Monday, March 26, 2012

Springy Flower Wreath in Crochet

I was REALLY tired of the fake flower forsythia wreath from the JoAnns clearance sale going up on my front door every spring.

I wanted something handmade.

I started looking around on my favorite blogs, and checking out Pinterest to see what inspiration I could find.

These two ideas struck me:

This first one is from Lucy at Attic24.  Hands down my favorite UK Crochet gal.  I loved everything about her sweet little wreath EXCEPT the size.  Not that a 6" wreath wasn't perfect for where she hung it, but my front door required something bigger.


This other one is from an unknown source.  I found it on pinterest and did my best to trace it back to its original source with no luck (I am not a fan of unsourced pinterest photos).  I apologize in advance to its original creator and would LOVE to offer credit for the beautiful design.

One thing I liked about this second wreath is all the different flowers.  However, the pastel colors wouldn't look as good on my front door and I didn't really want to add any leaves.  I liked the way Lucy's wreath showed some of the actual wreath as well.

So, I went to work adapting a larger wreath using Lucy's FREELY SHARED (Thanks Lucy!) pattern from her blog.

To make my larger wreath, I used 3 colors of I Love This Yarn that I bought online from Hobby Lobby.  I wanted to use cotton but I didn't have any appropriate weight cotton yarn that had the vibrant colors I was looking for.  So, I went with this acrylic.  After a bit of trial and error, here is the pattern that I used to create the larger sized wreath base.  My wreath measures about 13" in its finished size after the front and back of the wreath have been stitched together.

All instructions are in American Crochet terminology.

To make ONE SIDE of the wreath, crochet 96 chains.  Then, dc (in the 3rd chain from the hook).  dc in the next 5 stitches.  2dc in the next stitch.  *dc in the next 6 stitches, 2 dc in the next stitch, repeat from * to the end of the row of chains.  You will notice that you can now form a soft circle with your strand of crochet as the 2dc in the same stitch make it turn slightly circular.  Slip stitch to join the strand into a circle.  I then also threaded the tail onto a big needle and wove the end in so that both the top and the bottom of the dc row were smoothly attached into a circle.  For my wreath, I changed colors at this point to continue, but you don't have to.

Chain 3 (after joining new color if you're changing colors) which counts as a dc.  dc in the next 9 stitches, 2 dc in next stitch, *dc in next 10 stitches, 2 dc in next stitch, continue from * to end of circle.  Join new color here or continue in same color.

Chain 3, dc in the next 15 stitches, 2 dc.  *dc in the next 16 stitches, 2 dc in the next stitch.  Repeat from * to end.  Join new color here or continue in same color.

Chain 3, dc in the next 19 stitches, 2 dc.  *dc in the next 20 stitches, 2 dc int he next stitch.  Repeat from * to end.  Join new color here or continue in same color.

Chain 3, dc in the next 23 stitches, 2 dc.  *dc in the next 24 stitches, 2 dc in the next stitch.  Repeat from * to end.  Slip stitch to finish the front of wreath.

To create the flowers, I played around in 3 crochet books and experimented with different flowers.  I made all the flowers using a worsted weight of cotton yarn.  I used a combination of I Love This Cotton from Hobby Lobby, Lion Brand cotton yarn and Sugar and Cream yarn by Lily.  I combined several big flowers with several small flowers to create some double and triple decker flowers.  I cannot reprint the patterns for the flowers I made specifically because I got them from books and don't want to infringe on those copyrights.  Here are the books that I used.

 Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs: 144 circles, hexagons, triangles, squares, and other unexpected shapes

100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet: A Collection of Beautiful Blooms for Embellishing Garments, Accessories, and More

Crochet Bouquet: Easy Designs for Dozens of Flowers

I bought mine on Amazon but my local library does carry two of the three, so check out your library to test drive them first.

I also checked my pinterest board called Crochet Lovlies Motifs which is loaded with fabulous flower motifs attached to patterns from crochet bloggers and craft sites.  Check out that pinterest board by clicking HERE.

Once your wreath front and flowers are complete, lay the flowers out on your wreath front and arrange them the way you like them.  I used T-pins to hold the flowers in place.  I used pearl cotton to attach them to the front of the wreath and knotted them in the back to remain in place.

You may need to block or flatten or iron (press with steam only if using cotton) your flowers before you attach them.  Mine seemed to lay reasonably flat, so I didn't.

Create a wreath back the same way you made the front.  Weave in the ends of both the front and back of your wreath pieces.

Next, go to your recycling bin and look for a piece of cardboard.  I used a cereal box.  Cut a donut shape from your cereal box.  I traced around my wreath front with my pencil pointing inward so the cardboard donut was a bit smaller than the wreath.

At this point, put your two wreath sides with wrong sides together and the cardboard donut in between and use a sc to "stitch" together the two sides.  I started with the outside circle of the wreath but think it might have been easier to start with the inside.  I also added an additional row of sc to the inside circle when stitching together but that's just because I liked the look.

I crocheted a row of about 20 chains.  Then, I sc in each chain and attached that to the top of my wreath as a hanging loop.  You could probably incorporate the hanging loop into your row of sc joining stitches, but I sort of forgot that detail until I'd crocheted it all together. 

In addition to a cardboard structure on the inside, you could use a piece of circular foam, a coat hanger or even some stuffing depending on the look you want to achieve with your wreath.

I hope my instructions were clear and if you DO make a wreath inspired by my creation, feel free to share it on my FB Page by clicking here and uploading your photo!

Happy Hooking, Sher

PS - apparently, the dog was much less impressed my wreath than the she was with the squirrel that was on the front porch!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Top View in a Linky Party

From time to time I join up with a linky party to show off something I've made or share a pattern with the blogging community.  A bit back I linked my birthday bunting to the "Make Something Mondays" party over at the Sarahndipities blog

On my daily blog reading visit, I opened up her blog to see that I was the most viewed link from last week's linky - how exciting to know that so many new folks visited me over here at Fly the Coop Crafts.  Welcome.  I hope to continue to post happy crocheted, sewn and handmade things to inspire and share.  Thanks for the linky likes!  Sher

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sweet N Spicy Rice

Sweet N Spicy Rice is a dish I invented when I didn't have much available in the house to produce dinner.  It was so yummy that I've made it many times now and it's a dinner favorite.

I was always taught "one starch at a time, " and that combining rice, corn and potatos was not really something that was done.  So first, let me warn you - I have broken the rules.

Here's how to make it.

First - start with these ingredients (can you tell I am a Trader Joes die hard?) - both my sister and my daughter work at TJs but not at the store where I shop : (

1.  A yam.  I suppose you could you could substitute a sweet potato - I can't tell the difference
2.  Frozen corn - I use TJs organic yellow
3.  Rice - I used a TJ box of rice pilaf (often I use brown basmati or brown boil in a bag rice)
4.  TJs Spicy Jalapeno Chicken Sausage (other flavors of chicken sausage are available but this one is my hands down favorite and I am not someone who eats chicken often or even meat often)
5.  Earth Balance (other butter product may be substituted, I LOVE EB and use it for virtually all my cooking and even some baking)
6. oil (your favorite variety)

NOTE:  This time I used a rice with a flavor packet.  Often I don't.  If I don't use a flavor packet when cooking the rice, I use a vegetable bullion cube (the brand in the photo is my favorite and I use it for all multitude of cooking) and a bit of earth balance to flavor the rice once it's cooked.

The Steps.

WHILE YOU'RE COOKING:  Treat the cook~ Pour yourself a yummy glass of wine to enjoy while you're cooking.  I had a recently opened bottle of Menage a Trois red wine that did the trick just fine.  I also enjoyed a little snack of my FAVORITE cheese!

I swear this is the yummiest cheese I've ever had.  It's called Toscano - and it's dipped soaked! in Syrah - and oooohhhh the flavor, yes, it's Trader Joes.  I swear I do not get any kick back from TJs.

1.  Peel the yam. 

Cut it into bite sized chunks. 

Boil it until soft but not mushy, the chunks should hold their shape after cooking.  Drain, set aside.

2.  Cook the rice according to package directions and/or follow the "NOTE" above.  Set aside.

3.  Heat the frozen corn, I add a bit of EB, salt & pepper

4.  Slice the sausage into fat coins. 

Brown them in a skillet with 1t of oil. 

I used olive oil. 

I cook the sausage with a lid on the skillet to reduce splatter

but I lift and stir the little sausage coins often to create crispiness on all sides.

5.  Once the sausage is cooked, add in the yam, corn and rice.  Gently mix.  Voila - dinner.

For all my vegan followers (and family) consider substituting the spicy sausage with a vegan sausage or spicy tofu.

Add a salad on the side and you're ready to eat.

Here's my favorite salad: mixed greens (organic baby romaine, organic baby spinach and organic shredded cabbage) with shredded carrots, walnut pieces, chopped avacado, crumbled blue cheese and cherry tomatos.  I drizzled my favorite dressing on top: Newman's Own - Rasberry Walnut Viniagrette - YUM!

Dinner was delish - enjoy yours!
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