Friday, March 29, 2013

Day 30 of National Crochet Month Blog Tour with Crochetville!

Hi everyone! I'm glad you've stopped by to visit. I'm glad to be a part of National Crochet Month's blog tour organized by Amy and Donna from Crochetville, and I'm sharing today with Linda Dean. (You can visit her page here.) Don't forget you can view previous posts by visiting the Crochetville Blog post.

There are many things I love about crochet, but what I truly love is how creative people are with different materials. Pop tabs, plastic bags, and so much more. If it's flexible enough and string like, you can crochet with it. I'm hoping that I can possibly provide a little inspiration for your future projects.

While I was working, a woman came up to me to ask if I've ever crocheted with tulle. At this point I hadn't. (I went home that day to experiment with it though.) This sparked my interest in the many different things that people crochet with - and of course, I had a giant roll of tulle hanging around the house. One day I decided that I wanted to try something else with it, so this is one of the things I came up with.

Free Basic Crochet and Tulle Bracelet Tutorial - Get the tutorial for free!
If the link doesn't work try this link:


While this bracelet is rather simple looking, it can be a great way to highlight a pretty, decorative button or add flowers, edgings or other adornments to the center of the tulle. You could even add the five petal flower pattern I added a couple of days ago. (Click here to see the free flower pattern.)  You could also use this as a starting point to create unique veils by adding a boarder to a larger piece of tulle. In the next few days, I'll post a couple of ideas for personalizing this bracelet. Be sure to stay tuned.

I'd love to hear about what you come up with. Visit my Ravelry Page to get the free tutorial. 

Through April 6th, you can also get 25% off any pattern in my Ravelry store by entering the promo code: NatCroMo2013.


Inspired Crochet magazine giveaway!

Two winners will receive a free copy of any Inspired Crochet issue of your choice. To enter to win a copy, simply post a comment on this blog post with an answer to the question: 

Where do you get your crochet inspiration from? 

Comments must be posted by midnight CST on March 31st to be eligible. Winners will be chosen at random and announced April 1st. Winners will need to give me their email addresses, so if you're not comfortable giving me your email address you won't be able to win. 

If you'd like to subscribe to their magazine, they have a current deal: Purchase a subscription for 3 months and get access to ALL of their previous issues! You can subscribe here:


Other ways to find me: 
Pinterest (KristinDragos)

You can also sign up for my mailing list by clicking the link at the top of my page. I'll do my best to have mailings out each month (though realistically it may be every other month). I'll be adding free patterns, my tips, tricks, crochet news, as well as information about opportunities to test patterns for me before they are released. 

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great day!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Designing your own crochet patterns (Part 2)

Last time, I wrote about paying attention to patterns and the way many patterns are put together. Today's post is all about inspiration.

Inspiration can come from just about anywhere. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. When someone (or myself) says, "I wonder if I can crochet [x]?" I see that as a challenge to do just that. (Maybe it's too much How I Met Your Mother watching, but that's how I see it.) I might be tempted to see if someone else has made whatever x is already. If not, I get the pleasure of playing scientist to see if I can do it. If they have, I might skim through their pattern and wonder "How would I do that?" or "That seems like a weird way to do this part (or the whole thing). I wonder why they didn't do it this way?" etc.

2. Sometimes I like going to manufacturers websites to look for inspiration. I may look at jewelry, for example, and think "How would you crochet that?" or "How would I get the same effect if it was crocheted?"

3. People in your life. Many people in my life (sorry if you're reading this, but you know it's true!) are a little quirky. I tend to use those quirks to inspire my crochet. For example, one of my friends is a big Star Trek fan. Knowing that, I knew I wanted to make her something related to Star Trek. Thus my Star Trek pillow collection idea was born. (See the patterns link on the top of my blog if you'd like to see them.)

4. Books. This may sound lame, but lately I've been really into books that have "stitch patterns" in them. I like to see how the different combination of stitches work to create different effects. Looking through them, I always find at least a few (okay, typically more than a few) that I really like. I instantly go into "what can I make with that" mode. Something really lacy, for example, wouldn't make a very sturdy purse/bag without a good lining.

5. Yarn colors. Ever look at a yarn and think, that's the perfect color for Kermit the frog or something else? That actually happened to me the other day. I was teaching a student and we were working on the crocodile stitch. She was using her red yarn, and I thought "If I ever make a hand puppet, that color with the crocodile stitch would make a great tongue!"

6. Movies. Yup! If you look closely enough, you'll almost always notice something in movies or television shows that is knitted or crocheted. Ever notice the blanket that's draped over the back of Amy's couch on Big Bang Theory? It looks like it's made entirely of granny squares. You can catch a glimpse of it here.

I'm always surprised where my inspiration comes from. To keep track of my ideas, I try to write them down on whatever paper I have handy. (I know, a better method would be to keep a little notebook with me at all times. I always manage to forget the idea before I dig out the notebook from my purse.) Sometimes it's a note card that I have on my desk, or another pattern that I'm currently working on. Either way, sometimes these notes get "lost" for a bit, but I always manage to find them later. I guess this method makes me feel like my ideas don't overflow and overwhelm me. I can work on or think of one as I stumble across it later.

The next post in this series will be about my thinking during the designing process. (This will likely be next week, as my next blog post will be about and for the National Crochet Month's blog tour organized by the amazing people at Crochetville.)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New Pattern: Five Petal Flower

As National Crochet Month draws to a close, I am preparing for my scheduled date for the National Crochet Month blog tour organized by Amy and Donna over at Crochetville. Even though my date isn't until the 30th, I thought I'd share a recent pattern with you. This one would be great for an embellishment on a hat, purse, scarf, or anything else. Paton's Metallic yarn makes this flower really impressive.

Five Petal Flower Pattern
This pattern was inspired by the crocodile stitch. It could be worked in one or more colors.

Crochet Hook: G (4.0 mm)
Small amount of worsted weight yarn
(I used a pale yellow for the center and Paton's new Metallic yarn for the purple petals.)

Round 1:  Create an adjustable ring and ch 3 (Counts as a dc). Work 19 more dcs into the center of the ring. (20 total sts)  If using another color for the petals, fasten off and join new color to any stitch.

Round 2: *Ch 2. Work 2 dcs into the next st. Ch 2. Work 2 dcs in the next st. Ch 2, Sl st into the next dc st. (One petal made.) Sl st into the next st. Repeat from * across until 5 petals are made. 

Round 3
Before starting round 3, let's take a look at each petal. We'll be working a variation of the crocodile stitch on each of the petals, but we'll only be working over the two double crochet posts in the center of the petal and the ch-2 space in the center of the petal. 

Ch 1. *Work 5 dcs UP the first inside post. (This will probably require you to turn the flower to ensure you're working UP the post. i.e. If you crochet right handed, you'll turn the flower so the top of the petal you're working on is to your left.) Ch 1.

Work 3 dcs into the ch-2 space between the two inside posts at the top of the petal. Ch 1.

Work 5 dcs down the second inside post of the petal. Ch 1. This completes your first petal. Repeat from * around to complete your 5 petals. At end of round join with sl st to first ch 1 of row. Fasten off and weave in  your ends. 

Don't forget to stop by on March 30th to see my post for National Crochet Month's blog tour! 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Designing your own crochet patterns (Part 1)

I designed my first pattern over almost two years ago now. It was a Yoshi scarf for my friends daughter. Looking back on it, I wish I had written down the pattern, as I would have loved to share it. When I first had that thought - the I want to design my own pattern thought - I wondered how most people go about making their designs. I did a Google search hoping to find some help getting started. (I laugh at how silly that sounds now.)

What I managed to find was limited and didn't seem to work for me. Some people suggested drawing out their ideas. Sure, that's great in theory. What if you don't know what you want to make, but you want to make something? That's the boat I was in. I was clearly going about it all backwards. I had, well I guess, the crochet equivalent to writer's block. I didn't think I had any creative ideas at all.

This post is going to be the first in a series of posts about my start into and process of designing my own patterns. I'm hoping that it will help someone out there who was like me and looking for someplace to start.

For today, I'll simply add this bit of information. There are many ways of doing things with crochet, but there are many "patterns" within patterns you find. For example, a flat circle is typically done with a round of single crochets, followed by a round of increases in each stitch. After that the round is a pattern of either (a) an increase, followed by one (or more depending on the round) single crochet stitches, or (b) the inverse (i.e. one or more single crochet stitches followed by an increase.

To find these patterns you have to do a few things.
1. Start looking for the patterns! If you aren't paying attention to the patterns and repetitions within a pattern, you won't see them.
2. Crochet outside of your comfort zone. Try patterns for different things. If you normally crochet one thing, try something else. Like amigurumi, afghans, or apparel, etc.
3. Try to remember some of the patterns you notice when working on new patterns. Eventually you'll see that most circles are made the same way, squares, triangles, etc.
4. Crochet a lot of different patterns! There are many ways to do anything in crochet. Take granny squares for example. How many different granny squares are there? Way too many to count! Working on different patterns will help you figure out the different ways to accomplish different (or the same) results. You'll be able to figure out which way you prefer to do something. (Which is key for when you decide to write your own patterns.)

Next post will be about finding your inspiration for projects.

If you design your own patterns, what else would you add to this list? If you don't design your own, what would you like to know about designing? I'd love to hear what you have to say. Add your comments below!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Crochet in art

Here's a fun picture a fellow teacher found. I thought it was very fitting, so I thought I'd share.

"Girl Crocheting" by Pierre-Auguste Renoir 

This was painted in 1875. It's amazing how long crochet has been around. It's still done completely by hand - no machine (yet) can crochet. (There are knitting machines.) If you give or receive a crocheted gift, you know that it was (sometimes painstakingly) made by actual hands. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pattern: Glasses Case

Here's another accessory that might come in handy. It could be modified by adding an applique design to one side, stripes, multicolored yarn, add loop with a chain before you finish it off to hang it, etc. 

Glasses Case

Small amount of worsted weight (4) yarn.
Crochet Hook: Size G (4.25 mm)

Gauge is not really essential for this project.
Finished piece measures 3 inches wide and almost 7 inches tall.

ch = Chain
dc = double crochet
hdc = half double crochet
rem = remaining
sc = Single Crochet
sk = skip
sl st = slip stitch
tr = treble (triple) crochet
st(s) = Stitch(es)

Note: Pay attention to where the first stitch in each row is worked. For hdc rows, the chains do not count as a stitch. For dc and tr rows, the chains DO count as a stitch.

Ch 13
Row 1: Hdc in 3rd chain from hook and in each ch across.
Row 2: Ch 2, turn. Hdc in each st across.
Row 3: Ch 3, turn. Dc in 2nd st and in each st across.
Row 4 and 5: Ch 2, turn. Hdc in each st across.
Row 6: Ch 4, turn. Tr in 2nd st and in each st across.
Rows 7 and 8: Ch 2, turn. Hdc in each st across.
Repeat rows 3-8 until piece measures about 13 inches and fasten off.

Fold piece in half and seam up both long sides, leaving the top open.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pattern: Easy Coin Purse/Wallet

If you're looking for a quick and easy beginners project, this one's for you. You can add stripes or use a multicolored yarn if you'd like to change the look. 

Easy Change Purse


Small amount of worsted weight (4) yarn.
Crochet Hook: Size H8 (5 mm)
.75” Button

Gauge is not really essential for this project.
Finished piece measures 4” x 3”

ch = Chain
rem = remaining
sc = Single Crochet
sk = skip
sp = space
st(s) = Stitch(es)

Chain (ch) 16.
Row 1: Single crochet (sc) in second chain (ch) from hook and in each chain (ch) across.
Row 2: Chain 1 and turn. Single crochet (sc)  in each stitch (st) across.
Row 3: Chain 1 and turn. Single crochet (sc) in each of the first 6 stitches (sts). Ch 3. Skip (sk) 3 stitches (sts), and sc in the next stitch (st) and in each of the remaining sts.
Row 4. Ch 1 and turn. Sc in each of the first 6 sts. Work 3 sc into the chain three space (Ch-3 sp). Sc into the remaining stitches.
Row 5: Ch 1 and turn. Sc in each st across.
Repeat row 5 until piece measures about 9 inches, and fasten off, leaving a long tail for seaming.

Fold the top (without the button hole) down leaving about 2.5 inches. Seam the sides, leaving the top open. Once seaming is done, fold top down. Keep track of where the button hole falls. Open the top and sew button in the appropriate spot.

Finished folded piece measures 4 inches wide and 3 inches tall.  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Need inspiration? Here's one way to find it.

The people in my life have always been an inspiration for my crochet work. I love when someone says, "I wonder if you can make [x]." It then becomes a challenge. I immediately go into thinking, "how could I do that?" or "can it even be done?" Usually, the answer is yes. (Sometimes I get this inspiration by going to various websites, looking at designs for clothing, jewelry and more and wondering how could I do that with crochet?)

The other day, I was playing with some tulle I have hanging around the house. (Some of the results will be posted on March 30th for my date for Crochetville's blog tour for National Crochet Month. If you want to catch up or see the websites and posts from other associate professional and professional members of the Crochet Guild of America, you can do that here. Crochetville's Blog Tour Catch Up.) My husband was wondering if I'd be able to make a bracelet that had some translucent areas in it created by the tulle. The result? A few hours of playing and I came up with this design.


I was pretty pleased with the design overall, then I added tulle. It was a bit tricky to figure out how much tulle to add.


These, I thought, had too much tulle. It wasn't translucent enough for me. So I took some out.


I'm happy with the results. I really like my husband's idea of translucency. I may have to keep trying out new things branching off of this theme.

Does anyone have any "I wonder if you can make..." questions for me?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Michaels class open house!

Tomorrow (Saturday, March 9th, 2013) Michaels is holding a class open house from 11-3pm. During that time you can stop by the store, meet your local instructors and get answers to any questions you have about the many creative classes Michaels offers.

To help celebrate the event, Michaels is offering a discount on the registration fees for all their classes. (It's 25% off!) Register for as many classes as you like and get the discount on all of them. To make registering easier and more convenient for you, I've also posted my class schedule for March, April, and May! If you're not finding a time or date that will work for you, contact me and I may be able to organize an extra class to accommodate your schedule. Click on the class schedule link at the top of the page to view the most current class schedule.

I'll be at the Normal, IL Michaels store during this event, so stop by and see me and the many things I've been up to lately. (Plus, you'll be able to see some of the class projects in person!)

I've added a few new classes to the class roster. (Visit the class roster here.)

Amigurumi Amigurumi (pronounced ah-me–goo-roo-me) is Japanese for crocheting small stuffed animals and other creatures. This class will focus on the basics of amigurumi and provide tips for creating these fun, plush toys.

Wiggly Crochet This technique is a relatively new one, combining a mesh (like in Filet crochet) with additional dimension. It creates a 3D effect and makes for great hot pads, perfect for protecting your table from hot dishes. It can also be used to make plush rugs.

Wedding (and Prom) - This themed class will focus on the ways crochet can be used to add personalized touches to any wedding to make it even more special. From wedding favors, to garters and elegant wraps, this class is sure to inspire your creativity!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Reading yarn labels

When I first started crocheting, I didn't know a whole lot about yarn. I went into the store and grabbed a skein based solely on it's color. If I liked the color, I picked it up. For my first couple of projects (blanket and scarves), this system didn't matter much. (I guess I got lucky there.) Then I decided I wanted to make a sweater from a pattern book. I went into the store looking for a color. I was about half way through the pattern before I realized that it was going to be way too large for me (or most people I knew) to actually wear. I ended up scrapping the project.

I worked out the pattern successfully. My mistake? I didn't pay attention to the yarn. My pattern called for a super fine (weight of 1) yarn and I was using a light (3) yarn. This made my "medium" sweater turn into an extra, extra, extra large.

For many beginners, reading yarn labels can be a tricky thing. Here's a link that has a brief breakdown on how to read yarn labels and what all those little symbols mean.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Working into the foundation chain

Did you know that there are many ways of working into your starting (foundation) chain? Each has a different look and feel to it. There isn't one right way; how you choose to work into your foundation chain can affect your overall product. Let's first take a closer look at your foundation chain. (For this, I'm using a large crochet hook to make it easy to see the strands of each chain stitch.)
Anatomy of a chain:

If you look closely at your chain, you'll see that on one side there is a series of Vs. The reverse side has a bunch of bumps or ridges. (The front is the side with the Vs.) Each chain stitch is made up of three individual strands. The top and bottom of the V and the back ridge.

A couple of ways of working into the chain:
1. Work stitches under the top strand of the V only.
Using this method the first row of stitches (single crochet stitches in this instance) has a slight gap between them and the starting chain. The unworked loops of the chain will shift slightly toward you as you work this row. 

2. Work stitches under the back ridge (bump).

This method creates a starting edge that is exactly like the finished edge. (It has the same appearance of a row of single crochet stitches.) The advantage here is that it's easier to add additional rows or edgings to this side of your work.

3. Work under the top strand and the back ridge.

This method is similar to the first one I listed in that the remaining, unworked loop of the chain shifts toward the front of your work as you work the first row. This is typically the method I use mostly because I like to have a little substance to where I work my stitches. It does however make working edgings or additional rows (or working on the opposite side of the chain) a little difficult because there's only one strand of the chain left.

There are a couple of other ways you could work into the chain. For example, you could work under both strands of the V. (I find this a little difficult to do especially if you make your chain stitches tight.) There is also a method of working your foundation chain AND the first row at the same time. (YouTube has a number of videos on how to do this. Here's one.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pattern: Beginner's Striped Dishcloth

Beginner's Striped Dishcloth

H8 (5 mm) Crochet Hook
2 colors of cotton, medium weight (4) yarn.

Gauge: Finished piece measures approximately 9 inches square.

With A, Ch 26.
Row 1: SC in second ch from hook and in each ch across. Turn. (25 stitches made)
Row 2-3: Ch 1, sc in each st across. Turn.
Row 4: Ch 1. Sc in each st across to last st. Begin to sc in last st with A, but change to B with last loop of the final sc.  (See below for a more detailed description for changing colors.)
Row 5-7: With B, repeat row 2.
Row 8: With B, repeat row 4 – change to A in last sc.
Row 9-11: Repeat row 2 with A.
Row 12: Repeat row 4.
Row 13-15: With B, repeat row 2.
Row 16: With B, repeat row 4 – change to A in last sc.
Repeat rows 5-16 until piece measures approximately 9 inches.
With last row (a Row 16 row), do NOT change to A. Sc in last st normally. Ch 10, sl st in same st to form a hanging loop. Finish off.

To change colors during a single crochet stitch:
1. Insert your hook into the next stitch.
2. Yarn over and pull a loop up (through the stitch you went into) with your current color. (You'll have two loops on your hook at this point.)
3. With your new color, yarn over your hook and pull the new color through the two loops. (This should not need a slip knot.) 
4. Continue with your next stitches with the new color. Be careful with the first couple of stitches as you could pull the yarn all the way through. Your goal is to leave a small tail of the new color. 
This method does take some getting used to, but will lead to less bulkiness in areas where you change colors.   In a few days, I will add a tutorial for this method.

National Crochet Month Blog Tour

Among the many ways I'm celebrating National Crochet Month is by participating in the National Crochet Month Blog tour organized by Crochetville. Each day, they will feature one or two blogs or websites from Professional or Associate Professional members of the Crochet Guild of America that will offer a special post or offer for visitors for that day. My date is not until March 30th, but I really want to come up with something great to share with you. Thus, I'm hard at work designing and experimenting. :)

You can click this link to see more about the tour and visit past posts.

What are do you have planned to celebrate your love of crochet?

Friday, March 1, 2013

A few ideas to celebrate National Crochet Month!

Happy National Crochet Month! How will you be celebrating the month? Here's a few ideas for you.

1. Teach someone how to crochet. The Craft Yarn Council has a variety of resources that can help you teach someone to crochet.

2. Take a class. Classes offer new techniques and specialty methods of crochet. There's more to crochet than the three main stitches. Broomstick lace, filet crochet, Irish lace, and so much more!

3. Make something new. Try a new pattern for something you've never made before.

4. Learn a new technique or new stitch pattern. Crochet is capable to do so much. Learning a new technique or stitch pattern might just be the inspiration you need to start designing your own patterns.

5. Help out a charity. Crochet for a charity like Warm Up America ( or another cause. Many children's hospitals will also accept donations of blankets, caps/hats, and possibly even stuffed toys.

6. Give a crocheted gift. I love seeing people enjoy crocheted gifts! It's an amazing feeling knowing that you've made something for someone. (Not to mention that it gives you a good reason to crochet!)

7. Buy a new crochet book and/or more yarn. Nothing inspires me more than a new skein of yarn. :)

I know that I'll be doing a bunch of these this month. What will you be doing to celebrate?