: Crochet Life

“Poufs & Pillows” by Ashley Leither – Giveaway!

Moogly - Mon, 01/22/2018 - 16:00

Whenever I see something crocheted, my first instinct is to touch it – and I really really want to touch the projects in Ashley Leither’s new book, Poufs & Pillows, published by Leisure Arts! Ashley sent me a copy to review and giveaway to one very lucky winner – so read on to get a peek [...]

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Speedy Button Pouch

Moogly - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 15:51

I recently wrote a post about how to create a no-sew fabric lining using the Cricut Maker. But I needed something to line, and I’d also noticed a need for a few more small pouches/pockets/and organizers in my office, and when I travel. So I whipped this up super fast (and lined it in just [...]

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Moogly CAL 2018 – Afghan Block #1

Moogly - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 16:00

I’m so happy you’ve decided to join in the 2018 Moogly Crochet Along! I’ve been absolutely thrilled to have led this CAL for the last few years, and I think it keeps getting better and better. So let’s get started with our first block of the year, courtesy of Jessie At Home. Disclaimer: This post [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

knit camel vest

Planet June - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 14:10

This is sweater #12 of my ‘learn to knit by making a dozen self-designed sweaters’ project. (Here are links to #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7 #8, #9, #10, and #11, if you’d like to see my progress.)

What could I do for my 12th sweater project that I haven’t already done?! I started thinking this would have to be a spectacular finale to the project, and that put so much pressure on me, I couldn’t get started! So I decided to step back and just make something I wanted to make, as I did for all the others.

Now, you could argue that a vest is not really a sweater, but all it’s missing is the sleeves (and I definitely know how to knit sleeves by now) so I don’t think this is cheating – I could have added sleeves if I had more yarn, and I had plenty to learn from designing and knitting this vest, which was really the point of my whole project.

I had about 500m of deliciously soft baby camel yarn left over from my amigurumi Camel (I’d bought 5 hanks to take advantage of a wholesale discount price – it was far too expensive to justify buying 100% baby camel yarn for a toy at retail price). I’d hoped to think of some way to use this extremely warm yarn to make something useful, but the low yardage was going to be a challenge, so I decided it’d have to be a fairly close-fitting vest, and I’d do some calculations on the fly to make sure I could use as much of the yarn as possible without running out.

To keep it interesting and build my skills, I chose an all-over textured stitch pattern instead of plain stockinette.

Instead of joining a new ball of yarn at the end of a row, I used the Russian join to minimise wasted yarn (and had to consult my own book for the instructions – it’s been a long time since I’ve used this join and I couldn’t quite remember how to do it!)

And my plan worked, eventually! It took some re-knitting: I started my textured stitch pattern in a way that caused the whole bottom border to flip up (a fact that didn’t reveal itself in my swatch or until I was way past the point of wanting to unravel it all and restart). I kept going and then unravelled from the bottom cast-on edge up until the point where I could fix the problem (and also to recover some yarn to use for a more substantial neckband than I’d budgeted for – I didn’t like the look of the narrow one I tried first), then I reknitted the bottom border and added the neckband.

I added a new tool to my knitting toolkit: an interchangeable crochet hook (size E/3.5mm) for picking up stitches. Being a left-hander, but a right-handed knitter, I’ve found that picking up stitches along an edge (as a way to start e.g. a button band or armhole edging) with a needle is too challenging for me. Until now, I’d been picking up a few stitches at a time with a normal crochet hook, then dropping them off the hook and picking them up on the needle, but this was slow and fiddly.

Now, I can just unscrew the needle tip from the cable, screw on the hook, pick up all the stitches with ease and slide them onto the cable as I go, and then switch back to the needle tip to begin knitting! The interchangeable hook has been a brilliant addition to my interchangeable needle collection.

In the end, I used 99% of my yarn (woohoo!) to complete the vest, and I’m happy with the result – it’s extremely soft and very warm without being bulky. It isn’t the sort of thing I’d usually wear – either in style or colour – but this extra-warm layer is turning out to be very useful, and it’s the natural colour of the baby camels who donated their yarn so that I could knit this vest, so that’s pretty cool!

Skills I learnt in this project:

  • Working an all-over texture throughout a piece (I really like the result of the stitch pattern I used – I think it looks like a yummy waffle).
  • Garter stitch… I know, it’s the most basic stitch, and yet I’ve actually never knitted anything in garter stitch until I decided to use garter edgings on this vest. I haven’t been a big fan of the look of garter, although I’m willing to change my mind on that point, because I love how flat my edgings are compared with stockinette! There are definite benefits to not being an anti-garter stitch snob.
  • Decreasing in pattern for the V-neck (note to self: if I was doing it again, I’d have left two stitches of stockinette at the edge instead of one: one for the selvedge and one to make a neat border at the base of the edging).
  • Weighing the work so far and adapting the design on the fly to account for the lack of yarn.
  • Picking up stitches around an armhole.
  • Making an armhole edging.
  • Making a buttonhole in garter stitch.

I was hoping to find some colourful buttons (maybe turquoise or dark purple) to contrast with the yarn colour, but there wasn’t anything in the right size and colour in the button shop, so I went with this dusty pink. I think it looks okay, although I may make some polymer clay buttons and swap them at some point. But, for now, it’s finished.

And, with that, my 12 sweater project is complete. Isn’t that amazing?!

I have a lot to say about the experience of the project and where I’ll go from here, but I’ll save those thoughts for a wrap-up post…

Categories: Crochet Life

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