Monday, September 17, 2012

Awesome Coffee Mug Cozy pattern

A few days ago, I was looking through crafts one of my friends had pinned on Pinterest and I came across a photo and link to another blog.

This is the photo from All About Ami an awesome blog with lots of cool ideas. I made the cozy to her instructions and I loved it! It's worth trying if you like this style because it is easy to do and looks great.

After making one of this style, I realized that it does have a few drawbacks. It will really only fit the mug size and style you make it for. I wanted to come up with a pattern of my own that would fit any mug I wanted to put it on, (even the tall, no-handle style you get at gas stations or coffee shops) and still had a nice classy look.

So after a little planning and experimenting, I ended up with something that looks like this:
 I changed how the cozy loops around the handle of the mug so that it feels slightly more secure and to add the option to use it on handle less cups.
 By attaching three buttons, you can use the cozy on almost any size mug. I also reinforced my button hole to make it feel more sturdy.
 To use this cozy on a tall handle less cup, you simply thread the "strap" part of the cozy through the hole for standard mug handles before buttoning it.
This cozy looks awesome and works awesomely on any style and size of coffee mug!

Now for the pattern!

Awesome Coffee Mug Cozy:

You will need:
Cotton yarn in the color(s) of your choice
Three buttons
Size H crochet hook

Ch 11

Sc in 2nd ch from hook and in every ch across.

Ch 1, turn and sc in first sc of previous row, ch 8 and sc in last sc of previous row.

Ch 1, single crochet in first sc and in top loop of each ch in the ch 8 from the previous row, sc in last sc of previous row.

*Ch 1, turn, sc in each sc across* 

Repeat from * to * 24 more times.

Ch 1, sc in 2nd sc space (skipping the first sc) sc across skipping the 2nd to last sc and sc in last sc of previous row. (This is a decrease row.)

Do another decrease row.

*Ch 1 sc in each sc across.* 

Repeat from * to * 10 more times.

Do 2 decrease rows. 

Ch 1, turn, sc in first sc from previous row, ch 5, sc in last sc of previous row.

Sl st in same sc. ( to slip stitch, you work it just like a sc, instead of keeping the second loop on the hook, you pull it through the first.)

Ch 1, single crochet around the entire outside of the cozy with 6sc in the ch 5 loop. Join with a sl st, cut yarn, and use a yarn needle to hide the ends.

Attach your first button about 2" from the inside of the handle hole. Attach the other two buttons about 1" apart along the cozy. Use your yarn needle to hide the ends and you're done!

Enjoy your awesome coffee mug cozy.

Crochet Basics: Learning Basic Stitches While Making a Cute Cool Weather Scarf

In this post, we are going to go over the three basic stitches of crochet. While there are several others, the main stitches you will need to know are Chain, Single Crochet, and Double Crochet. Most other stitches you may need will be some variation of these three stitches.

I've decided to make learning the stitches fun by incorporating the learning into a pattern for a Cool Weather Scarf. This pattern is quick and simple and is the perfect pattern for learning the basic stitches. I will include the pattern, followed by photos demonstrating the stitches while I work the scarf pattern as well as how to finish and trim the edges of the scarf. Good luck with your first pattern. I would love comments telling me how it went for you.

Cool Weather Scarf

Size H/8 - 5.00MM Crochet hook
1 skein worsted weight cotton yarn in your choice of color


Leaving a 3" tail at the start, Ch 16

Sc in 2nd Ch from hook and in each Ch across (15 sc)

Ch 1, turn and sc in each sc across  (15 sc)

*Ch 2, turn and dc in each sc across (15 dc)

Ch 2, turn and dc in each dc across (15 dc)

Ch 1, turn and sc in each dc across (15 dc)

Ch 1, turn and sc in each sc across (15 dc) *

Repeat from * to * until your scarfs reaches desired length.

Fasten off leafing 3" tail.

Cut 30 6" pieces of yarn. For each stitch across each end, fold 1 piece of yarn in half and insert the looped end through both loops of 1 sc. Thread the cut ends through the loop and pull tight. (At each end, make sure you pull the left over 3" tail through the loop as well before you pull the yarn tight. This will hide your start and finish tails in your fringe.) After you have done this for each stitch across each end of your scarf, lay flat and trim fringe to desired length.

So, I wanted to have a few videos here showing you how to do each of these stitches, but for some reason, I  cannot get them to upload. I'll work on getting that fixed, but for now, pictures are going to have to do.

For this project, you will need a skein of cotton yarn in the color of your choice, a pair of scissors, and your size H crochet hook.

When I was first learning as a child, this is how I was taught you hold your yarn while you crochet. Some people hold their's differently so go with what you are comfortable with. This is how you will see me hold mine because it keeps the yarn where you need it and the rest of it out of the way at the same time. Starting on the palm side of your hand, wrap the yarn around your little finger counter clockwise. After pulling the yarn back to the palm side of your hand, wrap around the back of your index finger and hold yarn end between your thumb and middle finger.

You want to start with a slip knot on your hook. You can do this by making a loop in your yarn, holding the loop together between your thumb and middle finger, and using your hook to pull a loop of yarn through the first loop. Pull tight and you should have a nice slipknot to start with. You want to start with a slip knot because you can pull it to adjust it's size if you need to and also because if you make a mistake or if you don't like how your project is turning out, you can simply remove your hook and pull the yarn to take it out and not waste any yarn.

This is how you start any stitch in crochet. Most patterns will refer to this as a YO (yarn over). When holding your yarn the way I showed before, you twist the hook so that it goes under the yarn and grabs it like this.

This is your first Ch (chain) To do this, you YO and pull the yarn you grabbed through your slipknot. This is the most basic stitch in crochet and you will use it in every crochet pattern you come across.

This is what it looks like when you do several chains all together. You want it to be a nice middle ground between loose and tight. This may take some practice as most people will either crochet too tight or too loose to begin with, it just depends on the person. It takes practice to learn the correct tension for your yarn. Many patterns will refer to this as the base chain because it often makes up the base of your pattern. As you can see, the chain is made up as a series of V's. Each set of V's is one chain. When doing the next row, you will only go through the top part of the V.

Now we are going to do the first sc (single crochet) To start, you insert the hook into the top loop of the second chain from your hook. If you look close in the photo, between the two loops on the hook, you can see the first ch that is skipped. Once you have your hook inserted, YO and pull a loop of yarn back through the ch. Now you should have two loops on your hook just like the picture above.

YO and pull a loop of yarn through both loops on your hook. This is how you single crochet. All together, you insert your hook into the second ch from your hook, YO, pull the loop through the ch, YO and pull the yarn through both loops on your hook.

You will do this same stitch all the way back down your chain, inserting your hook in the top loop of each remaining chain.

Now you have to start the second row. To do this, you ch 1 and then turn the whole thing to the left. Now you will be looking at the back side of the row you just finished and you will have lined the stitches up so that you can now work across the top of the previous row.

When doing the next row, look at the top of the previous row and you will see the same V's the chain made. This time, instead of going through only one loop, you will go under both sides of the V. Some patterns you come across will tell you to only go under one or the other, this creates a texture that we will go over in another project.

Now that you have finished your first two rows of sc, we are going to do a row of dc (double crochet) To start this row, you ch 2 (this chain at the beginning of the row is to bring your yarn up to the height of the stitch you are doing. ch 1 for sc and ch 2 for dc) turn the project to the left so you see the back side of the previous row.

To start the dc, you are going to YO BEFORE you insert your hook into the first sc of the previous row.

After inserting your hook through the first sc of the row before, YO and pull a loop back through the stitch. Now you will have three loops on your hook just like the picture above.

YO and pull the yarn through the first 2 loops on your hook. Now you will have 2 loops left on your hook just like the picture above.

YO and pull the yarn through both loops on your hook. This is how you dc. All together, you YO, insert your hook into the sc of the row before, YO and pull the yarn back through the stitch, YO and pull yarn through the first 2 loops on your hook, YO and pull the yarn through the last two loops on your hook. 

Dc all the way across to finish your dc row.

This picture shows a small sample of the pattern you will be doing. As you can, startign at the bottom, there are two rows of sc, a row of dc, and two rows of sc. This is a very simple way to add a pattern to your scarf without doing anything too difficult.  These three stitches make up about 90% of the stitches you will use in crochet. There are others, but for the most part, you will be using these three or a variation of one or more of them.

To finish this scarf, ch 1 and cut your yarn about 3" from your hook. 

Use your hook to pull the loop until the cut end pulls free. Pull the yarn until the ch 1 pulls tight.

The pattern calls for you to cut 30 6" pieces of yarn. To make the fringe at the ends of the scarf, fold each piece in half so that there is a loop at one end like in the picture above.

Insert you hook through one stitch in your last/first row of your scarf. 

Use your hook to pull the loop end of your yarn piece through the stitch.

Pull the cut ends of the piece of your yarn through the loop. For the tails of yarn from starting and finishing, make sure that you pull them through the loop of the piece of fringe closest to them. 

Pull the thread tight so that the loop closes around the yarn and holds it tight to create the fringe at the ends of your scarf. You can either leave the fringe long, or lay the scarf flat and use your scissors to cut it to a shorter length. 

You can also finish this scarf another way if you do not like fringe. Simply use a plastic, blunted yarn needle to pull the tail ends back down through the sc row. If you look at the row from the side, you will see a series of upright V's. The needle will slip easily through these. Pull the yarn through, pull it a little tight, cut it, and then flatten the row to hide the end. 

I hope you found these instructions easy to follow. Please leave comments to let me know how easy it was to follow.

Enjoy working on this Cool Weather Scarf. My next post will be a pattern for how to make this really awesome coffee mug cozy.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Crochet Basics: Reading a Pattern Continued

(Photo taken of  page 68 of 24 Hour Crochet Projects by Rita Weiss)

This photo shows how a standard pattern will look. The first few things it will show is a list of materials you will need to complete the project. This will include the type and amount of yarn needed, hook sizes, and any additional materials such as buttons/ribbon/etc. While some patterns will list specific colors of yarn, unless you want your finished project to look exactly like the photo in the pattern, you can choose any color/combination of colors you wish.

The next section of your pattern will likely include any special instructions, stitches/patterns unique to the pattern, and the gauge you will need to work to for the pattern to come out properly. In most patterns (especially clothing items) gauge is VERY important. Most patterns will tell you to do a few stitches or rows and measure to make sure you are crocheting in the correct gauge. It will often read something like this:

Gauge = 5 sc per 1"

Or, in the case of this pattern: With larger hook size, First 2 rows = 2 1/4"

So, how does Gauge work? You follow your pattern for the first few rows and then use your ruler/measuring tape to measure either how many stitches are in the measurement listed, or how many rows. Since everyone crochets a little different (some are tight crocheters, some loose, and some right in the middle) gauge helps you determine if you are using the right hook size for you. If you have too few stitches/rows in your 2" you may want to use one hook size smaller than your pattern states. The same for if you have too many stitches in your 2" you may want to use one hook size larger.

Gauge is really important because you want your project to be the right size when it is finished. If you are working on a beautiful winter hat and you don't check your gauge, you might end up with a hat sized for a doll instead. ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOUR CHECK YOUR GAUGE! You will be much happier in the long run if you remember this step.

The next part is the pattern itself. Depending on what you are making, the pattern will be broken up into parts. If you are making a sweater, you will have instructions for each individual panel and the sleeves followed by instructions on how to put the parts together. It is important to do these parts in order as you will sometimes come across patterns that have you put the pieces together as you go.

As I said in the previous post, most patterns are straight forward and easy to read. Take this one for example:

 Rnd 4: Ch 1, sc in same ch as joining; * ch 3, sk next dc, sc in next dc; rep from * 16 times more; ch 3, join in first sc: 18 ch 3 sps.

Now, as this is the middle of the pattern, it might be a little hard to follow at first, but when you start from the beginning, you will know exactly what is going on. The man reason I chose to point out this part of the instructions is that it has almost every part of a pattern you will need to know about. So let's break it down:

"Rnd 4" A pattern will often start each step with either Rnd or Row depending on if you are working on a straight line or in a circle. As this is a pattern for a hat, it is worked in a circle. In most patterns, each Rnd/Row will be marked with a number making it easy to find where you are.

"*" Most patterns will use this symbol or one similar in their short hand way of writing. Most patterns will repeat along a row or round. The symbol is the patterns way of alerting you to a repeat pattern and helping you know where the repeat starts and ends.

"Ch1, sc in same..."  This is the main part of the pattern. Patterns are written in a special kind of shorthand so that the pattern can fit on just a few pages instead of needing a whole book to make one hat. When you are first learning, it can be difficult to remember what all the abbreviations mean. As you learn and become more used with the shorthand, you will start reading it as naturally as reading any other instructions.

"...join in first sc..." When working in a circle, after each round you will be instructed to either "join" or "Place a stitch marker"  Depending on the pattern, at the end of each round, you will join to the first stitch of that round or continue crocheting without joining. Either way, it is important to know where the first stitch of each round is for later.

"18 ch 3 sps" In many patterns, you will see something similar to this at the end of each row/rnd. This tells you how many stitches/pattern repeats are in that row/rnd. It is often a good idea to go back and count them every row or two to make sure you have the right amount. A little mistake along the way can often be big trouble later.

So, as you can see, when you break down the parts of a pattern, it becomes a little easier to follow. Most patterns will follow this same format whether they are American patterns or English patterns. The only exception to this format is often homemade patterns. If you get your patterns from free sites online, they will often be written as the crocheter went along. Often, these can be somewhat difficult to follow. However, if you put in the effort and keep in mind that there may be a few tweaks you have to make, many of these projects turn out beautiful.

In my next post, I will begin to demonstrate how to make a ch, (chain) sc, (single crochet) and dc. (double crochet) I hope to demonstrate this with still photos as well as a few videos. Other stitches will follow, but as these are the main stitches in most patterns, they are the most important to learn first.

See you next time,

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Crochet Basics: Materials/ How to Read a Pattern

I really think crochet basics start long before you pick up a hook and jump into learning the stitches. There are a few things you need to know before you start as well as a few supplies you will want handy as you begin.


Most important in crochet is the crochet hook. You will find many different brands on the market as well as different materials ranging from metal to wood to plastic as well as a few others. The main difference between brands (aside from the material they are made of) is slight differences in the shape of the hook. These differences are not really enough to affect how you use the hook. Most hooks are relatively the same shape and you will rarely notice a difference. 
 Most hooks with have this same general shape. As you can see in the photo I have mostly metal hooks with a few plastic ones. There is even one I think might be some kind of bone from the texture of it. The hook to the far right (the one I think may be bone) even has a decorative handle. While this adds to the style of the hook, it really does nothing for the overall function of the crochet hook. Don't waist extra money on more expensive/decorative hooks when the cheep (though still good quality) hooks do just as good a job. The only time it makes sense to spend a little extra money on crochet hooks would be for people who have arthritis. Sometimes, the slim hooks can be difficult for those with arthritis. I have seen something rather cool for crocheters with this problem.
Most sizes of crochet hooks can fit in this and the wide handle makes it more comfortable for people with problems such as arthritis.

The main thing you need to know about crochet hooks before you start is SIZE MATTERS! Generally, the larger the hook, the larger the stitches you will make. Most of the time, your pattern will tell you what size hook to use, but if you are unsure, check the label on the yarn you are using and it will usually tell you the recommended hook size for that yarn. It also never hurts to play around with different hook sizes. (depending on what you are crocheting)
In this picture, you can see the size of the hook. This hook has both the USA and Metric sizes for this hook. When reading a pattern, you will usually see one of three size styles: USA, English, or Metric. Not all hooks have more than one size style on it so it is a good idea to keep a chart with the corresponding sizes. 

    USA = English = Metric
K-10 1/2
10 1/4
5 steel
7 steel
8 steel
10 steel

Other supplies include: A good pair of scissors...
While any good pair of scissors will work just fine, I prefer to use the style on the left. They are small so they don't take up too much space and since they have small points, they get into small spaces easier.

You will also want a ruler/measuring tape as many patterns go more by measurements than rows.

Stitch markers: some patterns call for stitch markers. Personally, I use a small bit of a contrasting color of yarn or a safety pin. They work just as good and don't cost a ton of money. DO NOT USE STITCH MARKERS INTENDED FOR KNITTING!!! These are a different kind and you will NOT be able to remove them from your crochet without taking it out or cutting your stitch markers.

A small plastic needle (easily found next to the crochet hooks) for hiding ends or stitching parts together.

For the most part (unless your pattern says different) these are all the supplies you need. There are only two other things I would suggest, though they are unnecessary. 1- A bag or basket to store your crochet project in while you are not working on it. There is nothing more frustrating than being almost finished with a project and having to start over because the kids/dog/cat got a hold of your project. 2-A yarn bowl if you like to work off of balls like I do. You can order one online that is beautiful, has holes for your hooks, and a slot for your yarn. Many bowls straight from you kitchen cabinets work just as well. The main point of the yarn bowl is to keep your yarn ball from rolling all over the place while you work.
(This is a yarn bowl my sister made for me not to long ago.)

How to Read a Pattern:

For the most part (especially with beginner patterns) patterns are fairly easy to read once you know the lingo. The first time you look at a crochet pattern, you might think it is written in some alien language. If you work out of a beginners pattern book, there is likely to be a list of abbreviations at the start/end of the book to help you sort out all that Greek. If not, here is a general guide to crochet abreviations:

beg = beginning 
 = backpost double crochet 
 = Contrasting Color 
 = chain 
 = cluster 
 = double crochet 
 = decrease 
 = double treble crochet 
 = front post double crochet 
 = half double crochet 
 = increase 
 = loop(s) 
 = Main Color 
 = picot 
 = repeat 
 = round 
 = Right Side facing you 
 = skip 
 = stitch 
ss or sl st
 = slip stitch 
 = single crochet 
 = space 
 = together 
 = treble 
tr tr
 = triple treble 
 = wool over hook 
 = Wrong Side facing you 
 = yarn over hook

There may be one or two not on this list, but for the most part they are there. Any others are usually specific to the pattern and the pattern will include a description.

Other than this short hand, patterns are usually straight-forward and easy to follow. I do still come across one every now and then that takes me a while to sort out, but with a little effort it's usually not too bad. The biggest problem (especially for a beginner) is where the pattern comes from. American and English patterns often look exactly the same in terms of abbreviations but what the English refer to as a dc (double crochet) in America we refer to as a sc. (single crochet) This small difference can make a HUGE difference in the outcome of your project so it's important to know the difference. 

I will talk more about pattern reading in my next post and begin to cover what these stitches actually are and how to do them.

I have TONS of plans for this blog. Just getting started, its hard to decide where to start, but I think I will start with my area of most experience: Crochet. I need a few days to get all of the material put together and and posted. I will start with a basic "Beginners Guide" detailing supplies, terms, pattern reading, and basic stitches. 

From there, I plan to move on into more advanced projects and "How To's" of different kinds of stitch patterns. Once the basics are covered, I will get more into actual patterns and how to alter patterns you find but may not like certain aspects of. Off the top of my head, I can think of an amazing sweater pattern I found recently. It had a rather large blocky collar that I just didn't like. The solution: extending the collar and reworking it into a hood. I've found that more often than not people will completely pass on a pattern because of one small detail when a small alteration can make a world of difference. 

While I love to crochet, I also love crafts of all kinds. I will also be posting about other crafts I come across from sewing to jewelry making to re-purposing old/unused items. I also love to try out crafts and "for the home" ideas I find on Pinterest. I will be sharing those on this blog as well.

The only thing I love more than crafts is sharing crafts with others. I look forward to building a reader base to share crafting fun with as this blog grows. I'll be back in a day or two with installment 1 of Crochet Basics.