Saturday, June 21, 2014

Flutter-By Curtain Ties ~ A Free Crochet Pattern with Tutorial

Mr. M has a positive talent for making curtain ties disappear. I don't know how he does it, but last year he managed to lose all but one of our plain muslin curtain ties. (I suspect he knocked them, one by one, into the brass paper-recycling can that sits between my desk and the window, and, manlike, didn't notice them when he dumped the paper.)

In self-defense, and as an excuse to play with yarn, I decided we needed some really colourful ties that he couldn't possibly miss - lacy, cheerfully orange ties that would look pretty against the muslin summer curtains, and show up well if they happened to fall on the floor or into the paper-recycling can. A little time with the yarn and hook, a few wifely threats gentle reminders to Mr. M on Taking Care with the Curtain Ties, and we were all set:

Operation Colourful Curtain Ties was a rousing success. Our new ties survived the rest of Summer 2013, and were safely put away with the muslin curtains when cold weather came. Now summer is here once more, and the ties are back in action.

I think they'll be good for a few summers yet.

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Flutter-By Curtain Ties

Size: 1½" wide by as long as you like - mine have 12 Flutter-Bys and are about 18" long

Yarn Requirements: 40-50 yards of DK weight yarn will make (2) 18" ties

Yarn I Used: Planet Penny Cotton Club

How Did the Yarn Behave? Great as always!

Hook Size: D/3.25mm or E/3.5mm

All crochet terminology is American.

Special Stitches/Abbreviations:

Knotless Chain (optional): click here for phototutorial

Forward Loop Chain (forlp ch): click here for written/phototutorial; click here for video tutorial. (You may substitute regular chain stitches for the forward loop chain sections, but they will look thinner and be slightly less sturdy.)

Double Treble (dtr): yarn over 3 times, insert hook in indicated space, yarn over and pull up a loop, (yarn over and draw through 2 loops) 4 times.

Invisible Join (optional): click here for tutorial; you may substitute a plain slip stitch join.

Flutter-By Ties Crochet Chart

Flutter-By Ties Crochet Shorthand Pattern

Ties are worked RS facing at all times.

*Knotless ch (or regular chain) 4, tr2tog in back ridge of 4th ch from hook (top left wing made); ch 4, dc in back ridge of 4th ch from hook, ch 3, sl st in same back ridge sp (lower left wing made); ch 3, dc in same back ridge sp, ch 3, sl st in same back ridge sp (lower right wing made); ch 3, tr2tog in same back ridge sp (upper right wing made); dtr in back ridge sp of starting ch (at top of upper left wing); first flutter-by complete.
Rep from * to desired length of tie.
End loop: Forlp ch 8.
Top edging: Dc 2 in back ridge of 8th forlp ch from hook; *forlp ch 1, sk top segment of dtr, (dc in back ridge of next segment) twice; forlp ch 1, dc 2 in sp at top of next left upper wing. Rep from * across.
End loop: Forlp ch 8, inv join to starting ch.

Flutter-By Ties Phototutorial with Pattern in Plain English

Making a Flutter-By:

Knotless chain (or regular chain) 4:

Find the back ridge of the first chain you made; you will be making your next stitches into it.

Treble crochet 2 together in the space under that back ridge.
(To treble crochet 2 together, yarn over 2 times;
insert hook under back ridge, yarn over and pull up a loop,
yarn over and pull through 2 loops,
yarn over and pull through 2 loops;
with 2 loops still on hook, yarn over 2 times,
insert hook under same back ridge, yarn over and pull up a loop,
yarn over and pull through 2 loops,
yarn over and pull through 2 loops;
yarn over and pull through all 3 loops on hook.)

You've made the first wing of your Flutter-By:

Chain 4, and find the back ridge of the 4th chain from the hook (this back ridge will form the center of the Flutter-By; all the rest of the wings will be stitched into this space):

Double crochet 1 in that back ridge:

Chain 3, and slip stitch in the same back ridge space (lower left wing now complete):

Chain 3,
double crochet in the same back ridge space,
chain 3,
slip stitch in the same back ridge space.
Your lower right wing is now complete:

Chain 3, and treble crochet 2 together in the same back ridge space. Your upper right wing is now complete:

Double treble crochet in the starting back ridge space at the top of the upper left wing (see arrow in photo above).
To double treble crochet:
yarn over 3 times,
insert hook in starting back ridge space,
yarn over and pull up a loop,
yarn over and draw through 2 loops (4 times).

Your first Flutter-By is done!

Repeat all the above steps to make another Flutter-By...

...and another...

...until your tie is as long as you'd like. (My orange curtain ties are 12 Flutter-Bys long - about 18" after end loops are added).

When you reach the desired length, it's time to loop around and start working back the other way. Do not turn your work over; keep the same side facing you at all times.

Forward Loop Chain 8 (see "Special Stitches" above for links to Forward Loop Chain tutorials; you may substitute regular chains if you like, but they'll be thinner and less sturdy):

The arrows in the photo above show where your next stitches will go.

Double crochet 2 in the back ridge of the first Forward Loop Chain:

Now stop for a moment and look at the Double Treble that connects the top wings of the Flutter-By. In the center of it you will see 2 ridges (marked by arrows in the above photo.) Your next stitches will go there.

Forward Loop Chain 1, then double crochet in each of those 2 back ridges:

Forward Loop Chain 1, then double crochet 2 in the top space of the left upper wing:

Repeat this stitch pattern across the top of your curtain tie:
(Forward Loop Chain 1,
double crochet 1 in each of the 2 center back ridges of the next double treble crochet,
Forward Loop Chain 1,
double crochet 2 in the top of the next upper left wing.)

When you reach the other end...

Forward Loop Chain 8, and connect with an Invisible Join to the first stitch of the first wing (see Special Stitches above for Invisible Join tutorial link; you may substitute a plain slip stitch join if you like.)

Weave in ends, and block your tie to open up the spaces and make the Flutter-Bys lie flat:

While the first tie is drying, whip up the next one.

Some other ideas for the Flutter-By pattern:

  • Use as trim for towels or curtains. (A ribbon may be woven through the spaces along the top.)
  • Use crochet thread and a smaller hook for a pretty necklace or bracelet. (Replace one of the end loops with a button.)
  • Use a colour-changing worsted-weight or chunky yarn for a pretty bunting.
  • Work shells or picots along the top (instead of double crochets).
  • Change the Flutter-Bys into Violets by adding an extra wing (or petal) at the bottom center (ch 3, dc in back ridge sp, ch 3, sl st in same sp).
You may do whatever you like with the items you make from this pattern, but you may not sell the pattern or reproduce the text. (Links are always welcome.)

Thanks for viewing, and happy crocheting!

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Short Road, Long(ish) Ride

How was your weekend? Ours was so filled with social engagements that riding was nearly crowded out. But with only 2 weeks until Bike MS*, and not nearly enough miles under my belt, I knew I had to squeeze in a longer ride than any yet taken this year. But I was very reluctant to go far from home; distance somehow accentuates the intermittent panic I've been fighting for weeks.

A bright idea: why not ride up and down the road just outside town? A short, curving road, with enough rises and falls to keep it from being boring - 9 trips up and back would give me just over 40 miles (my goal for the ride), yet I would never be more than 3 miles from home. It was worth a try.

*Speaking of Bike MS, it's never too late to donate! Click the "Bike MS" button in the sidebar if you'd like to give. Every donation goes straight to help people with MS.


A late Sunday afternoon, hot and windy. I've never before taken a ride at once so short and so long; I wonder how I will keep track of the "laps". A photo a lap seems like a good idea. I can keep it down to 9 photos, right? (Here the blogger emits a wild, mocking "ha ha".)

Lap 1: Lovely clouds over a sloping cornfield:

The corn is coming up well after a very late start to the growing season. I like the rows stretching away in persepective towards the green bank of trees.

Lap 2: Sunlight on pines:

My road includes a long stretch of these well-grown pines that spice the air as they sigh in the warm wind.

Lap 3: Turtle in the road.

Tallulah and I worry about the turtle all the way to the end of Lap 3, through our turn, and back to the spot where we first saw it. This road gets a steady stream of traffic; we're afraid we may find only bits of shell on the next pass. To our relief, the road is clear when we return; the turtle has made it safely across. (On the next lap we notice a depression in the sandy verge nearby; the turtle must have been laying eggs.)

Lap 4: We stop for a break, and admire the branching arms of a telephone pole across the way:

Lap 5: Shadow shot!

Still Lap 5 (the one-photo-per-lap has broken down already): An empty barn and silo stand at the far end of our road, with more dramatic clouds on the horizon behind:

Lap 6: An enticing bit of gatepost, twined with baling wire:

And just next to it, an even more enticing grassy drive beneath arching trees:

(A "For Sale" sign stands at the entrance to this drive. Do I want to see what lies beyond the curve? No - it's more fun to imagine it.)

Lap 7: We take a short break on a shady side-road where the verges are carpeted with fluffy tree seeds:

While shooting the fluffy seeds I am swarmed by mosquitoes, so it's back on the bike and up the road to take the rest of our break in a sunnier, windier, skeeter-less spot.

Tallulah stays in her basket while I eat my banana and admire the upside-down leaves on the maples across the way.

We wave at a passing dog and his man, but forbear to photograph them. The dog, who is black and comely (though with one white leg), shows great interest in making our acquaintance, but the man prefers to keep walking. They pass from view. I swig a bit of orange juice, and we resume our ride.

Lap 8: I neglect to take any photos.

Lap 9: Almost done! Just a few miles to go, and we're feeling pretty good. In just 2 weeks we'll have a new sticker here - one that reads "Bike MS 2014":

(On a side note - I'm really much pudgier than this shot makes me look. The seeming svelteness must have something to do with perspective. Perhaps I should take all my selfies while riding....)


A surprisingly good long(ish) ride on a rather short road. I felt safe the whole time (woo hoo!), and though I rode the same few miles over and over, it never once got boring. Eyes that look for beauty in the small and in the everyday will always find something to admire. :)

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P.S. Lest you think this has turned into a cycling-only blog, rest assured that I haven't stopped crocheting. Later this week I'll post a free pattern for some pretty curtain ties....

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Two Rides

I'm behind on cycling posts this spring. Riding has become a bit of a struggle for me since last month's accident, and the reluctance to ride seems to be spilling over into reluctance to blog about riding. But things are getting better, both physically and mentally. I just need to keep at it....

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Two Sundays ago, I proudly wore my Team Snowcatcher jersey:

Each sleeve features a different image of one of Snowcatcher's crochet snowflakes. There are matching shorts (not pictured) which also have a unique snowflake image on each leg. I'm really looking forward to riding in style with Snowcatcher and the Lizard at this year's Bike MS*, where we'll all be wearing Team Snowcatcher gear.

My route led me through deep woods, at the edges of which grew masses of tiny white violets of a kind I'd never seen before:

The foliage was much larger than the violets that grow in our yard, and the blossoms were much smaller, about 1/2" across. Research suggests they may be Viola blanda - any ideas from my more learned wildflower-loving friends?

I passed a new-to-me barn. The end windows looked a bit like sleepy eyes:

We took a break under beautiful rustling aspens:

Tallulah consented to pose on the bike seat when break time was over:

Miles later, we stopped for a photo of a dandelion puffball (with glimpses of Wild Geranium in the background):

Down the hill is our egg supplier's house and barns, with windmill and silo:

Just a mile or two from home, we passed an Amish buggy driven by a young girl (you can see her black bonnet sticking up). I couldn't resist taking a photo from behind:

A hot and sticky ride, refreshed by breaks under shady trees, and full of all the small beauties of a Wisconsin spring.

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This past Sunday, the weather was much more pleasant: sunny, with a strong cool wind out of the northeast.

Golden Alexanders are blooming right now - a delightfully-named umbellifer, member of the carrot family, with an equally charming Latin name (Zizia Aurea) and tiny yellow blossoms:

A shot for Anne of andamento:

Also flowering thickly are Daisy Fleabane, a tiny, pale-pink aster that will bloom from now throughout the summer. Each blossom is about 1/2" to 3/4" wide:

White Yarrow has popped out in the last week:

And (in case you haven't seen enough wildflowers yet) the Swamp Buttercups (or possibly Meadow Buttercups) are flourishing along the woody sloping road above our egg supplier's farm:

The top of this road is delightfully overhung with trees both shady and blossoming:

Around the corner and up the next hill, I see the first wild roses on a north-facing bank:

A few miles later, this steer (?) watches impassively as I wheel by:

At the top of another hill, I stop for a break in an empty field. To my right is the road:

Ahead is the field (looking a bit dry and in need of rain):

Behind me all is cool and shady-green:

At my feet are ... my feet, and the shadow of a bike:

In my hand are some energy balls, my new favourite riding snack:

Energy balls: mix equal parts peanut butter and honey, with a bit of brown sugar (about ¼ the amount of honey used), and a few drops vanilla. Stir in dry rolled oats to make a thick mixture the consistency of cookie dough. Add chocolate chips, nuts, and raisins to taste. (Or anything else that takes your fancy.) Shape into balls and roll in unsweetened coconut to coat.

Pretty tasty:

Miles later, we see the moon rising in a deep-blue sky, over a white bank of cloud with green trees and fields below.

Another beautiful Sunday ride.

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*Speaking of Bike MS, there are only 2 ½ weeks to go! If you'd like to join me in the fight against Multiple Sclerosis, click here or on the button at the top right of the blog to make a donation. Every dollar goes straight to the National MS Society to help people with MS.

To read about last year's ride, click here.

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