Squirrel Picnic

Handmade with Love and Stuff


8 Comments

Crochet 101: How to Make a Magic Loop

This is the first in a series of video tutorials I plan to make on some of the basic techniques that are used in the amigurumi patterns you will find here at Squirrel Picnic. I hope you enjoy these tutorials. If there is a specific technique that you would like for me to cover, leave a comment below or email me at squirrelpicnic(at)gmail(dot)com.

But for now, let’s learn how to make a magic loop! The magic loop is a great alternative method for beginning any crochet project worked in the round. It’s especially useful for amigurumi projects. There are several methods for making the magic loop, but over the years this particular one has become my favorite.

All you need is a ball of yarn and a crochet hook, so grab yours and let’s begin!

Advertisements


4 Comments

Year of the Sock: August

Year of the Sock AugustPattern: Side to Side Socks by Rohn Strong

Where to Find It: Annie’s #871510, New Methods for Crochet Socks

Ravelry Listing: Side to Side by Rohn Strong

Yarn: Aspen Sock Yarn in Boden from Western Sky Knits 

Skill Level: Easy

Size: Pattern includes instructions for foot lengths of 9, 10, and 11 inches

Special Pattern Features

Worked flat
Afterthought toe and heel
Stitch for foot: half-double crochet
Stitch for leg: half-double crochet

For the month of August I wanted to try something a little different, so I chose a sock pattern that is actually worked flat. It was surprisingly easy to do! Here’s how a sock is constructed using this method.

First you crochet the body as a long rectangular piece of fabric. This will be the top of the foot and the front of the leg. Next, you crochet the bottom of the foot by only crocheting into 1/3 of the body stitches, leaving the rest unworked. After this, you attach your yarn in one of those unworked stitches and crochet the same number of rows as the foot to create the leg. When you fold this so that the edges meet and sew it up, you get a tube with a hole for the heel. Pretty cool!

Then all you have to do is crochet around each opening to create the toe and the heel. The really neat thing about this pattern is that you use the same instructions for crocheting the heel and the toe.

My only concern with this construction is that the ankle is quite tight. Even in the pattern’s main photo the stitches at the ankle seem to be stretched. The heel could be a bit wider I suppose. It’s also important to note that unlike toe-up socks, with socks worked flat like this, you can’t make any adjustments as you go. Therefore it is highly recommended to make a gauge swatch before beginning these socks.

All in all, this was a fun pattern and I recommend it for anyone who would like to try something new.

Check out previous months in this incredible year of the sock:

January

February

March

April

May

June

July


2 Comments

Crochet Calavera Flowers

Calavera Flower Crochet MotifMy favorite moment every year is that first morning when you can begin to feel fall in the air. I was lucky enough to catch the chill early this morning and it was exhilarating. My head began to fill with ideas for crochet hats and scarves, mittens and socks. Yippee!

It made me think of the scarves I designed for Day of the Dead several years ago. I remember crocheting skulls and flower motifs everywhere I went for months before finally sewing them together to create Sugar Candy Skull scarves. 

A friend of the picnic asked me for the pattern for the flower motif I had used in these scarves, and I was genuinely surprised that in three years I have never gotten around to giving it to you. Well better late than never, here it is! I hope that I will be able to find some time this fall to crochet one.

Because all the pieces are small this is a great project for traveling and for using up leftover yarn. Enjoy! Continue reading


6 Comments

Crochet Sleepy Bears to Show You Care

Sleepy Bears by Just a Few Stitches Crochet Group

The Just a Few Stitches Crochet Group gets a big head start crocheting Sleepy Bears for kids in their community!

We all know that Sleepy Bear makes a great gift. I love seeing the way a child’s eyes light up when they hug this lovable and cuddly bear. As summer begins to wind down, I’m already thinking about the coming holidays and all those kids out there who really need a Sleepy Bear the most. I’m thinking of the kids who lost someone special to them this year. Those who have survived tragedies like fire or natural disaster. The kids who are afflicted with illness. Those who are struggling to be accepted at school. Those who are battling depression. While a teddy bear can’t be expected to solve all their problems, it can help them to feel loved and to let them know that someone cares.

That’s why I’d like to give you this call to action. Let’s each make one Sleepy Bear to give to a child in need this holiday season. Here’s what we can do to fulfill the need between now and December 25. Continue reading


5 Comments

The Story of Sleepy Bear

The Story of Sleepy BearI’ve been honored to hear from so many of you who have made Sleepy Bears for your family and friends. I wanted to share with you one such story I received that includes, quite literally, a story about Sleepy Bear.

Earlier this year, a wonderful woman named Maureen Speerly sent me an email. She had written a story about Sleepy Bear, which had come to her as she nodded off to sleep on the night after crocheting her very first one.

I was so moved by the story that it brought tears to my eyes. A humble and bighearted bear experiences love and loss, but heals his broken heart through the act of giving. The message of turning tragedy into something positive for yourself and others really resonated with me.

Maureen and I both could see how meaningful it would be for a child to receive this teddy bear and his story, especially in a time of need. So she took that inspiration and ran with it, beginning a crochet group of six to make Sleepy Bears for children who have survived tragic circumstances.  Continue reading


2 Comments

Year of the Sock: July

Year of the Sock July CrochetPattern: Crochet Heart & Sole Socks (AKA Step-by-Step Socks) by Amy O’Neill Houck

Ravelry Listing: Step-by Step Socks by Amy O’Neill Houck

Yarn: Patons Kroy Socks in Aqua Jacquard (Deborah Norville Serenity Sock Weight in Soft White was used for the toe and heel)

Skill Level: Intermediate

Size: The pattern is written for a 9″ foot length but you are advised to try the sock on as you go (if possible) to adjust.

Special Pattern Features

Toe-up method
Afterthought heel
Stitch for foot: linked double crochet on the bottom, V-stitch on the top
Stitch for leg: V-stitch

This sock is worked from the toe up in continuous rounds. The toe, foot, and ankle are worked in one piece and an opening is created for the heel. The afterthought heel is created by working 50 stitches into the heel opening and then decreasing with sc2tog at each corner for 15 rounds.

For the month of July, Patricia (my year of the sock partner in crime) and I chose Crochet Heart & Sole Socks by Amy O’Neill Houck to complete for the month of July along with the crowd over on our Facebook group.

Year of the Sock JulyThis is one popular pattern. It even goes by two different names depending on the source. It has been featured by Crochet Today!, Crochet Now! (twice), Red Heart Yarns, and the Knit and Crochet Today! TV show. After completing these socks, I can see why. They are pretty fast and easy to do. The instructions are clear and straightforward and contain a lot of interesting features.

One thing I am learning as we go through this year of the sock is that the stitch patterns that a designer selects for the top and bottom of the foot can mean the difference between a mediocre pattern and a great pattern. There are a few things to consider it seems. 1) The stitches on the bottom of the foot need to be flat so that they are comfortable to walk on. 2) The stitches on the top can be anything, so long as they are the same height as those on the bottom (for socks worked in the round). 3) The shorter the stitches used, the less ease is created to the fabric. In other words, short stitches create a tighter, less stretchy sock. What you really want is for the sock to hug the foot with just enough ease so that movement isn’t restricted. So far the stitch patterns that seem to work best for the bottom of the foot are the modified half-double crochet (used in March’s sock), extended single crochet (used in April’s sock), and linked double crochet, which was used in this month’s pattern.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these details. Continue reading


11 Comments

In a Nutshell: News from the Picnic

Here in Colorado, summer is breezing along. It’s been a summer of exploration, discovery, and reflection.

Denali seen from TalkeetnaEarly on, I did some traveling. In June, my father and I went on a trip together to Alaska, just the two of us. It was the trip of a lifetime. We flew around Denali in a Cesna, took a jet boat up the Susitna to Devil’s Canyon Gorge, watched the Aialik Glacier calve into the bay in Kenai Fjords National Park, and hitched a ride with the sled dogs at Seavey’s Iditarod Tours in Seward. We saw moose, black bear, bald eagles, bighorn sheep, puffins, porpoises, sea lions, otters, and humpback whales!

Then earlier this month, Shelby and I, along with his dad and his dad’s girlfriend Dottie, road the Cumbres-Toltec train from New Mexico to Colorado. The route is full of switchbacks and turns around some beautiful country and steep mountain cliffs. Returning from these outdoor adventures, I have been keen to get outside as much as possible to enjoy Colorado nature, but to tell you the truth, it’s been just too darn hot. In the end, it all worked out because I have a lot of crocheting and designing to do, which I like just as much as being outside!

Some incredible things have been going on at the picnic. Regarding the book, there have been interviews and I’ve received some help getting the book into stores. It’s still a challenge, but I’m happy to make progress by baby steps. In other news, I’ve been hard at work on some new designs and some special plans. Here’s what I’ve been up to: Continue reading