Lei Crochet

Crochet Lei, blog post by April Garwood of Banana Moon Studio

 My very fortunate parents just returned from a cruise to Hawaii and back.  They had lots of fun, went snorkling, and brought back souvenirs for their only slightly less-fortunate children and grand-children.  My parents brought back a silk flower lei for each of my girls and two cans of macadamia nuts for us.  My parents each took a class or two while on the ship.  My mom took one on crocheting leis!  Now, my mom knows the basics of crochet, but she is primarily a knitter and quilter, so this was pretty big for her to take a crochet class.  She made one of these beautiful leis for myself and each of my 3 sisters.  Aren't they beautiful?!  I was very impressed!

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500 X 100 

The "flowers" are a variegated nylon cord worked in a string of popcorn stitches.  Here are a couple of options I found to order it online, but maybe not in this exact colorway:

Omega thread from Annie's

Various brands from Amazon

The "grass" is green eyelash yarn worked into the backs of the popcorns. I found green eyelash yarn on Amazon:

Various brands from Amazon

Isn't that clever?  I'll have to find a way to use this idea in my designing somewhere...maybe as a unique edging???  She showed me another one that she bought rather than made in which the popcorn/grass combo was worked around an inner cord of somekind in a spiral so that it wrapped around it.  This made a thicker lei.  The one my mom made for me has 2 strands to it that she twisted together a little.  I think she said it is actually one long strand, but you skip a few chains in there to make a spot to tie on the closures.  The "beads" used in the closure are some variety of nut that she informed me is also used as a natural laxative in Hawaii....nice....

Crochet Lei, blog post by April Garwood of Banana Moon Studio
A little more close-up pic

I am glad that my parents got to enjoy their cruise together.  I wanted to share this interesting use of crochet with you.

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Here are some other recent posts that have been popular:

How to Make a Mini Center-pull Skein

Intarsia Crochet Tutorial

Sparkly Product Review

Reveal! T-rex Hat and Mitts

Aloha, and happy crocheting!

April :)


A Mini Center-pull Skein

 In my last post about intarsia crochet I mentioned winding off separate "bobbins" for your work.  One way to do that is by making a mini center-pull skein.  You can also just wind off a ball if you like, but then it rolls around all over the place.  The nice think about a center-pull skein is that it doesn't do that.  So here's how to make one.  Pulling from your large skein, ball, yarn-cake, etc.   Lay your yarn across your hand.  Keep track of your end and don't let it get tangled up.
 Wrap the yarn around your thumb, and then begin to wrap it around your pinky.
 You are going to make a "figure 8" with your yarn around your thumb and pinky.
 And do it over and over and over.
 Then pinch the middle of the fugre 8 where the yarn strands cross about half-way between your thumb and pinky, and pull it off your fingers.
 Then begin wrapping the working end around the center...
Wrap several times, and you're done!  To the right there you see the yarn end I started with sticking out of the center, and several wraps (maybe even too many, I should have done more "8's" with this one) around the center.  You can pull from that beginning end that is coming out of the center and thus you have a mini center-pull skein to use as a separate bobbin for your intarsia crochet!

Happy Thanksgiving this week!  We'll be heading north about an hour and a half drive to spend Thursday and Friday with my in-laws.  I'll probably be making baby mittens and hats while there.  I'll be participating in a small holiday craft market at my husband's employer very soon, so I need lots of finished items!  This will be my first "craft fair", and I'm excited!  I'm glad it's small though.

Happy crocheting!


Intarsia Crochet Photo Tutorial

Welcome to the Intarsia Crochet Photo Tutorial, courtesy of April Garwood at Banana Moon Studio!  Okay, that was cheesy...anyway.  In honor of my latest published pattern, T. Rex Hat and Mitts, found in Interweave Crochet Accessories 2011. I have made this photo tutorial about working intarsia crochet.  In the picture above I have a simple intarsia chart of a letter 'H'.

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Baby's Buddy Amigurumi

The chart for the T. Rex pattern is in the mag for those who plan to make it.  I didn't think it would fly too well with the editor for me to post that here for all to see ;)  So we will work with this one as an example.  Intarsia is a technique that involves using 2 or more colors of yarn to stitch a picture into the fabric.  It isn't stitched on top, it is a part of the fabric.  If you scroll to the end of this tutorial, you can see my finished 'H' swatch to see how that looks.  The chart above shows you visually how to use the 2 colors.  The white boxes represent the background color (green in this case) and the green filled boxes, represent the color of the picture I am making (which in this case is pink).  So for each white box I work a stitch in the green, and for each green box I work a stitch in the pink (sorry, I realize that's kind counter-intuitive).

I start with a couple of beginning rows of single crochet that are wide enough for my chart to fit (10 sts wide), plus an extra stitch on each side.  When working from a pattern, this set-up part will be written into the pattern.  I have placed stitch markers in the first and last stitches that will encompass my chart so that I don't have to think much about where to begin and end my chart work.

 This row begins the first row of my chart.  I worked the st(s) before my chart section in the green, then I began the first st of my chart, which is green.  I inserted my hook into the st as usual, yarn over, pull up a loop and that's where I am in the picture above.  I am NOT going to yarn over with the green here.

I drop my working green strand to the WRONG SIDE of my fabric and place the end of the pink over the end of my hook.  I do NOT make a slip knot, and I leave 4 to 6 inches of "end" or "tail" that will be woven in later.

I pull that loop of pink through the 2 loops of my green sc to finish it off.  The top of that green sc will be green because it's top is formed by the loop pulled through the sc before it.  By pulling through this sc with pink, I have provided a pink top for the stitch that I am just about to work.

Here I have almost finished working the 2 pink sts from the chart.  I have pulled up a loop with the pink, and now I am going to switch colors again.  At this point you can either 1)carry the green yarn you were already using behind your 2 pink sts and use it across the rest of the row, or 2)use a separate bobbin (length of yarn that you either draw from the other end of the same skein, or wind off into it's own ball or mini-skein) to work the green section between the 2 legs of the 'H'.

 As before, I placed a loop of green yarn over my hook and pulled it through the pink sc to finish it.

Cute and Cozy Crochet

Now I work the sts between the 2 legs of the 'H' and will switch colors again when I have almost finished the 4th one.  Again, I will have to decide whether to carry my yarn across the back or use a separate bobbin.  If you decide to carry your yarn across the back, keep in mind that this will be likley to snag fingers or toes if you are making mittens, gloves, or socks.  Also, you should be sure to carry it loosely.  If you make it too tight your fabric will not be very stretchy and it will probably pucker where you don't want it too.  Be loose!

Now I have finished the first row and you can see the pink stitches sitting very neatly in their places with green stitches all around them.

Now, when I work the next row, I am working a wrong side row.  This is messy-looking, as you can see!  I used separate bobbins for this just as I did when making the T. Rex Hat and Mitts.  So there are lots of yarn ends hanging off the back.  You will change colors the same way when working from the wrong side, but there are 2 important things to remember.  First, you need to read the intarsia chart backwards.  When you work a right side row, you read across the chart in the same direction as your work -- from right to left.  But when you are working a wrong side row you must read it from left to right.  With my example here it doesn't make much difference because this design is symmetrical, but if the design is not symmetrical, as with the T. Rex, this makes all the difference.  Another important thing to remember is that when you lay down one color and pick up another, all your strands need to hang to the WRONG SIDE of the fabric, which you are now looking at.  On the right side rows, they still go to the wrong side, but you aren't looking at the wrong side.  Just be sure you put your yarn ends in the correct place!  In the picture above, you can see, though it is hard to find among all that yarn, that I have the 2 loops of a green stitch on my hook and I am just about to change colors.  The working end of my green is coming out from under my hook and hanging down the wrong side.  I have picked up the working strand of the pink and have it going around the back of my hook, just about to finish the stitch with it.

This picture isn't really necessary, but it shows you one of the commone difficulties of working intarsia -- tangled yarn.  I was working on this little swatch standing up and that made it much harder to keep my yarn untangled.  If you are sitting down it will be easier to move your skeings/bobbins/balls around to keep the yarn untangled.  Every few rows, stop and untwist everything.

Switching colors again on a wrong side row.  I have the green strand held against the wrong side of the fabric with my thumb and am just about to pull through both loops with the pink.  Right after changing colors, you may want to pull both your ends to tighten up the last stitch just a little bit.

Now I am working the crossbar of the 'H'.  When I change over to the pink, I am just going to keep right on working all the way across it with the same bobbin.  I will leave the bobbins for the middle section of green and the other pink bobin right where they are.  In some designs it might be more appropriate to cut them off leaving 4 to 6 inches of "end" to be woven in later.  In this case I left them there and will ust them in just a couple of rows as I work the top of the 'H'.  I plan to carry them up the back, but if the distance were very long, I would probably cut them and restart them later to avoid having a long floater across the back.

Here I am looking at the wrong side.  I have finished working all of the pink.  You can see my floaters in both pink and green going over the section where I worked the crossbar.  Once you are to this point, and all the remaining stitches will be worked in the background color, you can cut off all the unnecessary bobbins leaving a 4 to 6 inch "end".  DO NOT cut off the one that you still need to finish with!

As I work the top row that doesn't have any color changes I will jut use the same strand of yarn to stitch all the way across the top in all the stitches no mattern their color.

In the above picture I wanted to show you what it means to "weave in ends as-you-go".  This is ideal!  You can weave in your ends as you stitch, leaving less work to do afterward.  Do you see how I have that green end laying on top of the next stitch that I am going to work into?  I can lay that along the tops of the row of stitches I am going to work into and then stitch over it as I work.  That way, I have one less end to weave in later!

Ta-da!  I have stitched a letter 'H' into my crochet fabric just like the one shown on my intarsia chart...except the color difference of course.

By the way, the yarn I used for this demo is called Queensland Collection Super Aussie 100% Merino.  it is a VERY soft worsted weight superwash wool that I LOVE!  I ordered mine from http://yarn.com/.

I hope this was helpful to you!  Was there anything you would like me to clarify? explain in more detail?  Leave a comment and let me know!  I'd also love to hear about it if this was ver helpful!  I plan to put up a second blog post today or tomorrow about winding off a separate bobbin or "mini-skein" to complement this post.  Until then, happy crocheting!

April :)

Super Scarves