Stitching Times serves up stories, examples and tutorials about needlework related crafts, especially quilting and crochet. Almost all of the projects shown have been designed by Kay Stephenson

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A Project in Crochet and Felting

All of the projects I been crocheting and felting involve crochet in the round. Even if you have never tried it, with understanding of a few basic stitches, this technique is pretty easy to master.

There are several websites with directions for how to crochet in the round; however, I initially had problems with the ones I tried. First, it seemed that I always ended up with too noticeable a hole in the center of the fabric. And second, it seemed like I ended up with a distinct hexagon rather than a circle. As a result, I have modified these other methods to achieve something that met my needs.

Learn the technique with this simple practice exercise.

ch 3, sl st in first ch to close ring. Draw up tightly.
Row 1: sc eight times in first ch (total of 8 sc). Sl st to first stich in previous round. Ch 1.
Row 2: sc twice in each sc around (total of 16 sc). Sl st to first stich in previous round. Ch 1.
Row 3: sc in first sc, sc twice in next sc around (total of 24 sc). Sl st to first stich in previous round. Ch 1.
Row 4: sc in first 2 sc, sc twice in next sc around (total of 32 sc). Sl st to first stich in previous round. Ch 1.

Note: most crochet in the round directions will tell you to continue in the manner increasing 8 stitches in every round (i.e. row 5 would direct you to sc in first 3 sc then sc twice in the 4th and so on). However, with this method of increases you always increase in the same place resulting in the hexagonal rather than rounder shape. Also, I found that for the yarn and hook I used and the tension I maintain on the yarn, the increases were too extreme resulting in what my husband laughingly called the sundial rather than a round shape that will lie flat. Instead, I recommend the following.

Row 5: sc in first 7 sc, sc twice in next sc (stitch 8), sc in next 4 sc, sc twice in next sc (stitch 13), sc in next 3 sc, sc twice in next sc (stitch 18), sc in next 7 sc, sc twice in next sc (stitch 27), sc in next 3 sc, sc twice in next sc (stitch 32), sc in next 3 sc, sc twice in next sc (stitch 37). (total of 38) sl st to first stitch in previous round. Ch 1.
Row 6: sc in first 3 sc, sc twice in next sc (stitch 4), sc in next 9 sc, sc twice in next sc (stitch 15). Sc in next 4 sc, sc twice in next sc (stitch 21), sc in first 4 sc, sc twice in next sc (stitch 26), sc in next 9 sc, sc twice in next sc (stitch 37), sc in next 4 sc, sc twice in next sc (stitch 43). (total of 44 sc). sl st to first stitch in previous round. Ch 1.
Row 7 and following: Continue to add six stitches per round and to shift the location of the increase around the circle so that the shape does not become too regular.

If it helps, you can imagine the circle divided into eight pieces of the pie. In each round, six slices of the pie will receive an increase, and two will not. In order to ensure that the increases are distributed evenly but without creating a distinct pattern, the increase should come in pie slice 1 and 5 in the first round, 2 and 6 in the second, 3 and 7 in the third, and so on. Also, the location of the increase within the pie can be varied.

Continue to add rounds until the desired diameter is reached. Also the use of a stitch marker to indicate the beginning/ending of a round may be helpful.

Note: I have worked these directions with single crochet and half double crochet and it works well for either. I have not worked it with longer stitches such as double or triple crochet, but anticipate that it would work much the same. You may need to play with the increases and decreases to achieve exactly the effect you want for your project.

Chair Pad

Description: a chair pad consisting of two round layers of crocheted and felted fabric. This one is made in two colors and reversible, but you could work it with any pattern or colors you prefer.

Skill level: beginner (with knowledge of basic crochet stitches and help for felting) or intermediate.

Dimensions: Finished 15 inch diameter – before felting approximately 18 inch diameter. Talk with felting experts at your local yarn shop to determine how much shrinkage you can expect from the wool you have chosen.


  • The yarn used is from the Queensland Collection at Nova, a Canadian yarn company. Specifically I used 4 skeins (50 g. or 1 ¾ oz balls at 104 yards each) Kathmandu Aran, which is a wonderful combination of merino wool (85%), silk (10%), and cashmere (5%), that felts beautifully. Here is a link to the online shade card where you can see what a fabulous array of tweedy colors is available. I used two each of colors 143 and 144.

This yarn is also available in a DK weight, and I have used it for making some of the felted bowls and flowers I mentioned. Of course, I’m lucky to have Knitch in the neighborhood, but if you don’t live close by, check out their online store.

  • I used a Boye Size K / 10 ½ - 6.40mm aluminum crochet hook – generally you want to use a hook that is one size larger than the hook that is recommended by the yarn manufacturer or pattern when crocheting fabric for felting.
  • G /6 4 ¼ mm aluminum hook for weaving in ends.
  • I used a bit of quilt batting between the two layers for a bit of extra padding, but in retrospect, I don’t believe this was necessary.
  • Yarn darner (a big darning needle with an eye large enough to accept yarn) for stitching the two rounds together. If you don’t use the batting, you could also use a tapestry needle, but with the batting you need a needle with a sharp point to pierce the bat.
  • If you are lucky – you can use the felting studio at your local yarn shop. Otherwise, a washing machine with a hot water setting and laundry soap, or a large pot, some water and a stove can be used. I even know of people who have felted by hand with water from the tap at the hottest temperature they could stand, but this is a tedious and time consuming way to felt.

Note, I completed the entire project using the single crochet stitch, but I have since decided that a half double crochet stitch would be a better choice. It is a looser stitch and therefore felts a bit better. Notice that the stitches on this pad are still quite distinct.

Follow the instructions for crocheting in the round above and make a total of 30 rounds. If you are using more than one color of yarn, try to change colors at the beginning of a new row.
Save the little bits of leftover yarn for stitching the two pieces together. Once you have achieved the desired diameter of both rounds, simply whip stitch them together around the edges.

Because I used cotton batting to fill between the layers, I also used the left over yarn and a yarn darner to “quilt” through the center of the rounds so that the batting would not sift while being washed.

Next, I placed the finished pad in my washing machine on the normal hot water cycle along with a small load of towels and a small amount of laundry soap. At the completion of the cycle, I measured the diameter of the pad and found that it had not yet shrunk up to the size I wanted, so I ran it through again.

After the spin cycle, a good bit of the water had already been extracted from the pad. Next, I placed the pad between layers of plastic wrap and weighted it with a heavy book to ensure it dried flat. After 24 hours, I removed the weight and plastic wrap and allowed it to dry flat way from sun and heat for an additional 24 hours. At the end of this time, it was ready to use.

It is up to you to decide how much of a felted (or fulled) effect you want for your project. In some cases you may just want to it be a bit fuzzy. In others, you may want to obliterate all evidence of the yarn and stitch pattern leaving a solid smooth fabric. Many factors affect your results. These include the yarn selected, the openness of the stitch (a more open stitch causes more friction during the felting process). Also, the temperature of the water, amount of agitation and length of time in the machine all contribute to the outcome.

If this is your first felting project, I recommend experimenting with a small 4 x 4 square (or round) of the yarn and stitch you plan to use. Try felting this test piece and then adjust your process accordingly.

Next time I’ll give the instructions for the felted bowls and the flowers.

Monday, January 7, 2008

A New Year a New Project, But First…

Seriously, the holidays are a wonderful time, but I’m itching to get back to sewing and writing. It seems I have been consumed with decorating the house, cooking, shopping & wrapping, attending gatherings with family and friends, and then the sad part of breaking it all down and packing it away for another year.

Somewhere in there between Thanksgiving and New Years, I did manage to complete a few projects though, and I need to tell you about them. What have I been up to? Well, mostly tatting, felting, and quilting.

Back in November, I showed you the tatted wreaths that I intended to give away as party favors at our annual holiday party. Well I ended up making wreaths, snowflakes, and icicles (a basic josephine knot with beads). These are exceptionally bad photos because you can’t see any of the detail in the tatting – I’m going to have to figure out how to do better close-ups with my digital camera soon – but they might give you an idea of what is possible for a novice tatter (me).

The felting projects include a chair pad for my office chair, some decorative bowls, and flowers (haven’t decided what to do with those yet). Tomorrow I’ll give you detailed instructions on the felted projects.

As for the quilting, the big project was the wall hanging I turned into a table topper. This dining room table is always piled high with food for our annual holiday party, and I wanted to do something special to decorate the room. As you can see, I have a glass top for this table, and normally I just place a cream colored tablecloth under the glass for the party. This year it occurred to me to us a quilt instead.

I would give you the directions for this but frankly, the design was very closely inspired by a photo on a flyer I received in the mail. I did work out the quilting math on my own to fit my table top, but still feel that I should give credit to the original designer. Unfortunately I can’t find the flyer anywhere, so have no idea who to credit. If anyone recognizes the design, please post a comment, and if you are the designer and want me to provide a link to your pattern, I will be happy to do so.

Anyway, now you know why I was making all of those placemats to practice machine quilting. The star and tree on this quilt are quilted in-the-ditch, and the light colored background is stippled.

I also made a holiday camel ornament for a friend’s party. The theme of the party was “how dry I am” since Georgia has experienced record drought in 2007. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture before I gave it to her. Imagine this guy made out of Sculpey® polymer clay (the stuff you shape and then bake in the oven) and painted gold. He's about three inches across (in your imagination silly). Then imagine a little red and green tatted blanket on his back made out of metallic thread, and a halter made of the same thread. The whole thing was then affixed inside a copper wire hoop (had to learn how to solder for that one), and hung by another hank of metallic thread looped at the top of the copper hoop.
Well that’s a quick update on what I’ve been up to. How about you? Post a comment and let us hear from you. I’m happy to answer questions, or point readers to your own website if you have something to share.