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Start holiday needlework now

When you shop for gifts, decorations and holiday house adornments, you can procrastinate until the last moment. This is not so for needleworkers. Ideally they work on projects year-round.

If you are making gifts, bazaar items and handmade items for your home, lining up those projects for summertime crafting is ideal.

Begin by reviewing your yarn stash for yarns appropriate for holiday decorating and then make a yarn-buying trip to supplement your supply. There are a number of such yarns sold year-round, including those in variegated colors.

Last year I found holiday-colored cotton yarn, which I made into sachet bags to fill with potpourri. They were nice gifts for friends and were appealing items for a Christmas bazaar.

Try this pattern for a Granny-square Christmas stocking. It was originally featured in a Pat Trexler column and sent to us by Helen Regi of Hillside, N.J.

Each stocking requires small amounts of red, green and white worsted yarn and an F/5 or G/6 (4 or 4.5 millimeter) crochet hook. To minimize finishing, work over strands of yarn of the previous round. Each chain 3 at the beginning of the round counts as the first double crochet.

With crochet hook and red yarn, chain 4 and join with a slip stitch to form a ring. Round 1: Chain 3 and work 2 double crochets in the ring, chain 1; work 3 double crochets in ring, chain 1. Repeat the steps between the square brackets 3 times more.

You now have 5 shells with 3 double crochets each and a chain-1 space between each shell. Join with a slip stitch to the top of the beginning chain 3. Fasten off the red yarn.

Attach green in any chain-1 space. Chain 3 and in the same space where the yarn was attached, work 2 double crochets, chain 1, then work 3 double crochets in the same space. In the next chain-1 space, work 3 double crochets, chain 1 and work 3 more double crochets (thus making a double shell).

After the double shell, chain 1. In each remaining chain-1 space around, work a double shell followed by a chain 1. You will have 5 double shells. Join as before and fasten off green yarn.

Attach white in center space of any double shell and chain 3 and work 5 double crochets in this space. In the next space between 2 shells, work 8 double crochets in the next space between 2 shells, work 6 double crochets in center of next shell and 3 double crochets in space between 2 shells.

Repeat steps in square brackets once more and then work 8 double crochets in the center of the next shell. These 8 double crochets will become the "toe" of the stocking. Work 3 double crochets in the next space and then repeat the steps in the square brackets once more. Join as before and fasten off.

The piece you now have is neither a square nor a circle. Fold the piece in half so that the two short straight edges are together. This will be the back seam of the stocking. The shorter slanted edge is the top or cuff of the stocking and the longer slanted edge is the sole.

Attach red in the center edge of the "toe" and, working through both thicknesses of the folded piece, work a row of single crochet along the sole edge and up the back seam.

When you reach the top edge, work single crochet around this edge going through a single thickness only to leave the top edge open. When you have worked around to the back seam, make a chain of 7 or 8 stitches and join with a slip stitch to form a hanging loop.

Holiday-inspired afghan

Start your Christmas crocheting with this holiday-inspired granny square afghan. It's the perfect decorating accent in green, Christmas red and white. The easy block pattern makes it ideal even for a beginning crocheter.

The afghan is made of Caron "Wintuk" in 100 percent Acrilan acrylic fibers and measures 45 by 68 inches. It's made using a size G/6 (4.5 millimeter) crochet hook. Refer to kit HM890722.

For the pattern only, send $2 and a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Herrschners, 2800 Hoover Road, Dept. K - Christmas Granny, Stevens Point, WI 54492. To order a kit for $22.99 postage included, call 1-800-441-0838 (Dept. K) or send to above address.

Hints or questions of general interest will be used in the column when possible. Please send them to Nancy J. Thomas, in care of the St. Petersburg Times, NeedleWorks, 113 Pavonia Ave., PMB189, Jersey City, NJ 07310. The NeedleWorks is also on the Web at www.uexpress.com/theneedleworks/.

Universal Press Syndicate

Correction

The Granny Square Stocking pattern given in the July 21 column omitted brackets in the following two places:

Round 1: Chain 3 and work 2 double crochets in the ring, chain 1. Work 3 double crochets in ring; chain 1 a total of 4 times. You now have 5 shells with 3 double crochets each and a chain-1 space between each shell.

Also: Attach white in center space of any double shell and chain 3 and work 5 double crochets in this space. In the next space between 2 shells, work 8 double crochets in the next space between 2 shells. Work 6 double crochets in center of next shell and 3 double crochets in space between 2 shells. Repeat this step once more and then work 8 double crochets in the center of the next shell. These 8 double crochets will become the "toe" of the stocking.

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