Thursday, 1 December 2016

Crochet with Fluffy Yarn- A New Method

In my last tutorial I discussed two different ways you can crochet with fluffy (fuzzy, eyelash, feather) yarn. In this tutorial I am going to show you a third, and new, way to crochet with fluffy yarn, as well as share with you a free crochet pattern so that you can try out this new method.

If you missed my previous post, you can go here to see different ways to crochet with fluffy yarn as well as read a few different key points about purchasing fluffy yarns.

I came up with this new method of crocheting with fluffy yarn after much frustration while crocheting with fluffy and feather yarns. I wanted to create an Amigurumi toy that would be super fluffy and I wanted to find a sure-fire way to be able to see the stitches every time. I realised that if I use a second ordinary yarn between each round of fluffy yarn, that it can act as a kind-of leading guide to help me see where I can place the stitches. So this method, I call the Alternating method, and here is how it works…

How to Crochet with Fluffy/ Fuzzy Yarn - Method 3 - The Alternating Method

Note – when I refer to ‘ordinary yarn' I refer to any yarn that is non-fluffy.

To begin your work, you crochet with ordinary yarn. In the following round you will crochet with fluffy yarn, however the key point here is that you work the fluffy yarn, in the front-loop only. Once you have completed the round with fluffy yarn, you switch back to the ordinary yarn. You will ignore the fluffy yarn round, and work your stitches into the ordinary yarn, into the unworked back loop stitches. So you basically continue this process, alternating between the fluffy and ordinary yarn for every other round. The ordinary yarn is always worked in the back-loop only, and only worked into the ordinary yarn; the fluffy yarn is always worked into the front-loop only, and only into the ordinary yarn. 

In effect, what happens is that you never have to search for the fluffy yarn stitch as the yarn is always worked into the ordinary yarn. Also, the fluffy yarn is the only yarn that is visible on the finished product as it is worked into the front-loop only. And what happens to the ordinary yarn? Well, it gets hidden, as it is always worked into the back loop only. Cool right?!

 I think the best way to show you this method is by sharing a photo tutorial with a free crochet pattern. This is an easy crochet pattern, designed specifically so you can practice this new technique.

Free Crochet Pattern for a little Fluffy Friend

A new way to crochet with fluffy yarn!

Gauge – Gauge is not important for this pattern. You can adjust hook and yarn size as desired, but keep in mind the size of finished object will vary. With the mentioned yarns and 4mm hook my finished product measures approximately 22cm (9 inches) in circumference
Copyright - Yes, you can sell items created from this pattern but please acknowledge Roaming Pixies as designer. Mass production is not permitted. Please do not reproduce or distribute any part of this pattern without permission.
Yarn - You will need two types of yarn for this project. Fluffy yarn and ordinary yarn . When choosing your ordinary yarn you want to keep it at a weight that is similar to the fluffy yarn. For this project I used two contrasting colours, and I think it is a good idea when starting out with this technique.

These are the yarns I used  - Slumberland Moloka (a yarn that is produced by Spotlight - Australian craft store) The weight reads as a bulky yarn but really I think it feels more like a aran weight and it's mainly the fluffiness, that gives it the bulky weight label. The regular yarn I used was a generic worsted weight yarn.

Other Materials
7mm safety eyes
small amount of thread for mouth
darning needle

Pattern is written in Us Terminology. Work in continuous rounds i.e do not join at the end of rounds

Rnd 1 Work 6sc in magic circle

Rnd 2   2sc in each st around (12)

Rnd 3   *sc in 1 st, 2sc in next st* around (18)

Rnd 4 *sc in 2 sts, 2sc in next st* around (24)

Rnd 5   *sc in 3 sts, 2sc in next st* around (30)

Rnd 6   *sc in 4 sts, 2sc in next st*around  (36)

Rnd 7   *sc in 5 sts, 2sc in next st around (42) 

Now it's time to introduce the fluffy yarn, drop the ordinary yarn but do not cut it, as you are going to need it again, after this round is complete. The yarn that is not in use can be carried up under the first stitch of each round.

Rnd 8   Working with the fluffy yarn, sc in each st around FLO (42) change back to ordinary yarn

Work your fluffy yarn into the Front Loop Only

Rnd 9   sc in each st around of the unworked back loop stitches of the ordinary yarn  (i.e the unworked back loop stitches from round 7), 

As you can see there is a lot of fluffiness!  I pulled down the very fluffy yarn to get to the stitches, but still, those back-loop only stitches with the ordinary yarn are very clear to see. 

Note - now is a good time to attach the safety eyes and to embroider the mouth.

Rnd 10-18  Repeat rnd 8 and 9 [These are the even rounds, and will add the thickness to your little fluffy friend, before you begin the decreases. You can repeat more rounds to make the body thicker, or less for a smaller body). To begin the decreases you will need to be working with ordinary yarn, so you will have to be on an odd numbered round.

 This is a picture of my work on round 11. I am working the fluffy yarn in the front loop only. You can totally see that fluffy texture building up and how the guiding yarn gets hidden.

Rnd 20  Working with ordinary yarn, sc in the BLO stitches of the ordinary yarn, *sc in 5 sts, sc2tog* around Change to fluffy yarn

Rnd 21  sc in each st around, FLO (36) change to ordinary yarn

Rnd 22  sc in the BLO stitches (of the ordinary yarn) *sc in 4 sts, sc2tog* around Change to fluffy yarn

Rnd 23  sc in each st around, FLO (30) change to ordinary yarn

Rnd 24  sc in the BLO stitches (of the ordinary yarn) *sc in 3 sts, sc2tog* around Change to fluffy yarn

Rnd 25  sc in each st around, FLO (30) change to ordinary yarn

Rnd 26  sc in the BLO stitches (of the ordinary yarn) *sc in 2 sts, sc2tog* around Change to fluffy yarn

Rnd 27  sc in each st around, FLO (24) change to ordinary yarn

Rnd 28  sc in the BLO stitches (of the ordinary yarn) *sc in 1 st, sc2tog* around Change to fluffy yarn

Now is a good time to add stuffing.

Rnd 29  sc in each st around, FLO (12) change to ordinary yarn

Rnd 30  sc in the BLO stitches (of the ordinary yarn) *sc2tog* around. Do not change back to the fluffy yarn at this point, as you are ready to finish off. Add your final stuffing.

Now finish off your work by weaving your yarn through the outer loop of each stitch. Check out PlanetJune for a comprehensive Tutorial on the Ultimate finish for Amigurumi for this final step. 

Finally all you have to do is weave in that last fluffy piece of yarn. And that's it, you now have a fluffy friend to love and hold.

So how do you apply this method to everyday crochet work...

This method involves alternating between fluffy and ordinary yarn, every other round. The ordinary yarn works as a guide into which to work your fluffy yarn. As this method requires you to work extra rounds I admit, it can be time-consuming, so it is best saved for smaller projects like small Amigurumi toys, or if working a fluffy edging around a project, like a hat for example. I think it can make very effective hair-do for an Amigurumi doll that can be actually worked as you go. I think any crochet project you find you could ultimately make it fluffy with this method. Keep in mind these following three rules and really you can use this method however you like...

* Always work the fluffy yarn in the FLO as this is the round that will be exposed

* Always work the ordinary yarn into the BLO of the ordinary yarn round from the 2nd round below

 * Always do the shaping on the rounds crocheted with ordinary yarn, that is, decreases and increases are never worked on the fluffy rounds as this is the round that is too hard to see. 

I hope you learned something new today. Have fun crocheting .Feel free to share your thoughts and questions. 

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

How to Crochet with Fluffy Yarn

When I first began to crochet, the mention of fluffy or fuzzy yarn in a pattern made me cringe. It wasn't that I hadn't tried crocheting with fluffy yarn. I tried it. I failed. I tried again. Failed again. It felt I had reached this point of stalemate with my crochet. If I couldn't master this yarn how could I progress as a crochet designer? Well, I knew I had to give it another go. I was not going to let fluffy yarn get the better of me. It's because I like the look of it so much too that I wanted to master it. I adore the wonderfully unique texture and the use of this yarn opens up so many more possibilities for creating projects, especially cute little Amigurumi fluffy bears or cats.

Well after doing much research and through my own trial and error I found there are a few different ways that you can master working with fluffy yarn. Along my journey I also discovered a new method which I think is absolutely fool-proof! I guarantee you will see every stitch with this technique.

In my next post, I will share with you this new method of working with fluffy yarn along with a free crochet pattern. But firstly, in this post I would like to cover a few basics when crocheting with fluffy yarn as well as discuss two current methods on how to crochet with fluffy yarn.

Fluffy, Fuzzy, Feather Furry, Eyelash Yarn...they're all the same right?

The first thing to keep in mind is that not every fluffy yarn is created equally. There is a great variation in the make-up of fluffy yarns. Simply put, fluffy yarns can vary, in well, fluffiness. There are wispy yarns, often referred to as eyelash yarn while other yarns, are more closely woven; fuzzy like. It is not really the name that matters here, each person will have their own opinion on whether a yarn is more fluffy or fuzzy or eyelash, but what is important is to understand how the makeup of your yarn can affect your ability to see the crochet stitches. What I have found when crocheting with all these yarns (be it fluffy, eyelash etc) is that all the yarns have a base ply, or strand, from which the fluffy or fuzzy fibers branch out from. I also found this base strand will give you a good indication of how difficult it will be to crochet with the yarn. The thinner the base strand and the longer or thicker the fluff, the harder it will be to see the stitches. To show you what I mean here is a photo of different fluffy and fuzzy yarns that I have in my current stash.

This first yarn is a Spotlight yarn (Australian craft store) called Slumberland Moroka. It's a polyester yarn. You can see in the picture below, that the base strand is a very fine ply, and the fluffy section, has very long, thick wisps. On it's own, this is a difficult yarn to work with as you will very quickly lose sight of that fine base ply and will only see fluff.

This next yarn, pictured below, is by Panda, Minky Plush. (a gorgeous yarn!) It has quite a thick ply base (about dk weight) and very light wisps. It's not as fluffy as the Panda yarn above but the thick base strand makes this yarn very manageable to work with on it's own.

This yarn below is also by Spotlight, called Moda Vera Parade. You can see this yarn's fluffy section looks more dense than the other two. I guess it's a bit more of a fuzzier yarn than fluffy. It also has a very fine ply base strand (so fine it's difficult to see in this photo) which I found made this yarn on it's own quite difficult to work with.

So as you can see, from this tiny selection here, there is a lot of variation in fluffy/fuzzy/eyelash yarns. So keep this in mind when purchasing your fluffy yarn as this may affect how you want to crochet with the yarn.

At this point I should introduce the two ways to work with fluffy yarns that I currently know and have read online, and in my next post will teach you a new way to work with fluffy yarn with a free pattern included.

How to Crochet with Fluffy/ Fuzzy Yarn - Method 1

The first technique, obvious really, is to simply crochet with the yarn as is. This method can be difficult as the stitches are hard to see. However, this is where yarn choice can really benefit you, as for example the Panda yarn (image above) the base is quite thick and obvious to see. The other two yarns that have a very fine ply base and very thick fluffy section will be difficult (though not impossible) to crochet with. I won't delve too much into this method as it has been written about before. If you like you can pop over to Planet June where she lists a few great tips when using fluffy yarn on it's own.

With this pattern for a Fluffy Amigurumi Bear (pictured below) I crocheted with Minky Plush on it's own. I found it relatively easy to work with for the reasons mentioned above. I thought the fluffy yarn matched against the regular yarn for the snout, added a nice textural change and interest . You could easily use method 2 on this pattern also, as gauge is not important for this pattern.

How to Crochet with Fluffy/ Fuzzy Yarn - Method 2

This is a popular way to work with fluffy yarn and one that I use quite regularly. This method involves using a second ball of yarn alongside your fluffy yarn. so you hold the two strands of yarn together. The key point here is that the 2nd yarn must not be fluffy! So you crochet with one fluffy yarn and one regular yarn. That accompaniment yarn will work like the base strand to help you see your stitches. Remember, I mentioned earlier, the thicker the base strand of fluffy yarn the easier it will be to see your stitches?! So really, with this method you are creating a base strand, by adding a 2nd regular yarn to crochet with. Remember to keep this in mind when choosing your 2nd yarn. You don't want to choose a very fine ply yarn to match with a super fluffy yarn as it probably won't be beneficial and you still may struggle with the stitches.Really, this is a time to experiment, to go through a bit of trial and error to see what works for you. Ultimately, you want to find the balance between maintaining the desired fluffy texture with stitches that are manageable.

With this method, I usually want to find a yarn that blends well with the fluffy yarn, so I like to take my fluffy yarn out with me when I shop for the accompaniment yarn, so that I can find a colour that matches well. However, you don't need to restrict yourself by using matching colour. In fact, using a stark contrast colour can help you see the stitches as the contrast yarn will really stand out against the fluffy yarn. But of course you will need to keep in mind that using a contrast yarn, will completely change the look of your original fluffy yarn, so it depends on what kind of look you want to create. Remember it's all about experimenting! Here is the Parade yarn above matched against a contrast colour yarn.

Here below is my crochet pattern for a Seamless Pixie Hood. With this pattern I used the Parade yarn again held against 2nd yarn of similar shade. As you can see the yarns blended very well together and it's not obvious to the eye that two different yarns were used.

I hoped that I have given you some insight on ways you can work with fluffy yarns. Please, stay tuned for my next post where I will share with you a new way to work with fluffy yarn with a free pattern included. Meanwhile, feel free to share any comments, or ideas, or let me know your favourite fluffy yarns. Now I have overcome crocheting with fluffy yarn, I feel I can't get enough!

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Free Crochet Pattern - Leap Pad 3 Crochet Case Pouch

My four year old son was pretty chuffed to receive a Leap Pad 3 touch pad for Christmas last year. I had some t-shirt yarn lying around and thought it was an ideal yarn to make a case for his new leap pad. T-shirt yarn is basically recycled t-shirts turned into yarn. Usually it’s made from cotton, jersey, or polyester. I have tried a few different varieties as well as making my own. They do vary in weight depending on how thin the strips are cut. The yarn I used for my crochet case was created by Lincraft (Australian craft store) and the gauge on the yarn label reads 11 sts and 8 rows. I got a wpi (wrap per inch) of 5-6, so this is a super bulky weight.

The Leap Pad 3 case is worked bottom up in the round. The yarn is then re-attached to make the flap. Once completed, all you need is a nice button to complete your case. I see the button like the icing on the cake so I always like to invest in nice buttons to finish my projects. Here I used a beautiful handcrafted button by Nullarbor Beads. I didn’t add lining to my case as the t-shirt yarn is so thick and durable it didn’t seem necessary, but you may like to add lining to yours. You might even like to add an applique like my free crochet pattern for a  Superman Emblem to decorate your pouch. 

Please do not reproduce or distribute any part of this pattern without permission. Items created from this pattern may be sold by individuals on a small-scale, but please acknowledge Roaming Pixies as designer. Mass production is not permitted.

Pattern Notes

Pattern is written in US terminology

14 sts and 9 rows in dc

Main Colour – 140gr (65m/71 yds) t-shirt/super bulky yarn
5mm - H - hook or other hook size to achieve gauge

Leap Pad 3 Crochet Case Pattern

Pouch Section 

The pouch segment is worked in the round. Join each round with a slip stitch. h 1, and ch2, at beginning of round does not count as stitch. 

Rnd 1   Using MC, ch 25, working in the top chain loop only 2sc in 2nd chain from hook, sc in next 22 sts, 2sc in last st, now turn and work across the unworked bottom loop of the chain: 2sc in first bottom chain loop, sc in next 22 sts, 2sc in last st (52)

Rnd 2   ch 1, sc in first st, 2sc in next st, sc in next 22 sts, *sc in next st, 2sc in next* twice, sc in next 23 sts, 2sc in last st (56)

Rnd 3-14   ch2, dc in each st around [12 rounds] (56) 
Fasten off.


Reattach your yarn with a slip stitch to the 16th last st worked. That is, find your last stitch worked and count the next 16 stitches backwards, and that 16th stitch is where you will reattach your yarn. 

This section is worked in rows. The ch2 does not count as a stitch. 

Tip! You can adjust your button hole size at Row 5. Skip more stitches to make the button hole bigger or skip fewer stitches to make it smaller 

Row 1   ch2, dc in same st and next 9 sts (10)

Row 2-4   ch2, turn, dc in 10 sts [3 rounds] 

Row 5   ch2, turn, dc in 3 sts, ch 4, skip 4 sts, dc in last 3 sts (6) 

Row 6   ch2, turn, dc in 3 sts, dc in next 4 chains, dc in last 3 sts (10)

Fasten off. 

Now weave in the ends and sew on your button. Add lining if desired. 

Your Leap Pad 3 case is finished! I hope you enjoyed this free pattern by Roaming Pixies. I am always happy to hear your thoughts or questions or recommendations for new patterns, so feel free to comment below. 

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