Odds And Ends Crochet Basket

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The existence of such things as crochet baskets is something relatively new to me. I have always admired handmade baskets and was talking to a friend about the possibility of her teaching me. “Oh, there are so many possibilities,” she gushed. “Not just wickerwork, but you can also weave straw baskets… Or even crochet them!”

Crochet? You betcha. This is me, the gal who will crochet anything.

So I started looking into this. And I had this skein of super stiff, coarse yarn sitting in my stash that was just perfect for making a little basket to hold all my yarn odds and ends from different projects.

I ended up with a very satisfying one-hour session, at the end of which I had my basket – a perfect project even for beginners.

Making a crochet basket is not much different from making a hat, crocheting round and round. You’ll use single crochet all around for the tightest weave you can get.

The secret is almost all in the material. You’ll want to choose the chunkiest, sturdiest, thickest yarn you have – think something that’s too coarse to wear.

Then choose the smallest crochet hook you can use to work with the yarn successfully. That’s right, the smallest – it will create a tighter weave. And as you work, pull your stitches tighter than you normally would. This is no loose fluffy hat you’re making, but something that’s supposed to stand on its own, not flop like a jellyfish. I normally hold my hook like I would a pencil, but with this basket, I actually grabbed the hook in my fist and pulled as tight as I could.

The steps to making a round basket are very simple:

First, crochet a flat circle, as you would make a coaster. That’s your basket bottom. Add enough stitches so the circle doesn’t curl like a bowl, but not too many, or it will ruffle like a potato crisp.

Next, slip stitch all around your circle.

Start making the basket wall by stitching into the top of the round before the slip stitch. It will make your basket sturdier and more stable. Sounds confusing? Read more detailed instructions here.

Make the basket as tall as you like. Optional: decorate the top with a row of contrasting color and /or texture. Weave in loose ends. Enjoy your new storage basket!

Little Princess Angel Wings Pinafore

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Between cleaning and scrubbing, sorting and laundry, I had managed to sneak in some quiet hours with my children at the playground and the library, and made this cute little pinafore dress.

I knew I just had to make it when a similar dress popped up in my Pinterest feed – it was so straightforward I practically saw the pattern just by looking at it. With some variations, the Angel Wings pinafores are all very much alike. With a bit of crochet know-how, you can create endless different models of this lovely dress for the little girls in your life.

Step 1: Create circle. Crochet round and round, enlarging it until, folded in half, the circle is wide enough for the bodice and arm openings.

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Fold in half:

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Bind off the arm openings on both sides. The space between the armholes is the width of the bodice – now would be a good time to get your little one to try on the dress to make sure it is wide enough. If it isn’t, don’t worry – just unbind the armholes and add a few more rows to the circle, making it as large as necessary.

Once you have your desired width and you’ve bound off the armholes, crochet round and round the bodice, working down to the desired length of the dress. You can add more stitches to make the skirt puffy and ruffled. I used the adorable shell stitch.

I worked with crochet hook number 2.5 and a delightful soft and smooth bamboo cotton yarn. It’s wonderfully cool and breathy and will be just the thing for hot weather.

I’m so glad I was able to finish this before Pesach, and just in time for Hadassah’s first birthday – can you believe that it has already been a year?

When winter refuses to give up

Last night, we were awake multiple times due to one of the most epic thunderstorms I have witnessed this year. In the morning, we got up to a quiet, moisture-filled world, with water dropping down from the tree branches and puddles everywhere.

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There’s even a little stream of sorts that flows after heavy rains, and guess who loves to put on his rubber boots and wade through it?

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The spring flowers, however, won’t take no for an answer. They know it’s their time to bloom.

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I, too, am gearing up for warm weather projects and making a little dress for Hadassah. I hope to finish it soon and post the tutorial as well.

Have a wonderful early spring, everyone!

Crochet Tutorial: The Puff Stitch

Like its name implies, the puff stitch is puffy and can add tons of texture to any crochet project. I personally love it, but it’s a bit tricky to master and goes a little beyond basic crochet skills. It works best with yarn that is relatively thick and fluffy (not thin cotton/bamboo) and doesn’t have a tendency to separate into strands.

The basic principle of the puff stitch is casting on a loop of yarn as you would for a double stitch, but rather than binding it off at the top, you cast another stitch, and then another, as shown in the diagram here:

Step 1:

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Step 2:

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You can see a video of me crocheting the puff stitch here:

I’m working with lovely natural merino wool such as this one. It has a delightful texture and is a joy to work with.

A pattern sample incorporating the puff stitch:

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Note: the puff stitch, like other textured crochet stitches, does take up substantially more yarn, so if you aren’t sure how much you need for a project, it’s better to stash up!

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links.

Softie Crochet Doll: how-to

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A couple of weeks ago, I found a bag of yarn scraps someone had thrown away. You know I couldn’t just pass! Implementing my own advice on using scraps of yarn, I washed the whole stash and set about making this little doll.

I didn’t follow precise instructions, though there are many patterns you can draw upon. This is an intermediate level project that does require some thorough familiarity with the basics and intuitive knowledge on when to add or reduce stitches.

Most of the work on this project was done with single stitch. I used crochet hook number 3 and acrylic yarn similar to this one.

Step 1: Head and body

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Head: start working a round shape as you would when making a hat, but reduce stitches towards the bottom to make a curved ball-like shape. Leave off a narrow brim – later you’ll slip stitch around it to attach it to the body.

Body: start from the bottom – make a ring and work your way up, gradually reducing stitches. Reduce rather more dramatically towards the top, creating a curvature and leaving off a narrow opening.

Cross stitch, embroider or otherwise make eyes and mouth on head and slip stitch it to the body.

Fill with stuffing and close body off at the bottom.

Step 2: Arms and legs – make rather narrow ring and crochet round and round, making a sort of hollow tube of desired length. Slip stitch arms to the sides of the body and legs to the bottom. Fill with stuffing and stitch up.

Hair: Make a large, rather floppy pompom, attach to head by slip stitching and trim off as desired.

Clothes: This dollie is dressed in a basic little frock I whipped up, and has a miniature version of Bev’s Very Easy Booties on her feet.

End result: soft, lightweight cuddly doll my kids love to snuggle. They were delighted with the process, too! It was very rewarding, as it worked up so quickly and the little ones were so gratified.

Basic Crochet Tutorial: Granny Square

The granny square is a classic crochet element that figures in all sorts of projects, from blankets and ponchos to bags and scarves. You can use up scraps of yarn by making many granny squares and stitching them together, or you can make one giant square into a blanket or rug.

There are many variations to the granny square, and in the following demonstration I’m showing the classic one. Whatever spin you put on it, the square shape is achieved by adding from the corners.

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Step 1: make a short chain and connect the last stitch to the first, creating a circle.

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Step 2: chain 2, double stitch 2 (will look like 3 double stitches), ch3, dc3, until you have 4 clusters of 3 stitches and 4 “empty” sections. These are your corners.

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Step 3: In each 3 chain space, create a corner by making 3 dc, 2 chain, 3 dc again.

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Step 4: I’m creating a classic checkered pattern by looping my stitches through the chain 3 of the previous round, but it really doesn’t matter what you do as long as you keep adding to the corners: dc 3, ch 2, dc 3.

I made this demonstration with crochet hook number 3 and acrylic yarn. In case you are wondering why I switched yarn colors in the end, I started with some leftover yarn length and ran out of it before I could finish the last row. Yes, I’m quickly using up those yarn scraps and am allowing myself to browse clearance sales to re-stock my stash.

Crochet Tutorial: The Basics

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Following my crochet posts, I got a request to make a tutorial showing the basics. This is the beauty of crochet, actually – once you have mastered the 3-4 basic stitches, you can make almost anything by combining them.

So, without further ado, here is my demonstration of the most fundamental crochet stitches: basics for beginners. 

The chain stitch is the simplest of all – it’s basically just pulling loop through loop using a hook – but it’s important because every crochet project starts with a chain.

Single stitch: after a chain, this is the first stitch you should learn. It creates a tight fabric and is very commonly used in various projects.

Double stitch is perhaps the stitch I use most often. It creates a looser, stretchier weave and makes for faster work than the single stitch.

Triple stitch: I don’t use the triple stitch that often, but it’s a cool stitch that creates tall, nifty-looking columns. It’s great for height contrasts, ripple effects, and lace.

When you begin practicing the crochet stitches, choose a comfortable-sized hook and yarn that is plain-textured and doesn’t fall apart (in the demonstration above, you can see that the yarn I used has a bit of a tendency to separate into filaments). Something like this yarn would be a good choice.