Friday, 29 December 2017

Free Crochet Pattern: Cosy Icicles Beanie

Hello! As promised I am back with my 3rd pattern release in a row - this time my Cosy icicles Beanie! I designed this slouchie hat for Crate Crochet, an australian crochet subscription box company, for their May 2017 box (timed for the southern hemisphere's winter). As well as being available in my Ravelry Store to download as a FREE pdf, I am going to publish the pattern right here in this blog post ...


Cosy Icicles
Slouchy Beanie Hat Crochet Pattern

A two colour slouchy beanie hat, crocheted in the round using
a mix of double crochet stitches and spike stitches. I have
chosen Morris & Sons Empire for this design firstly because it
is soft and gentle against the skin and secondly because it
gives excellent stitch definition for the spike stitches. The hat
is worked from the brim to the crown and finished off elegantly
with a faux fur pompom.

This is an INTERMEDIATE level pattern, written in UK terms.

You will need ...
3 x 50g balls of Morris & Sons Empire, (a 10ply merino, 90m/ 50g) in the
following colours;
Kingfisher x2 (colour A) and Glass x1 (colour B)
faux fur pompom
thread for attaching pompom
5.5mm crochet hook
large needle for sewing in ends
sewing needle for attaching pompom
stitch marker or scrap yarn to keep track of rounds

You can buy Morris and Sons yarn here directly from their yarn store and it's
currently on sale!

Tension
17 stitches x 20 rows per 10cm  (main pattern, in rounds)

Finished Size
Brim circumference; 54cm
Length (excluding pompom); 27cm

Abbreviations (UK terms)
ch chain
ss slip stitch
dc double crochet
dcSp double crochet spike (see notes)
dcBrim double crochet into brim (see notes)
dc2tog double crochet 2 stitches together
dec decrease
inc increase
cont continue
st stitch
beg beginning
rep repeat

Notes
Spike stitches are like long double crochet stitches: in this pattern, instead of
working into the stitch in the row below work into the stitch 2 rows below. Here
is a link to an excellent photo tutorial if you are new to this technique
https://www.craftsy.com/blog/2013/10/crochet-spike-stitch-tutorial/

The spike stitches in Round 3 (dcBrim) is worked right around the brim of the
hat; bring hook from front to the back under the brim of the hat: yarn over, pull
yarn up a loop to the height of the new round (2 loops on hook), insert hook
into dc stitch, yarn over, pull up a loop (3 loops on hook), yarn over, pull
through all 3 stitches. 1dcBrim made. Top tip: It is important to keep a very
even tension throughout this round to create a smooth effect on the brim, do
not attempt this section if you are stressed out or distracted!

Invisible decreases are an excellent way to decrease in crochet. In the pattern
where I have indicated dc2tog: insert hook through front loop only (flo) of 1st
stitch to be decreased (2 loops on hook), do not yarn over, insert hook through
flo of 2nd stitch to be decreased (3 loops on hook), yo, pull through 2 loops
(2 loops left on hook) yo, pull through both loops. 1 invisible decrease made.
If you are new to crochet and want to keep things simple, dc2tog in the standard
way. Here is a link to a blog post with a photo tutorial - it uses the US term single
crochet to describe the UK double crochet stitch but the photos are so clear this
should not matter. http://www.allaboutami.com/invisibledecrease/

It may help to have a stitch marker or contrasting length of wool to mark the
beginning of each round.

Top tip: when changing yarn colours there is no need to cut the yarn, simply

carry it up on the inside for when it’s next required, ensuring that it is neither too
tight, or too slack to keep the tension even. I do however recommend cutting
yarn B at the end of Round 21 before the larger block of colour, it’s a bit too long
to carry up.


Pattern

Using A, ch 81, ss into first ch to form large ring (top tip: make sure it is not twisted!)

Round 1  ch1, 1dc into next ch, 1dc in each ch across, ss into ch1 at beg of round (80dc)

Round 2  ch1, 1dc into each dc around, then changing to B, ss into ch1 at beg of round

Round 3 (cont B) ch1, *1dc in next dc, 1dcBrim working over next st and round brim* rep from * to * until end of round, ss into ch1 at beg of round

Round 4 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, ss into ch1 at beg of round  
Round 5  ch1, 1dc into each dc around, then changing to A, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 6 (cont A) ch1, *1dc in next dc, 1dcSp in next dc in Round 4* rep from * to * until end of round, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 7 (inc) ch1, *1dc in each of next 3dc, 2dc in next dc* rep from * to * until end of round, ss into ch1 at beg of round  (100dc)
Round 8 - 9 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 10 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, then changing to B, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 11 (cont B) ch1, *1dcSp in next dc in Round 9, 1dc in next dc* rep from * to * until end of round, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 12  ch1, 1dc into each dc around, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 13  ch1, 1dc into each dc around, then changing to A, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 14 (cont A) ch1, *1dc in next dc, 1dcSp in next dc in Round 12* rep from * to * until end of round, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 15 - 17 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 18 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, then changing to B, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 19 (cont B) ch1, *1dcSp in next dc in Round 17, 1dc in next dc* rep from * to * until end of Round, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Rounds 20 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 21 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, then changing to A, ss into ch1 at beg of round. Cut yarn B
Round 22 (cont A) ch1, *1dc in next dc, 1dcSp in next dc in Round 20* rep from * to * until end of round, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Rounds 23 - 35 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 36  ch1, 1dc into each dc around, then changing to B, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 37 (cont B) ch1, *1dcSp in next dc in Round 35, 1dc in next dc* rep from * to * until end of round, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 38 (dec) ch1, (1dc in each of next 8dc, dc2tog) 10 times, ss into ch1 at beg of round (90dc)
Round 39 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 40 (dec) ch1, (1dc in each of next 7dc, dc2tog) 10 times, ss into ch1 at beg of round (80dc)
Round 41 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, then changing to A, ss into ch1 at beg of
round
Round 42 (cont A) ch1, *1dc in next dc, 1dcSp in next dc in Round 40* rep from * to * until end of round, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 43 (dec) ch1, (1dc in each of next 6dc, dc2tog) 10 times, ss into ch1 at beg of round (70dc)
Round 44 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 45 (dec) ch1, (1dc in next 5dc, dc2tog) 10 times, ss into ch1 at beg of round (60dc)
Round 46 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 47 (dec) ch1, (1dc in next 4dc, dc2tog) 10 times, ss into ch1 at beg of round (50dc)
Round 48 (dec) ch1, (1dc in next 3dc, dc2tog) 10 times, ss into ch1 at beg of round (40dc)
Round 49 (dec) ch1, (1dc in next 2dc, dc2tog) 10 times, ss into ch1 at beg of round (30dc)
Round 50 (dec) ch1, (1dc in next dc, dc2tog) 10 times, ss into ch1 at beg of round (20dc)
Round 51 (dec) ch1, dc2tog until end of Round, ss into ch1 at beg of round (10dc)
Cut yarn, leaving a 15cm tail. Thread yarn on tapestry needle, weave through each of the 10dc of last round, pull to close gap, finish off to secure on the inside of hat.

Finishing off
Weave ends in on reverse. Using sewing thread attach faux fur pompom securely.



I do hope you enjoy following this pattern. Please share your projects with me on Ravelry or on Instagram (add the hashtag #mrsdaftspaniel and I will be sure to see it).

Happy hooking,

Marta xx



Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Pattern Release: Lark's Knot Scarf

Hello! I have released another crocheted scarf pattern - my Lark's Knot Scarf! I designed this scarf using Queen of Purls Citadel DK which is a beautifully hand dyed, Blue Faced Leicester yarn. I fell in love with the colours when I visited the  Queen of Purls shop in Glasgow, which you can read all about in one of my july blog posts here.

detail of the tassles on the Lark's Knot Scarf

The name of my latest design is inspired by the lark’s head knot which I used in the tassels for the ends. I was a Girl Guide when I was younger and my dad was in the Royal Naval reserves, so I have always taken great pride in learning and knowing my knots!

the scarf together with its inspiration

This is an easy crochet pattern to follow, requiring only a few stitches and it works up quickly - an achievable project for the weekend! I have included an easy-to-follow chart too, which will really help anyone who prefers visual instructions. The pattern is available in US and UK terms, simply select the correct version for you at the time of purchase.

I chose 2 striking colours to show off the simplicity of the stitch pattern

So, this pattern is now available alongside my other patterns, in my Ravelry store - and hurry! - because it's on special offer at half price for 1 week only!!

I have one more pattern to release before the year is out and I have lots of ideas chugging away for the New Year which I can't wait to share with you!

Happy hooking,

Marta xx

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Pattern Release; Fields of Lavender Cardigan

Hello! I am super excited to be ready to release my Fields of Lavender Cardigan crochet pattern today!! This pattern is possibly my favourite of all the patterns I have designed so far and I am really pleased to be able to share it with you at last!

cover photo for my Fields of Lavender Cardigan

The pattern includes two sizes; 3-6 months and 6-12 months, it is suitable for intermediate crocheters and it's written in UK terms throughout. The intricate lavender stalks may look like a complex design but I can assure you, they are not as tricky as they look to create!

I chose King Cole merino blend DK for this design for two reasons, firstly it's a superwash wool (a must for baby garments) and secondly because the finished cardigan will be really warm and snuggly for the little one. You will need 3x 50g balls for the smaller size and 4x 50g balls for the larger size.


cuff and waistband detail

The garment is constructed from the waist up, splitting into 3 sections at the armpit and then the sleeves are crocheted seperately before being sewn up and sewn into position.


the lavender stalks

The pattern is currently available as a pdf download from my Ravelry store and for the first week it will be on special offer for only £1.80. If you would like to purchase and download a copy you can find it here.

back of the cardigan

Look out for more pattern releases coming very soon - I have another winter project for you in the next week or so ...

Until then,

happy hooking,

Marta xx

Friday, 10 November 2017

Back to School Sweater CAL - my cardigan


Hello! Following on from last week's Back to School Sweater CAL blog hop post by Fay (www.knitit-hookit-craftit.com) it's time for me to share my own cardigan journey. Like most of the CAL participants, I had carefully chosen my yarn, swatched to check tension and was eager to start on the morning of Saturday 16th of September - I crocheted at full speed for a big chunk of the day, everything was going well!

my swatch and colour choices

progress at the end of day 1

I had chosen to follow one of my own patterns - Summer Yoke Cardigan - and give it a winter twist. The first big change was to substitute the summery cotton for cosy alpaca yarn. I chose Eden Cottage Yarns in Whitfell DK - a 100% baby alpaca yarn - and I ordered it directly online (NB. this yarn is currently in the sale as it is going to be discontinued, go grab a bargain while you can!).

this photo © Inside Crochet Magazine
my original Summer Yoke Cardigan design

The pattern begins with a plain yoke and then the pop of colour begins! I deliberately chose a muted, neutral shade for the main colour to really give the other colours a chance to dance and shine!

I love this stage of the making process, when the yoke looks like a rainbow!

Everything was straight forward and went as I expected at this stage. Apart from the yarn, the only other real change I had made was to follow the instructions for small instead of medium because I wanted a much tighter fitting cardigan for the winter. I used a 3.25mm Knit Pro crochet hook to keep the stitches small and neat too.

progress photo

I added 3 more rows of yoke pattern to this version, simply because I felt like it! The next section, from the end of the patterned yoke to the sleeve split was tricky! I spent about a week crocheting, frogging*, crocheting, frogging! The brilliant thing about being part of a CAL was that I wasn't alone; lots of people were unravelling at this stage! 

*frogging: term used in knitting and crochet to describe rows of stitches being ripped out - rip it, rip it - like a frog!

starting the sleeves

The best thing about top-down crochet designs is the fact that you can try them on as you work. In this way I was able to get the fit exactly as I wanted it. Once I positioned the sleeve split exactly in the right place, I began to work 1 ball at a time on a rotation basis; sleeve, body, body, sleeve, body, body etc. In this way I could work evenly across the sections and the garment grew in a harmonious way.

finished sleeves and cuffs

Before I knew it I had reached my desired sleeve length and it was time to think about how to finish at the cuff (my original pattern had 3/4 length sleeves and simply a band of contrast colour to finish). This cardigan was for me and I like snug, draught excluding cuffs on a cosy cardigan so I began with a round of contrast stitches, then a round of half trebles before adding 4 rounds of ribbed crochet cables. 

choosing the perfect button!

Shortly after I finished the sleeves, the main body section was finished too (hoorah! no more plain stitches!). I wanted to make the most of the pretty yarn so I added 4 rows of pattern to the hem before commencing the button band. The button band - the home stretch! Almost finished! Or so I thought ...

... actually the button band itself was ok, it was when I made the decision to add a colar to finish the neckline that it all went a bit pear shaped!

1st collar attempt

The trouble was that the extra height from the button band with a collar worked into it sat too high around my neck and dragged the whole cardigan out of shape. It was not how I had pictured it in my ahead at all. It was at this point that I threw the cardigan on the naughty step and didn't even look at it for a few weeks! During this time I did think about how to solve the problem - often at unexpected moments new ideas would come and go until suddenly it all became clear, I had a new plan! Sadly, this plan involved more frogging, lots of frogging! The entire button band needed to come out, 75g worth of wool in tiny little seed stitch ...

final colar design

The new button band stopped at the neckline, allowing me to work directly into the original chain of stitches at the very beginning of the cardigan. I followed the same increase pattern as the yoke whilst decreasing at either end to create a softer, rounder effect. To finish off I used a row crab stitches (my current fave stitch!). I like the new colar design in the main colour of the cardigan because it focuses all the attention on the pretty yoke.

first photo shoot

my finished Back to School Sweater!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Helen (makingatnumber14.blogspot.co.uk) and Tamara (www.craftyescapism.com) for hosting this CAL - it's been such fun to take part in and to watch other people's sweaters grow and take shape online! Next week Helen and Tamara are going to be sharing a celebration of everyone's making - I can't wait to find out more about it!

Happy hooking,

Marta xx




Saturday, 7 October 2017

Designing a Crocheted Garment

Hello, for those of you who don't know me I'm Marta and it's my turn to contribute to the Back To School Sweater CAL Blog Hop! Last week's post was by Fay and was crammed full of advice on blocking and finishing garments and you can find it here www.knitit-hookit-craftit.com. Today I am going to have a look at the topic of crochet garment design; starting with the various different construction techniques, where to begin yourself, a very basic template for making a garment, writing up and finally a bit about working with pattern editors.


Once you have crocheted a few jumpers or cardigans you will begin to notice the way in which a garment is constructed. There are 5 basic construction techniques out there: top-down; bottom-up; individual sections sewn or crocheted together; freeform crochet and one-piece construction. I have crocheted jumpers and cardigans in all of these ways except for the one-piece and each has its own merits ...

  • In top-down design you begin with a short length of chains which are worked into and rapidly increase to form a yoke which is later split to form front, back and armholes, picked up again and continued in the length. The huge advantage of this process is that you (or your recipient) can try it on as you make.
Top-down is perfect for pretty yokes eg. my Summer Cardigan


  • Bottom-up starts with a chain to fit the hip or waist circumference and is worked up towards the chest, splitting for armholes and decreasing for the neck. This technique does allow you to try on as you go, but with gravity against you it is a little harder to tell for sure how it is looking.

Bottom-up - to achieve the lavender motifs my
Lavender Cardigan had to be worked in this way 


  • For an individual section garment, pieces are worked up in a similar way to a dressmaking pattern and can either be sewn or crocheted together later. One huge advantage of this technique is that stitches can go in any direction, horizontal, vertical or even diagonal - opening up a world of possibilities! The pieces can be placed against the body to give an idea of fit, but it's not as reliable as top-down.

an individual section garment from Vogue Guide to Crochet, 1971


  • Freeform crochet is one of the most artistic ways to make a garment where lots of much smaller pieces (eg. flower shapes) are made and then sewn or crocheted together to form a more loose and free garment shape. Erika Knight's Asymmetrical Cardigan is an excellent example of this, I made one 4 years ago, it's a brilliant pattern!


Freeform crochet - Erika Knight's Asymmetrical Cardigan


  • One-piece construction is possibly the simplest technique out there; a simple rectangular shape is crocheted and joined at the short ends to make arm holes. A variation of this is to start with a circle and work outwards, adding arm holes as you go. I haven't tried this method so here is a link to a pattern I really like over on Ravelry.
Once you have chosen your construction technique, the best place to start your garment design process is with a set of measurements either from your own body if the garment is for yourself or from the intended recipient of the cardigan or sweater. Measure the bust or chest circumference at the fullest part, the waist and the widest part of the hips (this will depend on your figure and your intended length), the length from the most prominent bone at the base of the neck to where you wish the garment to end, the diameter of the upper arms and the arm length from wrist to the centre of the back at the neck. If you are making for yourself it will be best to ask someone else to measure you to achieve more accurate measurements.

If you have been following this Blog Hop series you will have read the post from  thecrochetproject.com covering guage, measurement and fit. If you missed it I would go and check it out because it offers invaluable advice on how to measure properly amongst other things!

The above blog post also covers ease, ie. the amount of movement the garment has around the body. Tight fitting jumpers have less ease whilst floaty summer cardigans have a lot of ease. As a general rule for adults - slim, figure hugging jumpers have up to 5cm of ease and looser fitting garments have about 10 - 15cm of ease. Obviously these measurements will be much smaller if you are designing for babies and toddlers!

Another website I refer to all the time is www.craftyarncouncil.com because it has all the standard body measurements used for crocheted and knitted garments.

When I designed and crocheted my first adult cardigan I had a look at my favourite shop-bought cardigan and took measurements from it, then throughout the making process I placed my WIP on top of my shop-bought cardigan to compare and check I was on track. This method was very successful and I still wear this first cardigan with pride!

A huge source of inspiration for me are crochet stitch dictionaries - there are all sorts of different swatches in them and I often I combine a few together or change them from working in rows to working in the round. I have a growing collection of vintage crochet books too and I love the stitch samples in them! Crocheting from other crochet designers' patterns can also spark new ideas - perhaps using their construction technique or stitch combination and altering it to make it your own. Caution: do not outright copy their work because you will be found out, you will loose your credibility as a designer and could even end up in legal trouble!

A few of my vintage pattern guides

Choose some yarn and a stitch pattern and swatch to see how it feels, how it drapes and how well the stitches are defined. If you are happy with it, calculate the number of stitches and rows per 10cm to give you your guage or tension (see The Crochet Project's post above for how to do this). From here I am going to take you through a very basic template for crocheting a bottom-up jumper. For this example, your hip measurement is 90cm+10cm of ease = 100cm and your pattern swatch has a 10 stitch repeat per 10cm, giving us 10 repeats per row pattern. Rather than launching into the main pattern, you will probably want to start with a band of plain stitches or a cable rib (2fptr, 2bptr will work well in this example).

So, you have chained 100, joined into a ring to work in the round, cable ribbed for 6 rounds and begun crocheting in your main pattern. Taking your underarm to hip measurement of 43cm, work straight for 41cm in total, including the waistband. Stopping short of 43cm allows for ease. If this jumper was for a woman you would portion slightly more stitches for the front than for the back to compensate for the bust, but to keep things super simple this is a man's sweater! 100 stitches÷2=50 stitches for the front and 50 for the back. Begin to work on the first 50 stitches only, turn and start working in rows rather than in the round. At this point you may wish to use a contrast pattern because your stitches will no longer be the same as when you were working in the round.

Your measurement from the hip to the prominent bone at the base of the neck is 65cm, so continue to crochet evenly until the total length of the work measures 62cm then fasten off. Go back and crochet into the 50 unworked stitches for the back section and repeat the same steps as the front section until it measures 62cm in total. Join back into the round and work 6 rounds of rib for the collar.

At this point it would be perfectly acceptable to work into the ends of the rows with a round of double crochet stitches to finish off and you would have a simple vest top. Or you could carry on and add sleeves ...

Measure the length from armpit to collar, it should be 19cm. Doubling this gives a 38cm circumfence and you can calculate the number of stitches needed for this in the same way as you did for the waistband above. Work evenly from shoulder to cuff, or if you prefer with a slight taper - decreasing as you go - until you are a few cm short of the cuff. Join into the round and work the same rib as you did for the collar. Either sew or crochet the sleeve seam together before pinning to the armhole and sewing/ crocheting the join. Et voilĂ ! A very simple, box style sweater! To stop this blog post from turning into a book I have avoided shaping for the neckline, raglan sleeves and for a woman's jumper it is likely that you would have some increases for the bust.

One top tip I find useful when I am planning a design for an adult size garment is to make it baby or toddler size first. This allows me to visualize my design and any frogging will be a lot less painful!

an almost-ready-to-publish
top-down cardigan design of mine
Perhaps you want to design your own crocheted garment so that you can wear a totally unique sweater that no one else in the whole wide world can possibly have or perhaps you want to write up your design for publishing and selling your pattern. The Craft Yarn Coucil website (link above) is really useful for listing all the correct crochet abbreviations and covers what needs to be included in your pattern too. If I am working on a small item, such as a scarf, then I tend to prefer the freedom of crocheting with a notebook at my side, then later I type these scribbles up into the official pattern format. However if I am designing a garment I have my crochet and my laptop on my knee because I know that inputting the lengthy pattern onto my computer will be a long and daunting task!

After I have finished typing up any crochet design and I am satisfied with it I send it to 3 or 4 crochet friends for testing. I now have an excellent team of testers, some are real life friends but most of them I only know throught the amazing Instagram community. Testers are great at picking up things that you can't see because you have simply spent so long looking at your pattern your eyes have gone cross eyed!

Once your pattern has been tested and you are intending to publish your garment design I would thoroughly recommend employing a technical editor to proof read your pattern. Tech editors are amazing at spotting everything from typos, incorrect abbreviations to missing information. A second editor will be required if you need help to add smaller and larger sizes to your range. I have successfully worked with 2 pattern editors; Sam - singasimplemelody.blogspot.co.uk and Deb - findmeknitting.co.uk.

I hope you have found this blog post useful. If you have questions about any aspect crochet garment design please leave them in the comments and I will try and answer them (or find someone who can!). The next blog hop post in the series will be from Tamara in which she will share a little of her Back To School Sweater CAL progress - you will find it at www.craftyescapism.com

Happy hooking,

Marta xx