These circles are eye-catching, don’t you think? But because of all the colors, they look more complicated than they really are. I crocheted them using self-striping yarn, so I didn’t have to do anything special to make all those interesting color shifts happen. The yarn is responsible for most of the intricacy.
Those are all excellent projects, and they’re satisfying to make. But, if you’ve already made bunches of these sorts of items, why not challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone a little?
If you usually crochet with yarn, perhaps you could try shaking things up a little by attempting to crochet without yarn. This isn’t as preposterous as it sounds; by now, maybe you’ve even noticed that the bracelet pictured is a) crocheted, and b) made without even so much as an inch of yarn. It’s one of the projects featured on our list of wire crochet jewelry patterns.
If you’re a die-hard yarn addict and you have no plans of changing that, no worries, there are plenty of other ways to challenge yourself.
Another possibility: Try a new knitting stitch or crochet stitch. This vintage bullion stitch is an unusual one that combines the Tunisian crochet technique with the bullion stitch you might already be familiar with.
There are many great resources for testing out new stitches. Some of my favorites include the following:
These are just a few of my favorite resources to work with when I want to find a knitting stitch or crochet stitch I haven’t worked with yet. These are also fantastic references for finding some great classic stitches; Alterknit Stitch Dictionary has some really cool Greek keys, and Melissa Leapman’s stitch dictionary has all the basic crochet stitches you might want to look up.
Or perhaps you could branch out and get started working a different sort of projects than the ones you usually make. There are infinite possibilities if you want to fire up your imagination and dream up some project ideas that would get you started in a different-than-usual direction.
So what do you think you’ll try next? I invite your comments, especially if you’re feeling inspired to branch out.
Exquisite finishing touches can make a big difference in distinguishing handcrafted items from their machine-made counterparts.
Fringe is a particularly luxurious finishing touch. It utilizes a great deal of material, and it takes time to maintain it well, so it isn’t for everyone — but if you are able to deal with those challenges, the results can be stunning.
There are a variety of ways to make fringe. If you’d like to finish off a knitting project, crochet project or other craft project using fringe, check out these free fringe patterns, instructions and tutorials, posted at ArtsWithCrafts.com. You’ll find bunches of different ideas to inspire you, including knit and crochet fringe plus fringes made in other craft techniques — suede fringe, beaded fringe and more.
Dress Up These Knitting or Crochet Projects With Fringe:
Scarves: Instead of weaving in your loose ends, incorporate them into knotted tassels or fringe. It’s a time-saver, plus it’s an eye-catching finishing touch.
Throws, Blankets and Afghans: It’s even more of a time-saver when you finish off multicolored blankets and throws using fringe instead of weaving the ends in.
Want to check out my absolute favorite no-end-weaving crochet blanket patterns featuring fringe? If so, take a look at Fair Isle to Crochet by Karen Ratto-Whooley. It’s an affordable pattern booklet featuring 5 different blankets for the whole family — baby blankets, kids’ blankets and full-sized blankets. They’re all colorful designs, but you don’t have to go bonkers weaving in ends, because you use all those ends to create gorgeous fringe that finishes off the blankets beautifully. I think the designer of these patterns is a genius!
Ponchos, Wraps and Shawls: Many knitted and crocheted ponchos just beg to be finished with fringe. Some casual wraps and shawls do, too. The fringe could also go dressy if done carefully; in moderation, beaded fringe is an option for elegant evening shawls. You just have to keep it simple on the beading, since beads are heavy and you don’t want your wrap weighing you down when you’re out on the town.
Purses and Bags: Finishing the lower edge of a bag or purse with fringe gives it a whole different look than you’d have without it. This is an especially interesting option for seamed bags, but there are other options as well. You can easily create an area for anchoring fringe to an un-seamed bag by adding a line of slip stitch in the spot you want your fringe to be; then you work the fringe into the ridge created by the slip stitches.
Fringe isn’t for everyone; if you’re seeking a unique way to finish off a knitted or crocheted item, you might wish to find just the right border, edging or trim that will complement it and make it look extra special.
Edgings for Blankets and Afghans: Borders and edgings are popular finishing touches for blankets and afghans. For projects like these, you usually want to choose an edging or border that includes instructions for turning a corner. Here are a few suggestions for those:
Edgings For Towels, Sheets and Pillowcases: It’s lovely to finish off the lower edges of a towel with a pretty trim or edging. For sheets, I usually only trim one edge. For pillowcases, I usually trim only the outer opening. For these sorts of edgings, I prefer to choose an edging design that does not include a corner. Here are a few suggestions:
These aren’t the only projects that can benefit from edgings. If a project has an edge, you could probably add an edging to it. You could add pretty lace edgings to the lower edges of pants that need lengthening. You could dress up the edges of ankle socks with pretty lace trim. You could even add trim to certain simple open tote bags (ones that don’t close with zippers, so there are upper edges to work with.) I’m sure you know of many other examples where trim would enhance the project significantly.
The pictures above show you just a few of the free trim and edging patterns available online. To see many more possibilities, be sure to visit our page of free knit and crochet edging patterns.
Sandi Rosner’s lovely book called 21 Crocheted Tanks + Tunics gets my vote as one of the most stylish crochet pattern book releases from the last few years. While there have been bunches of truly outstanding pattern books published in the last decade, this one stands out as having a significant number of flattering, wearable designs that were graded in a wide range of sizes. If you wear a size extra-small, 2XL or any size in between, you’ll find projects worth making in this book.
This book is useful in all seasons of the year. In spring and summer time, these tops make great standalone items to pair with shorts, jeans, skirts and khakis. In fall and winter, these tops make excellent layering pieces to wear underneath cardigans, blazers and jackets. Some of them would be suitable to wear to work, and most work well for casual wear, too. They’re all versatile pieces that you’re likely to get a LOT of use out of.
Here’s a fun limerick I wrote awhile back in celebration of joining crochet motifs as you go:
Piles of projects have ends that are loose.
Their numbers, I’d like to reduce.
So I’ve learned to join as I go.
Although it is slow,
There’s no longer any excuse.
Once you learn how to do join-as-you-go crochet motifs, you’ll love how you won’t have to weave in zillions of loose ends when you’ve finished your projects. It’s definitely a technique worth learning.
Check out Continuous Crochet and Seamless Crochet, two books by Kristin Omdahl that explore the join-as-you-go technique in depth. In my opinion, Seamless Crochet is the go-to reference on this topic. I had a hard time wrapping my head around how to turn any crochet motif pattern into a join-as-you-go pattern until I read this book. Continuous Crochet is a follow-up to that book featuring even more amazing, up-to-date clothing and accessory patterns that require minimal finishing.
Get the Free Crochet Patterns for These Designs — And Find Bunches More Fun Valentine Ideas!
Would you like to crochet an afghan, throw or blanket featuring heart designs? If so, I invite you to check out these fantastic crochet afghan square patterns.
Not only can you use these heart afghan square patterns for making afghans and blankets, but they work well for making bunches more different types of projects too. These designs are ideal for making just about any sort of love-themed afghan, whether you want to create a baby blanket, a Valentine’s themed blanket, or a heart-themed blanket for a wedding gift. These heart squares can also work well in “everyday” sorts of blanket designs that don’t cater to any specific occasion.
If you want to use this cute heart design as a standalone pattern, you can — but you don’t have to. You have plenty of options for other coordinating patterns, since the square is part of a versatile series of designs that can all work together.
If you’d like to see some inspiration for using this square — along with the others in the series — check out this pattern sampler afghan. That’s one possible way to use it, but you could put all kinds of different looks — and even different sorts of projects — together.
I made this two-color heart afghan square using a versatile charted pattern. There are bunches of different ways you could crochet this chart, and when I ponder them all I start to get a little overwhelmed.
In this particular case, I used the tapestry crochet technique to work my sample square. I then outlined the heart with a couple of rounds of surface crochet slip stitch.
If tapestry crochet isn’t your thing, you could also try working this heart using the intarsia method. Another idea: you could crochet a background in afghan stitch or single crochet, then cross stitch the heart motif onto the square separately using a different color.
It’s possible that the pattern could also work well with the filet crochet technique, although I haven’t tried it yet to see how it would turn out. I do think it would work, and I’d love to give it a try sometime.
You can pair this cute striped heart square with a matching striped checkerboard square, and use them together to create blankets or other projects. One of my favorite projects so far: the heart baby blanket you see pictured at lower right. You can get the free charts and crochet pattern for that design right here on our website.
I find beads completely fascinating, not to mention irresistible. Do you share this fascination too?
I think beads are gorgeous all on their own — and I enjoy looking at them even when they are unused, sitting on a shelf, packaged in their humble little tubes and containers.
But when you combine them with crochet, and start using them to make beautiful beaded baubles — that’s even better. When you find a combination of beads and thread or yarn that work well together, the results can be spectacular.
This beaded heart applique is one example of a little crocheted trinket that is greatly enhanced by the presence of beads.
In the photo collage pictured here, you can see two different views of the beaded heart shape. At left is how my sample heart looked after I finished crocheting it, but before I figured out what to do with it. If you follow the pattern as directed, you’ll hopefully end up with a heart shape that looks something like that. Of course, you can choose different colored beads and thread to make the design your own.
On the right, you can see one idea for what you can do with this heart; you can use it as a mini photo frame in a scrapbook page or album. It also makes a lovely applique on crocheted, knitted or sewn craft projects.
I picked this particular project to highlight since Valentine’s Day is coming up soon — and it’s an ideal Valentine project. However, there are many beautiful examples of beaded crochet, and many lovely free patterns and tutorials on the Internet.
Find More of Our Web Pages on the Topic of Bead Crochet:
When I designed this crocheted square, I specifically did so with the idea of using it to make baby afghans. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that the pattern could also be used for making all kinds of other interesting projects. So far I’ve used this chart to make two similar baby blanket designs, plus several pairs of potholders. I can think of many different ideas for how to use it; I think it would also be lovely to use to design pretty things for Valentine’s Day. If you have other ideas about how it should be used, please do feel free to adapt it as you wish.
Would you believe this bracelet is crocheted? To my eyes, a piece like this doesn’t look much like crochet — but it definitely is, since the project was made using a crochet hook and crochet stitches. The difference is basically in the materials I used; instead of thread or yarn, I used wire to work the stitches. The entire bracelet is comprised of the ultra-simple beaded chain stitch.
Crochet stitches look different when worked in wire than they do when worked in yarn or thread. If you add chunky beads to the mix, like I did here, they can obscure the crochet work even more.
I am a textile designer with a major weakness for fabric. Don’t get me wrong, I love yarn, thread, ribbons, beads, buttons, rubber stamps, paper punches and hot glue guns too — but I’m really, really, really nuts for pretty fabrics.
Not only that, I have an overabundance of fabric in my craft supply stash. I don’t have nearly the same issues with yarn or thread or buttons; somehow, when it comes to non-fabrics, I’m pretty adept at keeping my stash manageable, and I use up most of what I acquire in a reasonable sort of time frame.
It’s different with fabric. I have a hard time parting with anything made of fabric, especially pretty printed fabric — no matter how forlorn, stained, torn or beat up it gets; and I have this aggravating habit of buying interesting textiles and fabrics when I find them at garage sales, thrift stores or even at craft stores (on sale, of course.) And that’s to say nothing of all the fabric samples I have left over from the time period when I spent most of my days designing and re-coloring pretty prints.
When it comes to my fabric stash management, I think I finally managed to identify the major source of the bottleneck: I love fabric, but I don’t sew enough to really make much of a dent in the stash. I spend far more of my crafting time crocheting,knitting and scrapbooking. I’m good for sewing linings into my knitted and crocheted pouches and bags, or an occasional hand-stitched embellishment or bauble. But the bottom line is, I’m not doing the amount of sewing or quilting it would really take to burn through all this fabric.
Light bulb moment: one day, it occurred to me that I should try crocheting with fabric. DUH! Of course that was the answer to my dilemma!
With all the fabric I have hanging around in my stash, I have no shortage of raw materials to draw from. So I’ve been steadily working on a list of interesting fabric crochet projects — and I’m posting them on the Internet so that you can try them too, if you would like to. I hope you’ll find these ideas useful. Whether you have some stained, abandoned sheets, or a sizeable fabric stash, I hope you’ll find plenty of projects (and free patterns!) that inspire you to dig in and use some of those materials up, too.