If you’ve ever taken a small child to yoga, you’ve probably heard the sing-a-long mantra song “I am Happy.” The Babes, who has the lyrical talent of a young Weird Al Yankovic, has changed the lyrics from “I am happy / I am good” to “I am sweaty / I am good.” It really fits this time of year – even munching some kettle corn at the farmer’s market has the boy perspiring.
But sweaty or not, Erin was on a mission to find some models for my newest charity crochet donations. Luckily we found a few who were the perfect size for these teeny hats (and later became a pretty tasty burrito). Thanks for the great photos, Erin!
And yes, fueled by the power of kettle corn, sweaty Babes did some modeling, too.
The knitted hats were sent to the maternity wing where the twins were born. They were both given handmade hats when they were born because they were preemies, and I was so touched by the gesture. Thank you, stranger, who made that day a little sweeter.
Sydney, who is 16, is collecting hats for kids who are hospitalized as part of earning her Girl Scout Gold Award. She also donates 5 hats for every item sold in her Etsy shop.
I used a couple different patterns for these 10 hats, but you can get all the details to make your own in my Ravelry profile. I recommend them all – they were really easy to follow and made such pretty hats!
For more information on items I’ve donated and ideas for projects you can try, check out the new Charity Crochet page.
PS – Before you ask, I double washed all the hats after we took them off these dirty, dirty vegetables. We also washed the vegetables and ate them.
PPS – Yes, I know a post including yoga and the farmers’ market is very pretentious. What did you expect for a tiny commune?
Lately, our once little William has been insisting that he is a grown up. He drinks “coffee” (water in a coffee cup). He plays video games (or at least yells at the controller). He even works from home (by doing little chores). And although his “grown-up” life is totally full, there’s nothing he’d rather do than ride that big yellow school bus with the rest of the kiddos and go to class (but only if it’s OK for mommy to sit right beside him).
A few months ago, I was working on a yarny community project when I met Anushka. She’s a thoughtful and smart middle-schooler who was just learning to crochet from her mom. At first, she struggled (as we all have) to get her chain straight and her single crochets working in the same direction… but all of a sudden it clicked, and you could see she had the makings of a great freeform crocheter. The next time I saw her, she was making up her own flower patterns. And the next time she had a Jo-Ann’s haul that had me jealous.
And the last time, she gave me this bear. Can you believe it? She hasn’t been crocheting long at all, and yet here she is doing complicated amigurumi when she should still be making simple squares and circles. She said she watched a YouTube how-to video and made it just for me. Needless to say, I was floored.
And of course, I had to reciprocate. I found a pattern for the “Tammy” Puppy Amigurumi by Mei Li Lee, and this cute crochet puppy was born. Her head was a lot fuller (I have to admit I didn’t *completely* follow the pattern), but I like his hollow cheeks and weak chin. That, combined with the bigger eyes give him a kind of melancholy look that I love…but of course, we’ll let Anushka be the judge of that. I stuffed him with a knee-high full of poly pellets instead of fiberfil (which might be another reason for his weak features) so he could stand up on a table or dresser.
Thanks again, Anushka! I can’t wait to see what you make next.
PS – Photos by Erin Markan. Aren’t they great? Thanks, Erin!
Last October, I signed up for a class with Kim Werker, Betsy Greer, and Leanne Prain in Brooklyn (where I serendipitously met internet friend Kelly of Our Secret Treehouse). Afterward I tried to make non-awkward small talk with my craft heroes, and Leanne mentioned that a great way to get kids involved in yarnbombing is to let them make pom-poms. I tucked that in the back of my mind for just the right project.
Fast forward to this spring: I was hanging with the folks of Metuchen Yarnbombing, coming up with ideas for a yarnbomb booth at the town’s upcoming art festival, when I blurted out “pom-poms!” When our first plan was denied due to the possibility of irreparable damage to foliage (???), Jen bought the perfect kid-sized fence to cover in yarny cuteness. On Friday night, our crew gathered at the appropriate street corner and looked over the sample pom-poms we each made. It had been sticky and hot all day, there weren’t many folks walking around, and I figured we were in for an evening of sitting around winding yarn. I remember asking a group of teenagers if they wanted to try making a pom-pom… And then, the droves… For the next 3 hours, I repeated the key phrases “Don’t wrap too tight or your fingers will fall off,” “Are you safe with scissors?” and “It’s OK if you cut me, but let’s be careful so we don’t hurt anyone else” again and again. I’m not afraid to put scissors or needles or pins into the hands of newbie crafters, but there was such a crowd, and it was getting darker by the minute. Luckily, we made it through the entire night without a single injury. (There was also the added danger of pom-pom projectiles, as some genius told the kids that the only way to get a pom-pom to fluff up was the throw it in the air. I even told the super shy kids that the higher they threw it, the fluffier it would be. I can’t get enough of kids making that face that just says “Really?”) I wish I could show you a picture of the fence completely covered in poms, but truthfully, we let most of the kids walk away with their new little buddies. How could I judge someone for falling in love with their first little yarn creation? I was completely exhausted by the time we left, but as I told CH on the way home, “I wish I could do this every day.” So if you need a crazy lady to come tell your kids “If you keep wrapping the yarn so tight, your fingers will fall off,” give me a call. Otherwise, you can make your own pom-poms with kids with just their hands or even a fork at home.
After months of fussing over it and scoping locations, I finally put up my Lorax inspired Truffula Tree Yarnbomb at our local library. This was the biggest yarnbomb I’ve done by myself, so of course, there were a lot of opportunities to learn lessons.
I thought I was prepared…
After I convinced this kiddo they weren’t pillows, I bordered each piece with wire so they would have some stability and I could put each component of the Truffula Tree up with black zip ties (I took 50, just to be safe). Since I just got a new (yard sale) bike, I thought my best plan was to put what I could in my basket and cycle over to the library. I had planned out the order in advance on my living room floor and took a picture to refer to at the fence. I even wrote “PrOBP” on my hand so I’d get the order right, and I tied a snip of yarn to each trunk that matched the appropriate top so I could keep them in order as well.
I thought it made the most sense to do this one on a Saturday night so I could admire it Sunday before the library reopened on Monday (and potentially decided to cut it down. around). A little after 8:30, I started for the library.
Beware of nebby neighbors…
I parked my bike and start unpacking. The fence was brightened by a nearby streetlight, and I was glad I didn’t need the headlamp I packed. I quickly knelt down to put up the first trunk. Almost instantly, stinky mud soaked through my jeans. When I got to the second trunk, I realized that in my excitement I forgot about the identifying yarn I put on the trunks to keep things in order. Shoot.
On the fly I reordered them and kept zipping. I was deciding on how twisty and bendy to make the trunks when I saw a figure across the street. I could make out a middle-aged woman tapping her foot and looking toward the corner. I don’t think it was just paranoia, but I assumed she was waiting for the cops – there was just something about the way she was standing. I tried to work a little faster, not because I could finish before they arrived, but I hoped I would have enough up to show them it was cool (I don’t think I have a very good handle on how law enforcement works). In my haste, the bends on the stems weren’t quite what I planned.
I occasionally kept tabs on the woman behind me, and eventually I see her walking toward me with a guy and a dog. Of course – that wasn’t the “waiting for the police” stance, that’s the “Where the heck is my slow-poke husband?” stance (I know it well). I immediately say “hi,” and their faces soften. They are just the friendliest folks, and I pull out the tree tops and show them my plan, and we have a nice little chat about yarnbombing and libraries and crochet in general. I think I won them over a bit, and they were relieved that I wasn’t some crazy vandal (even though I kinda am, but whatever). I was trying to work and talk, which increased the general wonkiness.
The moment I realized I am short…
I’m 5’6″, which is above average for a woman, but not nearly tall enough for this project. The treetops were over my head, and after a few stretches, I realized I couldn’t pull a zip tie without a boost. I leaned my bike against the fence, climbed up on the pedals, and reached as high as I could. I thought about standing on the seat, but I imagined I would be found unconscious the next morning, surrounded by yarn and zip ties, pinned beneath my yard sale bike. Plus I didn’t want to ruin my new crocheted cover (made of Hello Kitty t-shirt yarn). I really had to stretch for the blue one, but I still got it to a semi-circular shape.
Is there a hardware store nearby…
I was convinced that 50 zip ties would be plenty, but I realized quickly that it wasn’t going to cut it. Luckily I had packed a few extra clear ones, which I really didn’t want to use, that allowed me to finish. Honestly, I probably could have used 10-20 more ties to fix the Truffula Tree trunks, but at this point I was beat and didn’t think I could make it to Lowe’s and back.
Why you shouldn’t bike at night…
I stepped back to admire my work and see a text from Craft Husband, wondering if I’m still alive. That’s when I see that it’s after 10. I look around for any trash and hop on my bike. I’m zipping along when I see a police car, about a block ahead, accelerating toward me. I assumed (why?) he was coming for me, so I turned onto a side street into a winding development that I never made it through. I kept hearing a dog bark, and I couldn’t tell if it was getting closer or farther away. I made turn after turn but the occasional street signs said I was still on the same road. Eventually I gave up, got a hold on my exhausted paranoia, and headed back.
Now I just had to bike through the park, which was pitch black. Thank goodness for that headlamp! I cannot imagine what I looked like on the bike, breathing heavy, covered in mud, with a big light on my head… but I don’t really care. I finally made it home and got out of those stinky jeans as soon as possible.
Was it worth it?
Um, yeah! It was great to see the kids interacting with the trees, and for all the trouble and mistakes, I like how they turned out. It’s given me the confidence to start on another big project. And it seems the library really likes them.
When Erin asked for a ripple blanket to match the pillows she made for her living room, I was happy to oblige. I love the colors in the pillows, and I’m always happy to crochet a ripple blanket – especially one with so much gray. (Does loving gray yarn make me weird?)
The kiddos love curling up with it, but I felt like someone was being left out…Charlie, the dinosaur.
Charlie is named after the baby in the old viral video “Charlie bit my finger.” Babes loves it because it involves his two favorite things: brother-on-brother violence and evil laughing. Charlie the dino gets really aggressive when being held by an adult, and he always rushes to the nearest kiddo to nip at their fingers–but we love him anyway. I used every bit of the big blanket leftovers to make him a cover, then personalized it with a “C” from my Uppercase Alphabet Pattern. I pinned it to the corner, added a little backstitch, and voila!
It was really fun to see the kids’ reactions, and I think a blanket like this would also be a sweet handmade addition to a store bought toy (can you imagine giving a doll with her own precious blanket?) If you’d like to try it on a larger scale, I think this would be great for a graduation blanket (with a 2015) or a dorm-room blanket (with 3 initials so no roommates dare borrow it).
I know that some of you (Hi, Mom!) are wondering how the back looks with the letters added, and it’s not bad at all. I have to admit I wasn’t taking the back into consideration at all while backstitching this guy on. If you don’t want anything showing, you could sew the letter on with the same color as the background, which would add a really cute contrast detail.
Who would you make a personalized crochet blanket for? Let me know in the comments or send me a message via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
I thought we could all use an excuse to stop and smell the crochet flowers. These blossoms are for an upcoming collaborative installation by yarnbombers NaomiRAG and Caustic Wear (does it add to the mystery when I don’t use their real names?) They’re the two creative folks behind the crocus installation this winter.
Although Erin’s just learned how to crochet, she’s been whipping up ripples and granny squares and circles, and she made all the light pink flowers in these pictures. I’d like to say it’s because she has an amazing, talented, beautiful, humble teacher, but I think she might just have a natural talent for it. Mark my words, she’s gonna surpass me.
But don’t worry – when she’s not crocheting, Erin still has time to take plenty of photos. (You can see more of her awesome snaps on Instagram: @fcollected). I love how she made it look like the kids happened upon a fairy wonderland sprinkled with tiny pink blossoms… even though it’s just the park near our house. Since we all have insane allergies right now, this may be the last flowers we sniff for a while.
If you’d like to make your own crochet flowers for the Sakura Yarnbomb, there’s still time! You can find the easy-to-follow pattern on the Caustic Wear blog. The deadline is May 22nd, but they work up really quickly. The only rule is that they need to be pink, so you can be as creative as you like with your embellishments and yarn choices. You can see some examples of what folks around the world have done with their flowers in the #sakurayarnbomb feed.
There are few things better than a good knitting group (I know I’m a crocheter, but the truth is that most of the groups I’ve been in have been knitting groups with a small crochet contingent). It’s great to look forward to sitting around with other stitchers and doing the thing you all love (especially with my last group, which met in the best bar ever). Of course, that many intelligent, talented, and opinionated folks in one room, creating some of the most beautiful needlework the word has ever seen, means a few may be playing with a slightly inflated ego. That’s why I can’t get this McSweeney’s piece “There Are No Egos in Our Knitting Group” by Jeremy Blackman out of my head! It reminds me of so many moments of judgment in knitting and crochet meet-ups, stitch ‘n’ bitch groups, yarn stores, and overpriced classes where I’ve encountered the infamous knitting group ego. Below are my flawed remembrances of these meanies.
And don’t forget – if you can’t figure out who in your knitting group has the biggest ego, it’s probably you.
“I can’t show you how to do this because of the way you knit, so you’ll have to figure it out.” – The woman I was paying for group knitting lessons at a local yarn shop
Erin: [Holding up two balls of yarn] “What about these two colors together?”
Me: [Making puking face] “Why would you do that to me?”
“Oh, you do that kind of stuff? I prefer the really big yarnbombs, like cars and things like that.” – A lady at my old knitting group who probably didn’t think I would take this as a personal affront
“I can see your stitches here, here, and here.” – Me, pointing out someone’s visible joining like a total jerk. Honest, it was a joke!
“So you’re looking for *cheap* yarn?”– Yarn shop worker, when I said I was allergic to wool
New Knitter: [Showing her first FO] “You can take a look at it to see if there are any mistakes.” Me: “Oh no, it looks great. It’s really good. Oh, I mean, well, obviously you have a twisted stitch here and some issues here…”
Me: [to a new group of knitters & hookers I was trying to impress] “I’m a pretty fast crocheter.”
Erin: “I always thought you were really slow. It takes her forever…”
“You can leave it, but I would tear it out. Oh look over there! [start frogging]” -Me, to nearly everyone I’ve taught to crochet, most recently to a teenager. I shared this with my mom, and she said these folks will thank me because their next project will be right — so now you know where I get it.
“Why would you make that?” – My mom, when presented with anything I’m working on
“Please don’t buy that stupid, ugly baby yarn that you like.” – Me to my mom when she asked my opinion on yarn for her next project
I hope no one is surprised that the majority of the meanness here is mine, but as someone said to me at last week’s meetup “You’re really not that mean.” High praise indeed.
PS – want to share the mean things I (or other folks) have said to you? Share in the comments or hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. I’d love to help you come up with some good comebacks!
I’ve been working hard on a secret yarn-bomb project that involves a lot of different yarns and techniques (that will hopefully all come together in a beautifully cohesive display, right?), and one of my favorite is double strand crochet.
Double strand crochet is the same as regular crochet, but you’ll be holding two strands straight in your non-dominant hand instead of just one. As you work each stitch, be sure you have equal tension on both strands and are pulling both strands through each loop. The technique is simple, but it may take some time to perfect the tension and check for mistakes.
Common mistakes people make with Double Strand Crochet
Tangling Yarn – Keeping one ball on each side of you, like this cutie, will reduce the opportunities for knots and tangles
Using a hook that’s too small – Working with a hook that isn’t big enough will crush your yarn and really put a stain on your hooking hand. Try a couple different hook sizes to find the perfect look.
Dropping one strand – When you drop a strand for part of a stitch, you’ll be tempted to continue the stitch with both strands and pretend this little incident never happened. Don’t do it! You’ll totally see that wonky weak part every time you look at your piece.
Not keeping even tension – If you have one strand looser than the other, you’ll get bumpy loops all over the place. Not cute.
Forgetting to Rest – The increased thickness of the yarn will make hands tired, so be nice and give yourself a break here and there.
Benefits of Double Strand Crochet
Create a stronger fabric– double strand crochet is perfect for items that need a little extra body, including baskets, potholders, or cozies (like the one I made for my Kitchen Aid mixer, because why not?)
Add extra color and dimension– When Erin and I got up close and personal with NaomiRAG’s work, we realized she used double strand crochet to give her pieces more color and depth. It’s the perfect alternative to tapestry crochet, and I’m sure you’ll agree the end result is totally amazing.
Make novelty yarns easier to handle – Novelty yarns catch a lot of flack, but there are times when nothing else will do… like, say, when you need to make a giant muppet-esque orange circle. It is really difficult to see previous stitches in the funkiest novelty yarns, so adding a plain yarn (in a similar color if you don’t want it to show) will allow you to count your stitches easily and place those increases in the perfect place.
Calm a crazy yarn – If you’ve got a loud, variegated yarn in your stash that you totally hate, try double-stranding with a coordinating or neutral yarn. You’ll calm that ugly right down.
Why you should really, really, really make a swatch first
You might not know how two yarns will work with each other, so it’s best to do a quick swatch to see how they’ll interact and if you like the effect. Also, this is a great time to try different hook sizes to find out which will look best. If you’re using a novelty yarn, you may also want to vary your stitches – taller stitches look much better with fun fur because it gives the yarn more room to puff out.
But the main reason you should really, really, really make a swatch first is that double strand crochet is a total pain to frog. With double strand crochet, the two yarns will pull out side-by-side, and you’ll have a heck of a time getting them neatly and knotlessly separated. (If you have a Craft Husband handy, you can ask him to pull one strand while you pull the other and each roll the yarn back into a ball.)
How to double strand using crochet couching
Some yarns look great with regular double stranding, but if you’re using a novelty yarn with special bits and bobs (like this puff ball yarn), then you’ll want to try this technique. (Please keep in mind – I think I made up this term. If you know the real name, please let me know – but I thought it was similar to it’s embroidery cousin, and I’ve been watching a lot of British Sewing Bee lately.)
Complete the chain and first row of your piece with the main yarn as you normally would
Hold the novelty and main yarn in your non-dominant hand as you would for regular double strand crochet
Begin next row by crocheting main yarn over novelty yarn (like when you’re doing tapestry crochet) until you get to a puff ball
Push puff ball to right side of piece (this will happen naturally when you’re working on the right side)
Chain 1, skip 1, and sc in the next sc to secure puff ball
Pull novelty yarn slightly to ensure there are no loose loops
Repeat to end
In next row, continue in the same way, single crocheting in ch spaces when necessary
Double Strand Alternative – Surface Crochet
If you’re having trouble holding two strands at once but still want to have a multi-strand effect, try surface crochet.
Keep yarn at back of piece. Push hook down through first space.
Pull up loop and pull yarn gently to tighten loop on hook, if necessary.
Continue by inserting hook into next space, pulling up loop, and pulling yarn gently to tighten loop on hook, if necessary.
You can crochet into the surface crochet stitches as you would any chain to add height.
If you have any questions about double strand crochet, leave them in the comments below or come talk to me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
Saturday was our state’s inaugural Maker Day, so of course I had to celebrate by crocheting this NJ Makers Day Yarn Bomb.
Some folks thought it should have been hung closer to the playground (so visiting it would coincide with a turn on the swings), but I like it on the chain link fence (over the ugly piece of wood holding that metal sign on).
I only had a day to get it done, so I wanted to make something small inspired by my favorite craft supplies (and Taylor Swift, of course). The scissors are based on Howie of WooWork’s “Snippy” crochet scissors. Howie is one of the first “cool” crocheters I found online, and his scissors have been in the back of my head since 2009. I used his “recipe” for the scissors and as the base for a bigger pair. I nestled them into what you would technically call a “chain 15 space” on the black background.
I knew I wanted the ruler to be at least close to accurate, but I didn’t realize how many little black hashes that would require. Some lines are straighter than others, but hopefully the people of New Jersey will forgive my inconsistencies. I made the ruler waaaay bigger than required for the space so I could fold it over onto itself (mimicking the way I improperly store my real rulers).
The pins were 100% Mr. A’s idea, using pinkies-purple for the heads and some stashed Tahki Stacy Charles “Stella” for the points. A little pricey for yarn bombing, but I love the shine. I used the same yarn for the needle, which unfortunately is a bit hidden.
The letters, of course, are from my Uppercase and Lowercase Alphabet Multipack. I used random colors of newer and vintage crochet thread, then sewed them to the background. If I had more time, I would have been a little more intentional and careful, but I just attached them with a quick running stitch. One of the cool features of the updated pattern is a guide with suggested hook sizes for every type of yarn, plus techniques for attaching letters to your finished projects.
One of my favorite yarnbombing tricks is to add a wire border, something I figured out while making the giant heart. Mr. A thought it needed more green, so I held the wire along the edge of the black and single-crocheted over it. It gives the piece enough structure that you can attach it to a fence or other surface with nothing more than a zip tie in each corner. It probably could have used a little more reshaping, but we had to get this guy done in time to get on to the other NJ Makers Day events.