Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How to Crochet a Quilt

Star quilts are some of my favorites and although they look very difficult they're actually very easy to crochet. I made my first one when someone asked me if I would make a blanket for them with a traditional star pattern but with the warmth and weight of pure wool. I loved the idea of combining two traditional crafts into one result so I gave it a try. This example is for an 8 pointed star with 6 rings and it uses about 4000 yards of worsted weight wool. You can learn all about the placement for the diamonds by looking in a basic quilting book or you can do it like I did and just stare at it until the pattern becomes clear. I'm like a guy that way - why read the instructions if you can simply wander around until you figure it out? That's half the adventure of it.

The first step is to crochet each diamond in a 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 pattern, increasing and then decreasing at the end of each row. (Any odd number will do depending on the size quilt that you want). The number of diamonds in each ring will increase by 8 because there are 8 points to the star so you will need 8 of the first color, 16 of the second, 24 of the third and so on until you reach the number of rings that you want.

I sew each ring together with a tapestry needle as I finish the diamonds for it and then block and steam the wool into shape using blocking pins. I strongly suggest doing this for each round and not waiting to block it all at the end when it's big and unwieldy to work with. If you skip this step you'll end up with a ripply blanket that won't lie flat. Wool is very forgiving so you can lay a damp cloth over it and the steam won't hurt it a bit. Let it lie in place until completely dry. Even though the standard is to hide the ends under the rows I don't even try with this type of work because I hand tie each diamond before sewing it and it's very difficult and time consuming to hide all of those ends from the sewing stage. Given that the final step is to back it with cloth it doesn't really matter that they show.

Once the star is completed you need to make the points by decreasing the number of diamonds in each row. Then the areas between the points are filled in with squares at the corners and triangles in between the other points. This should result in a perfect square. You can insert smaller quilt motifs into each square to add some more visual interest. The border is created by simply crocheting around the edges (increasing by 2 at each corner) until it reaches the desired size.

The final step is to back the quilt. I use soft flannel so that it will be comfy against the skin since wool can be a bit itchy. By this time the quilt is so large that you probably have to finish it on the floor so if you're over 40 you might want to take some Motrin and duct tape your glasses to your head first. I lay down a clean sheet, pin the quilt to it and alternate between miserably uncomfortable positions like sitting crosslegged or lying on my side. Since you're down there anyway you can toss in a few side leg lifts and call it your exercise for the day too.

That's it - you're done! I have to admit that it takes a very long time to make one but I just love the results!

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