Carla’s Freeform Crochet Scarf Tutorial

I first was exposed to freeform crochet a few years ago when I took a class from mixed media artist Cindy Pestka while attending ArtFiberFest in Washington.   This tutorial reflects what I learned from Cindy combined with what I’ve learned over the last few years. Enjoy! – Carla

Freeform Crochet, according to Wikipedia, is defined as ” a seemingly random combination of crochet… and possibly other fibre arts to make a piece that is not constrained by patterns, colours, stitches or other limitations….”

The most common type of freeform crochet is the joining of small crochet pieces, called “scrumbles,” which is a term named by James Walter and Syliva Cosh.  Beautiful, stunning work are being created by numerous freeform crochet artists, just visit any artist associated with the International Freeform Crochet group on Yahoo.

While there are no rigid rules, or crochet patterns to follow, I do have some guidelines of how I approach freeform crochet work that I would be happy to share with you. Rather than create individual scrumbles or patchworks of crochet to later join together, I prefer to just start, then build upon my starting point, joining yarn while considering color, texture and value.  I also like to add some scrumble texture to the finished piece as well.

There is no consideration for traditional crochet methods here, you just find a hole, and crochet.  Really, it is that easy.  Crocheting for texture means you intentionally leave gaps, and  crochet multiple layers. There are no mistakes, only happy errors.

Freeform Scarf- a scarf is a great first project to attempt.  This is a beginner project, but you do have to know basic crochet stitches.

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Let’s Begin! First step is to gather your supplies. All you need is yarn, a small pair of scissors, and a variety of crochet hooks:

Choosing Your Yarn: Awhile back, I did write a post on the process for how I choose my freeform yarn. This part is key to a successful outcome. Make sure you pick a variety of colors, values, and especially texture.

Probably the only helpful hint I would add it to be sure you have enough yarns with texture and fibers within your selection, but do go easy on the eyelash yarn. Your local yarn store will carry a wise selection of yarns with nubs, thread bits and texture attached. Remember, too, that you can combine yarn strands to create a new yarn.

Carla hint! Visit your yarn store for quality yarn skeins.  There is a difference between inexpensive yarn found at large chain stores and what you find at a yarn shop.

Yarn Colors- Sometimes, I will search through my yarn stash for a focal point yarn that uses a nice selection of multi-colors- all in the same yarn for my inspiration. Then I will hunt for yarns that will match.

Usually, at this point, I have about 40 yarns to pick from, so I cull it down to about 20-25. In my yarn example above, you can see my focal yarn is the salmon red and green multi yarn in the middle of the picture.

Often, I will use color wheel theory to choose pleasing color combination. Sometimes, like in the red-green example above, I’ve used colors straight across the color wheel which are complementary. Other times, I’ll use colors that are monochromatic (values of the same color) or analogous (colors adjacent to each other).  If you have difficulty choosing color, then  visit this site.

Yarn Values- Value relates to the light and dark added to the colors. Here is an example from my stash showing value of a color- in this case, pink :

Yarn Texture- I happen to love texture in my art, no matter if I am quilting, painting, beading, or crocheting. For me, it successfully brings interest and life to the project, in this case, the scarf. Choose and buy yarn that has a variety of texture. Here are some examples from my yarn stash:

Once your yarn color palette is chosen and your yarn skeins selected, then pick a yarn to begin.  The only crochet skills you need are the chain stitch, single stitch, double stitch and triple stitch. (just pull up how-to video tutorials off of youtube if you need to learn these stitches)

Step 1- Start with a slipknot and row of chain stitches:

Step 2- Turn the corner and crochet a variety of crochet stitches (ss, ds, ts, etc) down the row.

Continue until you have a piece of yarn in an interesting shape.

Step 3- Time to change colors.  There are a variety of methods for adding another yarn in crochet, I simply hold the two yarns together, and knot them together.  Easy and it can add more interest and texture to the finished piece.

Step 4- Continue to crochet a variety of stitches.  Sometimes I will pull out my stitch book encyclopedia and add interesting stitches to the piece.  Other times, I will do this later when a spot needs more texture and interest.  As mentioned, there are NO RULES!  Just crochet a mixture of stitches until the piece “feels right to you.”

Step 5- continue to change your yarn colors and texture.  I put colors together that look compatible, however, there should be some contrast from the yarn next to it.  This is true even in a monochromatic color scheme.

Width and Length of your scarf  is personal preference.  If you don’t know what you like?  Just use a scarf in your closet or borrow one from a friend to use as a template.

Finishing your Scarf- I will cut loose yarn ends, add my fringe (if I want fringe), and look at the piece with a critical eye.  If I feel the piece needs more texture, interest or other spots of color, I will add to the scarf and layer my crochet on top or sew on a scrumble piece.

Congrats, you have completed your first scarf!

Last note from Carla- If you have any questions, just leave me a comment.   Read the comment section for extra information and answers to the questions.

As with any of my free tutorials,  if you create something, I would appreciate your sharing a picture.  If you create something and show it on your blog or website, I would appreciate a mention and a link to my tutorial, too.

Have fun!!  regards, Carla

Yarn Therapy

Nothing like a trip to my favorite yarn shop to make a girl feel better:

and more:

Yummy!!!

Speaking of yummy yarn, a message to Nancy that her blog prize went in the mail today- sent priority via the US Postal System.

Dreaming of Beach Glass… A LONG standing obsession for me is beach glass, and hunting for beach glass. Let me know if any reader just happens to live on the shore and had oodles of frosty sea glass to share or trade. Will WORK for Sea Glass!!!

My DD came by this morning and casually mentioned she was heading for Santa Cruz with friends to swim, search the tide pools, etc with friends. I asked her to bring her dear Mom back some beach glass, and told her that hunting for sea glass is a good thing. I’m crossing my fingers…. Carla

Yet Another Freeform Scarf

Here is what I am working on:

I love the colors above.  Very cool, refreshing!  Obviously, my focal point yarn is the multi-colored yarn in the front.

Later this week, I have a quilting retreat to attend at Tahoe.  I love it especially since it will give me an opportunity to get to know some other quilters.  AND, there is no cooking- all of it is done for us!  Woo-hoo!

The focus of the retreat is “UFO’s” aka unfinished objects.  I do have a unfinished quilt that i would like to finish during this weekend.  I need to make lots of leaves that I plan to 3D out on the quilt, too.  This particular UFO is a remake of a wonderful quilt that Molly and I made a few years ago- AND which later took a Blue Ribbon and Best of Class at the state fair.  I really want to finish it so I may send it back east as a special present for someone who is retiring.

Hope your day is creative!!  Hugs, Carla

New Freeform project

This weekend, I was picking up the guild opportunity quilt (the one the volunteer damaged) from in front of the local yarn store, and I couldn’t help myself to a little retail therapy while I was there. I picked a 2 tone yarn as my inspiration and so here’s all the yarn I have that could work for my next project:

So what will I do with these lovely yarns? Make a freeform crochet project, of course. I think I will make a scarf and a matching purse.

Today, I meet with Jill, the opportunity quilt designer, to decide how to approach the quilt restoration. After much thought, I have come up with 4 choices or approaches to fix the quilt. My favorite way turns the damage into a design opportunity, however, I’m not the designer, so I can only sketch out solutions.

Enjoy your day!! Carla