Padded Crochet Tutorial

Padded Crochet Tutorial

In honor of Rag-ety Rug coming out this week from Crochet World, and my recent post about it coming out, I thought it was appropriate to finally post this tutorial, which I’ve been saving for quite a while.

What you’ll need:

  • A crochet hook
  • Some scrap yarn
  • Rags, upholstery cord, or something else nice and thick but flexible to crochet over.  Bulky yarn would work too.

A bit about padded crochet: this technique originally was used to crochet around thicker yarn to create different motifs.  It gives you a lot of flexibility because you don’t have to crochet into the previous row, you can also just crochet around your material.  You see this technique often used in  Irish Crochet.

To begin, work a foundation chain, and work single crochets into the chain.  This can be any width, as we’re working a practice swatch.  After you’ve finished those two rows, you begin by adding in your cord/rag/yarn.  You’ll be crocheting around it much like you do when you’re burying an end into your crochet work, except this will be much larger.

Adding in your cord/rag/yarn

Adding in your cord/rag/yarn

Begin by holding your cord/rag/yarn above the last row you worked.

Joining Yarn around padded crochet

Joining Yarn around padded crochet

In this case, I’m also joining the yarn for this row.  Insert your hook into the last stitch of the previous row, and draw up your yarn.

Attaching yarn, Padded Crochet, Step 2

Chain one, securing yarn around the cord/rag/yarn.  I like to hold my tail together with my working yarn for this first stitch, or no other reason than it makes me feel better, and makes me feel like things are more secure.  I’ve got no proof, though.

Begin working Single Crochets around cord/rag/yarn

Begin working Single Crochets around cord/rag/yarn

Now, begin working your crochet stitches into the stitch of the previous row, working the yarn around the cord/rag/yarn.  In this case, I’m working a variant of the v-stitch.

Some tips:

  • Make sure you’re letting your stitches lie flat.  If you make them tight, they’ll bunch up your cord/rag/yarn.
  • Every once and a while check to make sure that your piece is laying flat.  Because the cord/rag/yarn that you’re working over has a tendency to shift around, it can make things pucker, draw tighter or looser.  I like to measure ever few rows.
  • When you have to add more cord, there’s a few ways you can do it.  In my case, I sewed on my rags together, because it was a bit more tidy.  You can also just hold the end of one rag and the beginning of another together.
  • Make sure if you’re using rags they’re the same width, so your rug doesn’t have a lumpy look, or have irregular rows (unless that’s the effect you’re going for)!
Measure, measure, measure!

Measure, measure, measure!

Have you every worked padded crochet?  How’d it turn out?  What was the project?

New Pattern: Rag-ety Rug, a Padded Crochet Project

Rag-ety Rug by Jennifer Raymond

Rag-ety Rug, a Padded Crochet Project

I’m proud to announce that Rag-ety Rug, my pattern with Crochet World Magazine’s August 2015 issue, is officially out.  (Yes, I know it’s only June.  I’m not quite sure how Annie’s works their release schedule, but even though it’s June, you should be able to start finding the magazine on shelves in the next few weeks).

Rag-ety Rug uses one of my new favorite crochet techniques, padded crochet.  Like Stained Glass Rug and Matryoshka Baskets, Rag-ety Rug uses padded crochet.  Normally padded crochet is worked with smaller items (like in Irish Crochet Lacework), but I like to use padded crochet to make more modern, exploded lace pieces.

Rag-ety Rug was mostly worked on during a vacation to Atlantic Beach with Mr. Turtle’s Parent’s.  It seemed rather fitting: this rug, worked with denim scraps, fits in perfectly with beach decor.  The varied blues of the different denim scraps seemed to echo the blues of the ocean.

walking on Atlantic Beach in January

Walking on Atlantic Beach in January

There is a meditative quality to this rug, as each row the “v-stitch” nests into the following row.  I loved watching the rug gradually grow.  The cotton in the rug is from Lily’s Sugar ‘n Cream line, in a color called Stone Wash.  It was a perfect pairing for the denim.

Padded Crochet Rug from Annie's Crochet World

Rag-ety Rug, done in Padded Crochet, detail shot.

In my original pitch I imagined this rug in rainbow colors, for a children’s room or for someone who loves color.  I think it’d be fun to play around with textures too: perhaps with prints or strips or plaid?  The possibilities are endless!

What colors would you work this rug in?

My Easy Finishing Technique for Weaving in Bulky Yarn

Techniques for Weaving In Really Bulky Yarn

Today we have a quick little blog post that I’ve been meaning to do for a while, but haven’t quite gotten around to!  I thought it’d be the perfect thing to start out our week: a tutorial on weaving in really bulky yarns.  I think it’s a helpful finishing technique for both knitting and crochet.

What am I going to be talking about? Well, weaving in ends.  Now, I know weaving in ends isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and I totally understand.  It’s one of the reasons I offer finishing services.  But for those of you who like to sweat the details, weaving in ends can be an important part of finishing a project.

Today’s little tutorial is specifically about weaving in really bulky yarns, which can be hard to pull through the fabric.  Now, this trick only works for plied yarns, but it’s a nice thing to have in your arsenal.


  1. First, we’re going to want to take the tail that we plan to weave in above.  See how it’s plied together – that is, it’s got multiple strands all twined around each other?  We’re going to separate those out.  You’ll want to do it by twisting the yarn in the opposite direction it’s twisted together, so the individual strands start standing out from one another.  Once you’ve got one you can grab, pull it from it’s neighbors, until you’ve got them all separated like this:
    Yarn separated out into it's individual plies.

    Yarn separated out into it’s individual plies.

  2. Now that you’ve got the plies separated out, get a sharp-pointed needle and thread one of the plies onto the needle.  Like this:
    Thread one of the plies onto a sharp needle to weave in the end of the yarn.

    Thread one of the plies onto a sharp needle to weave in the end of the yarn.

  3. Make sure the other ends are out of the way, and now, weave in the end.  Do the same with the other strands of the yarn.
    Nearly there: All but one end woven in!

    Nearly there: All but one end woven in!

  4. Finally, trim your ends away as close as you can to your project without cutting anything.
    Trim your ends away, and admire your work! You've finished weaving in your ends!

    Trim your ends away, and admire your work!


Do you have a favored method of weaving in ends, or a finishing technique that you love to share with others?  Tell me about it in the comments!  I love hearing from you!

A weekend in Pictures: Davidson Reunion

Mr. Turtle and I got back from our Davidson College Reunion later last evening.  It was just enough time to unpack, read through emails, feed the cats, and start a load of laundry.  I swear, this traveling every weekend thing has to stop.

Tomorrow I’ll talk more about the reunion, as my thoughts settle.  Today, a few quick pictures of what I’m working on:

Swatching for my current design!

Swatching for my current design!

I’m working with some lovely yarn called chocolate. I’m trying not to get hungry every time I use it.

Working on the sleeve of the piece. Knitting bag in Davidson colors!

Working on the sleeve of the piece. Knitting bag in Davidson colors!

Davidson College has a lake campus, where Mr. Turtle spent many an afternoon as Commodore of the sailing team.  We went to revisit the lake campus, and I plopped myself by a tree near the water, and worked on the sleeve to this project.

All the revisiting members of 2010. I'm not there as I'm class of 2009.

All the revisiting members of 2010. I’m not there as I’m class of 2009.


Tinking Turtle’s Summer Camps: Knitting, Crochet, Sewing and More!

young child learning to sew

Sewing with Next Step Needlecraft from Tinking Turtle Designs

It’s that time of year again: the weather is warming (despite all the rain we’ve had this week), and on my walk this morning, I found the first delicious blackberries.  It’s summertime – and it won’t be long now until school wraps up and those hot days will be around the corner.  It won’t be long until Tinking Turtle’s Craft Summer Camps start!

For me, this means a shift in Tinking Turtle’s focus: I’m beginning to get ready for the summer camps that I’ll be running.  They’re one of my favorite parts of the year.

You see, way back before Tinking Turtle was a name written on a piece of paper, before I’d even dreamed up my first pair of socks, I was a camp counselor at Chimney Corners Camp.  I’ve talked about CCC (as it’s known to campers and alumni alike) before: it’s the place where I met my longtime friend Becca, and where Mr. Turtle proposed to me.  CCC’s been a huge part of my development as a person – not only personally, but professionally as well.  CCC was the place I taught my first students: figuring out how to break down knitting, crochet, embroidery and cross stitch to campers aged eight to fourteen.  I was only about seventeen myself, and I had very little clue what I was doing, but I figured out.

Since then, I’ve continued to love working and crafting with children.  I worked as a nanny for many, many years, and last year I ran the camp String Theory through Montgomery College.  It was a hit and a blast, and this year I’m adding to the lineup with two new classes: Next Step Needlecraft and Knockout Punch Rug Needlework.  Let me tell you a bit about the classes:

String Theory is my flagship class, now in it’s second year.  It’s a variety introduction to needlework

young girls showing off their finished knit mitts

Finished knitted mitts from String Theory!

and crafting for both boys and girls ages 8-12.  Campers learn how to knit a fingerless mitts (or two!), sew and decorate a project bag, learn to process, card and spin fiber, and the basics of how to dye wool.  This year we’re offering three sessions: 7/20 – 7/24 from 1-4 pm, 7/27 – 7/31 from 1-4 pm, and 8/3 – 8/7 from 9 – 12 pm.  You can click on the links to find out more and signup!

Because we received such a great response to String Theory, we’ve added Next Step Needlecraft.  Intended for campers who loved String Theory and want to learn more, or for older students looking to learn some more interesting crafts, it’s a great next step.  Students learn how to crochet, how to spin yarn, the basics of needle felting, and how to create stunning punch rug pieces.  This class is meant to sink students’ teeth into needlecrafts you don’t get exposed to nearly anywhere else.  This year I’m offering two sessions: 7/20 – 7/24 from 9-12 pm, and 8/3 – 8/7 from 1-4 pm.


My last class: Knockout Punch Rug Needlework is a very focused class.  Unlike the other two camps which focus on variety, this one dials down into the art of rug making.  In this class students will have a lot more independence to learn, plan and execute one, if not two projects.  This class focuses on giving students the independence to decide and plan their own projects, and my help to make them a reality.  We’ve got just one session of this camp, so if it sounds like something your child would enjoy, make sure to sign up as soon as possible. Knockout Punch Rugs will run 7/27 – 7/31 from 9 – 12 pm.

Child learning to knit with multicolored yarn

Learning to Knit in String Theory

If you’re looking for a great crafting camp for the summer, these camps are for you.  Don’t have children of your own?  Tell your friends about these camps.  Teaching kids crafts improves dexterity, problem solving and creativity – and preserves these traditions for the next generation.

Let me know what you think about the camps – and what other crafts I should look at adding to the repertoire!

Making and Fixing Mistakes

darning and fixing a hole in knitting, repairing a mistake

Fixing a Mistake: a hole, in knitting

I’ve been thinking a lot about mistakes lately.

One of my most popular classes is titled “Oops!”  The class hits home with knitters and crocheters: sometime, somewhere, we all are going to make a mistake.  Probably even more than one mistake.  And if it’s a big enough mistake, it’s going to need to be fixed.  It’s a simple premise for the class.  Let’s take the pressure off making mistakes, and deliberately make them – and then learn how to fix the mistakes we’ve created.  Oops is a class, that, at it’s heart, is about being human.  Instead of pretending that mistakes don’t happen, it faces them head-on.

I’ve heard it quoted a couple of times that in Navajo rug work the weaver puts a deliberate “mistake” into their work: the idea being that only the Creator is perfect.  You hear this idea echoed in Indian or Persian rugs, or in Islamic geometric designs.  While some people believe the myth is not true, there’s a point to be made in the story: by being human, we make mistakes, and in some ways we should make peace with it.

The Yarn Harlot’s written about mistakes dozens of times.  Elizabeth Zimmerman held the idea that there are no mistakes in knitting, as long as the results turn out the way you want.  Heck, mistakes are so common in patterns that there’s a word for it: errata.

Yet, two weeks ago I was a stew of anxiety as I went through tech editing for three of my patterns coming out in the fall.

darning a hole in a worn out glove - repairing a mistake

Fixing a hole formed in a worn-out glove

It’s funny: a large part of my income comes from doing away from imperfections: repairing broken things, and fixing mistakes in pieces seen as unsaveable.

Yet, when it comes to my *own* mistakes, I’m hesitant to talk about them.

Perhaps it’s because of the scale. To me, a mistake in a blanket affects nothing except the blanket.  If I make a mistake cooking, or gardening, or in any of my personal activities, the only person harmed is myself (and perhaps Mr. Turtle, if he’s forced to eat my cooking).  In contrast, a mistake in a pattern affects someone else’s life.  It can inconvenience them.  A mistake in a pattern can take hours for a tech editor to untangle; in worst cases, it can derail publishing deadlines and hurt the bottom line.  Mistakes on that scale can be costly.

I’m not one to let go of my own mistakes lightly.  In 10th grade, on a field assignment, I broke a thermometer that my teacher was letting me borrow.  I was heartbroken and that night I cried myself sick, thinking about telling my teacher the next day that I’d let him down.  The whole day before I could go see him, I worried the situation over like a sore tooth: poking and prodding at it, envisioning the worst case scenario. By the time I got to last period when I could speak to him, I was physically sick and trembling.  My small mistake had become so big in my mind it has physiological effects.  When I went to tell him what was wrong, I ended up just crying from the stress.

It’s why I love working for myself: I can choose the people, and the situations, where I’m held accountable.

I’ve grown up since 10th grade, but big mistakes still have the ability to immobilize me, at least a little.  Crafting an email in response to an irate customer can still leave me feeling queasy.

So two weeks ago, when I had not one, but two patterns in tech edits with some significant problems, I struggled to keep my composure.  In a conversation to my friend Becca, she put things into perspective.

A while back I hired a woman to help me crochet some pieces that were on a deadline.  They were samples, and the patterns were already written, but they needed to be worked up in different yarn.  I had very specific instructions.  I handed off the yarn to her, with a firm emphasis that if problems came up, if her gauge was off, if she made a mistake, she should contact me right away. I knew that she might make mistakes, but as long as she communicated with me, I could manage things.

Unfortunately, when she made mistakes, as sometimes we are wont to do, she kept working the pattern, hoping that if she went further the mistake would be less obvious.  Instead, when I got the pieces, I had to do quite a bit of work to fix things she hadn’t shared with me.

I was angry.  It wouldn’t have been a problem if she had just gotten in touch with me, but instead, she waited until the deadline to inform me of the problems.  It left me with very little time to do damage control.

In the same manner, Becca pointed out, I should handle the mistakes I make.  If I made a mistake, I should be upfront about it.  I shouldn’t cover it up.  Instead, I should communicate what my problem is, and ask for help.

Not so very easy.

Why am I talking about all this?

Well, I’m thinking about how mistakes are viewed in crafting, in the knitting and crochet industry, and in my own personal life.  And I’m thinking about ways I can both respond to mistakes I make, and other’s make, with more grace.

Have you made a mistake in your personal or professional life?  How do you handle them?  I really, really would like to know.

A Brief Visual Tour of TNNA 2015, in Columbus, OH

I’m at TNNA this weekend (I’m leaving tomorrow afternoon), and having a ball.  It’s a lot of networking (which can sometimes be a little hard), but it’s also just so wonderful to spend time with people who are passionate about the same things.

However, after using my words all day. I’m fairly worded out.  So today’s a brief visual tour to TNNA, with captions.


Bags full of knitted and crochet goodies, for the fashion show!

Getting Ready to the TNNA Fashion Show, backstage.

Painted Canvas Trolley with Ashland, VA on the side

Ashland, VA represented! I was shocked.


Knitted and Crochet Teepee with Addi's booth.

Knitted and Crochet Teepee in Addi’s booth.

My mittens at the Willow Designer Breakfast at TNNA.

My mittens at the Willow Designer Breakfast at TNNA.

Making net out of Sprang.

Learning how to work Sprang with Carol James – she’s a really great teacher!


There were so many other things I want to share with you, and I will, once I get home.  I have yarns I’m excited about, patterns and opportunities.  But for now, I really should get ready for tomorrow… and figure out how I’m going to get all my yarn home.

Crocheted Tea Cozy: a quick personal project.

Nance last week in her interview made an interesting point about drinking tea.  She said, “Tea is also essential for knitting/my design process.”  I’ve been thinking about the connection between hot beverages and yarn-work: Kate also mentioned that she drinks a lot of coffee.  The Yarn Harlot’s blog is rife with pictures of tea and coffee.

Which shouldn’t surprise me.  Three out of five mornings from early fall to late spring, I have a pot of tea on my desk next to me.  Doesn’t matter if it’s a computer morning, or a stitching morning, chances are it’s there.  My husband knows on mornings when I’m particularly slow to get going that a hot cup of strong Assam will get me going; in the evenings it’s a smooth Rooibos to finish off a meal.

Which is why last week I buckled down and I made myself a new tea cozy.  A few years ago, I had the perfect teapot: one my husband had gotten from his grandmother.  It had a lovely infuser, and held a lot of tea.  It was a very pleasing shape, and best of all, it had a copper insulated tea cozy that went over it, and it’d keep the tea hot for hours.  Practically the entire morning.

And then then cats broke it.  Knocked the pot off the table, and it smashed to pieces.  The copper insulated tea cozy didn’t break, but it was useless – unable to fit over any other pot.  Only now, three years later, was I able to say goodbye to it, at heavy pressure from Michael.

So it was time for a new tea cozy, something to pick up the slack.  I have a perfectly lovely tea cozy for the pot at the farm, and I love how long my tea lasts inside it (now if I could only find an infuser that fits a non-standard pot).  It was time to make a tea cozy for my favorite pot at home.

So two weeks ago, when we were at the farm, I set out to crochet myself one.  I had a few criteria: that it be quick, that it work well with the style of pot I had, and that I could spend no more than 2 hours on it.  The time limit was because I had a lot of other knitting/crocheting to get done that weekend, and I couldn’t afford to be indulgent in time.

I’m pleased with the results.

The cover opens so I can put my infuser in and take the top off without removing the cover.
I can keep the top open while the tea is steeping.
And because I’m terrible at pouring tea, I can take the whole thing off easily to wash it. (I used machine washable wool.)  I’m not exactly pleased with how the top comes to a trident shape – I’d intended for it to be smoother, but since it was quick and a prototype, I didn’t allow myself much ripping back.  The only thing I might change is to do a trim along the bottom – right now the bottom doesn’t fit quite a closely to the pot as I’d like.
Still, it does it’s job keeping the tea warm – which was the intention!

Breaking it Down: Russian Join

The Russian Join is one of the tricks I love to teach in my class.  It’s a great way to join two yarns, and I love how strong the join is!  While sorting through some photos on Friday, I realized I’d taken all the photos to do a tutorial on the Russian Join… and simply had forgotten to post them.

So here you go: my tutorial on the Russian Join!

If you enjoyed this, share it with others!  Pin, tweet, or post this to facebook!

Additive and Subtractive

I’ve been working on a skirt this week using some lovely wool fabric my mother and great-aunts had, and it’s been going very well.  This morning I set in my invisible zipper (my first zipper set into woven fabric – gasp!), and I’m pleased at the results.  I guess reading sewing blogs for 3 years means you pick up something!

But it’s got me thinking about the differences between sewing and knit/crochet – and this morning I finally hit on why I’ve not quite ever taken to sewing the same way that I do knitting.

It’s all about the addition and subtraction.

You see, when I took my two sculpture classes my senior year of college, I generally liked the types of sculpture that were additive; that is, I liked things that started from nothing and I added material, shaping it along the way.  I liked things like clay, wax-work, and plaster.

Plaster sculpting was perhaps my very favorite medium, because it was additive as well as subtractive.  Plaster bonds to itself very well, and after you add plaster to already existing plaster, and it sets – it’s like one whole piece of plaster.  You can then chip away at the material you added, for further shaping purposes.

Activities like woodwork were harder, because you had to plan things out ahead of time.  With the exception of wood glue, the place where you fasten wood together will always be weaker than the rest of the wood.  Places where you use things like nails, joints, or staples will always be weaker than the original whole thing.

Sewing is like wood: the seam is nearly always the place where a garment wears out.  It’s also a subtractive craft, to me.  Each time you shape a piece of cloth, you start by a large piece and you gradually cut stuff away to shape it (using darts, for example).  You might add more fabric, but there will always be a join.

It is perhaps not a coincidence that when I started doing sewing crafts, I started with quilting, which is much more of an additive activity.

Crochet and knitting, on the other hand, both start with nothing, and you add more and more stitches to make the thing.  If you mess up with crochet or knitting, you can pull your work out and start again (it’s a pain, but you can do it).

Whereas sewing, if you make a mistake with your cutting… well, you’ve just ruined that piece of fabric.

Do you do any other crafts other than knit or crochet?  Do you think of them as additive or subtractive?