Month: November 2014

10 Perfectly Beginner-Friendly Blankets to Crochet for Christmas (Free Patterns)



It’s that time of year, almost.

Christmas!

And I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s brain is firing like crazy, in search of ideas for perfect Christmas gifts this year. Since I have taken up crochet and knitting in this last year (in fact, it was last winter when I first began knitting), I have been looking forward to being able to gift some items that I’ve hand crocheted or hand knitted.

So, a couple of months ago, I went on the hunt to find the best gifts, DIY-style. Of course crochet and knitting will be two I’ll want to focus on. I searched online to find what items would be the most likely to be appreciated and loved by other folks. I even went on crochet forums to ask fellow crocheters for their advice. I polled my readers, I perused websites like Etsy to see what crocheted items appeared to be the most sought-after by my fellow humans.

I got some random answers and some useful ones. Some recommended sticking with a popular accessory like scarves. Others said that their families and loved ones always valued their hand-made blankets and afghans the most. And one person even said that her most popular item was pet beds! She shared a nugget of advice with me, saying that I’d be surprised to learn how many people really found pet beds to be valuable gifts! Who knew?

Her suggestion was later confirmed when my sister asked me if I could crochet or knit a doggy bed for my niece’s new puppy!

I suppose for a pet owner, beds really would be handy gifts to give because, as my advice-giver noted, pets love to sleep on their owner’s clothing items and furniture. Owners tend to prefer their furniture and clothing to be fur-free, so a bed for the pets to keep warm in does seem a logical and useful choice for gifting.

You see, my family members don’t crochet or knit, and people who aren’t familiar with the crafts tend to not know (or value) the work and love that goes into creating such a gift. So, I realize that the majority of my family members are simply not going to appreciate a hand-made product as a gift, especially the kids who would probably use the item as a means to create a fire with, or toss in the nearest trash can.

However, I realize that there are people out there who do value and appreciate a nice, hand-knit or crocheted sweater or afghan or blanket, so for y’all, I’ve compiled a list of 10 beautiful blankets & afghans that can be crocheted with a beginner levels experience (see, my crochet beginners, I’ve got your back!) This way, even beginner crocheters can get in on the crochet gifting. So, I hope you guys find my top 10 to be both simple to work with and also beautiful enough to give as gifts.

* Coming Up: Knitters Version: 10 Beginner-Friendly Blankets to Knit for Christmas (Free Patterns)

Since the chevron pattern is so popular and modern this year (2014), I thought I’d start off with a couple of those.

1. The Chevron Baby Blanket Free Pattern by Bellus Threads:
Bellus Crochet Blanket Pattern

2. Free Crochet Ripple Baby Blanket by G. C. Murphy Co., found on Miracles Happen
(Another Free Chevron Baby Blanket Pattern that’s simple to follow.) In fact, this was the very first blanket I ever attempted to crochet & it went surprisingly well! The instructions are so easy and repetitive that you’ll have the memorized within the first few rows.
CrochetRippleBabyBlanket

3. How to Crochet a Blanket for Beginners

Source: AHC Kids Crafts
Source: AHC Kids Crafts

This absolute beginner crochet blanket tutorial is a perfect first blanket to crochet, especially if a design seems a tad too daunting just yet. The folks from AHC Kids Crafts provide a detailed photo-tutorial from the very first step (knotting the yarn onto the hook and to the very last stitch)
Source: Red Heart
Source: Red Heart

This lap-throw is an easy, quick project that takes so little yarn (one jumbo skein) that you might be able to make more than just one to gift to your loved ones, or keep one to snuggle up with yourself. The best thing about it? It’s so simple and easy yet you wouldn’t know it by looking at the fun, textured design!

5. Crochet Super Easy Crib Blanket by the Purl Bee
Source: Purl Bee Source: Purl Bee
If you’ve succeeded with a single color crochet blanket pattern and feel ready to start using multiple colors, then these chunky-striped or color-block blankets will be your perfect project. Choose bold color combos for a sunny, cheerful blanket or go with neutrals to gift to folks who like to match their bedroom/living room suite with their accessories. The best thing about this color-block blanket is that they’ll always be stylish, even decades down the road. Also great is the versatility.

6. The Five & A Half Hour Throw by Lion Brand with Vanna’s Choice Yarn

Source: Lion Brand
Source: Lion Brand

This pattern, with a difficulty rating of 2 is perfect if you’re strapped for time and want a really quick, thick and cozy throw that’ll look lovely in any atmosphere.

Tip: This throw requires 5 balls of the Vanna’s Choice yarn, which isn’t the cheapest yarn on the market. So if you’re like me and need a cheaper option at the moment, then one way to substitute for a thick yarn is by crocheting with double-strands (simply using two strands of yarn at once as you crochet) from a ball of yarn that costs less. This will achieve the same, or very similar thickness for a cheaper price, especially if you can get your yarn on sale.

*Tip: Joann almost always runs a 50% off one purchase deal.

7. Fiber Star: Soft Purple Baby Blanket found on I Brake for Yarn, Hooks and Books by Samantha Stopple and also published in Fiber Star.

Source: Fiber Star. Pattern located at I Brake for Yarn, Hooks & Books
Source: Fiber Star. Pattern located at I Brake for Yarn, Hooks & Books

Despite the name, you can use any color combo you choose or even stick with a single color for the entire blanket. The stitching creates a lovely, unique texture but the work is so simple a first-timer could probably get it down in little time.

8. Easy Beginner Crochet Baby Blanket Video Tutorial by I Heart Stitching

I didn’t want to leave out you guys who are visual learners, so here’s a fantastic video tutorial on a lovely, easy baby blanket. If you use the same thickness of yarn as the video instructor does, you’ll get an incredibly snuggly, chunky blanket which is all the rage right now in crochet world. The peach color is gorgeous, but you can choose any color you like, or even do a combination.

9. The Free School Spirit Throw Crochet Pattern from Red Heart is perfect for sports fans and the results are so professional looking that any sports fan is going to appreciate this gift. The fringed edges are icing on the cake.

Source: Red Heart Source: Red Heart

Bonus: these are even more warm, soft and cozy than those stiff store-bought sports throws!

10. Simple Crocheted Baby Blanket by Christy Grauer from Girl Uprooted

Source: Christy Grauer from Girl Uprooted
Source: Christy Grauer from Girl Uprooted

This intricate-looking pattern is simply genius in design because it’s based off a simple square, and it’s so aesthetically pleasing. This is a blanket that looks like advanced but can be achieved by many beginners, especially if you’ve already succeeded in the square, which is what most beginners learn first. If you’ve yet to tackle the square, please don’t let that deter you from putting your hook to the test with this one. It might take you a few tries at your first square, but I assure you, the results with this design are going to give you a great sense of pride and accomplishment! Plus, once you’ve got past the square that makes up this blanket, the rest is so easy.

Size Tip:

You can easily change the size of any blanket/afghan pattern by simply continuing in the pattern for a longer length than a pattern calls for, or to shorten a larger blanket to a baby or throw size, simply stop when you reach desired length.

Size Tip: If your blanket turns out to be more narrow than you wanted, there’s a “fix” I like to use, which is simply crocheting — or knitting. Knitting can look lovely as an edging to a crochet blanket — around the entire blanket, as an edging. You can do this using simple crochet basics like a single crochet, double crochet or half double crochet all around the entire blanket, or add a decorative trim like a scalloped edging. The scallop edge is very simple, and beginner tutorials can be found all over YouTube, if interested.

So, will any of you awesome guys and gals be crocheting gifts this Christmas? If so, what are your plans so far? Will any of you be trying your hand at any of the 10 listed here? I’d love to hear your ideas! Also, feedback is very appreciated. If you like this kind of post, it’s very helpful to know that you do (or don’t), that way I can create more like this for those of you who do, or find another focus for those who prefer something else. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to stop by!



9 Easy & Free Cardis to Make This Fall

Hello everyone! Were you all aware that it was fall already?

And just how many of my fellow crocheters have already started working on crocheting sweaters and cardigans for the upcoming cold months? I know a few of my fellow crochet bloggers have already started themselves, and some have already put out some of their very own designs.

Needless to say, as someone who’s never crocheted an entire sweater just yet, I’ve been scouring the web for good, easy to follow tutorials for cute cardigan and sweater patterns. I’m actually in the middle of crocheting one for my niece already and have a big roll of gray yarn and a pair of chunky knitting needles set aside for knitting my own comfy cardigan at some point before it turns warm again.

That brings me to some other thoughts I conjured up while doing my extensive hunt for the perfect cardigan to crochet my niece, who’s only 4, but I’ll tell you, finding a cardigan pattern for anyone who isn’t still crawling, or barely walking and sitting up (and probably spitting up, too, for that matter) is quite the journey. It wasn’t easy. For some reason, it appears that not many folks have put out patterns for kids above toddler age, and that irked me enough that I decided I’d have to wing it and use the tutorials for a baby’s cardigan and just kind of, well, figure out how to make it bigger.

I’ve already done a lot of crocheting and ripping out my work, but I think I’ve found the secret to being able to use all these gorgeous baby cardigan patterns and up-size them for any size!

Now I would not want to speak too soon and end up having to eat my last words, but I am excited and confident that I’ve found the way to go about up-sizing a cardigan pattern. I have so far, taken what I could learn from the tutorials I’ll be sharing in this post and basically, I would just begin working along the pattern in the baby size, then I’d rip it out and start over with slight adjustments until I found the correct size I needed to make the cardigan fit my niece. So far, I’m still in the yoke of her sweater, but it occurred to me that the technique I applied to her’s would probably work well for any size! This is really exciting, and I’m definitely going to be sharing the techniques I’ve used to figure this out so that you guys will be able to take any baby sized cardigan pattern and easily work it out to fit your very own size requirements. Just bear with me as I will have to finish the cardigan and make sure the results turn out perfect before I go telling you guys to try it out and risk wasting your time (in the off-chance that I’m wrong and it won’t really work like I think) and end up with a lot of pissed off women with crochet hooks in their hands coming after me! Yikes. That’s not exactly a peaceful image!

Since I’ve happened across several really great tutorials and patterns that fellow bloggers and crocheters have been kind enough to offer for free, I thought I’d compose a little list of my top favorites to share with you all. After all, I know I’m not the only one depending on other peoples’ skills to teach me the basics of crocheting winter clothing, right? Please, tell me I’m not the only one!

So, without further ado — whatever that even is. “Ado.” Sounds a lot like something that might be best done in the private of one’s personal restroom to me, but whatever. I can’t find a better way of saying it, so on with the program and without further ado….

My Favorite Easy (and Free!) Crochet Cardigan Patterns
(for Various Ages)

1. Very Easy chunky crochet baby /girl’s cardigan tutorial – fair isle sweater / jumper by Wooly Wonders Crochet

2. Very Easy crochet girl’s dress / top / shirt / tunic tutorial also by Wooly Wonders Crochet (my favorite crochet channel, actually. This one is a short-sleeved dress, but can easily be adjusted to make a long-sleeved cardi or sweater dress. Too cute (and simple) not to make this list. This woman does a beautiful job and her instructions are so easy to follow. Her adorable accent is just icing on the cake!

* These two videos are actually the tutorials I used to learn how to crochet a yoke. I talked about how I have kept on to get the key to up-sizing a cardigan like this to fit any larger size. Well folks, the two videos above are the 2 I watched dozens upon dozens of times to get the hang of it and keep working until I found the key! Like I said, I’m not finished with the cardigan I”m working on, so I won’t go spilling the details until I’m sure it’s going to work (so I don’t end up causing you folks to waste your time along with me).

3.How to Crochet A Baby Sweater
By Anna Phelps, who also does a fantastic job with her tutorials, making them very easy for beginners to follow.

4. Here’s a great basic sweater by The Crochet Crowd (awesome tutorials as well by the way). It’s a sweater, not cardi, but one that deserved to make the list anyways. Mikey shares instructions for child sizes 1, 2, 4, 6, or 8, but this one could be adapted easily to fit virtually any size (even for a slouchy sweater for teens or adults):

5. Sweater Pullover Tutorial by Woolpedia This is probably the easiest sweater of all. It is a sweater, but keep in mind it can be made into a cardigan.

6. Easy Crochet Baby Cardigan — another gorgeous design and tutorial by Wooly Wonders:
https://youtu.be/6op0rYaEOGQ

7. DrapeyHere’s one for my lovely knitters out there, and it’s an adult-sized cardi! (because hey! We love cardis too, right?)
This one’s knitted — The Drapey Cardigan (why that name, I have no clue.) by Lion Brand

8. Chantal
Here’s a free crochet cardigan pattern in adult sizes called Chantal by Drops Designs:

And here’s the free knitting pattern for the cardigan I said I had needles and yarn set aside to make later:
Liond Brand Free Cardi Pattern
I think I’ll make my sleeves a bit shorter — I don’t think I’d like the whole “bat-wing” look.

P.S. I will share my 4-year old cardigan once it’s complete.

So what about you guys? Will you be crocheting any of these, or if you’re already working on some projects of your own, I’d love for you to share!

& If you liked these free patterns and tutorials and would like to see more like this, you might enjoy checking out the tutorials, patterns & inspiration I pin on Pinterest.

Fall Fashion – Neon Accessories

Neon Scarf

If you’re anything like me, you love those neons, whether it’s fall, summer or full-blown middle of winter. Who can resist the bright, bold, fun in neon colored accessories? Not me, and that’s why I stitched up a completely neon colored infinity scarf to add something spectacular to fall’s drab, dreadful neutrals.

Why do people ditch all things colorful the second the cool season hits? I’ve always wondered about this. Cold months are depressing enough as it is without taking away colors!

I notice people tend to go completely neutral when it comes to fashion in the fall or winter. Why? I’m not quite sure I could go an entire season without something colorful gracing my dry, tan-less body.

Yet people do. They switch to browns and grays and whites and cream colors and black. Go ahead, check for yourself if you don’t believe me. If you keep an eye out, trying to spot how many people you see today wearing bright colors, you won’t find as many as you do on an average summer day.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my neutrals as much as the next gal. Neutral colors are a must in all stylish wardrobes, but we don’t have to choose only neutrals just because the bland season is here. We can still be fun and bold and bright and vibrant, right?

So, I hope you folks will be inspired to try adding a small neon colored accessory to your own fashionable wardrobe this fall. Perhaps you’ll even be inspired to wear your own crocheted, neon infinity scarf to top off the grays and browns you’re covered in for the entire season.

Neon Scarf2
Believe me, it really does bring out your personality.

If you’re wondering about the scarf’s design, I actually just made this with simple double crochets using a size H hook and worsted weight yarn. I wanted something super fast so that I could have this baby made and wrapped around my neck as soon as possible. That explains my simple stitch choice, but I plan to work on another one soon that will feature a picot or ruffle styled edging.

What do you think about neon colors in fall and winter months? Is it against the rules or are you a colorful rebel?

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