I’ve Caught the Zentangle Bug!


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From time to time, we all need to take a break from crocheting, if only to rest our hands. But sometimes, those breaks can turn into a new passion. Don’t worry, I’m still crocheting, but I’ve also caught the zentangle bug and can’t seem to shake it. Fortunately, it’s the kind of bug I don’t mind catching.

Art and Therapy Rolled into One Creative Practice


The great thing about zentangles is that you don’t need to be an artist to produce decent looking art. I’m certainly not, but I think I’ve produced some nice pieces, if I must say so myself (I created all of the pieces in this article.).

The term, zentangle, was coined by calligrapher, Maria Thomas. and former Buddhist monk , Rick Roberts, to describe a technique that involves drawing “structured patterns” called tangles and combining them to create an abstract piece of art. The images are drawn on 3.5” x 3.5” “tiles” which allow them to be completed in a relatively short period of time.

Drawing zentangles has therapeutic as well as artistic value. It –

  • Is Relaxing
  • Generates a state of focus and mindfulness
  • Reduces anxiety and stress
  • Builds self esteem
  • Improves fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination
  • Enhances the ability to concentrate.

“Tangling” has even been used successfully in addiction and anger management therapy.

Zentangle Tools


Another great thing about creating zentangle art is that you don’t need a lot of tools to create your artwork. Paper or tiles to draw on, a set of pens, and a pencil are all you need to get started. I’ve included a few more tools in the list below, as well as some books and websites that will help you learn to tangle.

Ink pens – I’m using Sakura Micron pens which I purchased in a six-pen set. Each pen has a different size “nib” or tip, from fine (.20 mm) to thick (.50 mm). You’ll probably start off like I did using one tip size, .25 mm. As you become more skilled, you can use other tip sizes to create specific effects.

I also use a fine-point Sharpie for filling in large spaces with black ink. But be careful because they tend to bleed through the paper. A stiff piece of cardboard under your paper or tile will keep the ink from soiling your working surface.

Tiles/Sketchbook – The official Zentangle Method uses 3.5” square tiles made of acid-free paper. The small tiles enable you to create a piece fairly quickly and keep you from being overwhelmed.

Since I already had an artist’s sketchbook that had been sitting in my bookcase for years, I decided to use that and simply create a 3.5” square outline on the page in which to draw my tangles.

If you go the sketchbook route, make sure you choose one that contains good quality, mixed media paper. This ensures that the ink in your pens won’t bleed through. I purchased a 5” x 7” sketchbook that I’ll start using when I use up the paper in the one I already have.


Pencil – Any #2 pencil will do. The pencil is used to add shading to your tangles.

Blender stumpsBlender stumps are pencil-like tools that are used for blending and smoothing out your pencil shading.

Zentangle Books – I like to learn new stuff from books, so I have a few to recommend if that’s your learning style too.

  • One Zentangle a Day  – I like this book because it moves you slowly through the process of learning the tangle patterns. You learn a few patterns at a time, as well as how to combine them to create eye-catching designs.
  • Joy of Zentangle – This is another book that will teach you to tangle in an orderly, step-by-step fashion. It includes 101 tangle patterns to choose from to create your art.
  • 3D Shading Fearlessly – Artist Eni Oken has produced a fabulous book on zentangle shading that you’ll definitely want to add to your collection. It comes as a soft cover book, or you can purchase the eBook.

Pinterest – As you might have guessed, there is a boat load of zentangle information, tutorials, and images on Pinterest. I’ve created a board where I collect images that inspire me, as well as instructions called “step outs” that illustrate how to create the tangles step-by-step.


YouTube – My second favorite way to learn to draw tangles is watching it done on YouTube. If I’m having problems understanding the step out, I’ll go to YouTube to see how it’s done. A simple “how to draw (name of tangle)” Google search is all you need to find some great videos.

To learn more about the Zentangle Method from its creators, check out Maria and Robert’s website . You’ll also find their Zentangle Kit which has all of the tools and instructions you need to get started.

Finally, there are lots and lots of websites and YouTube channels created by Certified Zentangle Trainers and artists where you’ll find even more information and instructions.

But What About Crochet?

Get Squared

Start of a Get Squared Shrug

Never fear! There is no way I’ll ever stop crocheting. To prove it, I’ve included a photo of a Get Squared® shrug I’m making for a cute little girl. I’ll have more to say about it in a future post. And I bet I can find a way to combine zentangles and crochet, so stay tuned.

Frame Your Crochet Photo Pattern Piece in 7 Easy Steps

Lynette and I framed this piece together.

Lynette and I framed this piece together.

Now that your crochet photo pattern masterpiece is finished and has a border, it’s time to frame it. I’ve added another article to my Crochet Photo Pattern Tips and Tricks series that explains how easy it is to do.

Check out the full article HERE.


How to Add a Border to Your Crochet Photo Pattern Piece

Two Ways to Add a Border

Two Ways to Add a Border

Adding a border to your crochet photo pattern piece is essential if you’re going to frame it. Without the border, the outer edges of the image will end up on the sides and back of the frame.

I describe two easy ways to add a border to your crochet photo pattern piece, in my Tips and Tricks series. CLICK HERE to find out out how truly easy it is.


Learn Top-Down Construction with Jenny King’s Get Squared ™ Online Tutorial

Get Squared Sleeveless Cozy

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I’m always on the lookout for easy, simple construction techniques for creating stylish, crochet garments. So when I learned about Australian crochet designer, Jenny King’s Get Squared ™online tutorial, I jumped at the chance to purchase it.

To understand this construction technique, I started with the basic “Cosy” pullover. But I decided to make mine without sleeves so I can wear it in Hawaii’s year-round, warm climate. I used two skeins (actually about 1 1/3 skeins) of Lion Brand’s Wool Ease sport-weight yarn and a J/6 mm crochet hook.

Incredibly, Jenny has discovered a way to create unique designs that fit a wide range of sizes, employing yarn weights from fingering- to worsted-weight, with only one crochet hook size, namely the J/6 mm hook.

One of my absolute favorite things about this design is the Mock Moss stitch used on the armhole and bottom edges. It creates a neat edging that will blend well with any stitch pattern.

The tutorial includes five unique designs, from pullovers, to cardigans, to shrugs, all based on the granny square stitch.  And Jenny promises more stitch patterns in the near future, at no additional cost.

Adventurous crocheters can easily turn the pullover into a dress, add lacy edgings, and more, as can be seen from the Get Squared ™ Pinterest page.

The course costs around $32, depending on the current rate of exchange from Australian to US dollars. You can also purchase it on a USB drive for $10 more, plus shipping.

I make absolutely no money when you purchase this tutorial; but I love it so much, I want to tell the world about it. To discover how you can create your very own top-down, crochet designs, check out Jenny King’s website.


Design Your Own Crochet Summer Top

My crochet summer top is ready to wear!

My crochet summer top is ready to wear!

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Tired of looking for and not finding that perfect crochet summer top pattern? I know I was. So I decided to design my own summer top. It’s easier than you think, and the results are stunning, especially when you combine a lacy stitch pattern and the perfect yarn with a simple design.

Here’s how I did it.

The “Recipe” Ingredients

I’m calling this design a “recipe” because it  doesn’t include the row-by-row instructions you would find in a traditional pattern. Instead, I provide the main ingredients you’ll need to successfully design a crochet summer top, along with some construction tips on how to complete it.

For this recipe, you’ll need six ingredients –

  • Your measurements
  • Yarn
  • A crochet hook
  • A lacy stitch pattern
  • A few swatches
  • A simple design

Let’s take a closer look at each ingredient.

Your measurements

You’ll need the following four measurements for your summer top:

  • Bust measurement divided by 2 (e.g., 42” bust divided by 2 = 21”). You divide by two because you’ll be crocheting the top in two squares, one for the front and one for the back.
  • Armhole measurement. Use a comfortable top you already own to get this measurement. Lay the top on a flat surface and measure from the outer edge of the shoulder seam to the top edge of the side seam. I decided on an 8” armhole for this design.
  • Neck measurement. Measure from bra strap to bra strap.
  • Length from top of shoulder to bottom edge. Pretty self-explanatory.

My rough schematic ((see below under “A simple design”) includes all of these measurements. I used a top I already owned to get my measurements, so “ease” (discussed below) is already included in the bust measurement.


I received this wonderful cotton yarn for FREE!

I received this wonderful cotton yarn for FREE!

Worsted-weight (#4 or 10-ply) yarn is probably going to be a little warm for a summer top. So I recommend using no heavier than DK-weight (#3 or 8-ply) yarn or lighter.

I realize now that the yarn I used is worsted-weight which is why the fabric is a little heavier than I would have liked. I explain how this can be fixed under “Crochet hook” below.

Whether you use an acrylic or natural fiber is up to you. I chose a 100% cotton yarn because I got it for FREE and decided this top would be a good use for it.

On the other hand, I’ve been told by friends who know yarn that 100% cotton isn’t the best choice for garments. Cotton has no memory, so you can’t block it, and it tends to stretch out of shape when you wear it. I’ll probably use a cotton blend or mercerized cotton for my next top to avoid these issues.

How much yarn will you need? Honestly, I prayed that I would have enough yarn to complete this top! I just squeezed by with the 900 yards I had on hand.

June Brown of JuneeB Designs did a quick search on Ravelry for me of the top crochet patterns using a lace stitch and DK- or lighter-weight yarn (thanks, June!). These patterns use between 500 and 700 yards. Use this amount as a starting point for your top. And remember, the closer the stitches are, the more yarn you’ll need; the lacier the stitch, the less yarn you’ll need.

For those who want to be a little more precise, The Crocheter’s Handy Guide to Yarn Requirements uses a combination of gauge, bust measurement, and yarn weight to provide a fairly accurate estimate of how much yarn you’ll need.

It’s better to overestimate yarn quantity instead of underestimating it. So if you’re not sure, purchase an extra skein or two.

A crochet hook

crochet hooks

Have an assortment of hook sizes on hand

Your choice of crochet hook size is going to depend on how “dense” you want your fabric to be. The larger the hook, the lacier and looser the fabric will be. This is why I suggest you create several …


Okay, I can hear your groans all the way over here in Hawaii. But swatching is pretty important, especially if you want to know how your fabric is going to drape or hang on you.

Confession time – I did not create a swatch for this top. If I had, I would have realized that the fabric resulting from my worsted-weight yarn and F/3.75 mm hook is just a tad too heavy. A larger hook would have resulted in a looser fabric that drapes a little better than this top does.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m happy with my end result, but you better believe I’ll be swatching from here on out.

Tip – Make a swatch that’s at least 8 – 10” by 8 – 10” to get a good feel for how the fabric is going to drape. Purchase an extra skein of yarn to use for swatching.

A lacy stitch pattern

If you don’t have a stitch dictionary, now is the time to get one (or two or three!). This is where you’re going to find all of the lovely, lace stitch patterns for your tops.

The best stitch dictionaries include a symbol chart with each stitch pattern. Any confusion with written instructions is often cleared up with a decent symbol chart.

Here are a few stitch dictionaries I recommend –

Another great place to find stitch patterns is Pinterest. The search term “crochet stitch patterns” yields more enticing patterns than you’ll be able to use in a lifetime!

A very easy stitch pattern - fans on top of picots

A very easy stitch pattern – fans on top of picots

I used the stitch pattern in Doris Chan’s Kolika Top pattern (check out her Interweave course  if you’re looking for a more challenging crochet top design). The pattern is a simple two-row repeat that you can crochet in your sleep, yet results in a lovely, lacy fabric.

A simple design

Measurements noted on this rough schematic

Measurements noted on this rough schematic

The simplest design I’m aware of is two squares, one for the front and one for the back. To those squares, you can add straps to create a neckline or leave them off for a “boat neck”.

My front square is two rows shorter than my back square. This allowed me to create straps and a square neckline.

  • To the front square, I added 4 rows in the stitch pattern for each strap.
  • The back square has two extra full rows in the stitch pattern and 2 rows for each strap.

You end up with the same number of rows (including the strap rows) for the front and back.

Construction Tips

I only needed one page to record my notes for this top.

I only needed one page to record my notes for this top.

  1. It’s a good idea to plan out your design before you begin crocheting. Your plan doesn’t have to be overly complicated, and it’s not etched in stone. You’re free to make changes as you crochet if you find something doesn’t work.
  2.  Consider how tightly or loosely you want your top to fit. It will be “form-fitting” if you use your exact bust measurement. For a looser top, add some inches to your bust measurement. This creates positive ease. The more inches you add, the looser the top will fit. For a really tight, form-hugging top, subtract an inch or two from your bust measurement. This is called negative ease.
  3.  For each square, start with a foundation chain that is the length of ½ your bust measurement plus/minus ease. Be careful not to stretch the chain as you’re measuring it. To that chain, add a few more inches. Then simply begin the stitch pattern and crochet until the first row is the same length as ½ your bust measurement +/- ease. If there are extra chains left over, simple take them out.
  4.  When you’re finished with both squares, consider adding a single crochet edging around the outer edges. This makes it a lot easier to match stitches on the front and back when it’s time to sew shoulder and side seams together. I didn’t have much yarn left after completing my two squares, so I added a “single crochet, chain-3” edging along the side, shoulder, and neck edges.
"Chain 3, single crochet" edging

“Single crochet, chain-3” edging around the next and shoulder edges (left) and sides (right)

A Huge Assortment of Tops from One Simple Design

Stitch patterns + Yarn + Color + Hook Size = A WHOLE LOT OF crochet summer top designs!

This one simple design will give you an entire wardrobe of summer tops that are fun to make and work up quickly. Once you have one top under your belt, designing and crocheting additional tops will be a piece of cake.

Let me know in the comments below if you have questions about this design.