Brenda Stratton Designs

Innovative Crochet Designs Since 1987

August 8, 2014
by Brenda

Charity Challenge: Part 2

My progress on the hats for the children at my daughter’s school is coming along nicely (if I do say so myself) with 11 hats completed and another almost finished. With only 3 more needed to meet my goal of 15 hats by September 1st, I should finish easily. Just thinking of all the little heads that will be warmer this winter because of these hats makes me happy.

School Hats 1-4

School Hats worked in a variety of #4 yarns.

Although a succession of  overcast days has made photography difficult, I do have the first 4 photos ready to show you, all of which were made using #4, worsted weight yarn. They are a slight adaptation of the Inauguration Chapeau by Ellen Bloom. It’s a sweet little hat and works up quickly with less than a 4-oz skein of yarn. It’s great to help use up those odd skeins left over from other projects. One of the things I love best about it is that each of the 12 ribs serves as a reminder to increase, so there isn’t much need to count stitches or use stitch markers, making it a perfect project for working in front of TV. In fact, I recommend this pattern for a variety of charity projects, since the pattern is so easily adapted to any size.

Hat #1

Hat #1: Red Heart Strata (discontinued)

I chose not to put the bow on the hats since I don’t know yet whether the recipients will be boys or girls, and not having the bow gives it a little more flexibility. I do confess to putting a flower on one of the hats not yet photographed, though!

I don’t work with variegated yarns often, although I do love them. Watching the color patterns play out is always such fun. I really like the different color combinations that Red Heart Strata offered, too. Even though it is no longer available, you can get similar results with the Red Heart Super Saver variegated yarns.

Hat #2

Hat #2: Lion Brand Jamie 4 (discontinued)

I bought this yarn in Atlanta many years ago and never found just the right place for it before it was discontinued. But, I do love the color, and it would look great on either a little boy or girl. Lion Brand Jamie 4 can also be replaced by Red Heart Super Saver or any other #4 medium weight yarn that will yield a similar gauge.

Hat #3

Hat #3: Red Heart Strata (discontinued)

Here’s another hat worked in Red Heart Strata. I really like the stripes that formed as I switched from double crochet for the body of the hat to single crochet for the brim.

Hat #4

Hat #4: Red Heart Super Soft (discontinued)

The 4th hat is worked in Red Heart Super Soft. I’m sorry to see this yarn line go. The skeins were large and the yarn is soft, but an excellent replacement for this yarn is Red Heart Soft.

Since today was yet another of our overcast days, I’m concentrating for now on finishing the 12th hat and possibly starting another. The rest of the photos will be up as soon as the sun decides to come out of hiding.


July 10, 2014
by Brenda

GOT YARN? A Charity Challenge

One of the perks of my job as a designer is being able to work with so many beautiful yarns. But, the point comes where so much accumulates that I run out of room to store it. I reached that point awhile ago. My storage area is bursting at the seams, so it’s time to take control and say goodbye to the older, discontinued yarns I can’t design with.

One of my favorite ways to use up excess yarn is to crochet for charity in my spare time. Over the years, I have donated to worthy causes on regional, national and even global levels. But, over all, I prefer to donate within my own community. I have always lived in the Midwest where it gets extremely cold in the winter, so there is always a need for warm wearables and blankets.

My daughter, Liz, who is a teacher’s aide for grades K-2 at an area elementary school, brought something to my attention a few years ago that really tugs at my heart. I know it isn’t unique to our area, but members of the teaching staff selflessly use their own funds to help supply warm hats and mittens to the little ones who would not otherwise have any. The idea that any child has to suffer for the lack of something so simple breaks my heart, so I help out when I can by making and donating hats to her school. I realize it’s just the tip of the iceberg, but every little bit helps.

My challenge to myself
Our local schools begin their fall sessions next month. I have pledged to donate 15 hats to my daughter’s class to be delivered by Sept. 1st. Why 15? Because that is approximately how many children there will be in her class, and I know I can make and deliver that many hats in this time frame. But, I expect to be able to crochet many more than that, and I will continue making them well into the fall and winter. Liz will distribute the hats to the students in her school who need them.

My challenge to you
If you are so inclined and in a position to do so, my challenge to you is to get involved in a similar way in your own community. Find a need, and fill it. It could be anything from making hats for your local school children (as I am doing), blankets and warm wearables for the homeless, lapghans and shawls for the aged, baby wear and blankets for hospitals, and let’s not forget the many types of shelters, both human and animal! Sometimes, a donation of yarn to a charity group or to a nursing home to help the residents who knit or crochet continue doing the craft they so love is also needed and deeply appreciated.

What I am NOT asking you to do
I am not asking you to send anything to me, personally. I am also not asking you to abandon a favorite charity you already work with. And, finally, I am not asking you to over-extend yourself or your budget. We all have time and budget constraints we must work within, and I completely understand that.

Because I write patterns for a living, it’s often more fun to do my charity work from a pattern someone else has created. When I do, I will post the links for you. And, since I am using only discontinued yarns, I will offer suggestions for similar yarns that will substitute for the ones I use.

And, finally, a sneak peek…as you can see, I already have a head start on the hats I pledged. There will be more photos and information on the pattern and yarns I used in the next post.

Hat Donations: #1

March 27, 2014
by Brenda

NatCroMo 2014


I love March! It marks the end of a long and dreary winter, and brings us together to celebrate National Crochet Month and our love of the craft itself.

Spring FlowerTopping the list of celebrations is the National Crochet Month Designer Blog Tour, hosted by Crochetville’s own Amy Shelton and Donna Hulka. A big “thank you!” to both ladies for allowing me to take part in it again this year.

Today, I’m introducing a new free pattern, Spring Flower. It measures about 2½” across when worked with sport yarn, and has two layers of five petals each. Use it to  embellish hats, bags or whatever else you can think of.  Click on the link above to download the free pattern.

As an added bonus, my new Grab & Go Tote, will also be free for a period of one week, only, through April 3, 2014. Grab & Go Tote It’s just the right size for a small crochet project, a book, your tablet or e-reader, or even your lunch. Toss in your wallet and keys, and you’ll be out the door in a jiffy! UPDATE: This offer has now expired. Please check back soon to find where the pattern is available. Thank you!

This year, Crochetville and the Designer Blog Tour are focusing on Halos of Hope, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization founded by Pam Haschke, who is a survivor of inflammatory breast cancer. Halos mission is to provide hats to cancer centers across the country. Please consider supporting them by making a hat or two to donate. To learn more about this wonderful charity, visit the Halos of Hope Web site or visit them on their Facebook page.

Crochetville proudly supports Halos and has volunteered to collect hats for them, which Amy will deliver on April 11, 2014, at Stitches South. You may send your hats to Amy’s home at:

Crochetville LLC
ATTN: Amy Shelton
103 Scarlet Oak Circle, Harvest, AL 35749

Learn more about it on the Crochetville Web site, follow along with their blog, and check out their Facebook page. Also, be sure to hop over to see Marie Segares at Underground Crafter who shares Day 27 of the blog tour with me.

February 15, 2014
by Brenda

Sweetheart Rose Baby Afghan

Sweetheart Rose Baby Afghan-sm Announcing the publication of my Sweetheart Rose Baby Afghan, which appears in the April 2014 issue of Crochet World magazine!

The origin of this baby afghan actually dates back about 5 years. I was visiting my mother at the time, and she asked me to accompany her to an appointment with her hairdresser. Not being one to sit with idle hands, I grabbed my crochet bag on the way out the door.

Most of the floral motif was designed that day at the hairdresser’s. But, as I didn’t have any immediate plans to submit it, I tossed it into my “someday” drawer of bits of crochet where it stayed until early summer 2013.

I originally intended to self-publish this and some other yet-to-be-revealed designs. But, when I met up with my friend, Carol (Alexander, executive editor of Crochet World magazine, former co-worker and long-time business partner) at the 2013 CGOA summer show in Indianapolis, IN, I couldn’t resist showing them to her. She was interested in purchasing all of the aforementioned designs, and the rest is history. Sweetheart Rose Baby Afghan is the first to appear in print.

Sweetheart Rose_CloseupPublishing this design means a lot to me. It represents what I consider a renewed commitment and full-time return to crochet designing. No more semi-retirement for me!





Photos copyright Crochet World magazine, April 2014, published by Annie’s.
Used with permission.



October 14, 2013
by Brenda

A Work of Art

Horse AfghanThe other day, I was digging around in my studio and came across this afghan I’ve been meaning to photograph for some time. I have always loved afghans in general but, when I came across this one in a thrift store almost 15 years ago, my heart skipped a beat.

I actually acquired the pattern for it many years before I found the afghan itself, and I always thought I’d like to make it. But, my own design career kept me busy, and I never did attempt it. Now that I have this one, I most likely never will, choosing instead to admire the one I already have.

In the grand scheme of things, I have seen more elegant afghans with color schemes that are more suited to today’s decor, but there are several things that I admire so much about this oHorse Afghan2ne. The sheer scope of it is mind-boggling. Once the dense, crocheted background is completed, the embroidery would take nearly as long to complete as the basic afghan. The design itself is brilliant. Flowers are one of the design elements that are closest to my heart, and I have been in love with horses all of my life. I’ve even owned a few. As you can see by the date in the lower right-hand corner, this afghan is quite old. I was a small child at the time it was created, well before I learned to crochet. At 55 years of age and made of wool, it is in very good shape.

What saddened me is the value the thrift store placed on it…a mere $12.00! I wish I knew who created it but I hope whoever she is, wherever she is, she somehow knows that I greatly admire and appreciate her work.

October 11, 2013
by Brenda

Happy “I Love Yarn Day!”

I Love Yarn Day


Today is a very special day in the lives of fiber artists all over the world. It is a day to celebrate the crafts we love and the fibers we work with.  I will be spending my day photographing yarn, working on a specially requested hat design for two of my grandsons, putting together some design proposals for publication, and working out some amigurumi designs I hope to release later this year. How will you spend your day?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Crochet it
  • Knit it
  • Post it
  • Tweet it
  • Share it
  • Give it
  • Carry it
  • Enjoy it

While you’re at it, you might want to check out the I Love Yarn Day official Web site!

October 10, 2013
by Brenda

Fall Colors


Fall is my favorite time of year, and the beautiful colors of the season are just beginning to show up here in my part of the Midwest. Our local weatherman says it will probably be another week or two until it reaches its’ full potential, so I have satisfied myself in the meantime by adding a little crocheted color to my screened porch. The weather is still mild, so I’m looking forward to at least a little more porch-sitting before the cold north winds drive us inside.

The quick–to-stitch mat shown here is not one of my designs. I found it many years ago in one of the small Annie’s magazines. I have long-since misplaced the pattern, but I’ve made it so many times (and in many different colors) over the years that I no longer need to refer to it.

Placemat While I love intricate, lacy doilies, I also enjoy the nearly instant gratification provided by a mat such as this made of worsted weight yarn for a quick pop of color. Although I can’t direct you to the exact publication for this particular pattern, you can do the same thing with any of the small doily or coaster patterns that are readily available. There are only 11 rounds in this particular pattern, 2 of which are single crochet. Worked with a size H/8/5.00mm hook and Red Heart Super Saver yarn, it measures 12″ across.

March 25, 2013
by Brenda

Using Up Yarn Scraps (Part 2)

Magic_BallThere are so many things you can make from leftover yarns. The list I included in the last entry, Using Up Yarn Scraps (Part 1), was only the tip of the iceberg. Whole books have been dedicated to covering the subject, so I will restrict my suggestions to the few things that I personally like to use them for, listed in no particular order.

Magic Ball
If you are not already aware what a magic ball is, it’s simply a lot of yarn scraps tied together with 4”-6” yarn ends dangling. The rather messy photo at left is one example, although for this one I have crocheted my scraps into chains and then tied them together, which makes a heavier yarn. My intent is to crochet it into a rug for my garage when it gets large enough, so I don’t particularly care whether I like the color combinations that I have used. You can let the yarn ends dangle when you crochet it into whatever you are making, or you can crochet over the ends as you work. I will likely use single crochet when I make the rug, which makes concealing the ends super easy if I decide to do that.

Granny Squares
There are tons of decorative afghan designs available. I’m even “guilty” of designing many of them. However, granny square afghans will always remain among my favorites, and they are a perfect way to use up scraps of yarn. Granny squares can be made into practically anything, including bookmarks, afghans, clothing, purses and totes, scarves, pillows and many other things.

Be sure to check out Using Up Yarn Scraps (Part 3) which will be coming soon.

March 20, 2013
by Brenda

Using Up Yarn Scraps (Part 1)

Yarn_ScrapsIf you’re like most people who knit or crochet, you probably have odd skeins and bits of leftover yarns to deal with after completing a project. It’s not too hard to find a project to use up the leftover whole or even half skeins, but what do you do with the smaller bits and pieces? Personally, I can’t bear to throw them away, so I save them to work into other projects.

Following is a list of of the common projects I incorporate my scraps into, although this is by no means a complete list of the possibilities.

  1. Motifs for gift blankets or other items
  2. Magic balls
  3. Donation (schools, senior citizen centers, etc)
  4. Hats
  5. Scarves
  6. Slippers
  7. Coasters
  8. Potholders
  9. Dishcloths
  10. Scrubbies
  11. Water bottle cozies

There is some controversy over whether to use cotton or acrylic yarn for some of these projects, which I will go into in more depth in a future blog entry. The point is, that even though you may not have enough yarn to complete a single largish project, using coordinating colors in a pleasing way can turn your scraps into something beautiful, useful or both.

March 16, 2013
by Brenda

Blog Tour Sneak Peek

Sneak_peekAlthough our winter has been relatively mild this year for the Midwest, it is beginning to feel like it has gone on forever. I’m so ready for spring! Too many cloudy, overcast days have me longing for bright blue skies with lots of sunshine and all of the fresh colors of spring and summer. However, since our weather forecast calls for more cold weather and cloudy skies, I’ve been consoling myself by playing with some brightly colored yarn.

I have always loved bright colors. Looking around my office the other day, I realized that for someone who designs crochet patterns for a living, it is seriously devoid of any crochet-type decorations, except for whatever project(s) I may be working on at any given time. So, with the aforementioned brightly colored yarn at hand, I decided to brighten up my space a bit. The photo pictured at left is a cross-section of a free design that I will unveil on March 27th, the date that my spot on A Tour Through Crochet Country comes up. In the meantime, please enjoy the other blogs on the tour, but remember to come back here on the 27th to see this design and anything else I may have in store for you!