Thursday, May 1, 2008

Simple Crochet Ball

I have tried several patterns for crochet balls but was not satisfied with any of them. Decreasing to close the ball leaves unattractive gaps that show the stuffing. I remembered a pattern from a vintage crochet book my mother-in-law gave me, which had you make two halves and seam them, but the gauge and shaping of that pattern was all wrong, and I wound up with more of a lacy egg than a ball. There is another free online that is constructed much like this one, but I haven't tried it. It uses fewer rows in the middle. I have reworked features from several patterns into one that works for me. Mind you, I am not copying any aspects of any pattern. I developed this pattern using basic crochet techniques that all crocheters know. Although the stuffing bit is completely of my own invention... I think.

Finished Size: Variable
Gauge: Unimportant. Though it is important to keep your work tight to prevent stuffing from showing.
Materials: I used sport weight cotton yarn. The orange ball is made from Omega Sinfonia and the blue/green ball is Patons Grace. You can make it out of anything, though. It is a fantastic pattern for using up scraps. I particularly like making them out of sock yarn.
Hook: I used a 2.75m (US C) hook with the ones shown in the picture. Use whatever size produces a firm fabric but does not give you any difficulty in grasping the yarn.
Notions: Yarn needle, scissors, a bit of stuffing or, for a firm ball, cotton quilt batting. See note in that segment of the pattern.

note: make two of the following halves, which will be seamed together.
Mark the beginning of each round using a piece of contrasting scrap yarn. Remember to move your scrap yarn at the change of each round so you can find your starting place.
Rnd 1: Ch 2. 6 sc in second ch. from hook.
2 sc in each st. around (12 sts)
Rnd 2: [sc, 2sc in next st.] repeat around (18 sts)
Rnd 3: [2sc, 2sc in next st.] repeat around (24 sts)
Rnd 4: [3sc, 2sc in next st.] repeat around (30 sts)
Continue in this manner, adding six evenly placed stitches in each round, until you have 60 stitches around (For the size of the orange ball) or do a little more or fewer rounds for whatever size you like. (the other pictured ball has 48 sts)
Rnd ?: sc even around 5 rows. break yarn leaving an 18" tail.

For filling you can use wool or poly fiberfill, but I chose cotton quilt batting because it allows for a firm ball with a little more weight to it. I made it so:
take a sheet of cotton batting (I used Warm & Natural), fold it in half lengthwise, then repeat two or three times more. This makes cutting the strips much quicker. Even out the edge and cut off a few 1" strips. Wind them tightly into a ball as you might wind yarn, making it as symmetrical and round as possible. Continue in this manner until it fits snugly into the crocheted ball. Pull both halves of the ball around it and match them up as you like and seam them. I like to put the tails on opposite sides and sew half of the ball with each, but it doesn't signify how you do it. If you choose instead to use wool or poly fill, stitch up empty halves leaving a 1" gap for filling.
Whip-stitch gives the flattest, most invisible seam in my experience. I have also used mattress stitch, which creates a visually interesting, though clearly definable, seam. Don't forget to sew in your ends.

Now, throw your ball at someone unsuspecting or give it to a child who will roll it under the sofa and make you retrieve it. Wacky fun!