Thursday, January 29, 2009

Free Pattern: Draft Snake

If you landed here from The Daily Green, welcome! I hope all of my readers enjoy crocheting this draft snake as much as I did.  If you're wondering what to do with leftover crochet yarns or single skeins of pretties, this is your lucky day. This free 'n' easy pattern uses basic crochet stitches, yarns you already own, and is sure to lower your heating bills!

To get started, round up the yarns you'd like to use. (Yarn scraps should be at least 36 inches long.) If a yarn is thin, use it along with one or two other yarns. Furry, lumpy, and feathery yarns are fantastic for draft snakes because the extra texture blocks drafts under the door the best. If you use highly textured yarns like I did, crochet them along with a coordinating color of a standard smooth worsted weight yarn. The smooth yarn will make it easier for you to see where to place your stitches.

If you use all smooth yarns--for example, 3 worsted weight strands of Red Heart or Simply Soft acrylic held together--the snake will have a cool woven basket look instead. It will also be more stiff.

I glued big flat-backed acrylic gems for the eyes, and with thin red crochet thread I crocheted a forked tongue, which required heavy stiffener. For this pattern though, do yourself a favor: cut a piece of red felt into a long snake tongue shape and call it a day. In keeping with the snake's stylin' bling I edged the snake eyes with glittery gold 3-D fabric paint, and drew a gold vein on the tongue.

Scrappy Draft Snake, the Pattern
Please help me preserve Scrappy's copyright by referring friends to this DesigningVashti 1/29/09 blog entry instead of distributing your own copies. This pattern is intended for crocheters over the age of 12 who take full responsibility for using safe materials. Thanks!

  • Your own special stash of yarns, some with high texture for EDP (enhanced draft protection).
  • Size M/#13/9mm crochet hook or best hook size for you. The goal is a comfortably tight gauge; as long as the stuffing won't show, you're using the right hook for you and your yarns.
  • A stitch marker
  • Stuffing
  • Fabric scrap (such as felt) cut into snake tongue shape
  • Yarn needle that is sharp enough to sew through fabric scrap
  • Flat-backed gems or googly eyes, and fabric glue for them (if children in the home are under 3, securely sewn-on eyes instead of glued are safer.)
ch = chain
sc = single crochet
sl st = slip stitch
st, sts = stitch, stitches
rep = repeat
rnd = round
RS, WS = right side, wrong side

Begin Snake at its tail end: Ch 2.
Rnd 1: work 6 sc into 2nd ch from hook (or use the method of your choice for crocheting in the rnd with a closed center hole). Place st marker in 6th sc. Rnds will be worked in a spiral without joining rnds and without turning after each rnd. Move st marker to the last st of each rnd so that you can count your rnds. The backs of the sts will be the outside of the snake (i.e. the RS) because high texture falls to the backs of crochet sts.
Rnd 2: (2 sc in the next sc, sc in the next sc) around, move marker: 9 sc.
Rnd 3: Sc in each sc around, move marker: 9 sc.
Rnd 4: (2 sc in next sc, sc in each of next 2 sc) around, move marker: 12 sc.
Rnd 5: Rep rnd 3. 
Rnd 6: (2 sc in next sc, sc in each of next 3 sc) around, move marker: 15 sc.
Rnd 7: Rep rnd 3.
Rnd 8: (2 sc in next sc, sc in each of next 4 sc) around, move marker: 18 sc.
Rnd 9: Rep rnd 3. Snake tail is complete.

Snake Body and Head: Rep rnd 3 until snake is as long as desired; I made mine to fit a 35" doorway snugly. Fasten off with a yarn tail about 12 inches long. Snake opening is the mouth.

Stuff snake.

Sew mouth closed: with yarn needle and yarn tail, sew snake mouth tightly closed around tongue so that seam creates a rounded snake's mouth. 

Glue (or sew) eyes securely.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Crochet and the Obamas

I'm watching televised coverage of the U.S. Presidential Inauguration Day. As the cameras scan the massive crowd, I notice crochet-textured hats and scarves. Occasionally I can identify actual crochet stitches, as in the case of the gentleman who salutes throughout President Obama's inaugural speech: he wears a heathery purple hat crocheted of stacked shells that changes to plain-textured stitches toward the crown. Someone else wears a cream-colored hat with widely-spaced vertical ribs of post stitches.

Like many people I've been enjoying First Lady Michelle Obama's fresh and adventurous fashion style and if today's inaugural dress is a signal, it is exciting for me as a crochet designer.

Mrs. Obama wears a sumptuous sheath dress and matching coat ensemble designed by Isabel Toledo. I thrill to the rich texture of the fabric, which is reminiscent of fine crocheted lace over a silk satin lining. It speaks volumes in subliminal texture-speak.

Crochet designing trains the eye to read textures of fabrics, not just their colors or fiber content or cut and shaping. This is because texture is one of the central defining elements of every crochet stitch; one can either design with it or around it.

I'm seeing more rich textures displayed by the Obamas and their extended family than in the rest of the politicians and audience at large. The lady whom I believe is Mrs. Obama's mother wears a chunky-textured red hat and scarf set that has a handknit or crocheted look. Another possible relative wears a dark red furry scarf that reminds me of a knitting and crochet yarn like Bernat Boa or Sullivan's Sashay. President Obama himself chose a solid red necktie with distinctive texture as its design statement, rather than the matte satin ties I'm used to seeing politicians wear.

Textures like these communicate on an emotional level because they are visually warming and cozy; they look (ideally are, as all crochet is) handmade, which conveys loving care. They reassure because they are visual reminders of traditional and practical basic skills that are used to build something new and real, stitch by well-placed stitch.

So far (the day is still young), comments about the inaugural dress have to my mind been texture-deaf. It is extraordinary that a solid lace dress ensemble was chosen for this day; even more remarkable is what it communicates. In addition to the usual constructive and nurturing messages that texture can signal, Mrs. Obama wears the power lace of queens: an assertive depth of texture and play of light created by the painstaking work of artisans. (See Isabel Toledo's description.)

Taken all together, it manages to empower the wearer, the role, and the country simultaneously.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2009 Crochet Manifesto

On this New Year's Day I'm reorganizing my "studio"--the creation zones in my house--and I thought I'd share with you a manifesto that I originally posted in my designing space on April 14, 2008. Doesn't "New Year's Day Manifesto" have a nice ring to it? (I also like how my 9 year old has always said New Year's "revolutions" instead of "resolutions".)

The original Manifesto, word for word, unedited:

Every stitch made is a treasure, not to have but as a record of an experience; it's the doing.

Each stitch is a microcosm; contains a world within; because it is the gestalt of a zillion choices and per-moment expression. It is a snapshot.

The goal is the experience of process. The process is the expression of is-ness. Expression of is-ness is creation.

Every kind of experience is possible; one is not more valuable than another*. Some may be more preferable, but perceptions change and the less-preferred can become the preferred. This is a mystery of creation/expression.

*Every kind of opinion is therefore also possible.

I remember that I was thinking about certain swatches I have lying around when I wrote that last one.
Time for me to go back to reorganizing. I was inspired to carpe diem and post this New Year's Manifesto after reading Kim Werker's post about the creative life.