Category Archives: Yarn and Hooks

HodgePodge Crochet, Design Wars, and Red Heart!

I’m so thrilled to announce that HodgePodge Crochet is taking part this week in a Design Wars Challenge!!

HodgePodge Crochet and Design Wars!

My design is going head-to-head with another design by the AMAZING Glamour4You!! Both of us are using Red Heart Boutique Silk Sari yarn in our designs, which imparts a bit of the Far East into anything you crochet.

HodgePodge Crochet and Design Wars!
The yarn comes in gorgeous colors and each hank is hand spun from actual silk sari fabric. Hanks are approximately 75 yds for a 3.5 oz weight. That might seem like it’s on the skimpy side but trust me; you don’t need a ton of this yarn to show it off as the star of the show because it’s dense and gets heavier and heavier as you add more in! 75 yards is more than enough for using it as an accent that’ll give your projects a huge wow factor or when using it in any super lacy projects like a shawl or lapghan.

HodgePodge Crochet and Design Wars!
Red Heart Silk Sari is perfect for anything home decor or accessory. (Think bag, brooch, belt, headband, etc.) I think of it more as a decorator yarn and would tend to skip using it in any projects that will be placed directly on bare skin because it’s not soft or smooth and might itch or irritate. It also has minimal stretch (perfect for purse handles!!) and the fuzzy thick and thin style texture of the yarn looks beautiful in any stitch you decide to use.

For my Design Wars entry I decided to make something fun that can be shown off poolside or thrown over a plain outfit to revel in the sunny days of summer (or brighten the long, cold days of winter!)

All of my testers had a ball with the simple construction and their little models were thrilled with the final result! Introducing: The Silk Sari Coverup!

HodgePodge Crochet and Design Wars!

HodgePodge Crochet and Design Wars!

I hope you guys love my design as much as I do and will take a minute to head on over to Design Wars to see what Ann of Glamour4You has come up with (her designs are always fun and drool-worthy!) and then vote for your favorite!!

Don’t forget to run on over to the HodgePodge Crochet Ravelry Store to find some cool summer savings on these other great Fun-in-the-Sun patterns! Use code DWSALE for 20% off!!

The Strawberry Patch Hat!

HodgePodge Crochet Strawberry Patch Hat


The Classic Chevron Tank Top!

HodgePodge Crochet Classic Chevron Tank Top


The Unforgettable Summer Nights Circle Shawl!

HodgePodge Crochet Unforgettable Summer Nights Circle Shawl


Crochet Know How: The Russian Join with Acrylic Yarn The Russian Join

Lots of new crocheters eventually bump up against the problem of how to deal with a yarn knot. Either they find one (or several) in the center of a brand new skein of yarn or they run out of yarn before they run out of project!

The Russian join might seem scary but I promise, with practice and patience it will become one of your most useful tools in your crochet belt! Use it on all of your projects because not only is it more secure than a square knot (ever have a project unravel on you because of a knot that’s worked itself loose?!?), it’s also neater and pretty much invisible when done correctly!

If you liked this tutorial don’t forget to hit that like button below and don’t forget to mosey on over to the right of your screen to find the FOLLOW HODGEPODGE button so you don’t miss out on upcoming tips, freebies, and fun!

+1 Anyone? +1 AnyoneI get asked a lot of interesting questions about crochet and today a really great one came my way that I thought would be perfect to share right here on the blog!

HodgePodge Fan Writes:

I’m trying my first graphghan and I am a little confused as to how to begin. My foundation chain calls for 150 stitches. I am supposed to put +1 for the turning chain which makes 151. Right?

Well, Row 1 is the same exact stitches…shouldn’t it be 1 less…150 and not 151? Your help would be greatly appreciated!

That’s a great question because foundation chains and + amounts confuse a lot of crocheters. When creating something with so many chains, it is so important to get right because you don’t want to have to frog that much yarn.

Here is the skinny on + amounts in foundation chains.

Sometimes a pattern will tell you that the skipped chain(s) count as whatever stitch you are working for row 1. Most of the times, the skipped chains are there because they take the place of a stitch in the pattern and are important for the multiple to work correctly. For example:

Chain 20

Row 1: DC in 4th chain from hook (skipped chains count as dc)…

In this pattern, you would include the skipped 3 chains in the foundation as a dc stitch when you get back to this end in row 2 of your pattern. Generally, the pattern will tell you to work into the turning chain (this is the + amount of your foundation or the 3 skipped chains)

When you are working a graphghan, the skipped chain does not count. Most patterns won’t really tell you that but generally what this means is that you will not be crocheting into it on the way back in row 2. Adding a +1 means you will end with the exact number of stitches you need. In the case of the question above, that means 150 sc.

If you were to leave out that critical +1 when crocheting the foundation chain of 150 sts, when you get to the end you would have 149 sc. (Not including the skipped chain.) Your graphghan would be off by one stitch. That’s not a huge deal if your edges are all a solid color but if your pattern takes the design all the way out to the edge, something is going to go awry!

If you’d like to include the skipped chain (meaning you will crochet into it when you finish row 2) then you will have 150 sts but you might also end up with a pinched foundation that throws your corners off as your blanket grows. It might not be noticeable at first but you’ll see it as you get 10+ rows in.

If you’d like to see what I mean (but on a smaller scale) you can try two test swatches in a solid color. Here is how:

Test One: +1 Included:

With any hook and worsted yarn:

Ch 10 +1

Row 1: sc in 2nd ch from hook (skipped ch does not count as a st), sc in each ch to end, ch1, turn. (10 sc)

Row 2-4: sc in 1st sc, sc in each sc to end, ch 1, turn. (10 sc)

Row 5: sc in 1st sc, sc in each sc to end, Finish off. (10 sc) +1 Anyone

Test Two: +1 Not Included:

With the same hook and yarn:

Ch 10

Row 1: Sc in sc in 2nd ch from hook (skipped ch does count as a st), sc in each ch to end, ch1, turn. (10 sc)

Row 2: sc in 1st sc, sc in each sc to end, sc in beginning turning chain, ch 1, turn. (10 sc)

Row 3-4: sc in 1st sc, sc in each sc to end, ch 1, turn. (10 sc)

Row 5: sc in 1st sc, sc in each sc to end, Finish off. (10 sc) +1 Anyone

Notice how both photos show exactly 10 sc over 5 rows but that the second–without that tricky +1 chain–has a weird corner. That will come back to haunt you later when it’s time for a border and depending on how tightly you crochet, it could pull your entire blanket out of line and make you wish you hadn’t started at all!

So, to recap, add a +1 to all of your graphghan patterns and do not treat the skipped chain as a stitch! Practice the technique over a smaller swatch just to make sure you’ve got it down and if you have used this technique I’d love to see your finished projects over on the HodgePodge Crochet facebook page!

Better Blanket Corners Better Blanket Corners

Lots of people ask me about blankets. Mostly, how to keep their sides square and neat.

Generally speaking, square blanket corners are made right from the foundation chain. If you get that right, odds are your finished blanket will be stunning.

But how is that possible?

The answer is TENSION!

If you’re interested in learning how to create better blanket corners, you’re in luck! In about 7 minutes from now you’ll be well on your way to cranking out corners like a pro!

I love reading your comments so if you have time, drop one below! Also don’t forget to click that like button (to give me the warm and fuzzies) and if you enjoyed this and don’t want to be left out whenever I make a new blog post, head on over to the side bar and click that Follow HodgePodge Crochet button!

Felting For The Fearful! Felting For The Fearful

Gift exchanges are always a lot of fun for me and in a recent one, a very dear friend of mine sent me a box loaded with delicious goodies. One of those goodies was this gorgeous hank of yarn that she hand spun herself just for me!

This beauty was purchased as roving from AJ’s Handmade Creations and is called ‘Exploding TARDIS’. Felting For The Fearful

Free Me!

Free Me!


Anyone who has spent any time hanging around this blog knows I have a weakness for The Doctor–he’s been lovingly recreated in both purses and tees which I use constantly–so this yarn holds a special place in my heart!

I was afraid to touch it though! If you’ve ever gotten your hands on any handspun, hand-dyed yarn that cost a small fortune, you know the panic that sets in when you think about using it. Generally I wrap all that beauty into plastic and squirrel it away…

But I was determined not to let anything TARDIS get buried under the weight of my yarn hoard, so the battle between making something amazing or making a complete and total mess of my gorgeous and expensive yarn began! Felting For The Fearful

I decided that the project that I wanted to tackle had to be practical and had to be something that I would use in my everyday world. Then, while settling into the current book of the HodgePodge Crochet: The Community’s Book Club event (which happens to be The Maze Runner), I knew what I wanted to use that lovely yarn for. A Kindle cover!

It seemed simple enough but I didn’t know the first thing about working with handspun wool. So I did what I normally do whenever I want to figure stuff out…I started playing with it!

The first thing I did was to carefully roll the yarn from the hank into a workable ball. My cat seemed completely unimpressed when I’d finished. Felting For The Fearful

After I’d finished that I decided that a bigger hook would probably be better in the long run so I grabbed a Doctor (also gifts from another gift exchange!) and got to work!

Knowing what little I did about the whole felting process, I jumped right in and didn’t worry too much about tension or making neat stitches and, after eyeballing the size, I took a deep breath, hoped for the best, and chained 22!

I used a single crochet stitch, working in the round, and followed the basic rules you would find when starting most baby shoe soles–meaning you chain an amount, sc in the 2nd chain from the hook and in each ch across to the last ch, 3 sc in the last ch, rotate your work so that you can crochet into the bottom of the foundation chain, sc in each ch to the last, 2 sc in the last ch.

Then I just single crocheted around and around and around until my Kindle pouch was about 2 inches taller than my Kindle. When I finished I was a lot upset…not gonna lie. What I’d produced was an oversized pocket thing that looked lumpy and uneven. The color was amazing but it really was not something you ever expect to see when you finish a project. Without the beautiful symmetry of crochet in regular yarn to fall back on I was left with nothing BUT the color. The color part, I learned, would be very important to the finished project and in hindsight, I should have been paying more attention to it.

But instead I panicked… Felting For The Fearful

I was so freaked out that I didn’t even take a photo because I was convinced that I’d ruined all my expensive and delicious yarn.

I took a small break to check on a pattern I have currently being tested (if you want to check out the progress, head on over to the HodgePodge Crochet facebook page to see the sneak peaks!) and since that was going so well I decided that things couldn’t get any worse with my sleeve thing–I wasn’t about to throw it away…and forget about frogging it–so I did what any crocheter in my situation would. I soldiered on!

I threw the Kindle cover into a bath of white vinegar and cold water to keep the colors from running as much as possible and let it soak for 20 minutes. I don’t have any pics of that process either because I was positive I would be rocking in a corner at the end of this whole felting procedure mourning the loss of my beautiful yarn…

Quick tip: If you try felting your yarn and you’ve used either a variegated yarn like my Exploding TARDIS or you’ve used more than one color, it’s a good idea to soak your yarn first in a white vinegar/cold water bath to set your colors as much as possible before starting the felting process. I recommend about 1/2 gallon of COLD water with 1/2 cup white vinegar. You can add more vinegar if you’d like and it won’t hurt your wool. Resist the temptation to rush this process!! Let the vinegar do its thing and you won’t be crying over ruined yarn when you’re done!

When your yarn is done soaking, drain the water/vinegar mix and gently press the water out of your yarn. DON’T WRING!! Then fill your bowl or bucket up with HOT water. As hot as you can comfortably stand it. Place your project into the hot water and gently agitate so that your project now is filled with the hot water instead of the cold.

Next it’s time to take the whole thing to your laundry room!

To felt wool you have two options. One is to do it by hand…which is time consuming and hard. The other is to use your washing machine. If you choose to use your machine, there is a catch. It has to be a top loading one. Front loading machines won’t give you enough agitation to properly felt.

I’m only going to talk about the process that I did, which is using my machine to do all the work, but if you’d rather tackle this process by hand it’s pretty much the same process except your hands take the place of the agitator in your machine. Felting For The FearfulThe first thing you want to do is fill your washer with the hottest water you can. Hot water is key here. I added detergent…which was a HUGE mistake. I don’t recommend adding detergent because I had to run my project through several cycles just to wash out the residual soap…and I only used a tiny bit!

Skip the detergent and just use super hot water and baking soda instead. Baking soda won’t foam and will help the felting process just like detergent will without having to worry about lingering suds.

Once your hot water is in, toss in your baking soda and a few towels or a pair of jeans along with your project and let it agitate for about 10 minutes. The waiting process is terrible but totally worth it!

After 10 minutes, take out your project and gently squeeze the water from it. Again, don’t wring!

Your project should have gotten smaller and much fuzzier. If you can still see your stitches, throw it back into the machine and keep checking it every 5 minutes until it’s completely fuzzy (it should look like felt). Felting For The Fearful

When you’re happy (and you know it) clap your… Uh, no..that’s not right. 

When you’re satisfied with your felting genius and your project looks perfect, (by perfect I mean a shrunken version of itself that’s all misshapen and furry) it’s time to lock those fibers in place with a rinse. Most machines use cool water to rinse and that’s important here because cool water will lock all that hard work into place. A quick spin to remove most of the water and you’re ready to block your new masterpiece into its forever shape!

While your project is still wet, make sure you take time to pull it into the shape you want it to be when dry! If you don’t, it will stay whatever shape it is when it’s dry…FOREVER. There is no going back. This step is one you want to take your time with and not rush. Pull, push, stuff, pin…do whatever it is you need to in order to make sure that your finished result will be something that looks like what you envision in your head!

Leave your work to air dry, which might take a while so be patient! Once you’re finished, you should have something to be proud of! Felting For The Fearful

I hope you are inspired to pull out some of your expensive handspun hanks of yarn (that I know you have squirreled away somewhere in a closet or in your stash) and give felting a try! It really is a lot of fun and when you’re finished you will have something beautiful that you can finally get some use out of!! Felting For The Fearful

If you’ve taken the challenge and have felted something after reading this, I’d LOVE to see it! Head on over to my facebook page to share your photos and to tell me all about your project!