5 Crochet Patterns That Served Me Well This Christmas

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Unlike last year, I got an early start crocheting Christmas gifts this year. But I still ended up hooking gifts on Christmas Eve. This wasn’t such a big deal because I had great patterns to work with, four of which I could crochet in one evening. Fortunately, I got them all finished and wrapped by Christmas Eve.

Here are the finished gifts with links to the patterns I used.

Wine (or Alcohol) Bottle Cozy

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This gift was for my daughter (yes, she’s old enough!) who is a HUGE scull fan. I was inspired by wine bottle cozy patterns I saw on Rhelena’s Crochet ‘N Crafts blog and free-handed this one, alternating rows of single crochet with half double crochet so it wouldn’t take forever to work up. I used worsted weight acrylic yarn and an H/5 mm hook.

I also added an edging of reverse single crochet at the bottom and top of the cozy, working the last round of the cozy base in one loop only, so I could add the reverse single crochet stitches in the skipped loops once the body was done. The tie consists of three long chains tied together in knots at each end.

I wasn’t too thrilled with how the skull turned out. I worked it separately and then completed the unfinished rounds by attaching the ends to the skull with slip stitches. The skull is worked on a chain of 12 stitches and comes from this skull hat pattern  I found on Ravelry. If I make this again, I’m going to create a skull appliqué and sew it on the cozy instead of trying to incorporate it into the body of the piece.

My daughter loved the cozy, as well as what was inside it!

Easiest Ever Infinity Scarf

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As soon as I saw this Infinity scarf pattern, I knew I would be making several. I recently started crocheting scarves when a friend reminded me that, even though it’s hot just about year round in Hawaii, many people work in cold, air-conditioned offices and would appreciate a scarf like this. So I made four of them.

The pattern uses Lion Brand Homespun, a soft, bulky-weight yarn and a Q/15.75 mm hook. I only had a P/15 mm hook, so the “holes” in my scarf are a little smaller than they should be, but they still came out nicely. And one scarf only took about 90 minutes to make. The lacy effect comes from using the big hook. No fancy stitching – it’s all single crochet!

Brain Wave Beanie

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This beanie pattern has become a favorite; I love the wave-like pattern which is achieved by varying the height of the stitches (i.e., sc, hdc, dc, hdc, sc). I hadn’t been crocheting many hats, for the same reason as the scarves, but I figured a beanie wouldn’t be too warm. Plus, it got down into the upper 50s last night, and a hat like this would keep a head warm.

I used worsted weight acrylic yarn I had in my stash for these, but I think cotton yarn would work as well. And if I started early enough, I could make one beanie per day.

Berry Harvest Bandana Cowl

Moogly Shawl

Here’s another pattern that, as soon as I saw it, I knew I’d be making some to give away at Christmas. It’s Moogly’s Berry Harvest Bandana Cowl. I could finish one of these over two evenings of crocheting in front of the tv.

I used Caron Simply Soft for a turquoise cowl and Red Heart Super Saver for this light blue one. The downside of using acrylic yarn for this pattern is that the piece needs to be blocked after it’s finished to open up the lace pattern. And as you may know, acrylic yarn is tough to block. It’s not impossible but you have to be careful not to “melt” the fabric.

I threw my two cowls in the washer and dryer which loosened up the fibers a bit. But I would recommend using the pattern yarn, a DK-weight wool or a similar substitute yarn that can be wet blocked.

Kitty Pillow

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This was the only gift I had to start in September because I knew it would take me a couple of months to complete. I worked it from a crochet photo pattern that I created from a photo I took of our housemate’s cat, General Meow. Her eyes are so expressive!

After finishing the pattern, I made a piece for the back, crocheting the same amount of rows and stitches as the front piece. Then I single crocheted up the three sides of both pieces, inserted a pillow form purchased at our big box craft store, and crocheted the final side closed.

This is the gift I was finishing up on Christmas Eve. Too bad I didn’t look at it after I finished the two main pieces in November because the pillow form was a size too small. Thank goodness I had some poly-fiber fill that I could use to stuff where the pillow form left gaps. Next time, I’ll purchase one that is an inch or two wider and longer than the crocheted pieces.

I hope your Christmas gift making was as easy as mine was. These patterns make perfect gifts no matter what time of the year it is.

Craftsy Crochet Classes – A Smart Investment

This post contains affiliate links. Read my Disclosure Policy  for more information. Thanks for your support!

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Whether you’re a seasoned crocheter or just beginning, Craftsy offers a wide variety of crochet and fiber arts classes that will help you become an even better crocheter.

Classes are reasonably priced, ranging from $14.99 to $24.99. For budget conscious crocheters, Craftsy is always having sales and offers several free “mini-classes.”

Best of all, Craftsy has one of, if not the, best training platforms for craft classes on the Internet. Classes –

  • Are taught by highly respected designers and artists like Kim Werker, Edie Eckman, Drew Embrosky, and Myra Wood.
  • Are expertly formatted to include detailed information, videos, handouts, and practice exercises
  • Can be viewed at your convenience, over and over, forever.

You can  also interact with and share photos of your work with your classmates, as well as contact the instructor to get your questions answered and the help you need. Here is a small sampling of Craftsy classes crocheters can benefit from.

Free “Mini-Classes”

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Amazing Crochet Textures  – By the end of this course, you’ll have created a beautiful, 12-block afghan using ribbing, cables, and beads.

Know Your Wool  – Even though this class focuses on knitting, I learned a great deal about the different types of animal fibers and the best ways to use them.

2014 Block of the Month: Craftsy Color Theory  – If you’re as confused about color theory as I am, this is free quilting class is an excellent way to learn how to select the best colors for your crochet projects.

Crochet Classes

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Crochet Basics and Beyond  – This is a great class for the beginning crocheter who wants to expand his or her knowledge base by learning to work in the round, read patterns, change colors, measure gauge, and much more.

Mastering Foundation Crochet Stitches  – Not only do crochet foundation stitches avoid the frustration of starting a project with a long chain, they solve a number of other problems, including crocheting with tricky-to-stitch yarns and adding stitches at the end of a row. They are also easy to use in complex stitch patterns.

Freeform Crochet  – I can’t recommend learning freeform crochet highly enough. It’s liberating, builds confidence, and fosters experimentation and risk-taking. If you’re ready to explore the endless possibilities freeform crochet offers for creating beautifully textured fabric, this class is for you.

Crocheting in the Round – Mix and Match Hats  – By the end of this course, you’ll be designing and crocheting beanies, berets, and cloche hats that incorporate intricate color work. Best of all, you’ll learn how to crochet hats that actually fit.

See It, Crochet It – Reading Diagrams  – Knowing how to read crochet symbol diagrams opens up a whole new world of crochet projects. All of the chart reading techniques you’ll learn in this class result in the creation of a beautifully textured cowl.

My First Crochet Cardigan  – Take your crochet to the next level by learning to crochet a simple cardigan. The skills you learn in this course will boost your confidence and have you tackling more complex garment projects.

Professional Finishing for Perfect Crochet  – This class will teach you over 30 professional finishing techniques for blocking, seaming, creating button holes and button bands, and altering garments for a perfect fit. Use these techniques to create projects with that “store bought” look.

Fiber Arts Classes of Interest to Crocheters

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Spindling – From Fluff to Stuff  – This is a comprehensive class that will teach you just about everything you ever wanted to know about using a drop spindle to create a variety of yarn textures.

Shuttle Tatting  – Tatting, once a lost Victorian art, is experiencing a modern-day resurgence. Learn the basics of tatting, including how to tat knots, chains, and picots to create delicate jewelry and embellishments for quilts and paper crafts.

Classes for Your Crochet Business

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How to Teach It  – For those of you who want to teach crochet, this class is a “must.” You’ll learn about the business of teaching, the fundamentals of course design and development, as well as how to market your class, manage your classroom, and teach at the national level.

Shoot It! A Product Photograph Primer  – If you’re selling your crochet projects online, you know how important it is to have professional-looking product photos. This class will teach you how to take those pro shots with any camera. You’ll learn how to plan and execute a photo shoot, as well as basic digital photo editing techniques.

A Great Time to Learn

As of this writing, all Craftsy classes are on sale for $19.99 or less. So it’s a great time to become a member if you aren’t already. If you’d rather do a little “tire-kicking” first, take one or two of the free mini-classes to get a feel for how the Craftsy training platform works.

Sign up today to become a member and start mastering new crochet skills.

Changing a Crochet Pattern to Suit Your Personal Preferences

Beginning of what will be a nice granny-style poncho

Beginning of what will be a lovely child’s granny-style poncho

I’m working with my eight year-old crochet student on a granny-style poncho which we are both making, hers for herself and mine for her little sister. The poncho is crocheted in the round, and it’s like making a granny square, except there are only two corners instead of four.

What I love about the pattern (pattern link at the end of the post) is that the designer includes a symbol chart along with the written instructions. I’ve been trying to think of ways to start my young student reading simple patterns, but I think symbol charts might be the way to go for now. They seem to be a lot easier than written patterns for her to understand.

On the other hand, there are a couple of things I don’t like about the pattern; so I decided to make some changes to suit my personal preferences. It’s also a way to teach my student you CAN make adjustments to a pattern if there’s something you’d prefer to do differently.

Adjusting How Rounds End and Begin

One of the things I want to change in this pattern is the way the rounds end and begin. The designeruses the “half-corner” method I wrote about in a blog post that describes 3 ways to begin and end a granny square round.

Remember, this poncho is essentially a granny square with two corners instead of four. So these methods will work with this poncho.

Half-Corner Method

The "Half-Corner" Method

The “Half-Corner” Method

As the name suggests, the round begins with haft a corner (a full corner is “3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc).

To begin the half corner after you’ve ended the previous round with a slip stitch to join, you chain 3 and then do 2 double crochets to create the half corner in the chain space. At the end of the round, you finish that half corner with “3 dc, ch 1, sl st to the top of the dc of the first half of the corner.” So in the “half corner” method, all of the rounds begin and end at this corner.

The problem is that the two double crochets of the first half of the corner are actually worked BEHIND the beginning ch 3, even though they look like they come after the chain 3. That’s the only way you can get them in the chain-1 space that separates the two halves of the corner.

My student had some difficulty making those two double crochets, so we decided to use the third method described in my blog post. I call it “It Depends How the Round Ends” method because how you begin the round depends on how you completed the previous round. (I describe this method fully in the blog post referenced above).

But using this method brought something else to my attention that I decided to change, namely, getting rid of the dreaded “chain 3” double crochet.

Getting Rid of The Dreaded “Chain 3” Double Crochet

The “It Depends” Method

"It Depends Method" - Start round with a Ch 4

The “It Depends Method” – Start round with a Ch 4

One of the two ways the rounds begin in the “It Depends” method is to start with a chain 4, which counts as 1 double crochet (chain 3) and a chain 1.

As most crocheters will tell you, the chain 3, which substitutes for the double crochet at the beginning of a round or row, is a lot thinner than an actual double crochet and leaves an ugly gap between it and the next double crochet. So we’re always searching for ways to make it look more like a REAL double crochet.

I came across one such ch-3 alternative at the Shibaguyz Designs blog that involves substituting a “single crochet, chain 2” for the chain 3 at the beginning of a row (or round).

It’s a lot better than a chain 3, but I thought, why not a “half-double crochet,  chain 1″ instead?

Substituting "1 hdc, ch 2" for the beginning ch 4

Substituting “1 hdc, ch 2″ for the beginning ch 4

I like that this “fake double crochet” is almost the height of a real double crochet. The extra chain in the ch 2 represents the chain 1 between each group of 3 double crochets of the granny pattern repeat.

So we have adjusted the pattern to include a “1 hdc, ch 2” at the beginning of the round that requires a chain 4. When you’re at the end of the round, you’ll complete the corner with “3 dc, ch 1, 2 dc, sl st to 1st ch after the hdc.”

Note: When using the “It Depends” method, the beginning of the round will move one 3-dc group to the left (to the right if you’re left handed like my student) of the “3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc”corner as you work succeeding rounds. The orange stitch marker in the photo above is where the round originally began and ended on round 2 of the poncho pattern.

The "It Depends" Method - Start  the round with “ch 3, 2 dc in the ch-1 space.”

The “It Depends” Method – Start the round with “ch 3, 2 dc in the ch-1 space.”

When the end of the previous round calls for you to start the new round with a “ch 3, 2 dc in the ch-1 space,” we’ll replace that chain 3 with a “1 hdc, ch 1.” At the end of the round, “ch 1, sl st to the top of the beginning ch 3.” Then begin the next round with a chain 4 and alternate between these two ways to end and begin succeeding rounds.

Two Changes Made to the Poncho Pattern

To sum  up, I made two changes to this pattern. I –

  • Changed the way the rounds end and begin.
  • Substituted a “fake double crochet” for the ch-3 double crochet.

These adjustments won’t affect how the finished piece looks. In fact, I think they’re going to improve the end result.

Here’s a link to the poncho pattern in case you’re interested in trying it for yourself. (Note: The pattern uses European crochet terms).

What adjustments to crochet patterns have you made to suit your personal preferences?

Crochet Photo Art Business Interview: Nora Ashley

I’ve written elsewhere on this blog about how it’s possible to set up a crochet portrait or photo art business that lets you sell pieces you create from customers’ personal photographs. One of my pattern customers, Nora Ashley, has done just that. I asked Nora if I could interview her about her business, and she gladly agreed.

When did you first learn to crochet and who taught you?

I was already knitting by the time I got to 6th grade. My mom taught me how. I was even asked to show the other kids how to knit during our after-school craft hours. Even the teacher was impressed with my skills.

Then I wanted to learn crochet. I was in the hospital at age eight and had just started to learn how to do the chain stitch; that’s all I knew. Every time I’d finish the ball, I figured out what my mom was doing. She’d go out of the room, unravel the chain, ball up the yarn and hand it back to me again just to keep me going. Then I started to buy books, so I am mostly self taught.

What kinds of items do you like to crochet?

I mostly did blankets at the time, but was looking for work, and who knew that I’d be working for a designer. She taught me a lot about garment making. She would design the originals, and I would help her mass produce her products. I learned how to make everything, including vests, skirts, pants, shorts and even dresses and ponchos. What you can make with crochet is truly unlimited!

 What prompted you to start crocheting graphghans?

I had been wanting to do picture-ghans for a long time, but didn’t like using graphs or doing the yarn carry over technique (i.e., intarsia crochet). I prefer the “cut and tie” method. And I didn’t have the funds for the patterns, but at some point I did and finally decided to give it a try.

A friend of mine asked if I could do a Marines afghan for her. So I researched a lot of hours to find a pattern, and your website came up. Your website was the most inexpensive one I found, and I get my patterns in a timely manner, too. I also got permission from the Marine Corp to use their emblem for the afghan.

Marine graphghan

What do you like most about doing these pieces and why?

Doing these pieces is so much fun; it’s like painting but with yarn. And I love how it’s much easier to do (when using crochet photo patterns) than doing them from crochet charts. The patterns come out true to the picture, and it’s much more personal, I think, when you create a crocheted piece from someone’s photo.

I understand you are selling some of your finished pieces. Has it proven to be a profitable venture for you? How so?

Yes, it has but you have to be careful of certain laws when selling pieces that incorporate licensed images. I get permission first; then I create the picture-ghan. I get the most pleasure out of receiving feedback when I’m done with a piece. But yes, making a profit helps as well.

How do you establish a price for your graphghans?

I’ve tried to keep costs down for as long as I’ve been crocheting. I buy yarn whenever it’s on sale. People say you should use the better quality yarn, but I have always and will continue to use what’s local, like Red Heart Super Saver and the colors that are recommended by brand, Caron yarn especially. The big “pounders” are awesome to use.

I charge $100 for my blankets which includes the price I pay for the pattern, the cost of the yarn, and the time it takes to make one. I’m getting faster at it. I get more pleasure out of the responses I get when I have completed a piece for a customer. And my customers are willing to pay at any cost. Each blanket is a unique piece, and I include an extra bonus – I do angel work and get messages from spirit for each one that I create.

What advice would you give to crocheters who want to start a crochet photo art business?

I would first try to see if you like doing it. Some people just can’t quite get the hang of it and give up. Start simple until you understand it. Find what works for you.

Also, have a place where you can leave your piece when you’re not working on it. I have a big plastic container with a lid; that way it will also be protected if you have animals. And you won’t lose your place if you have to stop at any time.

I have a waiting list now for graphghans to be done. It feels good that people still appreciate the value of a good handmade item versus buying it factory-made. And it will keep for years as an heirloom when stored properly. Thanks to you, Patrice, I am able to put fun back into my life and think outside of the box when it comes to crocheting.

If you want to learn more about Nora’s graphghan business, you can find her on Facebook as “Nora Ashley.”

Recently Completed Crochet Photo Pattern Pieces

Both my customers and I have been working steadily to complete a number of crochet photo pattern pieces. I’m so pleased with how they turned out that I wanted to share them with you.

(All photos are used with permission)

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Nora Ashley loves doing graphghans and prefers to work with my patterns instead of using a graph. She has also started a business creating afghans for customers. I’ll be doing a separate blog post on Nora’s business very soon.

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Ima Flenming-Foster created this piece from an old photo of her parents. It will make a great framed piece or even a pillow. Both Nora’s and Ima’s pieces are crocheted horizontally, from the bottom up.

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You don’t have to speak English to understand my patterns. Meire Couto, whom I’ve been chatting with on Google+ in Portuguese (thanks Google Translate!), just finished this Little Butterfly pattern. It’s the free pattern I recommend newcomers start with. She did a great job!

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Finally, I recently finished this piece of my good friend, Lyn and her husband Bill, who got married last year. I created the pattern from one of their wedding photos. Lyn and I are going to frame the finished piece so she can hang it on her wall. Both Meire and this piece are crocheted vertically, from side to side.

Since the main stitch involved in crocheting these pieces is single crochet, they are fairly easy to do. The patterns give you all the information you need to complete them. I also have some crochet photo pattern tips and tricks that will give you even more information on working with these patterns. And you can always reach me at yarnoverpullthrough@gmail.com if you have questions or would like to get started making your own crochet photo pattern pieces.

Happy crocheting!