Thursday, June 28, 2012

Operation Marigold Update

Welcome to Operation Marigold, in which Snowcatcher and I
are joining forces to honour our friend the Goatmother,
and with her all who are battling cancer.

Here are some exciting updates:

1. Snowcatcher has posted her "Curly Q Hat" pattern. Hop over to her blog for some amazing photos and great crochet patterns, including this beautiful, cheerful hat.

Here's the hat pattern link:

2. The Operation Marigold Flickr group is up and running. This is a public group, so anyone with a Flickr account can join.

You are welcome to post pictures of ANY hat you make for donating to chemo patients. Knitters and knitted hats also welcome!

Here's the link for the Flickr group:

3. In case you missed my pattern posts, here are the links (one for the hat pattern, and one for the optional brim):

Thanks to all of you who have responded with encouraging comments and commitments to crochet (or knit) a hat. Together, we'll Butt some Hay Out of Cancer.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pardon me, but your Slip Stitch is Showing ~ An Invisible Join Tutorial

"Join with sl st. Cut yarn and weave in ends."

A handy little stitch, the slip stitch - but when used to finish the final round of a motif or project, it can skew the edge just a little bit out of shape.

How does this happen? Well, in the normal course of things, one crochet stitch flows into the next, with nary a break between 'em. The joining slip stitch, however, inserts a stitch - and, when tied off, a knot - which creates a tiny bump or bulge at the edge of your carefully crocheted motif or hat.

But rounds must be closed. Yarn must be tied off. Is there no way around this pesky slip stitch? Yes, there is! Enter the Invisible Join (trumpets tooting, crowds cheering and waving hooks, yarn snippets drifting down like confetti).

I'm a big fan of the Invisible Join because it's just that - invisible. It creates the illusion of a seamless edge, and it's very quick and easy to do.

Here are the basics of an Invisible Join:

Note: Invisible Joins can be made using a tapestry needle OR a crochet hook several sizes smaller than your project hook. (I like to use a crochet hook, since it doesn't need threading.)

When you complete the final stitch of your round, cut yarn, leaving a 2" tail:

Gently pull the yarn tail up and out of the stitch:

Insert hook from back to front of the stitch you're connecting to (see Notes below on which stitch to choose):

With hook (or needle), gently pull the yarn tail through.

Now turn your work around so that the reverse is facing you. Insert hook, from bottom to top, through the back loop of the final stitch (where the yarn tail came from in the first place). If there is more than one horizontal strand on the back of the stitch, insert hook through at least two of them (see Tip below for more details):

Up through the back horizontal strands

Gently pull the yarn tail down and through. That's it!

Turn your work over and admire the seamless edge. Pretty cool, huh? Now you can weave in that yarn tail, and no one will ever know which stitch was the last.

Tip: Normally, invisible join instructions tell you to bring the yarn tail down through the top back loop only of the final stitch. This works just fine - but I like to take it a step further. (You've heard of OCD? Obsessive Crochet Disorder? I've got it bad.)

For a stronger join that truly mimics the stitches around it, first think about the final stitch - the one you made right before the invisible join. When making that final stitch, how many loops did you pull through at the very end of the stitch, after the final yarnover? (For a single, double, or triple crochet it would be 2. For a half double crochet, it would be 3.) So, when finishing the invisible join, bring the yarn tail down through that same number of strands.

For example: if your final stitch was a double crochet, and you want your invisible join to truly mimic a double crochet, pull the yarn tail down through 2 back strands of your final stitch - because that's how many loops you pulled through to finish the double crochet.

To make the illusion complete, take the yarn tail through at least one vertical bar of the next stitch over. This will eliminate any gaps between your final stitch and your first stitch.

Finally, take yarn tail through at least one
vertical bar of the next stitch over.


Now that you've got the basic technique, let's take it a bit further. To which stitch should you connect an Invisible Join? It's really up to you; but here are some guidelines:

When you want to maintain an exact stitch count, you should:
Connect your Invisible Join to the second stitch away from your final stitch. (I call this the Formal Invisible Join.) Why skip over a stitch? The Invisible Join may be invisible, but it's still a stitch; if you insert it between two stitches, it will add 1 to your count. By skipping over a stitch, you maintain the exact number of stitches you started with.

Remember not to pull too tightly on your Invisible Join, especially when skipping over a stitch. You want it to lie right on top of the stitch you're skipping, and match its size.

I used this technique in the Marigold Hat, Round 20 of the crown:

Skipping over a stitch (to maintain stitch count)

When stitch count doesn't matter, as at the final edge of a glove or hat, you can:
Connect your Invisible Join to the next stitch over - if you want to, and if it looks alright. (It's really a matter of trial and error, and doing what works best for the project in hand.)

This join worked well for my Wickerwork Mitts:

Connecting to the next stitch over
(where stitch count is not important)

When your round starts with a cluster, you should:
Chain 1 less than you normally would to start the round/cluster, and when the round is complete, connect your Invisible Join to the top of the cluster (which counts as the second stitch - making this a Formal Invisible Join).

For example, the Pennies & Lace Block, Round 2:

Connecting to the top of a 2-dc cluster.
(Cluster was started with a ch-2, NOT ch-3.)

When making circular motifs, you can:
Chain 1 less than you normally would* to get the yarn up to the required height. (I use chain 1 for single crochet and half-double crochet; chain 2 for double crochet.) Counting these chains as the first stitch, make the rest of the stitches called for (for example, if the pattern calls for 12 dcs: start with a chain 2, then make 11 dcs). Connect the Invisible Join to the top of the first "real" stitch, skipping over the top of the beginning chain(s). (Another variation of the Formal Invisible Join.)

*If your chains tend to be very tight and short, then use whatever amount works best for you.

An example of this can be found in the Pennies & Lace Block center.

Chain 2 + 11 double crochets + 1 invisible join
= 12 stitches!

The Invisible Join is fast and easy, and can greatly improve the look of your in-the-round crochet. Once you start using it, you'll find that it has all sorts of useful applications.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask using the comment box below.

Thanks for viewing this Visible Post, and happy Invisible Joining!

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Marigold Hat Optional Brim (with Mini-Tutorial for Reverse Single Crochet Edging)

A beanie-style hat (even one with a really cute striped band and perky little buttoned flower) is not to everyone's taste - so here's an optional brim for the Marigold Hat.

The brim can be pulled down:

Or allowed to curl up:

Either way gives a charming cloche-like look to the hat.

Dear Goatmother - I borrowed your hat for a
few minutes. I hope you don't mind. : )

The pattern is pretty straighforward, so I'll just give it to you in plain English. (A short phototutorial for reverse single crochet is included at the end of the post.)

You'll need 2 hooks, as for the hat pattern (I used H/5.00mm and G/4.25mm).

~ My hat was 80 stitches around, so my increases are based on that stitch count. If your hat has a different stitch count, just space the increases evenly around the brim.
~ For a slightly less curly brim, use the larger hook throughout.

Marigold Hat Brim

With right side facing you, using larger hook, attach brim yarn with standing single crochet in any band stitch (click here for tutorial on standing single crochet - may be found about half-way down the Marigold Hat post, under "Crown - Round 1").

Brim Round 1: Single crochet around = 80 stitches. Join with slip stitch. Chain 1; do not turn.
Round 2: Starting in same stitch as the chain-1, (half double crochet 9; increase in 10th stitch. To increase: half double crochet 1, single crochet 1 in same stitch). Repeat 8 times around = 88 stitches. Join with slip stitch. Chain 1; do not turn.
Round 3: Starting in same stitch as chain 1, (half double crochet 10; increase as above in 11th stitch). Repeat 8 times around = 96 stitches. Join with slip stitch. Chain 1; do not turn.
Round 4: Starting in same stitch as the chain-1, half double crochet evenly around = 96 stitches. Join with slip stitch. Chain 1; do not turn.
Round 5: Switch to smaller hook. Starting in NEXT stitch, single crochet around = 95 stitches. Join with slip stitch.

Remove hook from loop. Turn work so reverse side is facing you. Put hook back through loop; the working yarn will now be in front of the work.

Round 6: Reverse single crochet around (see short photo tutorial below if necessary) = 95 stitches. Join to first stitch with invisible join (see photos below). And you're done!

Reverse Single Crochet Phototutorial

Reverse Single Crochet adds a nice, sturdy, textured edge. It's not a difficult stitch but it takes some getting used to.

After completing Round 5, remove your hook from the loop. Turn the hat around so the reverse is facing you. Put your hook back through the loop.

Your hook should be behind the work, and your working yarn is in front.

Chain 1 (does not count as a stitch).
Now swing your hook down and to the right. You want to insert it front to back through the next stitch to the right.

Here's the hook inserted into the next stitch to the right:

Yarn over, pull up a loop:

Yarn over, and pull through both loops. Your first Reverse Single Crochet is done.

That's it - it's just like regular single crochet, except that you're working in the opposite direction. It will feel very awkward at first, but your hands will soon get into the rhythm of it.

With every stitch, the yarn wraps around itself a bit to form a twisted edge. Here's what it looks like several stitches later:

A nice, firm, twisty edge

Keep stitching around until you get back to where you started. Time to finish this baby.

You could just slip stitch the edges together, but why do that when you can make an invisible join? Read on for the juicy details.

Special Invisible Join for Reverse Single Crochet

Note: Using a hook several sizes smaller makes the invisible join much easier.

The first step of any invisible join is to cut the yarn a few inches away from the work, then pull it up and out of the final stitch.

Now turn your work over. The final stitch is to the right; the first stitch of the round is to the left.

Look for the tiny twisted bit in between the final stitch and the first stitch (it was formed by the chain-1 which started the round). The steel hook is pointing to it in the picture below.

Insert your hook from left to right through this stitch, and gently pull the yarn tail through. That's it! The simplest invisible join you'll ever do.

Weave the yarn end back through some of the v-shaped bars at the base of the row (going in the opposite direction), and snip off the extra.

Can you tell where the join is? I can't.

Truly invisible.

(Speaking of invisible joins, tomorrow I will post a dedicated tutorial for the standard invisible join, with tips for customizing it to various crochet situations.)

Thanks for viewing, and happy crocheting!

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Ride in a Fresh Direction

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Dragonflies, butterflies, daylilies
Old barns and roads becoming new friends
Blackbirds rising in a sooty cloud

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Inspired by Snowcatcher's amazing week of Ride the Rockies posts, I decide today to get out of my cycling comfort zone and strike out in a new direction - literally. It's time to make friends with some new roads and hills, so instead of riding east and south, as I always do, I head north and west. (This turns out to be a good choice; as it happens, the wind is out of the north, which means I'll have a tailwind coming home. I like tailwinds at the end of a ride; they make me feel stronger than I really am.)

Tolerably warm (mid 80s) and moderately sticky, there are thunderheads piling up in the north. If only they would drop some much-needed rain! (No such luck today, I'm afraid.)

The rest of the sky is wide-open and blue, dotted with the puffy clouds I love.

Just outside town, I turn a corner and ride past a marsh. Swamp milkweed is blooming at its edge...

...and yellow water lilies on its (rather messy) surface.

Cattails have put on their brown velvet summer coats.

A bit further down, the ditch is filled with wild hemlock. Lovely flowers; deadly plant.

Tiny white stars of elder blossom are shining from many a bush.

The pinks and purples of spring are beginning to give way to the yellows of summer. Here's one of the first heliopsis I've seen this year. (Heliopsises? Heliopses?)

Turning north onto a road I haven't ridden for about 15 years. Get together, clouds, and drop some moisture! (They pay me no heed.)

There's a local saying that the corn should be "knee-high by the 4th of July". This year has been so warm, the corn was knee-high by the 4th of June. (It will probably be neck-high when July hits.)

The first of many barns I meet today. I do love to snap wooden barns. Bright or faded, they seem right and fitting for this countryside.

A welcome shady stretch of road, full of dragonflies buzzing along beside me...

...soon gives way to more open country, and another barn for me to shoot. (Notice the windmill at the right; these are rare and valuable now.)

Miles on, I reach a fork in the road, and a sign which reads "Stop! Look at the daylilies growing around my feet!"

Of course I obey.

A new road curves away before me ... with another photo-worthy barn (old, but new to my eyes).

I keep a careful watch, but don't see any oxen.

Very dramatic clouds.

Rain? Please?

Turning on to another new road, I pass a stretch of amazingly orange blossoms. They must be some sort of milkweed...

...for they are covered with butterflies.

I've never seen such a bright, beautiful, saturated orange.

I could stare at these flowers all day - if it weren't for the deerflies buzzing around me. Luckily I have remembered (for once) to anoint my limbs with homemade bug-repelling concoction (tea tree oil and peppermint oil in an olive oil base). The stuff must be working, for the flies zoom at my arms and just glance off as though stung themselves.

An interesting flower grows beneath the milkweed. It looks like some kind of wild sweet-pea.

One persistent deerfly, cheated of my arms and legs, decides to attack from the rear and sting me through my shorts. Enough flower photos; time to move on.

The countryside is gently rolling, with tree-covered hills on every horizon.

The road slopes gradually up, then down.

I ride through a long flat stretch of marsh, where blackbirds rise in clouds as I pass, then reach a welcome tree-shaded road lined with more wildflowers.

Anybody know what this one is? It's new to me.

I love taking close-ups of yarrow - especially when there's a bug on the blossoms.

White yarrow from below.

The sun is shining through the pines to my right. I drain my water-bottle and start to think longingly of the lamb chops thawing at home. (Sorry to all my vegetarian friends, but I do love lamb.)

The pine branches look lovely against the sky ... but I'm getting hungrier by the minute. Less than 5 miles to go.

The call of the lamb chops grows ever stronger - so strong that I pass by such delights as a rare Turk's-cap lily, and newly-blooming wild phlox, with barely a glance.

No more pictures! (Except this one.) I'm so hungry I could eat a...

... never mind. Almost home now. : )

The lamb chops are anointed with salt and pepper, garlic and rosemary, and drizzled with olive oil. Broiled until sizzling, they're delicious.

A very good ride, on old roads new to me. (And a very good supper to follow.)

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