27 August 2012

Snowflake Monday

El Capitan
El Capitan.

It's the famous icon of Yosemite National Park and the standard for big-wall climbing. It's the name of the New Mexico mountain range where Smokey the Bear was rescued. It's the name of the 8th tallest peak in Texas, the Signal Peak of Guadalupe Mountains National Park for travelers for hundreds of years before refined paved highways were built and national treasures were set aside. It once was the name of Pikes Peak. It's the name of a mine in Colorado near Tennessee Pass, between Leadville and Minturn. And it's the first phrase uttered in the fourth installment of Pirates of the Caribbean.

El Capitan also was one of the named passenger trains of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. It was the only coach train to run on the Santa Fe main line from Chicago to Los Angeles. I wonder if my dad knows that?!?

My pictures of Pikes Peak are the only El Capitan photos to which I have easy access. My photos of El Capitan in California, New Mexico and Texas all were shot with good old Kodacolor, film long before digital, and my paper Yosemite memories were the only ones I had time to hunt down and scan.

tiny El Cap climbers

I don't have a picture of the train, unfortunately. (I may have to figure out a way to get a photo of whatever's left of the train one day because it would make an incredible gift for my dad.)

The Lizard took me on a mine hunting trip, and these sticks were all we could find:

El Capitan Mine???

We thought any mine named on a map would have to be photo worthy. If this is all that's left of El Capitan Mine, how sad!

Big George prior to winning the Queen's Stage in the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge

Big George, last professional race

I picked this name thanks to the self-imposed challenge of making a snowflake with 17 points. I wanted to make something special in honor of pro cyclist George Hincapie's 17 Tour de France completions. The nickname by which he is most widely known is Big George (because he's taller than most cyclists); a Big George Snowflake doesn't sound like a snowflake I'd want to crochet. More recently his nickname has been Captain America because he served as team captain on the last three teams for which he competed. I think Captain America would be a fabulous name for a flake, but there's that thing about being forced to change a snowflake name due to trademark violations.

El Capitan was the next thought that popped into my mind. And yes, it indeed is possible to make a snowflake with 17 points. Just conveniently "forget" to form one little point. After all, snowflakes melt!

17 points!

Of course, I can't mention El Capitan without noting a fictitious climb by Captain James T. Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise in The Final Frontier because I've watched that DVD about as many times as I've watched On Stranger Tides.

recycled breath mint tins

lip balm crochet

tool possibilities for broomstick crochet in the round

sweet crochet

This snowflake employs the technique of broomstick crochet, although without the broomstick. I used breath mint tins for one snowflake, AA batteries for the one wrapped around the rock in my garden, and lip balm for the third. I bought six tubes of mini M&Ms for The Lizard on the condition he cut off the ends so I may use them for broomstick snowflakes. (Should have seen the expression on his face after that request…) Pencils or markers also could be used as loop holders. My first attempt featured very large circular knitting needles, but I too much difficulty getting the loops off the needles without pulling them out of proportion. Your "broomstick" may be anything you have six of that has smooth edges so loops may be pulled off on either side.

This snowflake may be made with large, medium or small loop holders and may be blocked in a vast variety of different ways, providing a wide range of personalities for a single pattern. As always, I would love to see your interpretation of this pattern.

You may do whatever you'd like with snowflakes you make from this pattern, but you may not sell or republish the pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!

El Capitan Snowflake

Finished Size: 5 inches from point to point, depending upon size of loop holders used
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 7 crochet hook, 6 loop holders such as batteries, lip balm, Lizbeth thread cardboard tubes, breath mint rolls, candy rolls, bead containers, pill bottles or film containers, travel-size shampoo bottles or hairspray, pens or pencils, or a dowel cut into 6 sections or 3 straws cut into halves, etc., empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, glue, water, glitter, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line
NOTE: This snowflake works best if the final two rounds are worked in one sitting and if the crocheter is free of distractions such as kitties and children (or husbands) who want to play with (or eat) whatever Mom is working on, particularly if Mom is crocheting with six rolls of Lifesavers or Rollo Chocolate-covered caramels.


Ch 4, sl st into 1st ch OR make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (does not count as dc); 12 dc in ring; sl st across starting ch 2 into 1st dc. Pull magic circle tight.

Round 2: Ch 2 (counts as 1st dc of 3/dc cluster), [yo and draw up loop through same dc, yo and pull through 2 loops on hook] 2 times, yo and draw through all 3 loops on hook (starting dc cluster made), ch 5, * sk next dc, yo and draw up loop through same dc, yo and pull through 2 loops on hook] 3 times, yo and draw through all 4 loops on hook (dc cluster made), ch 5; repeat from * around 4 times; sl st in top of starting dc cluster.

Round 3: Sl st in next ch 5 sp, ch 3 (counts as 1 dc) 9 dc in same ch 5 sp; * 10 dc in next ch 5 sp; repeat from * around 4 times; sl st into 3rd ch of starting ch 3.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.

Pull loop over loop holder.

Draw up loop in next dc.

Put loop on loop holder

Round 4: Draw up a loop in each dc around and place each loop on loop holders in groups of 10 for a total of 60 loops on 6 holders as shown. The first loop of each set will have a tendency to be loose as you work, due to the weight of loop holders. If this happens, tighten the first loop of each section by pulling on the second loop once it's on the holder, then pulling the third loop tight if necessary. If you accidentally lose a loop holder, you may catch the loops with another crochet hook or even a piece of thread or yarn tied loosely to keep the loops from unraveling.

100-loop set on holder

Put next 10 loops on next loop holder.

6 groups of 10 loops on 6 loop holders

Round 5: Loop around hook as if to make a sl st, give it an extra twist, and pull up to length of loops as shown, *slide 5 loops from next loop holder onto hook, 2 sc in center of 5 loops grouped together as shown, 2 hdc in same loops, 2 dc in same loops, ch 3, 3 dc in 3rd ch from hook, 2 dc in next 5 loops grouped together, 2 hdc in same loops, 2 sc in same loops, ch 3, 2 dc in 3rd ch from hook, ch 3, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook, ch 6, 1 sc in 6th ch from hook, ch 6, sl st in sc, ch 5, sl st in sc (tri picot made), ch 3, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook, ch 3, 2 dc in 3rd ch from hook; repeat from * around 5 times; sl st in starting sc; bind off. Weave in ends.

yo and then twist one more time

Work sc into 5/loop group.

2 sc, 2 hdc, 2 dc

2 dc, 2 hdc, 2 sc in next 5/loop group

Finish: Tape wax paper or plastic wrap to top of empty pizza box. Pin snowflake to box on top of wax paper or plastic wrap.

Mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture. Sprinkle lightly with glitter. Wash paintbrush and container thoroughly. Allow snowflake to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins. Gently peel snowflake from wax paper or plastic wrap. Attach 10-inch clear thread to one spoke, weaving in end. Wrap fishing line around tree branch (or tape to ceiling or any overhead surface) and watch the snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.

El Capitan Snowflake

a rock for my garden

someone else's wild roses


  1. Beautiful! This will be my first attempt at broomstick crocheting. I've always found broomstick crocheting fascinating but something I have had no desire to try until now! We shall see if I thank you or well...you know...the little words we say sometimes when something is frustrating. I usually crochet in the recliner watching TV, will that be possible with the broomstick part of this or will I need a table? Once again thanks for taking me out of my comfort zone and I will let you know how it goes. Did I say beautiful, just beautiful!

  2. Thanks, Brenda!

    I think for my first try, I probably would have preferred a table, especially with batteries because they are heavier and would tend to fall out easier, in my opinion. They were good for size conformity, but I think straws and lip balm are much easier to work with.

    That said, I did do the lip balm one on my lap while I was wearing an oversized T-shirt, and I let the used lip balms fall into folds in the shirt as I finished with them, and the shirt was big enough to catch them all and not let them roll off into the crevices of the couch.

  3. Oh what a fun snowflake - very bicycle-spokish! And thanks so much for the 2 fabulous cycling shots - I hope there will be more to come. What a storied collection of cycling greats in that first one. Congrats to Big George on his excellent career.

    Lip balm crochet - M&M crochet - battery crochet - just think of the fun names you can coin. Oh, and great way to attain 17 points - very creative! :)

  4. :) ingenious. How about curlers :).


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