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Tutorial · The Invisible Chain Granny Square

Today I wanted to share a gorgeous technique with you that’ll help make your granny squares look flawless, neat and just brilliant! I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I really cannot stand chain stitches: they look thin and weird and stick out like a sore thumb! Thankfully there’s a really quick and easy technique you can use to minimise the look of chains (by still chaining) and keep your granny’s looking like a snack.

What’s the secret? Well, by chaining two instead of three at the beginning of the round we eliminate that skinny starting chain and create a shorter, firmer but still working chain. It really is as simple as that. Plus, but flipping the square over (but not reversing it – sorry, I couldn’t resist) you are able to work into the nearest chain space to you, again making the starting chain even less visible! I’m all over this technique and I hope you will be too…

What you’ll need:

Your yarn of choice and a crochet hook in the corresponding size. I used Rosa’s Crafts Merino Molón 6 in shade 102.

Now turn your work over… You’re almost done!

Repeat this technique at the beginning of every round and you’ll soon see that your square looks a lot better. I hope you enjoyed this quick photo tutorial. Hit me up if you’ve tried it yourself!

Article

The Mindful Granny Blanket CAL

In Spanish, ‘cal’ means limescale – there’s a fun fact for you! I doubt that’ll help you when you’re next on your holibobs in Magaluf. In crochet circles however ‘CAL’ (in caps) means Crochet-a-long which is far more fun and doesn’t need Calgon or Cillit Bang. I fear I may be rambling, but what I’m trying to say in a very backward way is…

I’m starting a CAL, guys!

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of CALs (and KALs for knitting). It’s such a wonderful way to bond with other crafters, get that crojo/knitjo moving and create something special that you can look back on with great memories. For my own I wanted my first CAL to represent what ‘Emmaknitty’ stands for; mindfulness and caring for your mental health, simplicity of design, sustainability and – I’m being brutally honest – projects that you don’t need to engage your brain too much with!

So, here’s the Mindful Granny Blanket CAL! I have to say that I wracked my brains for a decent name, especially one that lends itself well to that all important hashtag, but this was the best I could do. Oops. I must work on my succintness.

If you’re reading this you’ve probably come over from Instagram (Hai!) and would like to know all the details, things you’ll need, etc…

The idea

The primary purpose of this CAL is to have a project to work on that is something to look forward to, is relaxing, makes you feel calm, joyful and happy. I want everyone who takes part to love every moment that you spend creating your blanket, every colour you choose to give you a flutter of excitement, every colour transition to fill you with love and remind you of the reasons why you crochet.

I chose a simple granny square blanket because it’s something most crocheters know how to make and it’s a classic design that’s easy to adjust to any size you like.

How to make it

Working from the center out, you’ll make a standard granny square, increasing at each corner, until the blanket is as large as you want. You won’t need to weave in any ends or sew anything/crochet 2000 squares together, just crochet for as long as you like until you’re happy with the size! We’ll be using yarn scraps/yarn that you’d like to destash, working from a large ball that we’ll make by connecting all the yarn together.

The rules

· You’ll need to know how to make a simple granny square.

· You won’t need to buy any yarn or purchase any pattern to take part.

· You’ll need to use several balls of yarn in the same weight in colours you love. Spend time choosing shades that make you go “wow”, combining them in a way that really makes you happy!

· You’ll need to use yarn that’s already in your stash and of the same weight. Avoid buying yarn especially for this blanket, as it’s supposed to be a destash/sustainable project. You can use any composition you like.

· You’ll need to connect all the balls of yarn you choose using the magic knot method, then wind them all together into one large ball that you will work from.

…That’s all!

Feel free to start as soon as you like, and there’s no deadline or finishing date for this. The emphasis is on bringing people together, getting inspired, being happy and calming your mind. Oh, and using up those pesky yarn scraps.

If tou take part, please tag me @emmaknitty on Instagram and use the hashtag #MINDFULBLANKETCAL!

I really hope you love this CAL!

How To · Tutorial

The Violeta Scarf · Free Crochet Tutorial

(The yarn used in this pattern was gifted by Rico Design)

What a long winter it’s been – is it just me? It really feels like it’s been colder than a snowman’s boobs for far too long, and even though I love the cooler weather, I am gagging to see those Spring flowers come out and enjoy some evenings in the garden.

Knitters and crocheters have an advantage though, as winter means more reasons to make things with squishy, chunky yarn! Working XXL is a fave of mine, and I was so thrilled when my friends at Rico Design reached out to me once again and asked if I’d like to try some of their yarns! I’m a big fan of Rico Design and their modern creative goods, so it was tough choosing just a few of their perfect yarns, but I decided on their statement yarn Creative XXL in ‘Natur’ and a few balls of their Essentials Big (review coming soon).

My initial idea was to make a rug, but on touching this yarn I knew it was crying out to be used as a cute oversized accessory! Rico Creative XXL is such a soft, dreamy yarn that it’s the ideal choice for scarves, cowls and blankets. I can just see a giant sweater being knitted up in this too – stunning!

Thia fab yarn comes in a huge 1kg ball, which is more than enough to make a chunky scarf, hat, blanket or pouf. In fact, the ball band has a free pattern for a cushion cover which is a bonus. I must admit that I did spend a couple of days displaying this beautiful ball in my craft studio just staring at it!

So, I’m excited to share a free pattern with you for my newest design, The Violeta Scarf, using this incredible yarn! This project is made using only Rico Design yarns, and I used a few balls of their wonderful Creative Ricorumi and Lamé yarn that I had in my stash alongside their Creative XXL.

Tiny embroidered cotton details add a delicate, pretty touch to this chunky scarf.

This scarf is the perfect combination between a modern statement scarf and delicate prettiness! Crocheted using Half Double Moss Stitch on a 25mm hook, you can work up this quick and beautiful project in a few hours. You can leave the scarf plain or embroider onto it to add a really feminine touch. Whichever you choose, you’ll have a warm and snuggly piece ready to keep you cosy through the chilly months!

You will need: One ball Rico Creative XXL in Natur, a small amount each of Rico Design Creative Ricorumi in Lilac, Mint and Rose, a small amount of Ricorumi Neon DK in Fuchsia, and a small amount of Rico Creative Lamé in Gold, a 25mm crochet hook, large-eyed yarn or tapestry needle.

You’ll Need to Know: Half Double Moss Stitch, chain stitch, weaving in ends, basic embroidery skills.

Sizing: The scarf measures 1.88m/188cm/74″ in length and is 16cm/6.5″ wide.

Notes: You can, of course, make the scarf longer or shorter if you wish. The scarf length that I chose uses 3/4 of the ball of Creative XXL which would allow for an even longer scarf! This stitch works on any even number of stitches so you can also change how wide it is.

Method:

· Ch (chain) 10 and work one hdc (half double crochet) into the fourth chain from your hook. Ch one, skip one st (stitch) and work another hdc into the following st. Continue like this until the end of the row, ending on a hdc. Chain two.

· Work one hdc into the first ch sp (chain space) and chain one, skipping the following hdc stitch. Work another hdc into the next ch sp. Continue making hdc into the spaces and chaining, skipping the hdc you made in the previous row to work this pattern. Make sure you are always ending the row by working one hdc into the final ch sp, and always ch two two start the next row.

· Follow the steps above for 52 rows (or until the scarf measures 1.88m/188cm/74″). Break yarn and pull through the final st to secure. Weave in any ends.

You can leave the scarf plain, or you can follow the tutorial below and add some delicate embroidered touches…

Thread your chosen shade through one of the stitches near the edge of your scarf.
Wrap the yarn over the stitch once…
…Twice, three times around the stitch.
Break the yarn and tie a double knot. Trim the ends as short as you can. Repeat as desired using different shades.

Here’s the finished embroidery on my scarf. I chose to only decorate the edge of one end of my scarf but it would look wonderful fully embroidered. The choice is yours!

I really hope that you enjoyed this tutorial! If you did let me know over on Instagram by tagging me @emmaknitty – I’d love to see your gorgeous creations!

How To · Tutorial

Half Double Moss Stitch · Tutorial

Who loves Moss Stitch? We ALL love Moss Stitch! It’s one of the most beautiful crochet stitches and, best of all, it’s super-easy to work up and gives a gorgeous knitted look to your project. The other day I was making my umpteenth Moss Stitch blanket and decided to experiment a little using Half Double Crochet (US terms) to see if it was any good. Boy oh boy, was it! I wasn’t sure if I’d seen it around before so I gave it a quick Google around and couldn’t find it anywhere. I looked on Pinterest – natch – and still nothing. I asked my knowledgable friends on Instagram and, well, nothing. “OH EM GEE!” I thought, “have I discovered a new stitch?”.

This stitch looks fabulous when worked up using chunky yarn. Here you can see a swatch using The Wool by We Are Knitters (gifted).

Sadly not, friends. What I have done however is named a stitch that before was languishing in obscurity. There are a couple of patterns over on Ravelry that use this stitch but nobody had thought of giving her a name, the poor babe, so I thought I would. Tempting as it was to give it some sort of funky name (or annoyingly egotistical one like ‘The Knitty Stitch’) I’ve simply called it ‘Half Double Moss Stitch’ to keep things simple and practical.

One of the most beautiful things about this stitch is the latticed effect it gives which lends itself well to cowls, scarves, statement blankets and rugs. It look particularly lush used with chunky or super chunky yarn or worked up teeny using cotton yarn. I can just see some dishcloths looking the bizznizz in this stitch!

Keep your eyes peeled for a wonderful project using the Half Double Moss Stitch very soon, but for now, here’s how to work it up.

Lending itself well to giant chunky accessories and statement homeware, this stitch is quick, easy and beautiful.

The Half Double Moss Stitch

(Instructions using US/American terminology and working flat)

NOTE: This stitch is a hdc stitch separated by a chain stitch, so it’s identical to the regular moss stitch but using hdc instead of single crochet.

1. Chain an even number of stitches.

2. Work a hdc into the fourth chain from your hook.

3. Chain one, skip one chain, work a hdc stitch into the next chain.

4. Chain one, skip one chain, work a half double crochet into the next chain. End with a hdc into the last stitch.

5. Turn your work, chain two and work a hdc into the first chain one space. Chain one, skip the next hdc and work a hdc into the following chain one space. Continute like this (chain 1, skip 1 stitch, hdc in the next chain 1 space) until the end.

Repeat step five for the pattern, making hdc stitches into the chain spaces.

That’s it! I would love to see your makes using this stitch, so tag your creations with #halfdoublemosstitch and I’ll take a look!

Article

Insta Wellness, or how not to let Instagram gradually drive you nuts.

I love Instagram, don’t get it twisted. I really, really love it. However, like most relationships, it’s hard to maintain that fuzzy feeling all of the time. I sometimes find myself feeling completely passionate about my ‘Instalife’ and other days wishing I didn’t have this thing I had to update constantly in order to stay ‘Instalive’ (I made that one up). I often wonder if it’s possible to use Instagram responsibly and without pressure and still stay relevant.

Crafters use Instagram as a modern-day portfolio, a way of us showing our projects and work to the whole world without lugging a giant-sized folder full of printouts and mood boards to magazine companies and sweating our arses off on the tube. I sometimes wonder what happened before social media made it so easy (and free) for us to share our creativity with all and sundry, but I guess that makes me a bit of a product of the times we live in. The answer would be that they lugged a bloody great portfolio all around town with them, right?

Those of us who regularly use Instagram as a professional marketing tool have probably found ourselves panicking about taking that ‘perfect’ photo for our feed (let’s not talk about those constant battles with light) that freaking algorithm, a.k.a “why the shit does this photo have 23 likes and the one I uploaded yesterday have 400?” that gets us twisting our melons, obsessing over BEATING the ALGORITHM (like some kind of end of level boss) and trying to work out appropriate times and weather conditions to post in and if it matters which FINGER you use to press the screen with JUST IN CASE it affects that damn Insta JUJU! I ask you. What have we become with this social media ting? If I payed that much attention to my day job I’d be the most productive bish this side of The Bay of Biscay.

Why worry, I hear you say? Well, part of my income comes from this wrestling. I am self-employed because of Instagram and the connections it has given me. I wouldn’t have had as many magazine commissions or collaborations if it wasn’t for this gosh-darn app and all the things it brings with it. It matters to people, for better or for worse, and the stress is carries along with this are part and parcel of being a maker in 2020.

So, Insta Wellness. I was thinking yesterday about ways of how to make sure we use Instagram more carefully and still be engaged and have other people engage with you. It isn’t easy, and it’s extremely unpredictable, but there are a few ways that we can lower our stress levels and have a healthier attitude to our ‘Instavidas’ (I’ll stop with the made up buzzwords now)…

Why don’t we try…

Being ourselves more. Does this sound weird? Like, being yourself should be the norm, right? Well, not always. I’ve on occasion toned down my views on certain things in order to not scare people off my work/make them think I’m an activist instead of speaking my mind. Not to mention the swearing… Then again, there’s an argument for your real self being part of what you create, and if your followers can’t handle you in all your glory then they shouldn’t be following you in the first place. Freeing yourself from the shackles of being a swear-free, apoliticial maker can help you be more open and relaxed on social media. Trying to be the ideal, perfect Instagrammer is knackering, and people generally respond to you in a more meaningful way if you and your account are, well, more meaningful and real.

Stopping worrying about likes and followers. Really. What matters is your feed and content, not the number of people who have clicked follow or that heart button. Fixating on this only causes bad feelings, negativity, envy and resentment. I always see it as something similar to Alan Partridge saying ‘I’ve got 100 friends’ to that annoyed farmer. Focus on your creations.

Not posting every day. Posting content when you feel like it, or setting realistic goals for feed posts can help keep you organised and away from unnecessary time online. Try setting two days a week for feed posts, one or two relevant “stories” posts a day, or even experiment with Instagram scheduling apps to help you out with this. Plann is a fantastic app that even has an awesome free version AND hashtags organiser (heart eyes) that can really help out. Don’t feel under pressure to take a photo and provide content when you aren’t feeling in the mood. When you’re inspired, post. When you’re tired, take a break. Which leads me to…

Taking a break. Deactivating your account for a few days/weeks, updating your account less often… Those things do not mean that you’ve given up, they mean that you are appreciating your life away from social media and focussing on what’s right and healthy for you.

Choosing our battles. Everyone sees things online once and a while that really tests their patience, but choosing the right time or reason to slide into DMs and/or call people out is important. I’ve had to bite my tongue so much that I’m surprised I can still speak, but it’s important to take a deep breath.

Using polls wisely. When the Instagram ‘polls’ sticker was released, I polled the Jaysus out of everything. Do you like my new top? What do you think of my current project? How about these new needles? Ohh gurl. The problem with this is that when someone votes you down it can affect you. Why don’t they like your blanket? Am I failing? Use polls sensibly, unless you have skin thicker than a rhino. Or you put two correct answers.

Comparing ourselves to others. You do you, they’ll do them, we’ll do us and support each other.

How do you manage your Instalife? Leave me a comment or drop me a line on, well, Instagram and tell me your techniques. I’d love to hear from you!

Article

How to Drive a Maker Nuts

If you ask most knitters or crocheters what annoys them about their craft they’ll probably say. “yarn vomit”, “knots in balls” or, at a push “having to hide my yarn hauls from my family” AM I RIGHT FRIENDS? This article goes a bit deeper however, because I wanted to explore a little about the more gut-wrenching aspects of being a crafter that really stick in the craw. From pattern theft (if you follow me on Instagram – thank you – you’ll be WELL AWARE of my recent rants about this) to strangers chuckling at you for daring to be under 80 and enjoy knitting, I’ve got you covered. Let battle commence…

So, do you want to drive a Maker nuts? Why don’t you…

Ask a crafter to make you something for free.

I’m not sure which is the more insulting version of this: someone asking you to make them something for zero money or excitedly offering you a tenner for something that is worth ten times that (or more) in terms of labour and materials. It is of course possible that the person has literally no idea how much time and effort goes into creating a handmade item (and that’s not even including the design process) but that doesn’t mean you should undersell your work.
How to deal with it? Well, be honest. Explaining the process, how long it will take and exactly why you have to charge more than Primark for a blanket is a good place to start. If they still don’t get it after that you let them toddle off to buy something else and be done with it.

“LOL! Aren’t you a bit young to be knitting? LOL”

Lord give me the strength to deal with these ones. Aside from the lazy assumption that knitting is something that only a retiree can enjoy, what kind of person shames a person (especially if it’s a stranger!) for a doing a hobby they enjoy? Yeah, we know it’s ‘just a joke’ most of the time but it’s annoying af and yet another example of how fibre artists are not taken seriously.

Be a yarn snob

I unfollowed a person on Instagram last year because of this. The owner of a relatively high-end craft store in a city near me (the sort of LYS that doesn’t sell hanks for less than double figures), this woman would berate people who ‘insisted‘ on knitting using acrylic or cheaper yarns, completely baffled as to why anyone would even consider daring to work with anything less than mohair/silk blends rolled on the thighs of… You get the picture. This señorita had trouble understanding that the majority of people can’t afford to make things with expensive yarns because, well, they can’t afford it, no matter how much they’d love to. Luxury yarns are obviously fabulous, but most of us have bills to pay and/or kids to pay for and the idea of spending €40 on a 50g skein of yak makes our eyes water. I guess some folks have other priorities, or maybe they’re just so gosh darn rich that they can fill their stash with as many hanks of llama as they like without going overdrawn. By all means gush over luxe, but don’t shame those of us who can’t afford it.

Copy other people’s ideas and patterns

I don’t have enough space here to tell you why it really sucks to copy other people’s stuff, but I’m pretty sure you can work out why. Instagram is chock-full of examples of this: Pee-poor copies of well-known designer’s work with a slightly different take on it, maybe a pompom or two less, but it’s the same thing. I’ve even seen people copy a pattern or idea entirely and have the cheek to TAG the person they coped from in the description bx saying “inspired by – insert original designer here – “I’ve been so tempted to call this out in the past, but what can you do? It’s a sad fact that people who agree with naming and shaming are usually labelled as rabble rousers/trouble causers and that’s that. The only thing worse than this is pattern theft (be careful when you choose those pattern testers, huns) which is something I and a few of my maker friends went through last year. All I can say is that the people who steal or copy other people’s ideas have little clue how much work goes into the process, and it’s even worse when another designer you respect does it. Gross. Grossest of all though is that now most designers see theft as part and parcel of being a designer, and accept that this will happen to them at least once or twice. How can we solve this? It’s hard, but make sure you’re choosing carefully when picking testers, go with reliable people with proven, completed tests on their feeds, steer clear of people who are slow to respond to messages and give feedback, and go with that gut feeling; if you have a bad vibe from someone don’t even go there.

Ask a designer for their patterns for free or – possibly worse – parts of their work

Let’s explain this one a bit. One of my friends (a very talented, well-known crochet designer) was asked recently by someone for the measurements they use when designing garments (i.e one of the most complicated parts of garment design and not something you’d offer to anyone freely, even your pals), another was asked to deconstruct a finished sweater and write the pattern out for this random. For free, obviously. You don’t have to be into this kind of stuff to understand why this would annoy any designer. I’ve also heard tales of people asking others to pick apart finished garments in order to count stitches… The entitlement is real.

Don’t take it seriously

Those of us who are lucky enough to do our craft full or part-time as a job are in a great/dream position, but it’s still quite hard to get people to see what you do as a real job and source of income. Choice comment, “Oh, so you just sit at home and knit all day? Bloody hell…” Do one, mate.

So, what can we do with all of the above? The fact is that a lot of the problems listed are down to one thing: ignorance. If someone asks for a pattern for free they’re probably ignorant to how much work writing a pattern actually is. If a person laughs at your hobby they’re probably ignorant to how much of a valuable, rewarding and important activity is is. If someone steals your pattern… No, those people are just dicks.

Thanks to everyone who inspired this post (my Instafamily) and those of you who shared stories – both funny and horror – to be included in this post.

Article

Crochet Tutorial · Teardrop Baubles

I know, I know. It’s only been a hot minute since I posted the last Christmas tutorial, but I can’t help it if the Crimbo crojo is on FIRE, right?

Last year on our yearly getaway, my husband was driving us across Spain on a road trip and I, of course, was crafting. I had an idea to make some very retro-looking baubles (flat baubles, that is) using very simple stitches and this pattern was born. I did write it down, but I lost it in amongst the piles of notebooks that I seem to accumulate from nowhere (actually, from Flying Tiger) and it went AWOL. I was pretty sad, but the other day I decided to work on an updated version, beginner-friendly and quick, that is a lovely project for cosy winter days. The design is inspired by my Nana’s old 1970’s decorations that she would dust off every Christmas, original box and all, and hang lovingly on her garish tree. I really loved the muted tones and white embellishments, silver flecks and gold accents, and the feeling of warmth and homeliness they gave me. I’m not sure where these decorations are now, but I can still smell their slightly musty aroma and hear the popping of Babycham bottles. Love it.

So, I hope you enjoy this simple pattern and make a whole load of these for your own home this Christmas. Nana Knitty approved.

This is an advanced beginner level crochet tutorial and uses American terminology.

You will need: Your chosen yarn with the recommended hook size (for this tutorial I used Hoooked Eucalyps in Grigio and a 4.5mm hook), a pair of scissors, a yarn needle, a blocking board, rust-free pins, a small length of jute or thread for hanging.

Skills: Chain stitch, sc (single crochet), hdc (half double crochet), hdc blo (half double crochet through back loop only), dc (double crochet), slip stitch.

Method:

· The yarn weight and needle size you use will determine the size of your bauble. I used a combination of fingering, sport and DK weights (using their recommended hook size) but you could also use super chunky yarn for some big statement ones!

· Make a slipknot, chain five and slip stitch into the first chain to form a circle.

· Chain three (counts as first stitch) and make nine dc into the circle, working over the tail. Slip stitch into the top of the chain three to join (10 stitches).

· Chain two and make two hdc blo in each stitch around (20 stitches).

· Now we will shape the bauble into a teardrop using simple stitches. Chain four, make one dc into the next stitch. Make one hdc into the next stitch. Make one sc into each stitch around until two stitches remain. Make one hdc into the next stitch and finally one dc. Slip stitch into the top of the chain four.

· Break yarn and pull through the loop. Snip off the yarn tail (you don’t need to weave this in as you crocheted over it at the beginning) and weave in any ends from the top of the bauble.

· Make a small mixture of two parts liquid starch/Nylon to one part water and soak the bauble in it for five minutes. Squeeze out the excess liquid and pin to your blocking board, paying attention to the top of the bauble where you worked a chain four. Pin this part up firmly to make it extra pointy and give the bauble its characteristic teardrop shape.

· Once dry, sew any embellishments onto your bauble as you wish – simple embroidery sequins, beads and even little bells look great – and attach a felt backing for a really ‘finished’ look. I always use a hot glue gun to attach felt onto the back of crochet work, but sewing also looks good.

· Attach a length of jute or thread to the top of the bauble and hang as desired. Enjoy!


This tutorial is dedicated to the memory of my grandmother Eileen Miles who passed away on November 4th 2019.