For the next several weeks, over on the Plymouth Yarn Magazine blog, I’m going to be hosting a free Crochet Along (CAL). I’d love to have you join us.
We’ll be crocheting a 5-Panel Blanket. Each panel is made with a different stitch pattern, and along the way I’ll show you not only the stitch pattern, but tips and tricks for making your crocheting easier.
Don’t love the colors? Not a problem! Choose colors that suit your decor. Find all the details here.
Gather up your yarn, and join me and Plymouth Yarn as we crochet along together.
Wear your heart on your head with this easy beginner crochet pattern for Valentine’s Day, or any time of the year.
The hat is worked in joined rounds from the top down in joined rounds. The heart appliqué is crocheted separately and sewn on.
This post may contain affiliate links, which help support me but don’t cost you anything extra.
This free pattern is sized for babies. An ad-free paid version includes sizes for baby, child, teen/adult small and adult medium/large, and includes a crochet symbol diagram for the heart. This pattern uses American crochet terms.
About 90 yards [85 m] of medium weight yarn in a main color and about 10 yards [10 m] in a contrasting color.
The hats pictured used Red Heart Soft yarn in Off-White and Cherry Red. (Really Red is another good choice.)
Distaff Day, or St. Distaff’s Day, occurs on January 7. The twelve days of Christmas are over, and it’s time to get back to work, for real.
Distaff Day is a way to recognize and celebrate women’s work in the home. Spinning was hugely important throughout history, and in European traditions it became synonymous with women’s work.
Today, some spinners celebrate January 7 as a kind of event, getting together for spin-ins and other fun.
Even if you’re not a spinner, I think it’s good to stop and think about all that unrecognized work that women have done to keep generations of people clothed. If you work with any kind of fiber to create fabric, you are doing the same thing. And we don’t need to be gender-specific here. Let’s recognize and celebrate all fiber crafts done by everyone!
What is a Distaff?
A distaff is a tool used to hold unspun fibers. The fiber is loosely wrapped around the distaff. The distaff can be held under the arm when drop spinning, or attached to a spinning wheel.
There are different styles, but a basic distaff is simply a smooth stick with a finial of some sort. Russian-style distaffs look more like boards, and can be highly decorative.
Who was St. Distaff?
Nobody. There wasn’t an saint, or even a person. (My opionion? The name probably came about because it is the “13th day of Christmas” and somebody back in history was trying to be clever.)
The 17th Century poet Robert Herrick wrote about shenanigans that happened on “S. Distaff Day”.
Saint Distaff’s Day, or The Morrow After Twelfth Day
Partly work and partly play Ye must on S. Distaff’s day: From the plough soon free your team, Then come home and fodder them. If the maids a-spinning go, Burn the flax and fire the tow; Scorch their plackets, but beware That ye singe no maidenhair. Bring in pails of water, then, Let the maids bewash the men. Give S. Distaff all the right, Then bid Christmas sport good-night; And next morrow everyone To his own vocation.
If you’d like to read a bit more about the history of St. Distaff’s Day, and spinning in general, check out these links:
Conventional wisdom says that sharing New Year’s resolutions with someone else is supposed to keep us accountable and thus more likely to achieve success.
I’ve come up with 6 reasonable and sustainable goals for my crafting life in the New Year. With your help, I think I can achieve them. Who wants to join me with these New Year’s Resolutions?
This post may contain affiliate links, which help support me but don’t cost you anything extra.
Resolution #1: Allow My Yarn to Mature
Not all yarn needs to be used immediately. Sometimes it
needs to age until it is ready to reach its full potential.
This process may take years. Since yarn doesn’t go bad if
properly cared for—in moth-proof storage, for example—there’s no time limit on
when it must be used. I have yarn that is more than 25 years old. It’s still a
nice color. It’s still wool. It just hasn’t decided what it’s going to be.
My yarn stash serves as high-quality housing insulation.
I resolve to not stash bust this year.
Resolution #2: Allow My Yarn Stash to Grow
Forget “yarn diets”! They just make me feel guilty about buying new yarn. Yarn doesn’t have calories and it doesn’t make me fat, so why should I diet?
Instead, I want to embrace the joy that purchasing a beautiful
new yarn brings: the expectation of a future project; the zen of repetitive
motion as colorful fiber slips through my fingers; the prospect of unlimited
Yarn makes an excellent travel souvenir. Every time I see that ball of yarn I bought in Budapest, I remember the adventure I had finding the yarn shop. I couldn’t read the street signs, the store was on a small street away from any tourist areas, and no one around spoke English (or Spanish or French, which were other languages I tried). When I found the shop, we all had a marvelous time visiting and admiring each others’ work, despite some pretty significant language challenges. They helped me figure out how many forints I could spend and still have enough change to take the tram back to the boat. If I had been on a yarn diet, I would have missed that entire experience!
I resolve to buy more yarn this year.
Resolution #3: Allow My Yarn to Range Free
Some people like a very tidy desk, a very tidy house, and a very tidy studio. I am not one of those people. While I like a neat kitchen, living room and bedroom, when it comes to my creative spaces, “tidy” is not a word that any one would use.
When I’m being creative, I want to see things out in the open. As I sit and crochet with one yarn, I like to let my eyes rest on other yarn that I have yet to use. I allow my mind to wander and dream of my next project. If everything is tucked away from sight, I can’t do that. I prefer free-range yarn.
I resolve not to organize my stash this year.
Resolution #4: Allow Some Yarn to Depart
This resolution may seem at odds with Resolutions #1 and #2,
but it’s not. I do have a finite amount of storage space, and an even more finite
amount of open (free-range) space.
Sometimes as yarn matures, it tells me it needs to leave the
house and spread joy elsewhere. (Infrequently, it tells me this the moment it
arrives at my house, but often it takes a bit longer.)
Maybe the color is not my thing, or the fiber content. Maybe I swatched with it and just couldn’t get it to behave in the way I wanted it to. These are the yarns that are ready to spread their wings and depart my nest.
There are plenty of people who would love my unloved yarn. I’ve given to senior centers, elementary and middle schools, and church groups, and they are always happy to accept donations.
I resolve to give away yarn this year.
Resolution #5: Use the Best Tools
I have a lot of crochet hooks, and even more knitting
needles. I have tape measures in every drawer and project bag.
However, some of those tools aren’t the greatest. Needles may have blunt tips or sticky finishes that I find annoying. A few circular needles have a catchy cable-to-needle join. Certain brands of crochet hooks don’t fit my hand and make crocheting awkward and uncomfortable. A couple of those tape measures are surely stretched out and faded.
Some of these items should be discarded entirely, while others would be perfect for another crafter. Why am I keeping these tools?
I resolve to use only tools that make my crafting more enjoyable.
Resolution #6: Practice Safe Crafting
If I want to keep knitting and crocheting for years to come,
I need to take care of my body. This means avoiding repetitive stress injury, getting
up and moving instead of sitting at my computer and behind my needles/hook. It
means getting sufficient full-body exercise. It means using a body-friendly bag
when I go to teaching gigs, fiber shows and shopping sprees. It means paying
attention to proper lighting, keeping my yarn and electrical cords out from
underfoot, and more.
These are not new resolutions to me, but it helps to remind myself of them. One of my go-to resources for reminding myself of these things is Carson Demers’ excellent book Knitting Comfortably. (Read my interview with Carson.)
I resolve to pay attention to crafting ergonomics this year.
Of course, I could make more traditional goals that would make me more organized, tidier, and maybe even more financially responsible. But I probably wouldn’t keep them, and that failure would just make me feel bad.
I’m content with the way things are, and these goals fit into my lifestyle this year. If they don’t fit into yours, that’s fine. Perhaps you need to save money and thus should use stash yarn all year. Maybe an untidy crafting spaces gives you the creeps, or UFOs make you nervous. Perhaps your living space doesn’t allow for more yarn.
Embrace what works for you, and set your goals accordingly. This fiber-crafting thing is supposed to be fun and relaxing. Make it so.
What about you? What are your goals for the New Year? Share in the Comments below.
Stuff a stocking with tools and notions for a fiber artist in your life. They’ll love you for it, and you may even get a handmade gift in return! Here are some suggestions for stocking stuffers for knitters and crocheters.
Scroll over the image for more information, or click the links to learn more.
This post contains affiliate links, which may provide a small income to me if you buy something, but won’t cost you anything extra.
Every crocheter and knitter uses stitch markers, and if they don’t, they should! And markers have a way of getting lost, so we always need more.
There are several different styles of marker. Even if the gift recipient has a current favorite, it’s always a good idea to try new products. Try them all!
Hint: Crocheters need markers that open. Look for the words “locking”, “split ring”, or “opening” in the title to make sure you are getting the right kind.
A good pair of scissors is always appreciated. I’m always on the lookout for tiny scissors that pack easily but are sharp enough to cut well.
Sometimes you need just a small amount of yarn for a project, and it would be uncomfortable to use a full ball of yarn. That’s when you need a yarn butterfly! Here’s how to wind a yarn butterfly. It’s quick and easy.
A yarn butterfly is simply a “re-packaging” of yarn into a small butterfly-shaped bundle. If prepared right, the bundle stays wrapped and secured, making it possible to use the working end of the yarn for your project while the rest of the yarn waits patiently.
Yarn butterflies are usually used for the intarsia method (knitting or crocheting), but they can be used any time.
It can be easier to use a butterfly than a yarn bobbin. In my experience, plastic yarn bobbins get tangled more than butterflies. Plus, I can never find enough bobbins when I’m ready to start a complex intarsia project.
OK, I didn’t say that very well in words. It’s really quite easy to do, so let’s try some pictures. Follow these step-by-step instructions or watch the video at the bottom of the post.
Hold the yarn tail under your thumb and out of the way.
2. Begin wrapping the yarn around your fingers in a figure-8 pattern.
3. As you wrap, keep the strands parallel to each other. Don’t let them cross over each other.
4. When you have wrapped enough, pinch the yarn bundle together at the center point, and slide it off your fingers.
5. Leaving at least 12″ [30 cm], cut the working yarn. Wrap this end around the center of the bundle. Wrap tightly, but not too tightly.
6. Tuck the end under the center wraps. A crochet hook is handy to use for this task.
7. When you have finished, use the working end (the end that was under your thumb). It should pull out neatly as you need it, leaving the rest of the yarn still wrapped up in its butterfly shape.