Form adds Function: Free Crochet Patterns

UPDATE:  The free patterns are now all gathered on this separate page.  I have to make room in the sidebar for other cool stuff soon.

~Doris

This blog theme really works for me.  It is clean, easy to read, professional looking without being stuffy, and has a few useful doo-dads… thingies… widgets… that help me point you to cool stuff.  Dang it if I could never figure out how to accomplish these things at Blogger.  Could be I didn’t try hard enough there, but if you have to work so hard at something that’s supposed to be fun, what the frack!

So last night I floundered my way through a few WordPress tutorials and discovered that this theme let’s you put a customizable blogroll widget on the sidebar. That would have been gobbledy gook to me a couple of days ago.  I’m guessing that normal peoples’ list of links (blogroll) would include their friends’ blogs, the sites they visit, whatever.  But the blogroll  can actually support any kind of links you want.  HMMMM.

So last night,  more accurately this morning at 25 or 6 to 4, I had the brainstorm to locate, grab and post the links for every one of my crochet designs that is currently being offered as a free pattern download.  While not blogs, these are sort of my friends, huh?

Finding the links was pretty straightforward.  Most of the free designs of mine are from NaturallyCaron.com, crocheted in the yarns Spa and Country, or at the Caron site and done in Caron Simply Soft.  A few are from Lion Brand Yarn (be advised that they make you sign up and sign in before you can download the goods).  Other sources are Tahki, Coats, Craft Yarn Council of America, Knitting Daily TV, Michaels and Ravelry.

What was not so simple was providing the images in the right sizes.  This is what has taken me all day today.  And even though I’ve stopped obsessing over these images, it still bugs me that I can’t get them all the same size when they’re running down the sidebar in a line. Guess I’ll have to go ingest and digest another tutorial before it’s looking perfect.  Yeah, right.  In another life…

Meanwhile, please help yourselves to the free patterns linked through my shiny new sidebarblogrollwidget.  And while you are surfing around the net, if  you spot any more of my work that’s a free pattern, drop a comment to this post and let me add it to the pile.

One more thing.  The best way to view ALL of my crochet designs in one place is Ravelry.com, the awesome free site for all fiber arts. Simply join Ravelry if you aren’t yet a member, and connect with me there (dorisjchan).  What you want to view is Doris Chan Design Pages.

Thanks and enjoy!

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Mini Stocking to Crochet… again and again

>Little things mean a lot.  Little projects that can be whipped up like lightning in mass quantities and have multiple uses mean that you can do a handmade holiday for everyone.

This tiny retro treasure can be an ornament on the tree, a special trim on a gift package, even a gift in itself.  It’s pretty stretchy and can be stuffed with a surprising amount of candy.  Really.  Chocolate coins, petite candy canes, perhaps a chocolate marshmallow Santa. Hey, if you work a full worsted weight yarn to a generous gauge it could handily hold a gift card or a wad of cash.  Just saying.

I posted about this Mini Stocking a couple of years ago, and the pattern given on the blog is here.  You can also get it here as a more complete free download pdf from Ravelry.  Happy holiday crocheting!

>BACKSTORY: Zen Jacket

>

Zen.  Such an evocative name, a peaceful, tranquil sort of name.  You’d never guess that the prototype of this design was born in the aftermath of a wild and daring midnight airport rescue.

It was July 22nd, 2007, and the Crochet Guild of America Chain Link National Conference was about to begin in Manchester, New Hampshire.  The usual suspects, having hauled ass all afternoon setting up for the next day’s opening event, Professional Development Day, were gathered at the venue’s only restaurant/watering hole, in the mood for some serious unwinding. Spirits were high that night, perhaps due to the spirits that were flowing, but mostly due to the joy of meeting up with good crochet friends and getting to eat dessert for dinner.  Don’t ask.

But disaster was brewing, in the shape of massive storm delays and rumored airport worker strikes that would ground countless critical flights up and down the East Coast. One flight in particular, the one that was supposed to deliver two friends from Atlanta to Manchester, was unceremoniously canceled, leaving Jacqueline Kurman and Vashti Braha stranded until the next morning.  Jacque was beat, having spent the entire day traveling from the West Coast and was on the verge of despair. Vashti had just flown into Atlanta from Florida, so was the clearer-headed of the two and also the more desperate of the two.  Vashti was scheduled to teach during PDDay and was going to make it to Manchester no matter what she had to do.

The no matter what she had to do proved to be calling us.  It was around 8 pm, I had just scarfed down my chocolate cake, and the gathering at the bar was a little loud.  Although it was difficult to hear, comprehend and then share the news about Vashti’s lousy luck, eventually it was decided that Plan B would be put into action.  Plan Boston.  Vashti would get Jacque and herself on the next flight out, which would land them at Logan in a matter of hours. From there they would find a way up to Manchester.  Yeah, right.

“What, are you NUTS?”, I must have ranted,  “Logan is no place to be wandering around in the middle of the night looking for a ride.  You’ll be fifty miles away. What are you expecting to find at that hour?  Taxi?  That’s absurd.”

And then, before I had time to think about it, the words came out of my mouth.  “I’ll drive down and get you.” Done deal.

It was the logical decision.  I had driven to the conference that day and had my car with me.  Why not?  It might be fun, in a surreal kind of way.  So I ordered some coffee and asked who was coming along for the ride.  The night was drizzly.  Although I knew how to get to Boston, I hadn’t been to Logan in ages.  I could really use a navigator.  The gathering grew ominously quiet.  Not one of our buds volunteered.  All were either too tired, too preoccupied with preparations for the morning, too waffled to care.  All except one.

Amie Hirtes.  We had only met that evening, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend a hour in the car with somebody I’d just met riding shot-gun.  I even told her as much.  Good thing Amie’s such a good sport.  Anyway, turns out I shouldn’t have worried, since she showed herself to be funny, outspoken, companionable, and totally uncritical of my driving; my kind of shot-gun.

The spotty drizzle made my windshield horribly streaky, but otherwise it all went splendidly.  The drive back to Manchester that took us well past midnight was a strange relief and a happy ending for all. Vashti, ravenous, munched on some chocolate I had stashed in my bag.  Practically in tears, Jacque, poor thing, simply could not believe that anyone would go out of her way to perform such a rescue, and was grateful beyond words.  So grateful that, a few weeks later, she sent me a thank-you surprise, a bag of wonderful yarn that she had brought back as a souvenir from a trip to Australia.


By the time the usual suspects met up again at the 2008 CGOA conference, again in Manchester, I had turned Jacque’s gift yarn into a lacy wrap-with-sleeves and made sure I modeled it for her to see.

That garment was the prototype for what would become, a few months later, beautifully re-envisioned and re-made in NaturallyCaron.com Spa,  the Zen jacket.  The pattern is available as a free download from NaturallyCaron.com.

I have since mounted other airport rescues, but none as daring as that night’s.  And I have designed many other lace garments, but none with such a memorable backstory.

>Naked Crochet

>Thought that might get your attention! 🙂

This could rank as the coolest thing that ever happened to any of my crochet designs. And to think it’s all Jan’s fault. Jan, an online friend from Ravelry.com and one of the most energetic and dedicated members of the posse, and her group of wildly creative (and just plain wild) fiberazzi in Northern UK, the Knitting Noras, have gone where few have dared. Following in the tradition of the Calendar Girls, the Noras have produced a 2010 naked knitting calendar. That news in itself would be totally brilliant. But just take a look at the cover (un-cover) garment.

Yup. I did a double-take… it’s the Caron Crochet Lacy Duster. I admit, I’m not used to seeing it worn quite this way, but WOWSERS! I totally approve. Jan not only crocheted this duster plus many other garments for the shoot, but she herself graces the calendar as Miss November.

The calendar is available for order and the proceeds will benefit the Christie Cancer Hospital. I can’t wait to get mine. Cheers for Jan and the Noras! Brava!

>BACKSTORY: Avalon

>

You gotta love a yarn company design director who respects crochet. From the first garment I sent to Cari Clement for Caron International in 2006 through the latest, this top for NaturallyCaron.com, our creative relationship has given me so many unique opportunities to explore my craft. This season Cari has spotlighted our latest design, Avalon, with a free pattern download and audio fashion show.

Avalon was inspired by home dec. Really. The motif is my adaptation of a swatch I saw in a vintage book, “Crochet For A Beautiful Home” (Sedgewood Press, 1987), one of among the countless treasures found by my mother over the years as she scoured her local flea markets and thrift shops. I know she paid just a couple of bucks for it, because if the penciled-in price on the inside cover had been any more than 2 dollars, she would have beaten them down to 2 dollars, trust me.

The motif features spiraling arms consisting of solid single crochets over chain spaces. I just so happened to see a coordinating pattern stitch in a Japanese stitch dictionary , “Crochet Patterns Book 300” (publisher and information in Japanese and therefore indecipherable by me!). The motif and stitch worked so well together that this top practically designed itself.

By deconstructing the motif I discovered a cool way to make the spiral arms into a trim for the body and sleeve bottoms.

Avalon has a soft, dense drape and generous, slinky stretch thanks to the yarn, NaturallyCaron.com Spa, a blend of Microfiber and Bamboo. The body and sleeves may easily be lengthened or shortened as you please before finishing with the trim, one of the benefits of top-down construction. Beware, though, as the stitch pattern will relax when blocked and you may end up with more length than you imagined.