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Knit Martha's Inspired Poncho

Ten days ago, when Martha Stewart left Alderson Prison, there was much speculation about how she would look after five months of incarceration.

But the biggest surprise wasn't how she looked, but what she wore. Her retro '60s style crocheted poncho, made for her by an inmate, caught the fashion and craft world by storm. It even surprised Stewart, who talked about it at her first public meeting.

So on Monday's The Early Show, fiber artist Lily Chin showed why she is named the world's fastest crocheter and knitted away throughout the show the design she created for Intereweave Press.

It is called the "Freedom Poncho" and it was inspired by the one Stewart wore. Click here to get the pattern.

No one really knows what pattern was used by the inmate who made it for Martha. And, no one really knows what yarn was used. Smart Money says the yarn was by Bernat. But two other yarn companies have accounts with the prison.

What was Lily Chin's reaction when she saw Stewart's poncho?

"Well, I thought, it's the standard granny square pattern, double crochets and spaces," the speed crocheter says. "The only thing that really differentiates it from other ponchos is that is has that great scallop trim and an interesting neck line. Good collar."

And this year expect to see the granny square motif, she says.

"This pattern only uses four basic stitches: chain, single crochet, double crochet, treble crochet," says Chin.

But she notes that this pattern is for the advanced beginner, so "Learn the basics, practice and you could start making one in a week. It doesn't matter if your stitches are uneven. The yarn being used is 'tweedy' and will hide a multitude of sins."

The poncho that Chin has designed uses about 1,200 yards of yarn. And the yarn is two strands of double knit yarn (dk), which makes for a rather 'chunky' weight."

She demonstrated how to crochet using a very large crochet hook (size Q) and extra chunky yarn.

She estimates that the average crocheter could finish this poncho pattern in about a week.

Chin is also the author of "Knit and Crochet with Beads."


Crochet - A fiber art using one crochet hook and a single, continuous strand of yarn. The fabric created can range from fine lace to firm and sturdy. Fabric created is the result of the combination of stitches and the weight of the yarn (fiber) used. It is said that fisherman used crochet stitches to create their nets.

There are just a few basic stitches in crocheting and patterns are built around them. Probably the most popular crochet motif is that of the granny square. Crochet was wildly popular in the '60s and is currently making a return in the fashion world.

Knitting: A fiber art using two needles and a single continuous strand of yarn. All knitted fabrics are a combination of variations of two stitches - knits and purls. Knitting is essentially pulling one loop through another to make a fabric. Knitting is no longer your grandmother's pasttime. It's become a huge craft in the United States with yarn stores, Web sites, books and magazines popping up all over the place. There are very active list-serves for the knitting community as well as hundreds of knitting blogs.