Friday, February 21, 2014

Recent projects: Baby Blanket

Good morning friends,

Coming soon, I will share my round up of my favorite free crochet afghan patterns, but first I wanted to share my completed Baby Blanket.

I followed a beautiful free pattern from Modern Grace Design. The pattern as written creates a stroller/crib sized baby blanket, however the pattern is easily adaptable to create a larger blanket.

I especially adore the edging, which alternates between the primary color and the contrast color and finishes with ruffles. 

My blanket turned out a bit lopsided, I likely added a few extra stitches here and there, but I don't think the baby will mind. :) 

Baby blankets are a great way to tell someone you haven't met yet how much you love them and can't wait to meet them.

Big thanks to Alison of Modern Grace Design for sharing this free pattern with us. I have already started my second blanket with this pattern for my niece who will be joining the universe in March. 

Thank you for stopping by and be sure to visit Thread by Thread Zen again soon!


- Katie Rose

Friday, February 7, 2014

Recent crochet projects: Cat ear hat and baby blanket

It was one of those weeks when the roads were icy, work was draining, and I spent more time in a dentist's chair than I'd prefer. Thank goodness for crochet. I call my blog Thread by Thread Zen, and truly I do find the act of crocheting nothing short of meditative. There is something so innately calming in using hands, yarn, and a hook to make something beautiful, one stitch at a time.

A few posts ago, I mentioned my first attempt at a crocheted cat ear hat fell short of expectations (and short in height), but I learned from my errors and gave it another go.

(That handsome orange tabby behind me, by the way, is Dexter.)

This hat was based on The Hathaway pattern by SwellAmy. I very much enjoy her patterns, they are well written and Amy is happy to help and answer any questions along the way. 

My other recent project is my first ever attempt at a baby blanket. There are two new baby girls coming soon to my husband's side of the family and I'm hoping to welcome them both to the world with special handcrafted blankets. 

I still have many hours left of work to go on Blanket #1, but so far I am loving the way it is working up. I am using this gorgeous pattern from Modern Grace Design. It has been very easy to follow and since the body of the blanket is a repetitive pattern of stitches, this blanket is great to work on while doing other things, like catching up on your TV shows. 

On the subject of blankets, my next post will be a round up of my favorite free crochet blanket patterns. Thank you for visiting and come back to Thread by Thread Zen soon! Hugs and yarn.

- Katie Rose

Friday, January 31, 2014

Free Crochet Coaster Pattern Round-Up

Hello, friends! As promised, it is time for another super exciting free crochet pattern round up! Today’s theme: coasters. 

Why coasters? 
  • Coasters are a great way for beginning crocheters to practice stitches and build confidence in their craft.
  • Coasters are also a great way for long time crocheters to artfully employ the odds and ends of their yarn drawer/closet/room. :) We call this type of project a “stashbuster.” 
  • You can make a set of four coasters in the time it takes to watch a few episodes of “Sherlock.” Unless you are too distracted by Benedict Cumberbatch’s cheekbones. 
  • Coasters make great gifts. I especially like giving coasters for housewarming gifts.

Now, here are five of my favorite free crochet coaster patterns!

This is my go-to coaster pattern. I have a set on my coffee tables, and I have given many sets as gifts. Though the pattern calls for sport weight yarn, I have always made these coasters with worsted weight yarn as that is what I have the most of on hand, and they have turned out great. This pattern comes from the Crochet Spot, which has many excellent tutorials, free patterns, and a premium pattern shop.

1893 Circle Motif (Click link for pattern and photo)
There’s something so cool about working with a crochet pattern that is over 100 years old. Sandi Marshall adapted the pattern from a 1893 publication titled Fancy Work Manual. Add a vintage touch to your coffee tables with these coasters. 

An eco-friendly idea from Country Woman Magazine, these coasters are made with a size G hook and plastic shopping bags.

Sarah from Repeat Crafter Me shares this adorable set of six crocheted fruit coaster patterns. These would be a big hit at any summer picnic! 

Designed by Aurora Suominen of Designs on a Hook, these gorgeous star coasters are on my “make very soon!” list. I love stars, and it seems like this pattern would also be a great motif for embellishing an afghan or purse, or for joining and making into a scarf. 

Did we miss your favorite free crochet coaster pattern? Share it in the comments!

Have a great weekend and thank you for visiting Thread by Thread Zen!


- Katie Rose

Friday, January 24, 2014

If at first you don't succeed, crochet again.

Good morning, friends!

Have you ever finished a crochet project and thought "hmm, this is not quite what I was going for?" Such was the case with the cat ear hat I have been crocheting for the better part of a week.

I started with a skein of Lion Brand's Heartland yarn in Sequoia. I like this yarn because it is a soft acrylic, and the blend of warm brown tones reminded me of the colors of my tortie kitty, Luna.

I used a pattern called The Hathaway which I purchased from SwellAmy. The pattern was very well written with clear instructions, and Amy gives permission for finished items to be sold, which is awesome. Amy is also very available to answer questions and help out anyone that buys her patterns, she is truly talented and lovely.

Here's my finished hat:

It turned out very nice, except it is not "tall" enough, but I do not fault Amy's pattern for that at all. I can tell the yarn I used is thinner than what she uses in the pattern, so when I make my next hat I just need to add a few more rounds. And I will definitely be making more hats! 

When I first started crocheting, I was easily discouraged when a pattern did not turn out as I expected, but the truth is every time you take your hook to yarn you will be learning something, and you will learn more from your mistakes than your successes. So don't give up, and be patient and kind with yourself. Your finished project will be that much more special and amazing for the time and trials you went through to perfect it. 

Have a wonderful weekend! Come visit Thread by Thread Zen again soon- my next post will be a round up of some of my favorite free crochet coaster patterns. 


- Katie Rose

Friday, January 17, 2014

Vegan Yarn

While perusing Meijer for my weekend groceries this afternoon, I got distracted by - cue dramatic music- the yarn aisle.

I couldn't resist picking up a few skeins, because can a person ever have too much yarn? I think not!

As a vegan, I crochet exclusively with yarns that do not contain animal fibers, so no wool for this girl. Most of my yarn stash is acrylic yarn, because it tends to be very inexpensive and available in a wide array of colors (Red Heart Super SaverBernat Super Value, Lion Brand Homespun). Other plant-powered yarn materials include cotton (Lion Brand Kitchen Cotton and Lily Sugar N' Cream), bamboo (Bernat Bamboo), and hemp (Lion Cotton/Hemp Blend). I chose these examples because brands like Lion, Red Heart, and Bernat are easy to find and well-stocked in crafting stores like Joann Fabrics and Michael's. If you're interested in learning more about vegan yarn, The Fake Sheep has an excellent, detailed blog entry that breaks down the different types of vegan yarn and has links and reviews for less mainstream yarn sources. 

What are your crochet plans for this weekend? I think I may use that hot pink Red Heart Shimmer yarn for one of the Valentine's Day Patterns I posted earlier this month. 


- Katie Rose

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Recent crochet projects: Shell Stitch Crochet Hat & Mandala

Happy Sunday, friends. I hope the week has treated you well.

I am happy to see the sun at last breaking through, melting snow into slush, the green grass persevering through one of the most severe winter storms I have witnessed in my 27 years. Businesses were closed much of last week, as well as the school I work at, due to subzero temperatures and unsafe driving conditions. It was a good time to catch up on my reading, on cleaning, and of course, on my crocheting.

Two of my recent projects were a Shell Stitch Crochet Hat and a Mandala.

I first made the shell stitch crochet hat as a Christmas gift for my sister, and so enamored with the results I had to make one for myself in my favorite color, purple.

Here is a shot of me wearing the hat, forgive the bad lighting. ;)

The shell stitch hat is care of Elise at the Grow Creative blog. Click here for the pattern. Elise also includes a pattern for a gorgeous flower that you can add to your hat for optimal adorability. 

My other recent crochet project was a mandala. Mandalas are special to me because they are a symbol of Buddhism for the Universe as well as balance. However, mandalas are enjoyed by many people simply because they are beautiful to gaze upon. Mandalas also happen to be very fun to crochet because you get to experiment with color work and different stitches. 

Here is my first mandala:

This mandala pattern comes from Barbara at Made In K-Town. Barbara has said this is one of the most popular patterns on her blog and it is easy to see why. Barbara provides detailed instructions for each round as well as step by step pictures. Check out the mandala pattern here

Time to refill my mug of coffee and consider what will be next on my crochet project queue. I hope you enjoyed these projects and I thank you for visiting Thread by Thread Zen!

- Katie Rose

Friday, January 10, 2014

Learning to Crochet, Part 1

So you’re ready to get hooked on crochet- congratulations! You may be wondering where to begin. There are a few different ways to learn how to crochet, and no one way is right or best- it all depends on your learning style. 

  • Have a friend or family member teach you.
Do you already know someone that crochets? Excellent! Ask if they can spend some time with you to show you the basics. This hands-on learning approach is preferred by most aspiring crocheters.
  • Take a class at your local craft store or a community center.
Similar to have a loved one mentor you, going to a class allows you to learn how to crochet, in this instance in a group setting, while having an instructor to guide you through any errors or challenges. Crochet classes generally range from $20-$50.
  • Read books on how to crochet.
My favorite book for beginning crochet is Stitch ‘N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller. Amazon has used copies for as low as $5.49. What I liked most about this book is that besides explaining how to make basic stitches (a must for any new crocheter) it also details the differences between crocheting and knitting, as well as the various types of yarn and crochet hooks. Knowing how to pick a skein of yarn and which materials are best for which projects can be overwhelming for the beginning crocheter, and this book took the mystery out of yarn shopping. The Happy Hooker additionally includes a selection of very modern, fashionable patterns.
The other book I found helpful was Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Crochet. Used copies are as low as $11 on Amazon and provided an extensive library of beginning and advanced crochet stitches, as well as projects and patterns and a detailed history of crochet. As a total and complete nerd I was especially excited about the history of crochet, and I have found this book to be a great reference for stitches and inspiration.
  • Watch instructional videos on YouTube.
Though I have been crocheting for two years now, I sometimes begin a pattern and wonder, “wait, how do I do that stitch again?” And then, comes YouTube- a great place to learn, for learners at every stage. Though I’ve watched many excellent video tutorials, the instructor I always come back to is The Knit Witch. She speaks slowly and clearly, goes step by step, and repeats. You can visit her archive here

How did you learn to crochet? What are your favorite learning resources?

- Katie Rose