Crochet Newsboy Pattern Updated!

Hello friends!

I am finally slowly emerging from yarn hiatus and crawling back into reality.  First up: updated child and baby sizes to our fabulously quick and stylish newsboy cap!  Previously only available in a women’s adult size, I finally caved to multiple requests to provide the pattern with more options.  Turns out, making adult styled hats for small people turns out adorably.  🙂

Get yours on Ravelry, Etsy, or Craftsy today or buy it right here!

Note: If you’ve previously purchased this pattern on Etsy and would like an updated version, please email me your receipt and I’ll send you a new copy right away.

Thank you everyone for your patience while I clean up my life and get back to business.  =D

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Sorry for the radio silence…

My apologies if anyone has been wondering if I will ever post again… last month, this happened:

DSC_1062Both the blanket and the baby.  🙂  Of allll the yarn-related projects I’ve made, I didn’t have a single thing specifically for my own child, so I cranked this out in the last few weeks of pregnancy.  Also, we are in the process of relocating from Beijing to DC to the Dominican Republic in the next month and a half, so things have been pretty cra-zy around here.  Once I feel like a normal human being again (and get my yarn stash that is currently literally on the slow boat from China) I’ll have new patterns up!  In the meantime, thank you for your patience and stay tuned.  =D

 

The Art of Gifting…?

I was wasting hours of my life browsing through Ravelry as I tend to do…today, I filtered by “most projects” and went from there.  As I was perusing different items, many of them mentioned making said items as a gift – for a baby shower, for a holiday, for a birthday, etc.

This got me thinking, and my thought process went as such:

  • Wow… some of these are kind of really ugly.  I wonder if the recipient is as excited to get this item-of-a-really-unfortunate-color-combination as much as the giver thinks they are.
  • Wow, that’s a super judgmental thought coming from someone who has spent a substantial part of her life for the past four years giving away homemade gifts that, in her mind, were the most awesome things ever created.
  • Hmm… if A = B and B = C, then how many of my own awesome homemade gifts were met with the same “…that’s unfortunate” reaction that I’ve had to some of the things I’ve seen others make?

When I first started crocheting (again) a few years ago, I swore I wouldn’t be *that* friend who gave out lumpy, oversized misshapen mittens for a good girlfriend’s birthday and expect her to be happy with the present.  Lamentably, thinking back, I know for a fact I’ve given out equivalents in wrong-sized hats, weirdly shaped scarves, and other sad accoutrements.

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I don’t… I can’t… there are no words.

I know there’s the whole “oh you spent so much time on it, it’s the thought that counts”, but let’s be honest here – some things simply don’t translate well. I feel very sad for my friend’s mother who spent what must have been HOURS painstakingly knitting a seafoam, mint green (no they are not the same color), and white striped onesie for her precious new grandson, complete with forty buttons down the one leg for ‘easy’ removal, but yeeeeah… that thing is never going to get worn.

Sometimes I think back to the first gifts I gave out – my 10″ baby hat (before I understood that baby heads are ridiculously massive), that first knitted cowl that didn’t sit right on top OR bottom, the ‘matching’ hats I made for my husband’s females that didn’t fit any of them, and so on and so forth.  Sometimes the perfectionist in me wants to go back to those people and be like look, I have to apologize for <insert weird item here>, I was a beginner at the time, and I recognize that <weird item> was totally inappropriate now.  Can I give you a much better replacement?  But then the lazy procrastinating “wait, why would I give two gifts for the same occasion…?” side rears its ugly head… let’s just say I haven’t actually gone around regiving newer and better items.  😛

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I mean, I’m sure there’s SOMEONE out there who would love this… you just gotta find the right recipient…

Up until very recently (like… last month), my yarning had been a very solitary past time.  I did it by myself, in my own company, or with non-yarners who would merely blink in confusion/amazement/whatever while I did my thing.  Whether out of good form or ignorance, nobody ever said “that color?  Maybe you don’t want to use that…” or “…are you sure the mother to be is going to want <whatever weird thing you’re making>?”

Last month I discovered the beautiful society of ‘yarn guilds’.  In Beijing, this constitutes, for the most part, expat wives of wealthy oil/airplane/partsandotherrandomthings husbands working in jobs that take them to exotic places.  Since many countries don’t allow random expat wives to work, well, you might as well knit, and you might as well do it with company.  I’ve only gone two or three times but have already met an astounding array of talented women from a kaleidescope of backgrounds that I never thought I’d meet.

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Now, they are all MUCH more talented than I, and I haven’t yet seen anything they’ve made that is anything less than extraordinary, but if I do… what are the rules/etiquette of yarning groups?  Or your fellow yarners in general??  I know the natural reaction of such gatherings is “AAAAH THAT’S SO CUTE!” “OMG THAT’S FABULOUS!” “HOLY COW I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THAT FINISHED!!!”  But… have you ever encountered a “um… that’s an interesting color choice” or “… so who exactly is that for, again?”  If so, what do you do???

I recognize that my past self-titled failed gift efforts are a sunk cost, the cost of any learning curve of any new talent or skill.  I recognize that, for the most part, people (hopefully) aren’t wrinkling their noses whenever I show up with my signature kraft gift box wrapped in ribbon.  I recognize that it’s probably not my place to pass judgment on anyone else’s yarning choice, especially because I can’t possibly know or understand the story behind each and every carefully and lovingly created object.

However, my one public request is, though, that if you ever do see me starting down a yarning path that will unequivocally end in tears, disappointment, and dashed dreams, please, don’t be polite.  TELL ME.  =D

Thoughts??

Crochet vs. Knit: Which do YOU prefer?

As the title of this blog implies, I am, by heart, a crocheter.  I learned how to crochet when I was a kid.  I’ve spent countless hours teaching myself new tricks and stitches and feel pretty comfortable saying that I am fairly advanced.  That being said, the world of knitting had always loomed (ooh look! a pun!) mysterious in front of me – for some reason knitters always used that fancy expensive yarn you had to wind yourself (which I still really don’t understand – if I’m going to pay a 400% markup from the ‘craft store’ yarn, can’t you just freakin put it in a ball for me??), their projects always involved CLOTHES, something that, unless you wanted to drape yourself in granny squares, crocheters really just don’t do.  I came up with the title of “classy” crochet because my motto when I started was “just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you should.”

I just had to. I mean, really. It’s amazing.

Knitting always seemed the more ‘sophisticated’ of the two, and certainly more people know how to knit than crochet.  When people hear you knit, they nod their head.  Nobody ever asks “so what’s the difference between knitting and crocheting?” When people hear you crochet, they always, always ask how it’s different from knitting (not that they understand one word of your yarn terminology), and at some point there always comes some joke about crotches and old ladies.  It’s just inappropriate.

So, finally, tired of being informed that I wasn’t good at my craft because I didn’t know how to do a different one, I decided to tackle the seemingly insurmountable.  I was REALLY going to learn how to knit.  I had tried several times before with 100% failure rate.  But, we got stuck in D.C. with no visas to China and our things had already been packed up and literally put on a slow boat, and there I was, trapped in a hotel room for three weeks.  So… I learned how to knit, very laboriously.  I have since picked up on several tips and tricks (and I worship the magical soothing voice of whomever runs the videos on knittinghelp.com) and can say that I now understand the need for ‘nicer’ yarn when knitting.  Consequently, my yarn expenditures have trebled this year (but don’t tell my husband, he doesn’t technically know).

That being said, when I now semi-triumphantly tell people I can do both, I don’t get the appreciative That’s so cool! that I was hoping for.  Rather, I now get the repetitive demanding response of So which is better?  Well… as in all arguments, the answer is always going to be:  “It depends.”  In my long years of crocheting, and my short not-quite-year of knitting, here is my run down.  Let the great debate begin!

Technique

Crochet Knit
ONE active loop!  This means that at any given time, at any given point in your project, you only have to worry about ONE loop that might come undone.  This means if you want to start a new project, just yank your hook out, stretch out that one loop, and your project can sit for months, peacefully, undisturbed. VS The hardest concept of knitting for me to grasp was “live stitches”.  You mean, ALL of the length of my project has to be on a needle THE ENTIRE TIME??? This seemed very tedious and arduous to me.  And really stressful – what happened to the one hook to rule them all?  What happens when you want to start a different project with said needles and don’t feel like finishing the one you’ve got on (yet)?  I ended up buying several different sets, lengths, widths of needles before I finally sucked it up and bought an interchangeable set.  Seriously, they need to tell you these things right off the bat.
One hook.  With a HOOK on the end.  This means if you drop said hook, or you accidentally yank on your project, the worst that happens is a few stitches come undone and you pick it up  and redo the stitches.  When I did something wrong, the saving grace of crochet was that I could simply rip it back to the mistake, insert my hook, and start over again. VS omg. If I had to say the one thing that made me want to fling knitting across the room, it’s the process of fixing mistakes.  And with needles with no hooks and hundreds of slippery, live stitches, mistakes abound when you’re a newbie.  What happens when you make one?  Well… you can slip your needles out, and insert them back in. one. stitch. at. a. time. (of course, making sure to twist them the right way while you do it), all the while hoping and praying that the stitch (which is connected to the next stitch) doesn’t get too loose and (gasp) slips down to the row below.  Just writing this stresses me out.
Finishing: when you’re done, you’re done.  You take your hook out, slip your yarn through, and weave your end in.  The end. VS You have to cast off an entire row of stitches.  This means if you’ve carefully counted equal rows of x vs. y, and didn’t factor in your cast off row, you’re out of luck.  Or even better, calculated *just* enough yarn to finish your project… and then ran out when you had to cast off.  Yep, that’s happened.
Hats: Since I started my crochet ‘career’ with hats, it is my main focus in both crochet and knitting.  With crochet, you start from the top down.  This means you start small and work big.  You can decide on the length and add/subtract rows accordingly.  If it’s too big or small – rip it out and do it again. VS With knitting, you start at the brim and work your way up.  This means you’d better have calculated your width exactly right from the beginning, otherwise there’s no way to fix it.  And then when you get to the top?  Every time I pull out my DPNs my husband winces and says “that looks dangerous”.  It is – I’ve poked myself in the eye with stray needles more times than I can count.

Summary: when it comes to the actual technique of crochet vs. knitting, crochet wins, hands down, any day, every day.  Also, I’ve discovered it’s much easier to crochet small, freeform objects (such as stuffed animals, appliques and whatnot) than it is to knit.  There are just. so. many. needles.

Yarn

Crochet Knit
This is where I can go either way.  Crocheting uses up a LOT of yarn.  Plus, the stitches are usually pretty thick and several times the actual width of the yarn.  Therefore, buying really expensive, nice yarn to crochet with is kind of a waste of money, because 1) you need so much of it and 2) the quality is mostly lost in the texture of the crochet.  So, if you really want to be frugal, buying cheap yarn and crocheting it away is a good way to go.  (Note: I own almost all cheap yarn.  And by all I mean… I own a large portion of the cheap yarn in ze world). VS I will say, finally having worthy projects to use the occasional ball of alpaca I had saved up was really nice.  Nobody admires a crocheted alpaca hat.  The drape and more sheer texture of knitted fabric really showcases high quality fibers.  That being said, you kind of almost have to have ‘really nice yarn’ when you knit.  Spending all that time and effort to create something that’s lumpy and scratchy (something that gets covered up in crochet) at the end of the day isn’t worth it.  Also: NEVER knit with Red Heart Super Saver.  EVER.

Summary: if you want to stick with cheap yarn, crochet it all away!  Also, crocheting tends to hold up better if you want to chuck things in the machine vs ‘buy expensive delicate wool washes and soak by hand’.  Or, when you knit, buy the wool/acrylic blend.  Baby schtuff = machine washable.  A must.  I don’t understand these women that are like “oh, I knit this sweater for my infant niece out of 100% cashmere alpaca blend, it’s so soft”.  And then when the baby pukes on it, what is the mom supposed to do?  Does she really want to spend time soaking it, swirling it, rolling it gently up in a towel to blot out extra water, and then carefully lay it out to dry, rearranging the shape of the sweater so it doesn’t warp?  If you are that mom, I tip my hat to you.  Kudos, props, gold star.

Projects

Crochet Knit
Crocheting has its pros and cons with projects, but I have to say, the things you can make are limited.  Baby hats can be ADORABLE.  Afghans are super easy (probably because you don’t have to haul a 56″ cable needle to knit one with).  For the last three years I’ve found cute womens’ crocheted accessories in stylish (read: expensive) boutique and chain stores. But mens’ hats?  I’ve seriously struggled.  Clothing?  I can’t say that I’ve found a single piece of crocheted adult clothing that I would ever actually wear.  No wait that’s a lie.  I found a bolero once at Forever 21, but the time it would have taken me to recreate it wasn’t worth the $12.99 I could have spent just to buy it. VS This is where I have to say that knitting wins, no doubt about it.  It is a much more versatile skill.  As before mentioned, you can actually knit CLOTHES that people might actually put upon their (or their childrens’) bodies.  I’ve discovered a whole new world of manly mens’ hats.  Knitting is much more stretchy, so hats for babies are much more forgiving. This means I only have to knit one hat for every three (in different sizes) for a baby.  Score!

Summary: knitting takes home the prize for actual versatility of projects.  HowEVER… having said that, I have to mention the following: I’ve spent all of my time trying to create products that are professional looking and something that you could possibly ‘buy in a store’, if that makes sense.  Classy stuff, right?  I’ve crocheted hats and scarves, knit hats and scarves and cowls, and worn all of them out and about.  Here’s the kicker: while I’ve received countless positive compliments about my crocheted things, I have not once ever gotten any feedback about my knitted ones.  Zero.  Not even a “oh did you make that yourself?  Cool.”  Knitted things look nicer because they look like something you would have bought from a store, and therefore apparently when you knit it nicely enough, people assume you did buy it from a store, or better yet, from the lady on the street selling dusty, dirty hats spread out on the sidewalk for $2 each.  Right now, it’s freezing in Beijing and the little Chinese girls are all traipsing about with the most awesome collection of crazy colored knit hats.  I look at them every day and wonder if I can recreate them, but then is it worth it to spend all that time to have someone think that I picked it up in the market for $1?

Additionally, I’m having a hard time reconciling myself with “knitted looks nice” and “there is not a single item of adult clothing I would ever knit that would be more worth it to me than buying something tailored from Banana Republic on clearance for $19.99.”

SO.  Now that I’ve debated the merits of knit vs. crochet to death, which one do you prefer????

Free Pattern: Diamond Lattice Chain Crochet Infinity Scarf

6/13/2013 UPDATE:

MY FRIENDS!  Thank you for coming by to visit this post!  When I peruse my stats (because I am a statistician, that is what I do), this post always has a bazillion people clicking every day.  I sincerely hope you are all chaining your way to awesome scarves.

That being said, yesterday I stumbled across a free pattern from the always awesome, always famous The Lovely Crow on a “Genius Headband“.  When I clicked on it, I discovered that 1) it was pretty much the same lattice pattern as below, but 2) it has a WAY BETTER finishing technique than mine.  I read the instructions and already I could tell that it creates a seamless, awesome finish instead of the weird lumpy row I was improvising.

So, that being said, please feel free to visit Ravelry and download the pattern yourself for reference.  You’ll need an account, but I have a feeling most of you came here from Ravelry in the first place anyway.  😛  Good luck!

*Start original scarf post*

This is my most used go-to scarf pattern.  I love it because 1) it’s super easy, 2) it’s super fast, and 3) it’s super yarn/budget friendly.  I mean, with all these incredible bonuses working in its favor, how can you *not* be inspired to grab a skein (and a half) of bulky yarn and whip one out too?

Diamond Lattice Crochet Scarf Pattern | Classy Crochet

This scarf is great because the bulky yarn and extra long length keeps you super warm, but the open lattice work keeps you from smothering to death.  This is very important because there is simply nothing worse than being simultaneously freezing when it’s cold out, yet having sweat dripping down your chest and feeling like you’re about to choke.  Not that I speak from personal experience.

My favorite bulky yarn is Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick n Quick.  It comes in a variety of really great colors (my personal favorites are citron and lemongrass), it’s that so-helpful blend of acrylic and wool which means it’s cozy and warm like wool but non-scratchy and most importantly machine washable like acrylic, and you can find it everywhere online and in stores and usually for a great deal too.

I can’t even remember which hook I normally use – K, L, or M all work with this pattern.  There’s no gauge, no swatch, no important notes to reference.  And all you have to do is know how to chain.  Wha-?  That’s right, this is tooootally a beginner’s scarf.

Let’s begin!

Diamond Lattice Crochet Scarf Pattern | Classy CrochetWith your hook and yarn, ch 30

Diamond Lattice Crochet Scarf Pattern | Classy Crochet

Row 1: Slip stitch into the 10th chain from the hook.  Ch5, count every 5 chains, slip stitch, repeat to the end.

Diamond Lattice Crochet Scarf Pattern | Classy Crochet

Row 2: ch5, turn, and slip stitch into the middle of the ch5 loop (or third ch).  Repeat: ch5 and slip stitch into the middle chain of each loop.

Diamond Lattice Crochet Scarf Pattern | Classy Crochet

End of row 2.  Ch5, turn, and repeat.  Chain chain chain away until scarf is desired length.

Diamond Lattice Crochet Scarf Pattern | Classy Crochet

I usually make this hat with 60-75% of one skein of Lion Brand Thick n Quick, and use the rest and an additional skein to complete the scarf.  It makes the perfect length, AND it’s budget friendly.  (Who would have thought you could get a nice crocheted hat AND a really long scarf out of only two skeins of bulky yarn?!)  When you reach the length you want, flip the scarf over…

Diamond Lattice Crochet Scarf Pattern | Classy Crochet

…and line up the other edge.  You can either make a loop, or twist it once for a ‘mobius’ effect.  Starting from the blue arrow, insert your hook and sl st both sides together.

Diamond Lattice Crochet Scarf Pattern | Classy Crochet

…like so.  Ch3, then sl st into the top of both loops (the right white arrow on the previous photo).  Ch5, sl st into two loops four times.  Ch3, sl st into both loops at the end (last white arrow on the left).

Diamond Lattice Crochet Scarf Pattern | Classy Crochet

Your finished edge will look like this.  It looks like just another row.

Diamond Lattice Crochet Scarf Pattern | Classy Crochet

It will leave a bit of a bumpy ridge when you lay it flat, but I’ve never had anyone complain about it, and it’s barely noticeable when you put it on.

Diamond Lattice Crochet Scarf Pattern | Classy Crochet

Loop that sucker around your neck and go conquer the world!

11/23/2013: Final addendum.  I’ve had several people ask (very nicely) if they could sell scarves made from this pattern.  Please, feel free.  If you’ve put the time into it, you should reap whatever benefits you want.  I humbly request a link or acknowledgement of some kind to this post, but otherwise, chain away to your heart’s (profitable) content.  Thanks!!