snowy field image

snowy field image

Monday, August 31, 2015

Flagging Tape Plarn

I was walking by a construction site near my work and they had this plastic tape stuff strung up so nobody walked into the new asphalt.  It looked so pretty I wanted to run off with it and crochet something.  Turns out it's called surveyor or "flagging" tape and it makes cheap, fun plarn in a ton of colors without any cutting and tying.

I didn't do any rolling or fiddling, just crocheted straight off the roll.  This would be wonderful for outdoor projects.  It's made specifically for use outside, although I imagine it will fade after a while in the sun.

The test blob I worked up feels strong and stretchy.  So far I just have the pink but apparently you can order it in solids, stripes, and polka dots.  How fun!

Paper Flip Flops

Summer is finally on it's way out.  I'm saying goodbye with some tiny little flip flops.  I used paper for the base and ribbon for the thong but you could use just about anything.  Craft foam and cloth would be super cute.  The pink flowers are origami irises.

Here's a little diagram of how to put them together.  It's pretty easy, I just like making little diagrams.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Mini Mandalas

This will be my contribution to Mandalas for Marinke if I can get my act together.  They're worked on either 1.3mm or 1.65mm hooks using sewing thread.  The smallest pink one is worked using two strands held together and the largest rainbow one is four strands held together.  I think the blue one is probably three strands but it was the first one I did so I don't remember.  These are not the best photos - still working on figuring that part out.  Took a few more just holding them in my hand, I think those came out better.  I wet blocked them with a little starch to help them hold their shape.

The pattern for these is free from Wink.

Bonus photo of my little "helper".

All of Odin's blinks are winks.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

I have no more love to give today.

Very rough draft of darling Malory.

Welcome to Mos Eisley

If I ever move to Mos Eisley I think I would make this and hang it on my wall.  It's important to be proud of your home.

Just the text pattern:

Just the city pattern - not sure how I would do this part:

Bonus geek alphabet:

Friday, August 21, 2015

Mythosaur Knitting Project

My current project is a birthday present for a friend.  I've done one piece already and blocked it up - that one was tunisian crochet with a different symbol.  For this one I wanted to try out knitting a big rectangle and then using a duplicate knit stitch for my color work.  It doesn't matter if it's crochet or tunisian or knitting, changing colors is a huge hassle.  Also, different mediums have different dimensions so my original pattern meant for tunisian isn't going to work for knitting.  Is there such a thing as knitting graph paper?  My stockinette knit stitches are much shorter than crochet or tunisian stitches (and normal tunisian stitches turned out taller than tunisian knit stitches - why can't everything just be nice and square?).  I have a feeling that cross stitch and I are going to be the best of friends once I get around to actually working on the patterns I've made.  Too many ideas and not enough time.

My stitches seem like they're about 20 per 4 inches in a column and about 15 per 4 inches in a row so I'm going to set my excel sheet up for 40 pixel columns and 30 pixel rows and overlay a picture and place my stitches.

Using my same width of 41 stitches wide (plus 2 for each side = 45 total), the length comes out to 69 stitches high plus some garter stitch on the top and bottom.  I've got my rectangle made now so I just have to see how the shape comes out once the duplicate stitches are placed.  Are you supposed to block before or after you do duplicate stitch?....

Frankenstein never scared me...

This is one one of my many someday projects.  I think I'll always have more ideas than finished projects.  Maybe that's a good thing.  Christopher Walken didn't actually say this, it was some comedian I forget the name of but I thought it was so funny.  I want to learn how to do embroidery in this style.  Probably need to re-do the wording but this is good enough for now while it's still just an idea.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Homemade Hairpin Lace Loom

I decided to try to make a loom rather than buying one.  They're so simple looking, I just couldn't justify spending the money.  This is my little practice version made of wooden skewers from the kitchen drawer and some cardboard box parts (I think from some $1 glowsticks from Target - it was a "wild" night.)  It works perfectly well for my needs right now.  It would be easy to do an upgrade with some coat hangers or unused straight knitting needle and maybe some plastic.

Little Crochet Khal Drogo

Just finished up some fierce little eyebrows for the king of the great grass sea.  He might need a little eye liner I'm not sure yet.  He ended up with like... so much hair.  So.  Much.  Need to make some little swords and a khaleesi for him.  She has sooo many cute outfit possibilities.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

How to space increases and decreases evenly

For most of my own improvised patterns, I don't write out a complete set of pattern instructions.  They're mostly lists of stitch numbers for each round like "6, 12, 18...".  It can be a little troublesome to figure out how to evenly space my increases and decreases from just numbers so I developed a little way to help myself figure it out quickly and get on with the fun part of crochet.

For example, my 10 row sphere has some funny numbers that don't work out so evenly:

For increasing:
  1. Subtract the number of stitches in the smaller row (5) from the larger row (9): 9-5=4
    • So you will work 4 increases over the 5 stitches from the previous row.
  2. Subtract the number of increases (4) from the previous round number (5): 5-4=1
    • 4 stitches will be worked as increases and 1 will be worked even
  3. Figure out where to place increases and even stitches:
    • Divide the number of even stitches (1) by number of increases (4): 1/4=0.25 so in this example, you can see that there are not enough even stitches to put between all the increases.
    • Sometimes, like in this example, you'll need to eyeball it and with only a few stitches, it shouldn't be a problem.  If you have 5 stitches to work in and 4 will be increases and 1 worked even, I would put the sc in the middle of the increases, so: Inc, Inc, Sc, Inc, Inc
    • For larger numbers, for example, for working round 5, the previous round has 15 stitches and round 5 has 16.  You'll need to work 1 increase (16-15=1) and 14 even stitches (15-1=14).  In this case, you'd want to work 7 Sc, Inc, 7 Sc instead of 14 sc, inc.
    • In cases where you have 2 increases to work, you'll want to space them evenly around the circle, keeping in mind where your join is.  For example, for round 4, you have 2 increases to work over 13 stitches (11 even and 2 increases).  You could just work 5 Sc, Inc, 6 Sc, Inc, but to keep it spaced evenly around the join, it would be better to work 3 Sc, Inc, 5 Sc, Inc, 3 Sc.  The number works out correctly in both methods, but the second gives you a more even shape, and working each round with that in mind will keep your whole shape more even.  It helps me a lot to visualize what I'm doing:
Increase with the join in mind, like on the right side.

    • So for each round, you'll want to divide the stitches worked even by the number of increases and then take one section and break it in half for either side of the join.  They won't always work out evenly, so it's ok to put 3 on one side and 4 on the other, for example.  One more example: for an 11 row sphere, row 5 is 18 stitches worked over 16 stitches from round 4.  18-16= 2 increases, and 16-2 = 14 even stitches over 16 from the previous row.  Even stitches (14) divided by increases (2): 14/2=7.  So you'll have two sections of 7 sc and 2 increases.  Divide one of the sections of 7 in half (3 sc and 4sc) and put them on either side of the join.  So you could wind up with either 3 sc, inc, 7 sc, inc, 4 sc or 4 sc, inc, 7 sc, inc, 3 sc.  If you are making a sphere, when you come to the sister decrease round, do the opposite way.  You could also make it so every round is a mirror by slightly changing the totals.  For example instead of splitting 3 and 4 around the join, you could do 3 on both side and 8 in the middle or 4 on both sides and 6 in the middle.  If you're using the seam side of the ball as a head for example, this might give you the best result so that the side with the seam is the back.

For decreasing, it's worked much the same way.  Keep in mind that if you are making a ball, you only have to figure out the increase rounds and then just copy them to the appropriate decrease round because the number will be the same, you'll just be decreasing in stead of increasing.
  1. Subtract the current smaller round's stitches from the larger previous round's stitches to find the number of decreases.  
    • For row 8 with 13 stitches: 15-13 = 2 decreases
  2. Multiply the number of decreases by 2 and subtract that from the number of stitches from the previous round to find the number of stitches worked even.
    • 2*2=4, 15-4= 11 stitches worked even
  3. Then divide the even stitches by the decreases and split one section around the join.
    • 11/2=5.5 (5 and 6, split the even one)  So Sc 3, dec, Sc 5, dec, Sc 3
Once you have the method down, you can do rows with large numbers without much of a problem.

Example: in a 40 row ball, row # 13 will have 56 stitches worked in the previous round's 53 stitches.  There will be 3 increases and 50 stitches worked even.  50/3 is 16.67 so you'll have the join, about half of 16, inc, about 16, inc, about 16, inc and about half of 16 again.  When you put in actual numbers and adjust it a little, it works out to: Sc 8, inc, sc 17, inc, sc 17, inc, sc 8.

A little calculator to help out:

Silly post - how to make little shapes and diagrams

I love being able to visualize my rows of crochet, especially in the round, to determine where to place increases and decreases.  I normally use microsoft word or excel or publisher but there are probably tons of programs that would work just as well.  You just need to be able to make shapes and adjust their degree of rotation.

For making a picture of single crochet stitches in the round, I start by making a little jelly bean shape.  I think it sort of represents the V's you see at the top of the stitches when they're put next to each other.  Also, actual jelly beans are great for when you don't have a computer handy.

Then figure out how many stitches will be in the round you're making.  I have a little document with a bunch of different sizes to play around with, so I always save any new ones I make.  Let's say this one will be 5 stitches.  Take the width of your shape (mine is .5 inches) and multiply it by the number of stitches to get the circumference: .5 * 5 = 2.5 inches.  Then divide your circumference by Pi to find the diameter and make a circle with that diameter.  2.5 / 3.14159 = .79 inches.

Next, copy the jelly bean until you have the right number of stitches.  To find the degree they should be turned to, divide 360 by the number of stitches and multiply it by the stitch number of each jelly bean (360/5*stitch number = angle.)  Starting with 0, the angles will be: 0, 72, 144, 216, and 288 (or 72, 144, 216, 288, and 360, which ever you prefer).  Format each bean according to it's angle and position the shapes around the circle.

You can use this technique to make any size you need.

I like to let a program like excel do all the calculating work for me:

And as an interesting bonus, the data makes a pretty pattern when you put it in a line graph:

Friday, August 7, 2015

Honeycomb Blanket

If I ever get around to making another blanket, I would love to make one based off of the look of honeycomb.  I could do the traditional hexagon, but it might look better to do the first two rows as circles and then add in a third round to make it hexagonal.

So row 1 would be 12 dc in a ring
Row 2, 24 dc (inc in each dc)
Row 3 would be each side consisting of (chain 1, dc in the space, 4 dc, dc in the space, chain 1)

Might need a few half doubles in the middle of the outside row sections or maybe work the last round in singles....

All I have with me today is blue yarn.  It would be totally sweet if honeycomb was blue.

How do you magic ring?

There seem to be just a ton of ways to get the same result: an adjustable ring.  I always find it difficult to follow pictures or tutorials with hands in the way.  Here's my little version in case I need to remind myself how I like to do it best:

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Understanding Spherical Crochet and the Perfect Sphere

Spherical crochet is more complex than flat circular crochet because you're adding a third dimension.  This took me quite a bit of work to finally get it and figure out patterns that would work for me.  There are several excellent resources for not only calculating patterns, but understanding the math behind it:

  • The Ideal Crochet Sphere  This is where I originally became fascinated with the idea of the most perfect sphere possible with single crochet instead of a spherical-ish lump.  Making amigurumi magnifies the importance of shaping on a small scale.  For me, this was not a deep enough explanation of the math for me to understand, and although it does provide patterns, I don't frequently need a specific number of rows for a project as a base for size.
  • Ravelry user Khold's explanation and an awesome pattern generator based on stitch size and desired ball size.  For someone like me, the math here is a little over my head so I needed to start at the very beginning and work my way up to understanding sine and cosine and theta.  The pattern generator doesn't always work with every set of data you put in so some adjustments might need to be made.
  • Another type of pattern generator for spheres and also this amazing crochet lathe for generating patterns based on drawings.  This one is cool because it allows you to choose your max number of stitches for the largest count row and generate a pattern based on that.

This is all correct as far as I can figure out:  In order to help myself understand the math, I decided to start at the very, very beginning.

So here we have a circle and some related terms:
The circumference of a circle is the distance all the way around the outside, where every point is the same distance from the center.

The diameter of a circle is the length from one point on the outside of a circle that passes through the center point and continues to the other side.

The radius of a circle is the length from the center point to anywhere on the outside.

The relationship of the circumference to the diameter (or twice the radius) is the same for every circle, and that is called Pi, 3.14159...  To find the diameter of a circle, divide the circumference by pi and to find the circumference of a circle, multiple the diameter (or radius times 2) by pi.

d = c / π

c = d * π   or   c = r * 2 * π

And here is a sphere with it's circumference, diameter, and radius marked:

So now, we need to relate these ideas to crochet.  A crochet ball will be made up of a certain number of rows and each row will have a number of stitches proportional to it's position within the sphere.  If you imagine slicing the sphere into equal parts, each slice would represent a row and would have it's own new diameter, radius, and circumference.

(If the number of slices, or rows, is even, row 1 and 10 will have the same number of stitches (6 for example), as will rows 2 and 9 (11 or 12 for example), etc all the way into the middle.  For an odd number, there will be 1 row in the middle without a partner.)

Measuring angles within a circle or sphere created by radii is done in degrees.  Each circle has 360 degrees and because the circumference is the radius times 2 times pi, 180 degrees (or half a circle) can be thought of as having the value of 1 pi.  A circle with a radius of 1 will have half of a circumference of pi (3.14...), and half of the degrees of a circle is 180, so 180 = π and 360 = 2π.

Looking at an interactive unit circle like this one: Interactive Unit Circle, you can see that moving the radius around the circle between 0° and 180° creates an arch shape on the graph on the right in red.  You can also see that the red value is called sine and the value of sine goes from 0 at 0° to 1 at 90° and back down to 0 and 180°.  The value of sine is the height of the top half (and bottom half) of a circle with a radius of 1 at different degree points because it is measuring the relationship between the angle within the circle and the side of the triangle opposite that angle that is formed by the radius, the x-axis and the height of the circle at that point.  The graph on the right plots the value of sine from 0 to 1 to 0 to -1 and back to 0 depending on what degree you are measuring.

This is the very beginning of trigonometry: the Right Angle Triangle and how Sine, Cosine, and Tangent relate to it.  Sine, cosine, and tangent are the terms for what you get when you divide the length of one side of a right triangle by the length of another side in relation to one of the angles inside.  For figuring out values for an perfect sphere, I really only want to deal with sine to make it more simple.  The way to get your value for sine is to divide the side opposite of a given angle by the hypotenuse, or sine(angle) = Opposite / Hypotenuse.

Labels for a right triangle

So looking at the triangle, the purple angle labeled "a" on the bottom left side is on the opposite side of the triangle from the yellow side, and the blue line is adjacent to the purple angle, "a".  The hypotenuse is always the long side.  So to figure out values for sine in proportion to a given angle, like "a", you divide the length of the side opposite the angle (yellow) by the length of the hypotenuse (black).  The sides of the triangle that are adjacent or opposite will switch depending on which angle you are looking at.

For angle (a), the horizontal blue side is adjacent to the angle and the yellow vertical side is opposite the angle.  For the sine of angle a, you would divide the length of the yellow side by the length of the hypotenuse, sin(a)=O/H.

For angle (b), the yellow vertical side is adjacent to the angle and the blue horizontal side is opposite the angle.  For the sine of angle b, you would divide the length of the blue line by the length of the hypotenuse, sin(b)=O/H.

When you assign lengths to the sides, you find that the results are always a decimal between 0 and 1.  This is because you will always be dividing a smaller number by a larger number since the hypotenuse will always be the longest side of the triangle.

So in the circle below with a radius of 1, the red lines are different values of sine based on the angle between the x-axis and the radius (in gray), which is acting as the hypotenuse of our triangles.  For our sphere, we will need to measure equal intervals of degrees and sine values in the amount of rows that we want.

This circle is just like the purple sphere above, with the read lines of sine values cutting it into slices.

So to get correct numbers for stitches per row, the pattern should scale with the plotted points of sine on a graph like the one below, where the values of sine (0-1) are listed on the left and degrees (0-180) are listed along the bottom.  If you changed the sine values to stitch numbers and the degree values to row numbers, you would be able to plot stitches per row based on the shape of the arch.

Values of sine from 0 to 180 degrees.

Data for a 10 row ball should look like this:
Don't let this circle divided up confuse you.  It will have a different number of divisions than a picture of a sphere divided into the correct number of slices because here, the number of slices is represented by the data points, not the spaces between.

So my first thought about this arch shape was: why is the graph an arch shape and not a circle, like the circle it is representing?  Because what you are seeing represented by the arch are the values of the distance of those red lines between the X axis and the top of the circle, and not the smooth sweep of the clock-hand radius, the heights change at a different rate depending on what part of the circle they are on.

Values of sine at 15, 30, 45, 60, and 75 degrees. [source:]
As you can see in the above diagram, the values for sine climb very quickly at the beginning, and taper out toward the top.  At 30 degrees, the line is already half of the total radius, at 45 degrees it is almost 3/4 of the radius.  Toward the top, the ascent slows down.  Imaging climbing a mountain shaped like a circle.  Starting at 0 degrees and going up toward 90 degrees, you would begin by climbing straight up, then toward the top, you would be able to walk on a flat surface.  So when the is translated to stitches and rows, you should expect to start by increasing quickly in your first few rows, then only increasing a few stitches per row toward the center of the ball and then decreasing quickly to finish off the ball in the last few rows.

So the basic idea is that because you know the height of your stitches, you can determine the circumference based on desired number of rows (or start with a circumference and divide it by the height of the stitches to determine number of rows) and use that information to find the diameter and circumference of each row using the value of sine and divide it by the width of stitches to determine stitches per row for each row.

Ok - time to apply all of this to crochet:

First, it's important to know how wide and high your stitches are.  Your hook size, yarn size and type, and personal crocheting style will all factor in to the relationship between the width and height of your stitches.  For amigurumi, and crocheting spheres in particular, I use a much smaller hook than the yarn recommends to make tight shapes without visible holes.  My stitches are just about the same width and height, but a little wider than they are tall.  For example if I'm using a yarn that recommends a 5mm hook, I'll use around a 3.75mm hook.  For me, that measures about 6mm wide and 5 mm high.  Other people may have slightly wider stitches - in general, stitches will be about the same width and height, or slightly wider than they are tall.  Measuring accurately on a test swatch can be the difference between a perfect sphere and one that is too short or too wide.  I made a swatch in back and forth rows and one in a tube in rounds and it did not seem to make a difference when measuring stitches.

Next, we need to know the variables that go into a crochet sphere: total circumference, total diameter, number of rows, stitches per row, angle and sine value per row, circumference per row, diameter per row, stitch height, and stitch width.  When making a sphere, you will start with some of this data and use it to figure out the rest.

There are a few scenarios I can think of where you would start with different data to determine how to calculate your pattern:

  • Scenario 1: When you need a specific size ball.  This seems like the most likely scenario.  You know the dimensions of the ball (diameter and circumference) and you need to figure out how many rows and stitches you will need to make in order to achieve your desired size.  In this scenario, you will divide the circumference in half and divide that by the height of one stitch (from a swatch) to get the number of rows in the sphere.  It will likely be a decimal, so round it to the closest whole number to get as close as possible to matching your final dimensions.  (Why half the circumference? If you divided the whole circumference, you would get twice the number of rows because the second half of the circle is redundant in determining how many slices to cut out of a sphere.)  Then divide 180 degrees (the measurement of half a circle) by your number of rows + 1 to get the interval of the angle that you will need for each row.  (Why + 1? You are dividing half of a circle, or 180 degrees, into sections.  The important thing here is not the sections of angles, but the degree of the angle between sections.  Your data points will fall between the sections, so you will have 1 fewer data points than sections.  In order to get the right number of data points, add 1 to the number of rows you are dividing by.)  Then based on the degree of each angle, find the value for sine using a formula or an online sine calculator.  Then find the circumference of each row by multiplying the sine value by the total circumference of the sphere.  Lastly, divide each row's circumference by the width of one stitch to find the total number of stitches in each row.  This number will also need to be rounded to the closest whole number.  Note that you will get a better result by starting with your desired circumference, dividing half by your stitch height, then adjusting your circumference so it evenly divisible by the height.
  • Scenario 2: When you need a specific number of rows in your ball.  You know how many rows you want and the dimensions of your stitches and you need to figure out how many stitches will be in each row to make a perfect sphere.  Start out by multiplying the height of one stitch by the number of rows you want.  This will give you the length of half the circumference of your finished ball.  From there you can find the whole circumference and the diameter.  You now have all of the same information for making a specific size ball.  Divide 180 by number of rows + 1 for the interval angle, calculate the value of sine, multiply sine by the total circumference, and divide each row's circumference by the width of one stitch.
  • Scenario 3: When you need a certain number of stitches in a certain row.  Maybe most commonly you would know how many stitches you want in the biggest row in the middle of the sphere.  You would pretty easily be able to determine your other info by multiplying the number of stitches by their width to determine the circumference and then following along above.  But it would also be possible to start with, for example, I need 20 stitches in the 4th row.  You would also have to have some idea of how big or how many rows the total sphere should be, because you could arrive at any number of sizes with just that information.  Perhaps the easiest way to start would be to look at an interactive circle and place your row somewhere between 0° and 90°.  For example, let's call 30° row 4, and we know that row 4 will have 20 stitches.  So now we know that between 0° and 30°, we need 3 more rows.  Divide 30° by 4 to get 3 more data points for rows 1 through 3 and you get your degree interval of 7.5°.  Then divide 180 by 7.5 and you get 24 sections (or 23 data points) so you know your whole sphere will be 23 rows.  Then you can follow the steps above to multiply stitch height by number of rows and find the circumference, diameter, etc.
I made a little google sheet with a full explanation and calculations:

Update:  also want to give a shout out to this blog with a different method of figuring spheres, rough translation though.