Happy Clappy Crochet

Celebrating Crochet with a Positive Spin

Pulling Into The Station

Welcome Riders of the Crochetville Express! This is stop # 38 of the tour and I am happy to have you here.

Since this is my second year on the blog tour, I wanted to do something special to celebrate being a crochet designer. That not only meant designing something awesome, but also finding the perfect yarn. Luckily, I know a gal who does a great job with hand-dyed yarns.

I contacted my friend Julie, of Happy-Go-Lucky Yarns, and we got together one Saturday afternoon and created this.

HGL Glittery in the colorway Gaia ©Happy-Go-Lucky Yarns; Used with Permission

HGL Glittery in the colorway Gaia
©Happy-Go-Lucky Yarns; Used with Permission

Isn’t it beautiful!!! We picked a fingering weight base with some silver metallic in it, and it adds the perfect amount of sparkle! I knew I wanted the colors to transition from greens to blues, and that I would need two skeins of yarn to create the shawl design idea I had in my head. We had a lot of fun that afternoon and I absolutely adore the yarn colorway we created.

So now I had the perfect yarn; I just needed to come up with the perfect pattern. Using a technique I learned from a class I took with Myra Wood, I started with a partial motif and worked from there. Originally, the shawl was going to be all one lace pattern, but after talking with friends, I decided to change things up and go with a couple different stitch patterns, each separated by a band of solid stitching. It took several sessions of stitch and rip, but I found a rhythm that worked with the color changes within the yarn. After several weeks, the Terra shawl was born.

©Laura Krzak

©Laura Krzak

©Laura Krzak

©Laura Krzak

I’m just thrilled with how this shawl turned out and I’m very excited to share it all with you. And in honor of National Crochet Month and my 2nd year on the blog tour, you will be able to get the shawl for $2.00 off the published price. Just enter the Promo Code DCDHGL2016 after you add the pattern to your Ravelry cart and you are good to go! Coupon code is only available until March 20th, so make sure to act quickly!

 

I wouldn’t be part of the blog tour as a designer if it wasn’t for Cascade Yarns. They have really invested in offering free crochet patterns on their website, and I am honored to design crochet patterns for them. To celebrate that partnership, I am offering THREE contests for NatCroMo!

Contest #1 – You will win one skein of Cascade Yarns – Roslyn in the 04-Orange colorway, as well as a signed copy of the Ginger Snap Scarf pattern.

Contest #2 – You will win two skeins of Cascade Yarns – Avalon Multis in the 314-Blue & Green colorway, as well as a signed copy of the Esme Tunisian Scarf pattern.

Contest #3 – You will win four skeins of Cascade Yarns – North Shore in the #11-Coral colorway, as well as a signed copy of the Friendship Shawl pattern.

Contests are open to EVERYONE – worldwide! Yes, I will ship winning yarn internationally!

HOW TO WIN:

Comment on this blog post with your name and country, and let me know which contest you want to enter. Please only enter one so everyone has equal odds.

Contest #1 needs to have all comments entered by March 19th. Winner chosen by March 21st.

Contest #2 needs to have all comments entered by March 26th. Winner chosen by March 28th.

Contest #3 needs to have all comments entered by March 31st. Winner chosen by April 3rd.

Winners will be contacted by email so I can get shipping information. If a winner doesn’t contact me back within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.

If you have any questions, please comment below and I’ll get back to you.

I hope you enjoyed your stop! Now get back on that train and check out all the other wonderful designers, yarn stores and yarn companies that are part of the tour!

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Quick Monday Smile

My 40 hr a week “pays the rent and bills” job is working for the family business, which means I’m spending several hours a day working with my dad.

Today my dad asked me “What is it you do? Do you knit or crochet?” When I said I crochet, he brought over a mail-order magazine and asked if I thought this would be a good book. He was pointing to a picture of The Crochet Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden. I smiled and said that I not only owned the book, but it was one of my go-to stitch dictionaries.

“Oh,” he said, then went back over to his desk.

“Why did you ask?”

“Because if you didn’t have it, I was going to get it for you.”

 

That little comment still brings happy tears to my eyes. The encouragement I receive from my parents and my sisters means so much. I hope you have someone out there who supports your love of crafting!

 

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A Nice Surprise

Yesterday, my friend Jen Lucas contacted me to let me know that I really needed to get a copy of the Spring 2016 Interweave Crochet, because Cascade Yarns had used one of my designs for their ad in the magazine.

I went to my local bookstore that evening, but discovered that the newest edition of the magazine won’t be displayed until mid-March. While there I picked up another Spring edition of a crochet magazine, Love of Crochet and flipped open the front cover to find this picture smiling back at me.

©Cascade Yarns

©Cascade Yarns

Cascade Yarns had another ad out, using the Friendship Shawl I designed for them. It was a wonderful surprise to find the ad right before the start of (Inter)National Crochet Month!

By the way, the Crochetville blog tour starts TODAY! Please click here to find out basic info. Not only are they featuring 3 crochet designers a day (each with their own special deals for tour followers), but they are also featuring crochet friendly yarn stores AND yarn companies, as well as daily giveaways! It is a crochet lovers dream month and it really worth your time to check the site on a daily basis.

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I’ll be part of the blog tour on the 13th of March, so please come back and check out what I have to offer!

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Monthly WIP Update – Post #2

Checking in on the Work in Progress project. I’ll admit, I haven’t be able to work on this as much as I would have liked, but paid professional projects that were on a deadline had to be finished first. I am on the 4th section of 5, so the blanket is 3/5 done. Over halfway! Yay!

How are you doing with your WIPs? I’d love to hear an update!

I also want to remind you that I will be part of the Crochetville NatCroMo blog tour this year. It will be my second time on the tour.

© Crochetville

© Crochetville

Please go to the Crochetville website daily starting on March 1st and follow along with all the amazing stops on the tour. When the tour stops here on March 13, 2016, I have some fun things happening – a new pattern release, plus some giveaways. You’ll have to come back to check it all out!

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The Taming of the Swatch

I’m currently working on a project which requires me to make lots and lots of swatches. Normally, identifying which swatch is which would be done with paper tags, like the pre-strung ones you can get at any office supply store.

However, not only must these swatches be wet blocked, there are also several of the same color, which can lead to identification problems. I seem to recall that paper and water don’t mix, so trying to keep track of similar swatches was going to be a problem.

And then, I had a lightbulb moment. What if I can make hook size markers and attach them to the swatches? Off to the craft store I went to purchase alphabet beads, beading wire, and crimp beads, as well as a large enough storage case for sorting out all the letters.

I got home, and after a couple hours of television, I had this.

© Laura Krzak

© Laura Krzak

Now, crochet hooks in America have letter designations from B to S, but for this first run, I concentrated on C to J.

Now, a smart crocheter is going to point out that letters are well and fine for MOST of your hook sizes, but what about that US 7 / 4.5mm hook you are so fond of using? How are you going to create a marker for that one. First – Kudos to you for sussing that out! Second – see those little hearts? That is my stand in for the US 7 hook.

After a couple more hours, I had this.

© Laura Krzak

© Laura Krzak

I had LOTS of extra beads, so I decided to make my markers a little prettier by adding a bit of color. The loop gets put on a locking stitch marker, the stitch marker is attached to the swatch, and swatches are ready for their bath without losing important information that I need.

© Laura Krzak

© Laura Krzak

I’m really happy with how they came out, and they should prove to be a great help with this project.

Have you ever had a brainstorm of an idea to make your crocheting better? Please share!

 

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Monthly WIP Update – 2016 Edition

Last year I blogged about multiple works in progress as a way to hold myself accountable to get some things finished. However, I didn’t do a good job on that accountability and so projects didn’t get finished.

However, 2016 is a new year, and rather than dwell on what I didn’t get done, I’m going to approach this as a fresh start/new beginning. So last weekend, I reorganized my yarn closet. Yes, I said yarn closet. After organizing, I realized I really shouldn’t buy any more yarn until I use some of the wonderful stash I already own. With that in mind, it was time to look at stitching time.

Like many of you, I have a full-time job, so my creative time is limited to evenings and weekends. That precious time is further divided by designing tasks like creating new pattern proposals complete with blocked swatches, writing new patterns, and crocheting the new designs, as well as finding time for crocheting projects for donations or gifts. As a new designer, I also need to increase my presence as a designer, which means time spent creating and sharing blog posts like this one. I’m not spelling all this out in order to complain – far from it! I feel very blessed to have designed so many wonderful patterns for Cascade Yarns over the past several years, and I look forward to the new patterns that will be created and released over the coming year.

Since I’ve started designing patterns, my WIP pile has grown, and that is on me. One of my stitching goals for the year is to finish some of those items, and I’m going to use the blog to help keep me accountable. I am also going to use my weekly group stitch time as WIP time, so those projects get some dedicated stitching time.

With all that in mind, let’s introduce WIP #1 for 2016 – a blanket for my cousin Ruth.

© Laura Krzak

© Laura Krzak

Using Wash (worsted weight) by Willow Yarns, I am making my own pattern – Spirit Wave Stadium Blanket – in the colors she chose. The blanket is a (belated) wedding gift for her and her new husband. As they have kids, I wanted a yarn that was easy care, which is why I picked this anti-pilling acrylic yarn from Willow Yarns.

© Laura Krzak

© Laura Krzak

Currently, I am half-done with the blanket. If I continue to use the 2-3 hours that I weekly get together with yarn friends, I hope to have the blanket finished by Spring. It may be too late for this year’s football season, but I’m sure it will be welcome just the same.

 

What works in progress are you trying to get done? Share your progress with me and we can cheer each other on to completion.

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January Hat Campaign for Halos of Hope

For the past several years, I’ve decided that the first crochet project of the new year would be a hat for donation to Halos of Hope. Why crochet a hat for donation? And why do it for Halos of Hope specifically?  The answer is a personal one. I am a cancer survivor – I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2008. It wasn’t at a stage where it was health threatening or life threatening, but having cancer before the age of 40 makes you sit down and think a bit. My mom is also a cancer survivor. She’s dealt with cancer three times, and it was during the third battle, which was the most serious, that I was introduced to the comfort provided by Halos of Hope. Not only was I able to get a couple hats from Halos for my mom, but I also used my time at chemo treatments with my mom to crochet hats for donation to others.  I also like the idea that the first thing I make isn’t for me, or someone I know, but for the comfort of a stranger, and I think that puts me in a positive mindset for the rest of the year.

 

© Laura Krzak

© Laura Krzak

This year, using scrap yarn donated by my friend Vickie, I used the Reversible Strands Hat crochet pattern by Nancy Smith (link goes to her Ravelry pattern page). I’m a big fan of this pattern, as it is easy to make and you can customize it quite easily. The hat I made uses three colors of grey yarn, from light to dark. Hat as shown is with the rib side out, but you can also wear the hat with the ribs on the inside and the smooth side facing out.

 

 

© Laura Krzak

© Laura Krzak

 

One of the things I like about this pattern is that you can change the ribs, so they can go straight down, like this hat, or you can have them spiral. Since I had more scrap yarn I could use for hats, I decided to try the spiral version and it turned out something like this. Three colors on this one again – mid and light grey on the increase section of the crown, and then a heathered blue for the body of the hat. As I was using yarn scraps, this is a smaller sized hat which would be great for a teen or child.

 

I had posted about my hat adventure to my Facebook page on January 1st, which in turn inspired my friend and local knit and crochet designer Jen Lucas to make a hat as well.

All this stripy hat making was a stroke of great luck, as Halos of Hope is currently running a January Campaign. Called the 7th Annual Stripe It Up January, it encourages crocheters and knitters to dive into that scrap yarn stash we all have and create some hats that will bring comfort and happiness to others. And, if you are unsure of your color pairing abilities, self-striping yarn makes a great hat as well. Check out the Halos website for yarn material choices and hat sizes. All the yarns used in the three pictured hats are acrylic.

© Laura Krzak

© Laura Krzak

It’s not too late to join the campaign! I’d love to know what kind of hats you are creating.

ETA: Halos of Hope is collecting hats until the end of February 2016 for this campaign! Please check out their website for more information.

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Crocheting for myself.

(The text below contains my adventures of crocheting a sweater to fit my body. In no way am I disparaging the pattern or the designer, but rather explaining what it took to go from pattern to finished item with which I am happy.

Back in July, I found a sweater pattern that I really liked and decided that I must make for myself. The sweater is the Madrona Cardigan designed by Rohn Strong. I absolutely loved how this pattern looked, I loved the 3/4 sleeves, and I couldn’t wait to make it for myself. I ordered my yarn and when it came in, I was ready to stitch away.

The pattern itself did not provide a stitch count for the pattern repeat, so there wasn’t an easy way to make a gauge swatch. Rather, I used the hook as suggested in

©Laura Krzak

©Laura Krzak

the pattern and started stitching away. When I finally got to a section where there were no more increases, I was able to measure for gauge and hit my first road block. My gauge was way, WAY off. Like, two whole repeats off. This isn’t a good thing, because it meant I would use up my yarn too quickly and I wouldn’t have enough to finish the pattern. So, I did the only thing I could think of at the time and frogged it all.

Went down a hook size and re-crocheted up to the same part. Gauge was still way off. I realized that if I wanted to make gauge, I would have to drastically reduce my hook size, and if I had done that, I would be crocheting armor and not a sweater with drape.  So, I put things away for a mini time-out while I thought things over.

I decided the next day to order more yarn. Risky, because I could end up with totally different dye lots. I was very lucky, however, and got dye lots that matched what I had previously ordered. I also decided that I liked the look that the larger hook created, because I didn’t want a sweater with negative ease, so I knew some pattern adjusting would be needed. Frogged again, and put the frogged yarn into baggies to save it for making the sleeves. My other reason for using the larger hook was the armhole. Once again, I didn’t want something clinging to my arm, because I personally find that uncomfortable to wear. My hope was that the larger hook would net me a larger armhole, and a more comfortable cardi wearing experience.

After a solid time-out (where I was busy creating lovely new projects for Cascade Yarns), I came back to this puppy and started it once again. Used the 5.5mm hook and didn’t worry about gauge, because I knew it was way off what was stated in the pattern. Originally followed pattern, but added an extra increase row for the chest area, which made for 5 HDC between increase/decrease stitches, and that made the chaining for armhole change to 13. Originally stitched with three peaks for the armhole, but after doing several rounds for the body and trying it out, the back was too full and didn’t look right. So, ripped back to the row where armholes are created and went with 4 peaks for the armhole. This gives a fuller, almost bell sleeve, but that is more doable than the super full back. Stitched the sleeves with the yarn in pieces from my first two aborted attempts of the sweater. Added three more rows for the sleeve so it ends past the elbow, then did the edging. Didn’t like the look of the DC as called for in the pattern for edging, so went with Hdc for the first round, then crab stitch for the second. After finishing sleeves, went back to stitching the body of the cardi. Added 5 extra rows to increase length. Also changed pattern for bottom of sweater – did one row in pattern before doing one row to create flat edge, because sl st didn’t show as much against same color. Main portion of cardi is now complete. Need to weave in lots and lots of ends, then do edging. Once cardi is edged, will take it to local craft store to find the perfect buttons.

© Laura Krzak

© Laura Krzak

© Laura Krzak

© Laura Krzak

I like the pattern, and I love how my cardi fits and looks on me, but it took A LOT of pattern adjusting to get a fit that I was happy with.

So why share all this?

Because it is okay to go off pattern when needed to make something that you will be happy wearing. Sometimes following the pattern exactly will make you a pretty garment, but if it doesn’t fit or look right, it will spend more time stuffed away in a drawer rather than on your body, and all that time you spend making it will have gone to waste.

For the most part, this is a well written pattern. It was easy to follow all the instructions. But if all I did was follow the instructions, I would have either (1) run out of yarn and wouldn’t have been able to make the sleeves or (2) made something that I spent lots of time on and wouldn’t be able to wear. It was worth it to “break the rules” and make personal adjustments to the pattern, because I love what I made, I know it is going to be the fit I wanted, and I can’t wait to wear it again and again.

 

Have you ever had to do this with a pattern? I’d be interested in hearing your pattern fit stories.

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Back To School Team Spirit!

It is back to school time across the country, with families gearing up to send their kids to grade school, high school, or even college.  Back to school also means the start of Fall Sports – Volleyball, Cross-Country, and Football just to name a few. So, I thought I’d highlight a couple patterns I made for Cascade Yarns to help show your school spirit!

The first is the Spirit Wave Scarf. This is a quick crochet project, easily done in two or three colors, and perfect for flashing your school colors at any sporting event.

© Cascade Yarns

© Cascade Yarns

The second item will keep you warm when you are sitting in the stands during playoff season, or need something to wrap around yourself as you cheer on your favorite runner as they race across frost-covered fields. It’s the Spirit Wave Stadium Blanket! Once again, it can be crocheted in two or three colors, and you can decide how thick or thin you want the ripples to be.

© Cascade Yarns

© Cascade Yarns

Surprise a super fan with one or both of these items, and its sure to be a hit! Looking for an End of Season gift for an awesome coach? The stadium blanket would be something they would cherish for a long time.

Let me know how you use crochet to cheer on your favorite teams!

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Friendship Shawl Photo Tutorial

This post will serve to show how to do the short row shaping wedge, featured in my latest pattern for Cascade Yarns – North Shore Friendship Shawl.

Follow this pictorial tutorial to make the first 5 rows of the gauge swatch as stated in the pattern.

©Laura Krzak

©Laura Krzak

Chain 32.

© Laura Krzak

© Laura Krzak

Row 1: Working into the back bar side of the chain stitch, half-double crochet (HDC) into the 3rd ch from the hook and in each ch across. Turn.

© Laura Krzak

© Laura Krzak

Row 2: Ch 2 (does not count as a stitch here and throughout the pattern), HDC in first 5 sts across. Turn.

© Laura Krzak

© Laura Krzak

Row 3: Ch 1, place stitch marker (sm) in back bar of ch 1 just made, HDC in 5 sts across. Turn.

Row 4: Ch 2, HDC in first 5 sts, …

© Laura Krzak

© Laura Krzak

© Laura Krzak

© Laura Krzak

back bar HDC (pick up back bar of the stitch markered chain, then insert hook into the top two loops of the next unworked stitch 3 rows down, YO and pull loop through top of st [3 loops on hook], YO and pull through all 3 loops), HDC in next 4 sts. Turn.

© Laura Krzak

© Laura Krzak

Row 5: Ch 1, place sm in back bar of ch1 1 just made, HDC in 10 sts across. Turn.

© Laura Krzak

© Laura Krzak

 

Once you have completed all 13 rows in the gauge swatch pattern, your short row sample should look something like this:

© Laura Krzak

© Laura Krzak

Use this swatch to make sure your stitching gauge matches the one in the pattern. I’m a pretty average tension – not too tight, not too loose – but if you do fall into one of those stitch tension categories, please adjust your hook size so you do get the proper gauge.

 

A quick note about gauge: Gauge is factored with this particular yarn (Category 3 – DK / Light Worsted), along with my tension and hook choice.  If you choose a different weight of yarn, please be aware that it will change the overall size of the shawl. That is why making a gauge swatch is so important. It will help you adapt your yarn choice to the pattern.

 

 

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