Monday, April 24, 2023

A New Twist on an Old Pattern

(Note: All links in this post will take you to my Ravelry store. You don't have to be a Ravelry member to buy a pattern there. If you're not comfortable using Ravelry, and you live in the US, you can contact me using the form at right to arrange a pattern purchase through Paypal.)

I'm pleased to present Olive Twist II, an updated version of the Olive Twist shawl pattern originally published in Love of Crochet, Summer 2014.

Olive Twist II is a lacy, top-down triangular shawl featuring twisted loops for a filigreed effect. It works up quickly in any yarn weight from fingering to worsted, and the size is easily customized by working more or fewer repeat rows.

The updated pattern has been revised to improve the shawl’s shape, allow for a range of yarn weights, and eliminate the need for a top edging, making it suitable for gradient yarns. Olive Twist II will also look lovely in a solid, tonal, or lightly speckled yarn.

My sample was worked in Wonderland Yarns & Frabjous Fibers Blossoms, color Narcissus Poeticus, a lovely 80% merino/20% nylon fingering weight gradient yarn with a soft hand, great structure, and wonderful drape. The finished shawl measured 44" x 19" after blocking, and used about 450 yards.

The yarn blocked beautifully, letting the twisted loops really pop:

This stitch pattern responds best to vigorous blocking, so if you're planning an Olive Twist II of your own, choose a fiber that will block well.

The Olive Twist II pattern includes full written instructions, charts, helpful illustrations, and a link to a short video tutorial. You can buy it here in my Ravelry store, and enjoy 25% off the pattern until May 1 2023 with code TWISTY at checkout.

Thanks for viewing, and happy crocheting!

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Monday, April 17, 2023

Back in the Saddle

There are cyclists, I'm told, who ride year-round, even in Wisconsin; intrepid souls, who fear neither rain nor snow nor wintry blast. I am not one of them. Ten years ago I'd occasionally ride in near-freezing temperatures, as long as the sun was shining. Nowadays, softie that I am, it takes a minimum of 50 degrees Fahrenheit - wind chill included - to tempt me into the saddle.

Given these constraints, and the exceeding storminess of March, the Micawber cycling season did not begin until early April this year - two weeks ago to be exact.


April 3: The day is grey and gloomy, with threats of rain, but temps are in the mid-50s with a moderate south wind. Not idyllic weather, but good enough for a short and easy after-work ride with Mr. M.

We stop at the first bridge for a photo of Iris the bike, with a snowmelt-swollen stream in the background:

A mile or two later, the sky darkens to charcoal and we're pelted with scattered raindrops. On our way back into town, we take a short detour to the local lake to see the migrating pelicans. Here's one of them, looking comically solemn:

Then it's home for supper. Winter's back is finally broken, and the cycling season has begun.


April 9: Easter Sunday is warm, windy, and hazy. In the afternoon, Tallulah and I take off for a short out-and-back ride with a bit of climbing thrown in. The countryside is still mostly brown, under a carpet of dried grass and last fall's leaves:

Our turnaround point is another local lake, where we stop to watch the wavelets rolling into shore:

Tallulah climbs onto a rock to look out over the water...

...but is nearly blown away by a gust of wind. She decides it will be safer to explore the tiny new growth under the nearby trees:

Our way home leads past a pond guarded by a pair of Canada geese:

A good, if gusty, Easter ride.


April 11: The weather has turned most un-April-like: today the forecast high is 82, perfect for the first bike commute of the year. The air is very dry when I take off in the morning; frogs are singing madly and gladly in every bit of water, and trees are starting to look hazy with incipient leaves.

I nearly catch a train on the way in, but by the time I reach the tracks it has passed.

On the way home, I stop near a marsh to snap some fuzzy catkins; it's good to see a bit of green amid the prevailing buff and brown:

At home, I find a bit more green; the chives near our door have reached nearly-pickable height:

Can violets be far behind?


April 13: Continuing hot weather means another bike commute. Today the air is softer, the sky a bit bluer, and a steady headwind is blowing.

A favorite tree stands solo in a field edged with freshly-harrowed soil:

The farmer is across the road, working another field:

All the local rivers are in flood; from the river trail, I see trees up to their waists in water:

Due to the high temps and wind, we're also under a fire watch. It seems odd when there's so much water about, but we really do need some rain to keep all the dry grasses from going up like tinder.


The next morning, before breakfast, I visit the little clump of scilla out back for some photos of Spring in action:

Then stop at the planter for the first handful of homegrown herbs to glorify my breakfast egg.


The balmy weather lasted through Saturday, when earth and trees turned suddenly green with thick grass and baby leaves. On Sunday, temperatures plummeted into the 30s, and it snowed all day. Monday we woke to a white world that looked as if Spring had never been. Although most of the snow melted off by late afternoon, it's much too cold (for me) to ride.

Rain is forecast for much of the coming week, so I don't know when I'll get out on Iris again. But I'm glad to have had a taste of warm weather, and some good rides to start the season.

How's April treating you?

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Monday, April 3, 2023

Knotless Standing Stitches

Back in the dawn of blogging time - or, in my case, 2012 - I wrote a tutorial for the Knotless Standing Single Crochet, a free-standing single crochet worked with a new piece of yarn into an existing project. (Very handy for starting a new color when working multicolor crochet in the round, or at the edge of flat striped rows. No slipknot is used, hence the "knotless".)

At the end of that post, I hinted that the Knotless Standing technique could be applied to taller stitches, but that further research would be required - after which I apparently forgot all about the topic, until a few weeks ago when reader Jennifer contacted me to ask about a follow-up tutorial.

Thanks to Jennifer's question, I've taken a deeper (or do I mean taller?) look at Knotless Standing Stitches, and this post is the result. As you'll see, the basic technique remains the same through all applicable stitch heights, with an extra tail-weaving step added to the taller stitches.

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This technique works well with:

  • US single crochet (sc), double crochet (dc), and taller standard crochet stitches
  • Dc and taller clusters (not demonstrated in this post)

This technique does NOT work with:

  • US half double crochet (hdc)
  • Any single stitch that ends by pulling the yarn through 3 loops

Taller Knotless Standing Stitches Phototutorial (scroll down for videotutorial)

To start a Knotless Standing Stitch, wrap the new yarn across the front of the hook towards your hook hand, around the back away from your hook hand, then drop the tail in front, over the working yarn:

Holding the yarn tail in place (against the fabric for sc, against the hook for dc or taller), yarn over as many times as needed for your stitch (remember, this technique doesn't work with hdc).

Insert hook into desired stitch or space, and work the stitch as usual until you have 2 loops left on the hook (if the stitch has loosened up, pull gently on yarn tail to tighten stitch). Here I have a partially-worked Knotless Standing Dc:

Before you complete the stitch, move the yarn tail behind the hook, away from your hook hand, and over the working yarn:

Yarn over and pull through the 2 loops on the hook to complete the stitch:

On a dc or taller stitch, the yarn tail will be sticking out of the stitch post on the back. After working a few more stitches, or just before ending the round, weave the tail downwards (towards the base of the stitch), through the back bump(s) of the Standing Stitch below where the tail comes out. Always weave the tail through as many back bumps as there were yarnovers at the beginning of the stitch. (In other words, weave through 1 back bump for a dc, 2 back bumps for a treble, etc.) In this photo, I've woven through 1 back bump of my Knotless Standing Dc:

After weaving the tail down through the stitch post, weave the remainder through other stitches when and as desired.

What Size Knotless Standing Stitch Should You Use?

  • If working flat, start with a Standing Stitch the same size as the remaining stitches in the row.
  • If working in the round, you have two options: use a Standing Stitch the same size as all the other stitches in the round, OR one size shorter. If you start with a shorter Standing Stitch, you can close the round with a join (such as a slip stitch, slip loop join, long loop join, or invisible join) that passes over the Standing Stitch and connects to the stitch after it, thus preserving the stitch count.

Knotless Standing Cluster

To use this technique with a cluster stitch: wrap the starting yarn tail as for any Knotless Standing Stitch. Yarn over as appropriate, and work the cluster until you have 3 loops left on the hook (or until you are ready to "yarn over and pull through all loops on hook"). Move the tail behind the hook and over the working yarn, then complete the stitch. Weave the tail down through either side of the cluster as desired.


Knotless Standing Stitches Videotutorial

This tutorial includes Knotless Standing Sc, Dc, and Tr, and shows how to start weaving in the tail for all three.


If you have any questions about this technique, feel free to ask in the comment box below. You can also use the contact form at the upper right side of this page, or find me on Ravelry as MrsMicawber.

As always, thanks for viewing, and happy crocheting!

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