Saturday, June 21, 2014

Star Spangled Banner


red white and blue crochet stars

red crochet starThis American flag inspired banner is an easy project you can whip up to use as a decoration for the 4th of July, Memorial Day, or any other patriotic American holiday featuring our nation's flag. It's also a great way to use up any scrap yarn you have in red, white, and blue. You can adjust this banner to be as short or as long as you desire by making more or less stars. I used red, white, and blue yarn to tie the crochet stars together leaving the ends as hanging tassels, but you could use festive flag ribbon for a slightly different look. 

Material:
I hook (5.50 mm)
Medium worsted yarn in red, white, and blue. I used scraps of red, white, and blue Red Heart Super Saver yarn.
Finished length: approximately 4'5", this will vary upon how tightly you crochet your stitches. Fortunately, gauge doesn't matter in this project.


Abbreviations:
ch: chain stitch
dc: double crochet
sc: single crochet
slst: slip stitch
st: single stitch

Instructions:
Star pattern
ch 4, join with a slst to form a ring.

Round 1: ch 1, * sc into the ring,  ch 4, repeat from * four more times, slst in first sc. You should have 5 ch 4 loops.

Round 2:  ch 1, * skip sc, slst into ch 4 loop, sc into loop, ch 3, sc into loop, slst into loop, repeat from * four more times, join with a slst

Round 3: ch 1, * skip slst stitch, slst into the next 2 stitches, 2 sc in the middle ch in the ch 3 loop (this will create the point in the start), slst into the next 3 stitches, repeat from * four more times, join with a slst and fasten off. Weave in the ends.

Make 4 red stars, 4 white stars, and 3 blue stars.

If you plan on blocking your stars, do so prior to joining them together.

Joining the stars and making your banner.
Cut ten 6 inch long strips of yarn in each color. Take one strip in each color, weave through points of the two stars you're joining together and tie in a double knot. Tie a single knot on each of the strands hanging from the double knot. Do this until all stars are joined together to form a line.

Cut two 12 inch long strips of yarn in each color. Take one strip of each color, tie a knot at one end to join the three strands together. Braid the strips together to make one strand. Weave through the end star's point and tie to the strand to create a loop. Create another braided strand for the other end of the banner.

Hang up and enjoy the splendor of your crafty work. Also drop a note and a picture of your finished product in the comments below. I love looking at all the lovely crochet work you all do out there.

Happy hookin' and stitchin'!

NOTE: This pattern is free to use, but please give credit where credit is due. If you're sharing this pattern, please link back to this page. You're free to sell the product you make from this pattern.

Friday, June 20, 2014

5 ways to prevent crochet hand pain



Many crochet addicts at some point in time will experience some type of stiffness and pain in their hands, wrists, arms, and/or shoulder. I call it crochet hand pain since it is often brought about from the overindulgence in our favorite hobby and typically the majority of the pain is centrally located in the hands. At least it is for me, and it has been driving me crazy the past week. 

What causes crochet hand pain?
There could be a number of contributing factors, but the main culprits are:
-repetitive motion
-tight grip on hook
-finger position 

What can you do about it?
An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure; however, these preventive tips are also useful if you're currently going through a bought of crochet hand pain. Here are five simple steps to help you.

-Sit with support. If you don't have adequate support and light, you may strain your hands, arms, or shoulders trying to compensate. Those muscles begin to fatigue. Periodically check your posture. You also want to ensure your forearm has support as well. A pillow can assist in this matter.

-Take regular breaks. Break up the repetitive motion by giving your hands and wrists a rest. Before you start crocheting, set a kitchen time for 30 minutes to remind yourself to take a break. When it goes off, you stop what you're doing and take a break for ten to fifteen minutes. Your break should not mean you hop on the computer, since typing and mouse clicking are not really resting your hands and wrists.  Look to do something else like taking a short walk, getting a glass of water, or perhaps a household chore you've been neglecting to free up more time to crochet. Don't act like you're not guilty of this, we all are!

-Massage, stretch, and exercise. Gently massaging your hands, wrist, and forearm to encourage blood circulation.  Living Strong have some suggested hand stretches to try. Remember to not just focus on your hands. Incorporate your arms, shoulders, and back, since these are all interrelated and support one another. Ergocise has a number of wristshoulder, and back stretches with short animations demonstrating the moves. Simple yoga poses also help with an all body stretch. 

-Use cushions on your hooks or other ergonomic hooks. This all depends on your level of preference. Some people absolutely love the ergonomic hooks with large wooden handles for easy grips, while others think it feels awkward. Others place on their regular hooks the little foam pencil grips. One suggestion a read talked about wrapping rubber bands around the hook for cushion. Whatever you try, only use one hook at first. If you like it, then replace your hook set.

-Wrist brace or stress relief gloves. These items provide extra support. When my wrists are acting up, I'll wear wrist braces to bed so my wrists are not all bent up when I'm sleeping. Sleeping with my wrists curled up places stress on them.

Practice these preventive measures to be happily hookin' and stitchin'!

What are some things you do when crochet hand pain strikes you?

References:
Margaret (24 February 2012). 5 simple ways to relieve and prevent hand pain. Lion Brand blog. Retrieved from http://blog.lionbrand.com/2012/02/24/5-simple-ways-to-relieve-prevent-hand-pain/

Maruska, S. (25 February 2013). How to prevent crochet pain due to repetitive motion. Yarn Obsession. Retrieved from http://yarnobsession.com/how-to-prevent-crochet-pain-due-to-repetitive-motion/ 

Friday, June 13, 2014

FROG IT!

I think I'm at my wits end with this crochet project! I am trying to finish the second half of my table runner filet crochet project. Unfortunately, I keep on making mistakes trying to crochet the chart correctly and not catching the mistake until several lines later, so I end up having to frog a number of lines. I think I am up to 30 lines of crochet gone. Grrr! It feels like I am taking two steps forward and three steps back.

For those not up on the crochet lingo, I'm not talking about the cute little green guy. In crochet to frog, frogging, frogged, means pulling out all the stitches and undoing all your hard work.

I swear somebody made this meme for me. I served in the military, so you know some colorful language is coming from me as a disgruntle veteran frogging her project AGAIN!

You never truly learn to swear until you have to yank out
every stitch you crocheted over the past hour. Grrr!!
Why would somebody frog their work you ask? For me, I'm trying to crochet a mirror image of the opposite end of a table runner. In order to satisfy my OCD that orders balance and symmetry, the mirror image must be perfect. This means I'm yanking out stitches left and right when I find out that I missed a stitch. I am an artist suffering for her art, but in the end I know the yanking, cursing, and hard work will pay off. It will be beautiful!

Do you ever experience project set back like this? What do you do when it happens?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Giant Granny Square

 Over the past month I've been working on my continuous granny square blanket, also known as the giant granny square. It's my calming, mindless crochet project that keeps my hands busy without having to pay much attention to a pattern. Yes, it is only one color. I did that on purpose. I hate weaving ends in. As mentioned in my previous post, my allergy medicine has been making me too drowsy to work on the intricate details of my other project. 


The blanket is about six feet long, so it's a decent size. As my K-9 fur baby (also known as my furry assistant) demonstrates in the pictures, it is nice and cozy. Since I am somebody that gets cold if the temperature is below 75 degrees Fahrenheit, this blanket will come in handy for cuddling up on the couch. I love cuddling up with my pretty girl.

I have a feline fur baby that tried to claim this prize but lost out to his K-9 sister. She loves the crochet!

Continuous granny square blanket that my
lovely assistant is demonstrating.
 I used about three huge skeins of Red Hearts Soft Navy Blue medium worsted yarn.The skeins were about the size of those one pounder skeins you see in craft shops. I also used an I crochet hook (5.50 mm).  This is only phase one of the blanket. I thought the solid blue color would make a beautiful background for the snowflakes for a winter themed blanket.

For phase II, I plan to make a bunch of different snowflakes in medium worsted white yarn to stitch to the blanket for a snowfall effect. I have a good bit of scrap white yarn in my stash, so this will be a great way to use that up. Currently I'm searching for crochet snowflake patterns. I've been pinning ones I found so far to my winter project Pinterest board (see bottom of post). I already modified a couple of snowflake patterns, which will be presented in a future post once I finalize it.

If you know of some good snowflake patterns that might look good in a homemade, crochet blizzard, drop a link in the comments.

Also, if you have a continuous granny square blanket project you want to share drop a link in the comments. I would love to check it out!


In the mean while, happy hookin' and stitchin' my lovely hookers!

Follow Hookin' and Stitchin''s board Christmas and Winter Projects on Pinterest.
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