CAL (Crochet Along) – What and Where is That?!


Picture is from ‘Frida’s Flowers’ by Jane Crow

There was a time, if you had a town of 500 women, about 490 of those women would be stay-at-home mothers, and about 450 of those women would practice a craft, like sewing, quilting, knitting or crocheting.  They would get together in ‘bees’ or ‘circles’ to share coffee, gossip and patterns.  Today, the inverse is more likely true.  With so many people holding full time jobs, and dealing with hectic family schedules, the few who still crochet have a hard time finding others who share their craft, and the time with which to meet them.  With the advent of the internet, those problems are solved.

Across the internet, you can find email groups, facebook groups, and websites devoted to bringing crafters together.  You can find links to some of these in my blog roll.  To further still the camaraderie, we now have Crochet Alongs (CALs), where thousands of people across the world all use the same pattern to create something beautiful.  Often these are mystery CALs, with just a bit of the pattern revealed at intervals.  This is a list of some of the CALS from April and May.  They are in no particular order, except I am participating in the 1st 4.

  • Frida’s Flowers by Jane Crow “The new project is called Frida’s Flowers Blanket is inspired by Mexican Folk Art and the colourful dresses worn by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.”
  • Mandala Madness by Helen Shrimpton “When Kimberly Slifer of the Official CCC Social Group on face book asked me to design a blanket/afghan for a CAL (crochet a-long) project for next year, I was, honoured, excited, chuffed to bits…. you get the idea! The ideas that went spinning through my head were crazy.  But I knew it had to be something very special, and so the idea of a HUGE Mandala started to form in my mind. As I started to work on the design I kept saying to myself “this is madness”… and so the name… Mandala Madness”
  • The Hekel Mandala by Annamarie Joubert-Esterhuizen  You need to request to join the facebook group, and the patterns are all available (in many languages) in the files of that group.
  • A Designers Potpourri by Sheri from The Country Willow, Cylinda from Crochet Memories, Cheryl from Homemade Hats by Cheryl, Donna from Articles of a Domestic Goddess and Rebeckah from Rebeckah’s Treasures.  Of these, thus far I am only doing the doily by Cylinda, Spring Pineapple Floral Lace.
  • Everything is Cool and Groovyghan by Heather Gibbs of KCACO-UK (Keep Calm and Crochet Along) “This is a mystery crochet-along for a rectangular mixed motif blanket where either blocks or rows will be introduced every two weeks. Lots of different shapes and stitches will be incorporated so it won’t get boring and there will be plenty of opportunity to play with colour!”
  • 2016 BAM CAL “Starting in January and ending in December we will have 3 squares each month, a main square , a filler square for those who want to do an extra 12” square each month  and a 6” square.”
  • Fran the Manghan Mystery CAL “The FRAN Mystery CAL will make what I hope you’ll agree is a manly/unisex blanket or throw. There are no flowers, circles or curves at all in the patterns – just straight lines and texture.”
  • Ali Crafts CAL “Mystery crochet along to make a granny square based blanket.”
  • DROPS Mystery Cal “The blanket will consist of a centre of granny squares surrounded by several types of edges with different patterns and stitches”
  • Garden Party Jacket   “If you’ve never made a garment before, this pattern is a great one to start with! You’ll no doubt be the sweetest flower in the bunch wearing this pretty.”
  • My Under the Sea Crochet Playbook  “3 x pages or 6 single pages (your choice) Appliques & crochet pieces to create 6 fun under the sea themed pages 1 x an adorable mermaid doll & accessories”
  • Mix and Match Crochet Along   (Note: The site for this blanket is in dutch, but there are translations for the pattern in English.)
  • Crochet Along to the Garden State by Julie Yeager  The pattern will be free and released over a period of about eight weeks here on the blog and also on Ravelry. (Note :  this becomes a paid pattern after the CAL)
  • Crochet Along 2016  “So I thought after less than a year of crochet under my belt whilst I love all these patterns other fabulous designers do I’d like to do my own and see whether I have learnt enough to design a simple crochet along.” (Note: blanket is a simple circle within a block)
  • 2016 Afghan Sampler   “What’s the best part about this blanket? It’s TOTALLY up to you how to crochet it! Crochet every block for a blanket that is perfect to snuggle under while watching your favorite television programs, crochet a few and make a blanket for your pets or kids, or crochet *two a week for the entire 52 weeks of the year* and create a beauty to adorn your king sized bed!”
  • Blanket of Secrets  (Note:  Variations on the granny block)  
  • Last Dance On the Beach  “As many of you know, this CAL was designed by the late Marinke Slump ( aka : Wink) from and was the final design she was working on at the time of her passing. In accordance with the wishes of Marinke’s family, 12 of her online friends and bloggers have completed her unfinished design to present this beautiful and sensitive CAL in Marinke’s memory and as a tribute to her work.”

I’ve not included CALs which aren’t in English, because I can’t read them sadly (I think I must move to The Netherlands – so much gorgeous Dutch work being done!), and I haven’t included paid patterns because I am not going to pay for something sight unseen.  I’ve started too many CALs and quit in the 3rd week because I just didn’t like them.  (Not that I mind – I just frog and move on to the next one!)

Next time I think I will give you links to some of the magnificent CALs from previous years.


Mandala Madness Part 5

There was no description on part 5 as to what this portion of the mandala signifies, but it sure is beautiful!  You can find the instructions here.

I didn’t need any tweaking on this part for thread, but do remember to keep your sc’s slightly looser, for easier access on those back loops and back posts.

I did decide to add a circle of russets slip stitches around the yellow circles, to define them better, and make them stand out.  One is complete in the picture.


Defining Freeform Crochet by Donna Walker

Blue Felted Flower by Donna Walker – pattern is here:


Donna Walker is an amazingly talented artist; crochet being only one of the many mediums in which she works.  See some of her works of art on her blog, Walker’s Whimsies.  She is the administrator on one of my facebook groups, Freeform Crochet World Group (the brainchild of Marina Hoffstrom ; you can find freeform tutorials on her blog, Snovej Food & Craft Adventures.)  The facebook group is a large one, with new folks joining every day (freeform is the latest ‘hot’ item in crochet, for sure!).  At least once a week, someone asks for a definition of freeform.  We all have our own ideas, but Donna took the time to research and write up the following article for the group.  It definitely bears repeating:

 Defining Freeform Crochet    By Donna Walker

There are many opinions on this, and for many this is a topic for discussion.  Many times it has been said that there are no rules in freeform, but I think perhaps, that is an oversimplification of the complexity that is freeform crochet. So first I am going to set some general guidelines for a few of the other types of crochet.

Traditional crochet

This is usually worked in rounds or rows, even and symmetrical, or geometric. It may be assembled from pieces sewn or crocheted together. Used for generations to make clothes, and household items. Thousands of patterns and ideas fit this classification. There are many thousands of combinations of stitch patterns also. There are many patterns available for traditional projects.  It often utilizes color changes to  create a specific appearance. It can be done with or with out a pattern.

Irish Crochet

This usually refers to projects made from many motifs, matching or similar ones, all connected with a crocheted mesh. It often includes many small circle or button type motifs, and/or Cluny’s knots in the mesh. Many think of this as the original free form.I would consider it as a type of lace crochet. Traditionally this was  done with 2-3 sizes of white thread. Many of the motifs are floral in nature but not all.  The crochet mesh seems to be one of the defining features.

Hairpin Lace

This is crocheted lacy strips made on a hairpin lace tool. The strips are assembled in rows, but are attached in many different ways, to create different patterns in the lace. Originally done with small thread on a Ladies Hairpin.

Bavarian Crochet

This refers to a specific stitch pattern that is used to create a symmetrical pattern of squares, it also often utilizes color changes to accomplish a specific appearance.

Fair Aisle, Intarsia, Tapestry crochet and stranded color work

All refer to projects that use the same stitch through out, with color changes done by changing yarn on a specific stitch. This creates patterns or pictures in the piece, and is usually worked from a chart. The different terms relate to how you accomplish the yarn change and whether or not you carry all the yarns with you as you go.

Embellished Crochet,  freehand, freestyle

These are traditionally created pieces, that have surface embellishments added. for example a crocheted vest, with either slipstitch/embroidery  or appliqued flowers or spirals tacked to the top. These are still traditional crochet. Many of the purses we see here on this page have a traditional side and a freeform side, and some are only embellished. This doesn’t make them less artful, just created differently. Most of these have a pattern or are based on a previously used pattern.

Freeform Crochet

Freeform Crochet first appeared to my knowledge in the 1970’s and is fairly new on the scene.  It is very organic, and improvisational in nature. It is created from small scrumbles /scumbles, some think of these as motifs, however they are not always motifs that would work in another method that utilizes motifs. The scrumbles/ scumbles are created by using multiple different yarns, stitch patterns and colors, all with in a small area. They can be clashing or coordinating yarns, colors, or patterns.  These pieces are the part where the ‘No rules’ comes into play.  There is no wrong or right in creating these pieces, they are not usually matching in color or design. Part of the idea is to use your own imagination to make something never made before. It can be more sculptural in nature, or lay flat, as the artist prefers.

Although there are some patterns out there, many of them were developed for Lace or Irish crochet and borrowed to use in free form. Freeform is intended to be textural, and should be irregular in shapes and sizes of the pieces.

The scumbles/ scrumbles are attached by sewing, crocheting, or embroidering them. They may be attached in multiple different ways with in the same finished project.  The pieces are “puzzled” together, laying them out, turning this way and that , to create another layer of color, contrast or texture to the piece. Since the shapes should be different in size shape and color, it is often like putting together a puzzle.  James Walters referred to it as an “organic patchwork”.

Prudence Mapstone  said,  ” I think anything can be created freeform. It’s hard to find unambiguous words, but to me the concept would be that anything created in a freeform manner would be non-repetitious and would generally have quite an organic feel, with each element following on from the previous part with no obvious plan in mind.”  Everything should flow together. 🙂

Freeform is not the correct term for everything you make with out a pattern. Many of these would be more appropriately termed freehand or freestyle perhaps, but I think what they are usually, Is brand new patterns in the other categories of crochet. The creators of these that sometimes seem offended that they are not thought of as freeform, have failed to realize they are now the designers of a whole new generation of traditional crochet patterns. They are artists in their own right, just different than the free form artists.

Crossover Pieces

These are quite simply put, pieces that combine more than one of these techniques to create some thing. For example a traditional garment with a free formed collar, or a freeformed garment with a crochet rib collar. They may or may not have a pattern. or an afghan that incorporates traditional blocks with more organic shapes or scrumbles/scumbles that have been joined, or filled in to create a shape that fits the spot.

Mixed Media,and/or  Fibre Art pieces

This is my favorite category.  These can incorporate any and all skills that the artist has or wishes to utilize. Crochet, knitting, weaving , tattiing, lacemaking, felting, sewing, lace making, beading, painting, dyeing, fabric manipulation, surface embellishments, could be or are utilized to create the artists vision. Supplies used can vary as much as the technique.  These can be assembled in many different ways.

They can be pictorial, organic or abstract.


I hope this addresses some of the confusion.  This is not intended to include every possible scenario, or to be a “Rulebook”. It is intended to give some structure to the ongoing discussions. This will be added to Freeform Crochet World Group’s files, and  I don’t mind if any one wants to share it. However, please leave my name in the text of the article.”

9 Petal Flower


These simple little flowers can be used as a brooch, an adornment on a top, part of a bouquet, or as I have done, clipped on a pair of shoes!  Add some beading or sequins for a more elegant look.

Center:  Wrap thread loosely but evenly around a G Hook, one layer on top of the other (not spread out).  Gently ease the ring of thread off the hook, y/o and through the ring to pick up a loop.  18 sc in the ring.


Round 1:  (hdc, ch 3, skip 1 sc) 9 times (9 hdc, 27 ch)

Round 2: Working in the chain 3 space (1 sc, 2 hdc, 1 dc, 2 hdc, 1 sc, ss into hdc of previous round) 9 times (18 sc, 36 hdc, 9 dc, 9 ss)

Round 3:  ch 1, ss to back of hdc of previous round, ch 1, (dc around the back post of the hdc of the previous round, ch 5) 9 times (9 dc, 45 ch)

Round 4: Working in the chain 5 space (2 hdc, 2 dc, 1 trc, 2 dc, 2 hdc, ss into dc of previous round) 9 times (36 hdc, 36 dc, 9 trc, 9 ss)

Round 5: ch 1, ss to back of hdc of previous round, ch 1, (dc around the back post of the hdc of the previous round, ch 7) 9 times (9 dc, 63 ch)

Round 6: Working in the chain 7 space (2 hdc, 2 dc, 2 trc, ch 2, 2 trc, 2 dc, 2 hdc, ss into dc of previous round) 9 times (36 hdc, 36 dc, 36 trc, 18 ch, 9 ss) Finish off

Ruffly Flower & Leaf Motifs

NOTE:  A leaf very similar to this one just showed up on my pinterest feed, from Etsy.  If the Etsy leaf was published before mine, apologies for the similarity.  It was not intentional.  I have since created a new leaf.

I use these motifs frequently in jewelry and in freeform projects.

IMG_0996    IMG_1005

Special stitches Ch 3 picot: ch 3, ss into 1st ch
Round 1 In magic ring, 8 sc
Round 2 2 sc in each st of last round (16 sc)
Round 3 2 sc in ea st (16 sc)
Round 4 dec in ea 2 st around (8 sc)
Round 5 dec in ea 2 st around (4 sc)
Round 6 ss to round 4: (hdc, ch 3) in ea sc around, join to 1st hdc (8 hdc, 24 ch)
Round 7 (hdc, dc, trc, dc, hdc in ch 3 sp, ss in hdc from prev round) 8 times, join to 1st hdc
Round 8 (dc around hdc post of round 6, ch 5) 8 times, join to 1st dc
Round 9 (hdc, 2dc, trc, 2dc, hdc in ch 5 sp, ss in dc from prev round) 8 times
Round 10 (dc around hdc post of round 6, ch 7) 8 times, join to 1st dc
Round 11 (trc, ch 3 picot 7 times in ch 7 sp) 8 times, finish off
  Ch 5, join
Round 1 In ring: 3 dc, 2 trc, ch 5, ss in 4th ch from hook, ch 1, 2 trc, 3 dc, ch 1
Round 2 side 1: turn, dc, dc, 2 dc, 2 trc, trc, trc in ch 1 sp 
  ch 5, ss in 4th ch from hook, ch 1
  side 2: trc in ch 1 sp, trc, 2 trc, 2dc, dc dc, ch 1
Round 3 side 1: (dc, ch 1) 8 times, dc, ch 1 in ch 1 sp
  ch 5, ss in 4th ch from hook, ch 1
  side 2, dc, ch 1 in ch 1 sp, (dc, ch 1) 8 times ss in last st of prev round
 Round 4 side 1:  (dc in ch 1 sp, ch 4, ss in 4th ch from hook, dc in dc) 9 times, trc in ch 1 spch 6, ss in 5th ch from hook, ch 1

side 2: dc in ch 1 sp, ch 4, ss in 4th ch from hook, dc in dc) 9 times, join to last st of previous row

Scrappy Coasters with Holder Pattern

I have iced tea or iced water at my side all day long, and the condensation pooling on my desk or computer table is appalling.  I’ve had lovely coasters – made of sandstone, or cork in stone – and none of them work at all.  I usually end up with a folded paper towel.  Yesterday I decided it was time to make my own.  I was in bed without the computer, so I threw together an easy peasy little design.

I used scraps of Red Heart Super Saver and a G (4.25mm) hook:

IMG_0978 IMG_0976


  • Row 1:  12 dc in magic ring, join with ss
  • Row 2:   2 hdc in each dc of previous round, join with ss
  • Row 3:   dc, ch 2, dc in joining, (sk 1 hdc, dc, ch 2, dc in next hdc) 11 times, join with ss
  • Row 4:   2 dc, ch 3, 2 dc in joining and in each ch 2 space around (12 v stitches) join with ss

Could that be any easier???


  • Row 1:   10 hdc in magic ring, join with ss
  • Row 2:    2 hdc in each hdc of previous round, join with ss (20 hdc)
  • Row 3:    2 hdc in joining, (1 hdc in next st, 2 hdc in next st) 18 times, 1 hdc in last st, join with ss (30 hdc)
  • Row 4:    2 hdc in joining, (1 hdc in next 2 st, 2 hdc in next stitch) 28 times, 1 hdc in last st, join with ss (40 hdc)
  • Row 5:    2 hdc in joining, (1 hdc in next 3 st, 2 hdc in next stitch) 38 times, 1 hdc in last st, join with ss (50 hdc)
  • Row 6:    2 hdc in joining, (1 hdc in next 4 st, 2 hdc in next stitch) 48 times, 1 hdc in last st, join with ss (60 hdc)

this part is slightly more complicated to write out – holding the bottom so the wrong side is facing you, crochet into the back loops (which is on the right side) for the next bit

  • In back loops, sc in 1st 15 st, turn and repeat for 9 more rows (10 rows of 15 sc total)
  • turn the work to the side and work 10 sc down the side of your 10 rows
  • In back loops again, sc in next 20 st. turn and sc in 1st 15 sc.  Repeat 8 rows of 15 sc (10 rows of 15 sc total)
  • turn the work to the side and work 10 sc down the side of your 10 rows
  • In back loops again, sc in next 20 st. turn and sc in 1st 15 sc.  Repeat 8 rows of 15 sc (10 rows of 15 sc total)
  • turn the work to the side and work 10 sc down the side of your 10 rows
  • sc in last 5 st of the bottom
  • work 10 sc into the unfinished sides of the 3 standing sides

You should now have 3 sides with 3 gaps

  • Starting on the top of one of the sides, (ss into 15 sc, ch 5) 3 times, join with ss
  • Here I used a ss all the way around (60 ss), but in retrospect, it would look better with a sc or a crab stitch

eh voila!  Coasters with holder.

As always, this pattern hasn’t been tested, so if you use it and find mistakes, please let me know.