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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Recipe for a Towel Topper

Over the past 3 or 4 years I have given my mom towels for the kitchen as a Christmas gift.  Each year she loves them.  Maybe it is the practicality of them or the handmade-ness.  Whatever the reason is, I always know that they will be a hit.

One of the things that I had always wanted to make was a towel that hangs on the fridge.  I've made a knit versions before--these and these, but I had always wanted to use an actual towel because I find them to be more absorbent.  I just needed to attempt to "top a towel." 

I had read some tutorials...they all involved cutting a dish towel in half and then crocheting over the cut side to make the topper...and that is great and all, but I didn't want to have a raw edge.  So I went to the store and bought some "bar mop towels" to use instead.  These are smaller than dish towels (definitely length-wise smaller maybe width-wise too) and have a finished edge on all sides.  

Now I needed to decide what to use to pierce the fabric so I could crochet the topper.  Should I use scissors? Purchase a sharp crochet hook? Use a needle and thread?  I remembered that I had purchased a skip stitch blade for my rotary cutter a month or two ago to use on a blanket edging...and I wondered if I could use that to top the towels too!

So, I got out my self-healing cutting mat, my rotary cutter, and the skip stitch blade and gave it a try.  The blade did go through the layers of the finished edge with adequate pressure--which is totally great! I then tried different sized crochet hooks to figure out which was best for this project--I ended up settling on a G hook with worsted weight yarn.  The G hook allows the tension in that first row to begin to ripple the towel.

I found that the best placement for the holes was sort of in the middle of the finished edge--not too close to the end of the towel.  Going in more, toward the body of the towel isn't'll just need to adjust your tension on your first row of single crochets.

Now, so far I've tried 4 different towels and I get different numbers of holes in the pass with the skip stitch blade.  Sometimes it is 25, sometimes 27, sometimes 28, etc.  Because of this, I can't post an exact "pattern" for the topper--at least for the starting row, but I can give you a recipe on what to do.

-Bar mop sized towel
-worsted weight yarn
-size G crochet hook
-a smaller crochet hook and maybe a pointy one just in case.
-a yarn needle for sewing in ends
-a button
-needle and thread
-skip stitch blade and rotary cutter
-self-healing cutting mat

Place your cutting mat on a sturdy hard surface.  
Load the skip stitch blade into the rotary cutter.
Run the blade along the top finished edge of the towel, approximately in the middle of the finished edge.
Be sure to make a hole close to the beginning and close to the end of the towel (where the finished edge is the thickest).
Crochet one row of single crochets across the top of the towel--this is where you work directly into the holes you just created.

Crochet one more row of single crochets and take note of the number of stitches in the row.

Now, here comes the recipe.
Recalling the number of stitches in your it even or odd?

If it is even, figure out where the middle of your row is, you will be working a double crochet two together decrease on these two stitches.

Chain 2 (this does not count as a double crochet).  Double crochet two together, then double crochet until you reach 1 stitch before your middle two stitches (aka work right up to the middle two stitches).  Double crochet these two together, and then double crochet until there are two more stitches left to work.  Double crochet these together.

For example, if you end up with 28 stitches, the middle stitches are the 14th and 15th stitch, so you will be decreasing these two together.  So what you would do would be ch 2, dc2tog, dc 11, dc2tog, dc 11, dc2tog.  This will leave you with 25 stitches.

If you have an odd number of stitches in your row you can ignore finding the middle two stitches and work as follows:
ch 2 (doesn't count as a dc), dc2tog, dc across until there are two stitches left to work, dc2tog.

Example: 29: ch 2, dc2tog, dc 25 times, dc2tog, resulting in 27 stitches.

Did you follow that?  What you want is to end up with an odd stitch count.  If my method confuses you, decrease any way you'd like as long as you have an odd number in the first row of double crochets.

The "pattern" really starts when you have 25 stitches in your previous row.

Just as before, the chain 2 in the beginning of each row does not count as a stitch.

Once you have 25 stitches....
--Ch 2, dc2tog, dc 21 times, dc2tog, turn. (23 stitches)
--Ch 2, dc2tog, dc 19 times, dc2tog, turn (21 stitches).
--Ch 2, *dc2tog, dc* repeat from * to * across, turn (14 stitches).
--Ch 2, dc2tog across, turn (7 stitches).
--Ch 2, dc2tog, 3 dc, dc2tog, turn (5 stitches).

Now you start the band that will wrap around your refrigerator handle.
--Ch 2, 5 dc across, turn.

Repeat this until it is slightly shorter than the desired length.

Begin the button hole part:
--Ch 1, 5 sc across, turn.
--Ch 4, join with slip stitch to the 5th sc in the previous row.

Fasten off and weave in ends!
Sew on a button and enjoy.

I do apologize if any of this "recipe" is confusing--let me know if you have any issues!  I hope you all have fun making your towel toppers!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Today is Christmas Eve and my family and I will be celebrating later.  I have been so busy crafting projects lately!  I will have a post showing them, once I give most of them away :).  Yesterday I gave Matt his Christmas gift...the sweater I had been working on since before LAST CHRISTMAS and a few other things.  It made my heart melt when he totally fell in love with it when he opened it!  :).  I'm so happy he liked it and I'm so thankful for a best friend like him!

Whether or not you are celebrating today or tomorrow I still wish you all the best of the season!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Thermal Tweed Scarf

Maybe it is just me, but I have trouble finding scarves that look "manly."  When I make something for a guy I'm always worried that he isn't going to like it or maybe he will find it too feminine.  (I'm not one for gender labeling, but you never know how a recipient of a gift will feel.)  Well, I think that I found a nice manly/gender neutral scarf.

I present to you, the knit Thermal Tweed Scarf.

3 skeins of Vanna's choice tweed yarn
Size 9 and 10.5 knitting needles
Gauge: 16 stitches = 4 inches in stockinette stitch (on size 9 needles or whatever size gives you gauge)
yarn needle for weaving in ends.

Cast on 31 stitches using the larger needles then switch to smaller needles to knit the scarf.  (If you'd like a wider or skinnier scarf just make sure that the cast on number of stitches is an odd number.)

Just as a note, the first and last stitch will make the border of the scarf.

Row 1: K1, *K1, P1*, repeat * to * until 1 stitch before end, K1.
Row 2: K1, *P1, K1* , repeat * to * until the end.
Row 3: K all stitches
Row 4: K all stitches.

Repeat this pattern until about a half inch from desired length.  A good idea of the "proper" scarf length is the height of the person wearing it or just a tiny bit shorter.  This will allow it to be wrapped around the neck or halved and then slipped through.

Once you reach this length, repeat Row 1 and Row 2 and then bind off knit wise using the larger needle.

Weave in ends and enjoy!

Here is a close up of the detail of the pattern and how it looks in the tweed yarn.  Nice and textured, but still simple and clean looking!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Teething/nursing necklace

What a busy month December has been! Between school work, crafting gifts, and preparing for the holidays I've simply not been able to find the time to blog! (But that doesn't mean that I haven't been thinking about you guys :)).  I've actually been working on a few new patterns that you'll hear about today and in the next few days/weeks.  There will also be a few "ta-da" moments when I'll present my finished Christmas gifts, but that will definitely come after Christmas so I don't spoil any surprises!

So without further ado, I present you with my new pattern for a teething/nursing necklace!

Here is the back story...about a week and a half ago my friend asked me if I could make a necklace that she could wear when she is feeding her 5 month old son, because he is so alert that he is getting distracted by all the visuals in the room as he is eating.  She showed me a picture of something she found online and asked if I could make something similar.  The necklace she showed me had wooden beads of different sizes, wooden beads covered by crochet, and a crocheted cord.  A necklace like this would also be good when he starts teething.  She told me that she wanted a few beads and gave me the supplies (a ribbon and the wooden beads) to use for the necklace.  The colors she wanted were blues and greens.  Now, since I'm trying to use yarn that is in my stash, I looked to see what I had in those colors.  Turns out I had a nice amount of Vanna's choice.  Then I tried to find a pattern to crochet around a wooden bead, using aran weight yarn...but I couldn't find one.  So....I made my own!

What you'll need are some wooden beads--I used round 1 inch wooden beads--you can find these at a craft store.
Aran (or worsted) weight yarn, like Vanna's choice.
A G crochet hook.
Some ribbon or extra yarn to chain a necklace
And a yarn needle for sewing in ends/threading beads onto the necklace.

ch = chain
sc = single crochet
sc2tog = single crochet 2 together
ss = slip stitch

Gauge: Not really important, but try not to crochet TOO tightly as it will be harder to get the bead inside the crocheted outer "cup."

The beads are actually very simple to make.  They are worked in the round, so do not join the rounds with ss.

Round 1: Start by ch 3, and ss to the first stitch to make a tiny loop.
Round 2: Make 6 sc into this loop.(6 sc)
Round 3: Make 2 sc into each stitch in the previous round (12 sc).
Round 4: Make *2 sc in next stitch, 1 sc in next* around (18 sc).
Round 5: sc in each stitch around (18 sc).
Round 6: *sc2tog, sc* around (12 sc).

Up until this point you have not worked with the bead.  You'll place the wooden bead into this little crocheted "cup" during the next round.

What you have should look something like this

Begin Round 7: sc2og around (6 sc)-- when you've completed maybe 2 of the 6 stitches in this round, insert the bead.
Push the bead inside.
I've found it works better to pull up the "cup" over the bead as you work the sc2tog. 

When all the stitches of Round 7 are complete, join to the next stitch (aka the first stitch of round 7) with a ss.

Tuck in ends.  I found it works well to place a crochet hook through the center of the bead/covering so that you can sew in the ends.  This also makes sure that everything lines up appropriately.

For my necklace I made 7 beads in different colors.

Next, string them on to your desired length of ribbon.  Rather not use a ribbon? Chain a desired amount with a yarn of your choice and string the beads on that.  Want to mix in some wooden non-crocheted beads too? Go ahead! :).  To clean it, you can soak it in cool water and let it dry.

Happy crocheting!  Feel free to use this pattern as you please, just do not reproduce the text or pictures without my permission.