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Crochet a Scarf for Charity – Handmade Especially for You

At Stitches West I met this month’s charity – Handmade Especially for You. Leslye Borden began Handmade in 2009 by making 300 scarves and donating them to a local shelter. As year four begins, Handmade has contributed 31,500 scarves in California alone.

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Handmade’s mission is “to give every abused woman who comes into a shelter a comfort scarf simply because she was brave enough to leave her abusive situation. Most of these women have never received a personal gift, much less a handmade personal gift.” Handmade hopes the scarf is a symbol of her transformation.

The scarves are not for sale; they are gifts. Forty major yarn companies and private stores donate the yarn used. It takes about 288 yards of yarn to make an average scarf. Multiply that by 31,500 and that length would stretch from Santa Clara, California to London, England. They use about 300,000 yards of yarn each month.

Women of all ages donate their time to knit or crochet these scarves. Their almost 1,000 scarf makers come from all over the United States, as well as a few from Canada, England, Scotland, Australia, Germany and South Africa.

You can donate in several ways:

  • Send your unused yarn so they can create kits for their volunteers.
  • Become a volunteer and receive a kit to crochet or knit a scarf.
  • Make a monetary donation.
  • Use your own yarn to crochet a scarf.

If you are crocheting your own scarf, follow the suggestions below:

  • Use soft yarn for comfort.
  • Pick happy colors.
  • Make them 4 to 5 inches wide.
  • Make them at least 60 inches long.
  • Use open-weave stitch if possible so they can be used in warm-weather climates.
  • Add some novelty yarn or ribbon to make them special.

There is a scarf pattern at the Handmade website or use one of your own. This month’s basic granny square would be a perfect match – an open-weave stitch that uses up your yarn stash.

You can read more about Leslye Borden and Handmade at http://www.HandMadeEspecially.org.

There are donation instructions, including a gift tag to download so you can personalize your scarf. Or your crochet group can start its own local chapter.

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Stitch Craft Create Magazine Interviews Tanis Galik

I’m happy to announce that I did a brief interview with Stitch Craft Create Magazine for March Crafters Month. Here’s the link Ten Questions with Tanis Galik of Interlocking Crochet™.

Hope you enjoy all this month’s interviews with all the crafters!

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Beyond the Basic Granny Square – Part 2

Once you’ve mastered the basic granny square (Simple & Sensational™ – Video How to Crochet a Basic Granny Square and Basic Granny Square Scarf Pattern), there are numerous possibilities to expand your granny square repertoire, moving into the more unusual and intricate motifs.

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There are several books that take you to that next step and offer inspiring examples. Two of my favorites are: (But as with all books, check the author’s or publisher’s website for any corrections before beginning.)

The Granny Square Book by Margaret Hubert. This spiral-bound book contains beautiful illustrations, charts for each decorative square, as well as written instructions. There are 75 great choices, including many with flower centers. Some of my favorites are: Venetian Star (pg. 66), which I think would make a fabulous bedspread worked in off-white cotton thread; Swirling Spiral (pg. 63), a real modern twist on the traditional granny square and Tri-Color Cluster (pg. 50), an unusually dense square. There also is a section showing how to design with granny squares, plus 19 projects to start you on your way.

Beyond the Square – Crochet Motifs by Edie Eckman. This spiral-bound book contains 144 motifs, including circles, hexagons, triangles, square and unusual shapes. There is a nice introductory section which has directions for the sliding loop (Ms. Eckman’s preferred way of making a beginning ring), avoiding the color blip and tidy joins. Besides some great motifs, there are ideas and charts on how to arrange and attach similar motifs or how to combine different motifs to create your own one-of-a-kind project.

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4 Ways to Crochet a Circle/Ring

Many projects begin with a circle or ring that is crocheted into to create granny squares, various motifs, hats, round purses, rugs, etc. Here are 4 ways to crochet that beginning ring.

1. DSC00572Chain Ring – One of the most popular ways and one you will see in most patterns is the chain circle. The pattern states a given number of chains and then you join with a slip stitch into the first chain, creating a ring. Subsequent stitches are worked into that ring. (Notice the space in the center of the circle.)

2. DSC00573Working in the First Chain Stitch – The pattern will give you the number of chains (ch 2 for a sc circle; ch 3 for an hdc circle; ch 4 for a dc circle). Work the number of circle stitches (sc, hdc or dc) in the first chain stitch (2nd chain from hook for sc, 3rd chain from hook for hdc, 4th chain form hook for dc). Join with a slip stitch in the top of the beginning chain. You can pull the yarn end to tighten the ring center. (Notice the smaller center in the circle.) Picture is double crochets worked in 4th chain from hook.

3. DSC00574Magic Ring or Adjustable Ring – Begin a slip stitch. Crochet number of chains needed for circle stitches (1 for sc; 2 for hdc, 3 for dc). Work rest of stitches (sc, hdc or dc) directly into that slip stitch space. Join with a slip stitch to the top of the beginning chain. Pull the yarn end to tighten the center. Notice the center is adjustable to make it tighter or looser as needed.

4. DSC00575Sliding Loop presented in Edie Eckman’s Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs. Page 10 includes a series of pictures to clearly demonstrate this adjustable ring. It is a double slip stitch that works like the adjustable ring, except it is worked around two strands of yarn so it could be stronger. Work as in #3, only work around two loops. Pull the one end to tighten the ring. Pull the tightened end to cinch the other yarn strand that has not tightened. Pull the original end to close the ring.

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Video – Simple & Sensational™ – 3 Ways to Crochet a Circle

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Joining Granny Squares – Part 1 With Needle & Yarn

Using a tapestry needle and yarn there are two ways to join Granny Squares and other motifs.

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Whipstitch Seam – Place two granny squares side by side, wrong sides up. Be sure to match your stitches as you work along the joining edge. Insert the needle under the top loops of corresponding stitches, pull yarn through and back over, whipping the stitches together. Move to the next stitches and repeat across, joining both edges.

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Weave Seam – Place two granny squares side by side, wrong sides up. Insert needle front to back (Square #1 to Square #2), under top loops of corresponding stitches, pull yarn through. In next stitch reverse process. Insert needle from back to front (Square #2 to Square #1), under top loops of corresponding stitches, pull yarn through. In short you are uniting both granny squares with a running sewing stitch. You can also work on the right sides instead if you prefer the running stitches to show.

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Video – Simple & Sensational™ – #1 Join Granny Squares with Whipstitch Seam & Weave Seam

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Joining Granny Squares – Part 2 with a Chain Seam & Single Crochet Seam

Two more ways to join Granny Squares.

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Chain Seam – Using Granny Squares without a special finishing edge. With right sides of Granny Squares together (if you want the chain stitches to be part of the design, work wrong sides together), join both Granny Squares with a single crochet through the corner spaces, *chain 3, skip 3 double crochet, single crochet through the next spaces of both Granny Squares; repeat * across joining edge.

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Single Crochet Seam – With right sides of Granny Squares together (if you want the joining ridge to be part of the design, work wrong sides together), single crochet (or slip stitch if you prefer) through both top loops of each corresponding Granny Square stitches, creating a crocheted seam. This way does form a bulkier seam.

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Video – Simple & Sensational™ – #2 Join Granny Squares with Chain Seam & Single Crochet Seam

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Joining Granny Squares – Part 3 Single Crochet Single Loops

Front Single Crochet Seam– With wrong sides of Granny Squares together, work through the back loop of the front Granny Square and the front loop of the back Granny Square, single crochet through corresponding stitches on both Granny Squares. This creates a ridge in the center of the seam with a line border on each side. The back seam is a flat join.

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Back Single Crochet Seam – With right sides of Granny Squares together, work through the front loop of the front Granny Square and the back loop of the back Granny Square, single crochet through corresponding stitches on both Granny Squares. This creates a ridge in the center of the seam with a line border on each side. The front side has a flat seam.

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Video – Simple & Sensational™ – #3 Join Granny Squares with Sc Single Loops

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Joining Granny Squares – Part 4 with Chain Seam and Dc2tog

Two more ways to join Granny Squares.

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Chain Seam– With right sides of Granny Squares facing up and lying next to each other, attach yarn to corner stitch of one Granny Square and sc in same stitch, *ch 3, sc in corresponding st of other Granny Square, ch 3, skip 1 st on 1st Granny Square, sc in next st; repeat from * across edge, creating an open, lacy seam.

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Dc2tog – With right sides of Granny Squares facing up and lying next to each other, attach yarn in corner st, yo, insert hook in same st, *yo, pull through, yo, pull through 2 loops on hook, yo, insert hook in corresponding st on other Granny Square, yo, pull through, yo, pull through 2 loops on hook, yo, pull through 3 loops on hook, skip 1 st on the 1st Granny Square, yo, insert hook in next st; repeat from * across edge. You are making a half dc on one Granny Square, a half dc on the other Granny Square and uniting them when the 2nd dc is completed.

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Video – Simple & Sensational™ – #4 Join Granny Squares with Chain Seam and Dc2tog

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What are Triple/Treble Crochet and Post Stitches?

Some of the best and simplest designs can be created with post stitches.

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Of course, a post stitch is a stitch that is worked around the post of a previous row stitch. The depth depends on the type of stitch used. It can be a Front Post Triple/Treble Stitch (FPtr) or a Back Post Triple/Treble Stitch (BPtr).

Another popular one is a Front Post Double Crochet (FPdc) or a Back Post Double Crochet (BPdc). Through more rare, even a single crochet can be used. Numerous intricate-looking designs can be created with this simple twist on a basic stitch.

Video – Simple & Sensational™ – Crochet a Triple/Treble Crochet, Plus Front Post and Back Post Stitches

One example is April’s video and pattern. It can be made with three alternating colors as in the pattern or in a rainbow of colors using your yarn stash. Either way, you’ll create a one-of-a-kind afghan or baby blanket. Or make multiple squares and unite them using one of the decorative joining seams seen in the series of videos and blogs.

Video – Simple & Sensational™ – Joining Granny Squares – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

For more decorative post stitches, check out 99 Crochet Post Stitches by Darla Sims. She creates some great textured fabrics using simple stitches. The easy-to-follow directions and clear pictures, along with possible projects, get your create juices going.

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Stitch Red Draws Attention to Heart Disease – The #1 Killer of Women in the United States

I first heard about Stitch Red at Stitches West. What exactly is Stitch Red?

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First, it is not a non-profit. It does not fund research or directly collect donations. What it is – an awareness campaign. Through partnerships with manufacturers and retailers in the needlearts industry, Stitch Red is drawing attention to heart disease, helping people understand the risk factors for the disease and encouraging the adoption of healthier lifestyles so people can protect their heart health. All funds raised will benefit the Foundation of the National institutes of Health (FNIH) in support of the Heart Truth®.

What was Stitch Red’s origin? As the website states: “Stitch Red was originally a collaboration between Laura Zander and her friend and marketing mentor, Marta McGinnis. At one friendly coffee meeting, Marta shared that she had recently survived a major heart attack. Laura has also been touched by heart disease, as her young and fit husband Doug had recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure. Through these experiences, both women were shocked to learn that heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States. Sadly, Marta passed away in 2008 before Stitch Red ever got off the ground. She will forever be a driving inspiration for the campaign!”

All participants are donating at least 5% of their gross profits of each sale of their Stitch Red products or Stitch Red Knit events directly to FNIH. The campaign continues from June 2012 to June 2013.

What can you do?

Buy a Product: More than 60 manufacturers and retailers in the needlearts industry have created one-of-a-kind Stitch Red products to be sold in local yarn shops throughout the country and at www.StitchRed.com.

Sponsor an Event: Local yarn shops throughout the U.S. are hosting Stitch Red Knit Nights and other community events. Think about sponsoring your own event at a local yarn store.

Check out Knit Red: This new book by Laura Zander features 30 knitting patterns form celebrity designers as well as their personal stories on how they stay heart healthy.

Note: The book contains only knitting patterns. There are a few crocheted items at the website. I’m working on an item or two to submit for consideration so crochet won’t be overlooked.

You can find more information at www.StitchRed.com.