Category Archives: Crocheting

Crocheted Towel Topper

CrochetTowelToppers 012Twelve+ years ago, I received four dish towels as either a bridal shower or wedding gift. Actually I received more than four altogether, but these four were different – because they each had a crocheted top with a loop and button, so you could hang them on something. I can’t remember who gave them to us (probably one of Ron’s aunts, we think), and for several years they languished in my kitchen drawers.

Until I had toddlers – and realized that ‘pull the towel down’ is one of the very best games ever. To the toddler, that is. Not so much to the parent who wants to keep things like dish towels hanging up off the (not always clean) kitchen floor. Not long afterward, I discovered that these towels were one of the best things I’ve ever been given. Over the years since the girls have outgrown the game, but any time I try hanging regular towels from our oven door handle, they invariably do still end up on the floor (apparently cats and toddlers like similar games, lol). So these are still my go-to towels and are used on a daily basis.

For the past few months, I’d had in mind the idea to try and make new towel toppers – the original towels are threadbare and falling apart. Plus they don’t match our kitchen and never really have. I do crochet, but wasn’t sure of how to get the holes in the towel to start the process, and had never found a new dish towel that I really liked that would match our kitchen well. But, this past week I finally found a new dish towel at the store that I really liked – so I decided it was time to figure out how to make a topper that would work.

I’d looked at the original towels pretty carefully and determined that they really were half a towel, instead of a full towel – they’d simply been cut in half, which makes sense because once you add the crochet part to it, a full towel would probably drag on the floor.

Between a Google search and a few various YouTube videos, I found and adapted a pattern that worked out very well. You can find the original pattern here – my main change was that since we don’t own an awl, I used an alternate solution to put the holes in my towels. In a couple of the videos I watched, a yarn needle was used to create the first row of stitches, that were crocheted into later – and this method worked very well for me.

Here are the steps that I used:

CrochetTowelToppers 0011) Choose your materials – you’ll need a dish towel (one where the pattern will look ok once it’s cut in half to make 2 towels), worsted weight yarn (something sturdy and washable, like acrylic or cotton), crochet hook(s), yarn needle, button, scissors, iron, sewing machine, thread, and hand sewing needle.

2) Fold the dish towel in half (putting the short sides together) and cut the towel in half to create two towels that are each the same width as the original but half as long.

CrochetTowelToppers 0033) Fold a short hem (1/4” or so) along the cut edge and iron in place. Use sewing machine to stitch along this hem. Alternatively, you could hand-sew the hem if you don’t have access to a sewing machine. Or you could use double-sided tape or another method to make sure the hem stays in place so that the towel doesn’t fray along the cut edge over time as the towel is used and washed multiple times.

CrochetTowelToppers 0054) Thread a yarn needle with a length of yarn that is 2-3 times the width of your towel in length. It’s better to be left with extra than run out, so be generous. Start with one of the top corners of your towel, along your newly-created hem, working on the back side of the towel. Push the needle through in the corner from back side of towel to front, just at the bottom of your hemmed edge.

5) Bring the yarn almost all the way through the towel, leaving a 4-5” ‘tail’ hanging on the back side of the towel. Bring the needle up over the top of the towel and back to the back side, then push the needle through again, along the bottom of your hemmed edge, about 1/4” or so from your first hole. Pull the yarn through – but before you pull the yarn all the way tight, pull the yarn needle through the loop you created in the direction that you’re going with your holes.

CrochetTowelToppers 0046) Continue by adding additional holes along the bottom of your hemmed edge, about 1/4” apart, and pulling the yarn needle through each loop before you pull it tight, to create a running ‘blanket’ stitch along the top of your towel.

7) Once you reach the opposite corner, pull the yarn needle through the loop one last time to create a knot. Cut the yarn, leaving a 2-3” tail and use the yarn needle to pull the tail back through the stitches you created in the opposite direction. Tie a knot back at the beginning corner, cut a short tail and weave it through the first few stitches you created similarly.

8) Pick up the end of yarn attached to your ball or skein and create a slip knot several inches from the end. Insert your crochet hook into the loop of the slip knot.

Note: I find that using a smaller crochet hook for this first row works best – I used an E hook then switched to a G hook for all subsequent rows.

CrochetTowelToppers 0069) If you look at the top of your towel, your running blanket stitch had created a series of sections right along the top, running horizontally along the top edge of your towel, in between each of the vertical stitches where you had pierced the towel. The gap between these horizontal stitches and the top of your towel are where you’re going to create a row of single crochet stitches along the top of your towel, from one top corner to the other, with the front side of the towel facing you.

Note: In the first and last few stitches, I also made sure that the sc stitch picked up the yarn ends that I’d woven through. This will keep them more secure and less likely to unravel over time.

10) Do not cut your yarn. Switch to the G size crochet hook. Here is where I used the free pattern that I found online – I will list the 15 pattern rows or you can view or print the entire pattern here. The only change I made to this portion was to add two additional repeats of Row 6 for a total of 15 rather than 13 rows.

CrochetTowelToppers 007

Row 1 – ch 3, turn, dc in each sc across.

Row 2 – ch 3, turn, * dc in next dc, skip the next dc, dc in next 2 dc, skip next dc, repeat from * all the way across.

Row 3 – ch 3, turn, * skip 1 dc, dc in next dc, repeat from * all the way across.

Row 4 – Repeat Row 3.

Row 5 – ch 3 (counts as first dc), turn, 6 dc all evenly spaced across the row (total of 7 dc).

Row 6 – ch 3, turn, dc in each dc.

Rows 7-13 – Repeat Row 6.

Row 14 – ch 3, turn, dc in next 2 dc, ch 1, skip 1 dc and dc in next 2 dc (button hold made).

Row 15 – ch 3, turn, dc in next 2 dc, dc in ch 1 space, dc in next 3 dc.

Fasten off yarn. Weave in all ends. Hand sew on button.

CrochetTowelToppers 011And there you have it – one crocheted towel topper that will keep your towels from slipping (or being pulled) off and onto your kitchen floor. :)

I think I’m going to try making more of these – they’d be really fun holiday gifts, especially if made with festive towels and yarns. And they’re a quick project – I made the two towel toppers (from the one original towel I purchased) in one day.

Just a couple of quick notes – you may have to go back and tuck the yarn tail through the very first blanket stitch you made in order to have your stitch run right to that first corner where you started with your yarn needle. Also, make sure that your button is going to fit through your buttonhole before sewing it on. :)

Enjoy!

A portion of this pattern is not of my own design, but comes from a free pattern I found on http://www.freecraftunlimited.com. I have noted where I’ve made changes or adapted the original pattern for my own use. You can find the original pattern at http://www.freecraftunlimited.com/dish-towel-crochet.html.

Get Sheep(ish) with Vickie Howell’s new Stitch. Rock. Love yarn!

Sheep(ish) Yarn from Vickie Howell and CaronI’ve been working with yarn in one way or another since I was a kid – back from when my mom first taught me to finger crochet and use a french knitting spool, to my college years when I learned to crochet and made afghans for everybody I knew – right up to these past years of motherhood, when knitting has become a true passion. I love yarn – working with it, looking at it, running my fingers over it, drooling over colors or fibers that I wish I could bring home but simply don’t have the space (or money) for… Not all yarn needs to be expensive or difficult to find though – and Caron’s newest yarn offering from spokesperson Vickie Howell (the first in her new line of Stitch. Rock. Love yarns) is an affordably-priced, versatile option called Sheep(ish).

Sheep(ish) Yarn from Vickie Howell and Caron

I’ve been working with the new Sheep(ish) yarn for the past couple of weeks – I was sent three skeins in the Olive(ish) colorway to try out, which made me very happy since green is my favorite color and this is a beautiful shade of it. Sheep(ish) is a single-ply, wool/acrylic blend (30% wool to 70% acrylic) of a worsted roving yarn (medium weight – 4). It comes in a 3 oz. (85 g) skein with 167 yards (153 m). The suggested needle size is #8 US and hook size is H-8 US. Sheep(ish) is machine washable (cold on gentle cycle), but items should be laid flat to dry. There are 21 different colors all told, so that you’re sure to find the perfect one for your next project.

Sheep(ish) Yarn from Vickie Howell and Caron

I initially decided to knit a hat with my Sheep(ish) yarn – I’d found a pattern a little while ago on Ravelry that I’d wanted to try (the Amanda Hat) and since it calls for a single-ply worsted weight yarn, I thought it would be a good fit. The pattern calls for a size US 9 needle, so because my 16” circular is a US 8, I made sure to knit a gauge swatch before beginning the hat. It was also a good way to get a sense of how the Sheep(ish) yarn would be to work with before starting an actual project. I’m glad I took the time to make the swatch – the hat pattern calls for a gauge of 4 sts per inch and I was getting 5 sts per inch instead. So I made a few adjustments in the pattern to account for the gauge difference.

Amanda Hat in Sheep(ish) yarn

Amanda Hat in Sheep(ish) yarn

Amanda Hat in Sheep(ish) yarn

I really like how the hat turned out and the Sheep(ish) yarn was wonderful to work with. I don’t usually like using totally synthetic fibers because I don’t like how they feel against my fingers. I generally prefer more natural fibers when possible, but also prefer  yarn that’s machine washable, so the mix of acrylic and wool here is really nice. The yarn slides well through my fingers and onto the needles – and being a single ply, there’s no worry about the yarn splitting as I knit. The Sheep(ish) yarn has a nice sheen to it that I like in the finished product, and it’s just slightly fuzzy. So far I’ve not run into any knots – the skeins are center-pull and it’s been pretty easy to find the ends inside them when I begin one too. This hat fits me well – and my older daughters were more than happy to model it for me. :)

Amanda Hat in Sheep(ish) yarnAmanda Hat in Sheep(ish) yarn

After finishing the Amanda Hat, I still had almost 2 full skeins of Sheep(ish) left, so I decided to try another project. I’d seen the new free patterns that Vickie Howell has designed specifically for this new yarn, and love her Urban Revival slouchie beanie. I was able to get a copy of the pattern a few days before it was released and began working on the hat last weekend. It’s a nice quick project in general – this is the first time in several years that I’ve crocheted something instead of knit, so I’ve almost had to re-teach myself how to crochet as well.

Here are a few photos of the hat in-progress – first the band, and then the main hat…

Sheep(ish) Yarn Urban Revival slouchie beanie

Urban Revival Slouchie Beanie 003

I found a couple of silver buttons that I really like at Walmart, so added those to the band, after I stitched it onto the hat:

Urban Revival Slouchie Beanie 007

And here’s the finished product – both off and on. I love it – and look forward to wearing it once the weather gets cold out again next fall!

Urban Revival Slouchie Beanie 006 Urban Revival Slouchie Beanie 010

I am so thrilled to have had this chance to work with the new Sheep(ish) yarn from Vickie Howell’s new Stitch. Rock. Love line from Caron, and can’t wait to try more projects in it (and in more colors) as well. Sheep(ish) is now officially available online at Buy.Caron.com and at JoAnn super stores nationwide To find a location near you that carries it, check out the Sheep(ish) finder app on Vickie’s website. Sheep(ish) is also available through the Herrschners catalogue and will soon be available in select, independent stores. And if you’re in or near Columbus, OH on Sunday, June 12th – Vickie will be at the Notions Marketing booth at TNNA for a Sheep(ish) Make & Take (make your own chopstick cozy!) and an AwareKnits book signing.

You can follow along on the rest of the stops on the Sheep(ish) blog tour here:

Happy knitting (and crocheting)! :)

I received 3 skeins of Sheep(ish) yarn as part of this blog tour, but all opinions here are 100% my own.

Embellishments

This time of year I really struggle with being stuck in the house so much and feeling cooped up. It’s gray and cold and snowy outside, and especially after all of the holiday decorations are down and put away, every place just looks dull.

I posted earlier about how I decided to try making flowers to spice up my daughters’ winter hats a little bit – I think it was as much a way to brighten up this wintertime existence as anything else.

Tonight I finished my oldest daughter’s new hat – the same basic roll-brim pattern that I’ve used before. But I did two things to it afterward that I think really make a huge difference and turn it from just a ‘hat’ into a ‘really cute hat’.

Only a couple of days before my daughter lost her previous hat, I’d taken a few minutes and fashioned a simple pom-pom to adorn the top of it. I never even took a picture of the hat afterward, and it was gone so soon that I never had the chance to. But it added a lot of personality to the hat and my daughter loved the addition. So tonight as soon as her new hat was finished she asked for a pom-pom for this hat – as well as a flower, like the ones I’d made for her sisters’ hats.

Abbys2ndHat 002

Not 30 seconds after I’d finished the pom-pom, my youngest daughter decided that she just had to have one for her hat too (never mind that I’d asked her weeks ago, only to get firmly turned d0wn). So I spent a few minutes making her one too. It really doesn’t take very long to make a pom-pom or to crochet a simple flower – but it makes such a difference when adding these things to a project!

PomPomOnBeccasHat 002

Yes, it is a gigantic pom-pom – I had ‘just enough’ but also slightly ‘too much’ yarn left over so figured I’d just use it all up. If nothing else, I’ll be able to pick her out in a crowd, lol…  I may take the scissors to it and give it a bit more of a trim after I see how it looks on her tomorrow.

For the previous hat flowers, I’d used buttons for the center – just ones that I dug up in my jewelry box. My own mom always had a ‘button box’ – she sewed a lot, and her button collection had some of the most unique and fun buttons I’d ever seen. I only have about a half-dozen, collected from who knows where – but I’d managed to find two that worked perfectly with the flowers. Not so much this time though – so I found myself off to the only store open late into the evening that might hopefully sell some kind of interesting buttons. I had no luck in their small sewing section – but did find a package of sparkly flower-shaped ones with the scrapbooking supplies. And I think this button was the perfect addition to the flower and the hat!

Abbys2ndHat 003

I have no pictures (yet) of the girls in their new (and newly embellished) hats, because they were both in bed by the time the hats were done. But I’m sure I’ll get more than few in the morning and will share them after that.

Now I just have to figure out what to work on next – I hate not having a project to pick up at any given time. I know some knitters have many (many) projects all on the needles at once, but I seem to work best one at a time, at least right now. I’m thinking I’d like to get at least one more pair of socks done this winter – but I’m ready to try a different method this time. Whether that entails magic loop, 2 circulars or what, I have no idea yet. I’ll have to see what seems interesting and what needles I have on hand – I’m really intrigued by the idea of interchangeable needle sets, but that’s going to have to wait a while. Or even though I’m out of hats to embellish – I can still make a few more crocheted flowers to brighten up my mood and my day.  :)

Wintertime ‘flowers’

So I’ve been working along on the new hat for my oldest daughter (I’ll post an update on that soon) and that brought something to mind that I’d thought of a while back and then never acted on. I like the hats that I’ve made – but they’re fairly basic and simple. I’ve been going for warmth here, not style. But I’ve seen a lot of girls’ hats that have cute embellishments and such on them, so I’d been wanting for a while to find a pattern to be able to make flowers to put on the girls hats.

I went on Ravelry a few days ago and decided that I would look around on there – with so many free patterns available, I knew there was bound to be something I could use. What I discovered – is that flowers are apparently something that are much easier to crochet than knit, at least judging by the number and types of patterns I was seeing. So I figured that maybe it was about time to bring the crochet hooks back out and give crocheting another try. Flowers are small, so I thought maybe I could manage one or two without the pain I’d had before.

I think I’ve realized something… When I crocheted before, I never knew how to correctly hold the yarn to get tension. One of the convoluted things I used to do was to stop after each stitch and tighten the yarn – I would actually pretty much drop it in  between stitches. I never had the yarn running through my fingers until I started knitting. But now, when I crochet – I simply hold the yarn the same way I do when I knit, in my left hand, which works perfectly for crocheting right-handed.

I can’t believe how much easier it is to crochet this way! I still don’t hold the hook the way I’ve seen other people hold it, but my method is a lot more streamlined now – and so far I haven’t had any hand pain at all. I’ve only made two small flowers, mind you – but that’s still amazing to me.

So yes, I’m strange. I crochet right-handed, knit left-handed – and well, am pretty much ambidextrous in most other things, including writing. ;)

I started off with a flower to embellish my youngest daughter’s hat, which is in a variegated yarn in shades of pink, purple and white. I chose a couple of pink yarns that I had left over from making bunnies last spring and made a simple flower. I liked the look of the flower in general, but thought it needed something just a little – more – on the hat, so I went digging through my jewelry box and found an off-white button to put in the middle. I used the tail end of the yarn from beginning the flower to connect the button and flower to the hat – and I think it turned out really cute!

It may also look familiar – I used the photo below as a main ingredient in re-designing this site tonight… And the flower is featured prominently as well. I love how the site looks – and hope you do too! :)

FlowerOnBeccasHat 001

Here it is on my daughter:

FlowerOnBeccasHat 004

Tonight I made a second flower -this time I found a cool antique-ish looking gold button to put in the middle. And you can’t tell in the photos, but the white yarn is some of what I had left over from making the girls’ shrugs last year – it has a strand of glittery stuff going through it too.

This flower is for another hat that I made a while back for my 8-year-old. She hasn’t been wearing it lately – instead my oldest daughter has been wearing this hat while I get her new one made. But I have the feeling that my 8-year-old will reclaim the hat once she sees the cute flower I added to it tonight, lol!

FlowerForHannahsHat 004FlowerForHannahsHat 003

It’s a very simple pattern – called Flower Magnets. I can see a lot of other uses for these too – I’m already scheming on ways I can attach them to ponytail holders or hair clips. :)

Why I don’t crochet anymore…

Yes, that’s true – I used to crochet all the time. In fact, it was something I learned right after college and I crocheted all the time, pretty much right up until I had my kids. I taught friends how to crochet even, and they taught others as well.

I crochet in kind of an odd way. I tend to be left-handed in many areas, but when I took a crochet class, the teacher couldn’t figure out how to teach me lefty, so she suggested I learn right-handed. But I don’t hold the hook or move it in the ‘usual’ way. In fact, even though I hold the hook right-handed, I use my left hand to maneuver the yarn. It’s awkward – I never realized until I saw someone who crochets ‘normally’ just how slow my way is. But it works – or at least it used to.

Back then I crocheted a lot, mostly afghans. I made them for myself, for friends, for my mom, and I made one for my mother-in-law as a Christmas gift before my husband and I got married. When one of my closest friends got married, I crocheted a large table doily as a wedding gift and also made her a shawl to wear over her wedding dress since the wedding was in December. And my other close friend was pregnant at that same time with her first child – I made several baby afghans for her. For a while there, pretty much anyone who was having a baby got an afghan – and I made a couple when I was pregnant with my first baby too. One of those is still my daughter’s favorite ‘blankie’ that she insists on sleeping with every single night. I wish she’d picked something else to cling to though – this one is pretty much irreplaceable. It took me 6 months to crochet back before I had kids – since it’s all done in single crochet stitches. Nowadays it would be impossible for me to make something like that. Not just in terms of time either, unfortunately.

I first noticed the pain in my hand when I tried picking up a half-finished crochet project when my girls were small. So I put it down again, and didn’t try to crochet anything else for another few years. At that point, I won a beautiful baby blanket from a blog giveaway (right about the time I began blogging) – but it had a simple crocheted edging that was a ‘do it yourself’ kind of project. I finished the edging, but was in a lot of pain while doing so. It was about that time that I decided that maybe it was time to try something else instead – I remembered how much I liked working with yarn and creating things, but I thought perhaps knitting would be easier on my hand, so I re-taught myself how to knit, this time left-handed (I’d learned from my mom right-handed back when I was a kid, but it always felt awkward to me).

I haven’t tried crocheting since then, a little more than 3 years ago now. And knitting was pain-free at first – but over the past year I have noticed the same pain in my left hand now too. Mostly while purling – or on the socks I’m working on I really notice it when I’m trying to keep my stitches nice and tight to try to prevent laddering when switching between dpns. The pain is mostly in the fleshy part of my thumb – down near my wrist. It’s a cramping kind of feeling – not really like joint pain, but more like a tendon getting too tight or something. I asked my doctor about it earlier this year, but since it only was happening when I was knitting, she didn’t have any real ideas. But now, I’m starting to notice the pain when doing other things too – especially when trying to mix cookie dough the other day. My hands both cramped when the dough got stiff after adding the flower and I couldn’t grip the spoon well enough to stir it very well.

My mom tells me that arthritis in the hands runs in our family – but I am so hoping that’s not what this is. I’m also hoping that it won’t keep me from knitting – although I can’t knit for very long at a time because of the pain. That’s one reason why it takes me a little while to complete projects. I’ll go back to the doctor next year and see what I can find out. But no matter what, I’m planning to continue knitting – I’ve learned to enjoy it way too much. And maybe if I can find some answers, I can pick a crochet hook back up again too one of these days.  :)