How to Read Japanese Crochet Patterns

How to Read Japanese Crochet Patterns

We all know how popular boho crochet is right now. Did you know some of the best boho crochet patterns are actually Japanese crochet patterns? Yep.

 Some of the most gorgeously crochet patterns I have seen are from some of my favorite Japanese pattern books


I mean look at these


How cute is this


or this


OMG this


And who can’t resist these über cute amigurumi?


Do I know how to read Japanese? Nope. But luckily these patterns are super easy to figure out.

For the most part they are charted. And you can easily get away with only knowing a few easily memorized Japanese characters. I am such a big fan of these patterns. Many of them also contain quite a few knitting patterns as well. It seems the pattern books lump crochet and knitting into the same categories, so it is not unusual to find both in any pattern book. The knitting patterns are charted in the same fashion. I know a little odd at first to be knitting from a chart like this, but honestly if you have ever done any color work it is very similar.

So here are some of my favorite resources for reading Japanese patterns:

There is a huge active Ravelry group. This group is wonderful for finding pattern resources, charts for reading the symbols and a super active forum to help you with any questions you might have.

Pinterest boards. First…set aside a full afternoon to get stuck in the Pinterest rabbit hole. Grab your coffee, and go here. Your welcome.

I have bought most of my Japanese pattern books on ETSY.

Here is a great chart for some of the basic terms translated along with some wonderful tips for reading the chart.

Japanese needles are not metric, they are a whole different thing altogether. Here are charts for the needle and hook sizes.

The measurements ARE metric. I use this conversion app for my iPhone. You can also use this site to convert the measurements.

Here is a great tutorial on reading crochet charts if you have not tried it before.

Here is another excellent tutorial series on reading Japanese patterns.

When in doubt just do what seems logical. Yes, there will be areas that you do not quite understand the pattern. Yes, you may have to rip out a few rows. Just breath. Embrace the wabi sabi. Ask questions in the Ravelry group. Trust that you will know how to proceed, regardless.

Have you tried Japanese patterns? Do you have a favorite resource? Please share it in the comments below or in the FB page. If you like this post please please please share it with your friends.


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Bohemian Rhapsody: A guide to boho crochet patterns

Bohemian Rhapsody: A guide to boho crochet patterns

I am a self proclaimed hippie. Yep music festival going, patchouli loving, child of the 70s, comfortable shoes kind of hippie. Being in Asheville, I also live in that hippie community bubble where I am not terribly fashion aware outside of what I see at Target. Imagine my surprise when I started seeing tons of Boho style lacy crochet pieces in target this month.

So many lacy crochet details. Just when I first saw the Missoni collection a few years ago, all I could think is I could totally do that. This time I am over the moon. This stuff is MY STYLE. my little hippie heart is doing a jig.

So here it is, this hippie girls guide to DIY crochet boho styles.


Awesome Boho bag by UrbanHeirlooms

Start with small details.

There are a ton of crochet stitch books out there. I personally have about 20 books!!!! Even a quick search on Ravelry will yield a metric ton of stitches. A good way to Boho up your wardrobe would be to add a crochet edge to you favorite tank top, t-shirt, or even jacket collar. Try adding a crochet medallion to you favorite worn jeans or even a rustic leather bag.


Use your favorite freeform crochet techniques.

But rather than use fat wool yarn, opt for a thinner crochet cotton. I wrote an article on freeform crochet here.


Do it fiber art style…wing it.

It is so easy to do with an empire style top. Start with your chest measurement, and just crochet some of your favorite stitches in the round until you reach the length you want for your bodice. Add some simple crochet straps. Cut some fabric to the length you need for your top (I like it almost tunic length to hide my tummy) making the width around anywhere fro 1.5 – 2 times your chest measurement. Add a simple crochet edge to the bottom of the fabric.


Don’t overlook granny squares!

Nothing could be more boho than granny squares. I personally love granny squares. They are addictive to make. There are so many options when piecing together these little gems into a maxi skirt, a big kimono style jacket, or tunic. I talked about my granny square fiber crush here. 


And finally some of my faves out there:

Crochet Tunic

LaCabana Tunic

Zodiac Tunic

Pineapple Babydoll Tunic

Trapezoid Dress

Thai Style Summer Tunic

Pineapple Top

Lacy Tunic

Craft Cotton Tunic

Beach Top

DreamCatcher Mandela Vest



Are you feeling the Boho Craze?

Have a pattern you want to share. Leave me a comment below.

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My Favorite Fibery Projects for Summer 2015

My Favorite Fibery Projects for Summer 2015

If you live as far South (or further!) as I do, Summer can often start as early as April. And as the temps start to climb, I don’t know about you, but I am pretty hard pressed to pick up any big wool knitting project.




So here is a peak at my list of some summer friendly projects I am adding to the queue. 


Image from Ravelry, but I am not sure who it belongs to. If it is yours let me know...

Image from Ravelry, but I am not sure who it belongs to. If it is yours let me know…


Crocheted Cotton Dishcloths. If you have not discovered the awesomeness that is homemade dishcloths, O.M.G… go grab some all cotton yarn now right now!! They are hands down the best for scrubbing glass and pyrex. Plus being machine washable, it is easier to keep the bacteria that can normally collect on a regular ol’ kitchen sponge at bay. This is my favorite pattern.


image VIA Backstitch Designs

image VIA Backstitch Designs


Crocheted Cotton Market Bags. While you are picking up cotton yarn for your awesome dishcloths, pick up a few more balls for some hand crochet market bags. I have a half dozen or so of these and they ROCK!! I get compliments on them every time I take them to the grocery store. And holy crap they are so freaking strong! Like holds a dozen cans of soup strong. There are a gazillion patterns out there(both for knitting and crochet), but this is the one I use.


Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 5.34.03 PM


Socks! This year I am going to crank out some thick house socks that I love to wear with my slippers during chilly winter nights. As I have mentioned, this is the only sock pattern I use. Come on over to the Sock Art Society…we are sharing our sock knitting questions, discoveries and triumphs. I personally have found it so very inspiring.




New Art Yarn. I am not gonna lie, I have not touched my spinning wheel in months. But I am kind of itching to dive into my languishing fiber stash and just play with some new ideas. Mostly with my art weaving in mind. I am giving myself permission to not fill the bobbin, and be okay with small yardages of any given yarn. For me, weaving with art yarn does not require much for a big impact, so it is all good.




Freeform Knitting and Crochet. I am so addicted to freeform work. After my trip to Taos with Jane Trornley’s On Higher Ground Retreat, I am excited to dive into some freeform knitting to incorporate with my crochet. I am finding for me, I work better if I have lots of smaller modular pieces to choose from as I piece together a design. So I am also planning to put together a pile of small free form bits for use in my future projects.




And of course..more weaving…Have you seen the art weaving series that I have been running? Check out Part 1 and Part 2.

So that should keep me crazy busy for the summer and beyond. What are you planning to knit/crochet/spin/weave this summer? Leave me a comment below, or share with me on the Facebook Page.


Check out my yarn. You might find some new inspirations for your next project.

The Procrastinating Yarn Ho’s Holiday Gift Guide 2014

The Procrastinating Yarn Ho’s Holiday Gift Guide 2014

I have no doubt that most of you are way better at preparing for the holidays than I am. This year I have been in the throws of planning for 2015,

I JUST TODAY noticed that we have about 2 weeks to Christmas. TWO WEEKS, PEOPLE!!!

Remember this article where I seemed all organized in my gift planning? Yeah, well, I didn’t do it.

So, this week I bring you The Procrastinating Yarn Ho’s Holiday Gift Guide 2014: 8 super quick knits/crochet for saving Christmas and your sanity.


Hats Hats Hats for the masses…

Jen Geigley’s super quick super cute Gaptastic Cowl

You can’t go wrong with a good market bag

Because the fox is the new owl and this is crazy cute

In case there is a ball of hand dyed sock yarn that you are willing to part with…For the right person, of course… this scarf is awesome.

These GORGEOUS fingerless mitts from Sybil at Knitting and So-On (OMG she has some great instructional photos too…so.grateful.)

And there are so many of them out there.

I have also been keeping an active Pinterest board with great gift knit and crochet ideas. Check it out…

Follow Stacey’s board Merry Knitmas on Pinterest.

What are your favorite gift knitting/crocheting patterns? I LOVE LOVE LOVE seeing pix of what you are working on. Leave me a comment below, post it on the Facebook page or shoot me an email


 10418950_10152835781219501_2426258451940137862_nOf course if you have a knitter on your list, you know you can’t go wrong with a skein of hand dyed yarn…

Fiber Crush: Freeform Crochet

Fiber Crush: Freeform Crochet

This past labor day weekend I spent a solid 3 days working my hand dyed and hand spun yarn using freeform crochet.

Freeform crochet is a way of making a series of motifs created improvisationally and pieced together to create a fabric.

Prudence Mapstone is known for this work and her book is a bible of this technique. This is a sample of her work.

I will be honest, I was not a big fan of the finished fabric when I first considered freeform crochet. I like the theory of knitting improvisationally. I love the idea of combining yarns. I even took a couple of classes 10 years ago at the TKGA conference in Atlanta on combining yarns and improvisational knitting/crocheting. I wrote about them, years ago, here.

It wasn’t until I saw Hannah Martian’s work at Of Mars in Nasheville, TN, that I fell in love again with freeform crochet. Find her Shop here, and her Facebook page here. I love her colors, and the general composition of the motifs. The variety of sizes and the way the motifs play off of each other as if to create an undulating series of illustrations. It invites your eye to flow from one motifs to the next. I just can’t take my eyes off of her work.

via Duplet-Magazine

In a way, Hannah’s sense of composition has the same sensibilities as the Irish crochet movement I have been seeing come out of Russia. I love the negative space between motifs and the designer’s sense of composition. The delicate nature of this fabric also plays a big part of why I love this work. But like Hannah’s work, I feel invited to flow from motif to motif, and find I just can not keep my eyes off of these pieces. I decided to dive into my own study.

I believe that getting clear about how you can fold a new technique into your own style has more to do with knowing what you do not like, than knowing what you do like.

When you are just pulling what you like, you run the risk of actually copying a lot of stuff. What if you were to just sit down and play with yarn and technique, make a ton of mistakes, learn from them? In art school we had critiques. Your creative growth was formed more from figuring out what was wrong and fixing it, than from being stuck in a place of the same old “good work”.

So, while watching three entire seasons of Mad Men, let my self become obsessed with freeform crochet. I woke up each morning, made coffee and worked and worked. While surfing Pinterest. With a pile of hand dyed yarn all around me. Trying not to over think it. Playing with stitches and color. Perfecting my bullions! I spent all of Saturday knitting a hat that never materialized. I ripped that thing out 5 times. I then moved on to motifs. I like motifs because they are small and forgiving.

After I make an obscene number of these, I will edit, piece and fill in.

So, here is what I know about what I do not like:

I think when all the pieces are the same size, the fabric looks too busy. This technique begs for composition much in the same way a painting does– a variety of sizes, and fabric that is not too busy, but more inviting.

I have not seen a lot of color combinations that I am loving. But I will be honest, I think that about a lot of yarn out there in general. The simple solution for me is to apply the same color theories that I have about my colorways to this work as well.

I am not loving a whole lot of novelty yarn in my motifs. I want the texture of the stitches to stand out more. I do not think fun fur is helping at all. I am even on the fence about adding art yarn, maybe in small accents, but not a lot, really. Again, I want to dial down the busy to inviting.

I have yet to see a finished piece constructed that I absolutely love and/or think is actually wearable. But, then again, I think this about a lot of sweaters out there… There is a lot going on in the fabric itself. And like working with art yarn, serious texture is a big consideration in and of itself. So a simple construction will be a given. The rest is still TBD.

I still have a lot of crocheting and studying to do. I am still making a ton of motifs. The obsession continues. Stay tuned.

What is your current fiber crush? Crochet? weaving? I love to hear about what you are working on. Leave me a comment below, post it on the Facebook page or shoot me an email

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Fiber Crush: Granny Squares

Fiber Crush: Granny Squares

While knitting is truly my first fiber crush, I have to admit I have been drawn to crochet lately.

Mainly modular–I am not a big fan of traditional crochet fabric. Modular is the perfect way to stash bust or combine those precious skeins of yarn. There are some pretty awesome books on the many many different patterns of module crochet. I am fond of the good old granny square.

Being a child of the 70s I have some pretty vivd memories of acrylic afghans in harvest gold, avocado and rust orange.

But granny squares re-imagined in colors I love is a whole other thing altogether.

Check this out…

I know he is quite the handsome cat…I mean the afghan…

If you have been by my booth at SAFF or Stitches South You probably have seen this sample. It is a bit of a stash buster for me. It will one day be afghan size, a work in progress I have used as a sample in my booth. The squares are 3 rounds and about 4inches wide. Here is the pattern I used.

So here are some tips for working with granny squares:

The more colors you use, the better.

Don’t limit yourself to 3, 5, or even 12 colors. For some serious depth try  using as many colors as you can. Think how quilters pick colors. They rarely use solid fabrics.

Use a neutral for connecting the squares.

A white, black of even chocolate brown can frame each square nicely. Or opt for no frame. connect the squares as you work.

Go for just a 2 round square.

Mini squares are also super versatile. Gives your piece a mosaic look.

Don't limit yourself to afghans.

Make a garment. Apply the 4-6 rectangle sweater theory I wrote about here.

Or try these patterns...

That are adaptations of the granny square stitch.

Do you love granny squares too? Have a favorite modular crochet pattern to share, or project you want to show off? Leave me a comment below, post it on the Facebook page or shoot me an email

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