Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ash Leaf Bracelet Free Pattern & Tutorial (featuring the Forward Loop Chain)

When I wrote this pattern on a cold October morning, the thermometer read 23º and I was wearing mitts and long sleeves. But somewhere in the world, it's still bare-arms-and-bracelet weather. So here, for your crochet pleasure, is the Ash Leaf Bracelet.

Forward Loop Chains give stability and body to this easy leafy pattern. Add a few double crochets, a standard chain, and a slip stitch or two, and the Ash Leaf Bracelet will fly off your hook in no time.

Simple bead chains at each end mimic ash keys and allow yarn ends to remain in plain sight as part of the design - no pesky weaving in!

Ideas for Ash Leaf Variations:
  • Make a longer version for a necklace
  • Use a button for the clasp
  • For a minimalist look, eliminate the starting and ending bead chains, and instead weave in yarn ends
  • Work pattern in different colours for different seasons
  • For leafy bunting, use bulky yarn, large beads, and space leaves farther apart

Ash Leaf Bracelet

Size: Custom.

Yarn Requirements: Small amount of Light/DK (#3) weight cotton yarn
(Pattern will also work with any weight yarn and the appropriate size hook)

Gauge: 1 leaf per 3/4" of bracelet length when worked in DK weight cotton yarn.

Notions: 6º beads  (2 per leaf, plus 8 extra - see gauge above to calculate number of leaves)

Yarn I Used: Planet Penny Cotton Club, colour Buttercup

How Did the Yarn Behave? Delightfully as always. (I'm a big fan of Planet Penny Cotton Club yarn.)

Hook Size: US D/3.25 mm

All crochet terminology is American.

Ash Leaf Bracelet Pattern in Mostly Plain English:

Special Stitches and Abbreviations:

Forlpch (Forward Loop Chain): (Click here for tutorial)
Bead chain: Slide a bead down to hook, yarn over, draw through hook enclosing bead in chain
Inverse bead sl st (inverse bead slip stitch): holding working yarn in front, insert hook back to front in indicated stitch, slide a bead down to hook, yo and draw through all loops on hook.
Double crochet (dc)
Slip stitch (sl st)

String beads onto yarn. Allow 2 beads per leaf, plus 8 extra. If using different colours at the stem and tip, string in this order: stem colour, tip colour, stem colour, tip colour, ending with tip colour.

Ash Key: Start with slipknot on hook. Bead ch 4.

First Leaf (acts as clasp): Chain 1, forlpch 5, bead chain 1, forlp ch 2, dc in back bump of 5th forlpch, dc in next back bump, skip 2 back bumps, sl st in next back bump, inverse bead sl st in back bump of regular chain (leaf made).

Spacers and following leaves: *Forlpch 3 (spacer made), chain 1, forlpch 5, bead chain 1, forlp ch 2, dc in back bump of 5th forlpch, dc in next back bump, skip 2 back bumps, sl st in next back bump, inverse bead sl st in back bump of regular chain (leaf made).

Repeat from * to desired length. (Remember that bracelet will stretch when worn.)

Clasp loop: Forlp ch 9, sl st in top 2 strands of 1st forlpch. Bead ch 3 or 4, cut yarn and tie off tightly. Trim yarn ends and lightly block bracelet.

Ash Leaf Bracelet Phototutorial

First string your beads (see Pattern above), then follow the photos. (Click here for Forward Loop Chain tutorial.)

Tug yarn ends to tighten knots. Trim yarn ends close to knots. Block lightly.

To wear bracelet, slip first leaf with bead chain through clasp loop.

You may do whatever you like with the items you make from this pattern, but you may not sell the pattern or re-post the text elsewhere. (Links are always welcome.)

Thanks for viewing, and happy crocheting!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Cloudy Sunday Walk ... and Palm Trees

Howdy strangers ... I've been away for several days on a visit to Southern California, where I was checking up on my Aged P (and Mr. M's), and meeting up with a dear old friend who was also in town.

My friend S signed us up for a 5K run/walk on Sunday. An avid runner herself (we ran cross country and track together in high school and she's been running ever since), she generously offered to walk the course with me.

The morning was cloudy and grey, but the runners added plenty of colour to the scene. Some crazy costumes were in evidence:

S had brought matching neon t-shirts and pink boas for us to wear. I added crochet flowers for extra beauty:

Planet Penny Cotton Club yarn, of course!

Our 3.1 miles of walking and talking (with lots of laughter) went very quickly. Before we knew it, we had reached the finish line.

And here we are in our crochet-trimmed shirts, proudly wearing our surfboard medals...

...and clutching some of the goodies the volunteers shoved into our hands at the finish:

Fruit was also available for replenishing lost calories:

After the event, we hung around to watch the costume contest. The finalists included runners dressed as a Bavarian, a team of Minions, Jackie O, Medusa, and a mother/son superhero duo:

The mother-and-son duo won (based mainly on the extreme cuteness of the shorter partner, I think).

Next we took a stroll on the misty beach. That's Huntington Beach Pier in the background below:

The water was full of floating surfers who never seemed to catch a wave. All they did was sit around on their boards...

...or so it seemed.

While editing my photos later, I found I had unknowingly snapped one of them actually SURFING in the background of this shorebird shot:

We saw packs of little sandpipers scooting across the sands...

...lots of typical California beach shells (most of them less than an inch long)...

...and bird tracks large and small (these are the small ones):

Then we said goodbye to the ocean... back in the car, and headed inland to our parents' homes.

A very good Sunday walk with a friend. :)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Friday, October 25, 2013

Word of the Week: Nother

Welcome back to Mrs. M's Word of the Week. Today we descend from our usual linguistic heights to explore one of the seedier byways of American English. We also introduce a new speaker, the Grammar Prig.

This week's (so-called) word is Nother.

noth·er (ˈnəTHər), adjective & pronoun informal
1. Nonstandard spelling of "another".

Used in a sentence:

"Don't go away," said the radio announcer, "there's a whole nother hour of Prairie Home Companion coming up right after this break." (Heard weekly for years on Wisconsin Public Radio. Oh, the shame of it.)

Most recently seen or heard in:

This NPR interview.

Why I like this word (or not):

I don't like this word. But as a mysterious quantifier with chilling grammatical implications, it holds a certain fascination.

Just think of the dreadful possibilities: if "whole nothers" can gain such a wide acceptance, the day of partial nothers cannot be far off.
"Still hungry, sweetheart? There's a half nother sandwich left on the plate."
"We're not out of sugar - there's a third nother cup in the bag."
And it's only a matter of time before Nother crosses the pond and corrupts the metric Old World:
"I say, Basil, hadn't we better stop for petrol? We've only a tenth nother litre in the tank."
Nother wasn't always such a sinister word - it entered the language rather innocently some centuries ago, bearing on its youthful head an apostrophe which marked it out as a harmless contraction of "another". Can't you just picture it? Cute little 'Nother, freckled and barefoot, wearing ragged overalls and chewing on a straw, or swimming in the crick with its cousin 'Nuff.

But something went wrong along the way. Cute little 'Nother grew up, dropped its apostrophe, and got in with a Bad Grammar crowd. (The dropped apostrophe also went astray, and now hangs out in all the worst dive's.)

Some might say Nother is an innocent victim - a piteous orphan forcibly separated from its initial letter and compelled to labour in the field of shoddy grammatical construction. Others might see it as a harmless bit of linguistic whimsy, or a pleasant way to channel their inner hillbilly.

The Grammar Prig weighs in with: "Nother is no helpless victim - it's a shifty interloper with nefarious designs on the purity of the language. I hereby issue a call for its immediate banishment - though I realise the unlikelihood of such an event. This is America, after all, where grammatical horrors are daily embraced and welcomed into Common Usage. Now that Nother has infiltrated Public Radio, there's no telling where it may go. The next thing we know, it will be running for President. With a misplaced apostrophe as its running-mate."

The Grammar Prig's Better Way to Say It:
  • Another whole
  • Another full
  • Another completely
  • Another entirely
For example:
"There's another full hour of our show coming up after this message."
"That's another story entirely."
Nother. Victim or villain? You be the judge.


Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this post are not necessarily those of the blogger. (But she really enjoys writing them.)

That's all for today, folks. Tune in next week, when we'll focus on a...nother (and better) word.

~ ~ ~

How do you feel about nothers, whole or otherwise?

Do you have any pet grammatical peeves?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Interweave Accessories 2014 (Including a Pattern by Yours Truly)

One of the advantages of being published in crochet magazines is getting an advance copy in the mail.

Here's what I got today:

I've been waiting eagerly for this issue ever since the patterns went up on Ravelry last week. Not only because one of the patterns is mine (she says casually, striving to conceal her inner leapings and shoutings for joy)...

Picea Hat by yours truly

...but because it's chock full of simply amazing crochet. Just look at some of these beauties:

Basketweave Mitts by Laurinda Reddig

Winterbloom Bag by Amy Gunderson

Morning Webs Shawl by Kathryn White
with Knothole Mitts by Theresa Shabes

Not to mention some fantastic articles:

It's very humbling to share magazine space with such an array of talented crocheters.

Interweave Crochet Accessories 2014 will be available on newsstands October 25th. (It's also available online here.)

To the gamblers out there: you can rush right out and buy your own copy, or take your chances and wait for my November giveaway. I'll be offering a copy of this issue, with a few other goodies (including the statutory chocolate). Stay tuned for details. :)

~ ~ ~

Regarding the Picea Hat: I designed it last fall for my sister's birthday, and after a tweak or two submitted it to Interweave. The crown features a stretchy star stitch developed especially for this pattern. (What would a Mrs. Micawber pattern be without some funky new stitch or technique?) And I'm really proud of the band design, which uses back loop slip stitch and a rather radical cluster technique that pushes a few crochet boundaries. Simple crocheted buttons add a touch of fun (and cover the row joins). For more details, visit the Interweave project page here.

Many thanks to Interweave for publishing me. Again! :)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Monday, October 21, 2013

Drizzly what it's been nearly all week. And damp. And cold. Near-freezing nights have kicked autumn colour into high gear, but wind and rain have taken down many leaves before their time.

On Friday we pulled up the basil plants, and stripped the leaves to store in the freezer. (This made me feel like a murderer, but the plants could no longer survive the cold nights, even under a protective layer of plastic.) With the basil went our last dreams of summer.

~ ~ ~

On Sunday a steady drizzle falls all day long. Not the best weather for walking, but I've been sitting around crocheting and eating starchy foods and drinking cup after cup of tea. Some sort of exercise (beyond that of my wrists and jaws) is indicated - so out come the woolly undershirt and the new neon violet fleece top, and the bright lilac hat I haven't worn since last winter. Tallulah climbs into my pocket, and we head out into the rain.

It's too wet for trail-walking, so we aim for the park. Edging the lake near the park entrance are some ghostly remains of unidentified flowers, rain-spangled and delicately lovely:

Lining the park's inner pond are coneflowers: some partially dried, still with a gleam of life about them:

 ...and some completely dried:

These fluffy brown blossoms are ironweed gone to seed:

Tallulah consents to pose on a damp bridge railing against a misty view of the lake :

(I see she's still wearing her cycling helmet. Not much chance of a ride in this weather!)

Round the corner are some impressive goldenrod turned velour:

Ash keys dangle from a leafless tree:

The rain makes overlapping circles on the water:

Tallulah asks for a whiff of acorn:

"How does it smell?" I ask.

"Oaky, with a hint of nuttiness," she replies.

We have nearly completed our circuit of the park, but the best is yet to come. Ahead is a piercingly lovely sugar maple that has scattered leaves like scarlet confetti over the wet asphalt.

Could anything be more beautiful than this?

Autumn has its compensations, even in the rain. :)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~