The Big Acorn Race

A Squirrel Picnic Story with Crochet Patterns and Projects


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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 Rounds 10-13 of the Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower Pillow

I hope you are enjoying crocheting this one-of-a-kind cushion. In this installment, you will find information specific to this pattern about working in joined rounds and the role of the initial chain. Different designers approach this in different ways, so I thought it would be worthwhile to address how my instructions are written. (Feel free to use a different method if you prefer.)

And then it’s on to Rnd 12! This is one of my favorite rounds. It represents a special change of heart for me. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a bit of a perfectionist bent. Well, this particular round really taught me to loosen up and have fun. At first I was inclined to write the pattern so that people would have to count all those hdc stitches in Rnd 10 as they went in order to get their “wheel spokes” absolutely positively evenly spaced. But then something inside me said, “Just let loose. This pattern is supposed to be fun.” So that’s what I did. And I’ve been satisfied with the results in every pillow I’ve made. I hope you are able to let loose too and really enjoy this fun round.

You Don’t Have to Cut Your Yarn after Each Round!

One important thing to note about this pillow front is that you don’t have to cut your yarn at the end of each round if you don’t want to. You can carry it up the back instead. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method in my opinion. When you choose not to cut the yarn after each round, you end up being “tied” to many balls of yarn and you’ll probably have to untangle them now and then to keep them straight. I do this by keeping them in order and always bringing the next color to the front of the line before I start the round. This keeps the colors tidy at the back of your work, which is really just for your own enjoyment (no one will ever see it!). However, if you don’t pull the yarn a little taut when you start using it again, you run the risk of the join being loose later down the line. If you choose to trim your ends each time you change color, you won’t have to worry about anything coming loose because you will weave in your ends before you assemble your pillow. So it really may just be a matter of how much you enjoy or don’t enjoy weaving in ends!

I get an odd thrill when I can run up my yarn between rounds this neatly. Too bad it’s on the WS of the work and no one will ever see! But I will know. (WS of Pillow Back pictured.)

I get an odd thrill when I can run up my yarn between rounds this neatly. Too bad it’s on the WS of the work and no one will ever see! But I will know. (WS of Pillow Back pictured.)

With that, let’s begin Rnds 10-13!

Rnd 10: Let’s Talk About Initial Chains and Changing Colors

Start by inserting your hook into the loop of A that we left off with last time. Pull a loop of C through the A loop and chain one more time. (Whenever we change color in this way, the first loop you pulled up will count as your first chain.) Also note that this initial chain serves not only to change color but also to get us to the height we need to work the stitches in the round. In the patterns throughout the book, unless otherwise noted, the initial chain doesn’t count as a stitch. (See page 35 for more information.)

Initial Chain

Here’s another example that might illustrate it more clearly: To begin Rnd 11, you’ll pull up a loop of D and chain 3 more for a total of 4 chains.

Rnd 10: Skip the Alternative Join Stitch

There are two ways to skip the alternative join stitch: Either hdc into the stitch before the join, sk the alternative join, and hdc in the next stitch of A. Or if you find it hard to get your hook into this last B stitch, skip it and hdc into the A stitch with the alternative join (not into the join itself).

To end the round, join with a slst to the first stitch. Be sure not to mistake the chain for the first stitch. In fact, from this point on, it might help you to use a piece of waste yarn to mark the beginning of each round.  At the end of Rnd 10, you should have 90 sts.

To end the round, join with slst to the first stitch of the round.

To end the round, join with slst to the first stitch of the round.

Rnd 11: Working in the Round

This is also a good time to talk about working in the round. There are a few schools of thought on where your first and last stitches should go. In the book, I talk about working the first stitch of a round into the next stitch (not the one at the base of the initial chain). The last stitch is worked into the back of the slst join that ended the previous round. I feel that this gives it a more seamless join.  This method also means that the initial chain does not count as a stitch. Again it is only used for changing color and achieving the height needed for the stitches in that round.

Rnd 11 first and last stitch

Be sure that you don’t make your slip-stitch joins too tight. You’ll need to be able to work into the back of them at the end of the next round. You can always tighten them after you finish the round by pulling a bit on the working end.

Rnds 10-11 not only gave us an opportunity to get on the same page about beginning and ending rounds, but those parts in the middle were pretty nice too. I enjoy easy rounds because they let me zone out and crochet without thinking too hard. They offer a nice change of pace, and they get me relaxed and ready for the more complicated parts. I’m not gonna lie, Rnd 12 is more complicated, but once you get the hang of it, I’m sure you’ll find it a piece of cake.

Rnd 12: Around the Post

Let’s get started on this exciting round. First grab your ball of E yarn and follow the pattern to the first stitch that we will skip. To find the hdc directly below the skipped st, hold your work upright so that the next stitch is at the top. Trace an imaginary line down from this stitch to Rnd 10.

This hdc will never be exactly below. Technically it will be either to the left or right of the sk st. Just decide whether you want to work into the hdc before or after the sk st and choose the same way each time. Consistency is key, but keep in mind this is not meant to be exact. It’s much more fun to eyeball it.

Whichever stitch you choose, keep your eye on it or hold it between your left thumb and forefinger as you wrap your yarn around your hook three times to begin the dtr.

To crochet around the post, insert your hook into the space before the hdc, behind it, and out to the front on the other side. Yo and pull the loop through the st. Yo again and pull it through the first 2 loops on your hook. Yo again and pull it through the next 2 loops. Yo again and pull through the next 2 loops. Yo one more time and pull through the last 2 loops.

A Tip for Working Double-Treble Crochet Stitches

One trick that might help you with double-treble (dtr) crochet stitches is to try to hold the initial 3 yarn overs with your right fingers as you insert your hook and work the first part of the stitch. This will help you “hang on” to those wraps without tightening your gauge.

Continue with the pattern to finish the round.

Rnd 13: Take a Breather

I hope you had fun with Rnd 12! Thankfully Rnd 13 is super easy, so enjoy a nice relaxing round. Now is a great time to weave in your ends so far, unless you’d prefer to do them all at the end. See you next time for Rnds 14-19!

rnd 13 IMG_2168


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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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Tips for Choosing and Substituting Yarn for the Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower Pillow

I’m excited that so many people are interested in making Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower Pillows! As you get started, I thought I would provide some tips about choosing yarn for this project. In the coming weeks I’ll share even more handy-dandy tricks to help you make this unique pillow.

How Much Yarn Will I Need?

First, consider: what kind of back would you like to do?

  1. Make a back in the flower pattern just like the front.
  2. Make a back in the colors and order that you choose.

1. Flower Pattern for Front and Back

Tall n Fast Flower Pillow Back 2To use the flower pattern (Pillow Front) to make both the front and the back, you will need approximately:

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

2. Pillow Front (in Flower Pattern) + Back in Colors of Your Choice
Tall n Fast Flower Pillow Back 3To 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.

Can I Use My Own Colors for This Project?

Certainly! Be adventurous! Make your pillow as unique as you are.

If you’re not sure what colors to use, I recommend Design Seeds. On her website, Jessica Colaluca breaks down photographs into color palettes. I’ve found these palettes are great inspiration for designing crochet projects.

What Fiber Content Is Best for This Project?

yarnI encourage you to choose a yarn with a fiber content that you feel comfortable working with: one that makes you happy, because this is meant to be a happy project! (For the most part, I’d recommend cotton, wool, or acrylic, but feel free to experiment with another fiber.)

Using Scraps and Checking Gauge…

Here are a few more tips to help keep the happiness going.

  • Choose a medium-weight yarn.
  • Make sure to buy enough! Luckily this pattern doesn’t call for very much yarn. Perhaps you even have some on hand that you would like to use.

Do you know how to determine if you have enough when you are using leftovers? It’s pretty simple as long as you have the original label from the yarn (or can get the information online). You’ll also need a scale that can weigh grams or ounces. Let’s use an example:

My yarn weighs 1.25 ounces. My label says that this yarn is 170 g / 6 oz, 288 meters / 315 yards. Here are the steps to determine how many yards I have:

Multiply the number of ounces I have by the total number of yards in a full ball.

example: 1.25 x 315 = 393.75

Divide this number by the number of ounces in a full ball.

example: 393.75 / 6 = 65.625 yards

  • Once you have your yarn in hand, be sure to check your gauge. (You’ll find the gauge details for this pattern on page 73 and additional instructions on page 30.) I made this mistake and didn’t check my gauge when I used Cascade 220 to make this pillow last year. The pillow ended up a little small, and even though I was able to shove the pillow form in, the finished pillow was lumpy.

Got My Color Scheme, Now Which Colors Should I Put Where?

Once you’ve chosen your color scheme, the next step is deciding where each color should go in the pattern. I came up with a handy-dandy tool to help you, and it requires you to color! Print out and color in this black-and-white sketch of our pillow front pattern using colored pencils or crayons in your chosen colors.

It’s a great way to test out your color combos before you start. Your final colored-in sketch will also be a nice tool to help you tell which color you are using for which letter (A-F) as you read the pattern. Enjoy!

Color in a Tall n Fast Flower

 


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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