Sunny Day

cherry blossoms in spring, Vancouver, BC

We’ve had a very grey, very rainy (record-breaking rainy!) spring so far here in Vancouver, and it’s seriously getting people down. Me included.

So when the sun came out this morning, I made the very most of it. I took the longer route home through the woods after walking my kid to school. I ran an errand at Granville Island. I stopped at the beach on my way home.

The cherry blossoms started blooming over a week ago, and I was so grateful for this first glimpse of them against a clear blue sky.

Oh man, I so needed this sunny day.

Forest in spring, Vancouver BC
cherry blossoms in spring, Vancouver BC
cherry blossoms in spring, Vancouver BC
cherry blossoms in spring, Vancouver BC
Granville Island, Vancouver BC
Spanish Banks beach, Vancouver BC

Compulsory Podcast Episode 201: Cheryl Arkison

In this first episode of Compulsory in two years (two years!), we return to our roots with an honest conversation with quilter Cheryl Arkison about the power of habit in creative life, and about embracing the mess of, well, pretty much everything.

Show Notes and Links

Learn more about Cheryl Arkison and her work at cherylarkison.com and connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.


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Quilter Cheryl Arkison on Compulsory Podcast. Listen at http://www.kimwerker.com/topics/podcast-2

How to Crochet a Two-Colour Spiral

Crochet hat with 2-color spiral

If stripes are the simplest way to play with colour in a crochet project, then creating a striped project in the round that begins with a nifty spiral is the best next step.

It might be a little mind-bendy to think about it, but once you make your first spiral, it'll make perfect sense and become something you'll hopefully do again and again to spruce up any simple project in the round.

Here's what you need:

  • 2 colours of yarn in the same weight; consider one colour A and the other B (shown here is Cascade 220; blue is A and green is B)
  • a hook the right size for your yarn
  • a removable stitch marker

Step 1

With colour A, begin with an adjustable ring. Here's how:

Step 2: Round 1, First Half

Insert your hook into the ring and pull up a loop, chain 1.

If you're working in single crochet: Make six sc into the ring.

If you're working in a taller stitch, start with single crochet and gradually increase in height as follows:

For half double crochet: Make 3 sc, 3 hdc into the ring.

For double crochet (shown in example here): Make 2 sc, 2 hdc, 2 dc into ring.

For all stitches: Finally, remove your hook and pull up your working loop to prevent unraveling (see photo above).

Step 3: Round 1, Second Half

How to crochet a 2-color spiral: first round

Join yarn B as follows: Leaving a 6" (15 cm) tail, insert your hook into the centre of the ring and pull up a loop of B, chain 1.

If you're working in single crochet: Make six sc into the ring.

For half double crochet (shown in example here): Make 3 sc, 3 hdc into the ring.

For double crochet: Make 2 sc, 2 hdc, 2 dc into ring.​

For all stitches: Finally, place marker in last stitch made to indicate the end of the round; remove your hook and pull up the working loop to prevent unraveling (see photo above).​

This completes the first round. Next, you'll tighten up the ring, then move on to establish the striping pattern.

​Step 4: Tighten the Adjustable Ring

As shown in the video above, firmly pull or tug on the tail of the ring to close it up entirely. There should be no visible hole in the centre, as in the photo above.

Now we're ready for Round 2.

Step 5: Round 2 and Establishing the Striping Pattern

​Just as in any project in the round, we begin increasing here. Because we began with a total of 12 stitches in Round 1, we'll be adding 12 stitches in total to each subsequent round – we'll increase by 6 stitches in each colour.

Insert your hook back into the last stitch of Round 1 (this is in colour B).

In this example, B is to be worked in half double crochet (hdc). If you're working in a different stitch, just substitute that one.​

Continuing with B, [2 hdc in next stitch] 6 times, remove hook and pull the working loop long so it doesn't unravel.

In this example, A is to be worked in double crochet (dc). ​If you're using a different stitch, just substitute that one.

Reinsert your hook in the working loop of A. With A, [2 dc in next stitch] 6 times.

You now have a total of 24 stitches at the end of the round – 12 in B and 12 in A (see photo, above.

The striping pattern has been set up: You will always work B into A, and A into B.

CLICK HERE TO GET MY CHEATSHEET: 7 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR CROCHET SHINE!

Step 6: Continue in Pattern as Established

There are two patterns you've established, of course: the increasing pattern (adding 12 stitches to each round; 6 in each colour), and the striping pattern (always working B into A and A into B).

As you continue, you'll keep at both patterns until, if you're making a hat or a bowl or something else that's 3-D, you stop increasing so that your circle will begin to cup into the proper shape. When it's time for that, simply maintain the striping pattern without increasing anymore.​

Here's what Round 3 will look like: Continuing with A, [dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch] 3 times; remove hook and reinsert in loop of B; with B, [hdc in next stitch, 2 hdc in next stitch] 3 times — 36 stitches total.​

And there you have it! A two-colour crocheted spiral.


To seriously get a feel for how and why crochet behaves in the round, take my class Crochet in the Round: Basics & Beyond! We go deep, with lots of projects and video instruction.

This spiral is at the heart of the Hat for Science pattern, which you can get for free right here.​

How to Crochet a 2-color Spiral: Tutorial from http://www.kimwerker.com/blog

Crochet a Hat for Science! (Free Pattern, BYO Activism)

Crochet a Hat for Science! Show your support for the scientific community and for fact-based decision making, and learn how to crochet a 2-color spiral while you're at it!

Spirals! Spirals appear throughout the universe in spectacular displays of mathematics and science. Also, they're really cool-looking. And spirals are very nifty to crochet in multiple colours.

This hat starts with a two-colour spiral at the top, and I designed it in part to showcase this neat technique. I also designed it in the wake of the incredibly powerful visual impact Pussyhats made at the Women's Marches in January. The Hat for Science is a simple craftivist project just in time for the worldwide Marches for Science on April 22, 2017.

A chilling report that major U.S. news shows spent a combined total of less than an hour reporting on issues related to climate change in all of 2016 means we need to get seriously loud about the importance of scientific enquiry and fact-based decision-making. Those words may not sound sexy, but ignoring our dire need to address the impending devastation of life on earth​ isn't sexy either. So.

Grab your hook and make a statement! Better yet, wear that statement to a March for Science near you. Phone and write to your elected representatives (no matter where you live – this is not only an American issue!) and tell them you expect them to support funding for scientific research and to consider solid, peer-reviewed scientific findings when making decisions that affect our environment, education, food safety, medicine and more.​

Find the free Hat for Science pattern below, or download it as a print-friendly PDF:

CLICK HERE TO GET THE CROCHET PATTERN AS A PDF

Note: A small mistake in the pattern was corrected on 29 March 2017, indicated in bold text. Another was corrected, again in bold text, on 12 April 2017. To make sure you have the corrected version of the pattern PDF, check to make sure the file name has "v3" at the end.

Hat for Science

Sizing

To fit a medium/large adult head.

Finished brim circumference: ​22" (56 cm).

To make the hat smaller or larger, work fewer or more increase rounds before working even (and adjust the number of work-even rounds). If you want to learn more about sizing hats of all sorts, you’ll enjoy my class, Crochet in the Round: Basics & Beyond!

Materials

Yarn: Worsted weight, about 75 yards colour A and 85 yards colour B. Shown here in: Cascade 220 (100% Peruvian Highland Wool; 220 yards [200 m] per 3.5 oz.) [100 g], 9452 Summer Sky Heather (blue; A) and 2429 Irelands (green; B).

Hook: 5.5mm (US I/9).

Notions: Removable stitch marker.

Gauge

14 sts and 9 rows = 4” (10 cm) in alternating rounds of dc and hdc.

Abbreviations

American terms are used.

A = colour A (shown here in blue)

B = colour B (shown here in green)

ch = chain

dc = double crochet

hdc = half double crochet

rep = repeat

sc = single crochet

sl st = slip stitch

tch = turning chain

Notes​

Hat is designed to have each colour worked in a different stitch (A in dc, B in hdc), so that one colour is slightly more dominant than the other. Choose whether you’re, say, more inclined to advocate for land-related science (green) versus water-related science (blue), and make that colour your dominant colour A. The other will be colour B. (Obviously, you can make this hat in any colours you want, not only in blue and green!)

You will not join each round at the end, but rather work in a continuing spiral.

Use a removable stitch marker to indicate the final stitch of the round; move the marker up as you go.

Pattern​

With A, begin with an adjustable ring.

Round 1: Insert hook in ring and pull up a loop, ch 1, work (2 sc, 2 hdc, 2 dc) in centre of ring, remove hook from A (pull the loop long to prevent unraveling); leaving a 6” tail, join colour B by pulling up a loop, ch 1, work (3 sc, 3 hdc) in centre of ring, place marker in stitch just made (this is the last stitch of the round) — 12 stitches total.

How to crochet a 2-color spiral: first round

Round 2: Continuing with B, [2 hdc in next stitch] 6 times, remove hook and reinsert in loop of A; with A, [2 dc in next stitch] 6 times — 24 stitches. (Note that a pattern has been set up: You will always work B into A, and A into B.)

Round 3: Continuing with A, [dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch] 6 times; remove hook and reinsert in loop of B; with B, [hdc in next stitch, 2 hdc in next stitch] 6 times — 36 stitches.

Round 4: Continuing with B, [hdc in next 2 stitches, 2 hdc in next stitch] 6 times; with A, [dc in next 2 stitches, 2 dc in next stitch] 6 times — 48 stitches.

Round 5: Continuing with A, [dc in next 3 stitches, 2 dc in next stitch] 6 times; with B, [hdc in next 3 stitches, 2 hdc in next stitch] 6 times — 60 stitches.

Round 6: Continuing with B, [hdc in next 4 stitches, 2 hdc in next stitch] 6 times; with A, [dc in next 4 stitches, 2 dc in next stitch] 6 times — 72 stitches.

Continue in colour pattern as established, without increasing, as follows:

Round 7: Continuing with A, dc in next 36 stitches; with B, hdc in next 36 stitches. (Bold indicates corrections to mistakes in the original pattern. It's all good now!)

Rounds 8-16: Continue to work even without increasing, working A stitches into colour B and B stitches into colour A.

Now smooth out the jagged end-of-rounds and begin the brim, as follows:​

Round 17(ish): (This is really a half round, for reasons that will become clear.) Continuing with A, dc in next 27 stitches, hdc in next 3 stitches, sc in next 3 stitches, sl st in next 3 stitches, fasten off A, move marker to final sl st (this will be the new “end” of the round).

Rounds 18-20: Continuing with B, sc all the way around (do not join your rounds); at the end of Round 20, sl st in the next 2 stitches, fasten off.

Weave in loose ends.

When you share your finished hat, make sure to tag me (@kpwerker) and #hat4science!

Sophie’s Universe, Part I

Part 1 of Sophie's Universe Crocheted Blanket

The second time I learned how to crochet, I was a resident assistant in a dorm in college (the first time, I was sixteen, and I didn't know that what I was doing was even called crochet). My hall director's wife taught me, and she sent me to A.C. Moore to buy an afghan's worth of yarn and a pattern book.

The yarn I chose was truly hideous. The book was a collection of patterns I had no idea how to assess.

Which is how it ended up that I started in on a project that would be described by people inclined to rate the difficulty of patterns as capital-I Intermediate.​ It was like a 12-row repeated pattern that involved post stitches and crossed stitches and all manner of shenanigans like that.

I got the hang of it eventually and ended up making about two feet of blanket. I moved with the bag of yarn several times before realizing I'd never finish it, then I chucked it.

It was a few years after I parted ways with that beast that I learned how to crochet for the third and final time – the time that stuck.

Since then, I've written books about crochet and taught thousands of people how to do it, and I've made a few blankets. I've always preferred simple, repetitive, meditative projects, though. The kind I can relax into at the end of the day. The kind I can use odd balls for, both because I love using odd materials and also because this way I don't have to plan my colours in advance.

CLICK HERE TO GET MY CHEATSHEET: 7 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR CROCHET SHINE

A few weeks ago, though, I stumbled onto a blanket pattern that – twenty years after I started the ill-fated project in college – led me to come full circle.

Not only does Sophie's Universe involve loads of post stitches and popcorns and clusters and all manner of complicated shenanigans, it's worked in the round then squared up.

The pattern was first released for free, in parts of several rounds at a time, over several weeks back in 2015 as a mystery crochet-along, and it became so popular that just recently the designer published the whole thing as a book. I ordered the book the same day I ordered my 4200 yards of yarn (I'm using Knit Picks Comfy Worsted). The book hasn't arrived yet, but the day my yarn got here I started working from the pattern online.

Above is the completed first part of the pattern. The first 25 rounds are a mandala; after that, you square it up and continue from there. I'm totally in love with this blanket already. Every round is different from the ones before it. The math of it is gorgeous. The cleverness involved in engineering such a thing is quite something to experience.

Here's the palette of colours I'm using – weighted heavily to the ivory colour. When I'm done, I should have a bed-size blanket.

Knit Picks Comfy Worsted yarn palette for Sophie's Universe crocheted blanket

I'm posting my progress somewhat frequently in my Facebook group, where some members are talking about joining in to make a blanket of their own. Come on over and crochet along with us!

And here's my project on Ravelry, if that's more your style.​

A Resurrection

After two years on hiatus, Compulsory Podcast is coming back! Listen above for a brief update about what’s changed (and what’s staying the same), and how you can help keep the show going long into the future.

Be sure to subscribe to the show so you get the next episode as soon as it’s out (here are the iTunes, Stitcher and Soundcloud links).

To get unedited clips, episodes or commentary before each new show comes out, support the continuing production of Compulsory over on Patreon. Thank you!

Catching UP

Beach hair in Mexico.

The last several weeks have been totally wacko! Totally wacko. Is it because of politics? Not entirely, no. Most days I barely feel like I have my head on straight. So I thought I’d pop in and blog about all the things I’ve been neglecting, all in one place. Sweet-like, in list form. As you do.

So!

  • After the Pussyhat pattern quickly became the most popular crochet project I’ve ever released, I started a new weekly newsletter about Action + Craft. Every Tuesday I send an email including links to a few great informative pieces about one or more current events (U.S.-inspired, but with an eye on the rest of the world, too), a list of upcoming marches and demonstrations, and a round-up of art/craft-related acts of expression or resistance. You should subscribe, obviously.
    • I’m still sending my Friday newsletter, too, of course. It seems that the vast majority of my writing these days is by email. Which I’m enjoying immensely. If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, I’ve been in ye olde inbox. I’ll happily jump into yours!
  • I went on holiday (see beach hair, above)! It was lovely. And warm. I didn’t make a damn thing while I was away, but I did get my fiction-reading groove back, so I’m very happy.
  • In anticipation of the trip, I obsessed over making sunblocking lip balm. (Worked like a charm.)
  • It’s cold and cloudy back home now, but I’ve got spring fever. Bad.
  • Today I discovered that I have 50 patrons. 50! Holy smokes. If you enjoy my work and want to help me keep at it and to cover the cost of the tools I use to get it done (the new activism newsletter tipped me over into the next, far-more-expensive fee level of my email provider, for example), please become a patron! I create a separate biweekly newsletter just for my patrons, and patrons get behind-the-scenes and other updates that no one else gets. (Also, some get postcards in the mail. So.) Thanks for your support, lovely patrons!

Is that my full update? I honestly can’t be sure (see: head not screwed on straight). But I think so?

How to Make DIY Tinted Lip Balm with Sun Protection

I'm going on a beach holiday in a few days, and I got it in my head to make myself some lip balm that'll protect me from the sun. Had I made this before? No I had not. I think the uncertainty of it is much of what made me determined to do it.

How to Make DIY Tinted Lip Balm with Sun Protection – http://www.kimwerker.com/blog

(I mean, I've made plain-old lip balm before, so it's not like I went into this totally cold. But I did wing it quite a bit, all the same.)

First snag? The titanium dioxide I have is water-soluble, not oil-soluble. I was going to use only a teensy weensy bit of it, but I didn't want it to go all screwy on me so instead of using both it and zinc oxide for a sun-protection dynamic duo, I used only zinc oxide. Honestly, I don't think this made a lick of difference to the lip balm, but I thought I'd mention it.

Why these white powders, you ask? Well. There's a reason all the super-natural sunscreens for kids use them: they're effective, and they aren't harsh chemicals that might irritate skin.

Only thing is, as I'm sure you've noticed at parks or summer camps with kids whose parents hate "chemicals": pasty, pasty kids. The sunscreen makes skin look a ghastly white no matter the wearer's skin tone.

Which is why this lip balm is tinted. If I didn't add colour, the balm would be a pure, opaque white, and it would make my lips look like a clown's foundation.

How to Make DIY Tinted Lip Balm with Sun Protection – http://www.kimwerker.com/blog

So I used that white as a base, and added iron oxide and carmine dye to bring it back to some kind of natural colour – even, depending on your opinion, to a lovely shade of blush.​

Below is the recipe, a video of me making the first (of two) batches, and here's an option to get a printable PDF of the ​recipe and instructions (you'll get my weekly newsletter, too, which I think will be utterly delightful for you):

CLICK HERE TO GET THE RECIPE & INSTRUCTIONS AS A PDF

Recipe & Instructions

​Note: I have no idea exactly how much protection this lip balm provides against UVA and UVB rays. What I do know is that it should provide more than a similar recipe that doesn't use zinc oxide, because zinc oxide protects against exposure to the sun. At this concentration? I don't know how much.

Supplies*

Ingredients

Note: See instructions for compensating for leaving out any optional ingredients.

Make the Lip Balm

Fill the small saucepan with a couple of inches of water, and start heating on medium-low.

Into the glass measuring cup, add beeswax, cocoa butter, shea butter, argan oil and sweet almond oil. (If not using argan oil, just use 5g more sweet almond or olive oil. The idea is to use a total of 21g of oil that’s liquid at room temperature.)

Place the measuring cup into the saucepan. Stir occasionally while the wax and butters melt. (The wax will be the last to melt.)

While that’s going, in the small bowl combine the vitamin E oil, castor oil and zinc oxide (if you aren’t using vitamin E oil and/or castor oil, sub in the same liquid oil you’re already using – olive, sweet almond, etc. – so that you’re adding a total of 4g of oil to the zinc oxide). Stir into a paste. Now add the tint in small increments until the hue and saturation are to your liking. (Shown here: the pinkest tubes contain a smidge of burgundy iron oxide and about 30 drops of liquid carmine dye; the browner tubes contain about a teaspoon of burgundy iron oxide.)

When the waxes and butters are fully melted into the liquid oils, remove the measuring cup from the pot and place on a heat-proof surface.

Quickly stir in the zinc oxide/tint mixture, mixing thoroughly (quickly because as the oils cool, they’ll start to harden – if that happens, no worries! Just put the measuring cup back into the saucepan to remelt everything).

If you’re adding essential oil or flavour oil, add that in now (I used about 8 drops of spearmint essential oil), and stir well.

Pour everything into lip balm tubes.

Let the tubes cool thoroughly before using.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE RECIPE & INSTRUCTIONS AS A PDF

How to Make DIY Tinted Lip Balm with Sun Protection – http://www.kimwerker.com/blog
How to Make DIY Tinted Lip Balm with Sun Protection – http://www.kimwerker.com/blog