Sunday, April 13, 2014

Week 6: Spring Cleaning - Organizing Your Yarn Stash

Wow, I've had a bad case of spring fever this week. Unfortunately I've mostly been tied to my desk trying to get paperwork caught up and I haven't been able to get outside as much as I like. But I really did enjoy this week's challenge as I went through and organized my yarns. I happened to be in the right place at the right time one day at my local thrift shop. They had a whole bunch of plastic crates for $1.00 each. Right then I envisioned a wall of yarn in my craft room and snatched up a bunch of them.

Here is where I keep my skeins of acrylic yarns organized by color. Once the skeins start getting too floppy then I wind them into yarn cakes. (I just love that - yarn cakes! Who doesn't love yarn - and cake?!)

I also have clear plastic lidded tubs that stack neatly and this is where I separately keep my cotton yarns, novelty yarns and my acrylics that I've wound into yarn cakes. I keep my wools in a storage cabinet, also organized by color, and in clear plastic bags so I can easily see my color choices.

So what have I learned this week? I have A LOT of yarn. But the good news is that I do use it up. I've already organized a few charity projects that I would like to do, and I have separated out the yarns that I will never use (after FINALLY admitting this myself). I am setting those aside for now, because I may organize a yarn swap with my crochet group in the fall. Some I will be donating.

This was a challenging week overall, but now I feel yarnie good and organized :)

Thanks for joining me for Week 6 of the 52 Week Crochet Challenge! 
It's never too late to join in the fun:

52 Week Crochet Challenge
Ravelry Group

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Week 5: Learning the Crocodile Stitch

When thinking about what stitch I wanted to learn this for this week's challenge, I thought of the crocodile stitch. It's not something I had ever made before, and to me, the most interesting part is how it's constructed. I'm a big fan of stitches and designs that look complicated, but really aren't.

I did a search on Ravelry for a pattern and came across these darling Crocodile Stitch Baby Booties designed by Laura Tegg. They are a fun project, very quick to make, and also super cute!

I used Red Heart yarns from my stash and a size G (4.00) hook. The length of the finished soles measure about 3 1/2 inches long. But of course, the real attraction is the cuff, which are v-stitches and post stitches cleverly constructed into the "scale" shape.

Below you can see my first round of v-stitches and I've already made the first scale. I will skip the next v-stitch and work the next scale around the posts of the v-stitch after it. 

Below I am beginning my first front post half double crochet around the first post of the v-stitch and after that I will make 3 more around the same post, then chain 1.

Next, I will work 4 front post half double crochet stitches around the next post of the same v-stitch.

The first two rounds of the cuff are completed and I have my first set of scales. The next round is a repeat round of v-stitches. V-stitches are made between each scale, and also in the center of each scale, which is where the green arrow is pointing to in the picture below.

The next round of making the scales had me confused at first because the scales alternate and are staggered, not layered, on top of each other . Make sure that you are placing a scale in the v-stitch between the previous scales. Then you will skip the next v-stitch and make your scale in the next v-stitch. Lastly, you will repeat another round of v-stitches, then again work a staggered round of scales. 

Here is a closer detail of the finished cuff:

I really enjoyed this week's challenge, and now I have an adorable set of booties ready for gift giving. Plus it's fun to learn something new!

Thanks for joining me for Week 5 of the 52 Week Crochet Challenge! 
It's never too late to join in the fun:

52 Week Crochet Challenge
Ravelry Group

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Week 4: How did you learn to crochet, or who taught you?

My crochet history isn't very glamorous or a heartfelt tribute to someone who lovingly taught me to crochet. Nope, I taught myself. But, I guess in a way it is a tribute, a tribute to books and how important they have been, and are, in my life.

Learning to crochet had been on my to-do list for some time. A former co-worker of mine had crocheted me a set of the most beautiful place mats. I imagined that they took her a really long time to make, but she assured me that it hadn't. She taught me how to make a chain, but we never really got beyond that point. It wasn't until a few years had passed that I decided I was going to take the time to learn. So, I bought myself a kit and I went through the instructions step by step. I was "hooked". I wanted to learn as many stitches and techniques as I could, and books were (and are) my best teachers.

Books, for as long as I can remember, have been a constant in my life, and since I learned, crochet has been too. And I am so grateful! Gratitude grounds me, and reading and crocheting truly are simple joys that I enjoy every day. I hope that others will be inspired to learn something new with this Challenge, and hey, I know a great book that can help . . .

Welcome to week 4 of the 52 Week Crochet Challenge! It's not too late to join in the fun:
52 Week Crochet Challenge
Ravelry Group

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Week 3: Celebrate Spring with Flowers

Week 3 of the 52 Week Crochet Challenge is here! The challenge is to crochet a flower, or make a project that has a flower motif or theme in celebration of the first day of spring. It's hard to believe that spring officially arrives tomorrow but I am sure we are all ready to welcome it!

For my project I chose to make a flower decoration.

I began each flower with a long length of yarn, then crocheted a basic 5 petal flower. I sewed a pony bead to each center. For the vine I crocheted a long chain and worked slip stitches into it, working more than one stitch into some of the chains to give it the curl. To finish I attached a keychain hook to the vine. I cut the lengths of the flower yarns to different lengths and knotted all the flowers and the vine together at the top. It measures about 15 inches long.

I made this decoration as a pick me up for a boring black tote bag that I use.  Now, it's not the only tote or bag that I have, because like office supplies, tote bags are an addiction of mine :) But, what's special about this one is that it's got ------------------------------------wheels! You can't see them in the picture, but they're there, and it is so handy to use especially when I am teaching a class and have tons of stuff to bring.

I like that it easily hooks onto the bag and I can change out the decoration each season if I want to. But for now I will be enjoying the bright happy colors and saying hello to Spring!


52 Week Crochet Challenge- it's not too late to join!
Ravelry Group

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Week 2: Start a Crochet Notebook, Journal, Scrapbook or Blog

Week 2 of the 52 Week Crochet Challenge is here, and since I already have a crochet notebook, journal, scrapbook and blog, I thought I would share my notebook with you.

I have to admit I am crazy for office supplies, so when I came across this notebook, I had to have it. What I love most about it is that the pages are graph paper. The graph paper makes it super easy to draw out stitch charts neatly. I also found a handy cover for it. It's clear plastic and has a zipper close pocket where I can store my pencils, color wheel and whatever else.

I started this notebook while working on my book Crochet-opedia and it's helped keep me organized. I can easily find notes, patterns I'm working on, design sketches, and anything else I need to keep track of. I also find that it's made me even more creative. Just looking through it is inspirational to me and will spark my creativity.

I also like to play with color. The picture above is a free blanket pattern that I created for the National Crochet Month blog roll, hosted last year by Crochetville. The blanket is worked in squares that are then joined together, but I wasn't sure exactly how I was going to arrange them, so I colored squares and cut them out. Then I was able to play around with the placement. It was a fun pattern to make, and it's on Ravelry here: Bright Striped Blocks Blanket Charity Pattern.

So, that's my crochet notebook, and my week 2 challenge. Thanks for visiting, enjoy!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Week 1: How Do You Celebrate National Crochet Month?

Happy National Crochet Month!

This year I am celebrating National Crochet Month by hosting a year long crochet challenge! It's off to a great start and there are already over 60 members signed up in the Ravelry group.

I'm looking forward to great year of crochet, 
new friends, and new challenges. 
I don't think there is a better way to celebrate than that!

Join the fun! 
It's easy to jump in, just click the link below to download a pdf of the weekly challenges. 
Then email me a link of your blog if you'd like to be added to the blog roll list. 
You can also find us on Ravelry!

52 Week Crochet Challenge: Get Started

Ravelry Group

Friday, February 28, 2014

52 Week Crochet Challenge - Are You Ready?

March is National Crochet Month, so now is the perfect time to launch my 52 Week Crochet Challenge!

I devised this Challenge as a way for me to explore crochet in ways I haven’t done before. I’m going to share my weekly discoveries and progress here on my blog and I hope to connect with other crocheters.

Click the link below to download a pdf file that includes all the Challenge information. Each page is loosely sectioned to a season, and I’ve included week numbers as well as dates, but this guide is meant to be inspirational, so feel free to add your own creative twists.

Please link to this blog and the 52 Week Crochet Challenge pdf, and email me if you
are taking up the Challenge. I would love to see your responses and to post a blog roll of participants.

Let’s celebrate and have some crochet fun!

Julie Oparka
Red Berry Crochet 

Join the Ravelry Group, 52 Week Crochet Challenge. Not on Ravelry? It's free to join, what are you waiting for?

Download 52 Week Crochet Challenge

1. Click the above link.
2. When the page opens, click on File in the top left tool bar.
3. Then click download in the drop down menu.
4. Open or save the file to your computer.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

New Crochet Pattern - Round Rug!

Yesterday I launched a new crochet pattern and I'm excited to announce that it's now available for purchase! I created this pattern because I thought it would be nice to have a coordinating option for my rectangle rug pattern - which is my most popular seller. It took awhile for me to figure out the stitch pattern, but I wanted to make sure that the rug can made to any size, and I include detailed instructions in the pattern on how to make it larger or smaller. It was fun to design, and now I have a round option for my home.

This is an easy crochet pattern that requires super bulky yarn and a size N (10mm) hook. It features a cobblestone stitch center, which is super cushy on your feet. This rug would be great for kitchens and bathrooms, or really any room in your home. The pdf file also includes complete instructions, color photos, Helps & Hints, and a yarn substitution guide. This pattern looks difficult, but it works up very quickly -- you could make your rug in a weekend!

Available here:

My Ravelry Shop

My Craftsy Shop

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Broomstick Lace Clutch Purse free crochet pattern courtesy of Lion Brand and St. Martin's Press

Lion Brand is once again offering a free pattern from my book Crochet-opedia on their website. This pattern is available for download courtesy of the publisher St. Martin's Press. Click here for the pattern. You'll need to register if you haven't already, but it's free to join, so why not?

I really wanted to showcase the beautiful broomstick stitch pattern in a very modern project. I think this clutch handbag does that wonderfully. It is made in two panels which are then single crocheted together. The clasp is different, something that I hadn't thought of before this design. It is worked in one piece directly onto the clutch and consists of chain and slip stitches to form the clasp.

The yarn I used is Vanna's Choice in Cranberry. It is a wonderful yarn to work with and the deep red color makes this clutch perfect for an evening on the town!

Broomstick lace is a fun technique to learn. If you've never tried it, grab a copy of Crochet-opedia. In it you will find how-to instructions. The book also includes patterns and how-to's for hairpin lace, Tunisian crochet and many more crochet techniques!

Broomstick Lace Clutch crochet pattern
and last week's pattern
Hairpin Lace Mobius Wrap crochet pattern

Enjoy :)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hairpin Lace Mobius Wrap free crochet pattern courtesy of Lion Brand and St. Martin's Press

I am so happy to see that one of the patterns from my new book Crochet-opedia is available for free download through the Lion Brand website, courtesy of the publisher, St. Martin's Press.

Click this link for the pattern. You'll need to register if you haven't already, but why not? It's free to sign up and you'll have access to many other patterns, crochet and knit. I also receive the Lion Brand newsletter's and I enjoy them very much. Along with patterns there are yarn and kit sale notifications, amusing stories, videos and more.

Out of all the 30 patterns in the book, this hairpin pattern is my favorite. (Okay, so they are all my favorites!) I really enjoyed designing this wrap, it came together easily and works up surprisingly quick once you get the hang of making the hairpin strips. I love the yarn, Vanna's Glamour in Topaz. It was easy to work with, drapes beautifully, and the gold thread running through the yarn really makes it shine.

If you've never worked hairpin lace before, grab a copy of Crochet-opedia, which includes how-to instructions. In my book you will also find patterns and how-to's for broomstick lace, Tunisian crochet and many more crochet techniques!

Enjoy :)