Clever Crocheted Accessories: 25 Quick Weekend Projects

To continue our series on crafting books, I’d like to turn our attention to crocheting with Clever Crocheted Accessories edited by Brett Bara.


If you’re anything like me, you like quick projects. I may have the desire to knit or sew or crochet but it needs to be a manageable piece or I get bored and/or frustrated–also my skills just aren’t up to those big projects anyway. 😉 If you like to crochet this is a great book that includes 25 weekend projects.

“Crocheters will satisfy their hunger for unique small projects with former Crochet Today editor Brett Bara’s Clever Crocheted Accessories . Brett collected 25 delightful, practical pieces that make perfect gifts–though you may be tempted to keep them all to yourself! The ideal curator, Brett shares a first-rate lineup of projects. Whether you are a beginner or experienced crocheter, there is something for everyone: hats and caps, including a cloche, porkpie hat, and tam; scarves, shawls, and cowls, from chunky to drapey to snug; eye-catching mittens and arm warmers; delicate lace socks and cozy man-slippers; flirty bags; and sparkly jewelry.”

Hooked on Crochet

I love to dabble in a wide variety of arts and crafts and when my creative spirit strikes, I usually dive right in and ask questions later.  So, with the bitter cold of winter upon us and visions of warm handmade scarves, mittens and hats dancing in my head, I decided it was the perfect time of year to teach myself how to crochet.

shell scarf

Needless to say, I could hardly contain my excitement when I happened upon Hip to Crochet: 23 Contemporary Projects for Today’s Crocheter by Judith L. Swartz while perusing the crochet books in the 746.43 adult non-fiction section of the Oliver Wolcott Library.  This book is filled with fun and colorful projects including stripped hats, zig zag scarves, bold design handbags, floral sweaters and even nesting baskets.  After inspecting the pattern for the Block on Block skirt on page 83 and reading,” *ch 2, work 3 dc in ring*; rep from * to * 2 more times, ch 2, join with sl st to top of chain 3”, I knew that learning how to crochet wasn’t going to be one of those craft projects that I could just dive right into.

block on block skirt

For the absolute beginner, trying to decipher a crochet pattern is akin to learning a foreign language replete with symbols and abbreviations.  Fortunately, The Crocheter’s Companion by Nancy Brown is the Rosetta Stone for learning how to crochet.  Not only is this book a fantastic reference guide for toting around in a crocheter’s handbag, the author provides a glossary of terms and symbols, and she dedicates each illustrated page to a different stitch and technique that’s easy to follow.

crochet chart

Crochet much like it’s sister handicraft, knitting, can be utilized to make a wide assortment of apparel and home décor accessories including mittens, hats, sweaters, socks, afghans, shawls, scarves and rugs in a wide variety of colors and textures.  Instead of using knitting needles to create fabrics, crochet uses a single hook.  Crochet hooks come in a variety of sizes that are relative to the thickness of the yarn or thread you are using and the size of the stitches you would like to make.  Like knitting, crotchet can be worked “flat” to create scarves and rugs or in the “round” to make socks and hats.  To learn more about the similarities and differences between knitting and crochet check out the Encyclopedia of Knitting and Crochet Stitch Patterns by Linda Mariano.

Granny square blanket

The art of crochet relies on a few basic stitches and variations there in to create an assortment of garments.  The majority of crochet projects begin with a simple foundation chain that is made up of a series of chain stitches.  Every stitch thereafter is made by hooking the yarn through the stitches on the row beneath it.  The eight basic stitches are the chain stitch (ch), the slip stitch (sl st), the single crochet (sc), the half double crochet (hdc), the double crochet (dc), the treble crochet (tr) and the double treble crochet (dtr) and the triple treble crochet (tr tr).  They may sound intimidating at first but they are quite simple to create with just a little practice.  In just a few short hours, anyone can begin crafting a scarf with a foundation chain and just one other stitch.

herringbone scarf

For me, the most difficult step in learning how to crochet happens while building the first few rows of a garment because there is not a lot of “fabric” to hold onto.  With any crochet project it’s important to establish proper yarn tension to make your stitches even and so your crochet hook can easily glide in and out of every loop that you build upon.

how to crochet

Even though I still haven’t advanced enough to try my hand at crochet patterns like the Block on Block skirt, I am enjoying the calm and repetitive motion of practicing stitches by making simple scarves of my own design and I’m becoming more proficient with every project.

If you’d like to get hooked on crochet, stop in to the Oliver Wolcott Library to check out these other great books for step by step instruction, guidance, and inspiration;

new directions in crochet

New Directions in Crochet by Anne Raun Ough. Published in 1981 the back and white photographs and featured fashions are outdated by today’s standards, however, the author provides a comprehensive introduction to the art of crochet. Not only does she detail every crochet stitch with illustrations, directions and diagrams she provides patterns to a plethora of stitch combinations that can be utilized for a wide variety of garments.

crocheting in plain english

Crocheting in Plain English by Maggie Righetti.  Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced crocheter, everyone will learn something new within the pages of this book.  The author covers every aspect of crochet from how to select the proper hook, yarn and thread to caring for your crochet items. Included are detailed instructions and illustrations on how to make stitches, decipher patterns and how to fix mistakes.

crochet in color

Crochet in color: Techniques and Designs for Playing with Color by Kathy Merrick.  This book is geared toward more advanced crocheters who are fluent in pattern reading but so it’s easy to get swept away in the beautiful color and luscious yarns featured within these pages.  With twenty different garments to choose from including mohair shawls, silk cardigans and merino wool hats every pattern offers the beginner amazing projects that they can aspire to.

flower shawl

-Tricia is the Library Assistant and Publicity Coordinator for the Oliver Wolcott Library who just completed her first patterned crochet hat.

divine hat

Rags to Stitches

Last year my mother started a new tradition in our family: Craft Night.  We all get together at my mom’s house one night per month and work on our various projects while we chat. It’s a relaxed-type of party and we get a lot of work done! This is not just for women—we’ve had several men in the family participate as well.

My sister Naomi has been working on a braided rag rug. She showed me how she sews up long braided strips of fabric with a needle & thread. I decided to make my own so I ripped several cloths into strips and then thought maybe instead of sewing them I would just try crocheting them instead. I think it looks quite nice! Here is a picture:

This rug gives me the same sentimental feeling of a quilt made from pieces of people’s lives. The rags that are currently in my rug are made from fabric which had different household uses in my various apartments. It’s fun because they jump out at me like a scrapbook. It’s also a great way to recycle your old linens!

  • Sheet Magic: Games, Toys & Gifts from Old Sheets by Peggy Parish, J745.5 P. The turquoise strips in my rug are made from an old turquoise sheet. Check out all the different things you can make with your old bed linens!
  • Eco Craft: Recycle, Recraft, Restyle by Susan Wasinger, 745.5 WAS. I only know how to crochet, but if you know how to knit you can make a rag rug using this pattern by Wasinger using old wool sweaters you can find at thrift stores.

Another recycling craft tip: my sister-in-law taught me to buy big sweaters at thrift stores and unravel the yarn and re-use it to make our own crafts! It’s also cheaper than buying skeins of wool.

Here’s a snap-shot of some of the other things we’ve worked on at our craft nights:

♣ roasting coffee beans

♣ making crystal necklaces

  • Rock and Stone Craft: Creating Art and Functional Objects from Natural Materials by Elyse Sommer, 745.5 SOM. The jewelry section (p. 70-77) is really interesting! It shows you how to make cool chunky stone necklaces, rings and bracelets.
  • Making Colorful Wire & Beaded Jewelry by Linda Jones, 745.59 JON. This is a step-by-step guide with pictured instructions, mostly for charm-type of necklaces.

♣ making a kite!

  • Kids’ Book of Adventure Projects by Gary F. Hartman, J 613.69 HAR. Chapter 11 shows you how to make a kite. It also explains how kites work and how to fly them. 🙂

♣ knitting a beautiful dark green sweater and a Harry Potter scarf. Here is a picture of my sister’s boyfriend Chris wearing his Harry Potter scarf (while reading Harry Potter of course!):

  • Stitch n’ Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook by Debbie Stoller, 746.43 STO. This book tells you everything you need to know about knitting. She has modern, funky designs too!
  • Stitch n’ Bitch Nation by Debbie Stoller, 746.43 STO. The second book by Stoller takes you across the nation to different knitting groups and shows you fun designs from each place.

♣ setting the ink on silkscreened t-shirts by ironing them

♣ mending, hemming and patching piles of clothing

  • Mend It! A Complete Guide to Clothes Repair by Maureen Goldsworthy 646.2 GOL. In case your mother didn’t teach you, here are timeless step-by-step instructions on every kind of mending you may come across.
  • Threads Magazine located in the upstairs “Old House”. Threads always has lots of unique and interesting projects of different skill levels with inspiring pictures!

♣ haircutting!

  • Cutting your Family’s Hair by Gloria Handel 646.72 HAN. Handel has homemade shampoo & conditioner recipes, information about hair and detailed easy-to-understand instructions about haircutting.
  • Great Hair: Elegant Styles for Every Occasion by Davis Biton 646.724 BIT. This is a fun book for a girls’ night out because it has lots of fancy up-do styles that you can do with a friend. There are simple instructions with pictures for each step.

♣ stringing mullein leaves to dry

♣ patching bike tires

♣ making Halloween costumes

  • Super-Simple Creative Costumes by Sue Astroth, 646.478 AST. This book shows you how to make many fun accessories that really make a costume! Funky hats, crowns, wands, ties, glasses, wings…

♣ crocheting a “log cabin” afghan, skirts, scarves and sweaters

  • Knit and Crochet Your Own Designs by Francesca Parkinson, 746.43 PAR. This is a great book for those of us who have trouble with patterns! It shows you how to measure yourself and turn it into your own clothing pattern. I’ve made 2 skirts and a biking sweater by my own design which are, admittedly, homey-looking but you wouldn’t believe how many compliments I get on them!
  • Hip to Crochet by Judith L. Swartz, 746.434 SWA. A bunch of cute, easy patterns from sweaters to hats to baskets!

♣ I experimented with felting a few times. The first time I tried it I made a big hat out of wool and washed it in my washing machine with hot water to shrink it. Unfortunately I didn’t make it big enough. The hat turned out so small it could only fit a doll. So the 2nd time I went to the other extreme and made a monstrous bag, hoping it would shrink down to the size of a purse. It turned out a little wonky so I use it for my craft bag now. Maybe I should have consulted these books first!

  • Felted Knits by Beverly Galeskas, 746.432 GAL. This is a simple guide to felting with many fun patterns to try. The author stresses the importance of taking the time to do a test gauge, which I always skip because I’m too excited to start my project! But she’s right, it saves a lot of extra work…
  • Uniquely Felt by Christine White, 746.046 WHI. This book is for the more serious felter who wants to go all out and make some crazy stuff! The title is true, there are some very different and weird-looking items in here!

I’m off to Craft Night now… we have one more month of winter so let’s get some projects done!

Jesse Lee Harmon is the bookkeeper/library assistant at OWL and is currently humming the song Coming Around Again by Carly Simon off of her Reflections album, CD FOLK-ROCK SIM.