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  • Star Stitch Crochet Scarf with Love Knots


    Love Knot+Star Stitch Scarf: New Pattern!

    A star stitch crochet scarf with love knots? (About as common as a love knot scarf with star stitches.) So beautiful together!

    UPDATE: Lovelace pattern has been added to the Designingvashti Shop and to Ravelry.

    I’m calling it Lovelace Ring Scarf and the pattern is with the tech editor now. The first thing I’ll do when I add the pattern to my shop and to Ravelry is update the header of my shop, its Ravelry project page, and announce it on the DesigningVashti Facebook page.

    Why Star Stitches With Love Knots? The Story.

    I first swatched this in 2014 (see last photo above) for CGOA classes I would be teaching: A Star Stitch for Every Purpose (3 hours) and 21st Century Love Knot Adventures (3 hours). Back then I had to set it aside due to stitch compatibility problems. You might be able to see some in those initial swatches.

    Early in 2016, a visitor to the DesigningVashti Facebook page requested the pattern. Again in deep crochet class prep mode, I had to put it off until after teaching. By the fall I was finishing up a series of seven crochet tutorials I agreed to do for the Cut Out & Keep site (site owner has not added them as of today).

    After the US election I appreciated the sweet, loving patterns crochet and knit designers were spontaneously posting. My 2014 attempts to blend stars and love knots in one pattern came to mind. It lifted my spirits to polish it up into a fun, versatile, balanced, harmonious stitch pattern, with the idea it might also lift others’ spirits.

    The free stitch pattern will be available soon; I’ll announce it everywhere when I hear from the Cut Out & Keep folks. I used it to make a 6.5″ square block with DK weight yarn and a G7/4.5 mm hook. It’s pictured above (without its single crochet border all around): the middle photo in the top row. The border would probably turn it into a 7″ block.

    The Lovelace design happened next because I needed a self-edging version. It came to me while I was getting over a flu-like cold during Thanksgiving (what a season this has been!). As I lay there contemplating the stitch pattern I’d sent off to Cut Out & Keep, I wondered about giving the basic stitch pattern a selvage (no edging later). The start and end of the love knot section always looked a bit stringy and unstable to me. I also wanted to vary the balance of the texture and widen it for a lush, romantic ring scarf. This is how Lovelace came to be.

    Is a Love Knot-Star Stitch Crochet Scarf…Challenging?

    These are Intermediate-level crochet stitches but that doesn’t mean they’re difficult. I include tips and visual aids in the pattern that have worked in my classes. Most of Lovelace is rows of easy, familiar stitches like single and half double crochets (sc and hdc, or as they say in the UK: dc and htr).

    These beginner stitches form a balanced backdrop to the fancy stitches. Like peace-keeping diplomats, they harmonize relations between the two iconic, culturally powerful, individualistic “diva” stitches. My experience of crocheting star stitches (stars) and love knots (LK) in the same pattern is that I get some comfort zone rows of simple stitches, then a spicy row or two, then more comfort zone.

    Similarities and Differences Between Stars and Love Knots are Dramatic!

    I don’t recall ever seeing these two unique stitches combined in one stitch pattern.

    1. Differences

    All of these differences affect what it’s like to get them to work well together in one stitch pattern.

    • Love knots are reversible, star stitches are not. It was an issue with my early swatches.
    • Love knots are more independent than the usual crochet stitch, and star stitches are the other extreme. This shows in lots of ways. LK can be added anywhere just like a chain stitch (because it’s a type of foundation stitch), and each one is distinct, complete, and recognizable from a distance. Stars require context: the stitch just before it, after it, and often above it determine how recognizable it is! 
    • Love knots likely originated as a southern lace, stars as a northern thermal fabric. LK were almost always crocheted in very fine cotton and silk threads for delicate, summery, fanciful edgings, baby bonnets, and petite “opera bags”. Stars have been used most often for making thick, dense coats and blankets in wool. Even when early stars looked like fine spidery lace, wool was the fiber of choice. (That’s why my unofficial name for the original swatch is “North and South stitch pattern“.)

    2. Similarities

    • Both LK and stars are romantic, iconic, classic/old-fashioned, popular, and beloved.
    • Both originated in 1800’s.
    • Both have long been favored for baby things. (Stars: baby blankets and coats; LK: saques, bonnets, layette edgings.)
    • Both can be lacy. When star sts are lacy, you’re looking at pulled loops, just like with LK.
    • Both start the same odd, non-intuitive way. I did a newsletter issue on it: “Starting a Stitch with a Backtrack“.

     

    How to be the first to know when Lovelace the Star Stitch Crochet Scarf (or any new pattern) is published:

    Or, be the second to know by subscribing to my newsletter and opening the email the moment you get it 🙂

    [Feels good to blog again. Remember my “50 posts in 50 days” challenge back in June? I sort of miss it!]

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    • December 8th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Project Tests for New Crochet Classes


    I’m still testing new crochet designs…

    …for the five classes I teach next month! This started months ago. It never stops, actually.

    I have other new crochet ideas in progress for this year’s classes too. For Tunisian Eyelet Meshes I have a draping collapsible “Leanin’ Loopholes” wrap to finally start when the new Lotus colors arrive. Another project in motion for the Stitch Games class is an argyle (only a few rows done, no photos yet).

    When CGOA puts out a call for class topic proposals in the fall, I submit more than enough: all the topics that I’ve enjoyed teaching in the past, plus interesting variations on them, plus new ones. Designing new crochet examples starts the moment I find out which ones I’ll be teaching. (Not on purpose, it just happens.)

    Meanwhile

    Meanwhile I stand ready (with camera) to receive a giant new lot of Lotus yarn. Can’t wait to get my hands on the new colors. Doris has her designing cones already so I know UPS will be here any day. Once the yarn arrives–on giant cones–I get some of it turned into Z-Bombes (1-pounders). A bit of it becomes Magnum cones (2-pounders). A lot of it will be “pull cakesASAP.

    I also stand ready to design with it. I’ll need some new crochet for the road trip up to the conference, right? Doris got started immediately with a new design in emerald green. This reminds me that I also need to lock in the new color names for the ball bands and snip cards.

    I’m on Day 35 of my 50 blogging days of crochet conference prep and I’m feeling behind! I still need to get some crochet patterns reformatted into print versions (for some of my classes and for kits in the market booth).

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    • June 23rd, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    2016 Crochet Stitch Games: Class Resources Page


    Clickable resources for my 2016 Crochet Stitch Games with Colorful Yarns class. Includes patterns for designs shown, and inspiration for new games. Also articles & books recommended in class. Click an image to enlarge it.

    Crochet Patterns & Crochet Alongs:

    Recommended Issues of Vashti’s Crochet Inspirations Newsletter:

    2016 Crochet Stitch Games, Blogged:

    Inspiration

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    • June 2nd, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    The Crochet Class Resource Page


    What’s a “Crochet Class Resource” Page?

    I’ve been creating one crochet class resource page per topic since 2012 when I started teaching three-hour classes at CGOA conferences. Teaching at a conference is not the same as teaching in a yarn shop (in so many ways! That’s a future blog post). Below are three new images I added to the 21st Century Love Knot Adventures page.

    Everyone has traveled to attend a national crochet conference like CGOA’s, so we all have on hand only what we thought to pack. Or had room to pack. In a yarn shop I could assemble a stack of the books and magazine issues I refer to, and leave designs on display in the shop for weeks.

    My solution is to have one link to a web page with all the things I might refer to in class. I print this one link in the class handouts. Saves so much precious space! I’m happy to make the page accessible to crocheters who can’t attend the class because this is all extra, supplemental, overflow info. It might even help some people to decide to take my class when they’re registering for the conference. As a perpetual student myself, I always love it when footnotes, bibliographies, links, etc. (resources) are provided.

    It just plain helps me psychologically–I love knowing that I can add anything to a resource page at any time as a way to communicate with students before and after the class. It’s an outpost. A headquarters. A portal.

    On my to-do list is five such crochet class resource pages. I’ve just finished updating the one for 21st Century Love Knot Adventures. I created it in 2012, updated it in 2014, and did an overhaul today! Didn’t expect it to take so long but it had lots of outdated links and a big gallery to edit. Figured in this blog post I’d be proudly glowing about having completed three of them!

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    • May 31st, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Special Class Practice Swatches


    Today I get to crochet outside in my gazebo. The weather is gorgeous and the birds sound happy. We have plenty of coffee, chocolate, and fresh peaches. It’s a perfect holiday weekend. On the hook: very special practice swatches. What?

    Well, we’re nearing the end of May.

    One of my big conference prep goals is to complete the handouts for all five of my class topics by June 1. That’s why I keep blogging about how I prepare class handouts. It’s all I can think about. It’s like when I’m in the midst of solving a puzzle, or reading a good mystery.

    Practice swatches try to become new designs!

    I’m an unofficial pattern tester today, following my own directions in a class handout so that I send off the draft to my editor and pattern tester. I hope this doesn’t sound like work to you. It’s very exciting! So many designs happen this way by accident! Translating a class topic into ideal practice swatches for students is creatively inspiring

    For the Steeked Tunisian Lace class I designed a few short practice swatches that build on each other. It’s inspiring to compare these three basic ways to crochet the lacy extended stitch net: with 1 yarn (Seshen is a great example), or alternating 2 yarns (Mesmer Scarf), or the double-ended hook variation (á là Maze Vest). In class we’ll then have practice swatches to steek!

    Why this May 31 deadline?

    • It gives my editor enough time to go over the three new handouts. It also gives me time to incorporate her revisions without feeling rushed.
    • My close friend Annie arrives from Kentucky in two weeks. I can’t wait to see her! I don’t want to be mulling class handouts while she’s here.
    • The UPS truck is going to pull up one of these days and deliver five new colors of our Lotus yarn! I want to be able to turn my full attention to that when it happens! (You’ll know it because I’ll blog it.)
    • It’s for the best that I expect that the conference will sneak up on me. It always does. Plus, this is the first year I’ll have a booth while teaching. 
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    • May 29th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    When a Crochet Class Handout Clicks


    It Happened This Morning.

    When a crochet class handout “clicks” it’s like getting a crystal-clear vision of how the class will begin and then smoothly unfold for its 3 hours. It becomes a map for the teacher too, and then I can relax. It’s such a distinct feeling that I actually tell my husband, “The _ class handout clicked into place!”

    I’d forgotten about the phenomenon until it happened today with The Starwirbel Way class, so I’ll blog it here for my future self. I wonder if other teachers experience something similar.

    A crochet class handout needs to satisfy so many requirements.

    It needs to make a good first impression in that first five minutes of the class. Inspiring, different, welcoming; generous margins, no big blocks of text, and the font can’t be too small. (It can’t be sparse or simplistic though.)

    This year I’m adding a few initial sentences that describe how to get a head start while waiting for the class to begin. People come to crochet classes with a dramatic range of skill levels; some like to explore the topic independently, and some like to arrive early. Many people also bring a range of different yarns, and need to try a few before they can settle in with one. Most people need to warm up with a row or two of a familiar stitch.

    A crochet class handout is an extension of me that stays with every student while I’m helping someone else on the other side of the room. If someone were to ask a question that requires a demo, and four other people say they wonder the same thing, I’d love to be able to answer, “Look closely at the photo on page 2 of your handout, and try it out while I come around to each of you individually.” So my top priority is for a handout to help me while I’m helping other students.

    Crochet class handouts can’t do some things.

    Hands-on skills like crochet need some side-by-side demonstrating. Each bit of key information in a crochet class usually needs to be shown different ways. It’s great when a close up photo or diagram in a handout can save time or prevent confusion about a key step. Sometimes it’s a motion that can be demonstrated in front of the room with a gigantic hook and yarn; often it’s best shown up close to just a few people at a time. This is why people travel to take crochet classes in person. Nothing beats it, not even videos, sometimes.

    Over the years I’ve developed a sense for which things can be nailed with a demo, diagram, swatch, or a close up of stitches done in contrasting colors. Sometimes using an overhead projector and drawing on transparencies is just the thing.

    Handy Table of Symbols for a Crochet Class Handout

    Table of love knot symbol variations. Created for the 21st Cen. Love Knot Adventures Class handout.

    Like some images, certain kinds of text are best in a handout. Row-by-row instructions for a practice swatch: a perfect use of a handout. Also good is a list that summarizes and distills many details. This morning I created a sidebar of all the ways to make star stitches starrier, and bolded the ones used for Starwirbel. Above is a table of love knot symbols used in different countries that I include in the  21st Century Love Knot Adventures class handout.

    What makes a crochet class handout “click” is a bigger topic than I expected! I’ve left out so much. Creating handouts is an evolving skill. Turns out others have blogged about this too.

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    • May 26th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Color Pooling Crochet Stitch Games-Class


    Planned vs. Accidental Color “Pooling” Fun

    Last summer’s Get Your Geek On CGOA event inspired my new three-hour crochet class in Charleston SC (July 13, 2016); some new booklets and patterns too. Many of us have been seeking insight into using hand-painted yarns. These yarns are often boldly variegated with short color changes and other indie dyeing methods. Color pooling can be exciting!

    Planned Pooling Stitch Games Crochet Class CGOA Vashti Braha

                                  This is the class webposter at the CGOA event headquarters.

    You’re looking at stitch game projects I designed from 2009 to a month ago. (There are more but they don’t all fit in this image.) Pattern for the vivid blue striped scarf (Jempool) releases this week.

    Use crochet stitches to turn the color volume up or down (or both, selectively!). Exaggerate the element of chance (accidental pooling). Or, eliminate it! (i.e. planned pooling).

    What’s Color Pooling?

    Variegated (multi-colored) yarns appear to have randomly and evenly mixed colors in one skein. It’s like a party in a ball—unless the colors stop looking well-blended when crocheted or knitted. A color might repeat too often, or pile (pool) up on itself row after row in a blotchy way.

    Texture pooling is a variation of color pooling. Ever use a yarn with dramatic thick and thin areas, and find that these texture contrasts clump together awkwardly? They’re pooling. That happened with an expensive mohair yarn I bought because of its intermittent tinsel sections (see it above). I thought it would look magical. Instead, the tinsel just looked lumpy and stiff when I crocheted it. Love Knots retain the otherworldly look of the yarn by giving the tinsel more room. Sprinkling Love Knots among simple double crochets {UK: tr} is an exhilarating experience.

    “Stitch Pooling” Turns Color Pooling into a Game

    A simple stitch game I like, especially with crochet, is what I call stitch pooling. I switch to a contrasting crochet stitch when a certain color comes up as I crochet. Knitters do this when they switch from stockinette to garter whenever a certain color comes up, for example. Crochet gives us so many texture choices for creating a simple game, or a wildly challenging one! You can heighten or de-emphasize colors too. This is accidental color pooling that’s fresh and interesting. Just use familiar crochet stitches.

    Pictured below are three examples of beginner-level stitch games in a pattern booklet:

    Color Pooling Booklet: Crochet to the Colors Playbook, Level 1

           Crochet to the Colors Playbook: simple stitch pooling to alter color pooling. Table of Contents here.

    Color Pooling According to Plan

    Eliminate the element of chance and you get regular, coordinated patterns of color. The game here is to identify the unique color code of a variegated yarn. You decide where they show up in your project. (See my newsletter issue #77, Find the Color Code of Short Striping Yarns.) Then, choose the crochet stitch, gauge, and number of stitches to get the color patterning you want.

    Two examples of this very different crochet experience are shown in the photo at the top: Jempool (the blue striped scarf) and the basketweave look in the top left corner.

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    • April 19th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Answers: The Electra Wrap Love Knot Pattern


    I’m seeing new questions in new places about my Electra Wrap love knot pattern.

    The Electra crochet design continues to attract attention and I’m really happy about that. I’ve blogged questions and answers about Electra here so that people can find them easily when they Google the pattern.

    Q: What is this design? I’m having trouble figuring it out!

    A: Maybe you’re seeing only a photo with no source (such as in Pinterest or Tumblr). Probably it’s one of the photos below. This is the Electra Wrap love knot pattern. It was designed by Vashti Braha (me) in 2012, and published in Interweave Crochet Magazine in 2013. A newly updated version of the Electra pattern was released by me in September 2014.

    Maybe you mean that you’re having trouble figuring out how it was crocheted. Well, the Electra Wrap is all about visual illusions. It’s actually just a simple rectangular wrap. The stitch pattern is 100% crochet love knots. A big reason for the Electra effect is the triangular grid structure. This is an uncommon look for this stitch. A square mesh grid of love knots, on the other hand, is so common that it’s practically a stereotype. My newsletter issue #62 contrasts these two basic types of crochet lace grids.

    Q: Yes but it looks like more than just that! Why?

    A: Three reasons:

    1. The flowery stars. A beautiful feature of triangular lace grids is how triangles tile into hexagonal six-spoked shapes.
    2. This starry flowery lace is love knots. You can crochet triangular lace grids with many different stitches. Love knots bring their own unique magic. They also show off special yarns…see #3.
    3. I used yarn that is so elegant it dazzles the eye. I’m serious! I’ve worn the Electra Wrap in conferences, guild meetings, yarn shops, and love knot classes. Even when a person is familiar with crocheting triangular lace grids – and the love knot stitch, and sees it up close in person, Electra is still a bit mysterious. The yarn’s a factor.

    Q: How did you add all those tiny sequins?

    A: I paid the yarn to do that! Tiny sequins were spun right into the yarn for me. (I’d personally never add the sequins by hand because this would interrupt how quick love knots are to crochet.)

    Here’s the deal with the yarn. A mystery-enhancing effect of the Electra Wrap love knot pattern is it’s crocheted double-stranded. Each love knot shows off two yarn strands. Each strand plumps up and doubles the 3-D loft. That’s why I included that last photo of the Lovepods Boa.

    I held one strand of fine mohair yarn together with one sequined strand while I crocheted. Electra’s yarn specs:

    • Glossy sequined strand: S. Charles Collezione Crystal (85% polyester, 15% cotton; 144 yd {131 m} per .88 oz {25 g}; CYC “#0 Lace Weight”): color #11, 3 skeins.
    • Glittery mohair strand: S. Charles Collezione Luna (71% super kid mohair, 20% silk, 9% lurex; 232 yd {212.5 m} per .88 oz {25 g}; CYC “#0 Lace Weight”): color #25, 2 skeins.

    Even the tiniest sequins can be hard to crochet with. They catch on yarn strands as you pull loops through loops. The solution is to buffer the sequins with fibers. Mohair is great for this.

    Q: I need to use different yarn, though. Can I? Should I?

    A: YES you can, absolutely. The proof is in all the different yarns people have used for their lovely Electras. See this Electra project gallery in Ravelry.

    I can think of lots of reasons why one should use a different yarn, and why one should not.

    Definitely use the yarns I used if:

    • …You want that ethereal, fairy godmother, fashion couture mystique. I can’t imagine a better yarn combination for this. The yarns I used are top of the line fashion yarns from a venerable Italian mill. They are pricy and yet they’re a bargain. Their high quality is clearly evident in the finished Electra Wrap. It’s part of the mystique. (Hint: it’s the ultimate gift.)
    • …You’re susceptible to swooning while you’re crocheting. I’m not exaggerating when I say that crocheting Electra kept taking my breath away. I finished two of them quickly. I didn’t want to set down my crochet hook! I fantasized about Electra when I was away from it! If you’ve ever “pined” for a crochet project you’ve fallen for, then you know what I mean. The rest of you might be laughing at me right now 🙂
    • …You want practical warmth as well as maximum magic and weightlessness. The mohair in this yarn combo gives other practical benefits, too. (I wrote a newsletter issue about this.)

    Use different yarns if:

    • …You’re allergic to mohair. Mohair and love knots have a special affinity. Both add a weightless magical something. One way to get a mohair effect is with a brushed synthetic yarn. Other natural fibers can also add a halo. Angora is an obvious example. Halo is a laceweight brushed baby alpaca yarn.
    • …You’ve stashed some skinny yarns and bling threads that are difficult to crochet with by themselves. Electra can be a great stashbuster project for these. See this blog post about fun with double stranding.
    • …You want more of a casual daytime layer. Use thicker yarns – two strands held together, or singly. Maybe you want more of a boho artsy look. Try artisan space-dyed torn silk ribbon yarns, or irregular hand spun textures.

    Q: I’m confused about the Electra Wrap love knot pattern in the magazine. Can you help me with that?

    A. If you have the 2013 magazine version of the pattern and need help with it:

    1. Contact the magazine. The company has pattern support staff for their patterns. They also have a forum called Crochet me.
    2. Ask a question any time in Vashti’s Crochet Lounge – lots of friendly, helpful crocheters there. It’s a Ravelry group. Chances are good that your question has already been answered there. Interweave Crochet magazine fans also have a Ravelry group.
    3. I urge you to buy & download my expanded 2014 edition of this Electra Wrap love knot pattern from the DesigningVashti shop, or my Ravelry shop. It has a stitch diagram, how-to photos, and other details that help students in my love knot classes.

    A stitch diagram is essential for this design. Due to space limitations of printed magazines, the 2013 Electra pattern version is missing a stitch diagram and other helpful info. A stitch diagram reveals how simple the construction really is. It breaks the spell (those multiple visual illusions I’ve described above).

    Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter where I announce discount codes for new patterns and yarns. Get your feet wet with my three-part series on Love Knot basics and tweaks. (Link goes to the third in the series, and links to the first two are at the top of the entry.)

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    • October 23rd, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    Beaded “Delta” Types of Crochet Lace


    I have some fun photos of beaded crochet swatches to share: overflow from newsletter issue #62, “Delta-Type” Crochet/Hexagonal Lace Types. Click on each photo to enlarge it and see comments.

    Note: I’m using “delta crochet” to refer to a category, not for a single kind of stitch pattern, and not for triangular items such as shawls. I mean geometrically a type of lace grid. In the four-sided lacy net category we have the filet type (square/rectangular spaces that stack up in columns), and the fishnet or diamond mesh type, which have diamond-shaped spaces that are offset/staggered. “Delta” is pretty well known to mean triangle, whereas a term like “isometric” might be less helpful. If you have a better term to suggest than “delta,” please leave a comment, thanks  🙂

    The gist of the newsletter is: Crochet nets of three-sided triangular lacy holes (or “spaces”) have a fundamentally different kind of lace structure, or grid. You can create them with several different kinds of crochet stitches, and they all differ from nets with four-sided spaces in looks, stretch/drape properties, and the experience of crocheting them.

    When I experimented with beading delta laces, interesting things happened. Adding beads to love knots is in some ways very similar to beading chain stitches. I haven’t even tried several more ways to add beads to the ones shown here. Adding beads to the classic tall-stitch delta type, though, is more limited. It would be super tricky* to add beads to a whole post of a tall stitch.

    *By “super tricky” I mean unpleasant and perhaps impossible LOL.

    Check back, I’m swimming in swatches and blogging them all – my goal is a short blog post most days per week. I love comments!

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    • September 15th, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    Love Knot Crochet Class Resources


    Updated on 5/31/16. This is a clickable list of love knot crochet resources that I mention in the 21st Century Love Knot Adventures class.  Enjoy the links below whether you’ve taken the classes or not.

    Included is a list of my downloadable love knot crochet patterns. I show a huge amount of published and unpublished crochet designs in this class to illustrate the stitches we learn in class.

    — Vashti Braha

    21st Century Love Knot Crochet Class Resources

    The Love Knot crochet stitch is also commonly known as Lover’s Knots and Solomon’s Knots; before 1950 it was most commonly known as “Knot Stitch” and occasionally “Hail Stone Stitch.”

    My downloadable Love Knot Crochet Patterns:

    Recommended Crochet Inspirations Newsletter issues:

    Love Knot Collections I’ve compiled from around the internet 

    HOW TOs:

    Non-English Languages (notes):

    Beaded Love Knots:

    Online Love Knot crochet patterns compiled in 2012 

    All links work as of 5/31/16

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    • July 13th, 2012 by Vashti Braha


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