Just Be Happy

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Tapestry Crochet Charts

When you are following a tapestry crochet chart, you have rows or rounds to follow and color color changes. You can mark the rounds/rows you already worked with a pen or pencil, but if you are working on a pattern that repeats itself several times or if you intend to make the same item again, you would have to print out another copy, so I have a couple of times for you.

Tip 1: use post it to cover the rows/rounds you have already worked on. Just take it off and move it. Easy peasy, right?

 Tip 2: Magma pattern holder by Knitter's Pride! Oh this is my favorite thing, I was tickled pink when I found this at my local yarn shop. This is a magnetic folder, you place your paper, secure it with the magnets that it comes with and then you follow your pattern with the magnetic "ruler". This not only works perfectly for chart, but it is great for following written patterns, too!

You might also like this tip or this technique.

FYI: I am not sponsored by Knitter's Pride, this is just a product I really like and decided to share my experience with you.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Aztec Scarf

This is my newest crochet pattern, first of 2015, the Aztec Scarf. I am so in love with fair isle, I should even say I am addicted to it. Most of the patterns I have been working behind the scenes are fair isle. I had a real hard time sending this scarf to the photographer, I really wanted to keep it!
Fair Isle (usually a knitting term) is a tapestry crochet technique, where you have work with two strands of yarn at the same time to create color work. You have what we call "working yarn" and you carry another strand and you switch back and forth to create shapes. It's fun and it's rewarding, it takes crochet to another level, in my humble opinion.
Don't be afraid to try, it is really not hard at all. 

You can find the pattern on etsy, ravelry and craftsy.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fringe How-to

Adding fringe to a crochet project is pretty simple and it adds a lot of character, so today I am showing you the way I do it!

I use a DVD case to wrap my yarn around it, so they are all the same length (11 inches) and it is much easier than measuring one by one.

After wrapping around several times, grab a pair of sharp scissors and cut the yarn once.

 Fold the yarn in half. In this case I am using 3 strands of yarn for my fringe.

 With the right side of your work facing you, put your crochet hook through the place where you want attach your fringe to draw a loop.

 Pull your loop through.

 Grab the loose tails and put them through the loop and gently, give it a tug.

VoilĂ !

You might also be interested in this technique or this tip.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Surface Crochet Technique

Surface Crochet, also known as Surface Slip Stitch Technique:

I made a sample half double crochet (my fave!) earflap hat for my neighbor's little boy, but thought it needed a little something to spruce it up. First I thought about single crocheting around the hat, then I thought I'd embroider a blanket stitch, but nah... I ended up deciding I'd go with surface crochet around the border of the hat, so here is how you do it.

1. With the right side of the hat facing you, poke your hook through and put a slip knot using the contrasting yarn you want to use for your surface crocheting. You'll keep contrasting yarn ball feeding your work from the back.

2. Pull the slip knot through.

3. Poke your hook through the next stitch, yarn over.

4. Pull up a loop and you have your first slip stitch! My advice for you is not to crochet your slip stitches tight or you will lose the stretch of your hat. 

Repeat steps 3 and 4 and this is what the right side of your work looks like after 5 slip stitches.

And this what the back of your work should look like.

Continue all the way around until you get to the first slip stitch made. Fasten off, weave in your loose ends.


You might also like this tip and this one.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Big and Small and Not at All

I invited Monica Ann McDonald, the fabulous spinner behind The Fine Lime to talk about YARN! I think a lot of people get confused about yarn weights and plies, so Monica being the sweetest person that she is, accepted my invitation to explain us what those things mean.

Big and Small and Not at All
A quick review of yarn weights and plies
by Monica Ann McDonald

What does the term weight refer to? 
Weight, when we're talking yarn, is really talking circumference.  How big around is this strand of yarn?  There are a few kinds of labels we use to talk about weight. 
NUMBERS - This is common on US and many international yarn lables.  There's just a number, 0 - 6, that tells you how fat the yarn is.  ) 0 is skinniest, 6 is fattest. 
WORDS - I cannot possibly list them all, but I will list a whole bunch by weight.  Thread, cobweb, lace, baby, fingering, super fine, sock, sport, fine, baby again (how's that for fun?!), DK, light, light worsted, worsted, medium, aran, afghan, fisherman, heavy worsted, bulky, chunky, extra bulky, craft, rug, roving.  Yeah.  Great.  Super helpful. 
STITCHES PER INCH - for most yarn lables, this means the knit stockinette stitch on the recommended needle size. 

WPI - wraps per inch.  It means the number of strands, placed side by side, that it takes to make one inch.  This is the most useful for me.  I've blogged about it here:  http://thefinelime.blogspot.com/2014/05/what-wpi.html

YPP - yards of yarn per pound.  Most commonly used in the textile industry for cloth manufacturing.  
Plies - this is used for labeling in the UK and Australia.  It doesn't actually refer to the number of plies (strands twisted together) that make up the yarn.  It refers to the number of plies of a standard sized thread it typically takes to make that size of yarn.  Yes, that is a bit confusing, but worth mentioning in case you buy a yarn manufactured in those countries. 

The best chart I've seen to break all of this down is the Wikipedia one.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yarn_weight
A simple chart is available at Fluff and Fuzz

Why does it matter? 
Well, here's the thing.  Pattern designers are working hard to create patterns for you.  They don't really have the time to go dashing to the LYS and making up the pattern in 13 different yarns at varying price points to give you a range of yarn choice options.  So you go yarn shopping and you find this glorious yarn that you would like to use for the latest Just Be Happy pattern.  But you can't use it because the pattern was written for one specific yarn brand.  Right?  Wrong. 
You can find the WPI of the original yarn (for ultimate accuracy) or just the weight name or number, and compare it to the weight of the yarn you'd like to use.  If its reasonably close, within a few wraps per inch or in the same number category, you will be able to swap yarns with little to no alteration in hook/needle size or number of stitches.  

Wait, so what is a ply anyway?  And WHY IS IT A THING? 
Plies are just the sumber of strands twisted together to make a yarn.  Sometimes its just a SINGLE PLY, like Knit Picks Chroma or a lot of handspun yarns.  Many handspun yarns are two ply or three ply.  You may find it helpful to know that in handspun, Andean ply is a 2 ply yarn and Navajo ply is a 3 ply yarn.  Those are just names/origins of a certain plying method when they make the yarn.  Most of your millspun yarns are 4 ply.  Some are even more. 
Why ply?  Well, if you're using a mill machine to spin the yarn, it may only make one weight of yarn.  So if you want the yarn fatter, you will need to spin those strands together. 
Why does ply matter to a hooker or knitter?  Plies make yarn just a little less soft and much more durable.  You can think about plies when you are planning your project.  If you are making something that is mostly to accessorize or just sit on the body, like a photogrpahy prop or cowl, a single ply yarn will be soft and lovely.  If you are making something that is going to take some abuse, like long sleeves on a sweater, gloves, mittens, or socks, you will want to use plied yarn so it doesn't wear out as fast.  More plies = more strength.  

I hope all this information helps you to be adventerous in your craft and your yarn selections!  

You can connect with Monica via Facebook and find her beautiful yarn at The Fine Lime etsy shop.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Mid-Winter Break

It was mid-winter break this week, which means the kids didn't have school. The not so cool part is that we all felt like poop, so we didn't go anywhere fun, no hikes, no parks, no play dates.... a nasty cold virus hit the boy first, I was second, sweet pea third (still fighting it) and now my husband, too. 
The good part? Well, at least nobody missed school... 
We had some gorgeous sunny days, so we just walked around our neighborhood, did a scavenger hunt, played with chalk, read books, did a ton of crafts and ate lots of soup.
I am feeling better and so is the boy, hoping the other two can recover this weekend, so we can have a fresh new start on Monday.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Skein, Hank, Ball and Cake?

I have to say that I sometimes take for granted the knowledge I have acquired throughout the years, I  just assume everyone in the crochet and knitting world knows the same things I do, but I have come to the realization that is not always the case - duh! A lot of people know much more than I do, but a lot know a lot less, too.
So I thought it would be cool to write some blog posts to share some tips. As you can see in the picture, I put the name of ways you can refer to yarn. 
At a specialty yarn shop you will find a lot of hanks and you will need to either use a swift and yarn winder to wind the hank into a cake (pictured) or you can wind it into a ball, if you don't, I am sorry to tell you, but you will be in a big tangled mess!
The skein is how the yarn usually comes at the big box craft stores, it is ready to use and most of the time you can pull the yarn from the outside or from the center and start your project right away, the same goes for a ball, it is ready to use. 


You might also be interested in this tip or this technique.

Friday, February 6, 2015

I love going to new places, it makes me happy, makes me feel like that I am learning something new. With that said, a new place doesn't need to be fair from home, it can be a new restaurant, a new coffee shop, a new park - you get the idea.
So, I found out about the Mary E. Theler Wetlands Nature Preserve, in Belfair, WA and we went there after school with the kids and the views were just breath taking! We hiked a little, took pictures and the kids played in the playground by the parking lot before we headed back home, it was just nice to get out of the house and see something beautiful, with a lot of work deadlines, school and other activities it is pretty easy to get caught in the routine and forget to smell the roses.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Oh, Canada!

Last weekend my husband and I went on a little getaway, solo, kid free. Can you believe it? I could barely believe we were spending a weekend away, not too far away, 3 hours away to be more exact.
My father-in-law gifted us a trip to Victoria, Canada last Christmas, he booked the boat, the hotel and even a food tour and it was amazing. We walked so much, but it was so nice not to have a pressing schedule and even nicer to know that our kids were having fun with grandma and grandpa at home.
I went to a fabulous yarn shop and ate more French macaroons that I am willing to admit. Good times!
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