Monday, October 14, 2013

Busy hands make warm ears

I've been making headwraps this fall.  They are alleged to be the hot item in headwear this season.  My friend Amy put me on to the idea and I've gone from there to come up with a design that I find satisfactory for my crochet abilities and usual concentration level, and also creates a nicely shaped end product.  Add flowers if you like, or leave them plain.  Switch yarn colors at the end of a round, or add an additional strand for a bulkier wrap.  This is kind of a "Casual" pattern, in that I'm not good at counting and remembering, so I tend to say, "Yep, about here."  If you want it more precise, you can easily count out rounds to create a more uniform pattern.

Inge and Clara
Start with a yarn you like in a color you like.  For a bulkier yarn, or if using two strands, use a larger hook size, maybe J, K, or L.  For finer yarns use G, H, or I. 

I like my pieces to be flowy, as in have movement, so I tend to use bigger hooks.  But you have to balance your need for warmth with your need for flow.  I live in Extreme Northern Minnesota, so warmth is pretty important here and sometimes, flow has to be sacrificed.  I make all different kinds and thicknesses.

Inge, Clara, and Sophie

The basic process is to chain a row, and then stitch around it.  Around and around.  But in order to shape the ends into a triangle, you do a little picot stitch at each turning.

To make the wrap:
  • Make a chain long enough to reach from ear to ear on the head for which you are making the wrap. I go to about the bottom of each ear, stretched across the forehead along the hairline. 
  • Single Crochet back along the chain, to the end.
  • Chain three and then single crochet into the first chain. This will create a little point or bulb on the end. This is also called a picot. 
  • Tuck the beginning end of your yarn out of the way, and using the back loop of the original chain, single crochet along the other side of your original chain. 
  • Repeat row three, to form a picot at this end.
  • This is the end of round one.
  • For consecutive rounds, keep repeating this process of single crochets and picots. I like the look of it when I use only the back loop of the single crochets, but I've done it using both loops, too. The wrap will have a little more texture or grain when you use only one loop.
To form the button hole:I do this when my ends almost meet up in the back. This may vary with how loosely or tightly you crochet, so you may have to play with the last two rounds a little bit to get it right.

When you reach your desired length, rather than doing a picot at the end of the row, chain five or six or more and then single crochet in the first chain to make a bigger loop. Then continue around until you are back at the loop. Then single crochet in each of the chains of the loop. You can fasten off your work at any point in the next round.

Some tips I learned in the process. These may or may not make sense now, depending upon your level of experience. But they may help clarify a few of the difficulties I found.
  1. It's in the nature of crochet to kind of twist as you work it, so you may feel like your ends are twisting or curling. Don't give up. They do kind of curl in opposite directions, if laid flat, but it's not at all noticeable when you're done.
  2. If you find your picots tend to lean to far to one or another edge, you can do a single crochet at the end of each row, too, to kind of work it into the correct position at the end. I had to do this on some rows with some of the yarns.
  3. Sometimes you need a little more length still, then go all the way around. Sometimes I've even done another row, or a row of slip stitches around the loop. You don't want your loop too thick, or hit hangs off the button too far. But if you need, a second row of single crochet is usually OK, or a row of slip stitch so that you can do another round to add length at the opposite end.
  4. If you want to get some extra width, you can try this method. It's a little more counting and concentrating, but makes a little different shape and texture:  For each end of each round, do 5 sc, 3 hdc, and then dc until you are within 10 stitches of the end. Then revert to 3 hdc, and 5 sc to the end. The next round, use 7 sc at each end; and if you need more rounds continue to increase the sc at each end by 2. That will keep the width in front of the ears rather than where you want the taper for the button.

Wraps for little ones.  The roses on these are from the method described here.

The two right wraps in this picture are done with this method.  The upper one is a looser stitch with more stretch and less warmth.  All three are for adult heads.
Although only the far right wrap is done with the method described here, I included this picture to show the examples of double strand wraps.  The left two wraps are very thick and warm. 

The left hand wrap uses the method described in Tip # 4 above.  I was using a remnant of yarn from a scarf and kept running short.  by increasing the stitch width, I was able to make better use of the yarn length to finish the wrap.

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