A Change of Season, A Change of Name

It’s finally winter – because winter holidays are for real winters!
Some days are pleasantly sunny, but the evenings are cold enough to make the warmth of the mornings welcome.
In my part of the world, we lit Hanukkah candles:
Hanukkah Candles
And on my part, I think I’m finally ready for a long planned Name Change. In case you haven’t noticed – my blog is now called The Basket Fairy (formerly Crochet Club…). And I have a domain name to match.

I have been almost as hesitant about this change as this fall has been about changing into winter.  But if you’re still here, it means my number one fear did not materialize: I was afraid everyone would turn away, thinking I’m someone else! Like a kid scared of putting on a party costume…

That’s because, you see, I’m not really a fairy, basket or any other kind. But a little over a year ago I may have been visited by one! She came by and waved her wand (or was it a crochet hook?), sprinkled something glittery, and disappeared into the woods with shimmery wings:

sunset
All I know is I suddenly felt an urge to pick up my crochet hook and stitch – a rug, then a basket, then lots more baskets…
Since then, I’ve felt as if I was going back in time to my teen years, when I spent many happy and peaceful hours making pretty things for everyone – and for myself. And I’ve been having fun writing here and sharing my projects.

I initially titled this blog “Crochet Club”, because I thought anyone reading, or just enjoying the craft, are like members of a big club. And I’ve even started a real-life crochet club in my community. But since there are so many real life Crochet Clubs out there, I thought I’d leave the moniker to them. Besides, it occurred to me that the Basket Fairy might like having a blog named for her!

As I didn’t really get a glimpse of her, I can’t post a picture here. But though I didn’t actually see her, I could sense her loveliness, and on a good day I think I can see a tinge of it in the things I make.

If she comes by your parts, would you please say hi for me? Tell her I appreciate the visit, and that she’s welcome to drop by and see what I’ve been working on! I hope she likes it. And I hope the magic works for you too!

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Crochet basket with recycled fabric trim

Autumn Bounty

Walking home from the bus stop I passed by the clothing recycling bin. Next to the bin was a plastic bag with some children’s clothes, and on the top was a boys’ dress shirt in turquoise with purple-pink stripes. How could anyone think of turning that into clothing pulp, or – as rumor has it – cloth wipes for the car wash industry? Mercy knows no boundaries, and so I picked up the shirt and took it upon myself to deliver it to the second hand shop, whose earnings all go to scholarships for disadvantaged girls. Which is how it landed upon my good deed roster to also launder it. It was only when I took the clean shirt down from the clothing line that I noticed it: An amoeba shaped fade-stain on the front right next to the second button from the bottom. By now, however, there was no turning back: Our destinies were intertwined, and knew I had to do what I had to do – tear the shirt up into strips and crochet it.

Crochet basket with recycled fabric trim Crochet basket with recycled fabric trim
Whether bounty or burden, I could not deny the delight of hooking this delicious color as a trim for a small basket.
I used an equally delicious pale magenta strand to make a soft but sturdy basket that I have not yet decided how to use. In the meantime, it is posing here with some hand-picked tangerines, a gift from our dinner guests, or rather, from their tree. Is there anything fresher or sweeter?

crochet fabric yarn basket

The architecture:

Crochet basket with recycled fabric trim

Crochet basket with recycled fabric trim

And a close-up view of the recycled trim. The frayed edges give it personality, but also actually keep it from unraveling better than cut edges:

Crochet basket with recycled fabric trim

Crochet fabric yarn rug textile yarn

My Sunshine Rug

It took quite a few baskets and a several highly experimental rug attempts until I was able to muster up the courage for a simple proposal to a very special someone:
“Umm… Of course if you’d like a rug…”
How delighted I was to receive that simple leap of faith:
“Sure, why not?”
A quick trip to the fabric yarn shop, and back I was with two bags of everything bright and pretty.
The choices were made by the recipient of the rug (the colors and their placement  – I’m not sure I would have been as bold!), whereupon stitching was begun… And not stopped until I had this!
It reminds me of a bright sun in a circular sky, and so the title, but I admit it also has to do with the recipient.
Crochet fabric yarn rug textile yarn

Crochet fabric yarn rug textile yarn

Crochet fabric yarn rug textile yarn


How I Made the Rug:
I used a size 12 crochet hook and medium-width, medium-stretchy fabric yarn.
I started with a magic ring, stitching 12 dc into it, and ending the row with a sl st into the first dc.
To start a new row, ch 3 (or ch 1 if you’re starting a row of sc).
To start a new strand/color in a new row, sl st into previous row, and chain the number of stitches needed (ch 3 for a row of dc or ch 1 for a row of sc).
I used dc or sc alternately, depending on the texture of the strand – for softer or thinner strands, I used dc. For less flexible or thicker strands, I used sc. Another consideration was the color pattern – for example, rows 4-5, the orange, were done in dc, but for row 6, I used sc, because another row of dc would have made the orange circle too large for the composition.
How did I know this? Because I tried it, of course!
This is my favorite designing method – make, undo, remake until you’re happy with the result.
Of course, a row of sc takes up less thread too, so when you’re nearing the end of the strand, this may be a consideration (not so in this particular case).
The increases are made as usual – 12 increases for rows of dc, 6 increases for rows of sc.
When I reached the green strip, I switched to woven stitch (here is my explanation on woven stitch).
But you can continue on with sc.
The main reason I used woven stitch here is because my green strand was thicker than the blue of the previous row, and I thought the woven stitch would be less bulky.
Accommodating stitches to the strand type is one way to integrate different types and widths of strands in the same project.
But whatever stitch you are using, it’s important to remember that if you have a thicker strand, you may need less increases in the first row of that strand, and if you have a thinner strand, you may need more increases in the first row of that strand.
So there is always the formula for increases, but you have to look at the outcome and see if your rug is lying nice and flat.
Generally: Flat is good, wavy means you have too many increases, and bowl-shaped means you don’t have enough increases.
The final crazy-colored row was done in 2 sc into each space of the previous row (space = below ch st).
Increases for this row, when needed, were done with 1 ch st between 2 pairs of sc.

Fabric Crochet Basket Textile yarn t-shirt yarn plarn trapillo

It’s Not Me, It’s the Basket Fairy!

Yes, I know I’ve already made lots of baskets, even one or two pretty much like this one, but can I help it if I go out to the garden and find a cute pink basket just sitting in the geraniums waiting to be picked up? And can I help it if it’s just the right size for the baby gift I wanted to give my friends, and it even complements it in color? And can I help it if the baby who got it just loved it?
It’s the Basket Fairy, hovering over, finding the right moment to leave a soft, squeezable, colorful little gift where I least expect it. What would you do?

Fabric Crochet Basket Fabric Crochet BasketFabric Crochet Basket

How I Made the Basket: The same way as always… A size 12 hook and medium-wide, slightly stretchy, but not too stretchy, fabric yarn. Start with a magic circle and crochet a spiral base (or just a round base) in yarn under single crochet. Finish off with an invisible join. Start row 1 anywhere, crocheting into back loops only in YUSC. At the end of row 1, slip stitch into first stitch, chain 1, and continue stitching the next rows the same way. When you have reached the desired height, finish off with an invisible join. To make the trim, I used a complementary strand of fabric yarn. Place the basket facing you so that the part where you made the slip stitches to finish off the rows is in the far back. Now insert the hook into the back loop of the stitch in the middle of the top row (facing you ) to make a slip stitch, leaving a generous tail for the bow later on. Slip stitch into every stitch thereafter, into back loop only, till you have reached the stitch before the one you drew the strand from. Finish off with an invisible join. Cut the strand, leaving a tail the same length as the first one. You now have 2 tails on the inside of the basket. Draw each of the tails to the outside of the basket, using the spaces between double crochet stitches of the last row of the basket, with one dc stitch between them, and tie them in a bow.

amigurumi bear cotton thread crochet

Blue Bear

This is my first Amigurumi project.
I used crochet instructions by Sharon Ojala
And cotton thread
And fabric yarn scraps for the filling
And sewed-on felt for the eyes
And embroidered yarn for the nose and mouth
With lots and lots of trials till I got the right expression
And fabric yarn for the scarf
And something that I will not talk about here
But if you’ve ever made a bear
I know you’ll understand.
amigurumi bear cotton thread crochet

Save

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crochet fabric yarn rug

Candy Carpet and Blogiversary

It seems appropriate at the close of a year to come full circle to one of my first fab-yarn (my term for fabric yarn) projects. Fortunately I took the pictures some time ago, because by now it has already undergone some wear! But before I tell you about it, I want to go back to August, 2014, when I first started writing here…
I was crocheting incessantly at the time because it was all I could do in face of a raging war where I live. I was hanging on to the threads of fabric yarn for balance, and they became threads of hope and prayer to me. Not much in the way of combating evil but on a personal level, it was panacea.
That round of hostility is over, but it seems as if the ongoing conflict has splintered into anger and cruelty and hatred. Summer, with its crazy heat and humidity, has apparently instigated flames in sad and frightening ways.
I have learned that stitching gives me some inner peace in times of turmoil, whether regional or very personal. I thank you for joining me in this peaceful abode, and welcome your company in the Pursuit of Simple Joys.

Crochet rag rug

So this is the rug, titled Candy Carpet for the candy-cane striped strand midway, and the general crazy color scheme. It was a by-product of my First Project, because the same day I raided my closet for old t-shirts and tights, I realized that not all old clothes necessarily go well with each other. The pink-red-purple-turquoise pattern of the old tights in the middle simply did not blend well with the brown-green checks of the old flannel shirt.

Crochet Rag Rug
And so my first rug became two rugs – I started them both alongside, then went to the fab-yarn shop and bought what I needed to match each of them. Having started with crazy colors I went along, and this was also a chance to feature one of my favorite ever strands – see the red floral cotton between the pink and the gray? This home cut strand, originally a curtain hem, was a gift from my MIL who was glad to donate her stash in support of my newfound creative endeavor.  I think we’re giving “vintage” a new meaning here.

Crochet rag rug
Like my first first-rug, this project was done in happy obliviousness of rules and conventions. All I knew was “intuitive” crocheting, as in, adding enough stitches to make it settle nice and flat. I think it worked for the most part, and when it didn’t, I un-crocheted it, and tried and erred till I was happy with the result. The same with the colors and pattern – I stitched around, then unraveled it if I didn’t like it… So in all, if I had crocheted forward and not back-and-forth, this rug could probably cover our living room floor. But as it is, it’s just right for a visiting toddler to settle on – and enjoy the legos that have been sitting around since my kids were resident toddlers.

Crochet Rag Rug
You may notice the center is a bit off-center. Like my other first carpet, I kept to the rule of – not a scrap of old scraps is to be thrown away, so I stitched until the strand ended, which was not always at the end of a row. But since the fabric pattern was so wild anyway, I just let it be, and put a little peace and order in by encircling the middle enclave in purple and gold. Some additional containment I think was obtained with the off-white border. I also think it gives it kind of an ethnic-carpet style, don’t you?
I can tell you it’s soft and comfortable to sit on, and that is the one nice thing about making rugs out of well-worn, thread-thin 20 year old cotton tights…

Crochet Fabric Yarn Basket for Cat Textile yarn basket t-shirt yarn plarn trapillo

A Basket for Louis

Louis needed a basket to snuggle in. His people mentioned something about it rather inadvertently (I thought I heard the word “cat”, or maybe it was “bat”? And there was something about “basket”, but it might have been “brisket”, I’m not sure). At any rate, when I offered to make Louis a basket of his very own, they didn’t object. Well, not very insistently. I knew of course they were only being polite so as not to trouble me and so I assured them I’d be delighted to make it.
I asked them what color they wanted it to be (I am so very careful not to impose my designs on my friends’ décor). They said maybe dark red. Fortunately I had some, and I thought it would go well with the gray.
Louis’s people liked the basket, and I hope Louis will too (Right now it’s high summer so Louis spends most of his time outside, stalking frogs and such). If you want to know how I made the basket, please scroll down.
The cat in the pictures is not Louis, but our cat, who always joins me whenever I’m taking pictures of my projects in the garden. In this case she seemed especially interested, and in the end I could see why. I had to re-tie the bow a few times but now it’s back to it’s original elegant form.
(For updates on Louis and his basket, and a rather regal surprise, see The Prince and the Not-Exactly-Pauper.)
Louis 5bLouis 8Louis 9Louis 3

How I made the basket: I asked Louis’s people what size they thought it should be. They measured the newspaper basket he usually settles in and said, 30cm X 40cm. Since I wanted to make an oval, I subtracted the width from the length (40 – 30 = 10) and that gives you the length of the starting chain.

Make a starting chain of 10cm (I used a size 12 hook), ch 1, then sc into the 2nd st next to the one on on your hook, and into every one after but the last.

When you reach the end stitch, make 3 sc into it. Continue with sc into each st on the other side. When you reach the end stitch, sc 2 into it, which will join the one sc you made at the start.

Continue with sc in a spiral, always adding 3 sc on the round part of each side every time you crochet along it, the same way you pick up your salary whenever you pass ‘start’ in Monopoly.

When your width is 30 cm, your length should be 40 cm.  Stop adding, and make a row of 1 sc all around. Finish it off with an invisible join and cut.  Start a new thread for the next row (mine was red), crocheting with woven stitch around the base (crochet from the outside, with the right side of the base facing upwards), and close the row with 1 sl st and 1 ch st. Continue upwards with woven stitch, closing each row with sl st and 1 ch st. Notice you are no longer crocheting in the spiral but closing with a sl st  and ch 1’ing at the end of each row.

When you reach the desired height, finish off the last row with an invisible join and cut.

Make the trim using sl st into back loops only of top row of sides, finishing off with an invisible join. Leave a tail at the beginning and end of the trim (mine was gray as you can see).

Draw the tails outside, and cut a separate piece of red strand.  Try and simulate tying a bow before it’s cut so you know how long to cut it. Now place the cut strand on the inside of the basket where the gray tails were, draw out the tails of the red strand, and tie a pretty bow on the outside.  Snip the ends to match the length of the gray tails. I tied a single knot at the ends of the gray tails because it made them hang down a little better, so if you want to do that, tie first before matching the length of the red.