I love the feel of alpaca yarn. It’s so soft and silky. It’s just perfect for wearing around the neck, especially if you have sensitive skin.
This post contains affiliate links. Yarn for this sample was generously provided by Galler Yarns.
I also loved marled yarns where two different colors of fiber are twisted together to create a tweedy look. Galler Yarns Peruvian Tweed brings together soft alpaca, a marled yarn, and a jumbo skein (8 ounces/227 grams!), and you can make two of these infinity scarves out of one skein – one for you, and one for a gift. Don’t forget to share a picture on Ravelry or with my Facebook page if you make one! If you want an easy print format, you can buy an ad-free PDF version on Craftsy.
Alpaca Caress Infinity Scarf
Crochet Pattern by Underground Crafter
This lacy and textured infinity scarf is perfect for transitional weather. The soft alpaca yarn will caress your neck and can be wrapped around up to three times.
Adult: 60” (152 cm) long x 4” (10 cm) wide after blocking.
Galler Yarns Peruvian Tweed (100% superfine alpaca, 8 oz/227 g/600 yds/550 m) – 1 skein in 121 Pewter Black, or approximately 295 yds (270 m) in any medium weight alpaca yarn.
US Size H-8 (5 mm) crochet hook or any size needed to obtain gauge.
Stitch marker or scrap yarn (optional).
13 sts x 10 rows = 4” (10 cm) in pattern. Exact gauge is not critical for this project.
Abbreviations Used in This Pattern
ch – chain
cdc – crossed double crochet – Skip st, dc in next st, dc in skipped st.
dc – double crochet
FPsc – front post single crochet – Insert hook from front around back to front of pf in previous round, yo and draw up a loop, yo and draw through 2 loops, sk st behind FPsc.
hdc – half double crochet
pf – puff stitch – (Yo, insert hook in sts, yo and draw up a loop) 4 times, yo and draw through all 9 loops.
rep – repeat
Rnd(s) – Round(s)
sc – single crochet
sk – skip
sl st – slip stitch
st(s) – stitch(es)
* Repeat instructions after asterisks as indicated.
Set up row: Turn, sk 1 ch, sc in next st and in ea st across. Being careful not to twist, join with sl st to first sc to begin working in the round. (251 sts) Optional: mark last stitch of Round with stitch marker. Move stitch marker up each Round.
Rnd 1: Ch 3 (counts as dc, here and throughout), cdc around, join with sl st to top of first ch 3.
Rnd 2: Rep Rnd 1.
Rnd 3: Ch 1, sc in same st and in each around.
Rnd 4: Ch 3, *dc in next st, ch 1, sk 1; rep from * around, join with sl st to top of first ch 3.
Rnd 5: Ch 2 (counts as hdc, here and throughout), *pf in next st, hdc in ch-1 sp; rep from * around, join with sl st to top of first ch 2.
Rnd 6: Ch 1, sc in same st, *FPsc around next pf, sc in next st; rep from * around.
Rnd 7: Rep Rnd 4.
Rnd 8: Ch 1, sc in same st, *sc in next st, sc in next ch-1 sp; rep from * around.
Rnds 9-11: Rep Rnds 1-3. Fasten off.
With yarn needle, weave in yarn tails. Gently spray block if desired.
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Karia (also known as KoutureCrochet on Ravelry). As a Brooklyn native, I’m always excited to meet crocheters in my home borough online – somehow, it often seems easier than meeting them in real life! Karia is organizing an interesting Kickstarter project and also co-owns an Etsy shop. You can also find Kouture Crochet online on Facebook.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting and knitting?
Kouture Crochet (KC): I started crocheting as a teen. My sister was in high school taking an art class where she was learning to crochet. As any self respecting younger sister, I wanted to do what my big sister was doing. So with the help of my mother, my sister taught me how to crochet. I crocheted all through high school, college and beyond. I learned to knit years later after graduating college. These two art forms quickly become a big part of who I am and how i relax, how I watch tv and why I love audio books.
UC: What inspired you to start selling your creations on Etsy?
KC: I started selling on Etsy because I was going broke making scarves and gifts for friends and family! Selling on Etsy was a way to continue to craft without losing money. I quickly realized I wanted to make this into a career. I’ve been selling on Etsy since March 2011, and I hope to be selling my crafts for a long time to come.
UC: Tell us about your Handspun Single Sheep Breeds Yarn Kickstarter project and your inspiration for developing it.
KC: For my shop on Etsy and for my personal projects, I used only natural fibers. One thing I found is that the selection of high quality 100% natural yarns is limited and often extremely expensive. I was able to find easy accessible camel and alpaca yarns through some luck and research. Wool yarns was more difficult. It felt like I had one option: merino. I love working with merino but I wanted to try something different.
When I started trying to find wool from other sheep breeds I was completely overwhelmed. There are hundreds of breeds and countless varieties. Purchasing finished yarns from more than one or two breeds was just not in my budget. In the end, I taught myself to spin yarn on a drop spindle in order to be able to try different breeds and varieties. I was lucky enough to be able to make my own yarns and learn to spin on a drop spindle, but most people don’t have the time or patience to learn to make their own yarns. There is a such a need for single breed yarns and it seemed to me like the market was not filling that need.
The best way to know “what is what” is to feel the yarn and work with it. However, there are hundreds of breeds and thousands of varieties. One skein of single breed yarn can be anywhere from $15 – $70. I had been a backer of many Kickstarter projects, and Kickstarter was a perfect format for this kind of idea. The project took months to research and price even though the goal was simple: affordable, an easy to understand way to try different single breed yarns. I have narrowed down the list to just 26 breeds. They vary wildly in softness, crimp, coarseness, strength and even the natural colors the fibers come in. I don’t cut corners in quality, but by offering samples of one ounce mini skeins its possible to offer many breeds for an affordable price.
Few, if any, local yarn shops will have more than 5 breeds of yarn to try, let alone 26! As a lover of natural fibers, it is great to be able to feel and sample a yarn in your hand. My hope is there are just a few people like me who wanted to try these fibers and yarns. Crafters who love natural yarns will be able to do so at a very reasonable price. I also hope that people who think wool is that “itchy, expensive stuff” will also give it a try. (UC comment: This is really a great project! If you’d like to contribute, check out Kouture Crochet’s Kickstarter page here.)
UC: Do you have any crafty websites or blogs you frequent for inspiration or community that you would like to share?
KC: I’m new to Ravelry, but I love having such a large and active community of crafters.
Thanks so much for stopping by for an interview, Karia!
Stacey Trock is the mind behind FreshStitches, and is known for her crocheted, amigurumi animal designs, which are available for download on her website, on her Ravelry designer page, and in her Etsy shop. (Stacey also sells her finished critters in her Etsy shop, in case you don’t crochet, as well as kits for her most popular patterns.) You can also find Stacey online on Facebook and Twitter. The pictures of Stacey’s work are used with her permission.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting?
Stacey: I started crocheting when I was a little girl… my mom taught me. I don’t really remember learning, but I remember there was a time when I could only crochet a chain… and I spend a fair amount of time making a VERY long chain!
UC: What was your original inspiration to start making amigurumi, and what led you to start designing your own amigurumi patterns?
Stacey: I call it my ‘quarter life crisis’… I finished school and knew I didn’t want to work in an office. I though to myself, ‘what would I do if I could do ANYTHING?’… and I knew that I loved crocheting! I’ve also always loved stuffed animals (and had previously sewn a few of them), so it seemed like the natural thing to do. I put all of my energy towards designing a collection of amigurumi and getting a website up and running, and I’ve never looked back! (UC comment: I had a quarter-life crisis, too, but I didn’t do anything as cool as Stacey during mine!)
UC: I love that many (most?) of your designs are larger than the typical wee Lilliputian scale of amigurumi patterns and are more “kid friendly.” Can you tell me more about that?
Stacey: I think the size of my amigurumi reflects my love of stuffed animals. I think they’re so cute and cuddly… and it doesn’t make much difference to me whether I crochet, sew, or knit them. I happen to think crocheting makes the nicest fabric for stuffed animals (as compared to knitting), but my love is the animal itself. So, it seemed pretty natural for me to focus on the larger size animals. Most of my stuffed animals are about 8″ tall when completed… and of course, they could be made larger or smaller by using thicker or thinner yarn.
I do realize, though, that lots of folks love making the smaller amigurumi, and I’ve recently released a line of tiny amigurumi. It’s important for me to design animals that people love… so if there’s lots of people who love the smaller animals, I want to do that, too! My true love is still the big guys, though 🙂
UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?
Stacey: I’m like a sponge… I suck inspiration up from all over! I look at lots of drawings and cartoons (and Clip Art)… I love seeing how other artists conceptualize animals and break them down into basic shapes and components. I also love all things cute: Japanese stationary, children’s toys, jewelry with animals on it… you name it, I’m inspired!
Oddly enough, I’m not terrifically inspired by actual animals. (That sounds really lame when I say it aloud!) I’m an animal-lover, but I don’t draw inspiration for my stuffed animal designs from the actual animals themselves :).
UC: Most people associate amigurumi and crocheted toys with acrylic yarn, but in Crocheted Softies, you’ve managed to create an entire book of patterns using eco-friendly yarns. Tell me about your decision to do this. What was your design and yarn selection process for this book?
Stacey: I’m really passionate about using quality yarn. And, by quality yarn, I don’t mean ‘yarn sold in a fancy yarn store over big box stores.’ I’ve found scratchy, icky yarn in LYSs (local yarn stores), and some quite pleasant yarns sold by the major yarn manufacturers. What I mean is yarn that is pleasant to work with and that will help you make a quality product that you can be proud of.
For me, crocheting is a tactile process: the yarn runs through your fingers as you hold it… and when you make a stuffed animal, you’re making something that will probably be snuggled up against your child’s face. Why would you want to use a yarn that you’re not totally in love with?
I’ve always used high-quality yarn in my designs, but I thought that writing this book was the perfect opportunity to spread the word about fantastic Earth-friendly yarns… because you’re right, most people pick up a skein of acrylic yarn to make amigurumi. For me, Earth-friendliness is about being aware of where your yarn comes from and it’s environmental impact. I know that not everyone will pick up a skein of organic cotton to make your next animal. But, it’s important to me that people realize that when they’re crocheting, they’re creating a lovely little piece of artwork… and maybe they’ll think about using materials that are worthy of the love and energy they pour into the piece.
About my design process… for a couple of animals, I picked pairings that seemed perfect and hilarious: there’s a panda made from bamboo, an alpaca from alpaca and a kiwi from a New Zealand yarn. For the remainder of the animals, I searched around for yarns that had the texture that would be right for the animals, and came in a colorway that would work. There’s so many lovely yarns to choose from!
UC: Does your background working in a yarn shop (Knit New Haven) influence your design process? If so, how?
Stacey: It doesn’t directly influence my designs, but working in a yarn store influences me tremendously in my yarn-life. I’m lucky enough to see all of the yarns that are coming into the shop on a regular basis, and hear customers’ reactions to them. I also benefit tremendously from helping customers with their knitting/crocheting problems… I think I’ve gotten a really good sense of what people find difficult/easy about crocheting and pattern-reading. Since I learned to crochet when I was so young, I don’t remember learning… so hearing the experiences of others who are learning helps me design patterns in a way that’s accessible for the largest number of crocheters.
UC: Do you have any favorite craft/crochet/creativity blogs or websites to share?
Stacey: Oh my gosh… there’s too many! I think Delicious Crochet, MochiMochi Land, and MyGurumiare some of the most clever animal designers on the block! I love seeing what new designs they come up with and I just think they’re some genius ladies!
As for blogs, I’ll share a few that are on my reader (which are only a couple from the oodles of amazing inspirational folks out there!):
UC: What are your favorite crochet books in your collection (besides your own, of course)?
Stacey: Oooh… that’s a very tricky question because I’m actually quite a minimalist about owning books :). I just boughtCraft Activism, which is a totally awesome book about how people use all sorts of different crafts (including crochet) as forms of activism. And, I’m in love with Vanna’s Afghans A to Z for sentimental reasons… it was my first crochet book, and I’ve made a number of afghans from it! (UC comment: I once had a well loved copy of Vanna’s Favorite Gift Afghans, but I sold it online to pay some overdue bills during my quarter-life crisis!)
My other favorite books are knitting ones… I’m too multi-crafting to stick to just crochet books!
UC: What’s next for you?
Stacey: Oooh… I don’t know! I’m absolutely in love with what I do, so I’m totally going to stick with it… and I’m contemplating about how I’d like to branch out.
This January, I’m going to be teaching a couple of online amigurumi classes for Craftsy, which I’m super-excited about. I’m also going to be adding more tiny amigurumi designs to my site over the next year (and, of course, lots of new big ones!), as well as expanding the number of patterns I offer as kits… they’ve been popular!
I sometimes think about designing knitted animals… but I’ll have to see if that’s in the cards! I’m excited to see where FreshStitches will be this time next year :).
Thanks, Stacey, for stopping by for an interview today, and for signing the giveaway copy!
I confess that I was really looking forward to receiving my review copy of Crocheted Softiesfrom Martingale & Company for several weeks before it arrived. I really like the look of Stacey’s work, and especially enjoy the larger sizes of most of her amigurumi patterns. I grew up receiving awesome crocheted bears from my grandmother, years before I ever heard the term amigurumi. These bears were some of my favorite playthings as a kid, and I love how Stacey merges the coziness of an old fashioned teddy bear with a contemporary look. I was also really intrigued by the the book’s concept of making amigurumi with earth-friendly yarns. In my mind, amigurumi has always been associated with acrylic yarn, but in the past year, I’ve been looking at my yarn stash and trying to replace my petroleum based yarns with natural fibers.
I’m going to come right out and say that I love this book, and definitely will recommend it far and wide. The book starts with several concise but detailed sections: Getting Started, Crochet Stitches, and Additional Techniques. Stacey’s writing style is really conversational, and she gives some wonderful tips on substituting yarns, informal gauge, assembly and stuffing, and caring for your softies. She also provides patterns for “basic animal shapes” which are used throughout the book. Once you are familiar with the basic head, for example, you can use it to make many of the softies.
The book then introduces 18 softies, sorted by region. Most of the critters are made with one skein of yarn in the main color and then smaller bits of other colors. Stacey uses safety eyes throughout the book, but provides you with a quick technique for making crocheted eyes so you can easily substitute if your softie is for a baby or toddler (or you just plain don’t like safety eyes). She uses an interesting range of fibers and her premise is that if you are using only one skein, you can try out some yarns you may not be as familiar with, like soy, corn, or recycled silk, without much of an investment. All of the projects are super cute and would make great gifts, but I do have a few favorites: Stretch the Giraffe, Lala the Panda, Salty the Crocodile, Milton the Slowpoke Snail, Mr. Crabby, and Sherwin the Alpaca.
I think the book is great for a crochet newbie because it explains things like yarn substitution in a really friendly way, but it’s also wonderful for a more advanced crocheter because it encourages you to move outside of your comfort zone by trying new yarns and experimenting with pattern modifications. (At the same time, you could make these patterns with your standard favorite yarns also.) Like all Martingale & Company books, it has a really clean and eye pleasing layout.
Just so I don’t sound like a groupie, I’ll balance my review a bit. Crocheted Softies doesn’t pretend to teach you everything you need to know in order to crochet, though it does have written explanations and illustrations of the basic stitches. Therefore, it will probably be too challenging for someone who has never crocheted before. It doesn’t include international stitch symbols, which is ok by me since the patterns are really straightforward, but I know some people prefer to have both abbreviations and stitch symbols. (The book uses U.S. crochet abbreviations, by the way.) The book obviously doesn’t include a range of project types, and only focuses on softies (though there is a variety of shapes and animal/space creature types).
If I wasn’t buried under a mountain of holiday crafting and design deadlines, I would absolutely be making MC his very own Mr. Crabby right now (not because he’s cranky, but because he’s a Cancer). I think it will be on my Valentine’s Day gift list instead.
I give the book 5 out of 5 stars as a fun project book that shares some helpful techniques and skills for making amigurumi.
Full disclosure: Two free review copies of this book were provided by the publisher. Although I accept free books for review, I do not accept additional compensation from the publisher, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions. This also post contains affiliate links. You can read my affiliate and review disclosures here.
I’m so excited that Martingale & Company provided two copies of the book, so I actually get to keep mine while still offering a giveaway to my readers! This giveaway is open to international readers.
Happy Friday everyone! I’ve been thinking for a while about how to celebrate I Love Yarn Day, since I first read about it on the Craft Yarn Council website. The CYC has several suggestions about what to do to celebrate (and several projects from famous designers, too!).
My post for today is a celebration of my favorite yarns and also about yarncrafting for charity. If you have been crocheting or knitting for any amount of time, you have probably found that we yarncrafters are a generous lot. I even have some Finished Objects to share, in the form of charity crochet projects.
Like most of the yarns on my list, I discovered this super soft yarn in my LYS, Knitty City. As the name implies, Cascade Eco Duo is an eco-friendly yarn made of undyed baby alpaca (70%) and undyed Merino wool (30%). Since it is undyed, it is offered in a relatively limited range of colors (mostly browns, blacks, whites – very gender neutral) and it is marled. The softness is incredible and it is really nice to work with. There is a kind of self-striping effect with most of the colors. The one drawback for me is that it isn’t machine washable, and since I hate handwashing, I only use this yarn for small accessories.
Stitch Nation by Debbie Stoller Alpaca Love
This is my favorite big box store yarn. Alpaca Love is also a wool (80%) and alpaca (20%) blend. I love the feel of the yarn – a great combination of softness with firmness. It comes in some very fun coordinated colors. This yarn is very affordable (especially when purchased at Michaels using a coupon!). The drawbacks for me are the handwashing issue again, and the limited color range. I usually get around the handwashing issue by felting projects made with this yarn :).
Dream in Color Classy
Dream in Color Classy is another great yarn that I first tried out at Knitty City. This yarn has recently made several appearances on the blog (in my crocodile stitch project and my yarn haul post). Classy is a 100% superwash Merino wool yarn that is spun and hand dyed in the U.S. The colors are variegated and are really fabulous. The only drawback here for me is the cost, which means that I have to save it for slightly more special occasions. At least there are 250 yards in each skein, which makes me feel a little less guilty when splurging!
Patons Classic Wool
Patons Classic Wool is another big box store yarn. It is 100% wool and it is available in a great variety of colors, including both solids and ombres. (A few colors are also available as tweeds.) The solids have 210 yards in each skein and are reasonably priced. It isn’t the softest wool I’ve felt, but it isn’t scratchy, either. It is a great, firm, workhorse yarn which doesn’t split. The only real drawback for me is that it isn’t machine washable.
Spud and Chloe Sweater
Sweater is probably the yarn in this group that I’ve worked with the most. It is a blend of 55% superwash wool and 45% organic cotton. I also found it at Knitty City 🙂 about a year ago. I first picked up a skein of Turtle for a design submission which wasn’t accepted. I loved the yarn so much that I submitted two more designs with it, which were both accepted. The first was my Sunshine Blanket, published in the August, 2011 issue of Inside Crochet. I am also in the middle of a top secret project using these colors for Cooperative Press‘s Fresh Designs Crochet (Kids) book, which should be published in 2012. I honestly can’t think of any drawbacks to this yarn: the colors are great, it is machine washable, and it feels nice :).
You may have noticed that all of these yarns are worsted weight – yes, I am one of those American yarncrafters that prefers a heavier weight yarn! You may have also noticed that all of these yarns are made with natural fibers. I am by no means a “yarn snob” – I work with Red Heart Super Saver, too. But recently, I have really tried to limit my purchasing of acrylic yarn. I just don’t feel comfortable buying a yarn made from crude oil anymore. This is my own personal choice as part of changes I’ve made in my life to be more environmentally conscious. On the other hand, I can’t just let the existing acrylic yarn in my stash go to waste (that’s not too eco-friendly either), and so that is where some of my charity crafting and experiments with freeform crochet come into play.
One great way to use up your stash while finding a home for some of your creations is through charity crafting. I especially like to make items for infants and pets (because they are fast and cute, and because my very own special cat was adopted from the Humane Society).
I was inspired by the phrase “Think globally. Act locally.” and decided to make up a list of local NYC charities that accept handmade donations. I checked in with all of these organizations, and the list is current as of October, 2011.
ASPCA, the first humane organization in the Western hemisphere, has a wishlist of donated items for their Manhattan adoption center which includes handmade bedding or toys. Items can be dropped off during regular adoption hours.
Bideawee, the oldest no-kill animal humane organization in the U.S., welcomes Snuggles in any size for cats and dogs in its adoption center. These can be delivered in person, or mailed to the attention of Lauren Bonanno at the Manhattan location.
S.A.V.E., a pet rescue organization in Queens, is looking for small or medium sized bedding. Email the organization at savepetNY@aol.com to arrange pick up.
Knits for Infants is looking for hats, booties, sweaters, and blankets in soft, machine washable yarns for newborns and infants being treated at the North Central Bronx Hospital. Having worked in the health care industry in the Bronx for years, I can say that families served by this hospital would really benefit from the donations. They also accept yarn donations (no novelty yarns or “scratchy” yarns like Red Heart Super Saver, please).
Today, I’m showing off some of the projects that I’m donating to charity for I Love Yarn Day.
My post yesterday was a reflection on my craft goals for the year, and I’m thinking that when I update them, I will add some charity crafting goals. I used to donate a lot of projects to charity, and I would like to make more crocheted donations in the coming months.
For more finished objects, don’t forget to stop by Tami’s Amis!