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Well, I made it through most of January with my weekly posts. I blame my lack of presence this past week (or two?) on the dreaded flu. In any case, I am back and I am here to bring you a pattern that I absolutely adore. This crochet cactus has been one of the best sellers in my Etsy shop since I opened, so if you aren’t a maker, hop on over there (or click here) and you can order one. For those of you who are looking to make one yourself, read on!
Now, I have to give credit where credit is due. When I first started making these, I was using a pattern from HotGlueAndGlitter.com. As far as I can tell, this website no longer exists, and the designer isn’t floating around anywhere on the internet (if you know that to be incorrect, please contact me and let me know). I was so sad to discover this pattern was gone, that I decided to write my own version to share with the world! Please note, while it is heavily inspired by the original, this is my own version of the cactus pattern.
My goal is to make this the first in a series of succulent patterns. So be sure to check back in a few weeks for the follow up post to this one.
While I call this a pattern, it is really more of a tutorial. I include little hints about how you can tweek it along the way. I will be using counts for a larger size cactus, but by adding or subtracting you can make yours as large or as small as you like.
– Green worsted weight yarn, I used Red Heart Soft Guacamole
– Brown worsted weight yarn, I use whatever I have in my stash at the moment, I prefer something with less sheen than what Red Heart Soft has, so I would recommend Red Heart Super Saver Brown or something similar
– Size 7, 4.5 mm crochet hook my absolute favorites are the Clover Amour Hooks
– Polyfil Fiber Stuffing
– Darning Needles
– Container, be creative! Use a flower pot, mug, candle holder, mason jar or terrarium
So this is the most straightforward and forgiving part of your cactus. All you need to do here is make a wonky ball. It doesn’t need to be perfect. You are going to attach the rest of the pieces to your lovely ball of soil, and use it to support the cactus in the pot. You don’t need to fill the entire container with “soil,” rather, you just need enough of a base that your crochet plant won’t slide down. To achieve this I tend to go one round past the diameter of the pot and then I use a little tissue paper in the bottom to fill it out. For the purposes of this tutorial, I am using a pot with a diameter of 5.5 inches. You will also notice I am using more of a sand color. Remember when I said I use whatever I have in my stash? Looks like I’m out of brown…
Set-up: I like to use the magic circle method when starting most projects worked in the round. That said, if you prefer you can chain two and start your work in the second chain from the hook. Whichever method you prefer, start with six single crochet stitches (SC), tighten and join with a slip stitch to the first SC. You are going to join at the end of each round with a slip stitch in the first stitch of the round.
Round 1: Chain one. Two SC in each stitch around. (12 stitches)
Round 2: Chain one. One SC in first stitch, two in next. Repeat to end of round. (18 stitches)
Note: Be sure you are starting your round in the same stitch that you used to join and chain one.
Round 3: Chain one. One SC in next two stitches. Two SC in next. Repeat to end of round. (24 stitches)
Continue this pattern adding one SC before each set of two until your circle is the same diameter as your pot. Add one more round. For my 5.5 inch pot I had 11 rounds and a total of 72 stitches in the round when I stopped increasing. Once you reach the diameter desired, continue on as follows:
- Side note…this is a great way to hone your math skills. If you have a tactile learner around, this is a great way to practice multiples! Bonus points if you also use your container as a yarn bowl. Also, if you don’t like to count, your two chains in a single stitch are always going to go in the second of one of the two from that corner in the previous round.
Rounds 12-14: Chain one. One SC in each stitch around. (72 stitches) You are going to continue doing the same number of stitches around, joining at the end of each and chaining one, until your work starts to curl up and look like a shallow bowl. This is your sign to start decreasing your stitches. For me, it was about three rows.
Decreasing: Whatever your multiple was before your stopped increasing, you will want to keep that in mind for the next step. In my case, I was doing 10+2. To start my decrease, in Round 15 I am going to work a SC2tog in the first two stitches of each side followed by my 10 SC’s. I will end with 66 stitches.
- Notes – If you haven’t realized by now, before you stopped increasing you were making a hexagon. So, at the start of each of your six sides, you will decrease then do your singles, subtracting a single with each round. I have never been a fan of the so-called “invisible decrease,” but if you would like to give it a try, go for it! For a nearly (sort of) invisible decrease stitch, only insert your hook into the front or back loop of each stitch included in the decrease. Or, if you are like me, just stick to both loops and pull it tight.
Rounds 15-17: Continue to decrease as explained above. If working the same stitch count as I am, you should have decreased to 54 stitches by the end of round 17. We don’t want to taper down too quickly, so now we are going to do a round of 54 before we continue our decrease.
Round 18: SC in each stitch around. (54 stitches)
Round 19: Resume decreasing. At this point you should be working your SC2tog followed by seven SC. (48 stitches)
- Remember, our goal isn’t to fill our whole pot. We just need to make a base that will press against the sides so that it is stable enough to support the cactus. You can always fill the bottom with tissue paper if it makes you feel better. Don’t forget to stuff your piece with fiber fill before the opening gets too small. I started stuffing when I got down to 30 stitches. You will probably have to do an initial stuff, then continue stuffing as you go until the end.
- Make sure you don’t overstuff to where you can see the filling through the stitches. If you really want to go above and beyond, use a spare nylon dress sock (you know you have one you can’t find the partner for) and fill that with your stuffing. Then just put the whole thing in your work before doing your final stitches and closing. This works best if your sock is close in tone to the yarn you are using.
Rounds 20-End: Continue decreasing subtracting one SC from each side of your hexagon in each round until you only have six stitches left. Cut a long tail and using your darning needle, thread it in and out of your stitches. Pull to close and fasten off.
Admire your ball of soil and lovingly set it aside for now. I put mine in my pot because it makes me feel accomplished.
Have you ever made ribbing? If so, that is essentially what you are doing here. If not, you are going to learn two new things today! Pat yourself on the back.
You are going to be making three nodes for your cactus, each topped with a flower. You can adjust the size of the nodes depending on the size of the pot. If you are following along with me and doing a large plant, then the counts below are for you. If you are looking to adjust the size, here are some suggestions:
- Start by chaining the desired number of stitches, plus one. The plus one is your turning chain.
- You will have to eyeball the number of rows. When you think you have enough, fold your work in half and take a look. You want to visualize it stuffed. The diameter of the node is going to be just a little bit wider than how it looks folded in half. More or less rows will change the diameter. Just be sure to always end on an even number.
- Separate your nodes by a count of four. This means that for the middle size node you will subtract four stitches per row and four rows from those used in the large node. The smallest node you will do the same using the middle size as a point of reference.
- Switch to a single crochet stitch for tighter ribbing. I wouldn’t take it in the other direction since the piece won’t have that nice cactus ridge effect if the rows get too wide.
Set-up: Leaving a long tail, chain 19.
Row 1: Yarn over and insert hook into the second loop from your hook on the underside of your chain. HDC in each under-loop across. Chain one and turn. (18 stitches)
Rows 2-18: HDC in back loop only all the way across the row. (18 stitches)
Join & Stuff: When you finish your last row, fold the piece in half. Slip stitch the two halves together in the corner. Then, starting with the first stitch on each side, slip stitch through the two inner loops. The back loop of the half closest to you, the front loop of the other. Do this across to the end. You should have 18 slip stitches. Leaving a long tail for sewing, fasten off and cut yarn.
Using your darning needle, weave the end back and forth through the stitches of the opening. Pull to close. You should have one end still open. Turn your node inside out. Stuff and using the same method as you did to close the other end, thread your starting tail on your darning needle and sew opening closed. If your long ends ended up on the same side, that’s ok. Just grab a piece of yarn and secure it when you tie it off.
Repeat this process for each node.
Set-up: Chain 15
Row 1: Yarn over and insert hook into the second loop from your hook on the underside of your chain. HDC in each under-loop across. Chain one and turn. (14 stitches)
Rows 2-18: HDC in back loop only all the way across the row. (14 stitches)
Set-up: Chain 11
Row 1: Yarn over and insert hook into the second loop from your hook on the underside of your chain. HDC in each under-loop across. Chain one and turn. (10 stitches)
Rows 2-18: HDC in back loop only all the way across the row. (10 stitches)
Set-up: Start with a magic circle of six SC and pull closed, chain one. Be sure to leave a tail for sewing.
Round 1: In the first stitch, SC + HDC + DC + HDC + SC. Slip stitch in next stitch, chain one, and repeat the sequence in that same stitch (the one you just slipped into) all the way around. You should have six petals at the end. Slip stitch in beginning petal, fasten off, cut yarn leaving a long tail.
For a larger flower, continue around placing one of each stitch in the corresponding stitch from the previous round, increasing by one stitch each time as you move up the petal, and decreasing as you move down. You can continue this process until the flower is the size you would like.
Example: Petals in round one are made up of SC + HDC + DC + HDC + SC. So each petal in round two would be SC in the first stitch of the petal, in the next stitch of the petal two HDC, in the next three DC, two HDC in the next, finishing the petal with one SC. The next round you would want to do one of each type of stitch with three DC in the middle stitch to create a point. This will result in a gradually growing flower. You can alter the number of stitches you use in the subsequent rounds to change the shape of the flower to your liking.
Depending on the size of your pot and lovely ball of soil, you may want to add more nodes and flowers. I typically do a three node cactus when I do the smaller size. If you happen to have one of these cactus plants for real, you will know that they sprout nodes all over like crazy and only bloom for a couple of days each season. They really are lovely plants!
Starting with the large node, attach to your “soil.” You want to place it slightly off center to achieve the look in the photo. Then, attach your medium size node, and last the small on top of the large node. I like to attach all my nodes before I add the flowers so that I can place them based on the shape of the plant. I also like to weave my ends through the body of each node and use it to attach it to the other nodes so it is secure.
Using your accent color, weave in and out of the center of the flower and fasten off. Have fun with it! Changing up the way you stitch in the accent color can create lots of fun effects. You can also try layer multiple sizes of flower, and using different weights and texture of yarn. Use the ends of the accent color and the ends from before to attach your flowers to the tops of each node. This is a good opportunity to hide any messy closures you may have. At this point I am usually tired of sewing, so I really just tie the flowers on and pull the ends through the body of the node.
Voila! You now have your very own crochet cactus! Take it to work, gift it to a friend, put it in a room that gets zero sunlight, and forget about it. I promise it will always stay in bloom and never need to be watered. It’s the perfect plant for anyone who is plant care challenged.
Fun with Pots
Seriously, be creative here! I have used both flower pots and mugs, but there are all sorts of different containers you can choose from. My personal favorite for gifting is a fun mug. This way the recipient can keep their cactus in the mug and give it added personality, or they can transplant it to another container and hey, new mug!
Feel free to make and sell items using this tutorial. Please just give credit to Counting Crafty Sheep by linking to this post.