December Urban Farm Handbook Challenge – Crochet a Gift for Christmas!

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Many of you know how much I love me some Annette from Sustainable Eats.  Earlier this year I wrote about her book, The Urban Farm Handbook that she co-authored with Joshua McNichols.  It’s a sensational book that has received great reviews.

To coincide with the release of their book, Annette and Joshua launched a twelve month Urban Farm Handbook Challenge inspiring people to not just read about urban farming but to actually do.

Throughout the Urban Farm Handbook Challenge we walk you through a year’s worth of change from grains to dairy to vegetables to protein. We offer you both simple and crazy ways to get you on the bus. But now it’s time to get real. That bus is coming for you. Will you get on it?

I was excited when Annette asked me to issue December’s Urban Farm Challenge.  The theme is handmade or artisan gifts.  Since we’re celebrating December intentionally at Spain in Iowa, the theme fit perfectly.

My challenge to all of you UFH challenge folks and to those Spain in Iowa readers celebrating Christmas intentionally is to crochet a gift for Christmas.

Let’s Learn How to Crochet

What I love most about crocheting is that it’s not very difficult to do.  Once you learn the basic stitches, you can create a variety of beautiful handmade gifts that your family and friends will love.

I am not a crochet guru.  It’s usually during this time of the year that I pull out my crochet needles, buy some new yarn, and hit youtube tutorials to get myself started.

What I am going to share with you here is how to manage resources on the web to get yourself started on a crochet project.

Materials Needed

  • Crochet Needles – The best size crochet hook to start with is an H/8 (5mm) that is made of aluminum.  You can also buy a kit that comes with about 6 different sized standard needles.
  • Yarn – To start, pick up a few different colored yarns.  I would encourage you to stay away from cheap yarn.  Although the price is lower, it doesn’t stretch well.  I made some beanies with this yarn once and trying to fit it over my child’s head was a nightmare.  Lesson learned!  Some of my favorite yarn to buy is the line by Vanna White, Vanna’s Choice.

Step 1 – Learn the Basic Stitches

If you have never crocheted, the first step is to familiarize yourself with the basic stitches.  These two youtube videos do a great job of introducing to you how to crochet.  Grab your needle and yarn and follow along.

Video 1: Topics covered in the first video include holding the hook & yarn, chain, single crochet, turning your work and finishing the project.

Video 2: Topics covered include beginning double crochet, half double crochet, triple & treble crochet, back loops, chaining between stitches, slip stitch, circles and crocheting in the round.

Step 2 – Make a Granny Square Baby Blanket

My encouragement to you is to make a baby blanket using the granny square method.  It’s really easy to follow along and will get you comfortable making your basic stitches.  You don’t have to make a large blanket, if you want to stop at a small square that’s fine. Doing this is just going to give you a bit more confidence to move onto a pattern.

Grab your needle and yarn and follow along.

Step 3 – Find an Easy to Follow Pattern

Now that you’ve followed along and learned basic stitches and made a granny blanket, you should be able to start to look at simple patterns and understand the basic stitch abbreviations.

This is the first crochet project I made last year for both of my sisters for Christmas.  Mary Jane Slippers.

I don’t understand a stitch abbreviation.  What should I do?

Be prepared, some patterns looks scarier than they are.  You’ll start to see stitch abbreviations that you don’t understand.  When I run into that problem I have a two step process.

  1. Look up the abbreviation in google.  For example.  One pattern I was following along called for, ch 2. Hdc.  I had no idea what that meant.  So, I googled, Hdc crochet stitch.  The search brought up many posts explaining that a Hdc is a half double crochet.
  2. Look up the abbreviation in youtube.  Now that I knew what an Hdc stich was, I could search youtube for a Half double crochet tutorial.

Once I learned the stitch, I was able to go back to my project and finish up.

Cute, Simple, Crochet Patterns That Would Make Fantastic Christmas Gifts

Thanks to the internet and pinterest, there are many simple patterns available for newbie crocheters.  Once you learn the basic stitches, why not try some of these cute gift ideas out for your challenge!

Crochet Towel Holder from Little Birdie Secrets.

Mug Cozy Pattern from Bubble Girl

Dish Cloth Pattern from Bubble Girl

Mary Jane Slippers from GoodKnits

Sedge Stitch Cowl from Aesthetic Nest

For more ideas, here is my pinterest board on crochet projects.

Ramp it Up

I wouldn’t worry about ramping it up until after Christmas but once you start on these simpler patterns you can really start to get creative.  There are great intermediate patterns and classes all over the internet and what better time to ramp it up than during the slower winter months.

Here’s a class at Craftsy called Beyond Rectangles that I’m going to be taking this coming Winter.

Take the Challenge and Win Great Prizes!

The challenge is set.  Crochet a gift for Christmas by the end of the month.  Once you do, link up a blog post or comment sharing your crochet creation on the last day of the month at Sustainable Eats.  You’ll then be entered to win a handful of December prizes including the Urban Farm Handbook.

Good luck and most importantly have fun!

Do you crochet?  Do you have any tips or favorite beginner patterns you’d like to share with us?

9 Responses to "December Urban Farm Handbook Challenge – Crochet a Gift for Christmas!"
  1. Tanya Hulbert says:

    I knit but this has inspired me to learn crochet. Thank you.

  2. Oh I had been doing this challenge at the beginning of the year, and then forgot about it! Thanks for reminding me – I did a blog post last week on crocheting snowflake ornaments and am getting ready to do one on angels. I will be ready to enter them at the end of the month!

  3. You are always so encouraging and thinking of ways to motivate others. Great challenge! I will share it with my sister in law which is a fan of the urban fan and urban homestead concept. Would you recommend any magazine or book or any other idea that would be a cool Christmas present for her? someone with similar interest like you and that would go on the lines of urban homestead.. thanks!

  4. “December Urban Farm Handbook Challenge
    – Crochet a Gift for Christmas! – A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa” was indeed a very good post and I really was in fact really happy
    to locate the blog post. Thanks for your effort,Shawn

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