The Big Acorn Race

A Squirrel Picnic Story with Crochet Patterns and Projects


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2016 Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower CAL Closes, Winners Announced

Thank you to everyone who participated in the first annual Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower Pillow Crochet Along. I had such a wonderful time watching your pillows transform each week from spiral centers to colorful flowers in bloom.

The crochet along ran from early April through May, during which time I sent out 2-4 page pdf newsletters with tips and tricks that expand upon the instructions included for the pattern in my book The Big Acorn Race. Some special highlights included a coloring template of the pillow front to help crocheters choose colors for their pillows in advance and a brand-new pattern for a pillow back done with a spiral.

Let’s take a look at the finished pillows…

It was exciting to see the great variety of color combinations. From the vibrant to the subtle and delicate–each is so beautiful and original! From what I gather, everyone enjoyed most the spiral and the rounds that create the stripes and petals. Those are my favorite rounds too.

The back of the pillow is just as much fun to do as the front! I could tell that participants really enjoyed adding their own style to the backs of their pillows. Several participants chose the new spiral pattern for the back, and I was excited to see the magic created by combinations of colors with slight tonal variations and of solid colors with variegated yarns. Some participants chose to repeat the front for the back as well. I need to try this one myself. It looks so cool! Others created their pillow backs in bands of alternating colors. I love the variety!

And I was really pleased to hear that everyone seemed to learn something new from my tutorials. It’s my pleasure to share what I’ve learned over the years and to do my little part in helping to grow the popularity of crochet.

It has been very exciting to see everyone’s personality and creativity shining through in their pillows. I couldn’t pick a winner if I tried! So, as I usually do, I’ll let the Random Number Generator pick two winners for me. (I placed the names of participants who sent or posted photos of their completed pillows into a spreadsheet. Participants who filled out a survey received an additional entry.) And the winners are…

2016 CAL Winners

Congratulations Emily Simone and Katy Board!

Emily and Katy, to claim your prizes, please email me at squirrelpicnic(at)gmail(dot)com with a mailing address.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this first ever Squirrel Picnic crochet along. I had such a good time, and I hope you did too. Even if you weren’t able to enter the drawing, I’d love to see your completed pillows. Would you share a photo with me? I’ll even add it to this gallery if you like, so everyone can see your handiwork.

It’s been fun meeting you all and getting to know you better. See you around the picnic!

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Tips on Assembling Your Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower Pillow and Adding an Edging

Assembly

Now it’s time to assemble our pillows and add one final embellishment to the edge.

So grab your completed Pillow Front and Back, a 14” round pillow form, the yarn you’d like to use to crochet the two sides together, and the yarn you’d like to use for the edging.

Start by arranging your Pillow Front and Back so that the right side of each (side you want to see) is facing out. Pair up the stitches on the edge of the Front with those on the Back as in the photo below. Hold the Front and Back together so that the Front is facing you.

Attach your yarn by making a slip knot and placing it on your hook. Insert the hook (from front to back) into a set of paired up stitches, yarn over, pull through both stitches, yarn over again and pull through the slipknot on your hook.

Pair up stitches IMG_2559

Continue with this method, pairing up and crocheting together the front and back stitches, until you are about halfway around. Insert your pillow form and continue crocheting the two sides together. When you get to the end, join with either a slip stitch or an alternative join. FO. Because the edging will likely cover up whichever join you use, this is really just a matter of personal preference.

After you have fastened off and woven in your end, smooth out any lumps or bulges, and readjust your crochet cover if needed.

Insert pillow form IMG_2575

Edging

I created this edging to complement the petal and triangle shapes created by Rounds 14-16. See how the petals in the edging line up with those in Rnd 14 and how the triangles line up with those created by the background in Rnd 15.

IMG_2612

The key to getting everything lined up is choosing the correct starting stitch. It’s really not very hard. Here I’ll show you how. Hold your pillow so that the Front is facing you and a petal in Rnd 14 is pointing straight up. Trace an imaginary line up from the center of this petal. Count back (to the right) 4 stitches. This fourth stitch will be where we begin this round.

Begin edging IMG_2600

Take the yarn you’ve chosen for the edging, make a slipknot in the end, and place it on your hook. Sc into our beginning stitch on the edge (#4 in the photo above). Now you can probably see that when you follow the pattern for the edging you will be creating a petal right in line with the petal of Rnd 14. Cool! Continue with the pattern.

IMG_2638

I hope you enjoyed making a Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower Pillow. Would you share a photo? Email squirrelpicnic{at}gmail.com. I’d love to see it.

IMG_2630


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Tips on Crocheting the Back of Your Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower Pillow

Pillow Back IMG_2385

Way back in April, I mentioned 3 options for crocheting your pillow back: use the Pillow Front pattern to crochet the back as well or use the Pillow Back pattern to crochet a plain back or one in many colors. If you decide to use the Pillow Front, go on ahead. You know what to do. 🙂

There are several ways to use the Pillow Back pattern to achieve a unique look. Use 1 color, use 2 or 3 or 4 or more. Lay them out in any pattern you like. Here are just a few ideas:

  1. Crochet each round a different color, working in the same sequence or mixing it up. For my back (in the photo at right), I used 5 colors in alternating stripes. Each sequence is varied only slightly (some go blue, pink, purple, green, yellow and some go blue, purple, pink, yellow, green).
  2. Crochet blocks of color. Work 1 round in one color, then work the next 2 rounds in a different color.
  3. Crochet blocks of color that get wider as you work outward. This might look something like this:
    Rnd 1: With A                               Rnds 9-12: With B
    Rnds 2-3: With B                          Rnd 13: With A
    Rnd 4: With A                               Rnds 14-18: With B
    Rnds 5-7: With B                          Rnd 19: With A
    Rnd 8: With A                                Rnd 20: With B

Spiral Back

If you enjoyed making the spiral on the front of the pillow, perhaps you’d like to make a spiral for the back as well.

Special thanks to Sharon Pridmore and Elaine Womack for testing this pattern so that I could share it here with everyone!

Spiral Back

Materials

(A) Approximately 150 yards medium-weight yarn in main color
(B) Approximately 150 yards medium-weight yarn in contrasting color
Size F-5 (3.75 mm) crochet hook
Yarn needle or tapestry needle

Instructions

Note: Unlike the pillow front, the back is worked in multiples of 11 so that we end up with the same final stitch count as the front. Most importantly, as you complete Rnd 1, note that you are only working 7 sts into the magic loop.

Rnd 1: Make a magic loop with A. Into the magic loop, sc, hdc, 2 dc. Attach B. Into the magic loop, sc, hdc, 1 dc. Pull the magic loop tight to close. (7) (See these tips on starting a spiral with a magic loop.)

Rnd 2: Continuing with B, 2 dc in next sc and ea of next 3 sts. Remove your hook. (11)

At end of ea rnd, remove your hook and pick up next color to begin next rnd.

Rnd 3: With A, 2 dc in ea st to the end. (22)

Rnd 4: With B, *dc in next dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep from * to the end. (33)

Rnd 5: With A, *dc in next 2 dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep from * to the end. (44)

Rnd 6: With B, *dc in next 3 dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep from * to the end. (55)

Rnd 7: With A, *dc in next 4 dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep from * to the end. (66)

Rnd 8: With B, *dc in next 5 dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep from * to the end. (77)

Rnd 9: With A, *dc in next 6 dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep from * to the end. (88)

Rnd 10: With B, *dc in next 7 dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep from * to the end. (99)

Rnd 11: With A, *dc in next 8 dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep from * to the end. (110)

Rnd 12: With B, *dc in next 9 dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep from * to the end. (121)

Rnd 13: With A, *dc in next 10 dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep from * to the end. (132)

Rnd 14: With B, *dc in next 11 dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep from * to the end. (143)

Rnd 15: With A, *dc in next 12 dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep from * to the end. (154)

Rnd 16: With B, *dc in next 13 dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep from * to the end. (165)

Rnd 17: With A, *dc in next 14 dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep from * to the end. (176)

Rnd 18: With B, *dc in next 15 dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep from * 7 more times, 5 hdc, 5 sc. FO with alternative join method and weave in end.

Rnd 19: With A, *dc in next 16 dc, 2 dc in next dc, rep from * 2 more times, 5 hdc, 5 sc, join with slst. (187)

 

 


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Tips for Making the Spiral in the Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower Pillow

This week in the crochet along, we made the spiral that begins our Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower Pillows. Crocheting spirals is one of my favorite techniques. It looks a lot more complicated than it really is. Once you start you won’t want to stop!

To get started, grab the yarn you want to use for A and B in the pattern. You’ll need your G-6 (4.00 mm) crochet hook as well. The spiral is also the pattern used for the gauge swatch, which I’ll go over in more detail after we have our spirals made.

Rnd 1: The first step is to make a magic loop with A. You’ll find a step-by-step tutorial of this on page 34 of your book. (I hope to put together a video of this soon!) There are other methods to make a magic loop, but after years of trial and error, I’ve found this one to be the easiest.

Work your first 4 stitches into the magic loop, but don’t close the magic loop just yet.

Remove your hook and pull on the loop where your hook was so that you won’t lose your stitches when you attach and begin working with B.

Magic Loop

Attach B by making a slip knot and placing it on your hook. Hold the magic loop in your left hand. To sc into the magic loop, insert your hook into the loop from front to back, yo, pull through the loop, yo again and pull through both loops on hook.

Once you’ve made your B stitches into the loop, you’ll need to close the magic loop.

1) Here’s what yours should look like so far. (Except maybe for the kinks. My yarn was very kinky for some reason.)

Magic Loop 1

2) Gently hold the A stitches between the thumb and pointer finger of your right hand. With your left hand, pull slightly on the tail end of A while watching which of the A loops gets smaller. See how in the photo below, one loop has shrunk!

Magic Loop 2

3) With your left hand, pull on the shrunken loop until the magic loop magically closes! Except for that one loop that got bigger. No worries. We’ll take care of that next.

Magic Loop 3

4) Pull the tail end of A again until this last loop is snug. And you’re all set!

Magic Loop 4

Rnd 2: Now pick up B again. You’ll be working into each of the A stitches (yellow in this photo).

9 Spiral IMG_2014

For each round in Rnds 3-7 you will be working into all the stitches of the opposite color. So for Rnd 3, pick up A again, and work 2 dc into each of the B stitches. The last stitch will be the one with the long loop of B. See it’s not so hard at all.

But be sure to count your stitches just to make sure you match the pattern throughout. Otherwise things might get complicated and we don’t want that. Here’s what your spiral will look like at the end of each round.

Fasten Off B with the Alternative Join Method (aka Needle Joining)

1. Cut the B yarn leaving a tail of at least 6 inches. Fasten off as you normally would by drawing the tail through the last stitch. Thread the tail onto a yarn needle or tapestry needle.
1 Alternative Join IMG_20672. With right side of fabric facing you, pass the tail under both loops of the next stitch from front to back.

2 Alternative Join IMG_2069

3. Insert the needle into the center of the last stitch of the round, under the back loop only, and out to the wrong side of the fabric.

3 Alternative Join IMG_2074

4. Pull gently to adjust the stitch so that it looks invisible. Weave in the end on the wrong side of the fabric.

4 Alternative Join IMG_2076Gauge

Now is a great time to measure the diameter of your spiral. Your spiral should measure 7” from one side to the other, through the center. (You can give or take up to 3/8” on either side without being too concerned.) But if it is really quite a bit smaller, you’ll need to try again with a larger hook. If it is larger, try the spiral again with a smaller hook.

See you next time for Rounds 10-13!

Rnd 9

Rnd 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Join the 2016 Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower Pillow Crochet Along!

Tall n Fast Pillow CAL Announcement April 19-May 31Starting April 19, follow along as we crochet this unique pillow over the course of 6 weeks. The Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower Pillow pattern is just one of 15 super cute crochet patterns you’ll find in Squirrel Picnic’s very own The Big Acorn RaceThe pattern is a lot easier than it looks and extraordinarily entertaining. Each round takes you on an adventure! And I can’t wait to show you the way. 

Each week you’ll receive a pdf newsletter right to your inbox with tips and tricks and detailed tutorial photos to guide you step by step. (Some of these tips and tricks will also be posted to the Big Acorn Race blog each week, so if you’d rather not receive both you can cancel the newsletter at any time by emailing me at squirrelpicnic{at}gmail{dot}com.)

In addition, when you sign up, you’ll be registered to win 1 of 2 yarn-filled prize bags, each containing over 1000 yards of yarn plus crochet-related goodies, which will be given through a random drawing of participants at the end of the 6 weeks. Best of all, you’ll get a personal email from Hodge and Podge, thanking you for your participation.

Sign up by emailing me at squirrelpicnic{at}gmail{dot}com with the words Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower CAL in the subject line. It’s as easy as that!

And now some information to help you decide if this crochet along is right for you…

Schedule

April 5: Pre-CAL: Choosing Yarn and Establishing Gauge

April 19: Week 1: Making the Spiral

April 26: Week 2: Rnds 10-13

May 3: Week 3: Rnds 14-16

May 10: Week 4: Rnds 17-19

May 17: Week 5: The Pillow Back

May 24: Week 6: Assembly and Edging

May 31: Finale: Announcing the Prize Winners and Presenting a Gallery of Pillows by You!

Difficulty

Difficulty rating 2

 

This project is suitable for crocheters who know basic crochet stitches such as the slip stitch, single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet, and treble crochet, simple increases, and are comfortable with more complicated stitches such as the double-treble crochet and techniques such as crocheting around the post of a stitch and simple color changes.

Materials & Tools

The Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower Pattern calls for Caron Simply Soft Solids. (Feel free to substitute a yarn of your choice.) The amount you need depends on how you choose to crochet the back of the pillow. In the pattern I give you a few different options for how to crochet the back:

  1. Crochet Rnds 1-18 in green and Rnds 19-20 in purple, or
  2. Use the colors of your choice in any order you choose, or
  3. Repeat the instructions for the front to make a back in the flower pattern as well.

Yarn for 2016 Tall n Fast Flower CAL

1. Pillow Front (in Flower Pattern) + Back in Green and Purple

35 yds medium-weight yarn in yellow
90 yds medium-weight yarn in purple
140 yds medium-weight yarn in green
40 yds medium-weight yarn in pink
30 yds medium-weight yarn in blue
30 yds medium-weight yarn in white

2. Pillow Front (in Flower Pattern) + Back in Colors of Your Choice

To give you even greater customization, you may choose to make the Pillow Front as instructed in the pattern and then make a back using the colors of your choice. Use these yardages as your guide:

To make the Pillow Front you will need approximately:

35 yds medium-weight yarn in yellow
35 yds medium-weight yarn in purple
32 yds medium-weight yarn in green
25 yds medium-weight yarn in pink
+ approximately 15 yds medium-weight yarn in pink for assembly
30 yds medium-weight yarn in blue
15 yds medium-weight yarn in white
+ approximately 15 yds medium-weight yarn in white for the edging

Then choose whatever colors you like for the back, keeping in mind that you will need approximately 172 yards total to crochet the back. This is the method I’ll be doing for the CAL, so I’ll be giving you some pointers on this option when we get to it.

3. Flower Pattern for Front and Back

In the pattern, I also give you the option of using the flower pattern (Pillow Front) to make both the front and the back. If you choose this option, you will need the following approximate amounts of each color in Caron Simply Soft Solids:

70 yds medium-weight yarn in yellow
70 yds medium-weight yarn in purple
64 yds medium-weight yarn in green
50 yds medium-weight yarn in pink
+ approximately 15 yds medium-weight yarn in pink for assembly
60 yds medium-weight yarn in blue
30 yds medium-weight yarn in white
+ approximately 15 yds medium-weight yarn in white for the edging

You’ll also need…

G-6 (4.00 mm) crochet hook
Yarn needle or tapestry needle
14″ round pillow form