Craftsy’s BIG Fall Course Sale!

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Click the image to learn about this popular crochet course.

Have you heard Craftsy’s BIG Fall Course Sale! is happening now? Learn from the world’s best instructors in the comfort of your home. When you shop, you’ll receive up to 50% off ALL online classes! And once you enroll you can watch your classes anytime, anywhere, forever.

UPDATE: Craftsy’s Big Fall Course Sale has been extended for another 24 hours, ending on September 23, 2014 at 11:59 pm MT.

So you still have time to shop Craftsy’s BIG Fall Course Sale and save.

In Search of the Perfect Crocheted Wash Cloth

Crochet lends itself well to a variety of uses, especially when it comes to dish cloths and wash cloths. There are so many patterns available online, it makes my head spin. But when you think about it, a dish/wash cloth is simply a square (or rectangle) crocheted in an interesting stitch pattern.

The main challenge I’ve had in making them is what yarn to use. Almost every pattern I’ve come across recommends worsted-weight cotton, but my experience with this fiber hasn’t been the greatest when it comes to wash cloths for bathing.

My Wash Cloth Requirements

For me to call a crocheted wash cloth “perfect,” it must:

  • Be big enough so that I can hold it at the diagonal edges for stretching across my back
  • Be light weight
  • Hold the lather from the beginning of my shower to the end
  • Dry quickly.

The first “perfect wash cloth” requirement, be big enough, is easy to achieve. It’s a simple matter of making the foundation chain long enough for the width I want and crocheting enough rows to make it the length I want.

The last three qualities, on the other hand, are all dependent on the kind of yarn and hook size I use.

Worsted-Weight Cotton

A knitted spa mitt and crocheted wash cloth

A knitted spa mitt and crocheted wash cloth

Actually, my first wash cloth experiment was a knitted spa mitt  that I thought was so cute when I saw the pattern. It calls for Lion Brand Cotton Ease, a worsted-weight cotton. I had some Peaches and Cream cotton yarn in my stash and decided to use it instead.

The mitt turned out to be less than perfect for a number of reasons. It didn’t hold the lather long enough, and it was hard to wash my back with it, something I didn’t realize would be a problem until I actually used it (duh!). And it took forever to dry, at least two whole days. Also, those bobbles aren’t as effective as they might seem; they’re just too bulky and increased the mitt’s drying time.

Now, in defense of the mitt, I used a slightly larger needle size than the size called for in the pattern. And the Cotton Ease might be a little less thick than the Peaches and Cream. But I decided it was time to CROCHET a wash cloth. It’s the white one above that the knitted spa mitt is sitting on.

This time I used some Lily Sugar and Cream cotton yarn and a G/4 mm crochet hook. I opted for a simple, textured stitch pattern. I don’t remember what it’s called, but it’s a simple of matter of:

  • Creating a foundation chain in a multiple of 2 (plus 1 for the turning chain)
  • Doing one single crochet followed by one double crochet across the row.

It’s easy to remember because you start every row with a single crochet, which means you are single crocheting over the double crochets of the previous row and double crocheting over the previous row’s single crochets.

I made it more than big enough for my needs, but again, the cotton barely produced any suds, the fabric was bulky and heavy, and it took too long to dry.

Sport-Weight Acrylic

Sport weight acrylic and a G/4 mm hook

Sport weight acrylic and a G/4 mm hook

I was lamenting the problems I was having with worsted-weight cotton in my Facebook group  when a member, Doris Moody, suggested I use a sport-weight acrylic. She said she’d had good results with it and added that it dries quickly.

She cautioned me, however, to keep it out of the kitchen because you don’t want the acrylic to come into contact with something hot and melt. This is probably why so many crocheted “dish” cloth patterns call for cotton instead of acrylic yarn.  Needless to say, my curiosity was piqued, so I decided to give it a try.

Luckily, I had two partial skeins of sport weight acrylic in my stash, one in a soft yellow and the other in a nice baby blue. The yellow wash cloth in the photo above uses the same stitch pattern as the white one and a G/4 mm hook. This wash cloth held the soap lather a lot better than the cotton one, and it dried in 24 hours.

The acrylic was a little scratchy, but this was actually a good thing because it achieved the exfoliating action I thought the bobbles in the knitted mitt would. I didn’t wash and dry it before using it, so I’m expecting the fabric to soften a little when I do.

Sport weight acrylic and H/5 mm hook

Sport weight acrylic and H/5 mm hook

The yellow wash cloth was still a little too thick, so I crocheted another one in blue, this time using an H/5 mm crochet hook.

This one is close to perfect! The fabric held the lather throughout my shower; it easily stretched across my back; it’s fairly light weight; and it was dry by the time I was ready for the next day’s shower. And yes, this one was a little scratchy too, but again, I didn’t mind it at all.

Fingering-Weight Acrylic

Crochet stitches are thicker than knitted stitches which is one of the reasons worsted weight yarn doesn’t work well, at least for bathing. Think of the wash cloths you buy in the store; they aren’t all that thick.

So even though the blue wash cloth works very nicely, I’m going to do one in fingering-weight acrylic to see what kind of results I get. I’ll update this blog post when I do, so stay tuned.

Review: Learn to Read Crochet Stitch Diagrams

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Crochet symbol charts or stitch diagrams are trending big right now on the internet. My most popular pin on Pinterest at the moment is about how to interpret this crochet shorthand. Despite the fact that there is information online purporting to teach crocheters how to work from stitch diagrams, reading them is more than knowing which symbols go with which stitches.

As a result, I decided to take a look at Interweave Crochet’s foray into this topic by checking out a webinar it conducted a while back and which is now being offered “on demand.” It’s called Learn to Read Crochet Stitch Diagrams (I use the terms “symbol chart” and “stitch diagram” interchangeably in this post).

In this webinar, veteran crochet designer, Dora Ohrenstein, takes students through the ins and outs of reading and working from these often bewildering and confusing charts. Her instruction goes a long way toward explaining not only what the symbols mean but how to move confidently from the first row or round of a diagram to the last.

Using a slide presentation format, Dora begins by explaining the importance of stitch diagrams, as well as why crocheters have problems reading them. She then provides an in-depth review of the individual symbols and symbol combinations used in stitch diagrams. From there, she dissects a simple diagram and progresses to more and more complex charts, digging deeply into each one to ensure maximum comprehension.

Some of the stitch-diagram-reading skills she teaches include how to:

  • Distinguish between charts depicting patterns crocheted in rows versus those crocheted in the round
  • Determine exactly where to crochet stitches into the stitches of the previous row/round
  • Identify the number of stitches and the number of rows in a pattern repeat
  • Interpret the meaning of different colors used in a stitch diagram
  • Work from three different types of “crocheted in the round” symbol charts
  • Work with international stitch diagram patterns written in a language other than English.

The webinar is highly interactive, with Dora constantly asking questions, providing detailed answers, and encouraging listeners to have paper and pencil handy to practice writing the diagrams.

The great thing about the “on demand webinar” format is that it’s easy to go back and listen to sections multiple times if there’s something you don’t understand. And you can stop the webinar at a slide showing a chart to study it at your leisure and even try writing it out.

My only complaint about Interweave’s on demand format is that there’s a gap between when Dora asks a question and when her audience answers it. This is because a moderator is collecting answers as students provide them, and Dora has to wait until the moderator relays them to her. All of those gaps add up to lost time that instructors could be using to provide more information to students.

This shortcoming could be eliminated in future webinars by using a platform that allows the instructor to see answers as students provide them, similar to what you see in webinar platforms like GoToWebinar.

Despite that minor drawback, the Learn to Read Crochet Stitch Diagrams OnDemand Webinar (affiliate link) is a comprehensive treatment of crochet symbol charts that will have you working from them with ease.

Tips on Selecting the Perfect Photo for Your Crochet Photo Pattern

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I receive a wide variety of photos from crocheters who want a custom-made crochet photo pattern based on a personal photo.  Many times the photos are clear and crisp with excellent lighting; other times I get photos that are fuzzy, blurry, and have stray marks on them.

The photo your crochet photo pattern is based on can make or break the finished piece. That’s why I decided to create a “tips and tricks” post that will help you select the best possible photo for your crochet masterpiece. To find out more, keep reading …

New Crochet Photo “Practice” Pattern

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I decided to create a “practice” crochet photo pattern that’s even simpler to do than the Heart, Ladybug, and Big Butterfly patterns you’ll find among the free crochet photo patterns on this blog.

This newest pattern is … yes … another butterfly. I love these delicate, little  creatures!

Despite its size (20 rows and 20 stitches), the pattern will give you all of the skills you’ll need to do the more complex pieces. In fact, because the pattern is so small, you can do several of them over a short period of time to hone your skills before moving on to the Heart or one of the larger free practice patterns.

Use any two colors you have on hand, as long as the yarn is worsted weight. Simply assign each of your yarn colors to a color number in the pattern. Choose mid to light colors to make it easier to see your stitches.

As for hook size, if you crochet tightly, I recommend using an H/5.00 mm hook. If you crochet loosely, try a G/4.00 mm hook.

Ttake note of the following material I’ve created to ensure your success:

  • Carefully read the material that appears in front of the actual pattern instructions before you begin working the pattern. This information is critical to your success in executing any crochet photo pattern.
  • I also have a “tips and tricks” section on my blog that offers additional information in a number of areas.
  • And of course, if you have questions, please feel free to contact me  or email me at yarnoverpullthrough@gmail.com.

To find out more about how you can create (or have created for you) fabulous pieces of crochet art from patterns based on photos, check out this page on my blog.

To your success!